Demonology! We’ll Raise the Dead!
An interview with Chris Mann of The Channeling.
Justin (Apathy) Stankus
The Channeling is a force to be reckoned belting out of Orange County, CA which is headed by lead vocalist and guitar player Chris and accompanied by his bandmates Rich, Donny, and Landon. A horror based punk rock band, The Channeling have to offer you some of the best music I have heard in a long fucking time with their debut full-length, “Last Harvest” on Axe ‘N’ Head Records, which I have gone on to say and still believe, without a doubt to be the best horror-punk album of 2011 hands down. Yeah that’s right, I’m saying this stuff impressed and blew me away more than Death of a Demon’s, Blitzkid’s, or the Crimson Ghost’s newest releases. This is truly a band that has one hell of a unique sound which is super addictive and makes this band one that stands out amongst a already crowded genre. If you do not pick up this album, you are without a doubt and in all sincerity, a fucking idiot. But let us get on to the real reason you are here! Let’s start the interview!
Hey Chris, so you and me have already been introduced to one another and been in contact for awhile now, but for the fans and readers could I get your name and the rest of the member’s names as well and your positions within the band?
My name is Chris, and I sing and play guitar. Richard Triggs plays lead guitar and also sings, Donny Morris plays the drums, and Landon Hell plays bass and provides vocals as well.
So Chris can you tell us how The Channeling came to life? How did all the members come together?
The project started with just myself back in 2004. I really wanted to write and record an album all on my own, which was an idea that inspired me upon hearing Rikk Agnew’s, “All By Myself” solo record. So throughout the years, I would be writing and recording what would ultimately become the, “Less Summer EP” and “Last Harvest”. It was during those years that I put together a live band with good friends whom I’ve performed with in other projects. Of course people come and go, or you are just trying to find the right fit. We all continue to support each other, but I believe this current lineup is the strongest I’ve worked with in any band. We’re all seasoned road-tested musicians, and we know what to expect after years of playing together.
Why was “The Channeling” chosen as the band name? Is there a story behind the name? Also were there any other thoughts that almost made it, if so could you name a few for us?
I decided on, ‘The Channeling” not just because of its immediate relation to the supernatural, but also because creatively, I could do anything with it. I don’t feel locked into any specific genre where if I wanted to try something drastically different, I’d have to change the name.
Still having an active role in Intro5pect what caused you to start The Channeling? Was it something that came to you as a kind of spur of the moment thing or was it something that you always had in the back of your mind?
I’ve always wanted to front my own band, that’s just where I’ve always pictured myself. I love getting out there, and don’t get me wrong, I have a blast in the other band, and I’ll always feel fortunate to have shared those “character building” moments on tour, whether it’s sleeping on some mystery mattress in an abandoned slaughterhouse in France, or playing in front of 5,000 people at a festival in England. I would love to experience all of that with The Channeling. Hopefully with less mystery mattresses.
As an obvious horror fan, what about horror and the imagery brought you guys together to start a horror punk, or more horror based band? What would you say was your “horror defining” moment Chris?
I’m glad you ask that, because I never deliberately strived for The Channeling to be a “horror-punk” band. It’s not like I abhor the genre at all, of course I very much embrace it. Like anyone, I just wrote what I knew and could relate to, and it just happened to leak into it. There are only like 3 songs on the record that are truly rooted in horror, and the rest are more universal themes. As far as “the”horror defining moment for me, it was the time I got to stay home from school back in kindergarten to watch the network premiere of the original “The Haunting”.
I cannot stress enough how much I love the album, I love the record so much I have gone on to say that Last Harvest is the best horror punk album of 2011 in my opinion. What are your favorite songs to play and is there a story behind each one? If so please tell us. Also would you tell us the story behind Cold Circuits as well? It’s my favorite so I had to ask for that one.
I appreciate that greatly! The positive feedback is very encouraging. Choosing favorite songs to play? Hell, all of them, if we have the time. Each song definitely has a story behind it, which is partly why the record took so much time to complete is because those experiences hadn’t happened yet, and of course I wasn’t without a few distractions. Writing the record was a very humbling experience, and you learn to just be honest with yourself and let go. Cut the ego and the ‘mystique’ bullshit and just go for it. People will relate to you more. I am glad that you enjoy Cold Circuits! I honestly try to avoid interpreting songs, as my interpretation can differ from the connection that any other person has already made to it. I just wouldn’t want to risk ruining that for anyone. And no, I’m not being ‘mysterious’.
Another thing I love about the album and the band is your vocals Chris. When you listen to most (and I stress most) horror based bands it’s almost always the same thing. A melodic singer trying to achieve a Elvis/Danzig hybrid. Where yours sounds more like a less feminine and less whinny Davey Havok, it’s something really refreshing to listen to and gives it a much more punk attitude and aggression, where most bands are very melodic and slow. Was this something you had kept in mind and wanted to stay clear of? Or is this just how you’ve always sung?
Again, thank you! I appreciate it! The irony is that I never really listened to AFI. I just sing naturally, I don’t really think anything of it, nor am I trying to emulate anyone. When I first started out singing, I made the mistake of every beginner by trying to sound like my influences. After a while you smarten up and realize the world already has a singer that sounds like that, and they’ll always do it better than you, so stop wasting your time. Find your own voice, as nobody else can sound like you.
It may be a little too soon to ask, but is there any new material in the works? A split? 7 inch? Shit, even a new album!? Can you spill some guts for us that want more!? What can we expect from The Channeling in the near future?
