JUST WOW! Where does one begin when introducing such a monumental and exquisite collaborative force that is Beauty In Chaos? Torched Magazine is honored to bring you this masterfully curated collective by guitarist Michael Ciravolo, who has so kindly taken the time to answer a few questions for us today. Not only is he an outstanding and well respected musician, engineer and producer in his own right but also the President and CEO of Schecter Guitar Research.
Beauty In Chaos is a dream convergence that brings together some of the most iconic names in the music world, including Wayne Hussey, Simon Gallup, Michael Aston, Robin Zander, Michael Rozon and Al Jourgensen, to name a few. Think ethereal old school goth/ alternative meets rock but with a modern edge. Their first release finding beauty in chaos is due for release on September 21, 2018.
“The reason why this musical vehicle we have created is called BEAUTY IN CHAOS is simplistic; yet not so. The vision of a beautiful flower growing in the middle of an abandoned burnt-out building replays over and over in my head when I look to describe the why. Assembling, or in some cases, disassembling beautiful soundscapes, melodies and chords, while injecting harsh bursts of sonics … or visa versa. Light in the dark, dark in the light is the contrast that helps in realizing the goal of creating something musical that is also very visual and cinematic,” says Michael.
Listen To Excerpts From Finding Beauty In Chaos HERE
‘Finding Beauty In Chaos’ (Ashton Nyte, Michael Ciravolo)
‘Man Of Faith’ ( Wayne Hussey, Simon Gallup, Michael Ciravolo)
‘I Will Follow You’ (Evi Vine, Michael Ciravolo)
What kind of advice do you think would be helpful for a newer musician who is just starting out?
There is certainly no ‘one size fits all’ in music. I guess be true to who you are and what you really want to do. Don’t try to fit into industry categories or labels. If you try to be something you are not, at some point it becomes obvious. Learn some music theory, learn how to use and abuse your gear. There are no rules, and if there are… break them. Every musician has influences… bands or artists that sparked them to pick up an instrument or put pen to paper and write a song. Delve further into what influenced them, too.
Did you grow up in a musical environment? When and where did it all start for you?
Not really, my parents were not musically inclined. My sister, who was quite a bit older than me, was a huge Beatles fan, but The Beatles did not resonate with me until much later. For me, music started to inspire me when I would watch late night shows like ‘Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and the Midnight Special. Seeing Alice Cooper, Slade and Kiss perform on a little b&w tv lit the fuse.
What was your inspiration behind the name Beauty In Chaos? And the name for your first record release Finding Beauty In Chaos?
Some dear friends of mine back east shoot photos inside of abandoned buildings. I saw a couple of them, gorgeous in their stillness with light coming through the broken windows. It just touched something in me. I think we are all looking for something, something beautiful in the chaos and madness that seems to surround us. The ‘finding beauty in chaos’ is just that … the searching. I think the cover, which is exactly what I envisioned over a year ago when I started this, at least to me perfectly symbolizes beauty AND chaos.
Is there a difference in the working dynamic between your past band Human Drama and Beauty In Chaos? What do you like or dislike about each one?
Well for one this is my album, not Johnny’s! 🙂 The recording of Human Drama’s ‘broken songs’ was both very creative and at times, very frustrating. Both very good things. Human Drama has long been Johnny’s ‘band’ and he knew what he wanted on the record. It certainly pushed me out of my normal comfort zone as a guitarist. It also got me back into my love for experimenting with guitar sounds and multi-parts. With the set instrumentation that had become a part of what Johnny wanted for Human Drama’s sound, the electric guitar can only have a limited role, often fighting for space with acoustic guitar, Hammond organ, background vocals, etc. It felt like shooting a bunch of cool stuff for a movie and having it end up on the cutting room floor. Frustrating yes, but not a bad thing if that ‘photographer’ goes on to make his on movie, and the original filmmaker got the movie he wanted. During the recording of my guitars for the Human Drama record, Michael Rozon, who was graciously not only engineering all the guitar for the album, started pushing me and said ‘why don’t you just do your own record.’ Thus BIC was born and there has not been one moment in this process that I have disliked. Difficult at times, I love the creative pressure I put on myself by being the only guitarist and to deciding not to use any synths or samplers. Limitations can be a very creative tool. And to be real clear, Johnny and I are still best of friends, he’s like an older brother to me. Johnny and I co-wrote two songs that are on ‘finding beauty in chaos’.
You’ve managed to bring together some serious heavy hitters into your Beauty In Chaos project where each single stands on its own. What was your inspiration behind creating new music in this way? Did you use some sort of framework or did it evolve as you went along? Do you feel like it’s worked out well in the end?
