AN INTERVIEW WITH METAL MIKE CHLASCIAK
By David Iozzia
When Metal Mike answered my e-mail for this interview, he was sitting at home and just about finished drinking a six-pack of his favorite beer.
(Note from Metal Mike: If your beer company wants to be mentioned next time, send PainmuseuM three cases of beer)
Dave: Metal Mike, thanks for letting me conduct this interview for davesontour.com. Your new band is PainmuseuM. Best of luck in 2005 and in the future. Why did you form this band?
MIKE: It felt natural for me to make my own mark outside of the HALFORD material that everyone knows. I had enough great Metal songs that I felt it would be a shame not to release them for the fans to hear. In addition, by the time all the PainmuseuM album was written, Rob reunited with Judas Priest, so I was not about to fade into obscurity.
Dave: Other than world domination and playing metal music on all four corners of planet Earth, what do you hope to accomplish with PainmuseuM?
MIKE: I would like to make a statement that it is okay, still in today's world, to follow your heart and play METAL. You do not have to follow trends and kiss anyone's ass to be happy musically and personally. I am extremely proud of PainmuseuM's "Metal For Life" album. I have proven to myself and many others that good things can get accomplished by listening to your own thoughts, feelings and ideas.
Dave: "Metal For Life" is PainmuseuM's first CD. Tell me about your efforts recording it. Also, please talk about trying to find the right record label and releasing a CD in the current music marketplace.
MIKE: I made this album with my very good friends, and I believe that this fact is a big factor for the way that this record came out sounding so good. Of course, all my friends on this record are the ultimate and best metal musicians and professionals you can find. They are Bobby Jarzombek (Halford/Iced Earth), Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Death, Sadus), Roy Z and many others. I also found a killer new singer, Tim Clayborne, who brings back charisma and originality into the world of metal. The road to finding a good home for this band, label wise, was not an easy one. I needed a label that would just purely "understand" this band and album. I did not want to explain it too far, because if you need to sit in for 10 meetings and explain, explain ... you know? I'm too fucking bored by that time .... Demolition Records got our vision right away and they know how to build a band. They can deliver us the attention that I need. I could care less about being on a label that has a million acts that rarely get any promotional push, that's suicide ... and I have worked too hard on this album and my career for me to allow this to happen. But, we are in a really good place now. I'm very happy with things so far.
(Note from Metal Mike: My CD is available at FYE/COCONUTS as well as at www.cdbaby.com/metalmike)
Dave: Are there any live shows scheduled yet for 2005? If not, when?
MIKE: We are looking at Europe now, several tour packages have been on the table, but the right one has to be the one we will spend the money on. We will do a short U.S. tour before Europe, as it makes the most sense business-wise. We'll see what happens in reality, but this band will sell records by playing live. I can tell you we are definitely not a Top 40 radio band.
Dave: Tell me about the other members of PainmuseuM, what are their musical backgrounds, and why did you select them as your bandmates?
MIKE: Drummer Bobby Jarzombek is a close friend of mine from Halford. He is one of the best drummers that ever walked this earth and is a true professional. Tim Clayborne from the Virginia metal band, Hatred, is on vocals. Tim is one in a million. Has everything: great vocal ability, songwriting style, lyrical approach and is a real metal frontman. When I see metal bands I want to see a star quality singer fronting the band, not an average guy, and Tim has got it. And for me to say that after being on stage with Rob Halford is quite a lot. I do not want to play guitar with a singer who does not inspire me.
Dave: If PainmuseuM was to be the opening act on an arena tour of the U.S. and Europe, which headlining act would you like to support, playing your music for their fans?
MIKE: Venom .... fuck I don't know ...we will play with anybody that makes sense. This band fits with many bills ... as we have a lot of factors in our style: melody, heaviness, a good mix of abrasiveness and tenderness. So, we can go head to head with Dark Throne and then collide with Manowar.
Dave: If PainmuseuM was headlining a U.S. club tour, which opening band would you like to bring along with you?
MIKE: Jessica Simpson.
Dave: What are your future plans for PainmuseuM, a live DVD or another studio CD?
