Can you believe Evergreen Terrace put out their sixth studio album last month? Since the release of 2009’s Almost Home it’s been constant ups and downs for Jacksonville’s finest hardcore band. But even with a lineup adjustment, a label change, and life getting in the way, guitarist/vocalist Craig Chaney was able to keep it together. He opened up to us about his 13-year career with Evergreen, and why Dead Horses may be their best record yet.
How does it feel to have put out your sixth album, the first in 4 years?
It’s been four years since we put out Almost Home. It feels good. It’s been a long time coming. The writing process has been years. We didn’t even know if we were going to put another record out with Josh [James] leaving the band and Andrew going to school. The band members were taking different paths but then got together and decided that this is what we do; and we decided we hadn’t put out our best work and that we had more in us. That’s pretty much what happened.
Why was there such a huge time span in between records?
A lot has happened with the band in the past four years. From us leaving Metal Blade to members leaving the band. It was great though because our former bass player rejoined the band and our current bass player just move to guitar. It was like old times; it was like a breath of fresh air. It pushed us in the right direction and then we contacted Rise and asked them if they would want to put out a record and they said yes. We were excited about that.
So you pretty much called Rise and asked them to pick you up and they did?
I’ve known a guy at Rise for most of our career, about 13 years. His old band used to tour with Evergreen. It was one of those bands that we toured with where we instantly hit it off. We played South By Southwest a few years ago and we actually played the Rise Records showcase; and at that show and I hadn’t seen him for a few years. We were still on Metal Blade and we just hung out and had a great conversation. He told me that if we ever left Metal Blade and needed a place, just to hit him up. So that’s exactly what happened. When we left Metal Blade and decided to put out another record we decided against a Kickstarter and joined Rise. It was a really fast process and I liked what they did with the label. They stay relevant and they sign all these bands that they like and personally love. So I like the diversity of the label compared to most labels out there.
What’s the record about? Did you have a theme?
We came up with the title of the record several years ago. It was almost going to become the title of our last record Almost Home. It’s kind of an obvious title in a way but it kind of deals with themes of what we’ve been going through in the past four years. Our writing perspective is usually pretty personal but also some of it deals with some social observation and things in our personal life. Things that we’ve been dealing with. Being a blue collar band, stuff that we feel passionate about. We’ve never really written about that before through Evergreen Terrace before. It was nice to have a new perspective and address some of those things.
What was your favorite song off Dead Horses and why?
It’s tough. It’s weird because writing these songs has been a two-and-a-half year process and now that the album has come out, I don’t really know. “Browbeaters Anonymous” was a different approach to songwriting. We also did different tuning on the record. It added to the dynamic. It’s hard, I hear certain songs on certain days and I feel things I can’t really describe. I guess I would say “Browbeaters” was my favorite track.
How has been the feedback been on the album so far?
It has been overwhelmingly positive. I did not expect it from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — all social media for that matter. You’re going to have the random kids being trolls, but they’re entitled to their own opinion. But for the most part it has been extremely positive, which is great and hopefully everyone else digs it. People were saying it’s the best thing we’ve ever done and I wasn’t prepared for any of this. With Josh leaving the band, it actually left a lot of the songwriting up to me, so it was probably the most personal record I’ve ever done with Evergreen because it was pretty much all on my shoulders, so the responses have been a relief. It’s been a questionable thing when a founding member leaves the band. How is this going to effect the band, the members, how is everyone going to react? Can we stay true to our sound and still try things that we always wanted to try but haven’t? Now I think it’s crazy. Some of our oldest fans are freaking out over the record and I think that’s great.
I was excited to see that Dead Horses was released on vinyl as well as CD.
That’s one thing that’s great about Rise. Every record label we’ve ever been on we’ve always wanted to put a record out on vinyl. Our second album was on vinyl and it was done by some kid who contacted us asking if he could press 200 copies of it and sell them. We told him “Please do!” One of the great things about Rise is that I never have to ask them for anything. Every time I talk to them I have a list of questions and they would always get answered before I was able to ask them. The pre-order bundles they came up with were amazing, it’s crazy. I’m a vinyl geek so I was beyond stoked. Even I have a couple copies coming.
How did this record show your progression since you joined the band?
Evergreen Terrace existed for about six months before I joined the band. They put out a 4-song EP locally and the originally guitar player left the band and I was contacted. I was in a post hardcore band and we were all friends because we grew up in the same scene. The first time I ever saw Evergreen live, I said to myself, “I have to be in this band.” I was fresh getting into hardcore and I was huge into heavy music so when I finally joined I was happy to bring my own guitar style, and to meld it with their punk and hardcore style. I joined and we wrote the first record “Losing All Hope” and it’s been a steady progression. We’ve never had a record produced by anyone. It’s always been self-produced except for the engineer, but we’ve never had someone come in and do the whole production thing “Try this out. Play this better, etc.” It’s never been like that. It’s always been straight Evergreen, even up until now. I feel like through the years, and with experience, we’ve gotten a little better at [writing songs]. I’m happy where we’re at. We took a couple chances on the record. We write something we want to listen to and we aren’t too concerned about what other people are going to like. No disrespect to our fans and long time listeners, but we really just want to write music we like. I actually listen to this record and I haven’t listened to one of records in a very long time. (laughs.)
What’s the plan for Evergreen Terrace now that the record is out? I know you are embarking on a European tour in January.
Yeah! With Suicidal Tendencies which is crazy. We’re doing Europe, Russia, Ukraine, and we’re planning a US Tour right now. We try to go everywhere we can go pretty much. We want to hit up South America and Southeast Asia. Get back to Japan and Australia. It’s all pretty open right now. There’s nothing solidly booked, but we’re definitely going to get back on the road. I think we might even specifically plan a California tour so San Diego would definitely be on the list.
Evergreen Terrace tour dates (Europe):
w/ Suicidal Tendencies, Terror, Strife
Jan 16 Berlin, GER @ Astra
Jan 17 Saarbrucken, GER @ Garage
Jan 18 Oberhausen, GER @ Turbinehalle
Jan 19 Deinze, BEL @ Briellepoort
Jan 20 Paris, FRA @ Bataclan
Jan 21 Wiesbaden, GER @ Schlachthof
Jan 22 Zurich, CHE @ Komplex
Jan 23 Munchen, GER @ Backstage
Jan 24 Hamburg, GER @ Grosse Freiheit 36
Jan 25 Dresden, GER @ Event Werk
Jan 26 Tilburg, NLD @ O13
Jan 27 Kiev, UKR @ Bingo
Jan 28 Moscow, RUS @ Plan B
Jan 29 St. Petersburg, RUS @ Mod