We have indeed been writing new music, on top of what I was already demoing for the next record, even while I was finishing Last Harvest. Everyone in this band is great to collaborate with, and its been very productive. Whether it will be a split/EP/Full length, time will tell. We are also in pre-production for a video for one of the songs, and the concept is fantastic. It’ll have to be a surprise for now, but those who ordered the album online will be receiving some cryptic clues when it gets closer to completion. (Another benefit of buying the record, the fun lingers on!). But at the forefront, the focus is on getting Last Harvestout there to as many human beings as possible.
If someone was reading this not knowing who you or The Channeling was how would you describe the band? Why would you suggest people should check you guys out?
When I try to describe the music, for some reason I tend to give visuals. And this will be no exception. I would say try to imagine the house in POLTERGEIST. Now imagine a band in the garage of that house, playing music while coffins, corpses, and ghosts are flying out from all directions as the ECTO-1 (covered in marshmallow) inexplicably crashes into the side of the house. If you can relate to that, then you should definitely check us out.
What has been your favorite show you guys have played so far since starting the band?
It would have to be our CD release show. I had been dreaming of that day for the longest time. We sounded great, the bands were terrific, and we got to see some old friends again.
Speaking of shows! Are there any big scale tours in the works? Is there any chance of fans catching you guys on the East Coast anytime soon?
A tour is inevitable! Where and when we tour will be up for deliberation. It’s been real tough for bands lately because of gas prices, so we want to be sure we are planning the most efficient tour possible, while reaching as many people possible.
Last question when it comes to touring but who are some of your favorite bands to share the stage with? If given the opportunity to play with whoever you so desired who would it be? Do you possibly have an awesome/crazy story you could share with us dealing with life on the road?
It’s always fun playing with Deadman Walking. When we tour in Intro5pect, we’ve always enjoyed going out with Citizen Fish, Leftover Crack, Anti-Flag, and Moral Dilemma (UK). We were lucky enough to play the Rebellion Festival for two years, and share the stage with bands we had grown up listening to: The Damned, Vice Squad, Dickies etc. It was surreal. But it’s the tours where you are out on your own that have the most interesting stories: Homeless people finding a way into your van while you are the only one sleeping in it, waking up to a semi-conscious drunk person about to puke on you, spilling a jar of Nutella all over your pants just as you are about to be inspected by the French border patrol, pretending to be asleep in a studio apartment as the host deems it necessary to express his love physically to his significant other just 2 feet above you, and of course, Waffle House.
Do you or any of your fellow band members have any strange pre-show obsessions?
If it was really that strange, they have been wise not to share it.
If you could tell your fans 4 bands to go check out immediately, who would they be and why?
New Model Army, Devics, Carved, and Deep Stirrings. They all are very unique and distinct from each other, but there is something in there for everyone.
Your top 3 horror movies, what are they and a small tad of info as to why.
Ugh, only 3? Not fair. But here goes. 1) The Haunting. 2) Poltergeist. 3) Evil Dead 2. Ghostbusters 1 & 2. House On Haunted Hill. Frighteners. Reanimator. Pet Cemetery. And The Gate. There. Three. I’ve always preferred the films that were more psychological and played up the paranormal element.
Where can fans go to get a hold of your music/merchandise if they don’t already know?
http://www.TheChanneling.bandcamp.com, iTunes, http://www.TheChanneling.net
If you buy the record from us, you get a limited hand screened glow-in-the-dark spirit board. Its cooler than it sounds, trust me.
Give or take the band has been around for about 2 or 3 years now? Please correct me if I’m wrong because I’m actually not positive about this fact. But during this time what is the most important thing you have learned personally and what has the band as a whole learned?
You’re pretty much always learning. No matter how much you think you’ve got a grasp on something, another thing will always come along in attempts to humble and derail you. The important thing is to fight through it, and not lose the meaning in your music in the process.
Since starting the band how do you feel your music has progressed, is it what you imagined it would be?
Over the years, I definitely believe I have become more focused and confident in where I want the sound to go and how it represents the band. I can safely say its where I hoped it would be, and it has been very energizing.
Now when it comes to horror music there is no denying that every band takes a big influence from The Misfits. But if you were to exclude them, who is The Channeling’s biggest influence? Who else highly influences you personally and the band?
Personally, New Model Army, Samhain, The Replacements, Devics. Rich is really fond of Refused, G.G. Allin, and Verbal Abuse. For Donny, it would have to be Dave Lombardo from Slayer and Bill Stevenson from Descendents. Landon, I rarely see NOT rockin the Lower Class Brats shirt, but he also listens to Descendants, Op Ivy and Dead Kennedys.
Now this is one of my signature questions that I ask every band I interview. But what is your view on religion? I have always seen religion as a obvious subject when talking about horror-punk, but it always seems like I hear about something else whether that be video games, ghosts, killing your girlfriend, or Tina. Not saying any of those things are bad at all! But how do you feel about it personally? Is it something that influences your music and the band?
I’m not religious and neither is anyone else in the band. It’s one of those things that I just don’t really feel the need to touch upon with the music because it has nothing to do with me or the bands concept. For me, it’s always been about exploring the idea and possibilities of life after death, whether it’s the form of energy or full torso apparitions, and who knows what else. It just interests me.
In closing I sincerely want to thank you Chris for taking the time to do this interview with me and being so patient with my lazy ass haha. Before we end this interview is there anything you would like to add for us and for the fans?
We shall see you soon!
Seriously though, go check this band out immediately!