This Friday Beauty In Chaos will release their debut album Finding Beauty In Chaos. If you’re into The Mission, The Cure, Ministry, Gene Loves Jezebel, Cheap Trick, A Flock of Seagulls, etc get excited! Featured throughout the record are members from these very bands, notably Simon Gallup, Wayne Hussey, Al Jourgensen, and Michael Aston. The man on guitar for the band’s entirety and the mastermind behind this dream-come-true supergroup of post-punk variety is Michael Ciravolo, President of Schecter Guitar Research and guitarist of Human Drama for the last 30 years.
Today we’re proud to premiere a fantastic cover track off of Finding Beauty In Chaos and one of my own personal favorites! Al Jourgensen covering T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” in true Ministry-esque fashion. Obviously this is an example of the “chaos” part of the title.
Without further ado, here is our exclusive interview with Beauty In Chaos guitarist and brainchild, Michael Ciravolo, as well as two previous released tracks from Finding Beauty In Chaos I know you will love– “Storm” featuring Ashton Nyte and “Man of Faith” by Wayne Hussey and Simon Gallup!
Q: When did you first pick up a guitar? What was your experience with music when you were younger?
Michael: I got my first crappy electric guitar at 13 after seeing Slade, Kiss and Alice Cooper on a late night TV show called ‘Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert’. I wasn’t a natural musician since I didn’t grow up around players and no one in my small family played any instruments. My early guitar influences were Johnny Thunders and Cheetah Chrome as opposed to Jimmy Page or David Gilmour which probably stunted my musical growth! In my hometown of New Orleans, I played in bands like The Contenders and Stray Bullets. Predominantly, we played our own songs as opposed to the typical classic rock covers, so I guess that helped me develop my own style. I don’t view myself as a great technical guitarist, but I have developed a style and sound original to my playing.
Q: What’s your story about meeting up and collaborating with Simon Gallup, Wayne Hussey and Al Jourgensen?
Michael: I originally met them all through my position as President of Schecter Guitars. Funny thing, Ministry was the first concert my wife and I went to in 1992 when we started dating. Al and I later became friends and when I found out he was also a T. Rex fan, I asked him to sing 20 th Century Boy on the album. I love the way the track turned out, as you can’t have Al sing and it not sound like Ministry. While recording Al’s vocals, he and Michael Rozon (BIC producer) hit it off so well that AL brought Michael in to record and mix ‘AmeriKKKant’. As for Simon and Wayne, I had been working with The Cure on guitars since 2003 and spent far too much bar time with Simon! We like a lot of the same music and hit it off right away. He’s such a great guy and, to me, one of the best and most recognizable bass players in music. A mutual friend, Mark Gemini Thwaite introduced me to Wayne a few years ago and we became great friends. He even invited me to Tim Palmer’s studio outside of Austin, Texas while they were mixing The Mission’s ‘Another Fall From Grace’. I must admit that ‘First Chapter’, ‘God’s Own Medicine’ and
‘Carved In Sand’ are some of my all-time favorite albums and to be in the studio with the two guys responsible was a bit intimidating. All three of us hung out and they both treated me as a music contemporary and not an obsessed fan! Tim even mixes several songs on our follow-up ‘Beauty Re-Envisioned’ album due out in March 2019.
Just imagine – getting these two iconic artists from the goth world, Wayne Hussey and Simon Gallup together for the first time on a song together is really special to me, and I would imagine to a lot of other fans. This might also be the first time Simon has played on anything outside of The Cure! I know it sparked some old alcohol-fueled conversations they had in the ‘80s about doing something together. I think Wayne even found an old cassette that Simon gave him of riff ideas. So if this does materialize, I relit the fuse! Hell, maybe they need a second guitarist!
Q: How did you go about deciding to create Beauty In Chaos? What was the initial inspiration? How did this project evolve and who is involved?
Michael: ‘Why don’t you just do your own record?” was the question said matter-of-factly byMichael Rozon, a long time friend who was in the process of recording my guitar parts for the new Human Drama album, ‘Broken Songs for Broken People’. The original line up of the band had decided to record our first new album since 2002’s ‘Cause and
Effect’. In hindsight, I think I really wanted the direction of the album to be different than it was sounding. My frustrations grew as I tried to fight for sonic space for my textured guitars and layers in songs that already had constant acoustic guitars and a Hammond organ filling up the space. And that’s why Michael Rozon asked the
question. He recognized my guitar parts and musical contributions were not in sync with the musical direction of Human Drama. So we actually started recording the first four Beauty In Chaos tracks while still completing the Human Drama record. I’m not saying anything negative about the Human Drama record. There are great songs on that album and I am proud of my guitars parts since I really pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. I think we mutually agree that I’m not a good fit at this point.
Q: What hurdles did you have to jump in order to create Beauty In Chaos?
Michael: Probably this biggest hurdle doing this record was simply the time constraints.
While I am blessed to have my own studio. I still have a full time ‘day job’ and my wife and I are raising two teenage daughters, which has always been our number one priority. Michael Rozon was also recording and mixing the last Ministry album ‘AmeriKKKant’ when we started this record. We basically did this record over 14 months usually working three, 10 hour nights per week. Doing a project like this, we expected waiting for tracks from the other artists would have been an issue with timing, but honestly, it went very smoothly. I guess putting ‘band aides’ on our aging ProTools system was also both a hurdle and a pain-in-the-ass! Hopefully we rectify this before the next record so we don’t take a baseball bat to it.
Q: What was your favorite part about working on this project? What surprised you most?
