INTERVIEW WITH AWAKEN
Waking up the rock world with MONSTERS & MACHINES
By Stephanie Stevens
The Tennessee band AWAKEN brings you a solid plethora of rock n roll ambiance with the music they have created since the band’s formation. An Alternative/Hard Rock destiny for music fans where powerful melodies intercept with hard hitting moments and emotionally enlighten you with provoking lyrical material.
The band: Chad Griffin – vocals, Dustin Simpson – guitar, Chase “Sludge” Reagan – bass and Jimi Wilkins – drums are gearing to make 2021 their year with the release of the newest album “MONSTERS & MACHINES”. Joining up with INgrooves and TLG Entertainment the band is focusing on music diversity and have made an album that is fresh and manoeuvres you down different paths of Rock n Roll throughout the disc. The singles that have been a platform for this album show the ability the band has to shine with difference but always embracing the signature sound that is AWAKEN.
From my favourites ‘BEHEMOTH’ and ‘STAINED GLASS’ to ‘THE VEIL’ the guys engage you with melody driven power and hard-hitting jolts of guitar driven atmospheres but also slide in modern hits of synthy dark ambiance and beautifully electrifying vocal moments.
AWAKEN is ready to set the rock world on fire with “MONSTERS & MACHINES”.
I had a chance to ask vocalist Chad Griffin a few questions about the new music, self-producing, working with Trevor McNevan from Thousand Foot Krutch and three fun facts about the band.
Q: AWAKEN has been around for some time now and has really become a staple in the rock community, as I’ll get into in this interview, but when and how did you guys all come together and what is the biggest asset each member brings to the band?
Chad Griffin: Thank you, yes it has been quite a while. Longer for some of us than others. Dustin and I have been writing together for years with different people before running into Jimmy then Chase. Both playing in different bands themselves. We hooked up with Jimmy in 2012 before the recording of our first record and went straight into the studio for “Broken Circle”. The writing for that record was basically a compilation of songs we had written for a previous band. We became Awaken, put out that album, then hit the road. We ended up touring with The Protest many times which Chase was a part of. That’s how we met him. Through a domino effect of things that took place, he ended up parting ways with them to take care of his new baby. We later ended up calling him when we lost our bass player. The connection was instant.
Q: Your new album MONSTERS & MACHINES is coming. Did you push the release to 2021 because of the chaos of 2020 or was this just a set thing and how was it preparing and finishing a product during a year like this?
Chad Griffin: Yes, the record was pushed back due to our new connection with The Label Group and INgrooves. It was a mutual decision with everyone involved to start fresh in the new year after some chaos clears. It also gave us some time to add in a few tweaks and actually add a new track that wouldn’t have made the record in time. It will be a 12-track record. The whole process was quick and fun. Covid closed down a lot of things so it helped us get in the studio and focus on what we wanted to do.
Q: You released ‘STAINED GLASS’ and with this song you found clarity in the band’s sound. What was the turning point that you had, Was it a missing piece in creation?
Chad Griffin: We feel that song is a good reflection of our sound. That is more along the lines of songs that we like to write, that we feel is kind of the foundation of our sound…with the calmer verses and heavy driving choruses and hooks. That was actually a remake of a song we had back with our original group, so it has a sort of sentimental feel to it that brings us back to our roots.
Q: A newer track you dropped was ‘THE VEIL’ can you tell us your lyrical approach to this song and what inspires you as a lyric writer?
Chad Griffin: Honestly, that one is kind of a take on a lot of what is going on today. It’s hard to tell what is real anymore. You can hardly trust anything you hear, and people have trouble being real. It seems sometimes like people walk around living a front or a facade instead of being themselves. I actually have had those lyrics for over a decade, ha. I just took it and modernized it, and changed it up a bit. It was one of the newest songs added to the record, music-wise.
Q: One song off the new album that really brought focus to the band was ‘BEHEMOTH’. I really loved how it was a diverse sound more so than other tracks you guys released. How much do you strive to have complete diversity when going into writing a full-length?
