The entire span of the 2010s has seen Scranton’s own Motionless In White rise from underground metalcore ghouls into one of the biggest names in their circle of contemporaries.
After several albums, world tours, and a dream signing in Roadrunner Records that followed, the horror tinged heavy hitters have brought their decade of success to an end with the release of their fifth LP, ‘Disguise’, and capped it off with their biggest European and UK headliner to date.
At the Manchester date of the UK leg, we caught up with frontman Chris Motionless to talk about the tour, their latest record ‘Disguise’, how he feels about their debut album ‘Creatures’ ten years on, plans to celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2020, and more.
DP!: Welcome back to the UK. How was the European run you’ve just finished?
C: Thank you. It was good. I think the most notable part of it was the increase in fans that came out in Germany specifically. All of the venues had a really nice growth from the last time, which was really cool, but I don’t know what happened in Germany in particular. We sold out a 13,000 capacity venue in Munich, which is amazing. It kind of just feels like it clicked and it keeps clicking, and these were definitely the best shows that we’d done over there, so it felt really good. It feels really good to be back here too.
DP!: That’s great, and I believe the last time you were playing in Manchester was at this venue back at the start of 2018?
C: Yeah, and it’s good to be back here again. I’ve been kind of a little worried because we came here last time, and I can’t remember if it sold out or was close to selling out back then, and I didn’t want to be coming back and think if it does the same thing will it feel like we’re repeating ourselves? But the fact that we’re here and it’s sold out in advance, there’s just great vibes and I think it’s going to be awesome. It’s a great way to start the tour.
DP!: Well, this is all in support of the new and fifth album, ‘Disguise’. Now that it has been out for a few months, how do you think it’s clicked with your fans and the critics too?
C: This one I think has been I would say the most immediately well-received. Each record that we’ve put out before this has had general positive reaction for the most part, taking away our second record from that. They’ve all had a pretty good response, but this one seems to be where it’s more unanimously across every type of fan that we have. Every type of person that wants to criticise our music I feel like they have less to criticise this time around too, so I think that it’s been overall much better. There’s only been one song on the record that people point out that they don’t love, and that’s new for us as well.
DP!: Whenever it comes to making a new album, bands obviously always want to up what they’ve done previously. Before you went into making ‘Disguise’, what was the mindset for you guys to try and achieve that?
C: I don’t feel like I’ve had that as a mentality going into the record, that I knew something had to be better that was lacking last time. It wasn’t like, “How am I going to make this better? We have to try to.” It was more “I know exactly what we have to do to make this better”, which was a cool thing to go into it with, and that one thing specifically being the lyrics. I feel like I’ve had some pretty good lyrics in the past but then there’s also a lot of lyrics that people just didn’t get or didn’t understand, and I’ve also had some terrible lyrics in the past too. So, on this record, I wanted to put that as the primary focus, and I think that’s a big reason why this record was well-received. I didn’t think that people paid attention to the lyrics as much as they did with our band, but they do, so changing that and really putting that at the forefront definitely was our goal.
DP!: What about vocally on this album? What did you want to do there to evolve and grow as a vocalist?
C: I mean, ‘Graveyard Shift’ to me was the record that symbolised the growth vocally. I took some singing lessons, I tried my best to showcase everything that I can do and put the singing as the forefront, and because I did that so much I think that’s where some of the songs had the lyrical discrepancies, if that’s what you want to call them, and I spent too much time on the music and the vocal parts. So, having already done something that I felt was “Okay, this is exactly what I wanted to do”, I basically just did that exact same thing going on ‘Disguise’ but just tried to do it better.
DP!: I watched the documentary of the making of ‘Disguise’. I recall you saying on there that when you settled on the title ‘Disguise’, you mentioned the relation to mental health and people put up a false front to hide how they’re really feeling, and a lot of people nowadays talk about there being a mental health epidemic. Do you agree, and if so, why do you think there’s still a stigma around that topic?
C: Haha. Oh, man, “documentary” is a very loose term. But, yeah, mental health is obviously a very, very big issue in the world and I think that people don’t give mental health enough credit in how it also affects your physical health. I mean, stress can do some really, really terrible things to you body, and I think that knowing that plus the other aspects of mental health, I just don’t know how it’s not the targeted aspect for solution here.
Why it’s still somewhat pushed aside or taboo in some circles, I don’t know why honestly. There’s the obvious go-to negative answer of “Well, ‘they’ want to keep us sick so that they can continue to medicate and make people money”, and also people push it aside because it’s something that you can’t see. I think that people want proof, and even though you could fake a sickness and it’s a little easier to tell if you are physically than you are mentally, I still don’t feel like they’re putting enough focus on the big picture because mental health is such a big deal in how it can affect you both mentally and physically. If you remedy the mental health aspect of it then you may remedy physical health aspects, and therefore these undisclosed people don’t make enough money off of prescribing you with medication. That’s a whole other epidemic though that will take a long time to unpack.
