This interview previously aired on idobi Radio and is for everyone who was too lazy to tune in. Enjoy!
Listen up, everybody. If you’ve yet to check out Ice Nine Kills’ gory, hard-hitting, horror-obsessed LP The Silver Scream then it’s clear you are not living the best Halloween life possible.
With 13 tracks all centered around some of the best horror films including Halloween, Friday The 13th, Saw, Jaws and many more, Ice Nine Kills’ latest release has quickly become an instant October staple around The Noise office.
And now, just one week away from the best holiday of the year (fight us if you don’t agree), we thought it’d be more than appropriate to give you all our interview with Ice Nine Kills mastermind Spencer Charnas as he discusses all things horror, The Silver Scream and their upcoming Noise Presents tour with Atreyu, Memphis May Fire and Sleep Signals.
To check out our chat with Charnas as he details where his horror-fandom came from, the movie he wishes he wrote about on The Silver Scream plus the influence Atreyu had on his band early on in their career, be sure to see below. Afterward, make sure to grab a copy of Ice Nine Kills’ new album and pick up tickets to see the band out on tour here.
With Atreyu being one of the first metalcore bands you started listening to, how does it feel to get to go out and do a full US tour with them?
Spencer Charnas: It’s an absolute honor. You know, being someone in a band that was totally influenced by Atreyu – I remember when we started to be more metal, Atreyu was 100% an influence on myself, especially the album The Curse. So the fact that Atreyu even knows who we are, let alone wants us to open for them, is just a really big honor. It’s kind of surreal.
Have you gotten to know Atreyu at all over the years?
I met them on Warped Tour 2016 when they were on that tour. I remember Brandon [Saller drums/vocals] watched us some of the days when they were on the tour. You know, we just talked here and there backstage, they were super nice and actually invited me to come out and sing “Lip Gloss and Black” with them on one of the dates. So that was really cool. Other than that, just small talk through Instagram and just telling them I’m really excited about touring with them and they just seem like really nice, genuine guys.
Obviously you have a new record to promote on this tour. Are you guys going to be playing any new songs?
Definitely. We’re probably going to play about five or six new songs from the album.
Wow, that’s awesome! When it comes to your tours, you guys usually have a good amount of production. For this Atreyu tour, do you guys plan on doing something similar?
Well you know, when you’re a support act you really can’t go all out. There are restrictions on what you can do because you’re not the headliner. But we’re going to do as much as they let us. I think the real production for us and with this album will be saved and reserved for when we can headline.
So let’s talk The Silver Scream. You guys took somewhat of a risk putting so much into this album with the movie-like music videos and the somewhat style change on certain singles. To have all the success it’s had so far, where do you hope that leads to moving forward?
I just really hope that every horror fan that’s out there, or as many as possible who have never heard the band, really embrace this record. From what I’ve seen, from industry people I know or people that are in the horror movie world who aren’t really familiar with the Warped Tour scene or the metalcore scene or even the Octane scene, they’ve just been telling me that they love this album and they love the concept even though they aren’t really well-versed in the world of metal where we come from. And you know, [they’re saying] that [The Silver Scream] is getting them into this kind of music, so that’s really good to hear. At the end of the day, I think our number one goal is to please the people who have been with us for a long time, that have supported the band through thick and thin and we just want to give them something special. That’s the number one goal.
So with all of the songs on The Silver Scream having some sort of a horror movie tie-in, which song do you think was the hardest to fit with a movie?
I think they all presented their own challenge, I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one. But speaking generally, one of the biggest challenges was making a song, whether it’d be [based off the] Halloween or Friday the 13th franchise, and giving a voice to a character that never speaks. That was just challenging in itself. Some of the characters, be it Eric Draven from The Crow or Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street, those are characters that speak and have a voice and it’s very clear what their personality would be if they were singing, in my opinion. But there’s also Michael Myers who never utters a word through all his films. So just kind of playing with that and trying to figure out how to throw my voice in a way that is different and distinct in trying to give each character on the album their own voice was challenging. I think probably the most difficult one if I had to pick was Pennywise from IT. You know, because that’s a character that goes from a jovial clown voice that has to entice a little kid into the sewer system in order to bite off his arm. And then, from being jovial and happy as a clown to switching to basically the devil who eats kids was a difficult challenge but it was fun to play with.
Do you think you guys would have still done “IT Is The End” had the new IT not come out? Do you think seeing the remake helped inspire you?
I’m not really sure. I’ve always been a fan of the original. I think Tim Curry in that original film was brilliant. I believe the guy that directed the original, Tommy Lee Wallace, was very involved in the Halloween franchise directing Halloween III. So I’m just really a fan of that and I really think the new one honestly lived up to the hype. I thought it was beautifully executed, you know with Tim Curry, those are some big clown shoes to fill and Bill Skarsgard is just great. And yeah, I think it brought it back on my radar, not that it ever really left, but it kind of just kicked it up a bit.
Speaking of remakes, are you excited for the new Halloween?
Oh man! To say I’m excited would be a large understatement. I absolutely can’t wait. Everything I’ve heard about it is so great.