Not being a real singer, although I have done it and may do a bit more in the future of BIC, I had to find a way. A friend of mine, guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite, whom I know from his work with The Mission and Peter Murphy was working on his ‘Volumes’ record last year. Mark was sending his songs to different singers he knew and had worked with. I guess his record idea was the framework for what eventually became BIC. In the beginning, I honestly didn’t know who what want to be part of it and I only had a few songs semi-written. But after having Robin Zander (CHEAP TRICK) and Al Jourgensen (MINISTRY) which are the first two singers involved in BIC and they both graciously said yes to come to the studio and lay down vocal tracks. This certainly gave me the confidence that this could evolve and happen. I never planned on this becoming 14 songs … but I’m glad it did, as I am really proud of each song. I have certainly enjoyed the process of putting different artists together under the BIC ‘umbrella’ which is totally unique sounding and I feel this can continue to grow and evolve.
Who or what are some of your creative influences?
I grew up loving trashy theatrical bands like The New York Dolls, David Bowie, T. Rex, Slade, and Alice Cooper. While my high school friends liked Yes and Led Zeppelin, I was listening to The Clash, Sex Pistols and The Dead Boys. In hindsight, these early influences probably stunted my musical growth. But for better or worse, it has made me the guitarist I am today. After my punk years (though I still love those bands), I got into darker, gloomier stuff. Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus , The Cure, The Mission, Lords of the New Church. As far as guitarists, wow … Johnny Thunders and Mick Ronson are two on the top of that list. I learned a lot about effects from The Edge and Kevin Shields, too. Honestly, I think both Robert Smith and Wayne Hussey are both fantastic and underrated guitarists, as their personas overshadow their playing. I have nicked more than one thing from both of them 🙂
Is it hard to balance your everyday responsibilities with family and careers with Beauty In Chaos or is this something that has just fallen into place?
It has its moments. My wife is also a musician and that is how we met. We are parents first. We are Blessed with two beautiful, amazing daughters. Both of them go off to college this fall; so I would be lying if sometimes the guilt of being in the studio a few nights a week, after working all day, does not weigh on me. I think they are proud of what I’m doing here and are both on the cover of the album … which is very near and dear to me. With all of the amazing people that are part of BIC, the only one that impresses them is ICE-T, since they both love the TV series ‘SVU’ 🙂
Your lead off single ‘Storm’ is a song written with The Awakening’s Ashton Nyte. What was your inspiration behind this single and how did the creative process with Ashton unfold?
Again, I have to tip my hat (if I wore one 🙂 ) to Mark Thwaite. I heard Ashton’s track on the ‘volumes’ album and I really loved his voice so Mark was gracious to make the introduction.
After we spoke on the phone, I sent him a music track. In less than two days, he sent back
a rough mix of what has now become ‘Storm’. It was perfect voicing for this music track and “Storm” became the perfect ‘example’ of what I envision as this album, encompassing everything I set out to do. It was this song and the process of working with Ashton that I knew this record would happen. We already had the songs done with Robin and Al, but one was an older song that I had written and the second one was a cover. ‘Storm’ was new and honest to me. Ashton has become a dear friend and has co-written two other songs on this album, ‘Bloodless’ and ‘Fragile’….a dark and cold track that is among my favorites, and is the albums final and title track on ‘finding beauty in chaos. He has an amazing catalog of work as a solo artist and with The Awakening. I look forward to creating more music with him as BIC evolves.
You managed to bring Wayne Hussey (The Mission) and Simon Gallup (The Cure) together on a track called ‘Man Of Faith’ which was the very first time they’ve collaborated together. What was this experience like working with these two musical icons?
Honesty when I step back, it’s pretty fucking surreal. These two guys and their respective bands spent, and still spend, a lot of time on my turntable and to have them as part of this is a true blessing. It is amazing that they have never been on a record together prior, as they have certainly known each other since the early ‘80s. The collaboration on ‘Man Of Faith’ reminded them that they had passed each other demo tape ideas way back, and now have both located them. If there is a goth super group formed … everyone can thank me. And to Simon and Wayne .. I AM AVAILABLE!!! Seriously, these guys are not only amazing artists but also great people and I am honored to call them friends. However, it’s hard not to be a Cure fan boy when Simon asks you “so I’m working on a moving melodic bass line like Love Song, do you think that will work?” Yeah .. that should work just fine 🙂
When and how did you meet Michael Rozon? What has it been like working with him on Beauty In Chaos?
Wow… Michael and I go waaaay back. I was in a band in the mid ‘90s that was falling apart after getting close to getting the all-important record deal. My girlfriend at the time, now my wife found a flyer for a band seeking a guitarist. She called the number and they had a song playing on the answer machine that she had me listen to. I thought it was cool so she invited them to see what turned out to be my last show with the band. If my memory serves, it ended with my guitar turning into sawdust after beating it on the brick wall of Club Lingerie in Hollywood.
I soon joined Rozon’s band, DRAIN THE DOVES. It lasted for a while and we became great friends. There is a twisted version of us doing ‘how soon is now?’ on a Cleopatra compilation CD. He is simply world class in the studio. He mixed and produced a few of the songs on Gene Loves Jezebel’s ‘Exploding Girls’, which is one of the two records I did with Michael Aston.
Michael and Al Jourgensen hit it off real well when Al recorded his vocals and had Michael record and mix MINISTRY’s latest album, “AmeriKKKant.” Michael is one of my best friends in this world and to say this BIC record would not be possible without him is an understatement.
