In Alighieri’s Inferno, Dante had Virgil, whom represented reason, to help guide him to Beatrice, whom herself was also a physical manifestation, but of spiritual love. “Under Your Halo” mentions this Beatrice, but as the album progresses, the tone becomes darker. Were you trying to recommend that even though you have your spiritual love, and faith, that without reason, we can fall off our own designed straight and narrow path?
Yes it is, but at the same time what we do is our reason. Me singing, me being there, it’s my purpose. It’s why I get up, it’s what keeps me in check, if I was a loose cannon, I would be held accountable by the public. You know what I mean? Everything that I have done since we started as a band has been publicized, and that’s fairly advocated to me now as an adult. I think this music is a part of our reason, and it holds us accountable and I think anything I do in my life is pretty public at this point. It’s been that way, so while there’s not a lot of mention of it, it’s in our lives, it’s in our band, it’s in the changes and we are always held accountable. I mean, I think that we are held over accountable in a lot of ways, because people have unrealistic expectations about us. I think it’s there, but I think it’s something that they’ll enjoy.
The American Dream of suburbia has been a popular choice lately for musicians to write about. Considering that The American Dream is THE shallow defining invention of America, yet at the same time it is its greatest paradox; in the sense that people want the simple life away from reality, yet they have this burning desire to be communal. What is it about this paradox that drew you in to write “Sunny Days and Hand Grenades”?
It was the romanticism of it, as well as my experiences in my youth. I grew up in poverty and my mom had me when she was 16 or 17. I think she was pregnant at 16 had me at 17. She’s worked the same job ever since. I grew up in a lot of poverty, and I was raised mostly by my grandparents, who are saints. They are the perfect people by my definition of the word, and they are the ones who showed me love exists in this world. Through that poverty and through that hard time with switching apartments and all this other stuff, I had friends that had money and had that ideal perfect family and I saw how f—ked up their families were in comparison to mine and mine had their sh-t together, and we were messed up. We were going through so much more, but by definition, we had our sh-t way more together than them. It’s crazy because, even where I am from, there certain advantages that come with that with that shine. You know when your parents have that shine to it, and you’re allowed to get certain advantages that you don’t normally get, like things that I didn’t get. I just couldn’t believe how shallow it was. It just resonated with me and it’s just something that I don’t think I ever really dealt with for a long time, and then in the past couple of years and now, I feel like that I had dealt with that, so now I can talk about it and now I can get it out there. We haven’t played that song live yet, but I am excited for that day that we do and it’s going to be fun.
You mention time quite a bit on this album. We mentioned previously that Slaughterhouse-Five is influential on Devil in many ways. In this novel, humans are the only species, whom follows their life progression in a linear path, while others, [like the aliens] believe that all moments of time occur endlessly and simultaneously; therefore you cannot change your fate. Are you afraid of living this linear timeline?
I’m afraid of time in general. You’re revered as a kid to believe that time is everything. You can’t wait to do this and that, and you have the whole world in front of you, and you can do this thing and you can do that thing. However, you are talking to a guy that’s about to turn 30 in days, so that sucks. Especially because of where it is that I am in my life and what it is, and what I was told, and what I was supposed to have accomplished, you know that American dream in your head. Redefining that for myself; I’m in better shape, I am a better musician; I mean I am better in almost every single way, so I can think either way on it really. I think that the only thing time really, the only fear that really instills within me, is that one day I’ll wake up and I will have nothing to say. That’s the only thing that time really makes me afraid of. Death, I’m not really afraid of, growing old I’m not afraid of, looks I’m not afraid of, and all things like that. Losing passion and becoming broken is the only thing I am completely afraid of. It’s because I am an artist, and I never not want to have something to say.
I was about to say spoken like a true writer!
Exactly! At least this writer can admit that he’s jaded.
Chiodos will be one of many bands performing at the first Self Help Fest in October. As a man with your own personal demons, what does it mean to you to perform at this festival?
To be honest I don’t know too much about it. I get that it’s called Self Help, but I know that our agent has something to do with it, but I’m not exactly too sure to be honest, because I’m not aware of what it does, and I don’t know… do proceeds go anywhere? I don’t know, but I am excited for anything that helps out with stuff like that, and I finally got to open up and honest about all the stuff that had been haunting me, and I will continue to be, because I think it’s important for you to share your experience. Wisdom isn’t wisdom if it’s not shared. I will continue to share my message, and hopefully people will take the good, and take the bad and apply it as they see fit.
After Self Help Fest, is Chiodos jumping on another tour, or can we expect the band to take another journey into the studio during the Fall season?
After this, I think we are going to go away for a second, and reevaluate some things. We will come back in full force after that, but we need a minute after this, after A Day To Remember [Parks and Devastation Tour]. You will see. I think it will actually be more, because we are planning on releasing a lot of content within the next year/year and a half.
Since our conversation with Craig, members Matt Goddard and Derrick Frost have decided to leave Chiodos. The two will be replaced by Thomas Pridgen (the Mars Volta) on Drums and Joe Troy (RX Bandits) on Bass.
“Craig Owens Interview” – written and photographed by Heather Glock