For me music is an ever-evolving, forward thinking industry. This week I’ve had the chance to not only review, but interview one of my more recent musical idols. After familiarizing myself with Chris’ work in Mutiny Within I became hooked on the man’s ability to craft songs. The guy is a work horse, with a strong work ethic and after sending these questions to the front man, debuting a new album for Wearing Scars, I found these thoughtful responses a mere four hours back in my inbox. We covered all the topics of the new band, the new music and what Chris is currently working on. Take some time to check it out.
1. How was the writing process work for the new album? Did you guys all come together as a group and flesh out songs together or was there one or two main guys that handled the writing?
The writing process was very different from anything I’ve done before. Since Mutiny Within’s career stalled and coming home from the USA, I was determined not to let that be the end of my musical career. I tried out for a few bands and nothing stuck so I started writing my own songs. After almost 4 years of writing on and off, I had quite a lot of material and posted a few songs online. They seemed to go down quite well so I figured I’d record them all properly and put out my own album.
Andy contacted me as I was in the final stages of mixing my finished album. When he suggested that we write some music together and see what we come up with, I put forward my songs and fortunately Andy loved them. Over the next few months, we wrote more together, re-recorded everything and, combined with some of Andy’s songs, came out with a finished album. When the time came to find the rest of the lineup, Andy suggested we contact former members of Sacred Mother Tongue and, with the addition of our guitarist Dan, here we are.
2. Where there any problems or ideas scrapped in the process? Some things that just couldn’t work, ideas we may see on a future release?
There were two tracks I can recall that didn’t make the cut. They both have potential, but we felt they just weren’t ready. I think you know when a song is “there”. You’ve got to be honest with yourself, listen to it subjectively and think “is this the best it can be?”. One song has a few clips online “Just Had To Let You Know”. It was a good song but we felt it was more of a filler and didn’t have the same energy as the other tracks. The album had actually been mastered when Andy wrote a killer song we called “Wounds”. I think it’s one of the best tracks we’ve got and definitely the best we’ve written together. We recorded it in 2 days and sent if off to be mastered. It replaced Just Had To Let You Know and we updated all of the artwork.
3. Tell us a bit about the artwork. Who designed it and does it share any significance on the content of the record?
The artwork was created by Stéphane Boeckx of Burn Your Design. He contacted me almost a year previously about artwork and when we needed somebody to design everything, he popped into my head. I like using people who have a genuine passion for what they do and I can see Stéphane doing a lot more work for us. I couldn’t recommend him highly enough, he’s gone above and beyond everything we expected. The artwork is based on the video shoot for “Butterfly”. We feel Video Ink captured a really good atmosphere for that and wanted to continue that theme with the artwork.
4. How does this album ‘feel’ in comparison to some of the other projects you have worked on?
This album feels far more like “me”. With Mutiny Within, it was very fast, techy, almost sports metal. How fast can we play, how high can I sing etc. The songs were solid, we made sure of that but I’ve always been a fan of more straightforward music. A song should be timeless and it should be multi genre compatible. If you took the song Butterfly and decided to play it as an acoustic track, it works just fine. Even songs like I Could Never Say which are more upbeat work well on acoustics at a slower tempo. This album has given me the chance to do that. Also writing most of the material has meant I have total freedom to make the song the best it can be. There were never situation where I didn’t cut parts out which didn’t serve the song because it would upset a member. This album has more lyrical depth than my previous works and writing the music has enabled me to gel the songs instrumentally with the lyrics. The song Wearing Scars I feel captures the same mood lyrically as it does instrumentally.
5. So far, the new record isn’t quite out yet. What can fans expect at your launch show? How has the early responses been to the music you have released, namely in the album’s main single “Butterfly”?
The responses we’ve had so far have been overwhelmingly positive. I believe in this band and the music, but I did have concerns that fans of my heavier work would have trouble following me into this. It seems to have been the exact opposite, where people are messaging me saying they greatly prefer this style of music. Being more rock based has come with the opportunity to attract a different audience. Not only metal fans, but rock and other genres too. Even my elderly relatives enjoy listening to Butterfly. I’m glad more people can appreciate it and it’s not quite as niche as my last bands. The launch show is our first public performance so I expect it’ll be a lot of fun. It’s a small venue so it’ll be great to meet the people who have supported us as such an early stage. We’ll all get to hang out, chat and people can have a few drinks.
