A band to effortlessly and controversially sometimes that is, to mash up genres of music from rock, metal, glam, and punk? Well that just takes guts and who could do it better than Chip DiMonick! These guys have been hard at work writing and recording for their fifth album to date "Uncaged". Frontman vocalist/guitarist Chip DiMonick himself discusses that release and some insight into the band and the plans ahead.
1. What type of band are you?
Chip: We are a band that straddles the barbed-wire fences that separate the hard rock, metal, and punk worlds.
2. Tell us the brief history of your band.
Chip: We were formed in 2005 and released our debut album, Bat An Eyelash, that year. Since then, we have released three more albums, Not Yet Rated (2007), Sick Definition of Fun (2009), and The Sign of a New Generation (2012). On April 10, 2015, we will be releasing our fifth album, Uncaged. In the time we've been together, we have shared the stage with a wide variety of artists ranging from In This Moment, Texas Hippie Coalition, Huntress, Adelitas Way, Art of Dying, and Wednesday 13 to LA Guns, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Winger and many more. We have been voted "Best Punk Band" in the Iron City Rocks Pittsburgh Music Awards the last three consecutive years.
3. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
Chip: We are based out of "the steel city" - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The music scene can be unpredictable here. There are a decent number of people that have an absolute passion for music. But enthusiasm for local music sometimes seems to come in waves. There are indeed a lot of good local bands here:
Venus In Furs
Fist Fight In The Parking Lot
Awaken The Shadow
The Dirty Charms
After The Fall
Christian Beck Band
are a few favorites.
4. What is the story behind the name, Chip DiMonick, if there is one to tell?
Chip: Well, it's my name and I really didn't set out to appear to be a solo artist. I played all of the instruments and did all of the vocals on our first album. My goal was simply to record. So, I released it under my name. But, after releasing the album, I thought it would be cool to do some shows, so I put a band together and we just never stopped playing. At my insistence, we discussed changing the name probably a half-dozen times to a band name instead of a person's name, but we never could agree on anything else.
5. Who are your musical influences?
Chip: My musical influences change each year. As new bands come out, they just get added to my mental list of favorites. In the writing process for Uncaged, I'd say that Five Finger Death Punch, Bullet For My Valentine, The Ramones and Halestorm probably had the most influence.
6. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Chip: We really cover a wide variety of topics on Uncaged. The title track is all about breaking free from the expectations that others or society place on you and having the strength to be yourself in the company of others who are just like you. "You Ain't Punk" is a kind of response to the haters who had a problem with us being voted "Best Punk Band." "That's How Much I Hate You" is just a release for all of those angry, vengeful feelings we all feel when we are wronged. "Lightning Bolt" is a sincere love song. "Hand Grenade" is about having the fortitude to resist peer pressure. And "Dig Deep" is about finding inner strength to overcome challenges when the odds are against you.
7. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)
Chip: We write all of our own songs and each song comes to life a little differently. For example, I wrote the lyrics to "Dig Deep" when I was running a half-marathon. I was on mile 10. The finish line was 3.1 miles away. I was exhausted. I didn't think I could make it. But the words came to me and inspired me to finish.
8. You have your new release "Uncaged" what can people expect from it?
Chip: People can expect us to push the boundaries of what Chip DiMonick is about. It has our heaviest material ever. But it also has a love song and some inspirational lyrics. So, it is unlike any album we have ever done before.
9. If you had to pick one song off the new release, to show someone to introduce them to your music, which would you pick?
Chip: It would depend on who the person was and what they were into. I think "That's How Much I Hate You" has many components of what we're about and a really fresh sound to it. But, if it was someone who may be scared off by the heaviness, I may choose something a little more mainstream sounding, perhaps even "Lightning Bolt."
10. How does it feel to have yet another release under your belts and added to the Chip DiMonick name?
Chip: It's cool to get to album #5. Having the longevity that we've had really puts a lot into perspective. We've watched so many other bands in our area come and go since we started. Most never get to a third album. Really, a lot go bye-bye before even a second album. So, it feels good, like we've weathered the storm and are survivors. And it feels like we've built a little bit of a legacy. Hopefully, that makes us harder to forget, regardless of what happens in the future.
11. Did you guys have any leftovers from this release that will be used for future releases or have you gone forth and already written material for future purposes?
Chip: There were a handful of songs that didn't make it to the album, either due to financial constraints or the chemistry hasn't quite happened yet for them. They may see the light of day someday once we tweak them to perfection. But holding those aside definitely left us feeling that Uncaged is a strong album from first track to last. No filler here!
12. How about shows and touring, what can we expect to see?
Chip: Playing live shows seems to be getting trickier. Touring has a lot of cost and not a lot of guaranteed return. At the same time, successful artists are increasingly leveraging digital means of growing their fan base. We are actually watching the changes in how artists grow and may adjust our strategies accordingly. That may mean fewer live shows. It's a matter of figuring out how to get the most exposure for the investment of time and money and that isn't necessarily the old-school-hop-in-a-van-and-play-in-every-city approach that was once thought to be the only way to break out.
13. What do you guys have planned for the future?
Chip: OUR focus is on the immediate future right now. We think Uncaged is an album that hard rock enthusiasts will love. We just want to spread the word about it and get the music out there. An album is only "new" for so long, so we want to put a ton of energy into getting the music into the earholes of everyone who is likely to love it.
14. Anything else you'd like to add or would want to say?
Chip: The band just really wants to say a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who has given our music a chance. It doesn't matter if that chance was given sometime over the past 10 years or just after reading this interview. We are music lovers who feel a connection to our favorite artists. We appreciate everyone who feels that connection to us through our music. And we thank you, Natalie, for the opportunity to do this interview. You rock!