“It’s been 13 years since Coal Chamber put out a record. We all worked so hard on this music to make sure the whole album was a stellar push forward for the band and not some nostalgia trip! If you like it heavy and unique you’ll love ‘Rivals’! This record is full of crushing huge hooks and big down tuned riffs to move ya. Support Heavy music in all its forms!” says Dez Fafara on their new album.
When we eventually come to look back on this year, 2015 will be marked down and under-scored as the year in which the reformed NuMetal band Coal Chamber made a welcome return to the world stage. Not only did they return to the stage, but they came armed with a highly anticipated and stunning new album – ‘Rivals’ – released on Napalm Records.
If you thought that Coal Chamber were just going to go through the motions and regurgitate the sound from their previous two albums ‘Dark Days’ and ‘Chamber Music’, then think again. ‘Rivals’ is truly invigorating, helped, not least, by Mark Lewis’ (Producer) deft touch in the studio and the bands’ maturity in their songwriting, as well as how they now handle their own personal relationships. The latter had undergone such extremes, it ultimately lead to the band’s break up some 13 years ago.
We caught up with Mike ‘Mikey’ Cox (drummer) and Miguel ‘Meegs’ Rascón (guitar) at The Waterfront, Norwich, on the second date of their UK tour. We began by asking about how the album was put together and the reaction to the release of ‘Rivals’.
Mikey: Yeah, like the response has been crazy! You know, we kind of just write, we don’t plan on “Oh my God that’s right”, like we tried in the past. You try to write a certain way to try to envision what people want to hear. You write it, and you’re like “Yeah, this sounds like us”. With the new record, I think a lot of it is the fact that we’ve all matured as musicians. We just got older, wiser and me and him (Meegs) spent more time on really locking in all the individual parts, but it still sounds like us. Our Producer, Mark Lewis (who has produced from Whitechapel and DevilDriver), helped us a lot. We wanted a live, nasty, not perfect record; we didn’t sit and make everything perfect. We did Click Track on the record like we always do, but our tempos go up and down like live, you know? We tried to do it with one tempo and it sounded horrible. It sounded boring, because we’ve always been a band that pushes and pulls. When parts get heavier, we go! All the tones on the record, all his (Meegs) wacky guitar shit, we spent four days just getting drum tones alone, which is crazy! It’s a nightmare going through the process, but in the end you know it just sounds nasty. We wanted a nasty record, that’s my best term for it, ‘nasty’.
TCRS: If I can turn to Meegs – Mike’s been talking about what’s gone down in the studio, but could you explain to us what is so different between how you put this album together and for instance ‘Dark Days’ and ‘Chamber Music’?
Meegs: Well on a personal level, the comradery and the way we treat each other is obviously like night and day. Back then, it was all wacky and fucked up and that definitely kinda like penetrates into your music, you know it definitely affects your music, whether it’s bad or good, but now it’s like you know we get along. We’re great friends and on a personal level it definitely shows in the way we write and also from ‘Dark Days’ to Rivals there’s a big gap. Musically, its progressed to the better, so yeah, so just personally and musically it’s just like night and day, definitely.
TCRS: We were catching up with Dez (Farfara – vocals) earlier, and he was recalling the time all got together and listened back to the final mix of ‘Rivals’, and it was quite an emotional moment for you all?
Mikey: Yeah, I mean when you’re writing the songs… you know, we holed up in a shitty rehearsal space and just do it old school. So me and Meegs always had the vision of how it’s going to sound recorded. Other people walk into a rehearsal space and you’re just jamming this loud, it sounds like shit and you don’t envisage how it’s going to sound polished on the record. When I got that music back, even before Dez did any vocals, I used to work for Snoop Dogg and I would travel four hours total in the day, two hours in the traffic and two hours back, and I listened to it on repeat for months and months and every day I was like I can’t believe how good it sounds and it captured everything we were trying to get and the ones Dez laid vocals and I got just the rough, I was like holy shit! To this day, I can’t believe it came out as good as it did. I’m not saying we’re not capable of it, because obviously we are, but you have a vision of where it’s going to go. Sometimes you get a record and oh shit it’s not as crazy as I thought it would be, you know This song is not as heavy as I thought it would be. With this record, I was like every song, top to bottom, I was like “Holy shit! This sounds good!”. Once we heard the final – we only changed the mixes just a little bit, perhaps three or four times with Mark (Lewis), it was very emotional, because I never in a million years thought we would be sitting here, let alone do a record ever. Mark (Lewis) really helped us and every really stepped up their game. To finally get it to happen, it was very emotional. We’re really proud of the record.
