A Conversation with Entheos Vocalist, Chaney Crabb

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Recently, when Entheos was coming through here, I was given the opportunity to sit down with lead singer, Chaney Crabb. I was really looking forward to meeting her but really did not know what to expect and, honestly, felt a little intimidated. While she does write hopeful and positive lyrics, Entheos music, particularly her vocals are far from tame. I got to the venue early and we went next door where it was more quiet where we sat down and grabbed her a beer. With Mariachi music playing in the background I quickly learned that Ms. Crabb is charming, smart, soft spoken, quick with a smile and very sweet; a complete contrast to her in-your-face, on stage persona. What follows is our transcripted conversation instead of a sterile, question/response interview. This is what I learned about this rising star. Enjoy!

We started out talking about Entheo’s unusual mixture of Death Metal, Thrash and even some straight Fusion: “Yeah. Navene and Evan are so amazing at that stuff. Our plan is to keep going in that direction, to keep carving that stuff out and get weirder as we go… We’re going to get weird but that’s what we want to do. None of us want to adhere to some guideline of what Death Metal or Metal should or should not, can or can’t be. We are not going to go so far off the path that our fans are not going to get what we are doing or walk down the street, kicking rocks but change is what is going to pull people in. People like a band that is trying something new. I think the key for us is going to be grabbing people from over here and from over here and hopefully become a band that kids now grow up listening to us. Look at Primus. I am not trying to compare out band to them, but they are really weird, doing something no one was doing at the time and look at them now. Playing arenas and everything. For us, we can play in front of a Goatwhore crowd and pick up fans there. I love those guys. They are so bad ass. They are so Metal but we can also open The Contortionist show and walk away with fans there as well. However, I don’t think that The Contortionist and Goatwhore could play a show together and it go over that well. We play with both and it goes great.”

To that I said that I did not think that the music is not weird at all. That I found it quite refreshing to the constant blast of many in Modern Death Metal: “This is what we want. What it comes down to it the people who are playing the instruments in our band are very musical. We all have a lot of diverse musical tastes. We don’t really listen to that much Death Metal, as surprising as it may sound. We are trying to take Metal and turn it into something we all play and love doing. Trying to bring it into the world we live in now because we are all old school Metal fans so we are trying to move that into the more Prog stuff that we are into now.”

About Evan Brewer: “If you listened to Animosity, their last album that they put out is like Evan, our bass player who brings a lot to our sound. He is a slap bass player. He is one fourth of our sound. In their band, he was inaudible. You can’t hear any fucking bass on that record.”

When talking about the recent Generation Axe show, the subject of Tosin Abasi came up: “Yeah. I used to live with him. He is that good because he plays like eight hours a day and it’s not a gimmick or joke. He takes it very seriously and it’s obvious and comes out in his music.”

When asked whether she played any instruments? “Yeah. I play a bit of drums, a little guitar. I have messed around with bass and some keys. I am not a professional at any instrument but I do dabble in all of that stuff for sure. It’s hard not to since music is my thing. I wanted to be a drummer before I was a vocalist but like being a singer.”

Because she is so much younger than I am I was curious what Chaney grew up listening to: “When I was really young, honestly, my dad used to have a lot of Country and Classic Rock that you hear on the radio like Boston, Blue Oyster Cult, Garth Brooks. My dad’s favorite band has always been Boston, so that is what I was listening to a lot of. As I got older, I got into Metal. I am from Des Moines, Iowa, so you know Slipknot became a part of my life with that whole thing. Then I starting listening to Death Metal like Dying Fetus and all of those types of bands. Meshuggah, obviously, is a huge one. Their guitar player Fredrik, had a project call Fredrik Thordendal‘s Special Defects and they put out an album in 98 or 99 called “Sol Niger Within” and that beats any Meshuggah album to me. That’s one of the best albums that’s ever been created. It’s the same as Meshuggah, you can tell. Are you familiar with The Mats/Morgan Band. Mats plays keys and Morgan Agren plays drums. So Morgan Agren who was a part of that group that is kind of Jazzy thing, played drums on Fredrik Thordendal Special Defects and one of the best albums ever produced. They were just relentless”

What would Chaney Crabb be doing now if music hadn’t worked out as it has: “I would probably be teaching philosophy. I was in college studying philosophy of the mind. I like a lot of stuff that has to do with artificial intelligence, morality, that those types of things.”