Chad Griffin: That was always the track I wanted to be the first impression of this record. It was one of the first 4 tracks we had in the demo sessions and we knew it was a standout. We do put a lot of focus on the tracks being different than each other. We don’t ever want to put out an album that sounds like one long track. We like to have a little bit of everything. This is actually the most diverse record I think we have done. That’s one reason we are so happy with it. There is a lot of both worlds on this album when it comes to heavy and melodic.
Q: Back in the day, with your debut album, you had the ability to work with Trevor McNevan from Thousand Foot Krutch on the song ‘FATHOM’. How did you get that collab worked out and what was the biggest thing you walked away with after working with him?
Chad Griffin: We were playing a venue near where he lived, and he came in to check out the bands and just enjoy his time off. We spotted him in the crowd and he came out back when we were loading. We just let him listen to some of our songs and he loved it. Said he’d love to help us out and collaborate. He was honestly an inspiration. Always full of talent and positive energy. He was honestly one of the coolest people still that we have ever run into since doing this.
Q: You guys seem very at home writing music do you ever get roadblocks and what would be your best advice for when that happens?
Chad Griffin: We are so used to each other from writing together for so long. It honestly just comes naturally. I have to say we are pretty blessed with that end of it and can’t complain. I’m sure the blocks have come a few times, just like with anyone, but they really don’t stick around long. We are always able to work through it and make it happen.
Q: Taking songs you have written and bringing them to an acoustic setting. Is it an easy process or is it like re-writing a song? And how much emotional value changes for you to perform it?
Chad Griffin: I’m a huge fan of the chilled out acoustic stuff. It really lets us play around with different arrangements of the songs. I love getting to go in wondering how it will turn out and hearing some of our heavier music have different versions like that. It does naturally feel more passionate at times. I do love rocking out and singing over the louder music, but it is honestly cool to get to sit down and make it something different.
Q: Being from Tennessee I am sure you are always finding people who inspire and help you learn more in the music community. How do you view your community and what do you believe your band has given to others in the community?
Chad Griffin: We are a split band as far as where we are all from. I love my community and we have a really cool regional radio show and awesome DJ that really helps get exposure for bands around the area. We have festivals and a few good venues. It is cool being so close to Nashville as well. I hope to be an inspiration to younger bands in the area and show them if they can stick it out and just keep writing together some cool things can happen. There are many different styles and forms of rock music played around our town, regardless of it being stereotyped as such a country stronghold.
Q: What is the biggest difference between self-producing your work vs finding someone to do it and what do you honestly prefer?
Chad Griffin: We loved our time going to Travis Wyrick for our first record and the experience we had there. We learned a lot and loved how it turned out. We would love to eventually get to work with another producer in the future but honestly, we prefer doing our own thing. We love getting together during our own time and have the freedom we’ve been able to have. We learn new things each record on how to perfect certain elements and have fun with it. We don’t really know what we will do or where we will go for the next, but we’ve enjoyed doing these last 3 ourselves.
Q: If you can get out and tour in 2021 is there one band you would be honoured to go out with?
Chad Griffin: We would love to reconnect with The Protest. It would be like hanging out with our brothers again and let Chase get to hang with old bandmates. There are several bands we wouldn’t mind playing with, but as far as staying around on the road…they stay at the top of the list for us.
Q: What venue do you miss playing at most and why?
Chad Griffin: To keep it short and sweet…any ha. We aren’t picky at this point. We just miss playing. We miss them all.
Q: 3 facts about your band that have nothing to do with music?
Chad Griffin: -We love God, we are far from perfect, but strive to be better for him and closer to him each day, we love discussing current events, politics, and sending memes back and forth on a daily in group message and we love Mexican food!
CONNECT WITH THE BAND:
‘The Veil’ (Official Lyric Video)
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Stephanie Stevens and East Coast Romper, and has been released to Ever Metal on this basis. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.