Interview with Chris Emery of AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE
Many bands struggle for years to attain celebrity and notoriety through their music. American Head Charge is one of those rare bands that seem to struggle to stay just below the mainstream radar. The music and attitude as a whole of this Minneapolis based 6 piece has always been straightforward, unapologetic and brutally honest. American Head Charge has finally completed their fourth studio album, Tango Umbrella, and by all accounts it seems to be the bands most creative and emotionally charged release to date. While most bands in the genre that American Head Charge is classified tend to become stagnant after being together as long as AHC, American Head Charge is not like one of those other bands. The lineup for American Head Charge is the tightest it has ever been and the band as a whole has evolved immensely, personally and talent wise. I, like so many other music-minded humans, wanted to know what exactly makes American Head Charge tick these days.
I was given the amazeballs opportunity to talk to drummer Chris Emery, Mr. “ask me anything, I’m pretty much and open book” himself. If you have ever met the stick slinger for American Head Charge, you know personally what a dynamic, animated, big ball of positive energy he is. Chris is a hoot to meet in person, and to an interviewer he is a dream subject. There were no topics that were off limits, and many times he was in over-share mode, and that is a-o.k. with us, isn’t it fans? We started off our time together talking about the new album, and his view on it. “I don’t write lyrics or riffs, I do sometimes put a touch of my flavor and make it better” he pauses and laughs then continues, “Because I’m a bad ass, and it’s what I do.” He had to stop talking to chortle a little bit more, then finishes with “I’m just kidding, I am really humble, but I am a drummer and it’s what I do.” I asked him if he felt this album has a different sound than the fans of American Head Charge were used to. He said he had noticed this album had a different feel and attributed it to “growth, the band’s muse has changed or grown, maybe their personalities have changed with age.”
We switched gears, and started talking about touring. Chris’s voice became lighter and he quipped, “Can you tell I am excited to go on tour? Yeah, I’m looking forward to playing. There has been some downtime and I do enjoy it, but you do get that, especially for me, I think physically as a drummer you get that itch. You feel like a boxer, like, when am I going to start training again? I love being on tour, meeting new people and having new experiences. I found out that I had a lot better time when I’m just outside my own mind. It’s one of those things where I’m like, my mind is like a dangerous neighborhood and I don’t like going into it alone. I like to share and talk and hear other people’s stuff. I’d rather hear about you and about other things than to talk about me. You’ll see me squirm if I’m like, sometimes I’m talking to a fan and it’s just, it’s all about me, it’s all about me, it’s all about me, and I’m being like, ‘What did you do?’ or, ‘Are you from here?’ It will be like, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on. I was gushing and being a fan boy. You’re actually talking to me just like a regular dude.’ I was like, yeah, because I am. I just want to have a conversation about something other than, my performance.” The news had just broken that the support role on Mushroomhead’s European tour had been canceled for the American Head Charge guys, but Chris was unwavering in his excitement about the impending stateside tour and their tourmates, Motograter. “Yeah, I’ve actually been watching those guys lately a little bit more closely than I had in the past. I’m excited. I remember playing with them years ago. It was just like there’s something about them. I know they got that instrument and it’s like there’s nobody that sounds like Motograter, and I love that. It’s like another band I know I love. You have the band, and it’s like that, and it sounds like nothing else. Now I’m like here is another band I didn’t know I loved!”
I often go to fan pages on Facebook and ask fans to give me questions they want to have their favorite musicians answer.
Shane Alan from Minneapolis wanted to know if Chris remembered the humble beginnings of the band and playing a field party in Zimmerman, Minnesota. Chris laughed and stated “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! I remember that night, because it was like three years sober. My images of those first years of sobriety always really … I was totally remembering everything. I had super powers for a few months. Then I realized that was just because I was actually sober.” He paused for a moment to reflect, then added, “I think sobriety is relative. It’s like time. It’s underrated. It’s overrated. It’s everything. It’s everything that life is. It’s everything that the personalities are that go in are supposed to leave them at the door, but it can get … Some people stay for a long, long, long time. Some people stay. Some people go. Some people come back several times, you know?”
Thomas Dall wanted to know Chris’s musical influences, what sort of music he grew up on, and where his unique style came from. Chris had a laundry list of bands he sites at influence like The Beatles, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, Ministry, Live, Neal Peart, and many more. Chris also reminisced about a long ago time he met Prong lead singer, Tommy Victor, and stated the meeting had a monumental impact on his career choice and his passion for music.
Jay Norris, longtime fan, wanted to know which Ninja Turtle was Chris’s favorite. Chris simply answered “Michelangelo. Because he’s Michelangelo.”
At that moment in the interview Vinnie, Chris’s best canine buddy decided to make his presence known. “I have my fuzzy baby, my pit bull Vinnie. I rescued him from a shelter, but I think he actually rescued me. Everything I have done, he’s always been there, been there for me. He’s such a great companion and such a loyal guy, a little fuzzy man.” Chris went on to tell of the last tour American Head Charge did with Coal Chamber, and how Dez, Coal Chamber’s frontman, treated Vinnie like a member of his family. “Dez was like, ‘He is welcome in our dressing room or bus anytime man.’ That was such a heartwarming thing coming from a guy with such a growly voice.” Chris continued to try to explain, but Vinnie continued to try to tell a story of his own. “Hey, Hey, Hey, Guys! Trying to do an interview now. Come here! That’s the neighbor dog, you know him, you know her! Come here!” Chris calmly, but loudly stated and then we waited for Vinnie to decide he had said his fill.
I decided to wrap our interview up with asking Chris if he remembers when he has his “Aha” moment when he realized he really wanted to be a musician and it was his one true passion. “It was opening for System of the Down. Then it was the first time being in a place that big and the light went off and this crowd screaming, I was like, ‘Holy Shit!’ It was that Holy Shit moment. Damn, I think that might be the biggest we ever played for. It was a little nerve wracking. You’re like, I’ve never done this many people before, this is…this is kind of cool!”
There you have it folks, straight from the drummer’s mouth. The tour with Motograter starts May 12th in Milwaukee. The new album, Tango Umbrella is out now on Napalm Records, available for download and at music retailers worldwide. The band is well rested after an eight-month plus hiatus and are ready to shake the paint of a venue wall near you. Please remember if you see a guy that looks a lot like the drummer of American Head Charge, it very well may be the drummer of American Head Charge. Go up and introduce yourself and tell him about yourself, he loves that kind of crap. It’s a rare thing to see him alone, since in his own words, he needs a chaperone. “Yeah, I’m the drummer, man. I can’t go anywhere without parental supervision. I have to be with an adult. I cannot go by myself, it’s a rule.”