Rob Arnold & Chris Spicuzza


Right before playing the show at The Sounds Of The Underground Tour in Atlanta, GA, Chimaira's Rob Arnold (guitars) and Chris Spicuzza (electronics) tell me their stories about being on one of the largest festivals in Metal, their views on the music industry today and how they're soon to be released new album brings changes to the Metal realm.
By Katrina Cannon
August 12, 2005
Rob Arnold & Chris Spicuzza (Chimaira) interview
How's the tour going?

Rob: It's going ok.

Chris: There are some days that are absolutely fucking boring and then there are some days that are really awesome, and today will be really good I think.

Rob: Yeah, it's hit or miss with every day because it's such a diverse crowd and it's a lot of diverse bands. Everybody is pretty much a Metal or Hardcore band. It's all heavy and stuff like that but one day it could be all Metal kids, the next day it's all Hardcore kids and the next day it could be all Marilyn Manson kids.

Chris: It's cool that we're on tour with bands like Clutch and Gwar, bands that have nothing to do with the Metal and Hardcore scene. They bring in a totally different fan base and it's awesome playing for them, maybe we can score some fans from them. It's all about just scoring some fans.

Rob: The festival tours are always cool 'cause there's always gonna be bands that can help with what's going on.

Chris: I'd rather play with a diverse tour than a straight up Metal tour, well, it is all Metal but different classes I guess.

You recently returned from a European tour. How did that go?

Chris: Short and sweet, that's how we like it.

Rob: Short and sweet. We love the shows over there because it's always awesome and the kids have a real heart found passion about the music and always pack the place. We always have a good time, but we're spoiled suburban kids and dealing with all the hassles with the airports, customs, waiting, the time changes, the flights, the trains, the no ice and air-conditioning, no showers, bunk busses and everything like that. There's a lot to it that doesn't make it that appealing and every band will tell you that if they answer honestly. But the shows are awesome, so it makes it worth it.

You guys seem to have a lot of trouble in London. What always seems to be the problem?

Rob: We don't really have a lot of trouble there. We've gotten into a few fights there, gotten arrested a few times, just little things, but for the most part it's on the up and up. London is a great place.

Chris: Yeah, we love London, we just had a bad night there.

Rob: A couple of bad nights.

Have there been any other really outstanding tour moments so far?

Rob: Picture sleeping on a bus like this in those bunks and just crashing in the middle of the night. Fortunately, it wasn't hard enough to where our legs compacted into the wall and just smashed and shattered, but it was a weird experience.

Chris: It wasn't enjoyable by any means.

Rob: That happened about 2 years ago and I still haven't slept a full night on a bus since then.

Chris: The worst part is you don't know what's happening or what's about to happen. It could be another bus or semi that's gonna crash into you or you're about to go over a bridge, you have no idea.

Rob: You can't see anything, all you can do is feel and it's nuts. But I'm not complaining, I'm alive here and having a cocktail.

Is there a meaning behind the name? I honestly don't know the correct way to pronounce it, Chimaira?

Rob: That's it, the interview's over, let's go! [All Laugh]

Well, I never really knew how to pronounce it.

Rob: No, you hit it right on the head, Chimaira (ka-mir-ah). People have been pronouncing it different ways for 6 years now. But just from the beginning it was one of those things where the band was trying to pick out a name and it looked cool. Now we're trying to live up to the name a little more and incorporate more of what it really stands for. It's a Greek mythological fire breathing creature with a bunch of different heads and we kind of incorporated that with ourselves. We're 6 different dudes with 6 different attitudes to for this one Metal monster. That's why we named the new record Chimaira too, it's a culmination of our abilities, the best of everything we've ever done. So therefore it's self titled and doesn't need a name.

Chris: Basically the fusion of 6 different dudes making one music, songs, sound, everything.

Your new self titled album is due out on August 9th. How did the recording go?

Rob: Great. For me personally the last 10 or 11 months since we started writing the record through the whole process, the recording, mixing, mastering, it all has been the most stressful life changing experience, mixed emotion period of my entire life.

Chris: And it was very tedious.

Rob: Tedious? Dude, you weren't even there for the mixing. Literally we were mixing each song like 10,000 times before we went to the next song. We spent like 4 or 5 twelve hour days just listening to part after part after part. But it's all worth it 'cause every part was looked at and gone through with a fine tooth comb. The whole process itself was invigorating and now I find it extremely rewarding. It was a tough time, though, going through everything we did and I think people are gonna realize the amount of effort we put into it. When it comes out, give people time to settle into it and they'll realize what we've created.

How is this album different from the others?

Chris: It's more thought out I think. This is my first band, it's more thorough so much thought is put into it. I don't think any song can be generic. Every song has its own identity and the overall sound is extremely brutal.

Rob: Every band says we gotta do something different, this is our redefining album. Take it as you will but that's really what happened with us. It definitely brought in some good success and put us on the map but that certainly wasn't good enough. I really feel this is gonna be a genre defining record for us because it is different. There isn't an album like this out there, there aren't bands that are doing song structuring and time signature changes and just the complexity of the song writing formats that we've used. It's not too much that people can't understand, it's laid out for musicians and beer drinking long haired headbangers. Everybody out there that's a fan of Metal is gonna be able to appreciate this 'cause it is a masterpiece and I say that without arrogance but with confidence, and 6 months from now people are gonna tell me that I was right, that we were right. This is gonna be something great, it's gonna change music right now in the Metal realm.

You say genre defining. What genre are you talking about?

