Searching the creative dance of warfare with Chris Emery of American Head Charge

ahc chris_RingMasterReview

We have not been alone in declaring Tango Umbrella, the new album from American Head Charge, as not only one of the band’s most thrilling and potent offerings but one of metal’s most exhilarating incitements in recent times. Following the successful Shoot EP, the album confirmed after a hiatus that the band has returned creatively bigger and bolder than ever. With the offer to find out more laid before us, we quickly seized the opportunity to quiz drummer Chris Emery about not only Tango Umbrella but also on that six year absence, the kinship within the band, and much more…

Hello Chris and great thanks for sharing some of your time with us.

I think most metal fans know something about the beginning of American Head Charge and certainly your albums, The War Of Art and The Feeding. But the reasons for the hiatus we realised we were definitely in the dark. Before looking at the mighty treat that is Tango Umbrella, can you explain why the break and more so what sparked the band’s return?

Certainly Pete, I wouldn’t mind shining some light on that spot of AHC history for you. Basically the hiatus was Chad Hanks, co-founder and man with the plan, closing up the A.H.C. shop. Continually not being able to make contact with Cameron (Heacock) for song collaboration purposes and anything band related, he naturally called it quits. He tried to get in touch with him but they weren’t able to get together. As far as we knew at the time the break was permanent. Then one day, out of the clear blue, Cameron emails Chad new demos. No “hi, how you /this is what’s going on.” After Chad heard Cameron’s voice he knew that he was healthy and writing amazing work. I received the same demos. Some of them were songs that Justin and Chad were working on in addition to the brilliant work coming from Cameron. We were all just so happy to know that he was alright and in a happy creative frame of mind.

And the songs were exciting to boot so that was a plus and the spark that supplied all the energy this collaborative shared dream needed to gain lift and begin to take shape. The whole year leading up to Chad sending me songs and asking if I was down to play again; I was setting off sparks every day in my own mind. I would sit and daydream about playing with them again. Mentally preparing myself for the day that spark caught fire and set in motion the series of events leading us here. The spark was the music. As soon as I heard the demos for Let All The World Believe and Perfectionist, I just knew in my heart that these songs were a pre-production process away from being an incredible record. We knew it was going to take every ounce of energy and clout we could gather to make it happen. The fans were a huge spark. When we did the indigo campaign and it was a huge success it became real. We began pinching each other on a daily basis.

ahc4_RingMasterReviewI often wonder when a band stops or goes on a hiatus and then returns sometimes years later, how much is feeling like there is unfinished business, how much is working through issues and then members coming to a mutual kinship again, and how much is simply as a music fan being inspired by other’s great releases to go again or to show some how it should be done…any apply to AHC?

All of it applies. There were loads of new songs to work on together as a band. There was much work to be done and everyone was eager to get started. The mutual kinship came naturally. You get us together, and no matter what we’ve endured in the past, we squash it and move forward. We grew while apart, and I witnessed grown men with love in their hearts say and do everything needed to honestly come together. As we got sincere, the music grew tight. You could see it in our eyes and in our actions and behavior. We were on a mission to make an honest comeback that contained all the essential ingredients; overcoming hurdles, timeless music, support from fans, excitement from a record label, and the entire group giving 100%. Even when we had to overcome obstacles, we supported each other and never lost sight of why we decided to do this in the first place. Nothing great comes easy.

As we mentioned, you have just released the excellent Tango Umbrella, an album which for us is as much a kaleidoscope of your creative highlights to date and indeed inspirations as it is a wholly fresh and stirring AHC proposal. Did you have any particular intention in the writing of the album and the character of its sound to re-connect with the past or was it something which organically emerged?

It emerged and evolved organically. A lot of our tried and true methods of writing become helpful when working with new songs. Remember, this is coming from a self-taught drummer that doesn’t write lyrics or music. When we got together and played what they originally wrote it evolved into the finished songs. Sometimes changing a little, other times remaining much closer to the original song idea. On this and past records I contributed a few ideas. Mostly from what I witness and hear when watching my brother’s work, some kind of magical muse takes over. We do our best to get our egos out of the way and let it guide us. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing the part that was written and let the original attraction of the music have its voice heard through the live recording process. I would complicate simple parts at times. It would take direction from everyone to keep me focused. And sometimes it flowed naturally with less effort. We just did our best to create the structure for the song that fit the music perfectly. Sometimes on the spot creativity and experimentation guided the production along. Those were exciting moments.

