2019 has come and gone, but with it was a slew of solid releases. One that carves a spot in that timeline is Chicago’s very own BONES. Spawning from the ashes of USURPER and gaining their own identity, guitarist “Carcass” Chris has been hard at work with the band since its inception. He was able to take a moment to spew some knowledge, check it out…
Congrats on the new album “Diseased”. I heard it and consider it a solid album to check out. Before we jump into discussing the new album would you walk our readers with a history lesson on BONES and what brought about the band’s creation?
“Thanks Jaime. To give you a brief history, all three of us have known each other since High School in the mid to late 80s. We were all bonded by the things we had in common: music, Metal and all being misfit outliers of society. All three of us were all formerly in the Chicago band USURPER. For multiple reasons, that band imploded in 2006 after the founding guitarist quit. For the next two and a half years or so, we all went our separate ways. Jon was playing in a couple of bands, one of them taking up most of his time being NACHTMYSTIUM. Joe was playing in a few projects along the lines of Prog Rock and technical stuff in the vein of DREAM THEATER I believe. Whatever he was doing, it was technical, virtuoso music. I was lying back for the most part. I jammed in several bands that were looking for a guitarist, but never found anything I wanted to go with full force. I was kind of worn out of trying to “make it” and nothing felt right. I actually had plans on doing a ZZ TOP or VAN HALEN tribute band and start making money in clubs. The only thing I did do was some guest guitar solos for NACHTMYSTIUM. I got a call in 2008, from Jon one night from the studio when NACHTMYSTIUM was recording their “Doomsday Derelicts” EP and he asked if I would lay down some leads for them. I was drunk in my garage listening to Metal and working on my car and I said sure. A half our later they emailed me the tracks and the next day I laid down a couple of guitar solos. That was really the first time I had talked with Jon since the band ended. From there we had more frequent contact but we were all still doing separate things. Fast forward another year and Jon was jamming with Joe in Jon’s basement. He had songs he had written, but they did not fit in the other bands he was playing in. So those guys started jamming as a side project and Jon was actually going to play guitar and they were going to find a bassist. One night, I stopped by his place to have some beers and hang out with them, catch up with my old friends and we got to talking and I think there ended up being a drunken jam session. And things just seemed natural. Everything fit. Like an old pair of boots you haven’t worn in years. So we started doing this more frequently, not even planning on doing anything more than drinking, and jamming. So about December 2009 we were jamming more frequently. Joe and I even jammed at Jon’s house while he was away on a NACHTMYSTIUM tour. I would say December 2009 is when BONES formed as a project, and a few months later Jon left (or got fired, I’m not sure) from NACHTMYSTIUM. From then on we started getting more serious, and rented out another rehearsal space and it was business as usual for the three of us.”
It has been 6 years since your prior release (2013’s “Sons Of Sleaze”). Why so long between albums?
“Well that is a very good question. I think there were personal and professional struggles. I will be the first to take a lot of blame on that. I had been looking for a different career for my day job for a long time and decided to leave work to open my own business. This main reason is I am an auto mechanic by trade and it is rough on the body, and especially my hands, which makes it tougher to play guitar as well as I want. This was a huge commitment and took up a lot of time between 2013 and 2016. We toured with the COFFINS here in 2014 and I almost did not go. I accept that I put the brakes on a lot of the band’s opportunities because of this, and ultimately, I closed my business at the end of 2015 and from 2016 until about four months ago I had been struggling. I own that. It’s a risk in life I had to do, and I learned a lot, but it came at a cost to the band. Next I would say is Joe had two near death experiences. One of which was a horrible car crash that happened during the recording of our latest album, which should have killed him. So I would say those were the biggest, major factors. We started recording in April 2017 and we were not finished with the vocals and mixing until January 2018. To add to that, we were signed to a local label, owned by Chris from HIGH SPIRITS, Professor Black. He basically put his label on hold, so we had to find another label, which took about a year to talk with various labels and offers and see what direction we wanted to go with that. Once we decided and made a deal, then the label had to put it out when it works best for them. I get it, it was a long time, but we never quit. We just had a lot of diversions along the way. We already have a pile of tunes waiting to record, as well as a live recording we want to release, so hopefully we can get back to cranking out more material more frequently. We never want to go that long between records again.”
