Take a look at this great interview with Alex Koehler, vocalist for Chelsea Grin! I sat down with Alex at the San Francisco stop of the "Bury The Hatchet" Tour to talk about their upcoming album, their song "Letters", their stint on the upcoming Vans Warped Tour this summer, and the story behind their band's name. Check it out!
You guys have been on the FIR/ETF tour for awhile now. What was your initial reaction when you got the call to join this lineup, since this tour was a bit more of a bigger deal than others?
I was just stoked all the way around. The drummer [of Falling In Reverse, Ryan Seaman] and I have been friends for a minute now. He’s from Utah as well. I was just really excited to tour with him. I knew the shows would be big and it would be a huge drawing tour, so I knew it would be good for the band, and good for hangs with friends and what not.
I’ve seen you guys before, and you put on one hell of a show. What is your mindset when preparing to go out and perform, regardless of whether you’re an opener or headliner?
You kind of just have the mindset where you know you’re going to kill it. You have to like, completely psych yourself out, get out there, and do your thing, you know? It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in front of 10 kids or 10,000 kids, you’re always going to have that demeanor, that outlook on stage, and give it your all.
So I’ve got to ask you about the name, and I apologize if you’ve been asked so much about this, but the name “Chelsea Grin” represents a truly violent act. I didn’t know what it was at first, so I had to look it up. Why use such a violent name, just out of curiosity? Was it to be representative of the kind of music you play?
It’s a little bit of both. Like you said, you had to look it up. Initially, when you see the name “Chelsea Grin”, some people might not know what it is. It kind of sticks out as a mainstream-esque kind of name like Norma Jean. You hear that, and it gets stuck in your head. When you look up the meaning, it kind of correlates with the aggressive music that we play and stuff like that. More of a darker side.
You just released the song “Letters” back in December. There’s a lyric in the song I’m curious about. “Let’s end this spiral down/Pick ourselves off the ground/Fuck their rules, and fuck their faith/Fuck the ones looking down on me”. Who are you speaking to?
The song is called “Letters” because I wrote it about the letters I received from fans. More often than not, the letters are about their depression or about them having a hard time, and how our music is something that helps them through it. I figured that if I’m in the position where I can help somebody, I might as well write the lyrics in a way that I am speaking to them without actually speaking to them face to face. When you hear the song, you can feel the connection and know that I’ve gone through the same shit as well before, and currently. You always will. I wanted to build that connection between fans.
It’s been reported that there will be a brand new Chelsea Grin album out later this year. What can fans expect, and what’s the process been like recording this record in terms of anything you’ve done before?
They can expect….we have a couple records out right now, already. We have fans that like the older stuff, fans that like the newer stuff better, and fans that like the in-between stuff. We have fifteen tracks on the record. We tried to use those bases for the songs, and kind of create stuff like that. We experimented with some newer stuff. The writing process was great. We just kind of did our own thing and combined at the end.
You guys will taking part in the Vans Warped Tour for the second time. Congratulations! In your opinion, what do you think sets you guys apart from any other artist out there? Like, what will make people stop and watch you guys when there’s a million other sounds being thrown at them?
I think one thing that we’ve always had to our advantage is that we always bring a very powerful and aggressive show. I always try to have the crowd doing something. I demand a lot of participation. So even if you’re not necessarily into heavy music, if you come to one of our shows, I guarantee that I’ll be making you head bang, or jump up and down, or something by the end of the night.
What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Some of the older stuff, lyrically, didn’t really have a deeper meaning. Some of it did, but a lot of it was just my love for darker stuff, you know what I mean? Whereas with our stuff since [the Evolve EP], I want kids to walk away with a feeling of, like, that they’re one of us, you know? They’re not so different, and the community of the show that they’re at is their brothers and sisters. They don’t have to hide there. I just want them to leave and be more confident, and in touch with themselves. It’s kind of hard to explain.
What does music mean to you?
It means a lot, man. I’ve obviously been listening to music my whole life. I’ve kinda always dreamt about being a singer ever since I was old enough to realize what a singer was. It’s something that has been such a big part of my life for so long. It is my life now, and it’s nice to be able to be on stage, doing what I’m doing.
After this tour wraps up, what are the future plans for Chelsea Grin?
There’s just two more shows, and then we’re home for maybe two weeks. Then we’ve got a European headliner, and then Warped Tour. After that, it just kinda depends on how our record does, and we’ll go from there.
This has been another shameless promotion.