INTERVIEW: Ice Nine Kills Frontman Spencer Charnas Discusses Deluxe Album 'The Silver Scream', Horror & More
Ice Nine Kills, the metalcore band from Massachusetts picked up steam beyond their wildest dreams with the release of their most recent album 'The Silver Scream', which came out back in October of 2018. This October, the band will be releasing the deluxe edition of the album, 'The Silver Scream: Final Cut'. This album is inspired by classic horror movies, with each track telling the story of a different horror movie. The tracklisting includes songs inspired by 'Halloween', 'Friday the 13th', 'Nightmare On Elm Street' and 'IT'. The Final Cut edition will see a brand new track with inspiration drawn from 'Scream', which is one of Spencer Charnas' favourite movies.
We were so stoked to sit down with the frontman to discuss the upcoming deluxe edition, the ongoing success surrounding 'The Silver Scream' and the spectacular live performance that comes with the album and horror movies in general. Here is what we discussed!
Q: How are you doing?
A: I’m doing great, it’s the third show of the tour. We had a day off to hang in Amsterdam, and Zürich and Munich were awesome. All the shows have been sold out, I think all the shows on the tour are sold out, which is really incredible. We’ve only been over here a couple of times and we haven’t been for almost two years, so to see that support from our European fans is amazing.
Sometimes I forget how crazy it really is to be all the way over on the other side of the world and have people really love the band. We’re having quite a good time!
Q: The deluxe version of your album, what can we expect from it?
A: It’s a bit cryptic right now, we are not giving away too much, but there is going to be some acoustic rendition of some of the most popular songs on the album and on two songs, in particular, there are some really exciting guest performers singing on them. One who is an icon from one of the most famous horror movies with maybe one of the most famous slasher scenes in history and then on the other one is one of the best metal vocalists around in one of the coolest metal bands today.
We also have a cover and a completely brand new song, based on one of my all-time favourite films “Scream”. We wanted to make an amazing song for “Scream” because it’s one of my favourites and last album we just ran out of time and we didn’t have time to work on a song for “Scream”. We started one, but just didn’t have time to finish it, so we started fresh on a new idea and I’m really excited about how it came together.
Q: Is it right that you did a screening in the garage from “Scream”?
A: Yes, we have actually been to the house from “Scream” twice! Once was for a convention called “Scream Comes Home”, which was this big outing last October in Santa Rosa, California, which is north of San Francisco, where the film was shot, at the house where the final act of the original took place and it was just an amazing experience as a fan to be in that house and we performed an acoustic set in the garage where Rose McGowan gets crushed in the garage door and it was so amazing to be there because the house is set up exactly like it is in the film. Often times, in any film, things are shot in a way where a house might look in a certain way like this room leads to that room but then, in reality, it wasn’t like that, but this is exactly like the movies, so you feel like you’re in the original and it was just a fantastic experience.
Q: We heard in a podcast that you recorded snippets of tracks at the houses of the movies. Did you do the same thing in that garage?
A: It’s funny because when we were at the “Scream” house the last time, the song hadn’t even been started yet, so I couldn’t do that, but I wish I had! It’s a little bit of a far journey so we didn’t go back, but that would have been really cool. If only I could go back in time.
Q: On which locations did you do the snippets?
A: We did that at the “A Nightmare On Elm Street” house, which is at 1428 Elm Street in the movie, but is actually 1428 Genesee Avenue in Los Angeles. It’s cool to see that the number, the iconic number, that’s just that because it is the number of the house they chose to shoot at.
Wes Craven said he chose the name Elm Street because it’s such a common name street and there is an Elm Street in probably every town in the US.
The other house that we did the snippets at vocally was in Pasadena, California at the original house from Halloween, the Michael Myers house. Right next to it, there is a museum called “The Sugarmint Gallery” and we were kind of in between the house and that gallery so we screened in basically in the backyard of the Michael Myers house.
For me, it put an authenticity to the whole album and for me, horror is so much fun and I think that’s a lot of the reason why people are responding to the album because we are not taking ourselves too seriously and horror, like good music, is meant to be an escape from reality. We’re not a political band, we’re not singing about heartache or drugs or suicide, it’s just something for people who are going through tough times and are trying to get away from that.
Q: For the next record, are you going to do something with horror again?
A: I think that’s something you always struggle with, when you had something that was successful, how do you top it? You want to please the fan, you want to have some shades of what people responded to from the previous work but you don’t want to just repeat yourself. So we are going to have to figure out something that is going to hit both those marks and I got some cool ideas.
A lot of our stuff ties into our films as well and I am excited to keep exploring that. There are now four music videos that go with the album and that tell a continuous story and one prologue, which happened before and we have part 5 coming very soon. I can’t say the exact release date but in September and you will see how “IT all ends”.
Maybe we’ll get a new video for one of the new songs on the deluxe release.
