Last month I was able to catch up with Josh Scogin of The Chariot to talk a bit about the band's travels on the Scream It Like You Mean It Tour, their newest release One Wing and their adventures in Australia.
How did the routing and dates for Scream It Like You Mean It Ė there were two separate routings and sometimes they combined Ė how did that play into the normal rigors of touring for you guys?
[Laughs] Well. It definitely was chaotic in the beginning because I donít think anyone quite knew what was going on. Looking back on it, it makes some sense. Okay, thereís our tour and thereís their tour and a lot of times, we join up. Either they didnít work that very well at the beginning or something. But I know like weíd be like okay weíre going to wherever tomorrow and weíd find out tomorrowís off. Itíd be their date. I donít know. It was some wild times in the beginning but it was awesome. The gold tour, when they had both our package and the other package together, man, it sounds like it would just be the biggest headache. But it was awesome. I mean Iím sure someone had a headache you know? But it was never anyone we dealt with. It was cool and thereís so many bands either bands we like or weíre friends with or got to know and be friends with. Those days were just big parties and us hanging out with each other. It was a good time.
From watching your DVDs and what not, you guys like to have a lot of fun on the road, did you guys have a good amount of opportunities to do those sorts of things with all the sporadic off dates?
Yeah. We did. We really had a good time on that tour. I was asked earlier to name something crazy that happened and my mind just went blank. [Laughs] I canít think of the things that usually happens on those types of questions. But in general it was a really good time. It was sort of... a lot of the summer fest tours like that theyíre strictly routed for a bus. When you have a bus driver that is well-slept and then gets up and drives, you drive 8 or 10 hours and you wake up from your 8 to 10 hour sleep, you go hang out. When youíre in a van like we are, that sucks [laughs]. To say the least. This tour was kind of both. There were some crazy drives but there would be like two or three days where we were pretty close and only had a 4-6 hour drive. So that was awesome for us. Like I said, any time we tour during the summer its just the worst routing for a band that has to drive ourselves. That definitely opened up a world of being able to actually hang out and goof off a little more than just showing up to a venue and everybody just passing out.
So youíre getting ready to drop the new album. Musically youíve always been a band that pushes the album, whether it is as musicians or pushing us as listeners. As far as pushing you guys, what do you think One Wing brings to the table this time around?
Itíd be hard to just put my finger on that. But I feel weíre getting more comfortable with opening those doors and walking through them. With every record, we definitely donít hesitate to try something new or might not be able to pull off. At the end of the day, weíre just this punk rock band and thereís certain things we donít know how to do and we can. But we always try it and at the end of the day we can hit delete and nobody has to hear it if we donít feel like itís up to par with what we want to do. But I feel weíre just getting more and more comfortable with whatever that looks like. The challenge, like this song we have called ďSpeakĒ. Itís just me and piano. Just the idea of that, I think weíre getting more comfortable so weíre even able to have that idea. If we have an idea and we think itís a good idea, weíre gonna try it. We can always hit delete and never have to worry about. But to be able to have the idea of just a piano and vocals, that was literally just started out as a challenge. Like, I wonder if we can pull that off. And if we do pull it off, if it would sound good. And if itís something we want to keep. Itís funny, we released a YouTube video of that song, of us doing it live, in it our drummer is just like ĎHereís something weíre gonna try and itís kind of experimental. We donít know whatís going to happen.í It seemed kind of staged, kind of forced I guess, but it was totally true. None of us played it together, the guy who had to play the piano he literally learned the song right then. It was a song our guitarist had kind of mapped out on guitar on what it would sound like. I had written some vocals or the lyrics but I didnít know how I was going to sing them. It was literally at that moment that you get to watch, it literally was that moment where we decide do we want to keep this or not. And obviously if we would have not kept it, you would have never seen that footage. For us, thatís what writing records is all about. Attempting to do something and knowing that if you quote, unquote fail, thatís fine. You need some of those some times to make your way to the next idea that you donít fail. These are experiences we get to build upon. Maybe a few years from now Iíll find out Iím incorrect, but I think every single record we do is gonna be a little more extraordinary than the last. Just based on that weíre growing as a band. Weíve had some successes and some quote failures but they all build who you are and youíre able to explore deeper and darker areas.
How would you say the band chemistry played into things? You guys have a new guitarist in Brandon who spent some time with Stephen in Written in Red. How did that play into the writing process?
Just the band collectively as a whole, weíre friends first. We were friends first because whatís the point if weíre not enjoying ourselves, but also in practice. I would hang out those dudes if I wasnít in a band with them. It plays a big part in the writing process and the touring process and the live shows in and of itself. Iíve been with David now for several albums, our drummer, and Stephen for a couple records now. But Iíve been with Stephen since The Fiancee. Heís come out and hung out, he did lights for us. Heís done merch for us. Heís been in and with the band since The Fiancee days. With Brandon, weíve known of him for so long and him and Stephen being in the same band, but itís the camaraderie that blends it all together. Itís not like we got some left field guy that none of us can relate to. That comfort level definitely plays a big part in the writing and the recording of our records. Everyone trusts everyone. If thereís times where someone has to leave for a couple days, itís not like theyíre worried about what weíre doing in the studio. They know, because weíre all on the same page, what weíre doing is probably going to be what they would want to do anyway [laughs]. Very good spot to be in.
