Bigger, Bolder And Louder: We Caught Up With Chris Cerulli Of Motionless In White

Motionless In White found who they are as a group and as musicians, and during some non-stop touring, they worked on a better and bigger version of their music. Graveyard Shift is their brand new effort and it shows a much more cohesive and sharp band. We talked with Chris Cerulli about how the last ten years have shaped them into what they are today, their tour with Korn and much more.

From the beginning, Motionless in White have been a non-stop band, from intense touring to writing and recording music in between. It’s been more than a decade you guys started the band. How do you see the band at this point of your career?
Last year was our 10th year anniversary and we actually just hit the 11 year mark now this year. When you take a step back and look at that, it really just puts life in general into a new perspective and we’ve always been very grateful and appreciative for what we’ve been able to go through and all the great things that have happened for our band, but when you really get to see that’s been now 11 years it really just hits you with this massive sense of accomplishment and we feel like if it all ended today that you had to walk away and even though there’s still a lot to accomplish, we could actually feel proud of ourselves that we accomplished our dream pretty much entirely. When you realize that, it really puts being in a band in a different way where everything that you’re doing is a lot of fun now, you no longer worry about stuff like “Is this the right move? Is this the right thing to do? What will fans think? Will our label gonna like it?” It’s more just like “Well, we’ve heard about that long enough, now we’re gonna really do exactly what we want to do with no fear and no care.” I like that we have 11 years of experience that we got at this point.

You have always stuck to your own visions and unique blend of sounds. Is it a challenge for you guys to keep it up with how the music industry is nowadays?
[Laughs] That’s a good question. It’s definitely a challenge I think for all bands really, whether you’re just starting out or even bands that are playing in arenas. Things are a lot more expensive these days and so touring becomes more expensive with record sales not really being that relevant now with the streaming and downloading. It’s a lot harder for a band to survive. I think for us to keep doing what we’re doing, we’re in a position now that we feel more stable where we know we’re gonna wake up tomorrow and we’re gonna get to work and to do the next tour. We’re gonna have the rest of this year full of tours, but there is that sense of unease where you don’t really know what’s gonna happen… Maybe our record comes out and fans don’t like and don’t want to support the band and we’re on a really tough financial spot because of it and maybe there’s no more place for Motionless In White anymore, and that definitely puts things in a way where you have to kind of plan ahead and you have to really think about what the next move is and making sure that you’re doing what you really wanna do and not worrying about it, but trying to make sure that you’re not being stupid about it either. I definitely think that all bands, whether starting out or doing really big shows, it’s really hard for all of us.

With every album released, you have shown a significant growth as musicians and your voice is always just so rad. What do you think has changed the most within the band since the start?
All this time spent trying to find ourselves, for quite a while we were playing a lot of music that we really loved and what we wanted to do, but we really felt like we weren’t standing out, we didn’t have a part about us that really felt like what we really wanted to be and who we really knew we were. Overtime I think what has really helped us is that we took the time to try a lot of things. We put out records that were in the mix of trying to figure ourselves out and put ourselves out there for fans to see… Some fans liked it and some fans hated it, and that’s just part of learning and growing as a person and as a band. I think that this new record is a great representation of the band finally, on the last record realizing who we really are and now taking that and refining it and making it as good, as big and as professional as possible and that’s what Graveyard Shift is to me – a great representation of years of experience, years of trying to find out our identity, who we really are and finally showing it off in a way that we think it’s bigger and better than any of the previous records.

9c85e117-ac65-4e06-8f8b-c35785f71226 (2)“It’s a very diverse record and there are songs that are different from one another, but I think they all come together on the album in a way that represents the past year of writing. We had a lot of fun. We definitely treated ourselves in a really professional manner that we didn’t just want to create a bunch of filler songs.”

Graveyard Shift is just impressive and damn powerful. What was the writing and recording process like for the new material?
I think this time we went with it, we weren’t really searching of who we were anymore. We found that and we knew exactly what we wanted to do. I think that helped and it made it a lot more fun. Still we tried new things that we felt like we had a better idea what we were trying to write from the beginning and as a result a lot of these songs kind of come off where you can tell how much fun we had with them and how they’re a lot more focus and cohesive with one another. It’s a very diverse record and there are songs that are different from one another, but I think they all come together on the album in a way that represents the past year of writing. We had a lot of fun. We definitely treated ourselves in a really professional manner that we don’t wanna just kind of create a bunch of filler songs. We never ever wanna have one or two singles that that’s really all you will hear from the band and the rest of the album is just filler, so we really focused on making sure we had 12 songs that are just as good as the song before and after it and that’s something that I think was a really great thing that worked for over the past year writing this record. It was really fun, we all had a great time working on it together and I think you can really hear that.

You get your music influence from a lot of different places, so what were the main inspirations behind Graveyard Shift?
It’s kind of the same as always. Growing up, we really loved all the different types of bands and they were the bands that made us play music and inspired us to want to pick up a guitar, pick up some drum sticks, you know, step up to the mic… I know that some people really hate the fact that there are influences coming through pretty heavily, but at the same time those bands – the bands that influenced our band – were influenced pretty heavily by bands before them that they liked and I think that music is a great representation of the progression of time in music and you kind of get to see generation after generation, band by band really showing those influences in their music and for us it’s been about the same. We’ve always been very upfront about our influences from bands like Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and Rob Zombie, and at the same time being really influenced by some heavier bands like Bleeding Through, Eighteen Visions and As I Lay Dying. I think we always really try to bring those two together – those two styles together – in a way that make Motionless In White unique, it just has that mixture of sounds.