Tell me about the writing process that went into setting up “Diseased” and how the writing process has evolved since the BONES self-titled debut album?
“Well, I think we are learning to write for ourselves collectively, rather than write without thinking of the others, if that makes any sense. Like, it has taken me over twenty years to realize how Joe is going to play something, so I have to keep that in mind when I write a riff. If I bring a riff in, it is going to change where years ago I had a mentality that he had to play exactly how I wanted. That is true in a sense, but there is a natural way he plays that I have to anticipate before I even bring a riff to the table. I think now, we are much more comfortable with experimenting and throwing weird shit at the wall and see if we can make something out of it. Honestly, I think it is going to get even weirder in the future. BONES is much different from other bands in that we all write music and lyrics. It is whoever has a good idea. Or any idea for that matter. We are willing to try anyone’s suggestion or idea. We will work on it and see if it turns into something. Sometimes we have a song written, and then we scrap it. Another thing with BONES is no one is limited to write a part for their instrument. I remember during the writing of “Diseased”, there were times for example Joe and I came out to our practice spot and it was just us and the two of us wrote lyrics to one of the songs we had no lyrics for. Another time during “Diseased” writing, I had a couple riffs and the two of us started jamming and Joe had a drum riff in mind and he had some crazy drum part he started playing the drum part and I wrote a guitar riff to fit his drum part and we finished the song. Jon has a lot of ideas and brings a lot to the spot for us to work on. He is the type who seems to be able to come up with a lot of riffs quickly. Other times he may have a riff and I instantly have an idea to add. Or I have a riff and Jon lights up and decides it is perfect for finishing a song he is working on. My ideas for songs usually simmer in my brain for a long time before I even try to play them or bring them to the other guys. So there really is not a formula or structure as to who is going to write what. Sometimes we’ll get all fucked up and just let the recorder roll tape and we will jam. We can have an hour-long tape, listen back to it to find one riff we like and use that for something. So in that matter, we are organic and make it a free for all to let anyone contribute, and we all decide what we keep. If something doesn’t sit right, we will sometimes shelf the idea and come back to it months later. I like this so much more because everyone has a say to what happens and it is a good check and balance to keeping the band doing what we ALL want.”
Correct me if I am wrong here, but based on my research it appears that BONES has kept the same line-up since its inception. What has kept your bond tight with the other members and are there plans for BONES to tour in support of the new album?
“Your research is correct. BONES is the three of us. There will not be any line-up changes. If one of us bows out, then that’s it. It’s not BONES. We are three old friends who have known each other a long time. Like brothers. Sometimes you fight with your brothers, but you don’t replace them. If BONES ended tomorrow for any reason and I wanted to continue to be in a band, I would start over. When I see a band that over the years has replaced every member of the band and even sometimes multiple times and has one main person as a constant, then to me it is not a band. It is a solo artist with a backup band. Each member is irreplaceable. If a truck hit Joe tomorrow, we could not find someone who thinks like him and would play drums like him. Same with Jon. What he writes is his, and not just a part. One of the songs on the new record I wrote the guitar and I showed the riff to Jon and he wrote this bass line. It was nothing I would have ever expected and it worked great. I never would have thought of it, and I could never tell another bass player to come up with it. BONES is an organic entity that is BONES because we are who we are. As far as touring, we are always open to offers, but we are limited as to what we can do because we all have day jobs that pay us well. The days of dragging our asses around the country for weeks on end in a stinky van don’t appeal to us really. We would like to get some festival gigs. That would be the most bang for our buck and be the most attainable for us at this time. Of course, if IRON MAIDEN want to book us as direct support for a year long tour I WILL quit my job!”
Let’s change gears a bit and tell us about how you got started in music, what were your influences / inspirations growing up (and today), as well as talking about your time with ETERNAL HATRED and USURPER (one of my favorite bands)?
