SKELETONWITCH "Two Minute Warning"

By Dr. Abner Mality

It didn't take that long for Skeletonwitch to become one of the most reliable bands in the metal scene. They first came to everyone's attention in 2004, with their debut "At One With The Shadows". From that promising beginning, the band has been producing new material with the regularity of Lindsay Lohan being busted for DUI. Not only that, but Skeletonwitch possesses one of the most relentless touring schedules in music. They are on the road spreading the gospel of metal like circuit-riding fire and brimstone preachers. They are seemingly touring eternally.

2013 brought the latest Skeletonwitch opus, "Serpents Unleashed", and it delivers more of the band's trademark combination of punchy thrash and frosty black metal. The formula never fails to get the head banging and the blood boiling.

The twisted and crusty voice of these Ohio warriors of death is one Mr. Chance Garnette, who's been howling bloody mayhem since Day One. I did some digging around in Chance's head to bring his words of wisdom to you Worm-fiends. Forthwith is the transcription of our palaver...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Thanks for the interview, Chance! You guys are one of the most traveled bands in existence! Have you ever calculated how many miles you travel in a year?

 CHANCE GARNETTE: Shit, I don't know if any of us have ever counted that high. I do know that it's not uncommon to change the oil in the van before we leave and then twice on the road in the same tour. Multiply that by the number of tours per year and that's a lot of miles! So many in fact, Nate knows the hi-ways in the U.S. so well he can usually out route the GPS and get us there faster. Lots of miles ,man.

WC: Is the roadwork something that you genuinely enjoy and that motivates you or is more of something you just have to endure at this point

 CG: We absolutely love being on the road! It's actually my favorite part of what we do. Getting to see and be in a different place every night, meeting new people and playing our music all over the world. Skeletonwitch is meant to be seen and heard live, and we definitely live to do just that.

WC: You just finished a tour with Ghost not long ago. That’s certainly a different kind of band for you to play with. What was that experience like?

CG: I couldn't complain if I had to honestly. Sure, Ghost is not "the norm" for Skeletonwitch to tour with, but so what? The guys are really nice and we appreciate the opportunity to get to play a little outside the box as opposed to "business as usual." It was a great experience for us and I think made for a killer show.

WC:  Do you think the Ghost tour allowed you to reach some fans that maybe Skeletonwitch wouldn’t get to otherwise?

 CG: Most definitely, yes. We were told by a lot of people at those shows that they may have HEARD OF Skeletonwitch but hadn't heard the music or seen us play, and that they had a great time and that we would see them again in the future. I would say we were able to grab a hold of some new Witch fans by playing those handful of shows with Ghost. 

WC: You guys have a very consistent sound. Was there anything different in how you approached “Serpents Unleashed” as far as writing or studio work went?

 CG: We've never gone into writing an album with a predetermined plan of "what this one will sound like." Meaning we have never said, "lets make it more black metal or death metal this time around." The only thing we aim for when writing is making the best Skeletonwitch record we can and to make a better record than we ever have. I honestly feel we achieved that goal with this years "Serpents Unleashed." 

WC:  Your press sheet calls Skeletonwitch the masters of the “two and a half minute raging metal song”. Is that your actual goal when writing or is it just the way it works out?

 CG: We just do what we do and our songs usually just end up in that two and a half minute range. We're definitely not a band that is going to play that same riff 200 times over and over in the same song. We like to keep the excitement and energy up in each song. Get in, kick its ass, get out. That pretty much sums it up.

WC: I feel that you have the capability of writing a true “epic” that lasts a good length of time. Is that something you might tackle some day?

CG:  All I can say about this one is... Maybe? It is actually an idea we've tossed around... We'll see!

WC:  Are your lyrics all tied together? I get the feeling many of them take place in a kind of sword-and-sorcery world? Is a bigger story being told?

CG: The lyrics aren't tied together from song to song, meaning I'm not telling one long story or anything from song to song or album to album. Lyrically each song tells its own story or has its own point to get across. I think instead of a sword & sorcery world or setting, it's more of that type of mind set or mentality. Yes, definitely  that feeling. There are no dragons or unicorns just as there are no references to modern day machines or issues like politics or gas prices. 

WC:   Can the lyrics be seen as metaphors for things happening in the real world?