You guys have always had a cleverness to your song titles, whether it be on The Fiancee or Long Live. This time it is a statement of sorts. What does the whole continuity of the song titles have to do with the lyrical content youíve penned this time around?
I donít know if I can compare it to the lyrical content, I mean Iím sure there is a connection of sorts because it all comes really from the same source. But as far as the song titles and what they say in relation to our band, itís everything. Those couple of statements is the story of where we are right now. Weíre on our fifth record, which is something we never expected to happen or never saw. The music industry is an everchanging world. Everything from the business side of it, the politics side, the scratching of backs. People are downloading records illegally, people are buying physical records, retails want to pick you up, the MTV stuff... whatever, everything changes. But if you remember your first love and remember when I was a kid dreaming about playing shows, that was it. I just wanted to play shows. It was nothing about contracts in that dream. I never thought ĎI canít wait to sign this contract.í [Laughs] Thatís what it means to us, but I think it is relatable to any form of life. Any idea of adventure that you start. Donít forget the reasons you started to do it. Everything else will change, but that initial, pure belief in something, as ignorant as it might be and naive as it might be, thatís the thing that doesnít change. The next part of the statement, ĎSpeak in Tongues and Cheekí, we wanted to relay a message that says, thereís things in life you need to get really deep with and believe and feel. Love and why weíre here, these are things you should entertain the idea of being deep and passionate about. There are plenty more things, but in life, be able to get deep and take things seriously. But while youíre doing that, donít just be a rain cloud. Be able to poke fun and be made fun of, like the statement says tongue in cheek, donít take things too seriously because thereís no point in being a rain cloud for your whole life. To find that balance is something I feel like The Chariot, thereís things we care deeply about like true, deep, meaningful passion that we have about certain things. But at the same time, thereís no point in hovering over the Earth with a gray gloom. Itís good to poke fun and harmlessly laugh at things and never take anything too seriously to where you donít enjoy it, because then what is the point? We wanted a statement that said all that and it was a lyric that I had at first but the idea of tongues, that such a deep and almost controversial thing. Regardless of what you think about it though, we can all agree it is a deep and darker toned subject matter. That being a pun on tongue in cheek, thatís what we wanted. Thatís our goal, every time we have to say a title from this we know that that word comes from these two sentences and weíll always be able to have that. As a statement of our band, thatís exactly where weíre at. Weíre on our fifth record, but we donít ever want to get tired of it. We donít because, although the whole world around us is changing, playing shows is the best thing ever and thatís what weíre here to do. Those two statements wrap all that up in a nice fashion [laughs].
Someone once told me, and I know this isnít the exactly saying, but essentially once money touches something it changes it.
Exactly. Youíve gotta get business sometimes. You have to enter that world. But you donít have to let it affect the art. Or to affect the original mentality. At least for us, and Iím not doubting anyone that doesnít agree with me.
You spoke about the record process this time around and mentioned that the record process was spent to not overthink things but not rush things. Taking that into account, how did having that mindset and going back to Matt Goldman and releasing this only a few months after recording it play into the whole recording time for this album?
I still truly believe, mainly just kind of in the punk rock world we live in, you start overthinking things and you sort of lose that initial thrust. The time and timing, I just think you donít need to spend much on certain things. As for going with Matt Goldman, I think as of now weíll always go with Matt Goldman because heís always... thereís producers out there, they do a thing. Like I am a producer and this is what I do. You hired me and therefore and Iím going to do this thing that I do on your music. Heís not that guy at all. Thereís not a certain thing he does at all. Heís always pushing you to do the next thing. Like as soon as we start, heís asking how this is going to be different. Heíll blatantly joke about it like youíll play a part and heíll say, ĎOkay now play that part from that one song on that other record,í or whatever. Heís sort of been that outside ear for us to keep fresh and stay fresh. At the end of the day, I love him to death because he is there to help us write our record. Thereís a lot of producers that are like, well you hired me so Iím going to do what I do and weíll use yaílls stuff to do it. Heís like weíre here to write yaílls record. Even if he disagrees with it, heís told us from time to time, ĎI think this is a bad idea, but Iíll do it,í and sometimes it is [laughs]. But heís a champion and on top of all that, heís a personal friend of mine and the band and Iíve worked with him on a lot of projects whenever Iím not on tour hanging out or getting in the way. So thereís no learning curve when we go to him. He knows what bands we think are cool and what bands we donít, we want everything to be real. No fake drums or fake whatever. We want humans to play it. The fact that he agrees with that is awesome. Nowadays, there are some people that canít do it. They donít know how to make drums sound good... naturally. The bummer of the truth we live in. On top of that, they donít want to spend the extra couple of hours making the snare sound right or the couple of hours it would take to keep trying the song over and over because the drummer just didnít get it all that time. Itís just easier to let someone crap their way through the drums and then get a computer to fix it all and sample in the real sounds that make it sound good.
