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American Head Charge Interview: Made In America!!!!

By David Lee Wilson, Contributor
Tuesday, December 4, 2001 @ 1:32 PM

American Head Charge’s Chad Ha

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Fuck the rules, ignore the fools, burn the schools if they can’t teach anything of true import. Kill all the kings (of fashion) and rape their queens leaving them to lay in their bloody sheets wondering why the bodies they rule contain angry hearts and rebellious minds. Burn your idols besmirch the names of your heroes, lay all to waste and then command your god to open the heavens and weep a cleansing rain across the land all the while preparing to build again, this is what I get from American Head Charge, am I wrong?

Of course I don’t speak for the band, only about them and about them and those of their generation I must add this, rarely has there been such a group of artists appearing at precisely the right time to actually affect a lasting change. System Of A Down, Queens Of The Stone Age, Amen and American Head Charge are perhaps the only truly relevant artists of this generation and in each of them is the power to deliver us all from the bland and banal to which we are currently encumbered. Who else has dared to offer anything genuinely new and unhampered by commercial drive? Not Korn, Limp Bizkit or any of that posse, not Godsmack, not Slipknot and certainly not Linkin Park, not many really but the time is coming when people will dig deeper than some guy in a pimp suit rappin’ about his “hood” from the safety of Daddy’s Buick dealership. The air war has begun with a land invasion imminent and it is American Head Charge -- Chad Hanks (bass, guitar, programming), Wayne Kile (guitar), David Rogers (guitar), Christopher Emery (drums), Martin Cock (vocals, guitar, programming), Aaron Zilch (noize triggering unit, audio meat grinder), Justin Fouler (noize triggering unit, audio meat grinder) -- who commands the lead tank. The band’s debut effort, The War of Art, is a pummeling, crash and burn metal affair complete with the always helpful dose of controversial lyrics and a barrage of noise guitar decadence. Just what the doctor ordered…

It was one of those mornings were no prisoners need be taken, no time, no interest so I started in on the ball busting right from the drop. As it would happen American Head Charge’s Chad Hanks was more than up for it repulsing the attack with down to earth realism and thus here you have a bit of phone speak with one of tomorrow’s most important rock entities.

Ring, ring, ring,

CHAD: Hello?

KNAC.COM: (In a stern Southern accent) Yeah, this is Bob from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and I want to speak to the flag burning son of a bitch on your tour bus!

CHAD: Um, what? Could you say that again?

KNAC.COM: Alright man, now come on, did you really expect that the VFW would get your cell phone number just to harass you?

CHAD: Oh, man! I swear to god I had to do a double take on that, it was like, “Uh, excuse me?” (laughs) Fuck, I had to take a minute and compose myself and prepare for a confrontation! (laughs) That was a good opener!

KNAC.COM: Well, I do like to please. Actually, from the music and the photos I have it seemed like you wouldn’t be too damaged from the encounter! (laughs)

CHAD: Oh, “Let me talk to the flag burning motherfucker. . .” you’re fucking nuts! (Voice deepens) “Yes, he is right here sir. . .” (laughs)

KNAC.COM: I bet that you do get some shit for that stunt that you pulled with the flag burning back on the Ozzfest though?

CHAD: We have got a little bit of shit from it. A couple of people went on the website, they went way out of their way too, just to tell us that we sucked because we burned the flag. That was kind of cool, I mean, if you are going to put some energy into something then at least we hit someone. To spend all of that time to find our site and then spend the time to type something in and send it, it hit a nerve obviously. Usually it is just a dirty look or middle fingers fly.

KNAC.COM: Still it must be a bit scary at some of these places that you are playing where the club is really a Punk or Hardcore club and all the skinheads are in a circle, braces down and ready for a fight, can’t make those people too happy.

CHAD: (Laughing) It is funny that you should say that because when we did burn the flag in California we saw the video tape afterwards and there was a bunch of skinheads just standing there flipping us off. But then there was this post on the website from this chick who said, “Hey I was the chick with the Doc Martins and red laces in the Pit and I wish you all the power, wealth and glory. . .” and I was just like, “What?” So we are getting all walks of life.

KNAC.COM: Nobody quite knows how to take you guys yet?

CHAD: I know, it is not the easiest game to call I guess.

KNAC.COM: I am going to guess that you kind of like that though?

CHAD: Well yeah! I think that we fucking like not being lumped in with “bland rock band number 63.” There is just a lot of shit out there, just a lot of crap.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, I noticed right from the first listen of the advance I got that this band wasn’t Rick Rubin’s attempt at a “boy band.”

CHAD: Right! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Rick has always had a good ear for cool stuff that is off of the beaten path, Danzig, The Beastie Boys, Slayer, System Of A Down and on and on, was that something that attracted you to him specifically?

CHAD: I knew of his career for a very long tome, all the way from when he was doing Public Enemy on up to Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic for The Red Hot Chili Peppers which was one of the records that he got a lot more spotlight for but I mean, I was well aware of his career so just to look at his track record would completely validate us going with him. Everything that he touches has like a thousand percent integrity to it and I know that American Records doesn’t put out garbage. I know some of the bands that they have passed on who are doing very well monetarily now but their music sucks and I really respect that attitude in Rick.

