Evans Blue Singer Dan Chandler Checks in on ‘Graveyard of Empires’
April can’t come soon enough for fans of Evans Blue. On April 17, the rockers will let loose their much anticipated fourth studio album, ‘Graveyard of Empires.’
Evans Blue are currently putting the finishing touches on ‘Graveyard of Empires’ and can’t wait to share it with their rabid fanbase. The band admittedly poured their heart and souls into this one calling it honest, raw, and very personal.
Frontman Dan Chandler checked in with Loudwire to fill us in on the making of ‘Graveyard of Empires, the current lineup of the band and his personal takes on couple of the album’s songs.
You’re in the final stretch with your new album ‘Graveyard of Empires’ with the release date in sight. You encountered some setbacks along the way, how has the past year been for the band?
As far as the past six months, we pretty much started getting into the studio, writing, laying everything down. We went through a drummer change obviously, we parted ways with Howard, which kind of had a lot to do with the set back of the record because we recorded the drums with him first and then we went our own ways so we re-recorded the rest of the record and then had to go back and do the drums again with Mike McClure and Jason Pierce. It was definitely a different way to do things, tracking drums after, but it still worked out pretty good. The guys just went in last week and put the final touches on the guitars and made sure everything was solid on their parts, I go back out next week to do my final little parts and then it’s off to mixing.
This past year’s been pretty awesome. I’m always looking forward to putting out new music and playing new music live so that’s always exciting. It’s been a pretty cool year.
You mentioned the sort of drummer by committee that you used for the recording of the album. Do you have a new permanent drummer yet or are you still looking for the right person?
We haven’t really picked a certain person yet. We don’t know how we’re going to handle that. We don’t know if we’re going to find somebody or if it might be Jason or Mike. We really haven’t settled on one person in particular, we’re hoping to find the right guy which could be either one of those guys. There could be a few other guys interested too. I don’t know if we’re going to hire someone to tour with, find the right guy and add him to the band of if that will just happen naturally. As far as I know we’ll probably have one of those guys come out with us on tour and see how things go.
The band has been through its fair share of lineup changes throughout the years; do you feel that for you personally, this time around, you were able to settle into the writing and recording process without that being too much of a distraction?
This time was a completely different situation for me. Last record was my first record with Evans Blue and we were writing that record before I even met the guys. I wasn’t a huge Evans Blue fan, not because I had heard them and didn’t like them, I just wasn’t too familiar with them, they didn’t get much play where I lived so I had only heard a couple songs. I didn’t know the whole focus of what their thing was, but I knew coming into it I had to be myself or I wasn’t going to be happy. People would like that or people wouldn’t like it but you’ve gotta be yourself right?
It’s cool; it’s a good vibe this time. We’ve been together for awhile now and we have a lot of trust. I know the direction I want to go as far as lyrically and melodically, I know where I want to be now. Whereas before we were building something and I was trying to become a member of a band. It’s tricky whenever you jump into a band as a lead singer and your fans are so in love with the band; it breaks their heart so I tried to make sure I didn’t let them down. But like I said before, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do and I think it’s worked out for the best right now.
You’ve called ‘Graveyard of Empires’ very “human and honest,” are you referring specifically to the lyrics when you say that or the songs as a whole?
I think lyrically the songs are a lot more honest, and I say honest not because it’s an easy word to describe an album but it’s honest because the things that I wrote about on this record, ninety percent of it has a basic principal. It’s just about things I’ve felt in a moment in time that I revisit all the time. It’s not necessarily how I feel now; it’s just how I felt at one time. It’s very strong and it’s personal because some of the songs have to do with higher power. It’s that battle in your head when you’re thinking about something and you want to perhaps put the blame on something, or just be mad, or say something out loud.
Even though we’ve all felt a certain way, we don’t always act on it, that’s why I say it’s honest because I’m really saying it. I’m thinking it, and I think we’ve all thought it, but instead of writing a song to be hooky and catchy and have all these words that rhyme perfectly, this time around was something that really means something, and when you write something that really means something I think you end up with the best results and you’re going to be happy with it. That’s the bottom line, I want to be proud to stand behind this record and I am.
We’ve heard ‘Halo’ and ‘This Time It’s Different’ from the new album; can you maybe pick another song on the album that you feel a strong connection to and tell us about it?
There’s a song on the record called ‘Thank You,’ I am attached to this one quite a bit because it is another one of those personal type songs. There’s a lot of sarcasm in the song, it’s one of those things where I say, “I just wanted to thank you, for nothing really. For making me feel like I’ve been in a cage inside my only life.” Actually part of the lyrics from the chorus are, “Thank you, I hate you, I’ve been in a cage inside my only life and I just wanted to thank you,” and it’s so sarcastic but it’s so right for me, it feels good. It’s heavy, it’s rockin’, it’s got a mellow verse but you know its coming, the chorus hits and it just soars. It’s got one of those choruses where the first time you hear it you get right into it.