“Well I come from a musical family. My parents played instruments, my grandma was a singer, I had older cousins and an uncle who all played instruments and my younger brothers later played instruments also. It’s something I grew up on was music. My parents got me started in school band around eight years old. I discovered Heavy Metal at ten years old when I was at a friend’s house and I heard his older brother play IRON MAIDEN’s new album “Number Of The Beast”. I soon ditched the brass band instruments and wanted a guitar. I thought there was nothing cool with what I was playing in school band so I quit. When I asked my parents for a guitar they said no way. They probably thought I would give up like I did the school band. I then found a guitar magazine at the store with IRON MAIDEN on the cover and it had a contest to win an Eddie Van Halen autographed guitar. Since I couldn’t afford a guitar, but I had enough money for the magazine my thought process was simple. I’ll buy the magazine, win the mail in contest and get a free guitar! Then my parents would HAVE to let me play, right? Of course I didn’t win the free guitar, so I did what every other kid does, I bugged my parents everyday for 3 years until they decided to get me guitar lessons and rent me a guitar. I have been addicted to guitar ever since and thankful that they got me started on guitar. As far as influences I would have to say IRON MAIDEN was the first Heavy Metal band I ever heard and the sound of the electric guitar blew me away. Soon after that I heard QUIET RIOT on the radio. Then when I heard VAN HALEN ‘Hot For Teacher’ my mind melted and I HAD to play guitar. From that point on I decided that what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was play guitar. I wanted to be Eddie Van Halen! From there I discovered a lot of music from the videos on TV and it got me exploring music. OZZY videos got me into him, and then I discovered he used to be in SABBATH so I checked them out and loved SABBATH. I found bands like ZZ TOP, WASP, and so on. Soon I was spending any money I could earn from a paper route to buy cassettes. Into the black hole of Hard Rock / Heavy Metal I went and never returned. Once I went down that path, I was always looking for something else to listen to. Heavier, faster, crazier guitar solos, whatever. My brain was addicted to Metal so of course it wasn’t long after buying the entire MAIDEN catalog that I soon discovered METALLICA and MEGADETH, and like I said, the music virus spreads and I needed more and more. As for nowadays, it is very hard to be influenced any more. I already had my heroes growing up and those were VAN HALEN, THE WHO, BLACK SABBATH, IRON MAIDEN DEEP PURPLE, SCORPIONS and ZZ TOP for the most part. Of course, you can find bands that blow you away but aren’t influences. When “Altars Of Madness” came out, I was blown away. Incredible music, but they aren’t heroes to me like IRON MAIDEN was. ETERNAL HATRED was my first attempt of creating my own music for others to hear. At the time I could not find an established band looking for another guitarist, probably because as I have found out with past bands that have one guitarist, my ability and talent intimidates and puts fear in other guitarists. So without finding musicians I wanted to work with, I made a demo and did all the music. I programmed a primitive drum machine the best I could to replicate a real drummer because I did not want to be considered an Industrial band. Although the drum machine made it sterile, I accomplished what I wanted and pressed it. After sending this demo to whomever I could, I started getting attention and then motivated the bassist from Chicago’s ZYKLON B to play bass and vocals. This was great because he had experience, and had endless ideas. During this time we rented a practice spot and we jammed along to a drum machine. Full volume as a band! We searched for a drummer, I think we put an ad in the local entertainment free newspaper, we auditioned a guy, and the first guy that came out the bassist wanted the guy in. I wanted to keep searching, but the bassist thought this guy was good enough. So we moved forward, recorded the next demo, which I really like, but I personally wasn’t getting along with the drummer, and always thought I could find someone better. At this time those guys were writing a lot, and I wasn’t digging the direction they were going, and I wasn’t digging the vibe anymore and I felt like I created a band I no longer wanted to be in. So it was at this point I quit jamming with them and they formed another band. I then had an offer from a label in Sweden called Stormbringer Productions to put out a seven inch record. This was my goal when I started ETERNAL HATRED. I remember telling this to General Diabolical Slaughter when I started this that all I ever wanted was for someone to press a seven inch for me. With that said, I recorded two more songs for the seven inch, and ETERNAL HATRED was done forever. Next was USURPER. I had been friends with these guys since high school, and had known them prior to USURPER forming. At the beginning of 2000, the General had thoughts of retiring from music. He didn’t want to do it anymore, mostly because he wasn’t into it and felt like he was just going on stage screaming, where the rest of us played instruments. They had a tour lined up, and they approached my to replace him on vocals. Mostly because I sounded similar to him and he taught me how to scream like him and properly without destroying my throat. I was interested so I agreed. At the same time they were recording “Necronemesis”, so they would practice all the new songs with the General, then I would come in and do vocals for my set. Well that tour fell through and the General decided to hang on because after the recording they got an offer to tour with CRADLE OF FILTH in Europe for a month. With the General back on board, they decided to use my skills as a second guitarist. I have to admit, it was pretty wild because with ETERNAL HATRED, I played one show only ever in some small club and when I joined USURPER, my first show with them was at Milwaukee Metal Fest, second show was CBGB’s in New York, and my third show was in Lille, France opening up for CRADLE OF FILTH. My time in USURPER was great, but after the General quit the band chemistry changed. As this happened I was less into it, but we maintained. Things kept going and I hung on until the band imploded and after that I wanted to move on.”