DP!: Very recently you shot and put out the video for your song ‘Another Life’, and you guys have mentioned that this is one of your favourite songs on the new record. How was the shoot, and what is it about that song that makes you gravitate to it so much?
C: The shoot was awesome, and it kind of came together quickly. We weren’t sure what to do, and then I has this starting idea, I brought it to the band and we had a discussion, and within an hour we had fully fleshed out everything that we wanted to do. To me, there are multiple different aspects of the band that we choose to highlight in different areas, and for me it was kind of highlighting the more Tim Burton aspect of the band, if that makes any sense. We don’t feel like we’ve done that in a while, so that felt really cool to take the opportunity to show that side of the band, and the song I think is really — I don’t know, I think that people really enjoy honesty and raw emotion, and that song is the song of ours that has that.
DP!: Next year will make the ten year anniversary of your debut album, ‘Creatures’, and fans still resonate quite strongly with that album. How do you feel about that record now ten years on?
C: You might have to stop me here because I have a lot of thoughts. I love the record. I look back and it’s so funny because every two years or so I seem to have a different vision of it. When we put it out, I loved it. When we put out our second record, ‘Infamous’, I hated it because people hated our new album and wanted us to go back, and I was like, “No, fuck you”, and that put this weird tint or stain on it that I just couldn’t see past. Then as our career went on I started to look back at it and I appreciate it. I think that there’s a lot of really good things, some really bad things; you know, typical shit that a band is going to say. I understand why people enjoy it. I do question a lot if people just say that they do or if they actually do, but I look back and I look forward to playing those songs when we do, and I’m really, really proud of that. I think that as far as putting ourselves out there with our first proper full-length, that was the fucking smash for us, and a good introduction into who we are.
DP!: A lot of bands nowadays when they celebrate that ten year milestone on a release do an album playthrough tour or special one-off show. Do you have any plans at the moment to celebrate the ten year anniversary of ‘Creatures’?
C: We’ve had that conversation several times actually, and it always comes down to two separate discussions.
One: if we do that, does that give the perception that it’s kind of like a money grab or that the band is cooling off. I feel like when we’ve seen bands do that – not all bands, but some – it’s kind of at the tail-end of their career, and it’s a milestone moment to play the record in full and as they’re already on their way out.
Two: the other thing is that we aren’t sure if we were to do that if we’d do just one big show – fully-loaded, hometown, massive venue – and do all of that and maybe some of our even older songs too, or do we make it a tour and hope that all of the people that say that they like the album will actually come out to a show and prove it. It’s a big gamble. We can never really get a full sense of if people really do love the record, because when we play the songs live, besides the singles, there are only a handful of kids that know it, so why would you think that it’d be a good idea to go out and do a full tour and risk that? It’s a lot of discussions that we’re going to continue to keep having.
DP!: Well, as we’ve been discussing, ‘Creatures’ catapulted you guys in 2010, and across the decade since then you’ve released a total of five albums, toured and played festivals around the world, signed with a dream label in Roadrunner Records, and now you’re doing one of the final tours that any band is going to do this decade over here in the UK. Reflecting back how can you summarise how the 2010s have been for you guys as a band?
C: I mean, our entire signed career has been within this decade, and every massive milestone, every crazy and big moment that’s happened has taken place within this decade. I think we’re just really grateful that we’ve made it to say that we’re going into the next decade. This year coming up, January 21st 2020, will be us going fourteen years as a band, and that’s pretty wild. I’ve seen so many bands come and go within this decade and just to be one of the ones that lasted through it, we’re just eternally grateful for it.
DP!: And how are you going to top it with the next decade?
C: Haha. Well, I keep saying that our band absolutely will make it twenty years together, so that’s only six or seven more years left, and when you consider that against fourteen I’d say that we’ve got a good shot. I just want to make it to twenty years and focus on that rather than another ten, and just keep doing cool things that people enjoy and listen to our fans. I think that when you could be a band that takes into account what your fans want and try and put that in with what you want, you’re going to have a fanbase because you’re listening to what they’re saying. That’s definitely our goal.
DP!: Well, 2019 is up. Have you got any Christmas or New Years plans sorted?
C: Not really, no. I’m going to go home and hang out with my family for Christmas. Then we start the next tour that we’ll be doing in Seattle, so I’m going to go out there early and hang out there for New Years and try something new. It should be cool to just go out there in the wilderness. I’m going to be staying in a cabin in the woods and hope that I don’t get murdered, haha.
DP!: Any final words?
C: Just that we’re here, the show has sold out in advance and it’s super cool to — you put it into perspective that these are the last shows of the decade. These last six shows in the UK are the last shows of our decade and all of these show are definitely the biggest headlining shows of the whole year, and are the biggest headlining shows that we’ve ever done in the UK. It’s fucking awesome, so thank you.
The band’s fifth studio album, ‘Disguise’, is out now through Roadrunner Records.