Not only are you an exceptional guitar player but you are also the President and CEO of Schecter Guitar Research. What is your go to guitar and why?
Well, thank you for saying that. I’m an okay player and I was forced to become a better guitar player on this album. People tell me that I have a very recognizable sound and style.. which I do take as a compliment. This probably comes from never having played in a cover band! As for being president of Schecter Guitars, that has certainly been more than just a way to provide for my family. It was a much needed creative outlet for me, especially not becoming the ‘rock star’ the teen me wanted to be. Also, I get to design guitars the way I want. I know Schecter Guitars are some of the best made guitars in the world: versatile, agile and hostile. It would be stupid and hypocritical to not play them. Over the past hundred or so shows with Human Drama and GLJ, Schecter Corsairs and TSH-1 are certainly my go to guitars. Of the literally hundreds of guitar tracks on the BIC record, all of the guitars and basses played were my live Schecter guitars except Johnny’s Ovation 12string acoustic and a Veitte Baritone 12.
Tell me about the follow up to your current release Finding Beauty In Chaos called Beauty Re-Envisioned. I understand legendary producers Tim Palmer and John Fryer will be adding their expertise to this album.
I am actually really excited about this record. The idea came about by accident. I had met Tim Palmer at his studio outside of Austin. Wayne invited me to hear some mixes for ‘Another Fall From Grace’. I really enjoy being in the studio and actually used to record and produce bands, including Eva O and Rozz Willam’s, Shadow Project. Tim was always one of my favorite producers. I spent countless hours listening to The Mission’s “God’s Own Medicine” and “Carved In Sand” … loving not only the songs but Tim’s production. We hit it off well and I asked him if he would consider mixing one of the tracks I did with Wayne. I sent him ‘Man of Faith’ and “The Long Goodbye’ for him to pick. He ended up mixing them both. I actually forgot to tell him my two limitations I placed on the record, so he added some cool guitar and keyboard bits. His mixes and additions where brilliant so ‘beauty re-envisioned’ was born! The idea has just grown from there with John Fryer doing a wonderful ‘4ad’ style remix of the beautiful song ‘I Will Follow You’, featuring vocals by Evi Vine. Besides re-mixes, this record will also have cool new versions of a couple of the songs including an absolutely stunning piano version of ‘the long goodbye’. Wayne’s vocal performance on that will bring fans to tears, and my dear friend, film composer Tyler Bates is doing a string arrangement for it. I’m really excited about this and I hope to have this record released in February or March, 2019.
Thank you so much for taking the time for Torched Magazine! Is there anything else that I may have missed that you would like to share?
I sincerely appreciate Torched for doing this and for really getting what BIC is going to be about. Also, let’s clarify that BEAUTY IN CHAOS is not my solo album or a vanity project since I have heard it described this way. I feel like I am the curator of something very special here. The artists that have contributed to this record have put their heart, their soul and their amazing talent into BIC. I really enjoy the process of putting different artists together and I have made some amazing, new great friends. I’m really excited about where this journey is going and I am already thinking about BIC3 and the creative limitations that hopefully will spark something more beautiful and more chaotic.
The evolution of BIC includes the following talented artists to date; Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Wayne Hussey (The Mission), Tim Palmer (Tim Palmer) Ashton Nyte (The Awakening), Simon Gallup (The Cure), Al Jourgensen (Ministry), Michael Anthony (Van Halen), Evi Vine (Evi Vine), Michael Aston (Gene Loves Jezebel), Johnny Indovina (Human Drama), dUg Pinnick (Kings X), Pete Parada (The Offspring), Betsy Martin (Caterwaul/ Purr Machine), Marc Danzeisen (The Riverdogs), Kevin Kipnis (Kommunity FK / Purr Machine), Dirk Doucette (Gene Loves Jezebel), Pando (A Flock of Seagulls), Rudy Matchinga (Red Scare), Tish Ciravolo (Stun Gun) and ICE-T (Body Count).
A follow-up ‘remix’ album , beauty re-envisioned is simultaneously in the works and has a plan release date of March 2019. This record will have mix interpretations and alternate versions by the likes of Tim Palmer, John Fryer, Mark Gemini Thwaite and Tyler Bates.
Beauty In Chaos’ first album finding beauty in chaos will be released on 9-21-2018. For further information and to hear excerpts from the new album please visit their website HERE.
Keep up with Michael Ciravolo and Beauty In Chaos
Beauty In Chaos collaborators / photo credits from top to bottom: Al Jourgensen – (Allan Amato), Ashton Nyte, Michael Aston, Marc Danzeisen, Tish Ciravolo, Pando, Pete Parada, Dirk Doucette, Johnny Indovina, Kevin Kipnis and Betsy Martin, Rudy Matchinga, Tim Palmer, Simon Gallup, Michael Anthon, Doug Pinnick – (James Hendershot/Pollstar), Wayne Hussey, Robin Zander, ICE-T – (Andreas Lawen / Fotandi), Evi Vine, Michael Ciravolo.