Concepts album are tricky, but Ice Nine Kills are slaying it in that department especially with previous release Every Trick In The Book and the upcoming album The Silver Scream, out October 5th via Fearless Records. Frontman extraordinaire and horror aficionado, Spencer Charnas spoke to us about the upcoming release and his love for horror movies…
Thank you so much for talking to me today, for our readers who aren’t familiar with Ice Nine Kills can you give us a summary of what the new album, The Silver Scream is about?
The new album is really the definitive Ice Nine Kills album, it’s taking our love of horror to the next level, with every track being based on a classic horror film. I went through all my favourites and picked thirteen that I thought would make the best songs, and I think we really nailed the feeling, the emotion and the characters of these films and it was really a cool and rewarding experience to transfer one form of art into the other, being music, and I am really excited to hear what everyone’s thoughts are on the matter.
Well, I think the album is amazing. So, was it simply about picking your favourite films or was the process of choosing the movies you were basing the songs on a little bit more complex?
All of them on the album are definitely favourites of mine, but there were songs where I may have had a melody that I thought was really provocative and cool, and I was thinking what does this melody remind me of? What film does this have the same aura of? A couple of them were formed that way, I was playing something and perhaps subconsciously I was thinking of that film when I wrote that melody, but for the most part we had a clear planned out vision since inception.
Speaking of songs, the one that really blew my mind was ‘IT is the end’. It’s completely bonkers, its creepy, its childish, its chaotic, its very much like the recent film. Part of that is because of the brass section. How did you get Less Than Jake on board (who played the brass section in the song)?
First of all, I’m so glad you mentioned that song it is definitely one of my favourites, and I agree with you it’s kind of an oddball, off the wall song, so I am really glad you liked that one.
When we put that song together, I wanted it to have a sinister, carnival, circus vibe and when I was writing one part in particular I heard horns on it. I thought wouldn’t it be so cool if a band like Reel Big Fish or Less Than Jake, bands I grew up loving and listening to, that influenced my melodics and melodies, wouldn’t it be cool if we could get them to be on it. Everyone I kinda told that to, was like ‘yeah right, good luck with that I’m sure you are going to get Less Than Jake on it’. So, I made a few calls, our manager happens to be friends with Less Than Jake’s booking agent and they put us in touch. I was expecting them to be like ‘I don’t think so’, lo and behold they really liked the idea. One of the guys remembered meeting me at a Warped Tour we had played, and he was like ‘I remember Spencer he’s a really nice guy and we would love to do this’. It was like a dream come true, and we sent them the track. It was especially cool cause they had a very tight window where they could record it as they were just coming home from overseas and they were going back five days later, something like that. They got in here and recorded it and it was just amazing. I think it adds a really cool character to the song and we are really excited about it. We got to hang out with them on Warped Tour this summer and we got to express how honoured we were to do the song with them.
You talked about how you grew up with Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake, when you guys started out you were very pop-punk-ska influenced, how did you go from that to the sound you have now which is very big, bold, metalcore and theatrical?
I think like anything I have ever done, what we are putting out is basically what I was interested in at the time. While I never really abandoned those influences, you can still hear them, if you listen closely. Melody is what I learnt from those bands.
As I opened myself up to other types of music, I like heavy music as well, and I wanted to incorporate my love of all those types of music in one. I think with this album it is almost fully realised, with the kind of guest performers we have, not only do we have Less Than Jake, we have the lead singer from Fenix TX singing on that song as well, guitarist from Finch, and the singer of MEST also makes an appearance. It’s really cool to come full circle and be putting out something that really does incorporate all the influences and taking it to the next step where those bands are collaborating with us.
There are a lot of collaborations on this album. Was it planned that way or did it happen naturally? When you were writing were you thinking about that or did it all happen organically?
It happened a few different ways. For the Less Than Jake, as I described, we’d been writing it and during the onslaught of the song and I didn’t think ‘can I include horns on this song’, it just kind of progressed and I thought it would be really cool. That’s how that happened.
The Fenix TX vocalist, Will, I had met when we were touring England, and we said we should definitely write together, so I ended up hanging out at his studio and we collaborated writing part of the IT song, and I asked him to sing on it. So, it was a bunch of ways, but it was definitely a situation, where I started to become friends with these bands and people who I was influenced by, and as a tribute to those influences I would love for them to be part of it, and I was stoked, humbled and honoured that they were so excited to be a part of it.
Part of the fun listening to the album as a fan is guessing what films the songs are based on. There were a few in there that I was really surprised about like ‘The World In My Hands’. Was that intentionally trying to broaden the scope of horror?
Meaning it was based on Edward Scissorhands?
Yeah. I was very surprised by that but it is one of my favourite films and was super exicted by it.
Thanks. That was the situation in which I was describing, where there was a melody that I was working on and I was trying to think what does this remind me of. It wasn’t a situation like most of the films in which I was like, ‘I am going to write a song about Halloween’. It was the other situation where I had something and I was thinking this is beautiful, it reminds me of one of these types of movie but which movie?
Then as I was thinking about it, it had this Danny Elfman kind of vibe to it and I thought it would be so cool to do a song like Edward Scissorhands, which isn’t really what we think of horror, when we think of traditional horror we don’t think of that, but that movie definitely has that gothic horror element. I thought it would be a nice colour on the album that had bit of a love story to it.
The song is very poignant, like the film so I think you captured the feeling really well there.
So, going forward into the future, are you still going to continue on with the idea of concept albums?
To an extent now, this is becoming our thing. I never want to be too predictable with it, with the next record we will have to find something that is very different but also at the same time I like having a unified concept. For our band, going from something that has such a distinct theme to something that is just a collection of songs, doesn’t really work for me, doesn’t really work for our band going forward, but who knows. I just want to make sure that whatever we do is something that people will hear about and think that will be really interesting rather than just ‘this band has a new record’. I want it to be something that people can talk about and get excited about, much like a great film that is coming out.
Personally, I think you have achieved that. Before we go is there any possibility of you touring Australia in the future?
We never have and we really, really want to. It’s one of the places on the top of our list to go. There has been talk of doing a Japanese tour, I’m hoping we can do Japan and Australia in one swing and finally get there, because it has been long overdue.
We would love to have you. Thank you so much for talking to me today. I love the album, its brilliant, its exciting and it is very much Ice Nine Kills. Best of luck with it.
Thank you so much, I really, really appreciate that and I hope to see you when we get to Australia.
Interview by Carys Hurcom
The Silver Scream out Friday October 5th. Singles ‘Enjoy Your Slay‘, ‘The American Nightmare‘ and ‘Thank God It’s Friday‘ and ‘A Grave Mistake‘ are out now. Pre-order here
Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream tracklisting
1. The American Nightmare
2. Thank God It’s Friday
3. Stabbing In The Dark
5. The Jig Is Up
6. A Grave Mistake
7. Rocking The Boat
8. Enjoy Your Slay (Ft. Sam Kubrick)
9. Freak Flag
10. The World In My Hands
11. Merry Axe-Mas
12. Love Bites
13. IT Is The End