TCRS: You’re currently on tour here in the UK. You’ve certainly got some fond memories of the UK, right?
Mikey: Yeah first time we did a signing here was at the Virgin Megastore in London. I was 19 and we were there for like five hours. Got in the cab and they were chasing us down the street in the cab! I called home and I was like “Mom I’m a Beetle, I’m famous!”. I’m so famous, I’m not rich but I’m definitely famous over here.
Meegs: Definitely not rich! [laughs]
Mikey: Yeah. It’s been really good here. We’re looking at it as starting over. We have the old songs we have to play. We love those songs, but for taking that much time off you have to reinvent yourself and you have to prove yourself all over again. You can’t expect to have the same fan base as when you broke up. 13 years is a long time and a lot of bands come back after two years and don’t do shit!
TCRS: No doubt you’ll be introducing a few more new songs to the setlist, but for the time being you’ve got ‘Rivals’ and ‘IOU’?
Mikey: Yeah. We don’t want to play songs that people over here haven’t heard through someone’s iPhone recording and then post it and people think that’s how the record sounds through someone’s phone. Once this tour is over, we’re going to add four more new songs to the set.
Coal Chamber’s Meegs and Mikey at The Waterfront, Norwich
Meegs: The fans that we do have, obviously, they’re here to see us preform the old songs. But we want to expand the fan base and have the people really hear what we’re doing now, than what we’re doing in the 90s.
TCRS: You’ve moved on?
Mikey: I think with our area of music, with all the bands that grew up with and toured with back in the day, we all turned into crazy assholes and the bands couldn’t stay together and now I think everyone is growing up…
Meegs: We’re no longer in our 20s, so it’s like you’re kind of invincible, you know, in the head space and physically in your 30, 40s.
Mikey: I mean we pretty much lived the life of 50 people, with all the shit we’ve done and experienced in travelling, that’s more than 50 people combined do.
Meegs: Yeah, like here we just became normal and just we’ve done so much that you’ve lived like a couple lifetimes, so we’re good, we’re not going to be old people going oh we should’ve done it, like “No, we did it!”.
Mikey: Yeah, we’re still a bunch of nut cases, we got our things you know… I think every musician is a fucking nut job, all of them.
Meegs: You kind of have to be.
Mikey: We all think way differently from the rest of the world and you know stuff is not realistic and you’re living in a travelling submarine, so your grasp of reality is weighed. When I get home and I do normal stuff with my son. It takes me a second to go “Oh wow! This is normal!”, because you literally in airports and throwing around and pointing in one direction and but it’s definitely a dream come through.
Coal Chamber’s tour support comes from as. These three bands are worth the admission price alone and didn’t disappoint the Norwich faithful on Thursday night (May 21st, 2015).
Coal Chamber came, saw and conquered, rounding off a splendid evening with 13 songs, all delivered with aplomb.
Take it from us, these guys are more focused than ever before…go check ’em out on tour and pick up a copy of ‘Rivals’!
UK Tour w/ Soil, the Defiled & Dope
20.05.15 UK – Leeds / Stylus
21.05.15 UK – Norwich / The Waterfront
22.05.15 UK – Warwick / Copper Rooms
23.05.15 UK – Nottingham / Rock City
24.05.15 UK – Glasgow / O2 ABC
26.05.15 UK – Bristol / Motion
27.05.15 UK – Exeter / Lemon Grove
28.05.15 UK – Brighton / Concorde 2
29.05.15 UK – Wolverhampton / Wulfrun
30.05.15 UK – Manchester / The Ritz
31.05.15 UK – London / Koko [Sold Out]
Coal Chamber band links: Official Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
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