Vocalist Jarrod Christman of the metalcore band Corpus Christi spoke with me recently about the band’s sophomore release, A Feast For Crows. This disc is a bit of a departure from the band’s previous release, The Darker Shade Of White; it is heavier and edgier and in my opinion much more aggressive. I have been a fan of this band from the beginning and I can honestly say this CD is fantastic. I was anticipating it for a while and was not disappointed in the least when I began listening to it. As a matter of fact I have been listening to it non-stop for days now. Here is what Christman had to say about A Feast For Crows.
Your brand new CD, A Feast For Crows, is set for release on July 6th. Now that it is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Jarrod: Very satisfied. This record feels like where we should’ve been the whole time. It was, hands down, the most enjoyable time I’ve ever spent in the studio.
What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
Jarrod: Writing actually started last summer on tour with Jon Pauly and I. Then, given the band underwent such a drastic line-up change late in fall last year; I restarted the process with Derek in early December. Most of the earliest material was scrapped, but some of it definitely made the new record. This was the most collaborative writing I’ve ever done. Which consequently was the easiest and most fun I’ve ever had writing music. And I think it shows in the songs we created. Derek and I hit a really good writing stride early on and cranked out all the songs between December and March. Andy, being the gifted drummer he is, also had some great input on this record, which again, only added to the quality of the songs. Well… that’s our opinion anyway. And let’s face it: our opinion and the opinion of our fans are the only ones we’re concerned about.
How did you end up picking this title for the name of the album?
Jarrod: It came from a twisted dream and a great series of books. The title ‘A Feast For Crows’ comes from the 4th book of a 7 book series called ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire,’ by George R.R. Martin. I’ve been reading these books since last Fall when we started writing. We had been tossing around another title and concept art for a few months but just couldn’t get excited about it. I had been thinking a lot about the theme of the record and was trying to come up with a title that could summarize the lyrical theme as well as evoke some strong visual images. Then one morning I had a dream and (long story short) saw this Braveheart meets The 13th Warrior battlefield (which ultimately helped inspire the album artwork). I told the guys about it that night at practice and threw the title ‘A Feast For Crows’ out and everyone jumped right on it. Unanimously they said, “Yeah… that’s the one!” So we ran with it.
The band keeps things interesting thematically. Can you talk about some of the subjects you tackle on this record?
Jarrod: All the songs on this record deal with conflict. Be that conflict within ourselves, conflict with society, or I should say, conflict with our modern perception of what society should be… conflict within relationships or conflict with the quality of leadership from our spiritual and government leaders. I wouldn’t call this a concept album, by any stretch, but the songs share the central theme of conflict.
I think the new material is significantly heavier and more aggressive than The Darker Shade Of White. Was this intentional or do you think it is more of a natural progression?
Jarrod: It’s definitely natural. It’s what I wanted, but didn’t have time or the right help to do the first time. Jon (our old guitarist) and I were never satisfied with the low level of aggression and relatively not-heavy songs on the first record. We set about solving that problem before he had to leave the band. When everyone left and I had to rebuild the band with all new members, the level of anger and frustration I felt over that was bound to show up in the music. Derek and I come from fairly different approaches to heavy music and the melding of personal tastes we achieved on A Feast For Crows was the greatest area of common ground for us both to work from. Derek and I will always write with special attention to melody, because we’re both suckers for it. But it’s only gonna get darker and heavier from here.
When listening to this disc over the last few days the first thing that struck me about it was how well it flowed. It is a pretty natural, organic sounding album and the songs seem to compliment each other really well. Was this a conscious effort or is it something that just happened naturally?
Jarrod: This is something we did put some thought into. We went to the studio knowing which songs were going to be on the record but had no idea what order to put the thing in. I knew I wanted “The Red Horse Is Upon Us” and “A Portrait Of Modern Greed” to be the first two tracks; and “Shepherds In Sheep’s Clothing” to be the last, but had no clue what to do with the middle. It wasn’t until Andy finished drum tracking and the foundation for the record was laid out that I started getting an idea of where I wanted them all to sit. It was the day after Andy finished drums that I wrote up a track listing. That list is the order they’re in now.
After we all looked at the list we decided that, if we were listening to this record from outside the band, then that list was the way we’d all like to hear it laid out. This record has 4 songs that make up the central core of the record and the rest all orbit around them in varying distances, so we wanted those 4 spread out a little. It just seemed to be the most entertaining way to listen to the record start to finish. It’s not something a lot of people care about anymore, since we live in the iTunes era, but I think part of what makes a great record is being able to listen from start to finish, completely entertained.
Are there any tracks on this disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Jarrod: I don’t have a personal favorite on this one. I probably will after I’ve lived with it for a while but not yet. They all have a story behind them, but the most personal story is behind “(Seeing You Again) For The First Time”. That song is about my Uncle Joey who passed away last year. The song is a comment and response written from Joey’s point of view between him and God. It’s not an easy song for me to talk about yet, but it’s the closest to home for me.
How quick are you in the studio? Can you usually knock things out in a couple takes?
Jarrod: When it comes to guitar tracking, I’m not the best guy for the job in the studio. I can write it… I can play it live… but when it comes to the scrutiny I put everything under when in the studio, I’m really not the guy you want. And I’m completely ok with it. I checked my guitar player ego at the studio door a looooooong time ago. And Derek is just a lot better guitar player than I am. I have my moments and my niches, but for time effectiveness Derek is outstanding. When it comes to tracking my vocals, I’m a lot more consistent, and a lot more objective. If someone thinks I should do it again, I do it again. I’m no one-take-Jake, but I can get the job done.
Do you decide on a suitable sound fairly quickly, or do you tend to tweak tones obsessively?
Jarrod: I won’t start tracking until the tone I want is dialed in. If you have good gear and good taste, getting killer tones is not hard. Guys who constantly mess with tones and are always trying out the latest and greatest gear, stress me out. And they rarely ever get tones as good as the guys who use tried and true methods and leave it alone once they like it. We took the time, tried a lot of great gear out, and spent a couple hours getting the rhythm guitar tones, then a half hour on the bass tone, and maybe 20 minutes for the lead tones. And it sounds like a wrecking ball! How metal is a wrecking ball? 100% metal. Ok… I know… really cheesy metal joke. I couldn’t help myself. Sorry.
All of that passion that you play with must be tough on you physically. How do you prepare for the physical demands of a tour?
Jarrod: I’m very physically active all the time, so going on the road only means my diet will suffer and I’ll lose some muscle mass… but that’s about it. The main thing I do before a tour is stock up on food to take on tour so I don’t have to resort to late night fast food. That crap will kill ya.
I know you are on the Cool Tour right now. How is that going?
Jarrod: Actually The Cool Tour doesn’t start until August. Then we’re heading out with A Hero A Fake for six weeks. That’s gonna be righteous!
How much more roadwork do you expect to be doing in 2010?
Jarrod: As much as possible. I’m going to be really bummed out if we have to come home before Christmas. I’ve got nomad in my DNA, so I’d rather be on the road than home, any day.
Any closing words?
Jarrod: If you think you know Corpus Christi because you heard the first record: you’re dead wrong. Go get A Feast For Crows then decide how you feel about us. [ END ]