DS Exclusive Interview: Kris Idol (Chelsea Arms/Time Again) talks band origin, the inspiration behind Chelsea Arms, and family

I got back from Boston in mid-December and the next day, I was back in the swing of things by meeting with Kris Idol, frontman/guitarist for Chelsea Arms and guitarist for Time Again. We hung out in Hollywood at the Pig N’ Whistle and talked about the origins of Chelsea Arms, what the inspiration behind the music was, and everything that makes Kris who he is. On Kris’s recommendation, and mine as well, hit up the Pig N’ Whistle for some GREAT food and click here to read the interview.

Chelsea Arms’ long-awaited debut 3-song 7″ EP titled“Lost City” will be released mid-February via Black Cat Records.

Dying Scene: I’m here with Kris Idol, singer and guitarist for Chelsea Arms. How good does that sound, man?

Kris: I love it! I love hearing it and I love hearing other people saying it.

Dying Scene: It’s easy to get excited about it. It’s good music. The Lost City EP is coming out soon?

Kris: Yeah, I sent the masters to Mikael from Black Cat Records to get them pressed. We’re good to go. All the artwork and everything is ready. Realistically, it’ll be by mid-February. It’s being pressed in France but there was a lot of stuff to do on the label’s end to make it happen so we were hoping to have them already. But Mikael is a great guy and has jumped through some hoops to make this happen for Chelsea and we love him for it.

Dying Scene: How did you get hooked up with Black Cat Records to distribute it? Was it a matter of you knowing him and talking to him about it.

Kris: He actually wanted to release [Trashed Idols EP] Curtains, oddly enough. He wanted to do an EP with Trashed Idols and we had some issues releasing Curtains so we just said ‘lets forget it’ and we’ll do a comp instead. From then, we’ve had a relationship and we’ve talked, even on a friendly basis, before Chelsea, or during Time Again, or whatever. Even though he’s in France, I consider him my friend and he’s a really good guy.

Dying Scene: Is this something that you’re going to do for Chelsea Arms or just for the 7-inch?

Kris: To be on Black Cat?

Dying Scene: Yeah.

Kris: We haven’t really gotten that far yet. We did the 3 songs and without even hearing them, Mikael said “can I release them?” and I said “absolutely.”

Dying Scene: And that probably goes back to you guys being friends…

Kris: Yeah, and he probably figured it wasn’t going to suck. Our friendship that we had built up over the years helped out. I kind of work like that, I’m a very loyal individual. Once I’m friends with someone or we have a good relationship, I stick to that group or that circle.

Dying Scene: Yeah, man. Loyalty is very hard to find nowadays

Kris: It is and I work that way. If you’re here in the beginning, you’ll be here in the end. It’s like a family. Everyone that has helped out, You, Taron, Dying Scene, you guys are all part of Chelsea.

Dying Scene: How’d you meet Taron?

Kris: I hit him up. He did the logo for Daniel [Darts] label and I really liked his design. He did the logo for Trashed Idols, as well as tour posters, and other things I’m missing (sorry Taron), but I Just hit him up and asked him to do the artwork. With him, I can tell that there is something extra that he puts in there. It’s because we get a long and we respect each other.

Dying Scene: Sweet, dude. So lets go back to the beginning of Chelsea Arms. How did it start? Was it something that hit you during Stormy California or before or what?

Kris: it was acutally during Time Again. It was just something that I figured I’d want to do a side project. I wanted to do it just to see if I could do it. It was just a concept but I knew that I wanted to do something on my own. As far as the name, I’ve always liked the name Chelsea. I’ve never dated a girl named Chelsea but there’s just something pretty about it. It’s something that, to me, resembles love and the arms thing with the heart was the whole idea that I wanted it to represent. I wanted people to look at it and see that there’s “love” and “strength” coming from what Chelsea is going to create. It’s going to be, essentially, my autobiography.

Dying Scene: Your autobiography, huh? You told me the last time we spoke that “I Don’t Belong Here” was the last song you wrote. What part of your biography does that song fit into?

