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Photo: Juliette Boulay

Chat Pile are a group of guys who never really saw fame coming. Starting as a noise rock band, they emerged from the depths of Oklahoma with their first two EPs This Dungeon Earth and Remove Your Skin Please in 2019. Receiving minor success, they then dropped their massively popular breakout album God’s Country. Gaining virality through their unique vocal stylings, absurdly heavy riffs, and insane track names, Chat Pile took the heavy music scene by storm, resonating with every corner of the underground. Whether it’s hardcore, noise rock, or even nu metal, everyone found something to love about their apocalyptic masterwork. I met up with the band in Chicago to pry at the minds behind one of the most praised albums of 2022.

June: Can you say your name and your role in the band? Let's go left to right.

Luther Manhole: I'm Luther Manhole. I play guitar in Chat Pile.

Stin: I’m Stin, I play bass.

Raygun: I’m Raygun Bush, I sing.

Captain Ron: Captain Ron, I play drums in the band Chat Pile.

So first off, how has the tour been so far?

Stin: It's been fantastic. About as smooth as it could possibly go.

Luther Manhole: Surprisingly less brutal than I thought it was going to be. We still have six more shows, but

Raygun: I mean you caught us in maybe the greatest city in the United States. Chicago. We're all having a good time right now.

Luther Manhole: Yeah, we love Chicago.

Raygun: We feel at home here.

What are your biggest influences when it comes to bands? Artists, hell, even movies.

Raygun: Pere Ubu is a huge influence on me. I love the vocal stylings of David Thomas and everything about Pere. Not just him, but Pere is a big influence on me for sure.

Captain Ron: The Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Chamberlain, John Fishman Fish, Danny Carey, Dale Krueger, and Dave Grohl. Those are the main ones.

Stin: I think for me it’s David Sims from The Jesus Lizard, Chris Squire from Yes, and then of course Fieldy from Korn.

Luther Manhole: For me, it’s probably Justin from Unwound and Luc from Gorguts for guitar stuff. Maybe Andy Partridge as well from XTC. Abe Cunningham, the drummer of Deftones is big for me too. I’m more into drums than guitar and Abe is probably my favorite drummer. Danny Carey as well, big shoutouts to Danny Carey.

Stin: As far as what collectively influences Chat Pile, it's a ton of stuff. A lot of weird left-field-type things. I think Sonic Youth is a band that gets overlooked a lot of times in terms of a big influence on us. And Rage Against the Machine would be in there for sure.

Luther Manhole: The films of Albert Pyun and Charles Band.

Stin: Harmony Korine would be a big one. John Waters.

Film is all you talk about on stage and on Instagram.

Luther Manhole: True. I follow music stuff a lot but I like talking about movies more than I like talking about music. For me, when I'm talking about music, I'm just like… ‘I like it, I don't like it.’ You've said it before Ray. [Movies are] the whole package. You have literature in there, you have visual art, you have music in movies as well. It's like it combines everything into one art.

I think I heard somewhere you're the guy that plays the games of the group, right? What games do you like?

Luther Manhole: Right now I’m playing some more Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak on my Steam deck. Caves of Qud is a very weird old-school roguelike. That is one of my favorite games that's come out recently. Dwarf Fortress as well. I like lots of very complicated PC games, that's kind of my wheelhouse.

Raygun: He's not lying. He plays games all day long.

How does it feel like having God's Country completely explode compared to your first two eps? You guys used to play smaller shows.

Stin: It's been wonderful. It's not anything that we ever expected at all. We truly have been in this thinking that we'd be playing locally and just for friends and that kind of thing. Maybe in Texas occasionally, maybe some regional stuff. The fact that people have responded to it is beyond our wildest dreams and every part of it is great. We don't take it for granted whatsoever. It's blessed for sure and we don't feel like it's owed to us or anything. We feel incredibly lucky to be in this position.

