Josh Scogin (ex-Norma Jean and The Chariot) came to Belgium with his new band '68. We got the chance to talk to him about this new project, The Chariot breaking up, and more...

Some of our readers may not know you yet so could you please tell us a little bit about yourselves?

My name is Josh Scogin and I sing and play guitar. This is Michael McClellan and he plays drums. We met through the studio that The Chariot always recorded at. I first met Michael’s older brother and then we got to know each other. I knew he played drums and because I produced bands sometimes I would hire him to play drums on different things. We originally became friends because of all that. And then when I thought to do ’68 he was my first pick to make this work.


You’ve only been a band since 2013 yet have already toured with the likes of Chiodos and have already made it to Europe and the UK too. Are we right in assuming that things have taken off quite quickly?

Yeah, things moved really fast and that’s a good thing. I’m not very good at sitting around and twiddling my thumbs. We actually got an offer for the Chiodos tour before we had even recorded the record. We had put up a video on Youtube and apparently some of them liked it a lot so it was just perfect timing and they invited us out. We just finished the record and went out and toured with them before we even put out any songs or anything. It was quite funny because no one could sing along even if they had wanted to because there were no songs yet. It was a very smooth transition between The Chariot and this.


How have the shows been so far and do they differ in any way from the shows you’ve done in America?

It’s hard to say how they are different because we are headlining over here and we only supported with bigger bands in the US, but in general all of them have been quite nice. The UK and Europe shows have been very nice and a lot of people have come out and said some really nice things. In the US we’ve been with bigger bands but there still seems to be a handful of people coming out to see what it is that we do. So overall it’s been very good and very welcoming. Europe is very hectic but nice because I have a lot of pedals to make it work and every show is completely different and a very unique experience. Despite all my years in The Chariot it is all still very new to me because now I’m playing guitar and using pedals. The original idea was to sort of flip it all upside down for me because I had been touring for so long that it became somewhat of a comfort bubble. Which is good, but I like the adventure and the struggle. Doing it as a two-piece was a way to take what I was very comfortable with and what I knew and just flip it upside down. We’ve grown and experienced and we’re still new enough to be evolving and hopefully we always will be.


In 2013 The Chariot suddenly decided to call it a day. Did this have something to do with the idea of the ’68 already forming in the back of your mind or are the two things unrelated?

It was a shock to me too! The Chariot splitting up had nothing to do with me as an individual but it did have everything to do with all of us as individuals. Each person had that next step and it wasn’t until we started talking about what we were going to do with the next record that we realised that, as individuals, we loved The Chariot and loved what we were doing but that we all had something that The Chariot was almost keeping us from. I didn’t know anything about ’68 at that moment but I just knew I wanted to keep doing music and I knew that if we ever parted ways I’d keep doing music in some form or fashion, whether as a hobby or as a job. So the moment we said we were parting ways was the moment that I started thinking about ‘68 and feeling it out. Michael was on board from the very beginning because I knew that whatever shape the project was going to take I cannot play drums. So the very first step was solidifying a drummer that I knew would be good and would be able to play under different circumstances each night. Well actually, the very first call I made was to Matt Goldman, our producer, and I booked studio time. He thought it was for The Chariot so when I said it wasn’t he asked “well what is it for then?” and I just said “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out by then”. I work really well under pressure and on the contrary I work terribly when I have plenty of time, so I had to set that deadline or else I’d still probably be eating chocolate at home. I’d be eating chocolate at home instead of in Belgium!


There are similarities as well as great differences between the two bands. Is this what you set out to do when you first started the project?

I don’t think it was deliberate. Basically my brain is still the same brain as it was in The Chariot so there have to be similarities. My voice is going to be the same and I still have the same mentality about it. It is still all about passion and the live shows, so I guess there have to be some similarities but it was never a goal. This was a new thing and whatever it sounded like I tried to keep it very natural and very real and not force it one way or another because it’s “too close to The Chariot” or “too far from The Chariot”. I tried to go with what felt natural and started with a clean slate. It’s all about what I wanted to do and write now and these were the songs that came out. I think it was bound to have some similarities whether I forced it or not but it is definitely a different animal altogether.

There’s less cooks in the kitchen.