Comparing the themes of “The Infinite Nothing” to movies. “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “The Matrix: “Probably closer to The Matrix but with a positive outlook. To me, it has a more post apocalyptic vibe, but there is hope rather than like everything has gone to shit and the world is over type of thing.”

Ms. Crabb’s earliest musical influence: “It’s funny. My grandma used to take me to church all the time until I was about 14, and my love of music spawned from church hymns.”

My statement about how people in the Death Metal scene tend to be nicer and smarted than in most other genres elicited: “That’s the way a lot of Death Metal people are. They are the nice people. It’s like we are really nice, really good people overall. Very kind-hearted. Some of the best individuals I have met in my life have been through Death Metal groups. It’s because of the healthy release of aggression. That’s what drew me so strongly to Metal in the first place. During those angsty, teen years and that became my way of dealing with it and still do. Having my vocals on stage all these nights, I have that to get it all out. Actually, I think we all tend to be very normal. Some of the most intelligent people I have met are Death Metal and Prog nerds.”

Chaney’s take on her lyrics and writing: “I keep my lyrics positive because that’s not where I stay. My mind is not always in a negative space. To me, getting on the stage and just having the act of doing vocals, it’s like a workout. It’s like going to gym to blow off some stress. With the lyrics, I am usually writing them when I am not down at home. I just can’t be angry at home when I sit down with my cats. How can I be angry when I have a cat in my lap and smoking a joint. I have friends who enjoy to smoke from bongs or Sherlock pipes and they’ve been encouraging me to get one myself, you can Click Here to read more about the ones they were telling me about. Smoking weed and sitting with my cat just puts me in a good mood. That’s just not a negative space and my writing is never been negative because it something that just makes me feel good when I’m writing. However, any pent up feelings I have I let out when I am on stage. It’s like I am ridding by body of all the toxins from my day. That’s just a completely different feeling than the act of sitting down and writing. The act of performing is a completely different entity in thought.”

The affect of the hype around the supergroup status Entheos has garnered: “Yeah. So they say *laughing* but you know, I think it has helped, however I think it sends people one way or the other. Some people are expecting us to sound like The Faceless and others are expecting Animals As Leaders. I think we will come to a point where people will agree that Entheos is its own entity and sounds like Entheos, but drawing from the past bands that the guys have been in I think people start to pull those bands in and try claw for parallels between the bands. When the first EP came together it was kind of like there was no us as a band. It didn’t exist. Navene, our drummer really started it. Then it was us two together and then we called Frank, our old guitar player and now it’s Evan. So we all eventually got together and decided to try this thing. I had no idea what what we wanted to sound like or where we wanted to go with this. Entheos is just kind of the product of the three of them getting back together, playing music. That, and they were in that band Animosity together and the last thing that they wrote was an Animosity album so let’s start there and see where it goes. So it makes sense that it sounds more like their old stuff because it was not a developed sound that had developed from a band very much in its infancy that was trying to figure out what’s going on.”

At this point, is she at the “breaking even” point making music: “Nothing has ever come out of my pocket with this band. We have been really lucky. Anything that has come out of my pocket has been paid back. You have to recognize how rare that is. Like what we were talking about with the hype earlier, we were able to get a record deal and fund the band off of that. I won’t say that I am not sacrificing my rent sometimes, things like that or paying rent late because I am but I am not losing money being in a band and I feel really lucky to be able to experience this.” Don’t think it is all unicorns and rainbows though. While on tour, Entheos sleeps in their van at truck stops, but Chaney takes it in stride and loves doing what she is doing!

