Interview: Christian, 2001/04/28, Eiffel tower, Paris (France)

You hadn't toured in a long while, how was the reunion with Chokebore's European audience?

It was very positive, we didn't know what to expect... the band had been absent from Europe for so long, no one has heard from the band, people thought we broke up... The business people over here, the promoters, no one knew what to expect, no one knew how many people would come. So this tour was our comeback, a way of saying "hey, we haven't left anywhere, we're back, we got a new record, our previous drummer is back". It was just to reclaim our spot!

In April, when you toured with the French band Experience, people were disappointed to see you were the supporting band for Experience, and not the headlining band. But it seems that you switched and headlined the concert on the last night?

Well again, due to the fact that no one really knew what to expect for us, we had to be a support band, as far as the last show we did with Experience, they requested to switch around that night. They are a good band. Good drummer!

It must have been hard for them...

Yeah, because they're the ones that have a new record, they got major label support, they got all the money invested, and we're a band that's been absent for 3 years, we have no label support...

You have a lot of fans!

Yeah, we have a fan base, and they're at a disadvantage there, because even though Michel, the singer, is very well known from Diabologum, Experience is fairly new, from 98.

Your records are hard to find at the moment, has distribution been a problem since the early days?

Yeah, the problem is that our label Boomba kind of went down, and that killed our distribution.

"Black Black" is the only record available in Europe right now...

Well that's one of the things we will change. We want all of are records in the stores, people want them, so they should be there. "Black Black" is probably only available in Europe through import with Punk iN My Vitamins, and that's terrible, because the record was released in Europe as well...

First!

Yeah, first!

Maybe you should re-issue the first 3 albums...

Yeah, right now we're looking at re-releasing all of our back catalog, but I think we have to get a hold of Tom Hazelmyer at Amphetamine Reptile and deal with him about that. We have to figure out the legal stuff, because they have the rights.

The new songs sound more like what the band did with "A Taste for Bitters" than with "Black Black", can this be explained by your re-joining the band?

Yeah, definitely...

You're not comfortable with the slow stuff?

No, I like the slow stuff too... I think the band realized that a lot of the songs were really slow and kind of down, and that we needed more of a balance, so that's why some of our newer songs are much more aggressive and poppier...

The history of Chokebore's drummers isn't clear, some people think that you are the band's first drummer...

No, Christian, the second drummer, is back! The first drummer is not back, and he will never be back! (laughs)

How does it feel to be playing your new songs live? You played a lot, maybe 10...

Yeah, that's a lot! Only later during the tour did I realize that we're playing a lot of songs people don't know! Because I noticed that when we play songs that people do know, they go crazy! And then when we're playing a new one, they're like "oh, now we have to listen..." So it's strange...

One of the new songs is called Shit Castle, it's a weird title, it doesn't sound like Chokebore!

Yeah, I don't think that will be on the record... We like to mess with names. I remember back in 1995 when we would play a couple of local shows before we went on tour just to warm up, we would play under the band name of Canary Canary Canary. Instead of using Chokebore, we would be Canary Canary Canary!

The new songs, together with the older ones, can often be found on the internet in mp3 format. How do you feel about that?

Well, it seems to me like the people that are crying the most about Napster are people that have a lot of money. So there's millionaires crying about their songs being taken... I myself have never made a dollar from music, but again I myself have put CDs that I played on, from other bands with Rozz Williams, Shadow Project, Daucus Karota, just bands that are well known in their own right, and that I actually just put on Napster just because I feel that if somebody wants to take the time to download your music to listen to it, then they can have it, you know, because if you buy a record that I played on at a store, say a Shadow Project record, I'm not gonna get any money for it anyway, so if you get it for free, or if you paid for it really doesn't make a difference to me, but it does make a difference to me that you cared enough to get the song and listen to it, and that makes me feel good, to know that someone is listening to something that I worked on, regardless of how you got it, wether you dubbed it from a friend, Napster... So, yeah, I'm fine with it, I think it's cool...

Could it be a way to promote bands?

Yeah, it is, because I don't think it'll stop people from buying CDs, because to buy a CD is to have the whole package, you want the original artwork, you want the text and the pictures, it's the whole package... And anyway, the last hundred CDs that I've got from bands that I like to listen to, I've borrowed from friends and burned them at home. So I have no right to complain about Napster, because I myself am burning CDs. I don't have very much money to spend $15 on a CD.

Does Chokebore play songs that you, or James have written?

It's a Miracle, that's a song that James wrote. So everyone brings in, it's mostly Troy, but everyone brings in ideas and riffs, and we all work on it together. But I myself would like to concentrate more on songs that Jon writes. I would like more of Jon's influence, because I noticed at soundcheck that Jon would start playing a guitar line, and it's really nice, you know... Jon's input is probably the most interesting sounds that are made by Chokebore. Because he's an artist, you know, he went to art school, and he's a photographer and, all of his influences, all his artistic energy comes out through his guitar...

