Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Interview with CHRIS CYANIDE by Dave Wolff (Second interview)

Interview with CHRIS CYANIDE (Second interview)

I last interviewed you for Autoeroticasphyxium zine in August of 2016. What has been going on with you since then?
Since last being interviewed I decided to do my own thing and go solo. I hit a rough patch where doing a band was not going to work out financially and time wise. After taking a step back, I just sat at home with my digital recorder and jammed out on some ideas. I started doing a bass only/industrial thing. These were very rough recordings of course but I put them out there and got some nice responses back for the most part. Also worked on some side projects with Rafael Brimstone singer of Legion on some dark symphonic/orchestral songs. As some time went by, things started looking better as far as some personal things going on and I was getting an itch to play out again. I asked myself "Could I actually do this bass solo thing live, and would people be into it?" I figured what could it hurt if I keep it simple and book a couple of local shows? I booked two shows. One at Gussy's Bar in Astoria, Queens, another at The Blue Room in Secaucus. New Jersey. I did a radio interview with The Graveyard Shift to promote it. Dan Montgomery who runs the station told me I'd always be part of The Graveyard family. His listeners were already familiar with me so it was a great platform to get the word out. So now it was time to really get social media stuff out there. New Facebook, Soundcloud and Reverbnation pages were made for The Chris Cyanide Bass Solo Project and I got to promoting all the stuff online while I recorded more songs. Finally it was time to play my first show at Gussy’s Bar. My friend Alicia, Amaris The Fire Vixen, joined me onstage to do some dancing. It worked really well with the industrial music. I was really happy she came because I'm not gonna lie. I was really nervous about this show. I wasn't sure how people would react. It was a good turnout. A lot a family and friends came out to support and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew my second show at the Blue Room would be a different story. I was on my own for that one. Just me, my basses, an industrial backing track and an audience that didn't know who I was. It turned out to be an important night for me. I met the guys in Agents Of Aggression who put on a killer performance and during their set, they mentioned that they would be signing with Cataclysm Records. This really got me thinking. I felt I was in a place with my music where signing with a label was possible. I was already comfortable talking with Tim McMurtrie who helped me in booking that particular show among others for a few different bands I had been in. Also, Tim is a veteran to the music scene and his opinions and knowledge are invaluable! We talked and got the whole process going but there was still an issue (in my opinion) with the quality of the recording of my songs. They were just home recorded demos and not what I wanted to release on an album. I have seen and have been in bands that made that mistake. I tried having the songs remixed but was having a hard time getting what I wanted. That's when Johnny Patterson stepped in. He saw how I was struggling and offered to help with his home recording studio. For those that don't know him, Johnny Patterson is also a veteran in the music scene having been Billy Idol's touring bass player and also with Niki Buzz just to name a couple. We re-recorded all eight of my songs from scratch. Johnny mixed and mastered them and I'm much happier with everything. He even mixed my new backing tracks for live shows. As all this was happening, I was booking more and more shows. From clubs like Blackthorn 51 and Otto's Shrunken Head to private events where I got to do shows with my friends Matt and Alicia helping me out onstage again. I'd been playing shows and preparing my debut album. I decided to call it "Bassic Evil" by The Chris Cyanide Bass Solo Project and had the cover artwork done by Bobby Leatherlungs Lucas. It will be released worldwide October 5 by Cataclysm Records. You can download it on all digital platforms, or get a physical CD from me or my official website.

You have some videos by The Chris Cyanide Bass Solo Project posted on Youtube. Explain how the songs were composed and how the videos represent them visually?
There is an official video for my song 8 String Bee Sting. It's a simple but fun video of me playing my eight string bass. It was shot in my backyard, the cemetery next to my house and a park by the ocean. It's a great representation of how at home and at ease I felt. There are some horror elements and strangeness added with the skull masks, eating of the nails and bee footage thrown in. It's just where I come from and it’s ever present in the Chris Cyanide persona. The bee footage I felt was important because it's an interpretation of work and progress getting done in an early stage of The Chris Cyanide Bass Solo Project not to mention part of the title of the song. Worker bees was a better choice than ants too. 8 String Ant Bite doesn't sound as good. The video was shot and edited by my longtime friend Mark Oniell. We do actually have plans on shooting a new video soon.

How much feedback have your promotional videos gotten since they were posted for viewing? What do you have in mind for the next video?
They get a decent amount of views, likes and comments and I do appreciate that. But I don't take it as the end all, be all of any accomplishments. Social media is a great, useful and important tool in this day and age but you have to be careful! It doesn't make you a rock star. If your video gets 10.000 views and likes and only three people show up to your gigs, then it might be time to reel in the ego a little. There are two new videos in the works for The Cyanide Project and The Chris Cyanide Bass Solo Project. T.C.P's video will be the band playing our rendition/cover of Starstruck by Rainbow. The Chris Cyanide Bass Solo Project video will have more of a storyline as opposed to the first video I did, but it will still have that same humor/horror feel. I don't want to give it away until the video is out.

