Touring in support of their latest and truly brutal album ‘Eternal Nightmare‘, deathcore mainstays Chelsea Grin completed their UK leg of the tour in Birmingham playing at The Asylum Venue on Friday, 28th September. We got to sit down with frontman Tom Barber and drummer Pablo Viveros before the show (which was nothing short of gritty, thoroughly enjoyable and full of aggression – as expected) for a friendly chat!
Hey guys! how are you doing today?
Pablo: Wonderful, sorry to keep you waiting!
Tom: Doing great! Yeah sorry about the wait we had to get food (laughs)
Happy to be here in Birmingham?
Pablo: Always; it’s always a good show, we’ve played here two or three times before – the last few times have been at the O2 smaller venue a couple times and it’s been fun every time
Cool that sounds good! Okay so I was wondering; after eleven years going strong in the music business, what do you feel is the most important lesson that you’ve learnt?
Pablo: To just.. to not take it too seriously, you know? There’s a lot of people out here doing the same shit that you’re doing and I think a lot of people just take it way too seriously and while we do of course respect the profession and take it seriously as this is our job, we just have a good time! We take it easy and life’s been good
Tom: I can’t answer that cause I haven’t been doing it that long (laughs)
The latest album ‘Eternal Nightmare’ was released earlier this year; what are you guys most proud of about the album?
Pablo: I’m proud that we accomplished what we set out to do, which was to make our heaviest and best album – I think that’s definitely come across and a lot of people feel that way! So yeah quite proud of accomplishing that!
Tom: I’m just stoked to be a part of it! Definitely the biggest project I’ve ever been a part of – it’s the biggest stamp I’ve ever had artistically so yeah it’s cool as fuck for me!
Yeah no doubt! Is there a track on the album that you found particularly hard to write?
Pablo: So we got to the studio with the instrumentals ready, then we wrote all the lyrics and did the vocals in the studio but with that came some rewriting of the original instrumentals and I think doing the rewriting to cater to the vocals for the best result is definitely what was the hardest part
I can imagine so – the results are worth it though! What is one thing – if there is anything – that you guys enjoy about playing in the UK?
Tom: When everybody says nice things it reminds me of Austin Powers (laughs) so I think of Austin Powers complementing me and I.. love it! Just feels so goddamn right! The scene is great here too and everybody’s just happy to be here you know
Pablo: Yeah the people are really nice and appreciative because US bands definitely tour less over there than they do in the States so when we do come out people are nice, they’re kind and grateful that we’re making the journey and putting in the effort to be here
Yeah absolutely – I think people are often quicker to buy a ticket for a show of a band who’s coming over here as you can’t always bank on them coming back in later years so see them while you can!
Tom: We were just talking about that today – We see so many Audi’s and Mercedes around here and it’s quite normal for you guys but you see a luxury Toyota or a Ford and you shit your pants! Whereas in the States, anyone who drives an Audi or Mercedes you’re like ‘oh that guy’s got so much fuckin’ money!’ and we see a Toyota or Ford just like meh nothing special? you know!
Ah wow okay so these cars are a lot rarer over there?
Tom: Yeah so really what it comes down to is what you’re unfamiliar with to be in your neck of the woods…
Pablo: Yeah you guys have Mercedes and Audi taxis.. and those are luxury cars in the US (laughs)
Tom: Put it this way – in all of Utah, I’ve been there for a couple weeks and Pablo’s probably the only Audi I have seen in the place! So rare to see that shit! So any Audi I see I’m like ‘it’s Pablo!’
Ah cool so it must be easy to spot him! So is the Chelsea in Grin a reference to a person, or a place?
Pablo: (laughs) aha no actually it’s like you know The Joker (from Batman) his smile how his face was kinda cut that’s what they call a ‘chelsea grin’
Tom: Cause that’s what happened in Chelsea – you know who did that right? Jack The Ripper! Used to mail organs and shit like that to people – you guys got some crazy shit happen over here (laughs)
You guys are a band who tour a lot and have covered a lot of ground on the worldwide map, where would you say is the strangest place you’ve played?
Pablo: I think when I was told we were gonna play in Tel-Aviv, Israel – that was certainly a ‘holy shit!’ moment. That’s definitely the place where I think it was the craziest to go to. The show was awesome, we headlined I think it was 2015 and I feel there was about maybe 400 people, they were stoked it was a good show!
Awesome yeah that sounds crazy! Being a band of your nature, I’d imagine you’re fairly used to seeing high levels of intensity and crazy atmospheres at your shows, but what would you say if you could single out one incident or memory, is the wildest thing that you’ve seen at a Chelsea Grin show?
Pablo: One of my favourite moments was on Warped Tour 2014 where we closed out our stage and during our final song I remember the fans went batshit crazy and began picking up these huge industrial sized trash cans and they just threw ’em! There was trash flying everywhere the whole song – that was probably one of the craziest things I’ve seen but I mean we’ve had all sorts of stuff you know, we’ve had people in wheelchairs crowdsurfing
Tom: That shit’s always crazy! Always makes us happy to see. For me it would be when that girl showed her boobs the entire time before we even hit a note.. it was soundchecking
Pablo: Oh yeah she was jerking off a blow up doll (laughs)
Tom: Ah yeah, that was the same chick, I was just like ‘oh shit – I like soundchecking too’ (laughs)
Wow that’s a strange fetish! What is one thing you guys really enjoy about touring?
Pablo: Kind of like… everything
Tom: Good food, and new people!
Pablo: I do like living on a bus just driving round with my friends and going to play shows, like the whole thing is a fucking trip man, and it’s an awesome conversation starter! Always a good ice-breaker.
Oh yeah true that! If there was one thing you could change about the touring process for a band what would that be?
Tom: I would love it if we got a jet! (laughs)
Pablo: If I never had to go to an airport ever again! I fucking hate airports –
Tom: Yep, only done it a few times and I hate it, I hate it more than ANYTHING in life –
Pablo: We show up with a decent amount of gear so we have to check like sixteen bags, have to carry on a bunch of stuff, all these damn cables and batteries in our luggage and move shit around to get the weight correct and then they STILL charge us a shit-ton of money… it sucks basically. If I could just skip the airport that’d be great, I don’t mind the actual flying I just hate the airport. Or, I could afford my own bus so I could bring my girlfriend and my cat that’d be sick!
Have to pitch it to the guys! How would you best sum-up the hometown of Salt Lake City in one sentence?
Tom: I totally agree and I’m not even from there!
Finally, what would you suggest to do if you were advising a tourist who’s visiting Utah for the first time?
Pablo: I would say to drink at home, don’t spend your money at the bars – it’s expensive and they measure the shots so they can’t pour you more than one ounce of a shot per drink so you end spending a bunch of money and don’t even get that drunk! So yeah drink at home instead then uber it!
Okay cool, good to know! Thanks for your time and I hope the show goes well!
It was a total pleasure to chop it up with Tom Barber (lead vocals) and Pablo Viveros (drums & backing vocals) of Chelsea Grin before they obliterated The Asylum with a performance I won’t forget anytime soon!
Be sure to check out their latest album ‘Eternal Nightmare‘ which is out now via Rise Records.