Luther Manhole: Yeah, I didn't think us playing weird, noisy music would mean I'd get to travel to Europe and all over the US and meet a bunch of cool people and artists I respect. It's very overwhelming in a good way.

You guys have been releasing some singles recently, like “Tenkiller” and the split with Nerver. What would you say was different when making songs for the movie Tenkiller than it was for making the albums themselves?

Stin: Making Tenkiller was incredibly different.

Luther Manhole: It was made before [God’s Country] too, even though it came out to the public after. It was definitely an interesting and different way for us to write, just doing it to images, that was a lot of direction from Raygun and Ron. They orchestrated that stuff.

Stin: It's a lot of improvisation too, and when we write Chat Pile songs proper, it's usually very deliberate and we have a concept of mind in terms of if the song's going to be groovy or this one's going to be an ass beater or this one's going to be more melodic. With the Tenkiller stuff, it was more expressionistic and shooting from the hip. Lots of improv. There are hours and hours of recordings of stuff that just never even made it into what people have heard.

Now here's the big one, are you guys ever going to play “Lake Time” live?

Stin: People ask us that all the time actually, and it probably won't happen because we'd have to completely relearn how to play the song.

Luther Manhole: We have to bring additional instruments in the van because it calls for a slide guitar.

Raygun: We're all playing different instruments on that. I'm playing guitar.

Luther Manhole: I play drums on that one. It would have to be something we'd practice more.

Raygun: If we ever do a Tiny Desk Concert, you can count on “Lake Time.”

Luther Manhole: We knocked that “Lake Time” instrumental out in one day and most of the time was spent on writing the lyrics.

You guys recently did a Rage Against the Machine cover. How many shows did you play that?

Luther Manhole: Technically three now.

Stin: We played it in Burlington, Vermont as a special thing because that show has basically been the only show that hasn't sold out on this tour. We wanted to do something kind of special for people who did come out. We also did an all-request set and someone requested it, so we played it.

This is more of a Raygun specific question. When you're on stage you kind of stumble around while you blurt out the lyrics. It's very different from other heavy music singers.

Raygun: I'm not watching what those guys are doing, to be honest with you. I'm not seeing metal bands and being like, "Oh, I've got to do this." I'm just doing it the way I've been doing it.

Stin: I will say that at least on my part, while I love metal and I love seeing metal live, it is very important to me that we don't fall into the traps that 99% of all metal bands do, which is they get on stage, everything feels very pretentious and thought out ahead of time and people have put on this act of being tough or whatever it is they're doing. I know that's not every band, but it is a lot of bands, and for me - and I think for everyone else in the band as well - it's important that we present ourselves honestly to the crowd and just be ourselves.

Luther Manhole: There's a Fugazi documentary called Instrument, and that was very big for me to watch. I'm not trying to just do what they're doing, but seeing how they were on stage, that was a big influence.

Raygun: That's way more of an influence for me too.

Luther Manhole: Watching how Ian moves and dances, it's very much how I like to move even just when watching music. That’s always kind of where I'm coming from.

Raygun: Now that I think about it, I don’t know if you've seen Hype, it's a documentary about the burgeoning grunge scene in the early nineties in Seattle. There's this band called Some Velvet Sidewalk playing in that video and that lead singer, that's a big influence on me. That's kind of what I wanted to do, and what I DO do in a way.

You also sometimes just do push-ups on stage.

Raygun: I do, yeah. Just got to get a pump in. It's hard to get a workout going.

On a different topic, you said that you didn't like that a lot of people misunderstood the song “grimace_smoking_weed.jpg.” Could you talk about what that song was really about?

Raygun: I'm not going to get super into it, but that's only because I’ve been very plain about it. It's inspired by two different movies; In a Glass Cage and Mysterious Skin. I'm using Grimace to just paint a picture. It has nothing to do with McDonald's, or hallucinating Grimace- nothing to do with that. You watch those movies, you can put it together yourself.

How do you interact with your local hardcore scene now that hardcore has been exploding recently?