Q: Is that something that you’re toying around with? To put out an entire film with an album?
A: Yeah, that would be amazing. Unfortunately, sometimes you’re limited to what the label will allow you to do in terms of budget because these things can be very expensive. But Fearless and Concord, they have been amazing in supporting the band and allowing us to create something really special and allowing me to carry on my vision. They have been very supportive of that. Metaphorically and from a financial standpoint.
Q: What are some of the key differences that you’ve experienced since signing with Concord and Fearless?
A: Well, before, we never really had a proper record label. We had put out most of our stuff on our own and then we did a couple records with a very small company that was not a major label. It's been great to have a team around the band and not only is it a label but we also have a management and a legal team and a booking agent and a publicist so we’ve assembled quite a great team, all working together to further the band. That’s something that five or six years ago, we didn't have. We had to do everything ourselves and it gets to a point where everything moves fast and you have to do this and that and the band can’t do everything themselves. So to get that infrastructure behind Ice Nine Kills has been great.
Q: If you had to choose between horror literature and cinematics, which one would you choose?
A: I’d have to go with films. Reading is really special and it’s a very powerful medium because you get to use more of your imagination. You’re not shown the imagery, you have to create your own, which is really exciting but to me, films are just more powerful because it’s a fully-realized vision. Not just words on a page but the directors and the writer's vision. That’s usually what I go to when I’m trying to escape from reality. But then again, we wouldn’t have some of my favourite films if it wasn’t for the books they were based on.
Q: Are you still into the current horror, like “The Conjuring” and “Insidious”, considering slasher is your favourite?
A: I always enjoy those and support those movies. They are not my favourite but there are definitely some good movies coming out. I really liked “Happy Death Day”, just because it was a cross between a slasher and “Groundhog Day”, which is great comedy, one of my other favourite genres. That actually describes our band very well, it’s scary and it can be violent but there is always an underlying comedic tongue and cheek to what we do.
Q: Have you seen “IT: Chapter Two” already?
A: I have! I went in there with low expectations as the reviews were very mixed and people were saying that it was a mistake to have made the second film, but I was blown away. I loved it, I thought it was scarier than the first one and the story was great. My only complaint was that it was a little bit too long. They could have easily shaved 30-40 minutes.
But overall, it was great. And that’s hard for me to say because we tried to get our song about “IT” somehow involved in the second movie. We offered to do promotional stuff, but they just blew us off, so that was kind of a bummer. If you’re listening out there, Warner Brothers, you fucked up!
Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about “IT Is The End”?
A: It was very cool to work with two artists that I grew up being inspired by. Fenix TX, which is one of my favourite poppunk bands that I got to know by going to see Blink-182 back in the late ‘90s and the singer from Fenix TX co-wrote the chorus with me on the track. And then Less Than Jake, which is one of my favourite punk-ska bands ever, played the horns on the song, so it was really a very cool collaboration.
Q: How did that come to be, when you are not punk or ska at all?
A: It’s cool to still include that influence, that’s why I wanted to bring artists from that era and genre. Because not only do we have Fenix TX and Less Than Jake, but we also have Finch on the album and Tony from Mest and to me, that’s just paying tribute to the people that inspired me, and even though we are a heavy band, those influences still are heard in our music, in the melodic aspects. That’s how I learned to write melodies and I think if you listen to our stuff, there is definitely some punk in there.
Q: How and why did you choose to be to go this direction of metalcore?
A: I think I started the band so long ago, in 2001/2002, that slowly, my taste didn’t change but it evolved. Because I still love all that music from then, I still listen to it, but I just then also really started to get into Broadway theatre and then got into really heavy music and I think that the band is sort of a concoction and a melting pot of all those things.
I think there was a point in our career that we were too worried about not being heavy enough or being too heavy that at some point I was just like “Fuck it, let’s just do us”. That’s when we started to have more success. I think a lot of people, not just bands but people in life, that see someone doing something successful and they go and try to imitate it and that rarely works. I think the reason that that person is successful is that they did something that no one else was doing. I'm not saying that we are the most original band ever or that no one has ever done anything like this before but I think that we try not to follow the trends.
Q: Would you ever direct or produce a horror movie?
A: I’d love to do that. I feel like I’m sort of getting my feet wet, doing the film that we’ve been working on because I’m very hands-on in the process of the story and the editing. But yeah, I’d love to continue to explore that, making movies. I’ve never been on a movie set for more than a couple of days but it is very exhausting, so that's one part that I'm maybe a little bit apprehensive about because I’m concentrating on the band.
Ice Nine Kills recently announced the tracklisting for the Final Cut edition of 'The Silver Scream' and released an acoustic rendition of the track 'Stabbing In The Dark' featuring Trivium frontman Matt Heafy. Stream the new acoustic song right below and let us know if you are excited for the band's Final Cut album!