Frozen Soul: Psycho Las Vegas Preview

Among the 100 or so bands set for Psycho Las Vegas 2022, few of the young ones — if any — are bringing more hype than Frozen Soul. With thumbs-up from legends like Dying Fetus and Jungle Rot, the old-school death-metal revivalists have written, recorded and toured relentlessly since their founding just four years ago.

The band consists of three members formerly of Dallas thrash band End Times — vocalist Chad Green, guitarist Michael Munday and drummer Matt Dennard — plus bassist Samantha Mobley (ex-Vermiculated) and guitarist Chris Bonner, also of Steel Bearing Hand.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based Frozen Soul released their Crypt of Ice debut last year to so much acclaim that it landed them a spot on this year’s Psycho lineup. That’s an exceptionally rare honor for a band with just one album to its name.

The Bad Penny recently caught up with Green (the day before he shoved off for a vacation in Hawaii with his girlfriend) to talk about the meteoric success of his band, linking up with Trivium frontman Matt Heavy for the production of Frozen’s Soul’s “abysmally heavy” next album — and, of course, all things Psycho.

It seems like every week, I’m hearing more news about Frozen Soul. I don’t know how you manage to keep your plate as full as it is. Have you felt overwhelmed at any point?

CHAD GREEN: I know how I manage to keep it full — but I don’t know how I manage to keep cleaning it off. [Laughs.] It’s just never-ending.

I mean, I’m always feeling overwhelmed. It’s just nonstop. We make it happen, to an extent. You gotta keep your wheels spinning, ‘cause if you slow down, everybody will forget about you. I think most bands that are trying to [play music for a living] are going through the exact same thing. So it’s not anything special for us necessarily.

Jungle Rot’s singer [Dave Matrise] commented about you guys, when talking about Frozen Soul as one of the two new bands he’s most excited about: “If you’ve got a good buzz going, you wanna try and ride it as hard as you can. You wanna try and tour as much as you can, because you wanna really keep it going. It’s hard, because there’s a lot of competition out there.”

GREEN: Yeah. Luckily, with the Internet, it’s not insanely hard to get off the ground. You can find the information you need that shows you the ins and outs of getting started. But if anyone latches onto anything you do — especially if you’re wanting to pursue the music industry other than as a hobby and for fun — you gotta run with it.

People in general have a short attention span. There’s always other things in their life that are changing, so people are always switching to something else. Whatever’s safe for their wants and needs. So they may not listen to you very often anymore. And then, before you know it, they haven’t listened to you in a year. And then they’re like, “Whatever happened to that band?” And it’s like, it’s not the band — they’re still doing stuff — it’s just that you stopped listening to them. You gotta keep engaging people, to keep them focused. You gotta bust your ass. That quote’s pretty spot-on.

So COVID must’ve been especially frustrating for you, right?

GREEN: COVID was a weird beast, man. I didn’t really think about it. There’s lots of people close to me who were absolutely freaking out. Part of me was freaking out on the inside. But I think I kinda numbed myself to the worries, ‘cause there was so much going on, with the supermarkets running out of everything … 

We were in the studio that March. We were recording Crypt of Ice when everything was shutting down. I had to record my vocals in two or three days versus taking my time, just because there were announcements made that if you were outside your house, you were going to get a ticket. All sorts of rumors were spreading, and conspiracies. No one really knew what to believe. There was one point in our household where we thought the world was just straight-up ending.

For a minute, we did worry, we did stress. But then we got back to work. We made the decision ourselves: “Hey, we’re gonna keep working. Even if we can’t go out and do stuff, even if we have to be safe, we can still stay positive and stay busy. And we did. And we created Wrecking Ball and all sorts of stuff to keep us afloat. And it did really well, and we had a lot of fun with it — to the point that we’re going to do it all the time. It was rough, but you find ways to adapt. Especially coming from the scene that I came from — which wasn’t the metal scene to start with. I was used to doing it ourselves and always trying to make it happen, without anyone’s help. We had that same mentality and busted it out. 

Were you from a punk-rock background?

GREEN: Yeah, I was from the hardcore-punk scene. I’ve always listened to metal since I was very young. [Then] friends introduced me to hardcore, and I went down that rabbit hole for a long time. I loved the energy, the vibe, the moshing, the camaraderie. That led me back to metal — and now I just love it all.

Photo: Gray Muncy

What advantages did hardcore have over metal, or what was the hardcore scene doing that the metal scene wasn’t?

