INTERVIEW: Alex Koehler – Chelsea Grin

CHELSEA GRIN just wrapped up their biggest UK headline tour ever in support of their latest album Self Inflicted. We caught up with vocalist Alex Koehler at their London show to discuss how the tour was going and what the album cycle for Self Inflicted has been like so far.

To start with, this is CHELSEA GRIN’s biggest UK and European headline tour ever. How’s it been so far?

Alex: This has been a lot bigger and better than we all anticipated so we’re all insanely excited about it, it’s awesome.

Do you feel like you reaching these size venues has been a long time coming?

Alex: Yeah we’ve been working really hard trying to get to this point and we’ve finally stepped up.

So this has all been in support of your latest album, Self Inflicted, that you released last year. How has the reaction been since you release it?

Alex: I feel like it’s been accepted really well. With the sound of this album we kinda decided to go back to “our roots” and just wanted to do stuff like we used to. And we think fans have all really appreciated that and have all been really excited over it.

There definitely are some callbacks on this album to your earlier stuff but it’s not just redoing old ideas right, was this your aim from the start?

Alex: Yeah we’ve always been a heavy band and it kinda seemed like we’d strayed away from a lot of the real heaviness. Obviously as musicians you wanna try new things but with this we really wanna to write it for the live aspect as well. We wrote songs thinking this is gonna be crazy live, that was more of our mindset this time.

On the album there’s the song Clickbait which is clearly very angry about the media. Was this due to a particular incident or was this just something you guys all felt?

Alex: Nah there used to be a lot of beef with a magazine in the states but after we released that song they came to us and just wanted to work things out and make things better. Apparently it was only one guy who used to work for them but they kicked him out cos he put a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. He’d be the one to do all the shit talking and stuff like that. Basically we just hashed it out and everything is all good now thought we still play the song anyway.

I guess it’s a good way to release your anger over a situation like that

Alex: Yeah exactly, this is the music for it. If you feel strongly about something you might as well put it into song form.

So how do you feel about the current state of deathcore. Do you still identify as a deathcore band?

Alex: Yeah totally. I mean I usually don’t even try and break it down into sub-genres and stuff. When people ask what kind of band we are I usually just say metal cos it’s such a broad genre. But we’ve never had a problem with the label of deathcore.

What do you think caused the backlash against deathcore?

Alex: I dunno, people just like to hate things right…

It was new and popular so got people angry?

Alex: Yeah exactly

You said before you’d experimented with your sound in the past, do you feel like you’ve changed a lot as a band over the years?

Alex: We’ve obviously all gotten better as musicians because we’ve been playing a lot longer now. We just understand what we are trying to do now a lot better. When we were younger we just put out music to get it out there. It was like “this is sick lets just put it out”. Now there’s more of a thought process to it, it’s smarter music writing.

It’s important for bands to grow and try new things though, even if that isn’t necessarily what fans want.

Alex: Yeah I feel like as a musician generally you’re gonna wanna try to push yourself to new heights. So I feel it’s only natural to try different things. I’ve never met a musician who doesn’t naturally want to better themselves.

S0 have you thought about a follow up to the album yet or is the focus entirely on touring right now?

Alex: The year just started and we still wanna try and push Self Inflicted as hard as possible and do a bunch of headlining runs. At the end of the year we’re gonna start looking at writing some new material and stuff but right now we just really want to push Self Inflicted out there and tour the shit out of it.

Will you be back to the UK with Self Inflicted then?

Alex: Yeah totally, we have some festival dates later this year, I dunno if they’ve been announced yet we’re definitely gonna be back out here, I imagine coming back to London too.

So is that everything you’ve got left for the year then?

Alex: Yeah we’re just staying really busy. After this tour we only have like 2 weeks off back home before we start another headlining run in the States. We’re just really grinding it out now.

Awesome, thanks for your time man

Alex: Thank you

Self Inflicted is out now via Rise Records.

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