It’s been two years since our last interview with Beauty In Chaos’ guitar maestro Michael Ciravolo, who recently released the project’s second full-length album The Storm Before the Calm, a fantastic collaborative collection of gothic-rock and post-punk infused tracks.
Previously, in 2018, Beauty in Chaos released their acclaimed debut album ‘Finding Beauty in Chaos’, which featured throughout the record the talents of Simon Gallup, Wayne Hussey, Al Jourgensen, and Michael Aston, and more. This record was then followed by the ‘Beauty Re-Envisioned’ album (2019).
Earlier in 2020, Beauty in Chaos previewed several tracks from the new album, The Storm Before the Calm, including the track ‘A Kind Cruelty’ featuring Curse Mackey (Pigface, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Evil Mothers), ‘The Delicate Balance of All Things’ featuring The Mission frontman Wayne Hussey, and ‘Almost Pure’ featuring Steven Seibold of industrial-synth-punk legends Hate Dept. and the Martin Atkins-led Pigface.
We caught up again with Michael Ciravolo, (who by the way is also President of Schecter Guitar Research and the guitarist of Human Drama for the last 30 years), and asked him about the new record, and how he is coping under quarantine.
What was the genesis of your new album ‘The Storm Before The Calm’? What led you to collaborate with the artists you work with on this release?
The two things I did ‘know’ as I started the writing process for the new album was that I wanted it to be a bit darker and more ‘linear’ than our debut, ‘FBIC’ and I wanted it to be a bit shorter of a listen since both of our previous releases are quite long. I love that both Wayne Hussey and Ashton Nyte returned to collaborate on the new album, but I am equally excited about the newest members of our BIC Family. I always viewed BIC as an evolving and revolving entity, so I constantly try to replenish and expand the BIC pond of talent. I think we have been quite successful in that area!
Can you tell us about your relationship with Grammy-nominated producer Michael Rozon?
Michael is one of my oldest and dearest friends. He was the one that kicked me in the ass to do something on my own, outside of Human Drama or Gene Loves Jezebel. He is one of the most talented and underrated musicians and producers I have ever met. I personally think he is world-class. He has the patience of a saint and pushes me to be better. He makes me better. To top it off, we have a blast when we record and I think the ‘fun’ and care of what we created together shows in everything BIC.
How does working with musicians/singers from different genres shape the music you make under the Beauty in Chaos name?
It certainly keeps it interesting! It is always on Michael Rozon and my mind to keep consistency throughout no matter who is on the microphone. Most of the music is completed before approaching any singers. Lyrics are so important to the overall concept of BIC, and I feel we have been blessed with not only an amazing cast of singers but lyrical poets. I feel the fans of BIC really delve deep into the lyrics which is why they are so prominent on the album’s art and our BIC website.
Going back to the start, how did you get involved in music?
Growing up in New Orleans, I was first drawn to music and the guitar by watching those great late-night rock shows on a little TV in my parent’s kitchen. Watching T. Rex, Slade, David Bowie, Kiss, Alice Cooper and The New York Dolls made me want to get an electric guitar. I soon realized girls liked guys in bands more than football players so my direction at the proverbial fork-in-the-road was clear! I was never in any ‘top-40’ type cover band. I always played in bands that wrote their own material which doesn’t make me a ‘hit’ in any jam situation! Also, my early guitar idols – Johnny Thunders, Mick Ronson and Marc Bolan rely on attitude and image more than guitar virtuosity … which in many ways sort of ‘stunted’ my musical growth. But I think for better or worse, it forced me to develop my own style and sound.
What have been your most artistically satisfying musical moments as Beauty in Chaos?
There have certainly been a few of those ‘surreal’ moments, things that make me feel really amazed and very proud. Having Tish and I’s daughters on our debut album’s cover with them being our beauty in all of the world’s chaos is the best thing ever. Many of the artists that are part of BIC are also parts of bands that make up a big part of my record collection. I think this makes me able to listen to BIC not as being part of it, but as a true fan. Calling them all friends is truly the most satisfying, but I know you want a few of those special moments. Having Wayne Hussey and Simon Gallup (The Cure) together on a record for the first time is still very unreal and surreal. To me, these guys are two of the most recognizable voices and bass players in the goth/post-punk world and to have them together on ‘Man Of Faith’ is still really fucking cool! Also, having Marc Bolan being such a big influence to not only myself, but also to Wayne and then getting to record and shoot a video with his son, Rolan Bolan is also a special moment. When we did the final shot of our ‘20th Century Boy’ video… confetti cannons and flashing lights, Rolan turned to Wayne and I and said “I think my Dad would really think this was cool’. Doesn’t get much better than that!