6. Once the album is released, how will you guys go about promoting the new record?
We’re working with The Noise Cartel who are doing a fantastic job with PR. We’re yet to really get into marketing, we’ve just been focusing on the release, but The Noise Cartel together with our manager Rob Ferguson will take care of what needs to be done.
7. Are there any other projects you are currently working on?
I’m currently working on and off with Jason Bowld (Axewound, Killing Joke, PItchshifter) on a heavy project. Both Jason (drums), Paul (guitar) and I are really busy so we have moments where we get loads done, then we barely talk for a few months. It’ll get done eventually. The first single we have put together is killer. It sounds like Slipknot meets Stadium Rock. Huge choruses over crushing riffs and slamming drums. Should be a lot of fun when we finally get it up and running, and an outlet for my “darker side” lol.
8. Are you guys working towards being signed by a major label or are you happy in the way Wearing Scars are running things? Does it ensure your control as artists?
We did originally shop around for labels, but decided we’d do it ourselves. Even if we did end up being offered a deal, it would be terrible. Bands these days have to prove their worth. If I was to take Wearing Scars to a serious label and want a good deal, I’d have to show it’s potential, finances, fan base… it’s not about music anymore these days. It’s all business and it sucks. This way, we have total control over everything we do. We’ve acted as our own label and hired PR, management and distribution in the same way a label would (although they would likely have these internally). If a label came along who could offer us something that would improve our career and not destroy what we’re trying to accomplish I’d be happy to discuss.
9. Most musicians are major music fans, what are your picks for the best releases of 2015 so far? What are you waiting to be released?
Quite honestly I don’t listen to music much. That sounds terrible as a musician, but I don’t. When I want to listen to music, I write it. Now and then there’s an album which comes out I listen to for a while, but I tend to stick by my classic records. Van Halen, Guns n Roses, Queen… I know there’s a new Bullet For My Valentine album coming out fairly soon and I really enjoyed their single No Way Out, I’m looking forward to that.
10. What does Wearing Scars mean to you as a band releasing music? Why didn’t you continue in your other projects?
It’s an outlet for my music, and in many ways it’s another crack at the whip after what happened with Mutiny Within. Not many people manage to dust themselves off and jump back in. I’ve been waiting for the right people to come along and now they have. I’m sure this band can end up being far more successful than Mutiny Within and I’m excited to see how far we can take it. I love releasing music, and hearing how people respond to it. If I can release a track and it somehow has a positive impact upon somebody mentally then I feel I’ve done my job. Music is a powerful tool that can lift people up and I want to reach as many people as possible. I didn’t continue with my other project as this is my priority. I believe in this band and I have to put all my efforts into it.
11. The other guys in Wearing Scars come from two other groups, each with a solid fan base. Why did these particular members all come together? How well bonded are you guys?
I mentioned earlier how Andy messaged me and suggested we work together. With the rest of group it was purely because we needed a solid band of good musicians. There’s always uncertainties when you get a group of people together. If we put together an entirely new outfit, then a year down the line we could have found we didn’t see eye to eye musically…. the famous “creative differences”… working with Andy’s former band-mates was the obvious choice, they’re already friends and they’ve spend a lot of time playing together.
12. What’s next for the band?
There’s a music video coming out today in around 3 hours, (as I write this), for our song Stand Alone. It’s a heavier track, far more upbeat and shows the other side of the band. After that, the album release show on July 28th and then hopefully we’ll land a good tour and start getting to work.
13. You mentioned online that Wearing Scars wouldn’t be featuring “screamed” vocal lines in regard to the album review I posted. Care to elaborate further as to why listeners shouldn’t expect the so-called “harsh” vocals to feature in any Wearing Scars music?
I don’t see Wearing Scars as a metal band at all. To me it’s more of a Rock band. As you tagged us “Melodic Rock”. I think we have our heavier moments, but it’s all for the purpose of energy and bring some emotion out of the listener. The lyrical themes dictate the sounds of the tracks so we’ve just gone where we needed to go to get the song across. Screams just don’t have a place in this. It’s not an aggressive band. I’ll have other projects where screams are predominantly used, but this isn’t one of them. I’ve always listened to melodic music and this is the band I’ve always wanted to be.
I’d just like to thank everybody who has shared our music, messaged us and supported us in any way. We’re doing this ourselves so we need the support of our fans so we can grow, tour, and keep upping the bar. There’s no labels involved, no financing. We’re doing this because we love it, but we need your support to make this what I know it can become. Music is in a very strange place at the moment, and nobody really knows how to survive in this industry. We don’t really know either, we’re just counting on our fans.
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