Describe hooking up with Rafael Brimstone of Legion and the material you and he worked on. Is Legion an active and well known band from New York or are they from out of state? Where can people find them on the net?
I first saw Rafael Brimstone at a festival we played at in 2016. We didn't know each other but became Facebook friends shortly after and stayed in contact. I had mentioned to him that at the time I was just laying low and recording music from home. He was also taking a hiatus from music as well due to a vocal issue that wasn't allowing him to perform live. I asked him if he'd be down to do a small recording only side project and If I remember correctly, his response was "I am down." I recorded electronic/symphonic pieces on FL Studio and he added these power metal style vocals to them. They are pretty dark, gothic and pretty damn creative. We're calling it Brimstone and Cyanide and we have I think 8 songs done and another on the way. They can be heard on my Reverbnation page or Rafael Brimstone's Youtube channel. Rafael just recently got his vocal issue worked out and he is currently doing stuff again with Legion so I'm very happy he's able to get back in the game. You can check out Legion on their Facebook page for updates and where they're playing next. They are based in New Jersey.

Where is Gussy’s Bar located? Considering how well your first performance worked out with Amaris the Fire Vixen, do you plan to perform with her on a regular basis?
Gussy's Bar is located at 20-14 29th Street in Astoria, Queens and run by Ozzie Mortanis. Amaris The Fire Vixen is launching her own company, Alicat Entertainment. She's multi-talented; she can dance and do different things but I believe her passion is performing with fire. Unfortunately for me, that's not really allowed in a lot of the clubs where I perform, but if she can make the show she will. I always enjoy working with her when we get together.

Who is Agents Of Aggression, and how helpful was Tim McMurtrie booking you to appear with them? How often has McMurtrie helped book your performances, and what target audiences, if any, does he help point you towards?
Agents Of Aggression is a thrash metal band I met while playing at The Blue Room. I was looking to get my feet wet as far as playing local shows and reached out to Tim McMurtrie since he used to book that location and had booked some previous bands I played in for at least a good five years. I actually remember having to cancel a show I booked at The Blue Room when we had that hurricane and gas shortage in New York and New Jersey. Anyway Tim pointed me in the right direction and I got on the bill with A.O.A. I'm old school when it comes to what thrash metal I like. When A.O.A. took the stage I was instantly transported in my mind to high school when I first got into bands like Coroner, Sodom, and Kreator. I'm sure people may hear different things but that's my opinion about it. As mentioned before, they mentioned towards the end of their set that they were signing a deal with Cataclysm Records and that got me thinking. I knew I was in a place where that was possible for me. I just pulled the trigger and contacted Tim about it. He had mentioned Cataclysm Records in our previous phone conversation and it seemed like a well-rounded label as far as the other artists that were signing with him. I felt that this would be the right label for me given all the diversity. Rap Metal, Hard Core, Thrash, EBM, Horror Rock and more. Why not throw in an Industrial Metal Bass Solo act with a touch of horror?
I don't know what my target audience is. To be honest I don't think too much about it. I take what shows I can and give it my 100 percent to try and entertain whoever is watching. You either like it or you don't. There are plenty enough people that have come up to me after a show and have said "What you're doing so different and cool" or "I've never seen anything like that before". Those are things you don't hear too much today in music so I may be doing something right. I'm proud to be backed by Cataclysm Records and Tim McMurtrie in helping spread word worldwide about Chris Cyanide.

I remember Tim McMurtrie played on the first Method Of Destruction album USA for MOD. What other bands has he worked with that you know of?
To my knowledge Tim has worked with Rhythm Trip and his current band Full Scale Riot. I also know that he wrote and recorded all the music of Lana Blac's album Nocturnal. I highly recommend an interview with her.

Have you considered any musical collaborations with Tim McMurtrie since you and he crossed paths? If so, how do you think it would turn out for you and he, and the listeners on top of that?
I never considered it, but I'm always open to jamming out with anyone. Tim has a lot of talent and experience and I think it would be interesting to see what we'd come up with if it were ever to happen. I can tell you it would definitely be heavy.