Luther Manhole: It's been very big in our city. The cool thing is there's a lot of kids that are doing that stuff now that are a lot younger than us, and they're getting into live music. They all seem to be very into our band and they're all very nice to us and it's just younger kids. The people who are our age that are still clinging to (old) hardcore and stuff, they're not very welcoming. The old heads are always like “You can only listen to three bands from hardcore or else you're fake.”

Stin: Yeah, there's definitely a lot of that kind of gatekeeping, but they're holding onto a dead dream. It's all young people now. My real thoughts on all that stuff is I think that the fact that there's a huge hardcore scene exploding in Oklahoma City is amazing, and it's cool that there's a big community and people are coming out to shows. My only hope is that people start to broaden their horizons and get a little more interested in the art of making music. Community's great, but that's only one side of the coin. You need to actually focus on the art that you're contributing to the world. I won't say any specific names, but there is a band I like locally that has said that they’re afraid to expand their sound. If they don't just have a ton of breakdowns, people won't come to the show.

Raygun: These people, there are really four people that are ruining it for everybody. They're just old-school gatekeepers and they need to either wise up or fucking step aside.

The interesting thing about the Indiana scene is there was no scene at all two years ago, but after Covid hit, it's blowing up. There are some nu metal bands, alternative metal bands, there's old school youth crew… There's something for everybody and nobody cares because it's all heavy music.

Luther Manhole: OKC right now is very much either shoegaze or moshing hardcore, like hardcore dancing, crowd-killing stuff and that's really it. The people that are our age in Oklahoma City- there are just none left. The only old one I can think of is Traindodge.

Luther Manhole: Without Empathy. If anyone wants a cool power violence grind band from Oklahoma to listen to.

Raygun: What’s that one band made up of young boys with, like, the heaviest riffs ever?

Luther Manhole: Discern.

Raygun: Discern! Now that’s a good band from OKC.

Luther Manhole: Their drummer Preston is in a lot of bands and he's very talented. Shout out to you, Preston.

Stin: All that to say there's, there's definitely an explosion of young people being connected to DIY, punk culture, all that stuff. It's wonderful and hopefully it keeps going and blossoming.

Luther Manhole: Hopefully when they're all 28 instead of 19 they're trying some more stuff.

Stin: Yeah just maybe expand your horizons. Don't be afraid of what other people are going to think.

Luther Manhole: Not every song has to have a breakdown. We like breakdowns too. We put 'em in our songs.

Stin: I mean, if you want to make breakdowns and make breakdowns, just do it. Make sure you're doing it for yourself and not because you think no one’s gonna come if you don’t.

Now this is more of a Stin question. Will there be more Korn riffs in the future?

Stin: Oh, buddy. Just you wait.

Luther Manhole: There is a song, a new song that we've been playing recently that'll be on our second album that the working title of was “Issues.”

Stin: It's now called “Funny Man” and it is definitely the most indulgent kind of Korn-esque of all the songs we've ever done. It's still very much Chat Pile, but it has some really bouncy riffs in it.

This is more of a personal one, will you please play the “Roots Bloody Roots” cover tonight?

Luther Manhole: That falls into the category of things we learned the day we recorded it and forgot.

Stin: We played in the UK a month ago and Igor Cavalier has a band called Pet Brick that opened for us, Igor asked if he could play Roots with us, and of course, it would be nothing but the ultimate honor to be able to do that, but we literally had to be like, “we can't really remember how to play it, so I don't think it's possible.”

Stin: If we would've had a little more lead time, we could’ve learned it. It's an extremely easy song.

Luther Manhole: That's the problem though, is it gives you no room to fuck up.

Stin: And with stuff like that, it's not “Oh, I can't remember how to play the riff” It's more like, “I don't remember how many times the verse happened,” even though - no exaggeration - I've heard that song a six-figure number of times in my life. I still couldn't sit here and play it.

Raygun: Were ready for it, we just weren't prepared. When you're asked by Igor to play Roots, buddy, you do it!