GREEN: Throwing house shows and playing dilapidated buildings and rooftop shows and bridge shows that you don’t really see in metal. At least I didn’t. Our city didn’t really have that kinda stuff. But it did have it in the hardcore scene.

Then I was introduced to the coolest metal bands ever. That’s how I found Bolt Thrower, which is very related to punk. Without that scene, I probably wouldn’t have discovered bands like them. I would’ve still been stuck on bands like Decapitated. I love Decapitated — they’re one of the first death-metal bands I ever heard in high school — but I think hardcore punk is what got it all into perspective for me.

What was your favorite hardcore band?

GREEN: I used to like youth crew a lot. So bands like Bold, Ten Yard Fight, I really dived into bands like that. I really like Integrity. That’s one of the bands that segued me into listening to metal again. Bands like Cro-Mags … New York hardcore, Cleveland hardcore. It just got heavier and heavier, and before you knew it, I was back into metal again. [Laughs.]

Speaking of Integrity, they played in 2018 and 2021 at Psycho. When did you first hear about Psycho and what have you heard about it? You haven’t played the festival yet, right?

GREEN: Yeah, we haven’t played [Psycho]. I heard about it years ago. I think the year Power Trip played [2019] was the first time I really paid attention to the festival. I was just like, “God, I wanna go so bad. It looks so fun.” Then I saw the prices, and I was like, “There’s no way my broke-ass could afford this.” Then more of my friends’ bands started getting on it, and it turned into the festival that I wanted to play more than any other festival.

And then last year, [guitarist] Chris [Bonner] and I were actually at the festival, and I got to experience it firsthand — not from a playing point of view — and had some of the best times in my entire life. And me and Chris were both like, “I hope we get to play next year. This’d be a dream come true.” And then we actually got an offer to play. [Laughs.] It was super-sick. So us and all of our girlfriends are all planning to go, stay the whole weekend and have fun with everybody. It’s gonna be so awesome.

It seems like a logical thing to do, if you think at some point you might be invited to a festival, to go a year you’re not playing and scope it out, see what the grounds are like, get a sense of what you might be in for. Did you socialize a lot last year? Did you meet people who helped make some of Frozen Soul’s recent successes fall into place?

GREEN: Not that I can really remember. We talked to a lot of people we already knew there. [Michael] Gitter, who’s [Vice President of] A&R for Century Media, was there. A lot of our friends were there. So we chilled with a lot of our friends. I did party with some of the guys from Eyehategod, but it wasn’t like a, “Hey, let’s tour!” We were just having a good time.

We have our circle, and we have our plans set in place for the next year or two, so we weren’t searching to do something like that. We were purely looking to have fun. But it was definitely one of the funnest times I’ve ever had. I’m absolutely stoked for this year.

When you think about all the fun you had at Psycho, what are the top two or three moments that come to mind?

GREEN: Seeing Cannibal Corpse in the pool was insane!

Wasn’t it?!

GREEN: Dying Fetus too. Drag Majesty was absolutely crazy-cool. Love that band. HEALTH was awesome. Their light show was something that will always stick in my head. They’re such a solid band. It was so cool getting to see them.

But also, just hanging out and being able to do whatever we wanted. My girlfriend and I explored Vegas for pretty much the first time. We’re big Magic: The Gathering players, so we went to some different Magic shops. It’s funny, I said if we go this year — this is before we knew we were playing — we were both thinking  about staying at Resorts World, before they announced that’s where Psycho is gonna be.

What do you like about that place?

GREEN: It’s cool, it’s new. It looks like it’s got so much to it. It’s massive. They spent a lot of money on it. So I wanna stay there.

What’s your most salacious Vegas memory?

GREEN: Nothing too insane. The memory that sticks out to me the most was discovering this restaurant Herbs and Rye. It is the best restaurant that I’ve ever eaten at in my entire existence. It’s a place I’ve told so many people about. The last time I visited Vegas, my girlfriend and I ate there three times. It’s pretty expensive, but it’s off the Strip. They have happy hour, and past 10 p.m., all the steaks are half-off. It’s so good, it’s unreal. When we were on tour with Sanguisugabogg, [Frozen Soul drummer] Matt [Dennard]’s parents came out to Vegas. We all ate there. I like to eat, but it’s hard to find a restaurant where it’s like, “Oh my God.”

Do you have anything planned for your Psycho set that you haven’t incorporated into your recent shows?

GREEN: I think we’re just gonna play more songs. There’s the possibility of us playing a new song, but I’m not quite sure we’re comfortable playing it yet live. We’re still hard at work on the new stuff. 

