• Naomi Sanders

"House of Blues said we were unfit for children” – Interview with Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills

Credit: Charlotte Claber

Halloween isn't Halloween without things that go bump in the night, whether that be in a haunted house, out trick-or-treating, or whilst binging horror films! With one album containing 13 tracks, and now a deluxe version with 19 in total, ICE NINE KILLS were able to combine all of that into a musical experience that no one would want to ever forget. Here, vocalist Spencer Charnas recounts how they created such an album, the short film music videos, and the answer to why they were banned from Disney!

How is tour life in the UK so far?

We’ve been doing great, tour has been exceeding all of our expectations with most shows sold out, and it’s awesome to come back to venues like this where, three years ago, we played at the same venue and there was about 20 kids and now it’s completely sold out. It’s always nice to see improvement. 

You’ve recently been announced for Slam Dunk Festival next year – you excited?

I’m ready to get on the court and start dunking! We had a great time the first time we played there, and I think it’s gonna be even better ‘cause we’ll be on a bigger stage at a better time. I’m hoping Less Than Jake or Reel Big Fish play so we can have them on stage with us for our song “IT Is The End”. 

IT Is The End’s music video – talk to me all about it.

That jumpscare at the end, I was going for something akin to the end of Friday The 13th, but I think a lot of people turned it off by then. A few people did get that jumpscare. But yeah, the video reaction’s been insane, definitely our fastest viewed video, 200-something thousand in 36 hours or so. There must be a lot of sick and twisted people out there. 

How did you and the band come up with the whole storyline for the music videos?

I don’t know where it came from, it just kind of came to me one day. I remember I was on the roof of my father’s apartment and maybe that kind of altitude inspired something out of me, and then I thought it might be cool to have our own story within the horror movies. With everything I approach, I approach it as a fan with what I wanna see if I were a fan of the band, and that’s exactly what I’d want. 

How did you choose which films and books to base songs on?

It was difficult, especially with the movies, because there’s just so many that I love.

Just want to stare at a whiteboard with all the names of the movies. picture right now. There's like 50 to 70 books and movies. And I just wanted to pick for both albums stories that were different enough for each other, so there wouldn’t be too many similarities in the story arc. And I knew that I want to do include the Godfather super genre, like can't do without, Friday The 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, but also I wanted to expose our fans to some of the more obscure films that I like, like Silent Night, Deadly Night, which is a cult film, but you know never reached the franchise heights like some of the other ones. So the more I can help expose those films, the better. 

With this concept continuing on from Every Trick In The Book, why did you decide to make an album based on books in the first place?

So it all started with “Me, Myself, and Hyde”, which was actually a stand alone track way before Every Trick In The Book was conceived. And it was the first time I ever wrote a song about a book or for something that was already established fiction. It was just really fun to do and people seem to respond to it really well, so I thought we could just do the whole album about books.

Do you worry that the band is pigeonholed into these story-based songs, and why?

I think it's definitely expanded our demographic source and age, and now we're seeing families come to the shows, older people bringing their little kids dressed as Jason. At first when I saw that I was like “That's cool. They're kind of like, bringing their kid is like the little accessory.”, but the kids are singing the words louder than the parents talking like, five, six year old kids. It's kind of insane. So I guess it could fit this into a corner, but it's a dark corner that I'd like to exist in.

Tell us all that happened with Disney and House of Blues.

I went to high school with Minnie Mouse and we fell out. Well, falling out is sort of an understatement. Mickey's a little bit bigger, so that’s where it really started! But officially from House of Blues, they said we were “unfit for children”. One of the greatest compliments I've ever gotten in my life, actually. But the other bands on the tour, New Year’s Day, Falling In Reverse, From Ashes To New, they were fine. They don't have kills in the name of the band. But it turned out to be a great thing, because it gave us a lot of additional publicity. And we got to make really funny shirts out of it, all done by Mike Cortana.

Which was the hardest song to write for The Silver Scream?

The hardest song, I remember having the most trouble with “Stabbing In The Dark. Just working through a lot of different iterations of the song structurally, trying to get it to work and eventually turned out great. It was the first album where I used piano and I don’t really play piano, I was just tinkering around with it. It definitely helped unlock other ideas. I really think it did help push that song forward when I was in a low. 

Your instrumentation is vastly different and richer than others in the metal game – why did you decide to add brass and strings to the music?

I think that it all came about really on Every Trick In The Book because the songs were screaming for them. They’re obviously very theatrical, the melodies are based on a lot of Broadway stuff, and that stuff goes into a lot of “IT Is The End”. When we were writing “IT Is The End”, I just heard horns in my head and that song, you know, themed with a circus, the horns fit. 

What would the next album be based off?

People keep asking me that question, but I’m just gonna leave it as this; limbo speculation.


Finally, what’s next for the band?

Aside from our tour in November around the US, think we’re going to Australia; we're gonna have a good time regardless.

The Silver Scream: Final Cut Deluxe Edition if OUT NOW!