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Metal Mike Chlasciak – Guitar for Sebastian Bach, Painmuseum, and Halford

Date: 03/09/08
Interviewed By: Rich Catino

1. Do you play most of the guitars on Sebastian Bach’s latest solo album “Angel Down”?

MIKE: Well this was the situation with Sebastian and these songs for “Angel Down”. Many of them had already been written several years ago with people who were playing with Sebastian at the time. A lot of band member changes happened and he has been trying to put this record together for several years now. And it probably didn’t happen because of that and when it comes down to it he is really concerned about the end product. Some songs were written by me, some by former guitarist Ralf Santolla, some by Johnny Cromatic, some by Roy Z, and at one point he wanted each guy to play on their own song and that’s kind of what he did for “Bring Em Bach Alive”. But we convinced him that if he did that again the record would be choppy and like a compilation album and the smartest thing to do was to put a unit of guys together who were gonna stick around kick ass and appear on the record. And I really didn’t want to do just like two songs because my name was going to be attached to the record. So I played on every song on the album and the only guitar player who did play on the album from point A to point B. And then Johnny Cromatic did a good chunk of the playing and did some solos and Roy Z also did some playing too. You know Roy Z produces the record and always brings in some songs that he thinks may balance out the album. He kind of lets the artist do what they do and then he puts the final touch with his ideas. And in the end who better to have the touch to make the final decision about the product than the artist himself. You know with Bobby Jarzombek (drums), me and Roy its such a family anyway you know, I did a lot with that cd. And I think its pretty safe to say the people are digging it.

2. So these songs for “Angel Down” were already written prior to you playing on the record?

MIKE: Honestly there was a lot of stuff in the air that kind of had a question mark on it. Bas wanted to put out the best record he could but during the process of working on these songs we went out with Guns N Roses and had a window during that to go to Los Angeles and record the album because after that we packed our bags and if I remember went to Europe on tour. And a lot of stuff was up in the air until Roy Z started to glue things together.

So during the process Sebastian already loved my band Painmuseum’s “Metal For Life” album and heard “American Metalhead” and said “dude that’s gonna be the new “Youth Gone Wild””, and that was really good to hear too. So we re recorded that for “Angel Down” which came out killer. And he loved the song “Live and Die” and by the end he had enough songs. But when we do the next album we could actually get into more of a proper organic writing process. And I think “Angel Down” is great for the type of process we had at the time but I think the next one will be better especially since we have all been playing together for a few years.

3. As far as the song writing, does Sebastian come up with riffs, melodies, a chorus?

MIKE: Yeah he comes up with some guitar riffs, a lot of drum beats. He really holds the lyrics writing really close to him. But at the same time his hands are really everywhere on the album, then again if I present a lyric idea he will usually take that too. Its not really about who writes what its about how good is the final product. And that’s cool because just because I am a guitar player doesn’t mean I can’t come up with a good melody, and just because Sebastian is a singer doesn’t mean he can’t come up with a guitar riff or arrangement idea. So that really makes for a good song writing team.

4. What songs do you feel are the strongest on “Angel Down”?

MIKE: There are a lot that I really like and they all have their own flavor. Like the album has a lot of heavy stuff like the title track, “American Metalhead”, “I’ll Take You Down With Me”, but then he goes into real ballady stuff like “By Your Side”. So luckily there are a lot of great ones and not really any I dislike which is a nice thing. You know I am really interested in playing the type of music I like that’s the main goal. When you can say you are in a place where you really like the music and I think that also translates to the fans when you play live.

5. Was “American Metalhead” completely re recorded from the version found on the Painmuseum album?

MIKE: Yeah it was but the players, minus the singer, are the same as those on the Painmuseum album “Metal For Life”, that being Bobby Jarzombek on drums, Steve DiGiorgio on bass, me on guitar, and then Sebastian in singing.

6. Plans for a U.S. tour in support of “Angel Down”?

MIKE: Well as you probably heard we are going out over the summer with Poison and Dokken and that will be the tour. That Poison tour really has become successful doing a lot of out door open air sheds which is a lot of fun for me. It’s the summer and you are not stuck in some sweaty club, its my favorite time to see shows I know that.

7. Is Sebastian Bach going to Europe before this U.S. tour happens?

MIKE: Yeah we will do some festivals in June, I am not exactly sure, and we will do some in between dates around the festivals. And I think we will go out again and do some more shows after the U.S. summer tour. I really like packing my bags and going on tour for a few months, I get a little insane when I am home for too long. I have always been one of those guys who likes to record records so I could go out and promote them live.

8. Anything going on with Painmuseum?

MIKE: It is all a matter of time to do things. Pretty much on and off I have been touring with Sebastian since 2005 so it is not really that easy to say I am home from the Sebastian tour and I am ready to pick up things with Painmuseum because it takes time to set those things up. So Painmuseum is on hiatus for now but I have a whole other record already written its demoed… umm but I am just not sure if that music will be for Painmuseum or for a proper solo album. But then again I don’t want to make a compilation record with all these guest singers I want it to be pretty cohesive in sound. Honestly I cant say I do miss it because I do get the chance to play a lot of guitar, but I really use to love making these under cover crazy guitar albums. But this not going to be like a Joe Satriani album but more like Chris Poland’s “Return to Metapolis” or Mary Friedman’s “Dragon Kiss”. Like heavy stuff but the songs are not based on guitar licks, and I am not saying Satriani’s albums are because that would not be a true statement but I am saying its not base on arpeggios they are based on attitude and sound.