You don’t think it will flop like some of the newer Halloweens?
You know, I’m sort of a big fan of the franchise as a whole – there’s only a couple that I’m not really a fan of. But you know, just based on what I’m seeing as far as studio projections and just the all-around hype on the film and the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis is back and John Carpenter is involved and doing the score, I don’t know, I don’t think it can miss. And from what I’ve heard, the reviews have been overwhelming that this is a sequel that finally lives up to the original.
And speaking of the Halloween franchise, you recorded some vocals for The Silver Scream at the Michael Myers house, right?
Yeah, I took advantage of the fact that I live in West Hollywood now and I went and recorded some of the vocals, some of the small post-production stuff, on the properties of the Michael Myers house in Pasadena and 1428 Elm Street – the house from Nightmare on Elm Street which is technically not really on Elm Street but it is the actual number 1428 just like the iconic number from the series.
That’s cool! How did you set that up? You just went and did it?
I just went and did it and hoped no one called the cops [laughs].
So back to The Silver Scream, were there any movies that you wanted to write a song about but it just wasn’t able to make the record?
Yeah, you know one of my favorite horror movies and favorite films of all time is Scream. I definitely wanted to get that one on the record but it just wasn’t coming out to my standards and the last thing I want would be a song based on my favorite movie to not be my favorite song ever written. So unfortunately we didn’t get that ready in time but we do pay tribute to the great, late Wes Craven with [”The American Nightmare”]. So I was happy that we could get a Wes Craven influence on the album because he’s so great and we love his work.
You guys have a lot of guest features on this new record. Was that a goal coming into the writing process or did that happen organically?
It kind of happened organically. You know, when I locked in one feature I was like “Man, this is so cool!” The first feature that I sort of had the idea was Randy [Strohmeyer] from Finch. Finch is one of my favorite bands [who is] very inspirational to my writing. And I recently became friends with him and getting him on the album was really cool. Then I met Fenix TX when we were on tour in London and I struck up a friendship with those guys and went out to write with the singer Will [Salazar] and then told him how the song came out so cool [so we] got him to sing on it. And then Tony [Lovato] from Mest, another one of my favorite pop-punk bands. And then, when we were working on the song about IT, it just had this like circus flare and we were like, “Man, wouldn’t it be so cool to get Less Than Jake on this?” and we were like “Yeah, but that would never happen.” And we kind of reached out to their people and they were totally into it, which was kind of surreal. They were like “Ah man, a heavy band like this has never asked us to do anything like this!” They were super cool. On other collaborations, we had Jeremy Schwartz who I started the band with in high school who hasn’t been in the band in almost ten years. He came back and we wrote a song together and we got him on the album. My friend, Chelsea Talmadge, who is just a great singer and is a part of that show Stranger Things. We got her to sing and she did a beautiful job. And yeah, it all just came out great.
Hearing some of the people you got as guest vocals, it almost sounds like this is your dream album come true. Not only are you getting to sing about some of your all-time favorite horror movies but you’re also getting to work with some of your all-time favorite bands.
It’s awesome man. Just getting praise from people that I know in horror and people who have produced horror documentaries that I grew up watching, like Anthony Masi who produced the His Name Was Jason documentary and the Halloween: 25 Years of Terror documentary. You know, them just saying this is one of their favorite albums they’ve ever heard, it’s just great. At the end of the day, I’m a fan myself, so to see other people who are so passionate about the genre embrace our album [is great].
Obviously this isn’t an easy question to answer but what do you think initially drew you to the horror genre?
You know, it’s odd. I’ve been into it since I was a little kid. Basically, my love for the genre was birthed at a local video store that was in a grocery store where I grew up. My mom would go shopping and bring me along and to kill time I would hang out in this video store. And you know, for whatever reason I was drawn to the aisle that said “Horror.” And I would look to see the artwork on the covers of these VHS tapes like Halloween and Friday The 13th and I wanted to see what this shit was about. My parents were cool enough to let me watch those films and I think they assumed I’d grow out of it. I guess, you know, 25 years later I’m talking on the phone about it and making an album, so I guess I didn’t grow out of it [laughs]. But yeah, I don’t know. I think maybe some of it was like, I always dressed up like Michael Myers on Halloween and [I would think how] if I was the monster, then the monster couldn’t get me.
Do you think if music never panned out, you would’ve tried to find a way to work in horror movies?
Absolutely! It’s kind of one of my other goals. We’re making this movie and I’m acting in it. I’ve never acted before and I’ve got a lot to learn. But helping come up with the videos, scripts and screenplays, it’s just something I’d like to get into. Someone like Rob Zombie is so cool because he does music and he directs films. You know, maybe someday down the line, I can accomplish that dream too.
How nerve-racking was it to do the acting and be so involved with this project?
It was definitely nerve-racking and watching the videos I could definitely tell I got better over time. There were some amateur moves I didn’t know I was doing, like little nervous ticks. But from what a lot of people are saying, the kind of people who wouldn’t bullshit me, actually said they think I could maybe do it someday with some practice. They think that I was pretty good but we’ll see [laughs].