KNAC.COM: Was the story that you found your way to American through the ears of System Of A Down correct?

CHAD: Yeah, we opened for them in Des Moines a few years ago and they were just really into us, especially Shavo, and from what I understand he just kept bugging Rick and Dino and eventually Dino, who is Rick’s right hand man and head of A&R, came out and saw us and it all moved rather quickly from there. Right around that time we started to get bombarded by all of the major record labels too, “Oh we have heard about you” and we said, “Well, you are a little late!” (laughs)

KNAC.COM: “Do you think that you could cut us a bigger check?” (laughs)

CHAD: Yeah! No, it wasn’t even that, it was just the typical thing where they got onto the scent of something and all came running. It was just like, “Fuck off, this isn’t what we are looking for.” If we had gone with one of them it would be like this, as soon as somebody got fired or the record stiffed they would abandon us and there we would be with nobody caring about us. This way the two people that hold that label (American) are really into what we are doing, they have a heartfelt interest in what we are doing and I don’t see that changing.

KNAC.COM: They keep it kind of small, I mean there is Slayer. . .

CHAD: Yeah, Slayer, Johnny Cash, System Of A Down, Loudermilk, Palo Alto and there is a band called Unida, which is John Garcia from Kyuss, so it is pretty eclectic and they don’t just nail it all to one thing.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, each one is great at what they do.

CHAD: Oh yeah, and they have the South Park soundtrack so that is pretty cool!

KNAC.COM: Hey there is another tie in, Ozzy was on the South Park soundtrack performing at the “Chef Aid Festival” and you guys did Ozzy’s little touring festival. Damn, that was a strained way to get to ask you about your Ozzfest experience! (laughs)

CHAD: Yeah! Actually, you know what we learned about Ozzfest that there was just a lot of rules, a ton of rules. We were just going over when Martin (Cock, lead vocalist) had to sit down and talk with Sharon about the thing when we took the shotgun out and didn’t ask or tell anybody. You know, she actually made a very valid point when she said that everywhere across America there is some group that is trying to get Ozzfest shut down and “Please don’t add any more fuel to the fire.” (laughs) We did that and the fire marshall was threatening to shut down the second stage and take the pyro away from the main stage and it was just like everybody was looking for an excuse to fuck with that tour and I understand that. I think that it was more important to get some music out to some people across the country than it is to feel good about doing something personally. When you can strike a balance between the two it is real nice but granted we are a band that nobody has ever even heard of and still here we are just doing what we want to do and jeopardizing a lot of shit.

“It was more important to get some music out to some people across the country than it is to feel good about doing something personally. When you can strike a balance between the two it is real nice but we are a band that nobody has ever even heard of and still here we are just doing what we want to do and jeopardizing a lot of shit.”
KNAC.COM: You guys were fucking up the party for everybody! (laughs)

CHAD: Exactly! We were the bad apple! Anyway, there are a lot of rules on Ozzfest and we kept trying to figure out what we could do without getting into trouble for it and no matter what we tried it seemed that we still got in trouble for something. We basically just waited for it to be over and, you know, on other tours, smaller tours, you can get away with more stuff. I don’t know, but we did have a great time on the tour and met a lot of great people. We saw the country because it was our first “tour” for all intents and purposes but there always was the joke, “Oh by the way did you see the memo that on Thursday it is no toilet paper day, on Saturday no oxygen so don’t try and breath. Monday and Tuesday is all fasting so don’t eat...” It was like everywhere you turn you couldn’t do this or that.

KNAC.COM: I have heard stories upon stories about the micro management style of Sharon Osbourne, picking out groupies and shit like that. . .

CHAD Oh I know, in fact I was jut reading The Dirt, the Motley Crue book and there is some shit in there about their tour with Ozzy back in the ‘80s.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, I got a quote in that book too! I was so jazzed because I always loved Motley Crue and then they write a book and use one of my quotes in it, anyway. . .

CHAD: So fucking cool! Yeah I grew up listening to Too Fast For Love and shit, I even remember going to get it at the store. I would make my Dad take me to Music Plus every other week and I would ask them, “Is the new Motley Crue album out yet? And I had no idea of release dates and shit like that, I just knew that I wanted the new Motley Crue record. But, yeah, I read that about where Sharon wouldn’t allow girls backstage and “You can’t drink” and shit like that and then they made t-Shirts saying “Strippers, guns, booze” with an “X” through it and the front had a happy face with bullet holes in it, it was funny. Nikki Sixx finally went up to Sharon and said, “I am going crazy and I have to get laid!” and Sharon said, “Oh Nikki but you are going to catch something” and Nikki was like “Oh I don’t care!” (laughs) I was just like, “Jesus, that is like not too far from what went on over the summer.

KNAC.COM: Well, the Ozzfest must have paid off in terms of promotion for you guys because, is this right, you sold 40,000 records in the first week out?