When asked about difficulties with promoters and/or venues: “No. Wait, hold on. There was this festival with Animals As Leaders. The venue was selling both of our merch. The person they had selling the merch had no count at the end of the night so she had no idea how much of our stuff she sold. She tried to give us like $200. Now understand, this was a huge festival and we knew that we had made way more than $200 so we sat there all fucking nigh. Everyone else had left, took their merch and went home. At the end of the night we ended up taking home a grand because we stood our ground because we knew the venue had fucked up and we knew that we made way more money. We have the old school mentality. If you don’t do things correctly, you have no business fucking with our money. Money is really important to people who don’t make a lot. Our careers ride on what we make every single night. We depend on that money. Try fucking with a band’s money, I dare you. We have heard a lot of horror stories like that Soundwave Festival in Australia last year. Basically, all these bands flew to this Soundwaves Festival and the promoter didn’t pay anyone. He owes a band I know like $8000. I don’t recall who the headlining band was but he owes them close to a million dollars. We’ve been lucky enough not to be involved with any shenanigans like that to this point, but we have only been a band for a year and a half”

Festivals or smaller shows, then? “This is the type of venue where we thrive [1904 is a venue that holds just shy of 400 people]. I love these venues. These are the types of venues of venues where I can be in people’s faces because I am an interactive type of vocalist. I like to hug them and pat them on the back, jumping up and down with the crowd. Barricade places kind of throw me off. Because I am such a short person [yes, she is tiny], I can’t jump across the barricade and feel safe doing my vocals. It’s like an ocean between me and the crowd. If there comes a day where we are headlining shows, what I would vote to do is go through venues like this or even smaller, like maybe a 200 cap, play two nights in a row, hopefully sell out both of those nights. Set up the first night, do a sound check, leave all our gear there and do shows like that every day and afford to stay at a hotel. Maybe stay and extra day and see the city like what everyone else does. Everyone thinks that is what we do on tour but actually never get to explore. But I would play venues like this for the rest of my life over playing huge venues. In these venues, people are highly respectful and it’s just a fun time. Everyone if just trying to have fun. As opposed to those that stay away from the audience I like to go out in the crowd and their responses are way more in the moment. Screaming, oh my god type thing. They are experiencing it with you instead of viewing them as a separate entity from your band.”

What has been the reaction of people that have not heard much from Entheos? “I think they like it a lot. On this tour it’s interesting because, especially since Monuments has left, we are really the only band that is really heavy, constantly. Monuments dropped off the tour Monday so now we are direct support for The Contortionist plus our Australian friends sleepmakeswaves and one of your local bands. You have probably heard of them. Generally, everyone seems to like us.”

What Chaney does for fun outside of music? “I do a lot of art. I am really into pyrography, it like wood burning. I also draw a lot of abstract art pieces. I also like philosophy, I am a nerd and read a lot of books. And I watch Netflix *laughs*. I guess most of the time I am petting my cats, smoking weed and doing art. That’s pretty much my life when I am at home. I am such an introvert so I stay in a lot.”

On tour, what’s fun?I sit. I look for the closest bench and lay down. No, I bring my sketch pad and draw. We also listen to a lot of music on tour. There is always some new record obsession that I have when I am on tour. I also really like watching live shows. On our last tour I was watching No Doubt’sLive from the Tragic Kingdom” over and over. No Doubt is kind of my guilty pleasure.”

How music affects her: “At times, music is all I have had. Now, my life is music. It defines the greatest moments of my life. I remember things bases on the album I was listening to, or sometimes just a song. Music has always been my go-to and honestly think that if it weren’t for music, I would be an insane crazy person, dead or taken a gun and shot myself. Not that I am an overly depressed person, but music is everything. It is the air I breathe. It’s the water I drink. It’s the dreams I have. It provides a future for me and defines my past as well. It is just everything.”

New plan on the horizon? “Oh yeah. We’ve been working on a few songs but as I understand it, most of those will be scrapped by the time we get home so we may have to start with something new.”

