Facing his ‘Disguise’ 

Motionless in White’s Chris Cerulli talks new music and upcoming Philly show on Jan. 23

Coming home: Chris Cerulli, frontman of metalcore band Motionless in White, shares details on the band’s upcoming co-headliner ‘Diseased and Disguised Tour,’ which hits Philadelphia’s The Fillmore on Jan. 23. Source: Motionless in White

For those unfamiliar with metalcore band Motionless in White, the stage persona of frontman Chris Cerulli can be a bit off putting.

At any given show, even the scorching summer dates of Vans Warped Tour, Cerulli can usually be spotted in pitch black eyeshadow, black leather pants and sky-high, platform boots (also black, of course), all complementing his dynamic, 6-foot-tall presence.

It’s hard to imagine the artist, who has a deep affinity for all-things Halloween, embracing the magic of the holiday season. But when Cerulli called The Times recently, he was happily adventuring around his hometown of Scranton, doing some last-minute shopping for loved ones.

“I don’t know if I’m weird or not, but I actually enjoy going to the chaotic mall area near Christmas because I like watching people and being in the chaos,” he said with a laugh. “So it’s fine to me.”

Cerulli’s return to Pennsylvania came after Motionless in White’s whirlwind European tour, which saw the band enjoy its biggest headliner of the year in London. But relaxation for Cerulli and fellow members Ricky Olson, Ryan Sitkowski, Vinny Mauro and Justin Morrow will be short lived.

On Saturday, MIW is kicking off its month-long Diseased and Disguised Tour with co-headliner Beartooth. The tour hits Philadelphia’s The Fillmore, 29 E. Allen St., on Thursday, Jan. 23, and Cerulli already knows this date will be unforgettable.

“A lot of times, bands, when they play their home area, that seems to be the one that you look forward to. Even though Philly’s not exactly home, it will be the ‘home show,’ and Philadelphia has time and time again shown up for our band,” he said. “Our biggest headliner that we’ve ever played in our whole career was at the Electric Factory on Halloween a few years ago. It’s so cool to know that you’re going to go to a place that’s close to home, and those fans are going to come out and represent for you. It’s just a special relationship that we have with Philadelphia, and it’s never let us down.”

In Cerulli’s opinion, the co-headliner aspect of the Diseased and Disguised Tour is something that’s dwindled since his childhood days of attending shows. He and the guys of Beartooth are thrilled to bring it back.

“The biggest bands on the scene were always touring with each other, and I feel like now, that’s becoming more rare. There’s become too much competition and too much ego involved,” he explained. “To me, this tour represents putting the ego aside and putting the competition aside, and two bands recognizing a really cool opportunity that we can join up and do this tour. It’s a really cool way to help the scene thrive.”

The lineup: Motionless in White is (from left) Justin Morrow, Chris Cerulli, Ricky Olson, Ryan Sitkowski and Vinny Mauro. Source: Motionless in White

The setlist for the tour will feature songs from MIW’s latest album Disguise, which debuted earlier this year at No. 4 on Billboard’s “Top Album Sales” chart and claimed No. 2 on the “Hard Rock Albums” chart.

While much of the band’s 2017 release Graveyard Shift boasts an uplifting “you can do it” message, Disguise is noticeably darker, with tracks like “Headache” bringing to light Cerulli’s inner demons and mental health struggles. Cerulli admitted he’s felt “leery” about penning too much lyrical content about these emotions – he didn’t think it would be well received by fans.

“I was completely wrong,” he said. “It’s been a great response, which is really, really helpful.”

Reflecting on the writing process of Disguise, Cerulli explained how using his artistry as an outlet was therapeutic and cathartic.

“There’s been so many bottled up emotions that were just ready to burst that I finally felt comfortable to express and put on paper,” he said. “It’s stuff that I’ve had stored up for a long time. There’s been some things that have happened over the past year where it’s amplified those negative emotions and dark feelings and dark thoughts. Even if I didn’t feel the fans were embracing us going in that route prior to the record, I still feel like I would’ve gone that route anyway just because it would’ve been a necessity based on what we write about and how we try to keep our music honest.”

On social media, Cerulli is regularly bombarded with messages from fans, all chronicling how Disguise has helped them conquer their own demons. To be able to inspire so many people is surreal for Cerulli, who once leaned on bands like The Smiths and Bleeding Through in the same way.

“My favorite bands are always the ones that that’s how I felt about them. They were the ones that a certain song helped me pull through a certain time,” he said. “Those were the ones that I felt the most close to. So to be a band that does that for other people feels like I’m giving back to what music has done to me and for me. It’s a great feeling.”

With the start of the Diseased and Disguised Tour right around the corner, Cerulli promised excited fans a few things. In addition to hearing recently released singles “Another Life” and “Thoughts and Prayers,” they can expect a fresh stage production – something MIW always takes to another level.

“We have an entirely new production setup, completely new from anything we’ve done before. It’s going to be really nice to go out there and give fans a new, revitalized show,” Cerulli said. “We love doing the Halloween stuff, the pumpkins and zombies and everything, but we figured, let’s try something new. The best way I can describe it is ‘Mad Max.’ ” ••

Visit MotionlessInWhite.net for more information.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com