CG: For sure, yes. More so metaphors about personal feelings or desires.  For examine the song "Cast Into The Open Sea" isn't actually about throwing a person into the Ocean. It's about shedding the dead weight of a person that is constantly dragging you down. Casting them out of your life, to not support it take care of them for this day forward. "Serpents Unleashed" isn't about snakes. The metaphors are there and I'll leave it up to the listener to decide how they want to interpret the lyrics. In some cases it's very cut and dried. "Burned From Bone" is the furthest thing from metaphor, it is indeed about burning your enemies alive.

WC:  What are some of the goals that Skeletonwitch still has to achieve?

 CG: How about another 10 years?! I think our main collective goal is to continue to grow as musicians and song writers. To get better at what we do as a band with each release.

WC: What would you say the high and low points of Skeletonwitch have been so far?

CG: I'm not really sure of a massive low point. Sure ,there has been the usual bullshit you have to put up with being in a band. Van and equipment breakdowns, shady promoters ripping you off, less than favorable reviews etc, but nothing crushing or anything that has made us rethink doing this! High points now?! Just getting to be a career musician is amazing. Every show is a high point. Getting to travel the world on the merit of your music is incredible. Playing Wacken Open Air was definitely something I never thought possible, that was just something else man! Most recently, "Serpents Unleashed" charted at #62 on the Billboard top 200. I still can't believe that ten years after we started, our little band from Athens, Ohio now has 2 top 200 records and a top 100 record. I guess the entire past decade has been a major high point in general!

WC:  Are any of you guys involved in projects beyond Skeletonwitch or is everything focused 100% on the band?

 CG: Dustin actually sings in an over the top 80's hair metal cover band in Indianapolis. No really, he does. Nate and Scott have played a few Halloween sets covering Motörhead, Guns N Roses & Turbo Negro as well. But Skeletonwitch is definitely everyone's focus and nothing else has ever or will conflict with what Skeletonwitch needs to do. Priorities, man!

WC:  Any tour plans worked out for 2014?

 CG: As of right now, we are out in Jan & Feb in the U.S. with Amon Amarth and Enslaved. In March we head to Europe and are doing a couple weeks with my all time favorite band, Overkill. Some European headlining shows immediately following the Overkill dates, then fly from there to New Zealand to meet up with Toxic Holocaust to tour there and Australia. That should take us up to the end of April I think, so yeah, staying busy and looking for more stuff to get into in support of "Serpents Unleashed."

WC: If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?

CG: You know, I thought about this question the most. Of course there are a lot of people that changed and shaped history, interesting people, other musicians and entertainers that you could choose from. Then I thought, at dinner, what would I say? Would I just kiss ass or have questions? Would I even really want to have dinner with them in the first place? So my answer is, I would like to have dinner with my three late Grandparents. My Grandmother and Grandfather on my dad's side are responsible for me being a musician. They made sure when I was old enough that I had a snare drum so I could join the school band. They supported an 11year old's dream to become a musician, buying me my first instrument, which I still have today. I'd also have dinner with my grandad on my mom's side. He passed away while we were on tour in Europe. So I was unable to go to his funeral. I did call him though from the airport right before we took off and I did tell him I loved him and would see him after we got back. He passed while we were gone so I'd like to have this dinner with him as well.

WC:  What was the last CD or release you got just because you wanted to check it out?

CG: Les Discrets "Ariettes oubliées" reminds me some of Alcest, one of my favorite bands at the moment. It's a good one, I like it.

WC: What was the last live gig you caught just because you wanted to see it?

CG: Helloween in Columbus, Ohio.

WC:Have you guys ever had any “Spinal Tap” moment that you could share with us?

 CG: Ive definitely gotten lost in the cavernous stairways of large theater venues attempting to find our green room. I always mark the door with a sharpie now. We came within 20 mins of missing our set time at Summer Breeze Open Air because of partying too long with 1349 the night before. Nothing too crazy baby Stonehenge or anything!

WC: Any messages  to the fans?

CG:  Absolutely, I just want to say thank all you guys so much for everything and allowing us to make music and play shows for the past decade. No way in hell would this be possible without you guys. I want everyone of you guys to know I appreciate the support you have shown Skeletonwitch through out the years and we will continue to do our absolute best for you guys in the years to come.
Thank You!