MIKE: Another studio album. DVD footage is being compiled, but it is too early to release any of it. So, we'll have some touring first and then another very strong studio record.
Dave: In 1999, I sat on a bar stool in a small club in Long Branch, N.J. I watched a young musician, accompanied only by tapes, shredding on guitar as he opened the show for my favorite guitarist Ronnie Montrose. In the next three years, he would be the guitarist on Rob Halford's solo CDs "Resurrection," "Crucible" and "Fourging The Furnace." That was a big leap in a short amount of time, Mike. How did you hook up with Rob?
MIKE: I remember that. I did several things like that on the East Coast. That Long Branch show was the last show I did in that fashion, before Rob's management asked me to come out to Los Angeles and write some songs with The Metal God. You know all those shows that I did in NJ as a solo artist (with a backing band or not) ... opening for Yngwie, Steve Morse, Ronnie Montrose ... I had to sell tickets to get on the bill. So, in the end I would always lose money, although I always made it back plus in merchandise sales. But, all those shows were taped by me. I compiled tapes and sent them to Rob's management. So, to make the long story short, it was well, well worth it. And I think that is what happens when you believe in yourself and see things in the long run. I always look at situations and where they take me three years down the road, and I don't care care about initial returns. This helps you grow.
Dave: HALFORD is heading into the studio in the fall of 2005, following Rob's summer U.S. tour with Judas Priest, to record a new CD. Have you commited to playing guitar on that CD also?
MIKE: Yes, of course. And, I can tell you that it will be another awesome metal album from HALFORD.
Dave: What are your expectations from Judas Priest as they tour the U.S. this summer?
MIKE: I'm sure they will show everybody once again, why they are the number one Metal band in the world. I'm sure it will be a wonderful thing to see and it will strengthen true metal once again.
Dave: Your ex-bandmate in HALFORD, Patrick Lachman, was singing onstage for Damageplan the night Dimebag Darrell was murdered. How is Patrick handling it? Can you tell us how you were affected by that tragic event?
MIKE: I do not know anything about Pat. About this changing the metal scene, it's very strange, but good people should stick together and show support whenever they can. Freak accidents like this should not stop metal shows. I believe that one bad apple not always spoils the rest. Abviously the person who did this was not a real metal fan.
Dave: In June 2004, you toured in Europe, playing guitar for Testament? What were the circumstances that led to you joining them for that tour? What are your feelings on, and expectations of, the just-announced Testament reunion tour?
MIKE: Eric Peterson called me and asked if I was interested in coming out to jam with the band and if I could go out for a few weeks and tour. I said of course and we played close to 20 counties in the summer of 2004. I think the short reunion will be a wonderful chance for fans to see this great line-up. My expectations are that after the reunion Testament will do a string of live dates this summer. By then, the new studio album should be out.
Dave: I've been chatting with Kamelot drummer Casey Grillo the last couple of days. Didn't you two do a track for a Led Zeppelin tribute CD, possibly "Immigrant Song?" Tell me more.
MIKE: Yes. It was Casey from Kamelot and Ian Parry from Elegy. I joined the guys to do a rendition of that great track, and we really had a lot of fun. These two are some great guys to be around. I like doing such things every so often, as it takes me away from my regular working environment and keeps things fresh for me. We did this at Casey's studio in Florida. That album is on Locomotive Music and is called "The Music Remains the Same."
Dave: What song did you cover on the Judas Priest tribute CD in 2002? If PainmuseuM was asked to cover a Judas Priest song for a new tribute CD, what song would you pick?
MIKE: I reluctantly guested on Primal Fear's "Metal Gods" when I was in El Paso recording guest solos for their "Black Sun" album. I did not OK it for them to use this solo. I will never record a Priest song for any tribute, because once you play with the best, imitating it just makes you look like an asshole and is unnecessary.
Dave: Before I forget, congratulations to you and your wife on the recent birth of your child. Tell me more about the baby. Are you getting any sleep? How is parenthood treating you?
MIKE: A different type of head space for sure. But, things are going well now. More than ever, every minute of my time counts. I enjoy it and every time some of the business stresses me out, I look at my son Steel and realize its such small bullshit compared to him and how little I give a fuck about making anybody happy except my family, my friends, and our fans.