Kris: I think that probably it will be mainly from my childhood. I’m from South Phoenix, which was a very rough neighborhood, and I come from a very poor family. Without being dramatic about it, it wasn’t easy. I think that line, specifically, relates to that.

Dying Scene: It’s a good song, probably my favorite on the EP.

Kris: Where I grew up, i’d be around people that would be targets of drive-by shootings and I would be there, ducking behind a 1964 low-rider Impala trying to get out of the way. That’s where that stems from. I love my mom, I wouldn’t take any of it back. That line specifically relates to all that.

Dying Scene: You recently added a new guitarist to the band. How hard was it getting him on board and what does he bring to Chelsea?

Kris: Yeah, we recently added Trevor who comes from another band. Adding him luck and perfect timing, it’s unreal. He is the perfect guy for the job. He basically has two duties: 1) he keeps me in check haha, and 2) plays rhythm guitar but has a lot of rhythm lead duties that keep him busy. He’s a rock. He is the other half of what Chelsea needed to have that unbreakable foundation.

Dying Scene: And how many songs do you have written total? There’s gonna be 3 on the 7-incher and a couple on your Facebook page. Is there more to come soon?

Kris: Yes, 6 brand new songs (not including the 3) are sitting in pro-tools. All the hooks and the main parts are there, all I have to do is piece them together and add some lyrics and they’re done. The next move, after this, is to release a 6-song EP. The first two are already done. The first is called “Runaway” and the other is called “Tokyo Nights.” I do things kinda backwards, like, I’ll come up with the name of the song. Say “Tokyo Nights.” There will be no lyrics, no music, but I’ll think to myself “Tokyo Nights…What does that mean?” and it’ll start coming to me.

Dying Scene: Do you find yourself being influenced by the same people with each band or do you rely more on personal experiences as you draw inspiration for your music?

Kris: As a kid, I never really listened to music. As a young kid I used to breakdance and I listened to that music but that’s what was around me. I never had a preference until my friend Gabe, 7th/8th grade played me music from the Sex Pistols. From there, that’s what got me into punk. At my first show, I knew that this is where I belonged. Musically, anything from Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash, to The Gaslight Anthem, Street Dogs obviously. The best band out there right now that’s killing it are The Bomb Pops. They reminded me of old Time Again and the girls in the band are extremely talented.

Dying Scene: What has become your favorite Chelsea song and why is it your favorite?

Kris: Easiest question to answer, ever. What is my favorite Chelsea song? The very next song I write. Sounds like I’m joking but I’m not. I’ll write a song and think “nothing will top this” and the next song, at least to me, blows the previous song away. And it just keeps happening over and over again. I’m pretty sure that means I’m still searching, still finding my way as a “first time frontman” and as a songwriter. I’ve always been a main songwriter in every band I’ve been in but it’s different when you are the one fronting the band. There’s something way more intimate about it. Writing the lyrics I feel free for the first time in my career. It’s been amazing and gets better daily. I honestly have to say that when I show up for work I love my coworkers which is extremely important. It frees us all and makes us want to be there hammering out a song and doing all the dirty work. We’re not just a band. Chelsea Arms (yourself included Thomas) is a family. Hands down, a family. But not like the Partridge family. That would just be weird, haha.

Dying Scene: Thanks man, I appreciate it. With that said, we’ll wind it down. What is your favorite album of the year?

Kris: Phoenix’s new album is my top album of the year. The Gaslight Anthem’s “American Slang” is up there as well.

Dying Scene: Anything you want to tell the readers of Dying Scene?

Kris: To the readers I would say thank you for all your support!

Dying Scene: Thank you for time and the lunch, Kris.

Kris: Thank you sir for the conversation and for your friendship! Lunch was good!


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One Comment

  1. 1/17/2011 11:15 AM | Permalink

    I’m a Bass guitar player since 1981.I had been to california during June 2010,and I’d like to meet some American Musicians to play with for my next coming to your Land.
    expecting something good to play and why not record with some American Musicians as i just could stay 1 Month during 2011’s Summer !!!
    Enjoy that New Year with a Lot of Music a

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