CHAD: No, no that was an exaggeration. We sold like 12,000, which anything more than 10 (thousand) is pretty good I guess. They were expecting like 7,000 so we exceeded the labels expectations and even our own. I was finding out numbers on the first Friday after it came out and I was like, “Wow, we might pull off 10” and on the first day we sold like 4,000 so that was really cool. We had a huge day in Minneapolis where we were like number one and that was all really surprising but it does go to show what a cool and loyal following we have.

KNAC.COM: It has been interesting in that you had all this from the get-go where there are 12,000 kids out there just like you were for that Motley Crue record back in the day.

CHAD: Yeah. You know, my theory always was that if we can manage to put 1,500 kids in a club in Minneapolis then the kids must be out there. If Korn could come through town, there is a really bad example, (laughs) but if they could come through town and put 15,000 kids in an arena there are plenty of kids out there and all we have to do is figure out how to get to ‘em. It is still kind of a weird thing to know that there are kids out there buying my records now, strange.

KNAC.COM: How have your friends at home responded to the band?

CHAD: I think that they are just happy that I am not shooting dope any more! (laughs) They are happy that I made something of myself to some extent though we are still at the infancy stage of this whole thing. We have never been on tour even before Ozzfest so we are totally green to this whole thing but I think that it is a little better than still working at the pizza place.

KNAC.COM: I have to ask, were you stealing money out of the till to get a fix? (laughs)

CHAD: Yeah, l I am at least still holding down this job so hey, “Don’t worry Mom” (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Now that you have had your experiences with drugs and rehab and the fact that you are probably slightly older than the kids coming to your shows do you feel like you have any responsibility to tell those kids to stay away from drugs?

CHAD: Not at all. I think that if you are old enough and coherent enough as a human being to get into a rock show you already know what you should and shouldn’t do. I don’t think that six year olds should be in the pit or anything but if you are old enough to get to a rock show you are old enough to deal with what goes on there. We are not advocating anything, we are totally anti-political and anti-message so you can take from it what you will. We are not telling anyone to do anything so I don’t know how responsible we could be because we are not advocating anything! We wouldn’t say, “Fight the system” or “Kill your parents” or “Rebel against authority.” We just do what we do and that is about it.

KNAC.COM: Well, you have to worry a little bit about what kids take away from your shows especially because, and I am sure that you know this, bands like your label and touring mates, Slayer, are being sued again and again for all kinds of things and even if the suits are all dismissed it still costs a bucket load of money to defend against that shit.

CHAD: Oh, I know, I know. It is ridiculous. It is just a case of being able to blame, people always want to blame somebody. Slayer are a big and easy target, “Ooh, they are evil and they talk about the Devil…” It is just an easy target and I have no respect for somebody that just goes after a band like that just to get some money and to find someone to blame. Anybody with half a brain knows that a lawsuit against a band for controlling someone’s behavior is retarded, it just doesn’t make any sense.

KNAC.COM: I would imagine that you, personally, try to stay out of the legalities and just kind of stick to making your art?

CHAD: Um, no, I mean I have got my hands in all of this and I am aware of what is going on. We have already had our first brush with the law in Pittsburgh and dealing with a girl who had her eye cut open. Our keyboard player had to fly to Pittsburgh and go to court and, you know, it all stemmed from the venue trying to cover their ass and they coerced the father of the girl into going to court so that they wouldn’t get bit in the ass, it is all just a big game.

KNAC.COM: So at this point have you spent more money on bail than on beer? (laughs) Wait, you don’t even drink do you?

CHAD: Actually, I do now! We are not a sober band now. At one time many of the band members were like AA clean but none of us have reverted back to our former selves with the heroin and the needles and the crystal meth and the robberies, nobody is getting into that. I really think that that was all just a big mistake that was in another time and we have all got over that shit but I do think that we have spent more on beer, at this point anyway! (laughs) Newcastle beer to be specific about it!

KNAC.COM: Can you get that everywhere you go?

CHAD: No, it is really hard actually. Many times we will run into, “Newcastle what? We have Bud and Bud Light!” (laughs) We try to get it when we can and we even thanked it on the inside of the record.

KNAC.COM: OK, you are out with Slayer now but just a few weeks ago you were doing the Pledge of Allegiance Tour, what did you think of that going into it and did you feel the same by the end?

CHAD: In the beginning it was a really solid package, they were all really good bands. We were really proud to be on it. It was one of those tours that I might actually have paid money to go and see if I wasn’t on it and I can’t say that for a lot of concerts, most concerts actually.

KNAC.COM: Did you have a favorite band that you had to check out each night?

CHAD: I would have to say, System Of A Down. I really like them a lot and I really like their new record. Obviously Slipknot as well but I was a little more excited to see System Of A Down because I pretty much saw Slipknot every other day all summer long between Ozzfest and the Pledge tour. I am really into fire so it was cool to see Rammstein too.

KNAC.COM: Are you into sodomy? (laughs)

CHAD: Oh I love it! (laughs) I am a big fan of sodomy and of fire!

KNAC.COM: Well then I know that this Slayer tour will be anything but boring then!

CHAD: Not a chance!

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