Your single “LOUD (Fuck It)” has such a great energy and a really important motivational message, and the video for it is damn awesome as well. Tell us about the writing process for this one.
This is for sure to me the most different song in the album. [laughs] We usually get caught up in this position where we are really focused on maintaining the darker side of the band. It has this dark, scary and gloomy atmosphere. I really feel that the band has more to offer than just always being dark and scary and whatever people want to call it. It’s been a long time since we had a really upbeat and energetic song like that song, so I think when we were working on the music for it, it was just an effort to really show that the band has more personality, more character to it than just being dark and gloomy all the time, which isn’t a bad thing and that really is what our sound revolves around, but there’s more to us than that. The message is pretty inspirational to me. I wanted to have it that kind of go with the song that also felt just as uplifting as the message was.

MIW-6“Graveyard Shift is a great representation of years of experience, years of trying to find out our identity, who we really are and finally showing it off in a way that we think it’s bigger and better…”

The track “Necessary Evil” has the guest appearance from Korn’s Jonathan Davis. How did you guys end up working on this song together?
We were very lucky to do a tour with Korn back in October 2016 and being around those guys was a pretty amazing experience because we didn’t know them before the tour and to find out that they all were such really great and nice guys and professional people that didn’t walk around with their heads held high and have this crazy ego. They’re just really nice and normal people. That made me really feel great. Korn being a band that I looked up to for a long time, I felt really happy to see that they ended up being great people. When it came the time to work on the song, when I was working on the vocals for it I just felt like “It just seems so perfect that if there was a way to have Jonathan singing on this song, I feel like we would take it and really turn it into a different song than it was and take it to another level.” I was very scared to reach out and ask, but I didn’t want to look like too much of a fanboy or anything. But I just took the risk and I asked him. He ended up being very into it. He liked the song and liked everything that I wanted him to do. I think he did a fantastic job doing it. It was super easy, he’s such a professional artist and it’s so great to see people that have been doing it for almost the triple of the amount of time that we’ve been doing it and still be just as awesome. It was really great and he was wonderful.

Do you have any funny story while you were on tour with Korn?
[Laughs] When I was in 7th grade, I remember begging my dad to buy me a guitar just like their seven-string guitar and he ended up buying it for me for Christmas and then I ended up buying the Follow The Leader‘s guitar tab book to learn all the songs on the album. As a guitar player growing up, when I got to meet Head and Munky, everytime I saw them I was just like I wanted to tell them but I was like “No! Don’t say that! You’re just gonna come off too much of a fan.” Everytime I saw them, I just stumbled over with my words in just a very fanboy fashion way and wanted to tell them that I grew up trying to learn all their songs. And I never did tell them, but I thought it was quite funny being on tour with them and seeing how cool they were and I still was kind of afraid to approach them and to really say anything like that. I thought that I was quite funny. [laughs]

Still about “Necessary Evil”, the chorus of the song has your own version of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party”. What led you to include that in your song?
For me, it started out as a joke. [laughs] I had the idea to do the line “It’s my party and I’ll die when I want to“, I had that idea prior to the song and I just never thought I would actually go forward and do it. When I was working on the music to this song, I was just humming that along to the chorus just joking around. Me and our producer kind of looked to each other and we were like “Ohhh shit! That sounds pretty good.” We just kind of kept joking about it, but it always ended up coming back to it and we really liked the idea. I’ve always loved that song. My mom listens to all that era of music and so I’d grown up listening to those oldie songs. That one always stuck up to me just because it’s so catchy and so funny, so I thought it was a great way to show some more personality to the band that we were willing to kind of have this thing that wasn’t so serious about us as well in taking that chorus and making it a very meaningful thing to the band but also still sounding familiar.

It actually fits so damn well in the song.
Yeah, exactly! When we were just joking around about it, we were like “We can’t deny that sounds good.” [laughs] I mean, the song sounds great because the original melody sounds so awesome. Lesley Gore did all the work for us. [laughs]

The artwork for Graveyard Shift was selected from over 2000 competition entries from fans and designers, in partnership with Creative Allies. Tell us about that and about Crystal Johnson, the contest’s winner.
We are always trying to figure out a way every chance that we get to kind of involve the fans with stuff that we have going on. We’ve been that way since the beginning where our fans are such a big part of the band and we really want them to know how much we appreciate them. We thought this time around “Let’s go and have fans submit artworks for the album.” We put the word out there and we had 2000 submissions to go through. It was a really complicated process trying to pick one because there were so many great options and we felt like no matter the one we pick, there was always gonna be another one that we loved that we didn’t pick… It was just so hard, and so we finally came to the decision of the one that we picked and I think Crystal Johnson did a fantastic job. Something that I really love was that the photo of the boy on the cover is actually her son and they’re both big fans of the band before seeing the contest. I thought that was really special, a mother and her son participating in this event together and ended up winning, and I think that’s something that makes me feel really proud to support a family-based project like that. I was really happy that it ended up being mother and her son that worked on that together and I’m really proud of the cover for that reason.

Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Jonathan Weiner – Graveyard Shift is out on May 5th via Roadrunner Records.
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