It started out as a fluke. We were in Cleveland at the time playing the smaller club scene, a brand new band just trying to get any show we could. When we were approached to play the Farmclub TV show back in 2000, they needed us to play in a bigger venue for the filming process. So we booked the show at this place called The Odeon, which at the time was where all the bands we grew up listening to came into town and played through. It was like a dream of ours to play there. The show did really well, so the promoter went, “Why don’t you guys come back in December and do it again? Let’s see how you do the second time around”. We were pretty nervous that it was a fluke, that people only came out because they knew it was going to be filmed. But lo and behold that first December, we rolled in and the show did really well! And the promoter said, “You guys should do this every year and call it Chimaira Christmas!” So we were like, “ok!” [laughs]
So there’s a promoter in Ohio going, “I was responsible for it!”
Yeah, definitely! His name’s Dan Kemer and it was his idea. And every year since then, it’s just worked.
Is there going to be any special surprises this year?
No. I think the big deal for this time around is that it’s the first U.S. performance with the new line-up and people are going to get a chance to see the new Chimaira.
I noticed you recently posted a picture on Facebook guitarist Emil Werstler with the caption “Back to Work.” So does that imply that you guys are already working on new music?
Yeah, we’re really deep into the process. We have twelve demos written and we’ve actually gone into the studio and demoed it professionally instead of just a standard computer/Pro Tools kind of thing. We’re getting ready to enter the studio in February and make a new album.
You guys have any idea of when it will be released?
We’re eyeballing for mid to late summer.
And it will be released via eOne Music still, right?
That is correct. I’m pretty thankful, despite all the changes, that the label’s still really behind the band and is excited about putting out the new album and ready to move forward.
As you mentioned, it’s been one hell of a year of changes for the band.
Yeah, 2011 sucked [laughs]. This year’s been all about rebuilding and we got a chance to do overseas. Our first show with the new line-up was at Soundwave in Australia in front of 10,000 people. It was really nice to have to go through such a terrible year and just kind of stand on top of a mountain and go “Wow ok, we got out of it, and we’re here, we got a band, we sound great, and we can move forward.” So this year has been restructuring the entire business from the ground up, realigning ourselves with new teams; be it management, agent, merchandise companies, everything from the whole ground up. In my opinion, the only way to move forward was to rebuild the whole thing from the bottom up.
So it sounds like 2013 is really going to be Chimaira’s year.
I hope so, that’s our intention. We want to come out with an album that not only captures the essence of what the fans have grown to know over the years, but we want to do something not only for the scene that’s special, but for musicians out there, too. The musicianship in this band now is definitely on the next level. Everyone’s pretty much a virtuoso at their instrument. Some of the stuff Emil was writing yesterday on this new song, I’m watching him play and I’m like, “There are only going to be about a handful of people that’ll able to play this!” [laughs] I’m imagining like a kid getting home, getting our new record and maybe they have the guitar, and they go sit down and try play along to it. And it’s going to take them a very long time. [laughs]
Well, I’m excited to hear it!
Me, too. It’s getting good. We couldn’t be happier moving forward. It sucks that we had to go through hell – no pun intended – to get to where we are now. But I think all of us, coming from lessons of life, lessons of bands, lessons of the industry, we’ve lived and learned and now we have something completely different to prove.
As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Yeah, I think I said that in one of our songs, “Ressurection.” And I stole that from…well, it comes from [Friedrich] Nietzsche, but let’s be honest, I stole that from Conan The Barbarian. [laughs]
Did you thank him in the credits?!
Well, I’m only letting you in on this secret now. I couldn’t do it back then because I had to let fans think that those were my own lyrics.
Of course! If you want, we can make sure the secret is not revealed in the interview.
No, no, we can reveal it now!
I can see the headline now: “Exclusive! Mark Hunter Reveals The Real Source Of Inspiration!” [laughs]
“Mark Hunter Steals Lines from Conan the Barbarian!” [laughs] Now what would be amazing is if this somehow led to our involvement in the new Conan movie coming out next year.
Yeah! And Arnold is back in this one, right?
Therefore, it’s going to be a real Conan movie, not like that thing that got released in 2011 that we won’t discuss.
Well I would be more than proud and happy to help you start that campaign!
MH: That would be fantastic. Maybe we could be likean extra. I’ll get jacked up if I have to, whatever I have to do to stand in the background!
I was thinking soundtrack wise, but yeah let’s get you in as an extra!
Yeah, that would be fantastic [laughs].
Well thanks so much for talking to us!
Absolutely! I initially [via Twitter] just wanted to respond after seeing my friend getting slammed on the net, or maybe a getting little a heat on himself. But hey, I guess he brought it upon himself [laughs]. You’ve got to be careful what you say, but I don’t he really cares either way.
Well, that the beauty of the internet in today’s culture, you also have the medium to defend yourself.
Now here’s one thing I’d like to mention. I have people that dislike me, that refer to me as a “faggot.” And I just kind of look back and look at the subject that’s saying it, how much do they say it and I wonder, “Hmm, perhaps they’re just not in touch with their true feelings; they are homosexual deep down inside.” And then I see why they’re so angry and have to use the word. But I obviously don’t think that about Phil because if anything, he’s very vocal about how much he likes chicks [laughs]. But thatit’s something that’s interesting and scientifically proven. So if people want keep going around and being hateful in the sense of that word, maybe that’s how we can start to, not so much tolerate it, but understand it.