The Chariot cleans out the Attic
By Alan Sculley
Vocalist Josh Scogin caught a lot of hardcore music fans by surprise when he left the band Norma Jean after that band’s first CD, Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child.
In a recent interview, Scogin said he has never felt like there was a backlash over him leaving what at the time was fast-rising new group on the scene.
And now four albums into the career of the Chariot, the band he started after his stint in Norma Jean, Scogin senses there aren’t many people that question the path he has followed with his music career.
“One kid put it really good to me and I feel like maybe a lot of people feel like this,” Scogin said. “He put it like ‘I love the stuff you did with the Bless The Martyr record with Norma Jean and it would have been cool to see where that would have kept going. But I love the Chariot as well. And so maybe if there were two of you, that could have made sense and we could have (had the best of both).’”
Scogin said he got a chuckle out of that opinion. And chances are that a lot of people that liked early Norma Jean have become fans of the Chariot. With its fourth CD having been released this past November, the band is established as a significant presence on the hardcore/metalcore scene, and a group that is willing to go outside of the usual musical boundaries of the genre.
Norma Jean, meanwhile, has overcome several additional personnel changes to release four more CDs and remains well known by hardcore/metalcore fans.
When Scogin left Norma Jean, he wasn’t at all unhappy with the band’s music and left on good terms. But he was questioning the basic notion of whether he was in the group for the right reasons.
“Everything was kind of blowing up in our faces, just getting really big real quick,” Scogin said. “And we didn’t necessarily start the band to do that. We just started the band to play shows and have fun, and then all of a sudden everything’s getting really big, really, really quick.”
“When I left (Norma Jean) I didn’t necessarily know I was going to do the Chariot or anything,” he said. “I literally just needed to sort of wrap my head around everything and figure out like OK, is this (good for me) … All of a sudden it was just like am I doing this because there’s now money to be made? Or am I doing this because there are now people that recognize me? Or am I doing this because of the art?”
Obviously, Scogin decided he was still inspired by music, and he formed the first version of the Chariot in 2003.
With the band’s first CD, Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead and Nothing Is Bleeding, Scogin showed his willingness to follow his artistic instincts by having the band record the entire CD live in one take, with no fixes or overdubs done after the fact.
Since then, Scogin hasn’t been quite so militant about recording the CDs The Fiancé (2007), Wars and Rumors of Wars (2009) or now Long Live. He feels he and his current bandmates – guitarists Stephen Harrison and Jon Terry, bassist John “KC Wolf” Kindle and drummer David Kennedy — found a good balance on the new CD.
“With Long Live, I feel like we had the best of all worlds because for us, we recorded the parts that we wanted to totally live and totally together as a unit,” Scogin said. “Then other parts that need to have their sort of differentiation, we would go in and record (individual instrumental) tracks and stuff. We still tried to maintain that live element.”
And like other Chariot CDs, the band wasn’t afraid to step outside of the hardcore/metalcore box on occasion. While the band’s sound is built around screamed vocals and a maelstrom of raw guitars and beats, on the song “The City,” the band flips the script by ending the song with a choir singing. The song “Robert Rios” is built around melodic classic rock guitar riffs, while the song “Calvin McKenzie” takes an offbeat turn with a sampled female vocal.
On tour, the Chariot does some unconventional things as well, changing up its set list from time to time and even blending several songs into medleys.
“I think for people that really know our songs and kind of dive into it, I think it’s kind of a different aesthetic, where they can be like, ‘Woah, they actually meshed these three songs together,’” Scogin said. “But it allows us to play as many (songs) as we can, because we genuinely like our songs. We genuinely want to play them all, but obviously representing four records, you can’t just play like 60 songs or something. So for us, they (live shows) are always evolving and always changing.”
The Chariot will play at the Attic in Kettering on Tuesday, July 19. Doors open at 2 p.m.. Tickets are $20 in advance or $22 DOS.
Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at ContactUs@DaytonCityPaper.com