Interview || The One With Tom & Pablo from Chelsea Grin

Chelsea Grin returned to Europe in September 2018 with a headlining tour to support their latest album, "Eternal Nightmare". We caught Tom (Barber, vocals) and Pablo (Viveros, drums) before they played an incendiary show in Berlin and they detailed the new record, the new dynamic in the band and, as always, mildly awkward situations.

© Michelle Ritzmann photo

U: Let’s start with talking about your current European tour you’re on; it’s only the second day but you guys recently mentioned this is the longest set you ever played and that it’s going to be hard to play every night. How did the first show go?
Pablo Viveros: The first day was interesting because we got stuck in the airport at home for nine hours and then we had to change our entire Itinerary because our flight got fucked up. So, we had the nine hours at the airport and then we flew nine hours and ended up being super late for our first show. We didn't get there until 6:30 pm or something, so we pushed the whole show back about two hours. It was pretty stressful because we were originally supposed to get there about 2 pm and have the whole day to set up everything for the first show. We had to rush everything and ended up not playing until 11:30 pm.
Tom Barber: The kids were tired.
P.V.: Everyone was tired, but I felt like we played really well and physically it was pretty painful to play as long as we did, but I'm excited to do it every night and I think I can speak for the whole band that we're excited to play so many songs and play so long for our fans.
T.B.: I totally agree with that. I never had a set this long with any band I’ve ever played with and they’re fun songs to play. Yesterday, as I was saying, everyone was a little tired, but today everything should go really well. It’s gonna be a good day!

U: The next question is for Tom. Having assumed vocal duties right before Warped tour, this is your second tour with Chelsea Grin. How would you describe your arrival in the band?
T.B.: Very quick, very suddenly, because I wasn't meant to join the band. They went to record some songs, God forbid, that AK [Alex Kohler, the former vocalist] couldn't record for whatever reason, but things kind of weren't really working out with the situation with him in the band. So they called me and said, "Hey, things aren't working out with AK would you be able to play with us and help us out." So, I flew out to California. It's obviously a giant opportunity and at the same time it's the type of music that I love and playing their songs is so much fun, I just couldn't pass on the opportunity. Yes, everything seems really sudden but it's been very rewarding so far.

U: Your new record, “Eternal Nightmare”, came out over 2 months ago. How has the response been so far?
P.V.: It has been really good. We were very, very nervous because replacing a vocalist is the hardest thing a band has to do. We finished recording in February, so from February until when “Dead Rose” came out until June, we were so stressed out. We were happy with the record, we knew it was good, we know Tom's vocals were amazing, we knew that the work we did with the producer, Drew Fulk, was awesome. We knew everything was good but we were panicking because we were like "What if people don't like it? What if people were so attached to Alex that they won't even give the record a chance?". Then finally the singles came out and people were happy. Some people kind of wanted to hate it but they couldn't, because they knew it was good. And the more time went by, we had more people coming back online being like "Look, we talked a lot of shit, but we actually do like it." I think it has been the best response we had on a record in a long time, so we were really happy about it.

U: How have the dynamics changed and how was the writing and recording process with Tom?
P.V.: It was awesome. It was kind of weird because he came into it halfway through. We did go in the studio with Alex before he had to leave to go take care of himself. We had the songs written and five days into the studio Alex left, so we kind of did all the rearranged all the songs with Drew and Tom flew in two weeks into the recording. He adapted so well, he brought a lot of good ideas to the table, instrumentally and vocally. I'm excited to do the next record from the beginning all the way through to the end with him. I think we all have the same ideas and mentalities about what we want in our music, so I think it's gonna be fun to do the next record.

© Michelle Ritzmann photo

U: What would you say is the differentiation point between “Eternal Nightmare” and your previous work?
P.V.: We wrote “Eternal Nightmare” with a lot of anger and a lot of sadness, just negative feelings. That compared to the old stuff me, David and Stephen weren’t really involved in the vocal writing in “Self Inflicted”, so I couldn’t really tell you what the “Self Inflicted” songs were about. I don’t think there’s much feeling in those songs and it even translates into the Instrumentation. “Eternal Nightmare” is just really heavy and really pissed off sounding compared to “Self Inflicted” and I think that it came from us being frustrated about the Alex Situation and I just had gone through a divorce, David was struggling with some stuff, everyone was in a negative space. We brought a really pissed off record and it really translated into the music compared to “Self Inflicted” where I feel like we just wrote a record, because we had to write a record. We tried to write cool songs, some of them worked out and some of them didn’t. It’s where I learned with “Eternal Nightmare”, that it’s really important for us all to be involved in every aspect, not just our perspective Instruments.