Dave: You've played with a bunch of incredible metal musicians, Rob, Roy Z, Testament, Bobby Jarzombek, and many others. If you could form a metal supergroup for one CD/tour, with musicians you've never played with, who would be in your band? Pick a singer, a second guitarist, and your rhythm section.
MIKE: Remember me talking when you play with the best? Well, its hard to imagine anybody else. But, I can tell you that I would really like to record something with DORO. She's just incredible. So talented and what a metal heart.
Dave: Which band should put all their issues behind them, reform, record an album, and do one last tour? Which band should just hang it up and go away?
MIKE: The only band I hope that would reform and bring us more music is Death, but unfortunately that will never happen. Any band that is made up of posers who pretend to be metal like Sum 41, Dave Grohl, Lit, etc., should shut their mouths. They always talk about their metal influences and how they used to be in metal bands .... USED TO BE? Give me a fucking break, if you are METAL, how can you grow out of it, or the "Metal Phase" .... Fuck them all. Once you are metal - you are METAL FOR LIFE. That is the statement behind PainmuseuM and the title of the new album.
Dave: If Jackson guitars gave you two new axes, one to stick down the throat of a NU-metal singer, the other to stick up the ass of a NU-metal guitar player, which two posers would be your victims?
MIKE: You know Dave, all these fuckers are so replaceable, wearing the same clothes and the same trendy (by their standards) metal spiked belts. I cannot even mention a damn name, because I do not know them. But, I'll tell you one thing. I'd ask Jackson for 50 guitars, because if I'm going to go into a rampage I'm going to do it right.
Dave: What's the first concert and the last concert that you've attended?
MIKE: My first concert was Monsters Of Rock: Metallica, Scorpions, and Dokken at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. My last concert was Suffocation and Behemoth at B.B. King's in New York City.
Dave: If you were to be stranded on a desert island, name five CDs that you'd want with you?
MIKE: Death's "Symbolic" and "Sound Of Perseverance," Chastain's "Voice Of The Cult," Carcass's "Heartwork," and Yngwie Malmsteen's "Trilogy."
Dave: Same desert island, what scenario would you pick?
Stranded forever with a porn star and two cases of beer.
Stranded forever with two porn stars and only one six-pack of beer.
Stranded instead with the porn star's husband, no beer at all, but he's got the skills to build you a raft to leave the island.
MIKE: First one.
Dave: Name the one guitarist who has had the biggest influence on your playing style. Why?
MIKE: Yngwie Malmsteen. Unwilling to bend to please anyone. Virtuostic ability to play guitar. An original in style, spirit and character. He's the ultimate guitar player .... The best.
Dave: I understand you've started a business relationship with musical instrument company Musician's Friend, creating a Metal Mike Gear Shop at your website. Please explain.
MIKE: Often we get e-mail from fans asking about the gear that I use. There are so many e-mails that we can't send replies individually, and there was never a one- stop shop for anybody interested in buying all the products. With Musician's Friend being as professional and together as they are, we saw this as a perfect opportunity to send interested people to a place where they can read reviews, get great support and ultimately buy the piece of gear that they were looking for.
Dave: Metal Mike, please share some closing comments for metalheads worldwide?
MIKE: Support TRUE metal. I'm not talking necessarily in European power metal vein, just metal in general that is honest and not weak in character and purpose. Listen to bands like Death and Accept. See what a metal heart sounds like. Reject posers and traitors that muddy the waters of the real metal nation.
Full Name: Metal Mike Chlasciak
Birthday: December 24, 1971
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Bands: PainmuseuM, Halford, Testament
Hobbies: My Corvette, fast cars, WWII memorabilia, Beer
Favorite metal band: Death, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force
Favorite metal song: Too many to list.
Favorite film: "Braveheart"
Favorite U.S. city: I don't care, as long as they have metal and beer
Favorite international city: I don't care ... as long as they have metal,
Beer and French-speaking foreign
exchange female students
Favorite venue to play: Madison Square Garden (8/5/2000)