Rob: We're a Metal band. That's a good question. The whole Nu-Metal thing, from like 1998 – 2000. I just have this theory that back in the 80's, and even before, there weren't kids out there that could go to a guitar center and pick up a guitar or a bass because they have this opportunity to be in a band, have 3 weeks to learn and then play a show 5 weeks later. That's what's happening now and that's how Nu-Metal happened. Then all of a sudden Pro Tools, the recording program where you didn't have to be as good of a musician came along and now everything can be edited. Instruments are cheaper, high school kids can throw bands together and get record deals. That shit didn't happen in the past, you had to be a good musician, a good player. Good music didn't go unnoticed back then, it was good players that put bands together. Then all of a sudden all the things I mentioned before happened and people realized you could make a quick buck in radio.

So, all the kids that did grow up listening to Metallica, Sepultura and Slayer, stuff like that, put their roots aside just to make some riff that they thought they would have radio impact 'cause that was what record labels were looking for at the time. Labels were spending boat loads of money and just picking up every band possible. Now times have changed, labels are realizing they made a mistake and there have been so many failures and they lost so much money. Now I think good music is gonna make a comeback, Metal in general is gonna make a comeback. Like with Headbanger's Ball, there's a lot of great Metal bands out there that are good players who are coming out and the whole Nu-Metal thing is kind of getting swept under the rug 'cause people are realizing that the whole thing was a mistake. So, what I meant by genre defining is that right now we're in a state where we can be trend setters, we can be leaders and not followers 'cause the entire genre is at a whatever point 'cause no one knows really what's the best, what's good. It's kind of coming out of this whole Nu-Metal thing. This album is gonna set some terms, is what I meant by that.

Is it true that Nothing Remains was written the day Dimebag Darrell died?

Rob: It really doesn't have anything to do with Dimebag, it just happens that he died the night before. The next day a news station in Cleveland asked us to get together and comment as a local Cleveland band on what we thought about what happened because the shooting happened 2 hours away from us at a club we played at a million times. We had a normal writing day scheduled anyway, 'cause we were in the writing process, so when the news cameras left, none of us really felt like doing anything 'cause it was a depressing moment at the time. Then Mark [Hunter - vocalist] was like fuck it, what would those guys do, what would Dimebag want? So I picked up the guitar and we threw something out that was pretty brutal. After the completion, like a day or 2 later, we decided that had to be the opening track. It was that convincing of a track for us that we knew this was what the new Chimaira sound was gonna be about, even though other tracks had already been written. This was just a sample of everything we were gonna do on the record from then on out.

Some of the songs including Lazarus contain very personal lyrics and stories. Are there any other songs that are based on actual personal events?

Chris: All of Mark's lyrics are really personal but he writes them in a way where the reader or listener can relate. If he told everyone exactly what everything meant, it would alienate maybe 60% of our audience, it's just a rough estimate. He writes them like it's an open book. I don't know what the exact meaning of the songs are, I basically just read it and now what's going on or have my own assumption. Lazarus , I just know the personal meaning of it but I think it's too early to really share it because the people haven't been able to seen the lyrics yet.

Rob: All of his lyrics are from a personal stand point whether they were an event that happened in his life or something that he's dwelling on or anticipating. They're all super personal to him , they mean a lot to him.

What are some of your musical influences?

Chris: Me, personally, I don't really have any musical influences. Anything I do listen to musically doesn't even come near anything that Chimaira does. I'm influenced by music scores and soundtracks. Like a war movie with this huge soundtrack, that's the stuff that I get influenced by like this huge atmosphere with this huge emotion. But I get into Nine Inch Nails but nothing in Chimaira comes close to Nine Inch Nails, so I cant tell you that's my influence. My personal influences are not music, they're movies.

Rob: Mine are the basic Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, Megadeth, all that stuff. But if Chris' were, none of those bands have an electronic element like we do so it's good that he's flavored in a bunch of different tastes to where he can put a Nine Inch Nails spin on our music, even though I know nothing about Nine Inch Nails, and set us aside from every other band. He is a big reason why we're not like every other Metal band out there but nor are we extremely unique because there are huge pioneer bands like Iron Maiden that have electronic elements.

What are your plans for after this tour?

Rob: Right after this we do a headlining tour with Six Feet Under, All That Remains and 3 Inches of Blood. Then we do the Blackest Of The Black tour with Danzig, which is gonna be totally cool. Chris doesn't even know about this but just about 10 minutes ago we heard about some possible late November/early December South America and Mexico stuff. It's just gonna keep going. We plan to tour for the next 2 years for this record, playing anywhere that will have us where the money is right.

Is it difficult having such a heavy schedule?

Rob: I would say only recently. In the past all I wanted to do is tour.

Chris: It's nice to get a break every once in a while.

Rob: In the past all I wanted to do was tour and I wanted to get our name out there. I didn't really have anything at home, I mean, I lived with my parents and so being on the road meant that there were no responsibilities, we could do whatever we wanted and I loved everything about that. Now I got a great girl at home, we just bought a house, so everything changes and now I just want to be home. But I love playing guitar and I wouldn't change it for anything, especially on stage. And now that the band is getting bigger and we're finally getting rewarded for all of our hard work and everything like that. We have to find a happy medium and we have a job to do and everyone knows that and that's our number 1 priority.

Any Last Words?

Chris: August 9th.

Rob: August 9th, the new record, pick it up. Whether you burn it or not, we really don't care, just pick it up anyways, at least help us out a little bit.

Chris: Or just hand us a couple $20 bills.

Rob: To Rob and Chris only though. [All Laugh]

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