U: Favourite song of the album? And which one is the most fun to play live?
T.B.: My favourite song would have to be “Nobody Listened” and my favourite song to play live would have to be “Hostage”.
P.V.: I’m gonna say the same. “Nobody Listened” is my favourite to listen to but it’s hard to play so it’s not as fun (laughs). “Hostage” is a lot of fun to play, “9:30” as well.
T.B.: Agreed.
P.V.: God, I can’t think of the name… What is that other song called?
T.B.: Is it in on the old or the new record?
P.V.: The new record. Right before “Hostage”. It’s after “Limbs”.
T.B.: I thought that was “9:30”? (laughs)
P.V.: (laughs too)
T.B.: We forgot!
P.V.: Let me look that up. That’s funny! It is called (Pause) “Scent of Evil”!
T.B.: That’s a good one to play. Very metal.

U: If you woke up one day in the opposite gender's body, what would be your first reaction?
T.B.: Oh god, I think that’s a very inappropriate question.
P.V.: (laughs) I would literally just touch myself all day.
T.B.: Yeah! I would just give myself breast exams all day.
P.V.: I would just cum all day.
T.B.: I would do that too. Just to what it feels like to be a girl.
P.V.: I would be a giant slut.

U: What is an album you can listen to without skipping a song or in other words what is your favourite album ever?
P.V.: I think on the top of my head I would say “Misery Signals” by Controller, that’s one of my favourite records of all time.
T.B.: One of my favourite records of all time would be “Macadelic“ by Mac Miller. Rest In Peace. I could play it front to back.
P.V.: “Views” by Drake is another great one.

U: Guilty music pleasures?
T.B.: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.
P.V.: Yeah, me neither. I love me some Cardi B, Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber tho.
T.B.: I would say, Justin Timberlake or Lorde. Love Lorde. Talking about Jesus here.
P.V.: Taylor Swift?
T.B.: I don’t even like Taylor Swift.
P.V.: I love Taylor Swift! I think our fans probably think we only listen to metal, but I love pop, oldies, I love everything.
T.B.: If I was going to be really, really real with you. My favourite metal record would have to be “The Cleansing” by Suicide Silence. That record is literally the most pissed off thing.

U: What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever done?
P.V.: I had fans ask me if they can come over to my house and hang out. That's a strange one, but other than that nothing too weird. I think there are some really brave fans out there. I know like ten people that have our signature tattooed on them, that's pretty wild. I wouldn't say it's weird, it's awesome! We have really cool fans. Except for the ones that want to come over and hang out at my house.
T.B.: Now that I think about it, one of the weirdest things that ever happened to me was in Texas with my other band Lorna Shore. This lady came up to me and asked me if there’s enough room under the table for her to sit. I guess she was saying she wanted to... you know. There wasn’t enough room. I assume she was drunk.

© Michelle Ritzmann photo

U: Fuck, marry, kill in the band.
T.B.: Ohhhh, I think I would fuck Pablo, kill David, marry Stephen.
P.V.: I see how David is with his family so I’d marry him. I would have sex with Stephen.
P.V.: (laughs) Actually I would marry Tom, because Tom makes good money. He’s a good sugar daddy. So I would marry Tom, ... ah man, I don’t wanna kill David. Okay, marry Tom, fuck David, kill Stephen. Why are you making me say those things? (laughs)

U: To wrap this up I have one more question. You’re going to end this year with a US tour supporting Whitechapel. Do you have any future things planned after this? What can we expect?
P.V.: There're a couple things in the works and nothing we can say yet, but we're trying to do more international things. Hopefully Australia, South America, we haven't been there in a while, so we're trying to work those out. Like I said, nothing is set in stone and we'll definitely bring the Eternal Nightmare tour to the US with different support, sometime in late spring 2019. Nothings set up yet, or I would tell you.

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