You’ve said that “Tormented by Time,” a non-album Crypt of Ice track that you later released separately, means a lot to you guys. Are you thinking of breaking that out live?

GREEN: We have not played that live yet, no. I would like to one day, though. It’s a pretty straight-to-the-point song that we’d like to play, but we haven’t done it yet.

You mentioned which performances you enjoyed watching the most at Psycho last year. Which are you most anticipating this year?

GREEN: Well, to be completely honest, I’m stoked to see all my friends play. 200 Stab Wounds, Sanguisugabogg, Creeping Death, Undeath … I’m super-stoked to see them all play these badass stages. I’m stoked to see Emperor, Mercyful Fate for sure.

Are you or any of the other band members feeling nervous about playing Psycho?

GREEN: You know, we’re always nervous before we play any show, no matter how big or small it is. But I think we’re just really excited. It is different, because we’re going to be flying in, so we’re not going to have some of the things we would normally have on our set, like snow machines and all that. We’re not too happy about that, but [we can’t do it] just because of prices on flights and everything. We’re already stretching it, so we’ll have to make do without. But that’s about it. We’re all really stoked to play a place like that, a festival like that.

Surely in Vegas, there’s gotta be a place that rents snow machines.

GREEN: Maybe.

Are you playing indoors or outdoors?

GREEN: I think we’re playing indoors.

Looking past Psycho, how did you hook up with Matt Heafy to produce your next record?

GREEN: Actually, Matt enjoys our music and is someone who’s checked us out before. Making connections through our manager and his manager, who are friends and have worked together, we were able to talk to him. Me and him just hit it off, and we ended up getting invited to come out there and pre-pro our new record. Now he’s going to be directly involved in the production. Super-cool dude, super-down-to-earth and all about heavy music. He’s not the type of guy who wants to “change us.” That’s really not what any of this is about. He just really loves metal, really loves music.

When do you think the record will come out?

GREEN: It’s gonna come out early next year. We’ve been working really, really hard on it. We pre-pro’d out quite a few songs. Now we just have to put the finishing touches on them and go into the studio, probably in September.

Does the new material mark a shift from what you’ve done?

GREEN: It’s definitely a progression, but I wouldn’t say it’s a lot different from what Frozen Soul has done before. It’s still abysmally heavy. It still has that cold vibe to it. But there’s definitely some parts where we show we can do more as a band. There are more harmonies in places, and maybe a solo here or there. But, for the most part, it’s still Frozen Soul. At the end of the day, we like writing caveman riffs. It’s not really possible for that to change. I think we cleaned up some transitions. I’m super-happy with it. I’m really stoked to show people what we made.

We’ve been writing for a really long time, so we had a lot of material. A lot more than for just one record. We can be kinda hard on ourselves when it comes to writing. So we were real ambitious with it and wrote a lot more than needed so that we’d have stuff to choose from — the pick of the litter from our songs. We’ve put in a lot of hard work, but I think it’s really gonna speak for itself once we’re done with the record.

Well, your hard work is paying off already. I’ve heard more about you guys than about just any other young metal band. And it’s unusual for a band to get invited to Psycho after putting out just one record.

GREEN: We’re honored. It’s crazy. It’s hard from my perspective, because with every little thing that happens, I’m like, “Well, didn’t see that coming.” I’ve been in plenty of bands in my day, and so has everybody else, and things have happened pretty fast in Frozen Soul. It’s a little scary at times, but we’ve got our eye on it. We love it. I think that’s why we’re gotten to be able to do the things we’ve been able to do: We just fucking love it so much.

Last question: Have you thought about projecting images of Disney’s Frozen and Pixar’s Soul alongside each other behind you while you play live?

GREEN: You know, people have meme’d that quite a few times. [Laughs.] 

Dammit! I was hoping to wow you with that one.

GREEN: Yeah, I think it’d be hilarious. One time somebody meme’d our album cover and put Frozen in the [movie] Frozen font, and then [the movie] Soul where our logo is. And they Photoshopped in the snowman where the skeleton guy is, but blended it in so it looked like it was actually part of the painting. It was pretty funny.

Psycho Las Vegas runs from August 19-21 (or August 18-21, if you count Thursday’s pre-event pool party). Get your tickets here.

For more Psycho Las Vegas 2022 features, check out the Bad Penny’s new profiles on Witch MountainYakuzaThe Gaslamp KillerChurch of the Cosmic SkullBeats AntiqueBelzebongMothership and Cirith Ungol.

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