Not to downplay what you do musically, but most people know you for your live show. I might even suggest it overshadows what you do on the record sometimes. What are your thoughts on that and for this being your fifth album and getting ready to go on tour again, does it physically ever make you wonder how much longer youíll be able to perform at this level?
I think our live show does sort of overshadow our music a little bit, and thatís okay. Weíre okay with that because I donít know how most bands write, but I think a lot of bands record a record and then they spend a touring cycle trying to perform that record. Thatís what they do. They want to play that record live for you. Weíre kind of the opposite. We like the live show. The raw sound. The energy. The impulse. We like that and we try our best to put that into the record somehow. Therefore, when you say the live show maybe overshadows it a little bit, thatís fine because the live show is why we sound the way we do. I think that goes hand in hand and you wouldnít have one without the other. As far as age and restrictions, I donít know. Iím on this ride as long as it will carry me. Iím sure there will be a time where we get kicked out. But at the end of the day, [laughs] weíre on this train as far as it will take us. I enjoy it and we just played some festivals with 7 Seconds and Converge. I think that guys from 7 Seconds is up on stage and is fifty-something years old. I was just like, thatís awesome that heís still doing this. I never try to think about age. I think about what I can and canít do, I just enjoy today. Tomorrow I may have to leave but today Iím here. I just do whatever Iím doing right then and thatís what I can do.
It was just announced you guys are touring with Every Time I Die, letlive. and Kills and Thrills. Probably the most ridiculous tour of the coming months considering where I believe it is coming here, it will probably have no barricade. Is there an over/under on how many types of shows equivalent to what you guys see when youíve rolled through for Bled Fest?
[laughs] Oh man. All I can say about that is Iím more than excited for this tour. I canít think of a tour that Iíve been more excited for. Weíre good friends with ETID dudes and with letlive, weíve met them a few times. With them and the music, with the bands and being fans of the music. And whatever is going to happen at that show is going to happen. I donít know what that is going to look like. Be it good or bad, itíll be good, but every day is itís own day and Bled Fest was amazing. But it happened and weíll see.
One random question. Could you give a little more clarification over what happened at the show in Australia when someone knocked over the pears?
Itís funny. That video is both haunted and helped us in so many ways. What really happened, we were playing a show and our guitarist wasnít on stage, like we have to be constrained to the stage, and he was playing and this kid was going bonkers and thereís this bowl of pears that has been there for a couple pears that had been there for a couple years. And this kid going crazy knocks over the bowl and it being glass, it broke. The kid got scared and took off. Our guitarist Stephen was sitting there playing, he had no idea it had happened because he was banging his head or whatever. The promoter to say the least was an elderly fellow. I donít know if I would say he didnít know what he was in for or whatever, but he gets all crazy. Long story short, he pulled the plug. Literally. All the power shut off and so after some figuring out we understand thatís why. Weíre like really, over this bowl of pears? And heís all like, ĎYouíre being disrespectful and breaking things,í and weíre like, who is hurt? Nobody. What broke? Nothing except this bowl of pears. And we offered to pay for it. It was our second show in Australia ever. So at this point people are telling us theyíve been waiting six or seven years to see us and we were wanting to play because we had never been there before. So anyway, he kind of understood, like yeah I did just cancel the show over a bowl of pears. He ended up going in a room and locking himself in and we couldnít get the power on or anything. As weíre packing up, this kid says hey you should play my friendsí house. And we said, donít say that unless you mean it. We will. Like we will go straight over there. Sure enough, this kid says, ĎYeah, itís my own house and no one will care.í Like, do you know our band? If youíre down weíre down. We moved the show there and played over there and it was awesome [laughs].
And ended up on the roof.
Yeah. It got crazy to say the least. But itís a double-edged sword. We have a lot of buzz happening over there. For example, we went to play this festival down in New Zealand and we did some shows in Australia to make a tour of it. We didnít lose too much money or whatever. We landed and the promoter is a good friend of ours and he said it took forever to find a promoter that would book you guys because that guy, and this is the meanest thing you could of done, the guy that canceled the show ended up sending out emails to everybody that he was friends with. We had several shows get pulled and make different venues. We had venue changes and played houses that didnít get filmed. Literally, he really kind of screwed us over and we didnít do anything. So he tells us, it took me forever to find someone that would book you guys. They just think weíre crazy and out of control and disrespectful. But the moment he found venues, they pre-sold out, sold out before we even landed. These are 300-cap rooms, but for not even being from that country, it was awesome. It was funny because it being such a double-edged sword of someone trashing what we do and the promoters who donít want to look any deeper and just go off what they do.