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Chimaira’s Mark Hunter on the New Chapter of the Band

Todd Bell

For the members of Chimaira, the last 12 months have been eventful to say the least. “Yes, the last year has been interesting for the band,” says vocalist Mark Hunter after letting out a hearty laugh.

The Chimaira frontman is on the phone with Noisecreep the day after the band’s first show of 2011. He’s in a great mood now that the group has weathered a storm of huge setbacks. But we’ll let him explain.

“Last year we did the Mayhem Festival, which was an amazing opportunity for us, and I had a great time doing those shows,” he said. “But somewhere in between, we all started taking different directions in our personal lives. It’s like any relationship, really. I think after 12 years of playing in a band together you start experiencing things that you don’t enjoy anymore. It just doesn’t seem worth it to carry on like that. Even though we had just finished a big tour, we started feeling like that. It became a drag.”

Chimaira had been touring in support of ‘The Infection,’ a return-to-form album that featured some of the most inspired writing of their career. Unfortunately, the financial climate and tension within the group soured whatever chance the record had to become truly commercially successful. When the promotional cycle for ‘The Infection’ ended, Chimaira found themselves at a crossroads.

“In terms of the music industry, these past few years have been tough for bands like us,” Hunter said. “Here we were with no record label, the economy has taken a turn for the worse, it’s harder and harder to book shows because kids aren’t coming out to shows like they used to. It was a tough time for Chimaira.”

Just as many industry pundits wrote the group off, Chimaira bounced back. “We then decided to just move forward,” Hunter said. “Then we signed with E1 Records and started working on a new record. That was a huge turnaround for us.”

The aforementioned new album is called ‘The Age of Hell’ and is tentatively scheduled for release this August. Hunter told Noisecreep about the lineup changes and how they came about.

Watch a live video of Chimaira’s ‘Trigger Finger’

“Musically speaking, we felt that we needed to make something truly special this time out,” he said. “It got frustrating when we weren’t getting the same feedback from the drummer [Andols Herrick] we had at the time. We brought it up to him and we didn’t like how the conversation went. So from there we decided it was best if we just parted ways with each other. Jim [LaMarca, bassist] quit late in 2010. If that weren’t enough, the next thing I know our keyboardist [Chris Spicuzza] left and we’re down to three members left out of a six piece band. And we have to go into the studio [laughs].”

No one would have faulted Chimaira if they took some time off to recharge their batteries after losing half of their members, but Hunter wouldn’t have any of it.

“It was huge deal, but we had to try and make it not be one,” he said. “We then enlisted our longtime producer, Ben Schigel, to come in and play drums for the recording and also be the conductor of sorts. Here we are with a new album and some new guys in the lineup. We played our first show together last night and it felt like all of those bad things were supposed to happen.

“We wound making an album that we’re all extremely proud of and we’re out playing more shows. Look, we’re from Cleveland, so we only see the sun three days a year, but today I feel the sunshine [laughs]. It hasn’t felt this good playing in Chimaira for a long time.”

Watch the video for ‘Nothing Remains’

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