Recently, Angie had a chance to sit down with Chris, vocalist for melodic hardcore quintet Stretch Arm Strong. Click READ MORE to read Chris' thoughts on his record label, the "Christian" stigma, and much more.
ANGIE: New record "Engage" is out…
CHRIS: Yep, it just came out August 19th on Solid State Records it's doing really well and getting really good reviews. We started touring for that record basically in May letting people know it was coming out, we went to Japan in June, toured the U.S July and August we hit Europe in September
A: With Rancid right?
C: Yeah with Rancid! It was awesome, we just did the UK with Rancid we did the mainland on our own, we got back took a week off then hit the U.S again for October and we come back in November for our Canadian tour.
A: You guys are coming back to Canada again?
C: Yeah in like three or four weeks actually and we will do the U.S and the west-coast in December, quite a busy year that's probably more than you needed, I'm sorry.
A: And you guys just shot a video out in New Jersey
C: Yeah Saturday we shot a video for a new song called 'Black Clouds', we shot it in Irvington, New Jersey we had a lot of kids come out it was a really, really cool time. Like videos are always kind of weird cause you got to lip sync into the CD for part of it which was kind of weird for us but it was a really cool, video everything came out really nice and we all had a really good time.
A: And you also have five vocal guest appearances on your new CD
C: Yeah on our new record we have Geoff from Thursday who does a line in the song 'Miles Apart', Rob Vitale of 9Lives does this part in 'Black Clouds'. Me and Jason Shevchuk share vocals in the song 'Ignition' and Ian from Reach The Sky does the back-ups in the first track 'We Bleed' and Mike Ski actually of the A.K.A's does a line or two on the cover song. So it's cool just friends of ours and to have them there. We were trying not to over do it but they do like these very small, very crucial parts.
A: You guys are just playing this one Canadian show, do you agree Montreal is worth it for it's infamously crazy shows?
C: Yeah this is such a cool place. We played here once before but it's been like three years ago, we just haven't been here in so long and I am so surprised that on a Tuesday night there's a little over two-hundred kids in there which is very cool, a Tuesday night is hard in any town so, but it was worth is we spent a good three hours at the border and they really went through our stuff but we did it legitimately they were just giving us a hard-time but we made it and we gotta make sure we make it back in November.
A: Is it almost surreal to think you've been at this for ten years; a decade now?
C: Yeah I don't know if it's surreal or just kind of like a nightmare is the best word for it. We've been doing this a long time but we've only been doing it to this level and to this intensity for about the last year we've really been going at it extremely hard. It's really cool and we're very grateful that we've had such good luck and good shows and good tours, all the work, it's paying off which is really, really nice.
A: And some of you have jobs as teachers?
C: We used to. I used to teach and our guitar player David used to teach and the other guys all had real jobs too but we all basically quit that to do the band. Some of us are married and I have a little girl and it's been difficult but…
A: Did you ever tell your students or did they find out?
C: Some of them knew, like David's students always knew cause he actually taught at the High School he went to and where I taught, it was kind of a reform school so kids couldn't get out all that much but they all went to the website and were like "you're in a band!" That kind of stuff…
A: It affected your tour schedule so much you finally decided to leave it?
C: Yeah we toured summers, winter-break and we toured spring-break stuff like that but now we're just touring all the time.
A: Three of you guys are married…
C: Yeah, three of us are married, I have a little girl, I've been married for almost six years and David and Jeremy are newlyweds…
A: Was it great to see the changes in the band and how you grew after…
C: Yeah it's cool, it's one of those things where you know, we've been doing this for so long that our other-wise girlfriends now wives really know what's going on. Everyone kind of knew what they were getting into so to speak and it was a really smooth transition, everybody misses home though.
A: Do you think the whole Tooth and Nail Christian stand-point gets sometimes over-blown and gets kids jaded?
C: Yeah and the thing is a lot of kids getting into us because we're a Solid State band but there's a lot of hardcore kids who just don't like us because they're like "you're on Solid State" and you know we're not a Christian band, we never we're a Christian band and we never professed to be a Christian band. I am straight-edge but we're not a straight-edge band.
People just always wanted us to be something [but] we're just a hardcore band, we're a straight-head hardcore band that tries to go fast, tries to go melodic and change things up a little bit [so as] not be a normal sounding band and for a lot of kids that was very frustrating for them, they wanted us to be one thing or [another] and we never were. So we get a lot of kids that don't like us because we're not Christian enough and a lot of kids who do like us because… You know, it's just weird, which is fine with me, I mean everybody's got their right to their opinion and what they want to do. I just wish people would take us for what we are and what we always said we are.
A: Do you prefer headlining a tour and meeting new bands every night or a support tour where it's like a big family by the end?
C: Well I like supporting just because you know some of the pressure of carrying the show is not there but seriously we've been headlining since the New Found Glory tour, we've headlined everything since then with the exception of the Rancid dates and it's been cool that we keep getting these offers and obviously there's a little more say but obviously we would love to support some bands but we tour so often now we can't wait on the support tours to come in we book stuff and we book stuff so far in advance that if we don't get an offer early on with enough time to set it up it's too hard. We really want to go out and support, we just haven't really been able to do it yet.
A: What would be your dream rider to have at every show every night?
C: Plenty of hot soup, warm bread, lots of sodas and juice some good imported chocolate and the other guys in my band really like to drink good beer so I'd have to say that for those guys but they like it so I'll put that on there.