INTERVIEW: Chelsea Grin chats ‘Eternal Nightmare’ and focuses for the fall!

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It’s an incredibly challenging obstacle for a band to lose their vocalist. Especially when the vocalist has been part of the project really since the beginning, but Utah’s Chelsea Grin is overcoming the challenge with bells on with new vocalist Tom Barber and kids ate it up this summer at Warped! When former vocalist Alex Koehler stepped down from the band to get healthy, it was a bit of a unsure time but with the new record ‘Eternal Nightmare’ dropping just two days before our interview, it’s clear the band will be just fine.

With huge crowds every day, and fans swooning over the new tracks, it’s clear Chelsea Grin has some staying power and we were grateful for the chance to speak to Barber as well as guitarist Stephen Rutishauser in Hartford! We talked the new record as well as hopes for the band for these next few months!

You just released the first record with you on it, “Eternal Nightmare”.
Tom Barber: Wait, what was the question?
Stephen Rutishauser : The new record is the first one with you on it.
TB: Oh yeah, yeah of course!

Maybe how long has this record been in the making. It’s so new, it only came out on the 13th but when did you start the writing process for this record?
SR: I mean, I have songs I wrote that are six years old that are on this record. Ones that I wrote years ago that I just kind of rehashed. And a lot of the record, we wrote in a three month span of our lives when our lives all felt really crazy. We were all kind of in a dark place so it naturally just came together. So the writing process, I don’t know, it’s been interesting. And the real dedicated for this record writing process is probably the last year.

And how has it been on this Warped Tour. Have kids been really accepting of Tom stepping in, how do you think these shows have been going?
TB: I think kids have been extremely receptive of everything. Old songs and new songs. They’re just having a blast. I know I’m having a blast, I know the band’s having a blast. We’re all super stoked to be out here. It’s sick, it’s a really good time.

The record is still so new but are you playing some of the it in the set?
SR: Well we released three singles, ‘Dead Roads’, ‘Hostage’, and ‘See You Soon’. So we released those and we’re playing all three of those on Warped Tour and we’re just going to keep our set the same for the rest of the summer. But it looks like we’re going to have to play all the songs off the record since everybody seems to be into every single one of them, not just a few of them. Which is great! We’ll probably play the whole record on these headliners. 

TB: It’s going to be sick.
I’m glad it’s been so well received, that must feel incredible considering it’s this brand new record and kids are already digging every song.
SR: We were very nervous just with the situation surrounding Tom’s arrival in the band and even the situation around the band a few months ago was very dire. So we were really nervous but the anxiety is washed away at this point. We’re all just giddy like little school boys it’s awesome.
TB: Or school girls too, it’s 2018.

Then like I said, it’s your first record with the band. How did that affect the writing process? I know some of them are older but were some written after you began being involved with the band?
TB: Well, when I had gotten there most of the record had been written by David. Well lyric wise it was written by David and I got to do a couple songs but there’s honestly just so much emotion to all the music. Including the lyrics. They’re pretty blunt, they’re pretty obvious, they’re pretty honest. And honestly it all just sounds great. One day obviously we’ll do another record and I’ll be a part of the whole thing but doing this was just sick. Just no qualms with any of it.
SR: Yeah it was kind of an interesting process because we wrote the record with a previous vocalist in mind. And then it didn’t happen that way. So we’re really excited for the next record. We’re going to be able to write it thinking about Tom. And try to utilize all of Tom’s abilities which are amazing. It was an interesting process bringing in Tom at not even the middle but at like the end of it.
TB: Yeah it was really only in the last few weeks.
SR: But we had to do it. Tom did a great job.
TB: We all did a great job.
It’s hard to do. I interviewed Alex (Koehler, former vocalist) a couple years ago and as long as he’s getting healthy, that’s what’s important and I think kids are still going to come out and still support Chelsea Grin because you only want the best for someone. Someone who wants to get healthier and is ready to get healthy, people are still going to support the band.
TB: Absolutely.
SR: And Alex is doing really well. We’re so happy about that.
TB: And he has a new project called Grudges.
SR: Yeah exactly he’s still musically related. I mean he’s touring currently but he’s making music under that name and yeah, staying active!

Then Chelsea Grin has obviously done Warped Tour many times, the kids are coming out for the sets. Maybe the focus or goals for Chelsea Grin now that this record is out? You have these headlining shows that are coming up.
SR: We are really eager to break out into Europe. I mean we’ve toured Europe so consistently, like ten, eleven, twelve times at this point and now as crazy as it is to think about our European shows are on par with our American shows. So our goal is pretty much just to gain longevity around the world. I mean the thing about this American market is yeah right now we’re doing great. We’re really pushing hard but it’s kind of up and down. Some day, someone might not give a shit about us here but then we can go to Europe and still have our band and still have our longevity and hopefully when we come back to the states, it’s back again. So our goal is just to always have places we can go. Be relevant, have fun.
TB: Agreed.
SR: Get some fans going.
TB: Agreed!

About Author


Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.