“There always comes a point in every artist’s project where you just need to put the brush down, or put the mic down… just step back to admire what you’ve done and stop picking it apart”
2017 proved to be a great year for album releases and being three years since ‘Reincarnate’, Motionless In White have moved onwards and upwards in their evolution with their latest album, ‘Graveyard Shift’. As their first album since signing with Roadrunner Records, it displayed a lot of refinement in their sound and speaking with frontman Chris “Motionless” Cerulli, they are pretty happy with the response it has received. “This album has been well received by the majority of our fans. There’s been a couple of things that people have picked at about it, but that’s just going to happen for any band with any album.” He goes on to tell us about touring this album and performing it live, “Our shows have been bigger on this cycle than ever before, so I just like to look at that and think ‘Okay, people are enjoying the album and they’re going to see it played live.’”
Since the band consider themselves to have really started up in 2006, ‘Graveyard Shift’ arrived at an opportune moment, just after their ten-year anniversary. After being together for this long, you can imagine they have strived to hone and perfect their craft in every album cycle since. For their fourth full-length, Motionless In White took a different approach, opting to focus on their songwriting and abandoning a deadline. Chris admits that despite being the singer of the band, he never really embraced his role as a vocalist. “Ricky [Olson – guitarist] and I write a very large portion of music for the band together and I always seem to focus more on the music rather than the vocals”. This time round he wanted to make sure the vocals were on par with the songs musically, as previously he kept putting it off. Facing the challenge head on he expresses his happiness as the believes “the best vocals and performances are on this album”.
As for abandoning the deadline mentality, Motionless In White consider this as being one of the best decisions they’ve made; removing the stress and pressure from the creative process. Despite deciding not to restrict themselves with a time limit, Chris states “there always comes a point in every artist’s project where you just need to put the brush down, or put the mic down, or whatever it is, just step back to admire what you’ve done and stop picking it apart.” This leads on to him expressing the struggles he’s faced in the past with knowing when to stop experimenting and just appreciate the work that’s been done. “That is hard for me because I see so many options with everything that I do, that I need to try them all. If I pass on one it seems to haunt me.”
If you’re a fan of what Motionless In White do, then you’ll know that they incorporate so much more into their band than just music, they use their platform to incorporate a whole artistic concept and involve fans in this too. “We definitely try to make everything about what we do one cohesive package of theatrics and showmanship, put on a show in every sense of the way,” says Cerulli. This is evident on their recent UK tour, as MIW fit in an arena sized project into their club level status. Chris described their aesthetic evolution as “a fine wine that gets better with age” and coming into the ‘Graveyard Shift’ era we have seen a definite shift. From promo shoots to stage production and lyrical content, it is clear that they are breaking out of their almost predictable goth-like image and giving the audience something they wouldn’t necessarily expect from a metalcore band.
Contradicting the dark aesthetics you see in the majority of metalcore bands have made Motionless In White stand out from the crowd with their creativity for all the right reasons. Contrasting blue and pink lights have been a theme for the band in terms of photo shoots and stage lighting. From Chris, we discover one of the key influences culture has had on this album comes from phycological horror film, ‘The Neon Demon’. “I thought it just looked so cool and unique,” the frontman expresses, “even though neon photography has been a thing for so long, I hadn’t really seen a lot of bands in our genre do it, so it was an effort to do something a little out of the typical black background, clothes, makeup and somewhat darker lighting that we normally do.”
Whilst ‘The Neon Demon’ is just one of the artistic influences on the album, we also learn a plethora of influences involved in the songwriting process. ‘Necessary Evil’ encapsulates a lot of social influences whilst it features Korn frontman, Jonathan Davis, and was “very Korn inspired”. Chris discloses that before the song was fully written, they were on tour with Korn leading to an opportunity to feel comfortable enough to ask for Davis’ involvement. 60’s pop song ‘It’s My Party’ by Lesley Gore was also an obvious inspiration for the lyrics and Cerulli describes it as “a cool moment, to take an old song that I really liked as a kid and kind of mess with it”. Overall the message behind this track addresses “the necessary evil that is social media” and another clear reference is the ‘Mean Girls’ quote included. “The ‘No you can’t sit with us’ is trying to be very cocky and sarcastic towards the social media form of criticism.“
There are moments where I do get stuck but I guess that just offers more motivation at that point to push past it, conquer it and defeat anything negative standing in my way.”
The journey that Motionless In White have been on this album even lead to them writing a true love song for the first time, and in fashion with the rest of the album, it doesn’t follow the “normal” constructs of a love song. On ‘Eternally Yours’, the content differs from any love songs previously made. “There are songs on previous albums that are about a relationship but they all seem to have this tragic undertone. But with ‘Eternally Yours’, I just kind of created my own story,” says Chris. He continues by saying ”The whole concept behind the song was to “flip the script” coming from a tragic place and ending somewhere positive.”
A message that Motionless In White have always carried throughout their career is saying ‘Fuck it/you’ to the world. The third single, ‘LOUD (Fuck It)’ perfectly captures that sentiment. With the song having such a direct message behind it, Chris Motionless reports his best quality to be his “drive and passion for being creative and doing everything that is to do with this band and music”. Inspiringly he notes “there are moments where I do get stuck but I guess that just offers more motivation at that point to push past it, conquer it and defeat anything negative standing in my way. It’s like a self-sustaining motivator to me and the band, to have this be what I only want to do for as long as I can.“
When talking about the lyrical side of the album, Chris spoke about the misconceptions that came with the new album. “A lot of people took the lyrics, which were just meant to be entertaining, sarcastic, and somewhat of a joke, way too seriously. I saw a lot of people were quite upset about the lyrics that I chose to use”. He goes on to say this is just another side of their personality as a band, which unfortunately not everyone gets. “It’s just sad that a lot of listeners can’t seem to recognise that, they just hear ‘Not My Type’ and be like ‘What the fuck is this? This isn’t the typical thing I’m used to hearing,’” explains Chris.
Talking of this subject, Chris goes on to address the difficulty bands face when any creative output is instantly criticised to a generation seemingly easily offended. "There is actually a song on the album called ‘Soft’ that talks about that very thing. The song is very sarcastic, I didn’t want to write a song that was trying to battle criticism with more criticism.” Dealing with these misconceptions Chris says this was a way for him to “treat the comments and criticisms about how deadly serious people are these days and come at it in a very sarcastic way and just challenge people to shut the fuck up.”
Entering their twelfth year as a band, Motionless In White have turned a corner creatively as they embarked on creating refined musical content, not in order to please anyone but themselves. They have confidently challenged their critics head on and proved they are so much more than a typical gothic metalcore band. They are an entire creative concept that continuously break out of the conformity of their own genre.
‘Graveyard Shift’ by Motionless In White is out now on Roadrunner Records.
Words by Angelah Betmead (@abetmeadphoto)