What are your thoughts on USURPER reuniting recently? Have you stayed in touch with any of the guys in USURPER (besides of course BONES drummer Joe Warlord)?
“Overall, I don’t think about it. I moved on years ago and enjoy jamming in BONES. I was in USURPER for six or seven years, and BONES has been around for ten to eleven years. I don’t know if I would consider it a reunion, but more like a new phase of that band. To me a reunion is the original members getting back together. This new USURPER is not that. I am not trying to take anything away from them, but to me it is a new era for those guys, and I wish them well. Scott (who replaced Jon) I have known for at least thirty years and is a super solid dude and awesome bass player. Dan is a great vocalist, and I have known him since forever too. So who am I to give any opinion on their new found life. If they want to jam so be it. Cool for them! I am only disappointed, in the guitarist, because as he was doing his other projects over the years, I supported him, and it seems when BONES came out, he suddenly had something against me, and he made it a point to slag us online in interviews and when USURPER reformed, he started doing childish things like cropping me out of photos, or stating I was just a roadie, or a temporary live guitarist. Why, I don’t know. And for that I have a hard time forgiving his actions towards me. As far as if I am in contact with anyone in USURPER, obviously Joe since he is both bands. I hang out with Scott on occasion, usually for a concert, but sometimes to have a few beers. Dan I will see at various local shows and he is usually always good for a few laughs. The General I speak with fairly regularly, maybe once or twice a month and we hang out when we can. I have probably seen Rick three or four times since USURPER ended in around 2006.”
Have you heard the album USURPER released last year and if so, what are your thoughts?
“Yes I have heard it. Scott provided me with a vinyl and Joe gave me a CD. It’s cool.”
What happened to General Diabolical Slaughter?
“Well since he quit USURPER seventeen years ago it’s hard to say what happened to him. I lot has happened to him. He was just done with touring, trying to become a Rock star, and the whole thing. As he said to me after he quit the final time. “If I could teleport from my couch, sing a show, and teleport back to my couch, I’d probably do it. But I don’t want to go through all the other bullshit.” He originally quit in 2000, and I replaced him as lead singer. Then we went on that huge tour in Europe, and then we got signed to Earache, and he was back on board. That kept him around for a couple more years, but I think in the long run he had just had enough. He didn’t give a rat’s ass anymore. And that’s totally cool. The General knows when to hold em, knows when to fold em, and he knew when it was time to walk away. He is happy in his decision, and I have total respect for that. He is a Heavy Metal maniac, and a great friend till the end.”
What gear are you currently using and how has that changed since you started playing in bands?
“Well I have always used Mesa Boogie Dual and Triple Rectifier amps. I actually had the 227th Dual Rectifier ever made. I have had total support from Mesa from the beginning. They actually used me in a print ad in several guitar magazines here in the US for several years throughout the 90s before I was in any known band. I had a problem with #227 and they flew a guy out here from California to check out my amp. He took my defective amp and two days later a new one was shipped to me. They went above and beyond for me even though I wasn’t some big Rock star and for that I am pretty loyal to those guys. Someday I may buy some old Marshall’s for fun, but I am a die hard Mesa fan and supporter. Guitars are the same way. I primarily use B.C. Rich. They are another company that has supported me and given me incredible service over the years and I just love them. On “Diseased”, as with all other recordings I have done I use Mesa Boogie dual and Triple rectifiers. Guitars on this recording were a 1984 B.C. Rich Warlock, A 50th anniversary Gibson SG, and my 1987 Charvel Model 4. The Gibson is totally stock, the B.C. Rich has an EMG in it, and the Charvel has been modified so much in the 33 years I’ve had it that I forget what pickups are in there anymore. My pedals for the recording I don’t remember what I used. I have a large collection of pedals and I am constantly changing what is on my board depending on what I feel like hearing.”
