Check out this week's Scene for a story about the new custom-model Chimaira guitars made by ESP, the guitar company whose other artists include Metallica, Bon Jovi, and Slayer. And for this online exclusive, Chimaira lead guitarist Rob Arnold told Scene more about the guitars, the band's label situation, its next record, and his upcoming instructional video. -- D.X. Ferris
“This is something that’s incredible for Matt and me, an honor,” says Arnold. "I remember being 10, 11 years old, and having pictures of the Metallica guys on my walls, and they were playing ESP guitars. And I knew I needed to play ESP guitars one day. There’s so many things that have happened to our band, but this is one of the biggest. It’s one of the greatest accopmplishments of my life.”
What are the guitars like?
Mine is a common metal guitar, bigger, with a fat body in the back. It has high-output pickups for a real crunchy, real gainy, very alive sound. It has a floating tremolo bar. And the volume knob, I had them move it into the tone postion, further away from the bridge, so I'm not always hitting it when I'm soloing. I don't even use the tone knob. It has an ebony fretboard, with the Chimaira chaos logo engraved. Matt's is based on the Viper model. It looks like a Gibson SG, the guitar [AC/DC's] Angus Young uses. It has one pickup, and a fixed bridge -- no whammy bar. It's a good, solid rhythm-player guitar. And they're black, so they look good. White's hard to keep clean, especially if I cut my hand playing and start bleeding all over it. Fans of our music will probably appreciate these guitars more, because they’re built for playing the certain type of metal that we play. And people that are interested in obtaining that sound are one step closer.
Will the band start work on a new record any time soon?
Not any time soon. We start up this year with a tour with All that Remains, in February. Unfortunately, there’s no Cleveland date; there’s a Columbus date, Februrary 9, at Newport Music Hall. We’re going to spend 2008 on the road, in Europe, back to the states, possibly back to Europe, and back to the states. And then we’re going to start immediately on a new record. So we’re probably looking at early 2009 for new record.
How does the move from [major metal/rock label] Roadunner to [big independent label] Ferret feel at this point?
It feels good. There’s no longer a stress. They’re willing to do whatever we’d like them to do, which is great. It’s a smaller team of guys that have more focus on their individual bands. If we have ideas, they say "Sure." And they’re constantly trying to come up with things on their own. And you can’t really base it on the sales, because the market is dropping year after year in the two years we’ve been off Roadrunner. This has been our biggest-selling album to date, in terms of time it’s been out and units we’ve moved. Things are going well. We have zero complaints.
What's the DVD like?
My first instructional DVD is coming out. It's by RockHouseMethod.com, who have made a lot of videos. It’s more for intermediate to advanced players. I focus on riffing, soloing, and songwriting. I didn’t want to take the approach of, "Hi, thank you for purchasing a guitar, let’s get started." I wanted it to be for guys who want to start a band or maybe have a band started and want to take it another direction, writing, and really want to beef up their skills, and if you’re already into lead work and soloing, some more techniques, things that have propelled me, like my practicing techniques, things to help get a band on the road.