Craig Owens on Being Misunderstood, ‘ADD Culture’ and Harry Potter
Craig Owens remains one of music's most mercurial front men; a challenging, committed artist that understands the importance of maintaining a sense of mystery.
At 15, the Michigan native founded the band Chiodos, went on to work on such interesting side projects as Cinematic Sunrise, and Isles & Glaciers. Owens has also collaborated in The Sound of Animals Fighting collective, and today, leads Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.), which also features Matt Good (ex-From First to Last), Aaron Stern (ex-Matchbook Romance), Nick Martin (Underminded), and Adam Russell (Story of the Year).
Currently headlining the Strength in Numbers tour (with Hit the Lights, Like Moths to Flames and Sparks the Rescue) with D.R.U.G.S., Owens took some time to visit with Noisecreep backstage at the famed Troubadour club during the tour stop in Los Angeles on Feb. 7.
In conversation, just like onstage, Owens is animated, intense, and full of wonder – an artist who seems eager to perform in almost any setting.
You always seem so focused on delivering an intense, personal, revealing show.
First of all, I think rock 'n' roll is based on vulnerability. I mean, the moment Steven Tyler started singing in that high pitched voice is when people really started catching on. The moment when Mick Jagger really let go is when people starting getting it. So yeah, I really believe the more of yourself you show on stage, the better it is for everyone. But, I've always considered myself more of a writer than anything else.
Which means you must read a lot.
What do you like to read?
Lots! Let's see, recently I've been getting into Chuck Palahniuk, but hey, I love Walt Whitman, Emerson Carl Sandburg - I'll even work in some Harry Potter sometimes. Like performing, in order to write you have to open up and be vulnerable, so that's what I do.
Which your fans seem to not just appreciate, but also sort of thrive on.
Well, if I give them my heart and passion and mean every word I say and they know this isn't just some fabricated way to sell a product, then they see that and they reciprocate, you know? Then they also reveal themselves to me. I love that relationship with them.
There's an almost athletic quality to how you perform – are you a big sports fan?
I'm the biggest sports fan on Earth. To me, life, music and sports all go so hand in hand that it's ridiculous. So like an athlete, you leave it all on the floor. Always. Shows are sort of like games - no two are alike but I may run the same plays here or there depending on the situation.
Were you happy with how the D.R.U.G.S. album was received last year?
Well, yeah, but I wish that the record has a longer life. In this ADD, Twitter-fied world, I feel like kids just take records and throw them down the garbage disposal after one or two listens because of how much is available. The ADD culture got people attached with the viral videos we did, and I know people had anticipation – you know - are we going to have Chiodos #2? All that controversy. So I was pretty happy with people like the music, but just wish it could last longer.
I will say that I wanted to do something honest and straightforward and I think some people took that for granted. People wanted a progressive novel as opposed to a man writing the best songs he could possibly write. Sometimes people miss the beauty of simple when they are looking for something else.
What are you working on now?
The next record, the one I am writing now, I think, will be considered my masterpiece. I've started I, I can't divulge any news yet, but it will all come soon.
Watch 'Stop Reading, Start Doing Pushups' Video
Do you feel you get misunderstood a lot?
Yeah, but at the same time, to each his own. All worry is in vain. The world will hand you things and you can do one of two things - be a man and deal with it or pout about it. My grandmother always teaches me not to worry too much about what others are thinking.
As far as who I am as an artist, people can think what they want, but until they have the courage to come up and speak with me, then it's just their preconceived notions - whatever they think about me. Look, I try and be an okay guy when people approach me. But we all have bad days, good days - I'm like everyone else. To me, people who are super nice ALL the time are the creepy ones [laughs].
You sometimes talk about your grandparents on stage.
I have tattoos of my grandmother and grandfather's initials right here on my arm. There's nothing more beautiful than the wisdom and experience of people that have lived on the planet twice as long as you have. I wake up every single day and try and be the best person I can be that day - that's what they taught me
I used to spend so much of my time thinking I knew everything. Now, i think the older I get the dumber I get. I love that attitude because I soak in more and learn more. I'm open to more ideas. I allow things to happen.
Catch D.R.U.G.S. out on tour with Hit the Lights, Moths to Flame, and Sparks the Rescue:
2/14/12 - Seattle, WA - El Corazon - Buy tickets
2/15/12 - Portland, OR - Hawthorne Theatre - Buy tickets
2/16/12 - Boise, ID - Knitting Factory Concert House - Buy tickets
2/17/12 - Denver, CO - Marquis Theater - Buy tickets
2/19/12 - Kansas City, MO - Beaumont Club - Buy tickets
2/21/12 - St. Louis, MO – Firebird - Buy tickets
2/22/12 - Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theater - Buy tickets
2/23/12 - Iowa City, IA - Blue Moose - Buy tickets
2/24/12 - Cincinnati, OH - Bogart's - Buy tickets
2/25/12 - Pontiac, MI - The Crofoot - Buy tickets