Chris Corner has finally conquered his personal abyss. The former Sneaker Pimps frontman has, since 2004, channeled his pain and art into IAMX, an electronic-based music and visual heavy project that is largely known as one man exorcising demons through the dance floor. From 2004’s Kiss and Swallow all the way to 2013’s The Unified Field and after, Corner has given fans a glimpse into despair and, at times, a bleak outlook, one that while dark as hell in moments always puts its listener into a trance of bass and beats. Experimentation that, along with some of the best lyrics around, has put IAMX in the forefront of electronic music to a lot of fans.
Having shed a lot of the pain and hurt that had pulled Corner down for so long, the musical mastermind retreated to the California desert to record the recently released Alive in New Light, an album that for the first time, shows Corner illustrating a light at the end of the tunnel. Featuring what is, in this writer’s opinion, the best song Corner has ever written (the thank you to those who pull you out of your pit, “Mile Deep Hollow“), the album showcases a brand new era and beginning for Corner and Co. Featuring tattoo artist/makeup legend Kat Von D impressing the hell out of listeners with some killer guest vocals, Alive in New Light feels like the genesis of something new for IAMX, something that while different than previous albums, feels like a breath of fresh air.
We thought it would be nice to chat with Corner about the new album, its cinematic tone and well…sex toys inspired by the record.
Dread Central: First off, I’d just like to say congrats on such a wonderful album. I’ve been following your work since the Sneaker Pimps days and I can easily say that this new record is my favorite thing you’ve done.
Chris Corner: Oh thank you! I really appreciate that.
DC: What was the genesis of the album? It seems like a brand new era for IAMX, a transformation of sorts.
CC: That’s exactly what it was, somewhat of an “arrival” for me, in a much more peaceful place. The previous album [2015’s Metanoia] was quite a traumatic experience, after a period of being in a depressed hole. I eventually spent a couple of years in recovery and this became, again, an arrival of being in an uplifting, peaceful and more stable place in life. The interesting part is that when it came time to do the new record, I was in such a good place, mentally, that I was scared of doing it.
Making records can be such an emotionally draining experience, it’s not the most stable occupation to have, for your mental well being. I’ve had some stressful experience in the past making records, so this time around, I didn’t want to do it (laughs). When I started though, I got into it, with my new found “skills” or mental tools, and it was much more pleasurable than I thought it would be. I hope it comes across in the music.
DC: That leads to my next question. Having been in a certain mindset for so long, was it difficult, creatively, to approach this album, being in a completely different place?
CC: I think it’s funny that this myth is drilled into us, that we must suffer to make art. I used to buy into that and now…I don’t. I looked into that more and I feel that the wave of creativity flows better when the weight of suffering isn’t on your shoulders. You can still access that suffering or darkness, we all have it in us, the access to tap into that. We’re all multi-dimensional beings. I don’t believe in that anymore, that you have to be in a negative place to make good art. I think you have to have an understanding or care about the world to make good art, but you don’t have to be suffering.
DC: You mentioned a peacefulness to it all and I’m curious, did recording the new album in the California desert help keep that calm, peaceful vibe? How was the experience of that?
CC: It’s so liberating being out there. I don’t remember there ever being a more suitable place for my personality. I don’t know what it is, it’s almost otherworldly, like another planet. It has this weight and silence and power to it that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s a combination of the weight, the heat and the way that sand changes sound around you. Many of the times I’ve been out there, I’ve not wanted to leave and I’m genuinely thinking of moving there. I think I WILL get around to that (laughs). So that element of a total escape from reality was wonderful for the record. It gives you such a huge area of mental space. which I feel is important.
DC: It really shows in the album as well.
CC: Thank you.
DC: I’m curious about your collaboration with Kat Von D on the album. It’s not just a small guest appearance, she sings on a few songs and it sounds great. How did that come about?
CC: She had posted a few times about her interest in IAMX and how she liked the music. I wasn’t aware of who she was at the time, I’m just not very socially connected. I looked into her and looked into her talent as a pianist and a vocalist and I reached out to her to see if she’d be interested in collaborating. Her aesthetic was very close to mine in many ways, I could see her passion for the bittersweet and melancholy. I felt that we would connect quite quickly and we did. What I loved about it was that she was very fun and free and she’s very light. There’s no baggage with her, which impressed me because you’d imagine someone in her place would carry a lot of baggage. So, yeah, it was very smooth when we got into the studio. I found it very inspiring actually.
DC: You’re releasing a line of “erotic merchandise” to go along with the album and the artwork that Ryan Clark did. That was must be an interesting endeavor….
CC: When we did a New Year’s gig with Nyves [the electronic side project from Demon Hunter front-man/visual artist Ryan Clark], Ryan did a poster for the show that was just so beautiful that I knew we had to work with him at some point. We didn’t get around to collaborating until Alive in New Light, and when he came up with the artwork, the hammer art, it just captured everything I wanted to say. That’s rare, he’s a very talented person, so I wanted to continue that collaboration throughout the album’s campaign. He’s the kind of person who pays attention to the music, reads the lyrics and goes deeper into everything, it was great.
The erotic items weren’t my idea actually! (Laughs). When it was mentioned, I liked the idea of having these objects, these dildos in the shape of the objects from the albums, the hammer, the grenade and so on. So that’s going to happen, it’s a fun way to get playful with the merchandise. It’ll bring out the erotic, sexy side of the project, which I love to do.
DC: You’ve released two albums in the past year, one of which was an excellent, cinematic-feeling instrumental record. I’m curious, do you have any interest in working on a film, musically? IAMX has always felt like a cinematic project, it lends itself to film.
CC: I’ve flirted with doing it at times, playing in that world, but I’ve also seen how much commitment it takes to do it. I’ve done a couple of things in that world, but to really do that, I’d have to change my lifestyle in a way, to be more grounded and studio bound, which is something I don’t know if I’d really want to do. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m enjoying all of this, so I like where I am.
DC: I’ve been to quite a few of your shows over the years and every tour is an experience to say the least. With having just finished the European leg of the new tour and getting ready to embark on the U.S. leg, what do we have to look forward to, show-wise this time around?
CC: I’ve tried to be a little bit cleaner this time, with the stage production. In the past, it’s been about just piecing things together and with this tour, I’ve tried to clean it up a bit and show the visuals a bit more, get into the lighting and the theatricality of it all a bit more. It should be fun.
IAMX’s new album, Alive in New Light is available now, via Caroline/Universal Records.
4/19/18 Washington, DC – Rock&Roll Hotel
4/21/18 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade
4/24/18 Boston, MA – Middle East
4/27/18 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
4/28/18 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
4/30/18 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theatre
5/1/18 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall
5/4/18 Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
5/5/18 Portland, OR – Aladdin
5/7/18 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
5/9/18 Los Angeles, CA – Fonda Theatre