Ska punk, horror cinema, and Ice Nine Kills’ first live record – frontman Spencer Charnas spills some blood in The Electric Theater

Posted by Ramon Gonzales in Interviews on October 21, 2020

The Electric Theater welcomes Ice Nine Kills frontman Spencer Charnas for a conversation with the clown. Exploring Charnas’ ska-punk roots and his lifelong fascination with the horror genre, the veteran musicians discuss evolving creatively, stage spectacle, and how the energy of a good show makes the genre irrelevant.

This week’s episode of the Electric Theater features a conversation with Spencer Charnas of the band Ice Nine Kills.

Regarded for his horror-inspired brand of metalcore music, it might surprise some people know that Charnas and Ice Nine Kills actually have their roots established in the world of Ska and Punk.

After exchanging a few pleasantries about the weather and the seasons, clown and Charnas got right into the frontman’s formative days in a style of music that is far different from what he current does now.

Charnas would cite bands like Goldfinger, Less Than Jake, and Reel Big Fish as some of his biggest influences and his earliest inspirations to want to perform live music. He recalled seeing Goldfinger live at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts and instantly being enamored by the microphone in the crowd and the fans on stage.

clown had a Goldfinger story of his own to tell. During Slipknot’s infancy, when Goldfinger came through Iowa, Slipknot was the opener. clown explained how he was amazed at the kind of energy the band had and how it so consistent. He would find out one year that John Feldmann and the band would have more than 400 shows in one calendar year – all with the same intensity and physicality to really make a concert a show.

Both Charnas and clown arrived at the realization that it’s that energy that supersedes genre. Though both musicians currently make music that is far from ska-punk, it’s the live translation of energy and the release that resonates with most performers – seeing someone genuinely connect with fans onstage and essentially erupt, that’s the it moment that sticks with artists regardless of the style.

The topic of putting in that extra effort would continue in the discussion. In addition to the workload associated with writing and recording albums, Ice Nine Kills has become especially endearing for their supplemental content just the same. clown wanted to know how Charnas managed the workload of not only making and touring his music, but also how he balanced that with making the quality of visual content he’s involved with, be it music videos or his films.

Charnas recalled his local video rental store and always gravitating towards the horror section. Instantly, he was in love. He talked about how one day his parents finally let him rent Halloween, and it was all over from there. Ice Nine Kills’ horror-driven identity is rooted in Charnas’ passion for the genre. It’s an esthetic but moreso, an integral part of the band’s ethos.

For Charnas, being able to create a complete sensory experience by augmenting the music with the imagery is his way of establishing something more than a band. For Charnas, he confides that the extra effort he puts in to make Ice Nine Kills such a complete presentation is really a reflection of the kind of effort he would appreciate seeing as a fan himself.

As for how the frontman with the creative overdrive is fairing during the era of Covid, Charnas discussed how he can’t really recall the last time he had seven months off. When the pandemic first forced closures and pandemonium was essentially taking over, Ice Nine Kills was aboard with Papa Roach. Charnas talked about how getting home was as chaotic as the news made it out to be, but they would eventually make it back.

Going from living on the road and spending different nights on stages in various cities to being in one place for an extended amount of time required a period of adjustment for Charnas. He arrived at the conclusion however that he was going to make the most of the situation and ensure that the time would be used productively.

As a result, Ice Nine has spent their forced time home work on new material, of which Charnas says the band will be ready to begin tracking soon. In addition, the band put the finishing touches on their first live album release set for the end of October. Playing off of NoFx’s I Heard The Suck Live, the INK album entitled I Heard They Kill Live, was recorded during the band’s sold-out hometown performance back in November of 2019 during the Octane Accelerator tour.

The performance was recorded at the very same venue, the Palladium of Worcester, that Charnas first saw Goldfinger many years prior and was inspired to make music for himself.

Stream the conversation with clown of Slipknot and Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills in the last episode of The Electric Theater below.


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