A dark sidewalk behind a nightclub in Los Angeles, Calif. could be one of the worst imaginable places for an interview, but not for one with Craig Owens. “I’m from Detroit, so luckily, this isn’t sketchy to me at all,” he says with a laugh. In fact, the streets seem to resonate the impending sense of mystery of Owens’ latest project. The former lead singer of Chiodos and frontman / producer of a myriad of different projects may now be best known under the moniker badXchannels. Having wrapped up a “mini-tour” on the West Coast, he’s been utilizing any and all spare time between shows to work in the studio. However, we were lucky enough to catch up with Owens just hours before a badXchannels show in L.A.
It (badXchannels) feels completely new and that makes me happy… I just wanted to make music that I like, so I did it.
Q: First, let’s talk about badXchannels. What made you decide to go under a new name for a new project?
A: I announced the project a week or so before ‘WHYDFML’ was announced, so badXchannels has been around for about a month now. It feels completely new and that makes me happy. There’s not one pivot, crazy experience, or backstory — I just wanted to make music that I like, so I did it.
Q: In your eyes, what’s the main difference between badXchannels and your previous endeavors in music?
A: Well obviously, it’s sonically different. I’m known for alternative rock stuff, which is what I did in the past. This is a bit more alternative R&B. My delivery now is a little different and lyrically, it’s a little more direct. Other than that, it’s still my soul being poured out into songs.
Q: What was the story behind your debut EP, ‘WHYDFML’?
A: I don’t view it as a story — it’s just my life. I got together with a friend, we made some music that I was really into, and the EP was the outcome. I went in there, with a “theme” of what I wanted to say, what I was feeling, what I needed to communicate, and what aesthetics I needed to communicate it through. I guess it’s a summary of how badXchannels is. Every song has a life of its own in general.
Q: Did everything come out the way you had envisioned?
A: Yeah, and I’m excited about it! I think everyone is their own worst critic when it comes to their music. There’s always something you want to change and nothing’s ever perfect. If you let me work on a song, I’ll work on it for the next 100 years and it’ll never be the way I want it to. Sometimes, you gotta walk away from it and that’s what we did with the EP.
Q: Have your past experiences in the industry influenced the music you create today?
A: I mean, I don’t know how to summarize that. It’s a lot of stuff. I started making music when I was 15 — I’m 32 now! That’s 17 years of growth. It’s a life thing, ultimately. The more you live, the more you grow and can apply. It’s the same for the music industry and what I do. I use a lot of things I learned from experiences on being in the studio, on tour, and just all over the place. A lot of the production stuff has shown me that I can be hands on with my music. I learn literally every day, it’s great.
I unwillingly went solo under Craig Owens… I always felt dirty selling my name on a t-shirt. It never felt right.
Q: How has the reception from fans and listeners been thus far?
A: It’s been great and really overwhelming. We released the EP on Nov 18 and played it in Detroit, my hometown. It was amazing. I couldn’t even hear myself. The crowd was singing along so loud and I was like, “How do you even know this?! It came out at midnight!”
Q: What about on your side? How has performing live as badXchannels for the first few times been?
A: Tonight is the fifth show ever. It’s a little different for me, and I’m still adapting. However, I’m sitting comfortably. I just love to sing. I feel like the show in Sacramento, Calif. last night was the first time that I was able to get it where I wanted it to be. I change things up on stage, naturally, but it’s pretty similar to what’s on the record.
Q: Would you ever consider going solo under Craig Owens again?
A: I unwillingly went solo under Craig Owens. It’s my name and it’s like what’s on my mail, you know? I always felt dirty selling my name on a t-shirt. It never felt right. Plus, going solo, it was just me and a guitar. I didn’t like playing guitar very much either; I don’t have enough time to be great at it and end up getting frustrated. I don’t want to be mediocre at everything — I’d rather be great at a few things.
Q: Any other side projects that are in the works, or can we expect badXchannels to be your main focus for now?
A: The majority of the time, I produce for both other bands and myself. I love being in the studio and being creative. I’m usually in there producing or songwriting, but I’m just going to put my focus on badXchannels for now.
Q: What are you most excited about for the future of badXchannels, and just in general?
A: The future! I’m excited for opportunity, life, music, and the growth of badXchannels. There’s something special in what I’m doing and I’m excited to push it to the limit, see where I can take it, and share that with the rest of the world. I’m about to go in the studio again and make some music after this tour. I’ll stay in the studio, hopefully travel around and introduce this project to people through live music, and just keep growing and living. There should be a debut album next year, or the year after that, but for now, I just want to make music, and if an album is what comes out, I’ll do it. If not, I’ll keep releasing songs. The exciting thing about the musical landscape is that you can literally do anything now. As long as genuine intentions come across, I think you do well.
Review: badXchannels – ‘WHYDFML’