What is on your current playlist? Are there any new bands that have caught your attention?
“I know people might laugh at this, but I’ve been listening to a lot of 1940’s American music lately. No new Metal bands have caught my ear really. I don’t have a good outlet to hear anything cutting edge lately. Except for some locals. I have been out of touch of what has been going on, mainly because I used to get magazine subscriptions delivered to my house and I would read them from cover to cover while sitting on the toilet. But print magazines are almost all out of print. And I don’t have the patience to search out the entire internet while taking a shit. And I think bringing your phone into the bathroom is a bad idea. I would probably drop it in the bowl! As far as Metal, I have listened to, and dug everything AUTOPSY has done since they came back. I can’t say it enough that they have only become better over time. Some of the twin guitar harmonies and musical lines they write I find very cool. I dig the last GOATWHORE album, and the last two or three DARKTHRONE records have been cool. I just got the new PENTACLE record so I’m starting to check that out. My playlist consists of a wide spectrum ranging from DEAD INFECTION and FLESHLESS to Les Paul and Elvis. Elmore James, IMPALED NAZARENE, John Lee Hooker, SPOOKY TOOTH, Django Reinhardt, ZZ TOP, VAN HALEN, old SCORPIONS, CAPTAIN BEYOND, Sir Lord Baltimore, so all kinds of shit is on there I guess. I mean, no Pop, Rap, or shit like that. But my Ipod I usually put on shuffle and. It makes me happy. I have about 100 GB of music on my Ipod so usually I let that play and since everything I put on it I wanted I can dig the variety.”
How’s the Chicago scene doing these days? What new Chicago bands would you recommend our readers check out?
“Well the scene here won’t die. There is always something going on here in Chicago. You have bands like MACABRE and CIANIDE who continue on, bands that return from the dead like FUNERAL NATION and DYSPHORIA, as well as new bands that are up and coming. I have dug some newer bands we have played with here like HEAVENS DECAY and SONS OF FAMINE are two that come to mind.”
What Chicago meal would go good with listening to a BONES album?
“Man, that’s hard! We are so lucky to live in a place that is one of the food capitals of the world! There is so much here that kicks ass. I guess if we are talking true Chicago style, it would have to be pizza, and before you give me any shit about deep dish, I’m not talking about that stuff. That is another debate I will save for my next interview I’m doing on the food network. Chicago thin crust is actually equally famous, and it is way more common to get thin cracker crust style. Cut tavern style in squares, not triangles are the way to go. One place by my house has this Italian beef pizza. Which an Italian Beef sandwich is another Chicago only staple and creation, but that’s another food story. Anyhow, this pizza is on a thin, cracker crust, topped with sauce, cheese, Italian beef, Hot Giardiniera and French Fries. It fucking kills! Damn… I’m hungry!”
Chicago has always been a Pro Wrestling city, who do you consider to be the greatest Pro Wrestler and why is it “Nature Boy” Ric Flair?
“Ha Ha! Well this is the first time I’m hearing that Chicago is a Wrestling city. To be honest, I watched some as a kid, but I haven’t paid attention to it since about 1985. I do remember this wrestler named Hacksaw Jim Duggan. I thought he was cool. Not because he was much of a wrestler, but he was basically a redneck with a lazy eye who carried a two by four wood board as a weapon. That’s kind of cool.”
Thanks again for the interview Chris, where can our readers find you and BONES in social media, email, snail mail? Where can our readers pick up BONES merch and music?
“Cheers Man. Thanks for giving us scumbags the time to listen to us and ask us some questions. The new album “Diseased” is out on Transcending Obscurity Records (www.facebook.com/transcendingobscurity). Buy it. Or If you just want to check us out, you can stream it and our other releases on most of the major streaming services. But if you dig it don’t be lame, buy a real tangible copy. Older albums, shirts, or other merch can be bought through us at our Facebook page www.facebook.com/bones-chicago-113666132032091. Just search BONES (Chicago) on Facebook. Any hate mail or complaints can also be sent to our facebook page at BONES (Chicago). For Snail mail contact us through facebook first and we will decide if we want to give you our addresses. We don’t want one of you psychopaths showing up at out front door unexpectedly!”
Photos: Vivianne Odisho, John Mourlas
Interview: Jaime Perez