Record label effects on Entheos music: “We have 100% of our own creative freedom and artistic freedom and that was a huge thing for us when signing onto a label was that everything was in our hands so nothing at all is influenced by them and nothing ever will be. Our intent is to be that band that carves this weird area for themselves in such a way that we make exactly what we want. There is a song on our new album called “New Light”. It has a lot of groove with empty space left open for everyone to come through. It has a bass interlude in the middle it with slap. That’s kind of the direction we want to go in. To be a groovier kind of band because we don’t want lose the Death elements, but we are trying to get away from the constant blast beating in order to have more of a groove that isn’t necessarily djent or whatever people want to call it.”

Any clean vocals in the future? “Probably not. I would never say never, I am not that type of person to make absolutes but I there is a way to do this and to execute it well and for me to have the melodic without actually singing. That is something that we are trying to do as head toward our next album. I want to develop my voice more but I don’t think it is going to be me constantly doing Death Metal vocals with guttural mids, lows and highs. I am also really into Hardcore so my hope would be to develop more of that kind of voice. Not so much singing but just to get away from what I am doing right now. I want people to hear my vocals and say ‘Oh, that’s Chaney Crabb on vocals’. I don’t want to just be another Death Metal vocalist. Like I said, I can’t say what’s going to happen in the future but it’s not going be a singing thing without the Death Metal influence.”

About touring with The Contortionist? “It’s been great. We have known those guys for quite a while. The first national tour I ever did, I was doing merch for Animals As Leaders and the vocalist for The Contortionist Mike’s old band Last Chance to Reason was the opening band on that tour five or six years ago, so I have known him for a really long time. Navene, our drummer was in Animals so, the Metal world is pretty small and we all know each other so it has been a great hang-out session. Thankfully, there are no assholes on this tour.

Have you played with any of your influences? “I don’t think I have played with anyone on my bucket list but if we ever play with Meshuggah, that will be the day I will be like, damn, I think we made it. I would also like to play with Cannibal Corpse. Or maybe Dying Fetus.”

If you played with them, would you be nervous? “No. I am never nervous on stage. It just never happens. Sometimes before a show, I get butterflies, but once I’m on stage I am just in my natural habitat. My internal force just takes over. For me to lose it on stage, it would have to be someone like Fleetwood Mac. I am a die hard Fleetwood Mac fan although I have never seen them. I always seem to miss for some reason or another. I have really strange musical tastes. I am one of those people that dive into all genres of music. Lately, I have really been into R&B too.”

Parting shots: “Check out our brand new album called “The Infinite Nothing”. Buy it and enjoy it

My initial impression of Chaney held true when I saw her later at the merch table with Navene (who was not feeling well that night). They are open, approachable and engaging with everyone they talked to. Not one passing smile or rush-through for anyone that approached them whether they were buying anything or not. This band is genuine in everything that they do and will surely grab fans left and right with some of the best Death Metal inspired music available and their love and respect for their audience. As Entheos morphs and gains its legs, watch out! This is going to be epic!

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Odyssey

About Odyssey

I have had a life-long love of music, but from the first time I heard Kiss and Black Sabbath with my landlord's son in Nicholasville, KY in the mid 70's, I have been hooked on Hard Rock and Metal. While my tastes in music have done nothing but expand since then, Metal remains closest to my heart. In addition, I have played bass, still play guitar and have literally 1000's of CDs/MP3s, so my knowledge is long steeped and honest. I don't buy the whole splintered, sub-genres thing and choose to like bands and music based solely on individual merits. Obviously, this is always colored by my mood, what I need at any given point and time and what is generally pleasing to my ear. I also don't like to rip any music or band, instead having an open mind and ear for it all because I have a passion for it all. It is completely subjective and in a constant state of flux. Consider me a music "nerd" not a music "snob". As an extension of this love, I hope to share this passion with everyone here and learn from your passion as well! - Odyssey -

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