This is more of a drummer question. On the albums you guys use drum machines, how would you say playing live is different than recording using that electronic kit?

Captain Ron: Just more dynamics live using an acoustic kit. It's more expressive than the electronic kit, which is basically all or nothing. That's the main difference. That and the size and configuration.

Have there been any crazy surreal stories from this tour so far?

Raygun: I got something. In Nashville we walked into this place. There's this old man behind the bar and he's talking to this person and he goes, “Have you ever heard of Angelina Jolie?” Can you believe that? In the year of our Lord 2023, he was like, who is Angelina Jolie?

I've never heard of Angelina Jolie. I don't know who that is.

Raygun: She's just-

Luther Manhole: Very famous, an extremely famous actor.

Dude, the only actors I know are like, Chris Pratt. I watch at most two movies a year.

Luther Manhole: I guess she hasn't really done this thing in 10 years, right? Maleficent might be the last one she’s done.

Sorry man. The last movie I liked was The Crow.

Luther Manhole: The Crow was a fucking great movie.

Stin: We’re pro-Crow here.

Luther Manhole: Specifically The Crow 3. We can pray there are four.

Are there four? There's no way there are four Crow movies.

Stin: The thing that sticks out to me as another crazy moment is just being at that gas station outside of South Bend Indiana and the parade of freaks that were there. First off, the bathroom might be the most piss-soaked room I've ever set foot in. Imagine a urine sauna. It's kind of like that. And then you step down and it's all these people who clearly have opiate addictions or whatever going on and they can't figure out the self-checkout machine, and they're taking 15 minutes at the counter, and then smoking cigarettes at the pump.

Raygun: Bullish. All these people are walking around. It was just weird, it was weird as fuck.

Stin: It was a bizarre cross-section of America. But yeah, like we mentioned earlier, everything's been going so smoothly on this tour that there's not anything too outlandish to report on.

Luther Manhole: Yeah, it's been people-watching more than anything. We've been having a good time though, the crowds have been kind of crazy. Especially our last show in Toronto. People were knocking stuff over and jumping around and it was really fun. A lot of stage diving at that one.

Raygun: Too much some might say.

Dude, stage diving is a must.

Luther Manhole: Not when you’re unplugging the guitar! This one guy got on stage, stepped on the monitor, and knocks it into the crowd. Next song, the same guy comes on stage, unplugs my pedalboard. Next song, he comes up, drags my pedal board across the stage.

I think he just doesn't like you.

Luther Manhole: I don't know. It is the first time I've ever angrily pushed someone off stage and I was like, fuck off! You're ruining every song right now. No more! And he didn't come back up the rest of the set.

Well, I think there's a balance between people that know how to stage dive and those that don’t.

Stin: This guy jumped on stage in Philly who was doing crowd-killing moves on the stage with us, which at first we were like, oh no, what is this guy's deal? But then he lay down in the fetal position, nestled in between the monitors, and just started kicking the air. Then it rocked.

Raygun: I was like, hell yeah baby man.

Okay, this may be a stupid question. Is there any place that you've eaten that was really good

Stin: This is not a stupid question, this is the type of stuff that we love to talk about.

Luther Manhole: So much of our focus is thinking about what food we're going to get today.

Raygun: We got here last night and went into BEAST mode. Should we explain what BEAST mode is?

I know what beast mode is.

Raygun: You actually don't!

Luther Manhole: BEAST mode stands for Boys Eating Advanced Special Treats!

Luther Manhole: We went to a Chinese restaurant called Hing Kee in Chinatown last night and got some amazing soup dumplings. I had a Szechuan soup that was ridiculous. Stin and I just went to a Polish restaurant right down the street from here-

Raygun: Oh, was that good?

Luther Manhole: It was delicious.

This is for Raygun, what's the worst movie you've ever seen?

Raygun: Phenomenon.

Stin: What’s the best worst movie though?

Luther Manhole: Clifford.

Stin: Clifford’s good though!