You just released a great teaser video with snippets and graphics for each of the songs featured on this new album.
Your videos are very dynamic and professional. Can you talk about the visual-audio connection for Beauty in Chaos’ work?
Since Beauty In Chaos is not a traditional live band, I have always looked at our videos as the ‘face’ of BIC. It is very important to me that every video we do is unique and different. Hell, we even inject a bit of humor here and there! We have worked with Vicente Cordero of Industrialism Films on nine videos to date. We work well together, and he has done a great job helping me bring my visions to ‘life’ so to speak.
How are you managing during the lockdown? How has it affected you and what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Probably releasing our new album in the middle of the Covid lockdown wasn’t the best business decision, but I don’t think I’ve thankfully ever done music for the sake of business! Due to some studio issues, we were forced to delay the release in February, so I just could not see delaying the release any further. I feel that most fans would welcome new music during these unprecedented times and we even made the download versions of both of our other albums available at no charge during April to do our part to try to lessen the stress many are under. In typical BIC fashion, we do have a plan for the rest of the year. We have just shot a video for ‘Stranger’, which features the amazing Kat Leon, which should be released later this month. Also, I loved the process of relinquishing a bit of control for ‘beauty re-envisioned’, so I decided why not do it again! We are planning another remix album, tentatively titled “Out of Chaos Comes …” for a Halloween release.
2020 has been a difficult year so far, but you’ve had several releases and there’s been quite a buzz in the press about your new output. Under these currently challenging circumstances, how are you getting the word out about your music?
This year has certainly proved to be challenging and unprecedented. Being what BIC is, we were not affected in the ways and also, to the extent bands that depend on touring sadly have been. In an odd way, the shutdown made it easier to start putting together remixes as many are home and jumped at something to do. I’m blessed and proud that we’ve hit this all head-on and certainly feel for everyone that this has affected. As for getting the word out about our music, that has not really changed since out debut release. We have a good publicist – Shameless Promotion PR – we have enlisted their services. I try to take nothing for granted and jump at every opportunity to talk with journalists about what we do. Many of these journalists have become friends and a big part of our BIC Family.
Are you potentially involved in any other music projects you wish to speak about?
Absolutely! I am involved with something very cool and special that Wayne Hussey (The Mission) is spearheading. We are doing sort of a ‘Band Aid’ type thing for Covid Charites. Currently dubbed ReMission International, we are doing a new version of the Mission’s classic ‘Tower Of Strength’! So many great artists have lent their talents to this, with 100% going to each artist’s choice of charity. To date, here are some that are involved: Besides Wayne and myself; Gary Numan, Ultravox and Band Aid co-founder Midge Ure, Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Budgie (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Andy Rourke (The Smiths), Kevin Haskins (Bauhaus), Billy Duffy (The Cult), Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses), Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff), Lol Tolhurst (The Cure), Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails) Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), and Julianne Regan (All About Eve). The amazing Tim Palmer will be mixing, and the track should be available in the very near future as a digital download and a limited edition 12” vinyl courtesy of 33.3 Music Collective. I am so proud to be involved with this from the beginning, and I feel ‘Tower Of Strength’ is indeed the perfect song to honor all of the Health Care and Essential Workers who are our true heroes. This is being done for all of the right reasons.
More info and updates to come via both The Mission and Beauty In Chaos social media.
As of June 19th, ‘The Storm Before The Calm’ is out on vinyl, CD and digitally. The 180g-vinyl releases include a black numbered limited edition and black & blue duo-tone. CD and digital orders come with an 8-page digital booklet with lyrics and a 25+ minute title opus not found on the vinyl version. CDs also come with the full digital download.
‘The Storm Before The Calm’ can be ordered here.