Interview: Thomas Erak Talks Joining Chiodos, Growing Up on Classic Rock and Loving SGs
Michigan-based Chiodos have returned with a new lead guitarist, Thomas Erak, original singer Craig Owens back in tow and a fresh batch of post-hardcore songs with grand riffing and big, passionate hooks. Erak does a first-rate job on the new album, “Devil,” and his scorching guitar work helps mold Chiodos’ sound into the cathartic temper fans have grown to love and expect from the band.
Chiodos are also one of the many groups performing at the inaugural Gibson Brands AP Awards on July 21 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum at North Coast Harbor in Cleveland.
Gibson.com caught up with Erak to talk about what it’s like stepping into Chiodos’ lead guitar role, his favorite guitars (“I’m a big fan of any particular kind of SG”) and the Gibson Brands AP Awards gig.
You recently joined Choidos, coming from the band the Fall of Troy. What makes you a good fit for Chiodos?
Well, I’ve known them for so many years, so that helped make it a pretty seamless transition. Being in Chiodos keeps me able to continue to play music and get to do it for a living, so that’s cool. To continue on the path of doing music for a living means a lot, because that’s always been the No. 1 thing I’ve wanted to do.
What advice do you have for a guitarist stepping into a band that’s been together for a while?
Know the material. Make sure you know the stuff before you go in and play it with them. That means just practice. Know your trade. Know how to play. Put in the work, because you have to know what you’re doing.
When it comes to your guitar playing style, are you big into soloing, or do you like to take it down a notch?
I think I’ve gone back and forth between different things and have experimented with a lot of different things throughout the years. I try not to get too locked into one thing, so I’ve always tried to try new things throughout the years.
Chiodos has a full, heavy sound. What constitutes good tone?
I think it’s a mix of the actual guitars and the amps out of which you play them. But I also think it really depends on how you play.
Who are some of your favorite guitarists—the players that made you want to pick up the guitar?
I think mostly the classic rock stuff. I grew up on Hendrix. I really like Nirvana a lot. All the older dudes. Jimmy Page. Mostly stuff like that—mostly classic rock stuff.
What Gibsons are in your arsenal?
I have two Archtop custom SGs and a SG Supra that’s brand new. I just got the Supra, and I like it a lot. I also have white ’67 Flying V Reissue. I have an assortment of other Gibsons, but right now, that’s what I’m using.
What makes Gibson guitars the right guitars for you?
I just think they’re the greatest guitars in the world. They’re the most comfortable guitars and the best-made guitars. I think there’s just a quality to them that others don’t have.
What’s your go-to guitar for the road and the studio?
I’m a big fan of any particular kind of SG. I like the body shape and how it’s got that deep tone but also a little more of a mid-tone to it!
You’re playing the Gibson Brands AP Music Awards on July 21 at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Museum at North Coast Harbor in Cleveland. Were you aware of that yet?
No, I wasn’t aware of that! That’s awesome. I’m excited to hear more about it. Thanks so much to Gibson and AP for putting us on your awards show.
What’s next for you and Choidos?
We’ll go and do Sonisphere Festival in the U.K., and then we have two full U.S. tours coming up. After that, the plan is that I’ll make a new Fall of Troy record.
Any last words?
Just a big thanks to Gibson for all the awesome years of support, and I hope it continues.
Photo credit: Graham Fielder