Dear Hunter: Episode 4 — Chaos and Change

Dear Hunter with Mark Hunter

Mark Hunter, the lead singer of Chimaira, is back with a fourth entry in his regular Gun Shy Assassin column, “Dear Hunter.” As usual, the dude shows off his writing chops and proves himself entertaining as fuck. Check it out.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” — Lao Tzu

Cleveland has rock music in its DNA. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is strategically placed near Lake Erie, and like a beacon, the design demands people come in and follow the clues of history like a Dan Brown novel. I swear The Grateful Dead were Illuminati. The damn rainbow bears…the clues! They are right there, man!

Anyway, what’s weird though is that it doesn’t look like the bands around here (or anywhere) can keep lineups together. It’s as if something in the water forces bands to change members like tampons during a menstrual cycle. Having gone through similar bumps in the road, there was a point in time that I researched just how many bands in the area — as well as globally — went through this phenomenon.

The numbers were staggering, and I suddenly felt at ease with my dilemma. Chimaira was on the side of the coin that would have to adhere to the rules of adaptability and survival if moving forward was on the agenda. How would losing members affect us? There was plenty of evidence that everything would be “okay”, and the research started close to home.

The first band, and easiest to point to, would be Integrity. In mine and many other peoples opinions, Integrity started metalcore. They were the pioneers of the genre, and I luckily had a chance to witness a lot of how the operation ran behind the scenes during their prime.

[Fun trivia — Early in Chimaira’s career the singer and mastermind of the group, Dwid, helped Chimaira see our first indie record deal and even made the films for our first EP This Present Darkness.]

While it seems that their past was erased digitally (couldn’t find much online), looking inside album liner notes points to what went on, and we can see that there were a ton of members spanning the 20 year plus career. The one and only constant member was and still is Dwid. Fans will argue which era is the best, but, nobody can deny that all are interesting.

Another well-known band from the area is Mushroomhead. Clocking in with 9 former members, I remember their fans were utterly devastated over the loss of one of their singers, J Mann, but it seems the group is still doing well. They are still drawing a crowd and doing what they’ve always done.

A killer band I used to go see all the time in the 90’s was Ringworm. Their debut album The Promise made me feel as if I were listening to the most underground shit out there. This is the music I would turn on to see if the ladies were worthy enough to hang. If she could survive this, she could endure my meat whistle. Man, I was the furthest thing from smooth in my teens.

They are still going strong today and released an album called Scars last year. How many former members? Over 13 according to Wikipedia. One that should be pointed out — Matt DeVries. Hey, I know that guy!

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are from here, and while they have held the lineup relatively intact, the relationships have not come without a novel sized rap sheet of drama. I guess they aren’t the perfect example of what I’m trying to get across, it’s just sweet they are from here.

Discussing Nine Inch Nails is a moot point as it’s always been known as Trent’s entity, but they got their start in Cleveland, and went through over 20 musicians, so it is somewhat relevant.

At the end of the day, if you are in a band, and shit starts to go south, and it will, take a lot of time to assess the situation. Some groups are not meant to have different members. I can’t imagine The Beatles attempting to reunite for one last show with some guys up there pretending to be Lennon and George. It wouldn’t make sense.

Prominent with the Musketeer vibe was Led Zeppelin, yet, I had no complaints seeing Zeppelin with other drummers — and the funny thing is, Bonham is who inspired me to start an instrument. (Of course, let’s not talk about the Live Aid performance, we don’t want to remember Zep for being human in any way shape or form.)

There are many cases where it didn’t work out, but, it seems as long as the shoes that are filled are worthy of wearing them, people not only accept the change, they embrace it.

I can’t imagine a world without Cannibal Corpse, Pink Floyd, Testament, Black Sabbath, or any of the thousands of other bands that survived extreme lineup changes over the years. Megadeth?

We all look to certain groups for a certain feeling, and as long as that feeling is in tact, things tend to work out.

For further reading, and a great insight into the chemistry that makes up a team, or sometimes a band, check out this article. It might be considered that striving towards a happy team, or that Musketeer mentality, is a crock of shit.

“We actually found that grumpy orchestras played together slightly better than orchestras in which all the musicians were really quite happy,” the article explains.

I’m thankful it seems that fans of Chimaira have both embraced and accepted the numerous changes that needed to happen over the years. Speaking of, we’ve announced the first and only U.S.A. performance of 2012. The debut of the new lineup on U.S. soil. It’s a big deal for the six of us. Chimaira Christmas 13, Cleveland, Ohio — December 29.

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