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Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together – it was the title of one of the coolest tracks Chiodos ever came up with on last year’s album Illuminaudio

Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together – it was the title of one of the coolest tracks Chiodos ever came up with on last year’s album Illuminaudio , but as it happens, truer words couldn’t have been spoken at the time either. With old vocalist Craig Owens exiting the band in September 2009, the Michigan post-hardcore six-piece weren’t about to fold and call it a day – if anything, there was now more left to prove than ever before in the band’s decade-long history.

"It’s a funny thing because that album talks about change and taking chances and taking risks," argues new frontman Brandon Bolmer. "I was taking a risk and the guys were taking a risk too. I was quitting my old band (Yesterday’s Rising) and putting everything on the line because I could have found myself regretting the decision later down the line, and there was always the chance that there would be a backlash from Chiodos fans.

"No, actually," he considers, "I was almost counting on it. I had a fear of making a fool of myself in front of thousands of fans that might not like me, but it was a chance I had to take."

For the rest of the Chiodos collective, according to Bolmer, it was equally a risky exercise letting their former vocalist go and replacing him with a new one. With band morale at an all-time low and personal problems within the group itself, it soon became apparent that it was time to make some radical changes.

"They took a hit when they got rid of the old singer," recalls Bolmer. "During that time everyone’s mindset was extremely negative and nobody was very happy with the position they were in. In general, the band just wanted to show people that they could get rid of that negativity but that they could continue without the old singer. They just wanted everybody to know how talented they really are and that they can still make a great record without the same front-person who people though was the whole band!

"This is six people collectively as a band, it takes a lot of joint effort on everybody’s part – it’s not only about the singer – and they wanted to prove that."

And prove it, they did. In early 2010, Chiodos locked in Bolmer as the brand new vocalist while also working with acclaimed producer Machine on top of adding a brand new drummer in Tanner Wayne for what was to be their third full-length album. For Bolmer, 2010 was an eye-opener of a year – scary, thrilling, surprising and satisfying all in one.

"It was awkward when I first joined the band," chuckles Bolmer. "I’d never really hung out with the dudes or talked with them – I didn’t even know them, to be honest. Tanner was my only real link to the band, he was kind of the middle man.

"So I show up in Michigan, which is totally not my style – it’s like a bunch of sticks and cold weather! I have no clue about the place or the band and all of a sudden I have to record vocals in front of them all. On top of that, I hate recording vocals in front of other people – I love to be by myself and do my own thing when I’m doing that, so it was awkward. It took some warming up before I got it together!"

Thanks to producer and "absolute madman" Machine, Bolmer says it didn’t take long for the ice to be broken and for the singer to find his place within his new band. With so much anxiety and nervousness in the back of his mind, it was thanks to Machine’s hilarious antics and sheer passion for Chiodos’ music that helped make Illuminaudio the defining record of the band’s career so far.

"Machine is crazy, he is a madman – but, like, in a dad’s body," laughs Bolmer. "Yeah that man has kids! I tell everybody he’s like the cool teacher you had in high school. You know the one, the one all the kids got along with because he didn’t preach from the book but actually took the time to demonstrate and draw pictures to help you understand things from different angles. He’s a very interesting person and very one-on-one with vocalists, in particular.

"When he’s working with you, he is there a hundred percent of the time, nobody gets neglected. He’ll never miss a day of work either and he’s just a sweet dude and super energetic. He’s actually kind of crazy sometimes, like, he gets a little intense to the point where we were going, ‘wow, you should chill out a little bit!’ This one time I sang a part and he literally freaked out and started running around the room because he was so super-stoked and so passionate about what he does."

And while all were more than happy with the end result of Illuminaudio, perhaps the biggest challenge was yet to come. Although a bond had formed within the band in the studio after a rather uncomfortable start, a live show with Bolmer at the helm was yet to happen, and the ultimate test was about to take place.

"So the record was done but I was still under a lot of stress and worried because I knew how skeptical kids can be," explains Bolmer. "When I joined the band, we wrote a record together but we hadn’t even played any shows together. It really was nerve-wracking to say the least.

"In the beginning it was 50-50 because nobody had heard the band with the new singer and it was all speculation. You always get that old fan who’s just not stoked and he’s pissed and just wants to put in his two cents… But it hasn’t been that bad, thank god," he laughs.

"I’ve heard a lot worse horror stories… No-one’s thrown shit at me on stage or talked shit to my face. It’s been over a year now, so I don’t really feel like the new guy anymore – I guess it just depends on the day and if I’m having a good one or a bad one."

CHIODOS new album Illuminaudio is out now through Shock.