The band has gone on record to say that you’ve grown on this album. Is that referring to your sound evolving or referring to how the band is working together?
I think as a whole we’re growing as musicians. I don’t necessarily mean that we’re getting better, I just mean that when you have your vision, the way you want to be as a band, and the music that you’re trying to put out in a certain direction, and actually capturing that, that’s where I feel our growth is.
For me personally, and I’m sure the rest of the guys feel the same way, even knowing the direction that you want to go and actually capturing it, that’s the growth for me, moving in the right direction. Obviously, as a family, we’re really good friends and we’ve only gotten closer. You go through changes in bands and it does make you realize that this is it, we’ve got to stick together, and we have to get along. If we’re not having fun doing this then we’re going to regret it later. We don’t know how long we have to do this so we have to have fun while we can.
You incorporated a lot of elements on this album from strings to piano – are those elements part of the song from the beginning or are they more of a product of the song dictating that direction through the writing process?
It was pretty much tracking the songs and listening to them, even as demos, and we thought the strings would sound cool, or on a dark song we thought a 20-piece orchestra or piano in this one. It’s really just like you said, it’s a product of hearing something and thinking, “Wow this would be cool in the song.” There are a few songs with the orchestra and there are a couple with piano.
Let’s talk about the song ‘Halo’ a little bit. Lyrically we could draw a few conclusions from it, but tell us what the song means to you.
‘Halo’ was one of those songs where I was looking back in the past when I lost my nephew, you know where the song ‘Erase My Scars’ came from. That’s kind of where I was sitting at the time when I wrote this. I was thinking, not to be against a God or necessarily for a God, but just to be angry. I think that’s something you’ve got to go through when you’ve lost something and it sticks with you for so long. It’s just one of those things – you want to be angry, it’s part of the process and maybe these songs are part of my getting over it process. The song has a lot to do with just speaking to God and just saying “I’m mad.” It’s just one of those things, and the thing about it is, I can’t even say that I believe in a God, I’m not saying I do or I don’t, so it’s one of those strange things, if I didn’t believe in God, why am I writing the song with that kind of a directive, it really doesn’t even make sense.
It makes sense, you’re just conflicted. You mentioned the song ‘Erase My Scars,’ and I was going to ask you about that. Obviously that song has a deeply personal connection to you, can you tell us why it was so important for you to write that song?
My nephew Chase Franklin passed away at 8 years old from brain cancer and he was like a little brother to me. You see someone battling something for so long, especially at such a young age, and it kind of opens your eyes to how cancer can be and how you live with cancer and how many people it really affects. The people around the person who has it have to be strong, but the person who has it, it’s one of those things where you know the inevitable and you have to swallow that. The song came about, Parker was playing this riff, and we laid it down real quick, and I had it.
I was revisiting that feeling and the words just started coming out like a good song normally would, it just happened that way. ‘Erase My Scars’ just formed right into something. When I originally wrote it I had two extra verses so there’s a lot more to that song than people have heard. I’ve been talking to my manager about maybe releasing an acoustic version of the song with the extra verses. Open it up a little bit of it, give people who are fans of it the opportunity to hear a little more of the story, because I think there’s more to it that’s important. I’ve gotten involved with charity – anything we can do as a band to help out – it’s just super important for people to be aware. Unfortunately most people have been impacted by cancer in some way so they get it.
Your vocal style is kind of insane; you go from these beautiful melodic choruses to this completely primal guttural scream. How do you develop that kind of style and how did you find that contrast within your vocals?
I don’t know, I think if you listen to my older demos from the past 10 years it’s probably just something that’s grown into the style that I wanted, maybe a more rhythmic style. I definitely wanted to have some kind of emotional things going on as far as a growl type scream, and there’s a lot more of that on this record by the way. It’s something I wanted to do, we all kind of naturally went this direction, it wasn’t necessarily a decision to do it, we all like the same kind of music and we wanted to go a little heavier. We love playing the heavier songs live so it was very natural for us to move that way. The vocal stuff, I think you just grow into it. You find something that you really like, that fits with your voice, and you go for it.
What do you want fans to take away from ‘Graveyard of Empires’?
I think front to back I don’t think this album has a song you want to pass over. I think every song has something, some serious passion in it, with each verse. It was well thought out, well played out, I think everyone should be able to listen to this record and take something away from it, to really find a relationship with the songs. That’s the most important thing for the record that I would want.
Brent from Shinedown recently called out rock fans on Twitter to stand up and promote the genre as a whole a little bit more because rock isn’t on the charts as much as it should be. When you look at the current state of rock, do you feel like fans need to step up a little bit?
I support that. I think personally there’s going to be a big shift real soon. I think the fans are going to step up not because they’re told to, but because they want to. I don’t think rock is going anywhere. I think the people are going to stand up on their own. The diehard fans are there and we see them so much that they become friends instead of fans.
For more on Evans Blue, read about the symbolism behind the new album art here.