I can assume the songs within the album are all new propositions or were there older thoughts and previously unused ideas also brought back into the open?

There were a few songs in pre-production that didn’t make the record. Because there was such a large selection of songs and ideas, it was a mixed bag for a while. It had to be carefully sifted through to come up with the perfect selection of tunes, a process helped by having Dave Fortman use his production expertise to help guide us. Most of the songs were new. I did hear a few ideas that were reshaped into ground-breaking AHC effort.

How in general do you hear your sound’s evolution over especially your albums to this point?

I hear more dynamics in the music and lyrically. Cameron is stretching out, coming up with mind blowing ideas. Justin’s involvement in song writing and growth has been amazing. I’m just trying to keep up with all of it and get better as their songwriting evolves.

How did the band approach the creation of Tango Umbrella in the writing and its recording? Was it majorly different to how you went into making The Feeding for example?

I wouldn’t say majorly different in music writing and lyrics. Justin wrote lyrics. That was different. The fans paid for it. That was a major difference art_RingMasterReviewand help. It was recorded in beautiful Richmond, Kentucky. The backdrop of lush green pasture with miles of fences was much softer than the LA concrete. Especially when walking the dog. When we did pre-production for The Feeding we were at Cole Rehearsal studios. LA had more distractions but the studio was bigger. I was fresh out of treatment during The Feeding; recorded it stone sober.

You have touched on this in regard to the new album but generally how do songs come together within the band? Is there a specific method or more regular way by which tracks come about?

Most of the time, Chad and Cameron write songs then bring them to us. The regular is we learn the tunes then we all pre-produce them. There are so many ways they can come together. Starting with riffs, lyrics, samples, loops triggered manually keeping time.

How long had Tango Umbrella been in the making?

From when we started recording it took longer than originally planned. But we had to pay as we went; the way I see it, since The Feeding was finished.

Were its seeds and direction already planted in thoughts in the early moments of the band’s return and the Shoot EP, which I would say in hindsight, gives a definite hint or two about what was to come ?

Yes that is a fairly accurate statement. Shoot was more of a snapshot of where we were musically at the time. It was tracked quickly while on tour. With Tango Umbrella we had more of an opportunity to let songs evolve more before recording.

As you touched on earlier, the band went down the crowd funding route for Tango Umbrella. Do you think this is the way for bands to go now; the future of being able to make music once a band hits a certain fan base level?

It worked well for us. You can do a lot with several thousand dollars. You can also do much these days with less. So depending on how much the band could raise. It does look like a great option for bands today.

ahc3Can you tell us about the themes running through Tango Umbrella and certain songs?

I could but right now Christopher is going to pass. It’s a great question.

How about the emotion loaded A King Among Men? We got the feeling it was inspired by the loss of AHC guitarist Bryan Ottoson in 2005 but also may be by more recent losses like Wayne Static and of course Lemmy. What are its origins?

Not sure exactly, but it makes me think of Bryan and my brother Tim. The song gives me cold chills.

Who came up with the excellent art work and photography for Tango Umbrella?

Forgot sorry, I’d have to ask Chad; it’s getting super early I’m so sleepy

Once more many thanks for chatting with us. Anything you would like to add?

I could use a nap 😉

Check out our review of Tango Umbrella @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/american-head-charge-tango-umbrella/

http://www.headcharge.com/     https://www.facebook.com/AmericanHeadCharge    https://twitter.com/AHC_Official

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 14/04/2016

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For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

American Head Charge – Tango Umbrella

AHC_RingMasterReview

Like many others we are sure, there was a surge of excited anticipation when the new American Head Charge album was announced. It was the first since 2005 full-length The Feeding and the band disbanding two years later. Their return after six years subsequently brought the excellent Shoot EP, a release bristling with hints of a new bigger and even bolder adventure to the AHC sound. Now those clues are realised and reinforced with Tango Umbrella; a maelstrom of prime AHC moments, new imaginative adventures, and exploits seemingly inspired by some of their companions in the nu-metal/melodic metal scene first time around. The result is a riveting and galvanic tempest of sound and imagination which for the main hits the spot dead centre.

