Interview: Chance Wilson of Behind The Wheat Grinder

Behind The Wheat Grinder is an Alternative Rock band out of Ephraim, Utah. The five piece consists of singer Caydin Bell, guitarists Chance Wilson and Blake Sharette, bassist Nathan Budge, and drummer Chris Shemwell. I was able to sit down with Chance and discuss the beginnings of the band, the unique writing process,  and what’s in store for the future.

Nick Stephens: So let’s just jump right in. How did you guys all meet and decide to start the band?

Chance Wilson: So, with Behind The Wheat Grinder, we all met at SNOW College. We were all mutual friends, and we ended up playing in different kinds of bands together, and Caydin had some really cool songs he wanted to perform that were a different style than we’re all used to playing. So we ended up getting together and doing that, and it just worked. It worked for the gigs that we wanted to do, and I ended up telling him that my senior project could actually be creating an EP for the band. So we recorded all of that, and it never went anywhere unfortunately, so that’s why we’re re-recording it right now to get some better takes and what not. But yeah, it all started at SNOW and just kinda developed from there.

NS: You mentioned you were going to do your senior project based on this band that you started, what do you mean by that exactly?

CW: I was doing a lot. I programmed the drums for the album, I recorded all the guitar parts, or at least a huge sum of the guitar parts — apart from the acoustics. I did one or two string arrangements, I did some producing — so I kinda told him what techniques would be better here and there, and then I took it into the studio afterwards, and mixed and mastered it, and everything like that.

NS: What was your musical background leading up to SNOW college?

CW: Before, I was in the high school jazz band, and played a lot of rock music on my own. I just wanted to cover songs and perform here and there. I never really had too many gigs, but then I came to SNOW, and all of my professors were like, “Oh, you’re the rock guitar player!”, and they had me play all of these rock gigs, and I played Stairway to Heaven, classic rock songs, things like that. And that kinda helped me get better in that regard. The main reason I got into guitar was because of Guitar Hero. On top of that, in high school, I went to my jazz band teacher and said, “Hey, I play drums, and I play guitar, what do you want me to do?” and she goes, “well we don’t have a guitar player, so you can do that.” So that was kind of my moment of choosing.

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NS: I’ve seen your band once or twice, and you kind of have like a pop punk/hardcore fusion sound, but you personally played jazz/classical rock prior, do you have any background in this kind of music?

CW: I’ve always liked the music, but I never personally went out of my way to listen to it. I remember liking that ‘Animal I Have Become’ song by Three Days Grace. You actually were the person who got me to listen to more hardcore and your brother Kenny as well. He got me into Thank You Scientist and Coheed and Cambria, and so that really was my only background. It was always like “Oh! I wanna learn that song” and I learned it at home, but I never went out and performed them or anything. Really, Behind The Wheat Grinder is not only my first experience with this music, but that’s the case for most people in the band. In fact, our drummer, is mostly a jazz drummer. He does a lot of other stuff, but he’s actually going to Berklee right now for jazz.

NS: With that being said, how is the writing process for you guys? Do you come to practice with a bunch of ideas and sort of combine them?

CW: The interesting thing about Behind The Wheat Grinder is that we are only active about three months out of the year, and that’s it. Caydin actually writes everything, all by himself. He writes all of it, 100%. He’ll email us all of our parts, we learn them by ear, and then meet up and practice. But most of the time he’ll email us our parts out of nowhere and say “I have a new song”, and it works.

NS: Caydin definitely has a strong front-man presence, which is cool. I know you guys have toured mostly in Utah, have you done any shows outside of Utah?

CW: All of our shows so far have been in Utah — the furthest we’ve traveled was St. George, but we actually have a small plan for a tour sometime this year. I don’t want to give too much away, but yeah, I think we have a small one coming and we may go to a couple different states surrounding Utah.

NS: For you personally, what’s it like between just hearing your guitar parts versus actually playing them together?

CW: The thing is, you’re getting these parts and you’ve never heard the song at all, and sometimes he’ll just send us our parts and not the whole song, and we don’t hear it until we all get together. It’s completely different from just listening to it and saying, “Ok, that has some cool parts to it,” but then the second we show up to rehearsal and we run the song and when we finish and all look at each other just like, “Holy shit, that was the coolest thing that we have ever done.” So yeah, that’s kinda the difference between practicing and then actually playing it.

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NS: Do you have any nerves when it comes to performing in front of people?

CW: No. I mean, with a name like Behind The Wheat Grinder, how can you have any?

NS: Actually, before we continue, what the hell does that band name even mean? Where did that come from?

CW: You know what, I think for right now, I’m going to leave it a mystery. I’ll let Caydin be the one to let that story come out.

NS: That’s fair. But back to the original question, do you have any nerves when it comes to performing live?

CW: None. All of us in the band have been such avid performers our entire lives, Chris, our drummer, was in School of Rock, and he’s performed live since he was like 11 or 12. Budge, our bass player, has absolutely no barriers. He’s open to do whatever. And of course Caydin, being the frontman, he’s been in all these kinds of hardcore bands, and has friends in the hardcore scene, so he just knows everybody. That’s part of what makes him so confident. He’s so excited to be there playing the music, and that’s kind of where I’m at as well. I’m just stoked to be playing original music and it sounds good, and the audiences reaction to it is so amazing. I’m focusing more on seeing the smiling faces or people freaking out about it, and that’s what does it for me.

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NS: Since you guys hope to be on tour this year, does that mean their is new music on the horizon?

CW: This month, we’ve already dropped a teaser for a new music video for the song Front Row View, which is going to be the title song on the album. That will be released this month, and then Caydin and I are planning on getting that distributed so everyone can have a way to purchase it. I think we’re slated for probably mid-spring to summer. I wanna say it’s going to be around seven or eight songs. So, it should be a full length album.

NS: Final fun question, what bands are you currently into?

CW: Ugh, there’s a lot. Dance Gavin Dance is kind of one I’ve been listening to a ton lately — more on the hardcore side. And tons of Thank you Scientist, Snarky Puppy, which is a little more on the jazz side, and then I’m recently getting back into Led Zeppelin. And I think that’s about it. Other than that, I’m just listening to a lot of stuff for work to practice and have it ready for a gig and perform it.

Keep an eye out on Behind The Wheat Grinder’s Facebook page for their upcoming music video and possible tour dates. Also be sure to check out some of their current music on YouTube.

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