Josh Scogin, '68

Do you feel ’68 is a more personal project because it’s just you and Michael?

I don’t know. There’s less cooks in the kitchen. There are a lot of benefits to being with just two people. When we’re recording instead of all five people that have their opinion it’s just two or maybe three counting our producer. At the end of the day it’s always sort of what I really wanted it to be, so in that sense I guess it would be more personal. But in The Chariot there was also a lot of freedom and a lot of trust. I produced all those records with my friend Matt Goldman and I wrote a lot of the songs, so there was a lot of trust but this is different because there is only one other guy that has to be into it.


You first released an EP called Midnight which featured two songs called ‘Three Is A Crowd” and “Third Time Is A Charm”. We read another interview in which you briefly mentioned that these titles were all significant. Could you elaborate on that?

I did Norma Jean and The Chariot, so this was the third one and I thought it was interesting. In the US we have the saying “three is a crowd”, which is sort of a negative look on things, and then there’s “three is a charm”. I don’t really know where that comes from but I thought it was very interesting that the number three had both a negative and a positive context. This was in the very beginning and emotionally I was all over the place. I felt at peace with The Chariot parting ways but it had been my baby for ten years so obviously I started thinking “what am I doing” and “who am I to do a third thing and to think I can do anything”. I would do music as a hobby if I had to because I just enjoy music, but obviously it’s nice when you can tour and go to Europe. So I found it interesting that the number three had both those negative and positive contexts. The EP title Midnight sort of comes from Cinderella. At midnight everything went back to normal and I kind of always feel like I’m living in a sort of weird, made-up fantasy of good things that happen to me and I keep waiting for the day when I inevitably have to wake up and would just be a poor dude back at home. Calling it Midnight is a way for me to realise how grateful I am to even have had the experience that this is. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had and very stoked to have been able to do it for as long as I have. So all these emotions went into the 7”.

About a week ago you released a music video that was directed by Daniel Davison. You played together in Norma Jean for years, so what was it like to tackle such a different project together now?

I’ve known him since he was thirteen years old! It was cool but it was not that weird because we have always connected on an artistic level. Even when we were in Norma Jean we were writing music and doing Norma Jean but we would also be talking about videos, movies and art in general. He is one of the very few artists that I trust. I am very bad about letting go of my project but with him it’s very easy. If he says it is going to be great then it is just going to be great. Obviously we’ve known each other for so long that we can read each other’s minds in some ways so when he said he had a great idea I didn’t even need to hear him explain the idea. I just said “let’s go for it”. It’s quite nice and comforting to work with an artist that I believe in so much and can trust like that.

It’s an overwhelming success already!

Josh Scogin, '68

With the Chariot you played some big festivals like Warped Tour and Soundwave. What do you hope to achieve with ’68?

Honestly, the goal is just to play shows and we’ve already done that so it’s an overwhelming success already! I would love to do Soundwave or any festival really. As a fan of music it’s always great to be able to watch other bands play but there is no absolute goal by which to determine whether we fail or succeed. It’s just about playing shows. Michael played his first show in Paris the other day which was mind-blowing for him. I’ve been there several times and it’s still mind-blowing to me so every time I go there I feel more grateful than the last that I was able to play and that people came out to see us. I’m not really goal-oriented. I am more about enjoying the journey and the process of it all. That way you can be in love with every moment instead of striving for this one thing that can make you feel like you’ve failed if it doesn’t happen. I tend to do that with my life as well. I try not to be too goal-oriented but just to enjoy the journey and find beauty in the struggle. It’s amazing how everything feels better after that.


If you could only promote one other band or artist who would it be and why?

Off the top of my head it would be a band called Starkiller. They are from Memphis and they are really small right now but they are awesome. They play local shows but they are really unique and talented so they would be my first thought right now. Bandit is another one. The girl who sang on One Wing is in the band and it’s really good. So yeah, that’s more than one. It’s a good time to be alive. There is a lot of really great music coming up and I think that it is the pendulum swing of everybody getting tired of mediocre middle of the road music.



'68 are an American post-hardcore / alternative rock / blues rock band from Atlanta, Georgia. The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Josh Scogin (formerly of Norma Jean and The Chariot ) and drummer...

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