Michael: Wow … I would say the creative process was really amazing. Sending off a music track to artists that I admire and respect then waiting like a kid on Christmas morning to hear what comes back! Michael Rozon and I had a blast making this record. We did a lot of laughing and cutting up, and drank a lot of red wine, too! I have to say this record would not have been possible without him. He pushed me to do better than what I thought my best was. Also, meeting Ashton Nyte through this record was fantastic. We became great friends and wrote together what I feel, are three great songs including the debut single ‘Storm’. I look forward to working with him more as BIC evolves Biggest surprise? I guess it has to be how many great artists were happy to be part of this! Only one person said ‘no’ … and after hearing what the artist that said ‘yes’ did with the song … I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason! Oh yeah, having two of the most recognizable voices in American rock n’ roll; Robin Zander (Cheap Trick) and Michael Anthony (Van Halen) on the same song, another ‘first’ is pretty fucking cool!
Q: Are you close with everybody involved on the album?
Michael: I can say in all honestly that I consider everyone on this album a friend, some very close friends. The only person I don’t really know on the record is Ice-T. We are supposed to meet up in January at an event. When we were working on ‘Un-Natural Disaster’, there was such a heavy breakdown grove between Ug Pinnick (King’s X) and Pete Parada (The Offspring) that we felt we needed something. I asked my friends Vince and Ernie C. of Body Count if
Ice-T would do it … not at all thinking it would happen. Amazingly, Ice was into doing it and put his stamp on it!
Q: Do you have a favorite song on the album? Tell us about it.
Michael: This album has taken over a year to do, so my favorite song has changed quite a few times! Today, the one that really has my ear is ‘Look Up’ which features my wife, Tish on vocals. Since we have just mastered the record,
I’ve actually got to listen to it a few times straight through and I’m extremely happy with how the music flows from song to song which was a concern considering how diverse this record is with all the different singers and talent. ‘Storm’ has been, and still is, on the top of my list.
Q: What is your favorite guitar and how long have you had it?
Michael: Guitars are really tools to me now… and I’m pretty rough on them, especially on stage. When I was younger, I definitely took better care of them! Most of my guitars are obviously Schecter, and if I had to pick a favorite, it would be one of my Corsairs, which is a big semi-hollow with a Bigsby tremolo. I do own a few ‘vintage’ guitars that I have had for over 20 years that I keep for my daughters to inherit one day. One is a beat-to-shit but supercool 1960 Gibson Les Paul TV Special and the other is a ’62 Epiphone acoustic, which sounds beautiful. I honestly don’t think I brought either of them out for this record.
Q: Do you name any of your guitars?
Michael: Ha! At first I thought that’s a stupid question but then I realized I do have my wife and two daughters, Nicole and Sophia’s names on my three Schecter TSH-1s I played live with HUMAN DRAMA. I also have another with my late mom Bonnie’s name on it … so that makes four! My other main stage guitars, all Schecter Corsairs, have numbers on them, 1 through 6. No real reason other than I think I remember seeing pics of Pete Townsend with numbers on his guitars
Q: What are some of your favorite pedals and effects to use?
Michael: Since I imposed the ‘and no synthesizers used’ (ala early Queen) at the onset of this record, pedals and other gadgets were a huge part of the textures. My main ‘tracking’ board, which was a carry-over from what I used on Human Drama’s ‘Broken Songs…” had my Gurus EchoSex delay, which is on nearly every one of the 100’s of guitar tracks on this record, along with a vintage Electric Mistress and an Eventide H9, which was used mainly for ‘shimmer’. So many other pedals have some individual moments to shine on this record … Keely’s ‘Loomer’ and ‘Dark Side’, IdiotBox ‘Stutter’, and a bunch of different JHS things. We also used some other things to manipulate the guitars including an Ebow, a real viola bow, and a couple of Schecter guitars I had a Sustainiac system and a Gizmotron installed on. 99% of the guitars on this album where recorded through amps, as my producer Michael Rozon removed the Kemper on Day-1!
Q: Who are your all-time favorite guitarists?
Michael: I grew up listening to glam and punk as a kid so Johnny Thunders and Mick Ronson certainly top my list. I would also have to add Mick Jones (Clash) and Brian James (Lords of the New Church). None of these guys are technically great but certainly have a style, sound and swagger. Later, as I got into darker stuff, I love Robert Smith and Porl Thompson’s playing. John Aston (Psychedelic Furs) was a big influence and defintitely along with Wayne Hussey, who I think is a very underrated guitarist. I also think Kevin Shields of MBV is sonically brilliant.
Q: What do you have planned after the album is released? Will this be an
Michael: I was just making a mental timeline of ‘what’s next’. We do have plans for several more videos, hopefully as early as the end of October. Songs being considered are ‘Man Of Faith’ (which features Wayne and Simon), “I Will Follow You”, which is a beautiful song featuring Evi Vine and also ‘Look Up”.
We are also planning to release “Beauty Re-Envisioned” in March 2019. This will be a remix/reprise album with mixes by Tim Palmer, John Fryer, Kevin Kipnis, Ummagma and Tyler Bates to name a few. I’m really excited by this record as I have over half of the mixes in hand already. It will also have some completely different versions of a few of the songs, including an acoustic version of ‘Storm’ with Ashton Nyte and a gorgeous piano/orchestra version of ‘The Long Goodbye’ with Wayne Hussey. Then there is the yet unnamed BIC3 that I would love to see completed before 2020! So… yes! To get back to the second part of your question, I have always looked at Beauty In Chaos as an evolving entity with an ever changing cast of characters and imposed limitations!