Raygun: Cool as Ice. Or No Holds Barred maybe.

Stin: I know it's cliche, so forgive me for being basic, but I do think Birdemic.

Luther Manhole: I'm with you. Birdemic is so much funnier to me than The Room dude. The clapping applause scene at the boardroom is truly the funniest thing ever in a movie.

Raygun: My only criticism of that is that it runs out of gas towards the end. It’s not funny.

Luther Manhole: They’re getting chased by the animated GIF birds, though.

Stin: Yeah, dude, that's my complaint about The Room. It starts off super hot and then when you get to the middle you're like, all right, this is just bad now, not funny bad.

Raygun: No Holds Barred is good all the way through though.

Stin: Do you know Cool as Ice though?

Heard the name, but I haven't seen it.

Luther Manhole: It's the Vanilla Ice movie.

Oh yeah! I remember I watched a video on how awful that movie was.

Stin: It's one of those things where it seems too good to be true. It lives up to how bad it should be. It's pretty fantastic.

As we're winding down here, are there any smaller bands that you'd like to give a shout-out to?

Stin: Oh, Nightosphere from Kansas City.

Luther Manhole: They're playing the rest of our dates with us. They're kind of like a slowcore band with a really strong rhythm section.

Stin: Their songwriting is phenomenal. Heads and tails above a lot of bands that do a similar thing. Of course, all the bands that we've played with are badass- like Nerver, they've been opening all the shows on this run with us. They're so incredibly heavy and tight. Intercourse played some shows with us and they're doing some of the coolest, darkest noise rock kind of stuff currently.

Luther Manhole: Couch Slut as well. Our friend Megan is in that. Great person, really cool band.

Stin: Train Dodge in Oklahoma City. Just put out their 10th album or something. It came out this Friday. In the current age we are blessed with endless amounts of bands doing incredibly cool stuff. You can't throw a rock without hitting an amazing band that's criminally overlooked. It's a rich time in music, people will look back on this as a very fertile time.

So how’s the progress on the next album?

Stin: We’re maybe like 20% done with it. We've just sort of dipped our toe into writing it. We have some instrumentals done, we have Funny Man done-  that’s the song that we were talking about earlier that's kind of Korn-esque.

But here's our plan right now: We are touring basically until the end of November and then we're taking four months off to hit the books and write and record. The goal is to turn it in by April 1st. We'll see if that happens, but that's the stated goal

Luther Manhole: Last time we gave ourselves a pretty hard goal of finishing it by August of that year, and we were able to hit that. So we'll see. But yeah, putting the pedal to the metal this winter is the goal next year.

Stin: Maybe late 2024.

Are there any hints on what we can expect from the album?

Stin: So far? I would say it's a little more to the point in the way that This Dungeon Earth is. I think it evokes that first EP a little bit.

Luther Manhole: Some of the songs are complicated. We actually went longer on God's Country with a lot of the songs that we intended to. There are more five-minute-plus songs and so far the stuff we're writing has been shorter, at least three minutes.

Stin: I will say a lot of the demos and ideas we have are a lot doom-ier than stuff that we've done in the past, but it's too early to say what's going to happen.

Luther Manhole: There are at least five songs that we don't even have the first idea of. They're completely still in the ether.

Stin: So who knows? I think the stated goal though is that we want to be a little more to the point with this next album.

Luther Manhole: Yeah. I wouldn't be surprised if it's around the same length, but maybe a track or two longer this time.

Any closing statements that you guys want to tell the fans?

Stin: Just thank you so much for the support. We absolutely appreciate it. We do not take it for granted. We think that it's amazing that we're connecting with people. And help spread the word, if you like what we do.

Luther Manhole: Go to shows. Not just ours, if you like a band, go to the show. It's the only way any of us are able to keep doing this. Just keep going to stuff and start bands. It's never too late to start a band as well.

Captain Ron: Be creative, have fun.

Raygun: Keep on rockin' in the free world!