9. Is the lineup for Painmuseum still the same guys who recorded “Metal For Life”?

MIKE: Yeah it is the same guys. Tim Clayborn on vocals, myself on guitars, 99% of the time Bobby Jarzombek on drums like one occasion we went to Mexico and Paul Bostoff sat in.

With bass players I found a Jersey guy Clint Arent who is a great guy and great player who loves metal. So that’s good having a player who’s based in your home State and then Mike Lepond from Symphony X when he has time has played bass with us a few times. So the core of the band stays the same and few have a few other family members who come in from time to time depending on everyone’s schedules. For me its really more important having guys who care and get the vibe of the band and people I like to work with really.

10. Has any work been done on the next Halford album?

MIKE: Yeah there has but you know Rob has returned to Priest and that is where his focus is at the moment. And I know Priest is extremely important to Rob as it should be, so Halford activities do happen pretty regularly but because out of respect to Judas Priest everything takes place at the proper time. We have been working on a record a kind of medium pace but you know its cool because it gives us time to make the best record we can. We recorded a decent amount of stuff and we will see when the time is right to finish it.

11. And how involved are you with the songs for Halford as far as the songwriting and playing?

MIKE: Oh yeah of course just as I was from day one when we are putting the “Resurrection” record together. For Rob it has always been about two guitar players coming up with riffs and once the skeletons of the songs are down he comes in with lyrics and melodies and inputs thoughts on arrangements and maybe restructuring some of the riffs.

So for the new album it is working the same way with me and Roy Z writing the bulk of the guitar riffs and then we have Bobby Jarzombek on drums and bass player Mike Davis from LA we get together and jam on the stuff and demo it. Then Roy will take the stuff and get it to Rob wherever he catches him or he may join us if scheduling allows, and we will get vocal ideas. But I do feel even though it is obviously the Halford band, I am close to the Halford band it was what gave me my first real shot.

12. Plans for the rest of 2008?

MIKE: Probably going to LA to do some Halford related stuff soon, in May we will see what happens, but June is Europe with Sebastian and the pretty much the whole summer the States with Dokken into probably September I think. Then after September we will probably continue playing more live shows and then I am hoping by the end of the year I will have the solo album recorded I just told you about and have it released by 09. Then most likely Sebastian will want to do another solo record in 2009, Rob will probably be touring with Priest till the end of 2009.

13. Tell us about your involvement with Talking Metal and the FUSE TV show?

MIKE: With that we shot the pilot and the response was so strong to that pilot that FUSE offered Talking Metal a full rotation for the show. Its fun for me I get to play some guitar licks and listen to Metal and find out what’s going on in the Metal community. Mark and Jon (the hosts) are really good guys. The shows are taped a week ahead, what you see on Friday nights is usually taped the week before. Its really awesome because TV reaches so many people and any time something Metal gets more exposure, how can you say a commercially more acceptable platform, its great.

And I’m talking about support for the State of Heavy Metal in general you know, because it brings awareness and lets people know that Heavy Metal music is important. Its fun yet we know its an important thing in support for the music we love.

As far as how often I will be on the show it will depend on my touring schedule permitting. I don’t think there will be new episodes every week. It looks like there will be marathons and repeats. So far my scheduling has allowed me to be part of all the episodes.

14. Are you involved with any side projects?

MIKE: Well I have not contributed much lately and I have not really looked that much. Occasionally a couple things will come in but I really really must be into it. I just don’t want to be plopping on everybody’s record. But there a band from Chile called Delta, I am a fan of this band called Nocturnal Rites they had a record called “Afterlife” which was incredible and the singer is great, and this band Delta is reminiscent of Nocturnal Rites and I played a solo on their record. And I think the guitarist from Rage Victor Smolski also played on the album. I really like that band Rage.

15. Speaking of Rage, did you see the video for the song “Open My Grave” from their new album “Carved in Stone” because it is excellent?

MIKE: No I have not yet but I want to check it out. They usually put out good solid records. In the mid 80’s they did have a few albums out here in the States.

16. Did you know Grave Digger’s current guitar player Manni Schmidt played in Rage at one point?

MIKE: I didn’t know that see I know Grave Digger from “War Games”. When I first heard that record I was like man I never heard anything like that. And at the time the funny thing was they had this really glammy image but the music was real heavy and they were a great metal band. So you can wear lipstick and sound good Haha. No but it doesn’t really matter what you look like I’m just kidding. Their singer Chris had a really unique voice. I am really happy to hear a band like them just did a show here in the States. Its good when more of those European bands get to tour America. Its good variety too.

17. On your website you have the Armory Store where you have two instructional guitar books. Tell us about them.

MIKE: Well I wrote both. One is called “Ridiculous Riffs for the Terrifying Guitarist” where I focus of riffs, tricks, scales, tapping, arpeggios, you know all the necessities for every metal guitarist. Its very easy to follow and it includes tabs and notes broken down into theory.

The other called “Monster Coordination – Guitar Boot Camp” is where I answer a lot of fan questions and demonstrate some of the techniques I learned when I first started playing. There are also exercises you can do with you hands when you don’t have a guitar in your hand. They can both be bought through my website www.planetshred.com or www.metalmikearmorystore.com .

Official Myspace page: www.myspace.com/metalmikechlasciak
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