Doesn't he have a solo project or another band?

You know everyone always asks about that! I know that solo albums thing has been done before, Kiss did it, and The Melvins did it... I would like to do that, I think all of us in Chokebore at one point should have our own CD, even if it's just a couple songs, or just one long song. But right now we really have to focus on the new album and tour for the new album, then we can do fun things like solo records and live records, and b-sides, cause that's all in the works, we got b-sides, unreleased stuff, Dana Lynn [Chokebore's first name] stuff, and live shows, that will be officially released... We got a lot of things in the works...

A lot of fans are trading Chokebore live shows...

To me, people are trading Björk concerts, and Cure concerts, so if someone's gonna take the time to trade our concerts, I mean we're such a little band, that it's more of an honor... I know at one point somebody in Europe was selling Bis Ende [one of Christian's side projects]... I got really upset at that because he was selling it, and it was very expensive! But people trading stuff, it's more of an honor to the band, plus that's how bands become popular anyway: exposure! It doesn't matter how you get exposed to the band as long as you get to hear about it!

So how did you end up playing with Chokebore?

Chokebore was on tour with The Cows, back in 1993, right before they went on tour with Nirvana, and I was at the Whiskey, and I went with a friend of mine to see The Cows and Chokebore opened up and there I was, I remember just watching the band and just thinking this was a very strange band... Probably my most favourite thing of the band was the drummer, cuz he was really weird, you know he was really interesting, very weird style, yeah his hair was all down on his face... I never seen somebody singing like Troy you know, so I didn't know what to make of it, I just know that I thought it was very weird... And about 2 or 3 weeks later, I get a call from Troy, they got my number from the girlfriend of my band's guitar player, who was friends with Chokebore's manager: "Hi this is Troy from Chokebore, we're looking for a drummer". But I didn't call them back, until I got another message saying "Hi this is Troy from Chokebore, we need a drummer, we're going to Europe!" So all of a sudden I was interested, because I really wanted to go back to Europe! Later on I eventually ended up liking the band's music! But it was so weird because I've always joined bands that I myself was a fan of, me playing with Rozz Williams was a major honor, because at 14-15 years old I was listening to Christian Death and Rozz Williams and Shadow Project... I actually did play one song on a Christian Death record, which is a big deal to me even to this day. I was 19 at the time, I played a human skull with a wooden spoon and a sheet of metal with my keys... And then I joined Shadow Project, and then later ended up doing EXP with Paris [keyboard player from the band Shadow Project], which I still do to this day, and we will be releasing EXP stuff. Actually a record was just released that I played on, called "Daucus Karota live in Berlin", recorded from the tour I did with Rozz Williams in 1993.

Bis Ende is something I did immediately after leaving Chokebore. I just locked myself in my room, bought a sampler, a very cheap sampler, and sampled my drums, and that allowed me to not be the drummer anymore, and to be the bass player and the songwriter. So I just sat in my room for months and wrote a batch of songs and recorded them. I knew I had to get something out while I was touring for "A Taste for Bitters", I had all this music in me, I had to get it out and it was killing me, there was no creative balance in my life at that time, it was all Chokebore, it was music and the world according to Chokebore, and that made me feel very claustrophobic.

Didn't you write anything at that time?

No, we were touring... Well the first tour I did was 95, and that was basically touring just for "Anything Near Water", then "A Taste for Bitters" came and then I got to write my stuff. But I felt like I myself had something to say, cuz here I am sitting next to Troy, and he gets to express his life, his views, everything, but I just sat there... I had something to say too! And there was no way I was gonna get my chance to do that unless I left. Careerwise it probably wasn't the best move, cuz I no longer toured Europe after that. At one point I told myself, "okay, I'm gonna sell out!", I've done everything in music except make money. Good music doesn't make money, the music that people are familiar with makes money, and the things that people are familiar with are Korn and "Limp Croissant"... So I opened up the newspaper and looked for the first band that was looking for a drummer with influences that are the popular bands. So there I went, I tried out for this band called Idle, they sounded a little like Rage and Deftones, and so I'm in the band a week, and things are going good, there's label interest, there's management interest, and all of a sudden Chokebore calls me: "Hey, Mike just left, are you interested?" So I went for it, because I had a history with this band, I knew the guys... Plus I was the older guy in Idle, and all of a sudden I had this younger guy, the vocalist, telling me what I had to do, and that made me feel weird, because I'd always been the youngest guy in the band. So after a week in the band, I left and rejoined Chokebore, and here we are!

Thanks!

Thanks to you! I usually don't get to say my side, everyone comes in with questions about Hawaii and the lyrics, things I can't really answer anyway, so it's good for me to voice my little side of things! And this must be the best place to do an interview! I can't believe it, an interview at the Eiffel Tower!!!

Simon B. & Florent (2001/04/28)