From the first breath of their first album for Napalm Records, AHC go straight for the senses and imagination with opener Let All The World Believe. Its entrance is calm and coaxing, electronic pulses and beats gathering within an increasingly sinister ambience before the doors burst open and predatory riffs and rhythms eagerly crowd and trespass ears. It is a forcibly enticing start only blossoming again as the band unleashes inventive industrial metal rabidity. The keys of Justin Fowler sizzle and incite with devilish enterprise whilst the intrusive beats of Chris Emery descend with uncompromising intent. All the while Cameron Heacock vocally prowls like an apocalyptic ringmaster; his expression and words scathing and confrontational and just as alluring as the thick mesh of sound around him. With touches of Fear Factory and Static X to it, the track is a glorious start; an anthemic death dance bursting with the dramatic sonic devilment of guitarists Karma Cheema and Ted Hallows.

Drowning Under Everything quickly follows with another industrial sculpted invitation, its initial clang soon immersed in a robust tide of riffs and grooves. The growling bass of Chad Hanks quickly steals a chunk of the attention, backed by the matching potent bait of guitars and vocal laced with a Manson-esque hue soon evolving into a richer melodic flame bred with the familiar AHC dexterity and invention. It too is a swiftly shifting and changing passage within the tantalising track, a moment soon becoming entangled with all the other textures in a muggy creative maze. Inescapably the track ignites ears and again an already awoken appetite before the more thunderous assault of Perfectionist flares up to place its virulent grip on attention too. Atmospherically suggestive and vocally provocative, the song merges grunge and nu-metal traits and flavours to infectious effect as essences of Korn, Mudvayne, and Alice In Chains spice its enthralling proposal. Epitomising the whole album though, for all spices and influences openly shown, the track is unmistakably American Head Charge through and through.

art_RingMasterReviewThe latter of those three references nudges thoughts again as the thick mesmeric and emotive embrace of Sacred takes over, the track crawling seductively over the senses as vocals, guitars, and keys charm and tantalise ears. With the bass grumbling and beats swinging in tandem, the track beguiles from its first second, before being followed and overshadowed by the quite irresistible I Will Have My Day, a fiercely rousing and relentless White Zombie incitement with again great AIC sounding harmonies and melodic caresses.

The emotion loaded A King Among Men comes next; the ballad a requiem of piano, voice, and harmonies likely inspired by the loss of previous band guitarist Bryan Ottoson in 2005 and more recently friends like Wayne Static but equally a sentiment for anyone losing someone. It is a potent piece leaving a lingering touch much like, but in whole different way, Suffer Elegantly. The call of the wild springs a charging, invasive surge of riffs and grooves driven by hellacious rhythms. There is no escaping a Ministry incited dynamic to the track or its savagely tenacious energy and sound but again AHC twist it into their own ravenous ideation and aggressive imagination. Many major favourites emerge from within Tango Umbrella, this right there on the frontline.

The twisting rapacious tone and grooves of Antidote enslaves ears and thoughts next, its flirtatious melodies and off-kilter slithers of sound rich pickings for the imagination whilst the Down like hostility which seeps from the track’s uncaging of raw intensity has the spirit as inflamed as the rest of the song has ears gripped. Increasingly more impressive and addictive with every listen, the song entices and snarls like a beast in heat much as the Trent Reznor like Prolific Catastrophe which sidles in with a devilish glint in its creative eye and a rousing fire in its sonic belly.

Completing the album is firstly the musically and lyrically antagonistic Down And Depraved, a grouchy and mercurial blaze of voice and sound, and finally the atmospherically cast When The Time Is Never Right. It is another which needed time to convince as heartily as previous tracks within Tango Umbrella but persistently has satisfaction and involvement fully engaged whilst bringing the album to a magnetic end.

It is fair to say that Tango Umbrella lives up to the promise of the band’s last EP and more. It is like a kaleidoscope of their highlights to date and inspirations picked up along the way, in turn almost like trip through the listener’s own nu/industrial metal inspired soundtrack but most of all, the album is one thoroughly thrilling, inventively fresh and varied slab of American Head Charge imagination re-establishing the sextet as one of our prize assets.

Tango Umbrella is released via Napalm Records on March 25th through most online stores.

http://www.headcharge.com/    https://www.facebook.com/AmericanHeadCharge   https://twitter.com/AHC_Official

Remaining dates on the AHC/Mushroomhead UK tour

26.03.16 UK – Bristol / The Marble Factory

27.03.16 UK – Plymouth / The Hub

29.03.16 UK – Cardiff / The Globe

30.03.16 UK – London / Electric Ballroom

31.03.16 UK – Brighton / Concorde 2

01.04.16 UK – Southampton / Engine Rooms

02.04.16 UK – Norwich / Waterfront

03.04.16 UK – Reading / Sub89

Pete RingMaster 24/03/2016

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For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/