Roadrunner United was a project organized by iconic hard rock record label Roadrunner Records to celebrate its 25th anniversary, culminating in the U.S. Billboard Top 200, UK Albums, and Australian ARIA Albums-charting original The All Star Sessions. Four “team captains” (Slipknot’s Joey Jordison (RIP), Machine Head’s Robb Flynn, Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares, and Trivium’s Matthew K. Heafy) were chosen to lead 57 artists from 45 past and present Roadrunner bands. On December 15, 2005, a concert celebrating the project, album, and anniversary took place at the Nokia Theater in New York City. That star-studded event featured multiple musicians, both past and present, from Roadrunner bands — as well as musicians that did not originally perform on the All-Star Sessions album. Now that album is getting a release in 2023 on multiple formats. Watch the live performance video of “The End (Live)” featuring Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares, and Trivium’s Matthew K. Heafy – right now!
Coal Chamber is still a band. That seems a bit odd to me. Truth be told, if you had told me a few years back that Coal Chamber would still be a touring act with new music on the way, I’d kindly remind you to stop sniffing glue. Front man Dez Fafara, guitarist Miguel “Meegs” Rascon, bassist Nadja Peulen and drummer Mikey “Bug” Cox onstage again?
But hey, its 2015 and Coal Chamber are playing packed venues across the country. And somebody who is very pleased with their current trek is Cox.
“The tour is good, man” shares Cox. “Personally this is my first 100% sober tour. I quit drinking and everything so for me it’s incredible. And it translates to the whole band. I mean, offstage we’re all like best friends which is crazy because we never used to be. Lots of drama that everyone knows about.”
The reason to clean up his act came from Cox’s longtime exposure to the touring life and how it would have an impact on the people around him. Maintaining sobriety while being on the road may seem daunting, but “It’s been easier than [being] at home” for Cox. “Going into this tour I was like ‘Oh, this might be hard.’ But I just had a kid, you know, and for me I had my run from 20 until not too long ago. Just being out of my mind all the time. I went from the drug phase to the drinking phase. I’m getting sick of watching friends dying and dying on the road. I think we’ve all had our run for sure. To me it translates to how the band is with each other and we’re tighter onstage.”
One friend such friend lost to substance abuse was former Static-X frontman, Wayne Static. “We gave him some of his first show. In fact my other band [We Are the Riot], the side project with Meegs were opening for Wayne on his last tour. So me and Meegs – I’ve known Wayne since I was 19 years old – we actually sat and talked to him weeks before it happened. So it was definitely a shock you know. The music industry has a crazy lifestyle to it, but nobody should be dying that young. Especially over something stupid and unnecessary, but you get stuck in it out here on the road. It’s a lonely place.”
So how does Coal Chamber, they of the very tumultuous 2003 break up come back together after several years of no communication? Cox’s longtime friendship with Rascon has certainly helped him get through the rougher days, back into music and ultimately playing with Coal Chamber again. “Me and Meegs we’re best friends,” Cox says. “I quit music for like seven years. Didn’t play once. Like randomly, never played. I was done with the business. And then me and Meegs started talking like ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we tried to do this.’ So Meegs contacted Dez and went onstage with Devildriver and played ‘Loco’ in California and that was kind of like an apology through all parties.”
But even after reconnecting with Fafara nothing was set in stone. “Then we took more years off and it was just a slow process. If we forced it before it happened now we wouldn’t have lasted. So it took a long time to enjoy each other’s company.”
What helped cement Coal Chamber’s return was the crowd’s reception at early comeback gigs. “The plans were to do Australia, which was our first show back and that was it,” says Cox. “Let’s see if it’s going to work, we’ve never been there and the kids asked for it. We’re gonna go do that and be done. Then in South America same thing happened. The shows in Australia were insane, crazy shows. So we were like ‘Maybe we have something still.’”
After that came campaigns across North America and Europe that were met with equal praise and enthusiasm. With that enthusiasm in mind the labels came calling again. Coal Chamber envisioned the tour in Europe as a way to “put the exclamation point on the band and then all of a sudden we started getting label interest to make a record. Once that happened it just snowballed into us sitting here right now.”
The new album Rivals is due May 19 through Austria’s Napalm Records. With the release date just around the corner, Coal Chamber are ready to ride that wave of momentum. “This tour finishes On April 12 in Dallas. We have one week off and we go to South America. We’re doing the Monsters of Rock festival with Ozzy Osbourne. Which is going to be insane. We’re doing a show with Black Veil Brides in Chile. We’re headlining Mexico City, which down there the shows are crazy. The kids are insane. Then we have three weeks off then we off to the UK for three and a half weeks and that’s when the record comes out. That’s when the work really begins. Right now we’re just getting started.”
INTERVIEW BY HANSEL LOPEZ