How well known is Cataclysm Records, and how much confidence do you have in their ability to promote you and your work?
Cataclysm Records is relatively new. However when I first signed in January 2018 up until now, I’ve seen many artists jump on board. This is my first time signing with a label so I have nothing to compare it to. I just know its run by a veteran who knows the ins and outs of the business, I have an album that will be available for download worldwide on every major platform, CDs professionally pressed and ready for sale, a publicist to target the appropriate audience for what I’m doing, a family of like-minded fellow artists, shows and possible touring opportunities. Sure I could have done some of these things on my own, but not to Cataclysm Records caliber of professionalism. The company is just growing and growing. It’s an exciting time to be part of it and definitely the most exciting time for me personally in my musical journey.

There are many bands I have discussed diversity and originality with on one level or another. Death and black metal bands, industrial, doom/stoner rock, nintendocore and so on. Many of them still seem to think there is still room for new and original music these days. How much more new ground has yet to be covered in your view?
I don't think a new type of music is going to be invented. Only different variations of what's already been done. Even the stuff I play isn't a fresh new idea. There are other bass players who do bass only songs. They may not be doing it with a custom made six string bass wearing a skull mask, but it's out there if you look for it. I'm sure there's a country death metal band out there somewhere. Could you imagine a guy on a horse in a cowboy hat growling? It's actually not too far off when you see these new country bands with tattoos and piercings.

How do you feel about the current state of the club scene in New York and Long Island? How would you say it compares to neighboring states where you have performed of late?
I see a lot of the same things going on as far as the pay to play thing. I see the same seven bands struggle to sell fifty tickets to the same thirty friends they all mutually know. I do have a slight different attitude about playing gigs like that. I mean I still hate it to hell but another way to look at it is, you only live once and you can’t take your money with you when you go. Have your fun now if you can afford it. If not then just do what you can. It’s all pretty much the same anywhere you go and the same goes for Europe. If you want to do anything you need to know people and have some kind of budget to work with. My suggestion is to invest in merch. CDs, shirts, and whatever you think you can sell. Promote the shit out of it and try to get things to pay for itself. If you spend money, try and spend on something you can also make money with. If you buy onto a show make sure to have merch to sell. You’re there and people are there. Make the most out of it. I’ll even say it’s cool to wear your own band shirt to promote. No one should feel that it’s wrong or pretentious to sport your own merch unless you think it sucks. If you’re not ashamed to play your own music, you shouldn’t be ashamed to wear your own god damn band shirt. If you are ashamed then that’s a problem you need to deal with, not with other people who take what they do seriously. Be proud of what you do unless it sucks.

I have heard a lot about the pay to play issue. Do you think this situation can somehow be improved?
I don’t see any improvement in the foreseeable future. It will probably get even worse. Touring bands can’t guarantee to pack a club but want a guarantee. The local bands have to pay the price for it just to play a gig but let’s be honest. Local bands aren’t selling out clubs either but some of them have no problem judging established acts the actually do. It’s all a big mess of egos and people who think they know it all. If anyone wants to make a career in music, I’d say make sure you have another career to back it up and hustle your product. Make sure that what you are doing is true to yourself and be sure that whatever opportunity you take advantage of is just that. An opportunity and not people. Don’t burn bridges. Life is too short.

You mentioned you were having new custom instruments made by 812 Guitars. Is this the company that custom designed basses for you before? How much new material are they designing at present?
812 Guitars is my go to company for anything I need as far as my instruments. Chris Matos designed the CasketCase six string bass I currently use for live shows. It's been 1 of the things that's help make me stand out and be unique among masses in the music scene. Currently 812 Guitars has been on fire! Chris Matos had to expand the size of his workshop due to the traffic of incoming instruments he fixes or does setup for in addition to custom guitars and basses he's designing. He has his own line of guitars he's coming out with called The Byram Brawler! If you check out his Facebook and Instagram pages you'll see what I mean. He's got a pretty big social media presence. Right now there are two things in the works from 812 Guitars for Chris Cyanide. The first thing is another six string bass. Both Chris Matos and I are huge fans of Lemmy Kilminster and Motorhead. I always wished that Rickenbacker would make a six string bass but they don't. 812 Guitars say "no problem" and designs a body similar to that of a Rickenbacker but in the wood finish that I like and with the same sort of ruggedness of the CasketCase. This bass has been in the works for quite some time now. Trust me when I say it's gonna be pretty epic once it's finally done and I unleash a second monster at a gig near you!
Second, this is something that's actually already done. I have something in the works separate from The Chris Cyanide Bass Solo Project called just The Cyanide Project or just T.C.P. It's a full band doing both originals and covers. I have Andy T. Bone on drums and Barbara Chiavelli on vocals. We're just missing a guitar player. We still get together and rehearse regardless. Back to 812 Guitars, I needed a four string bass for the cover aspect of this band. 812 Guitars already has it made again in a CasketCase/Strat sort of style. I just have to pick it up.

What strings and pickups do you prefer installing into your custom basses when they are being constructed?
I like things that look different and stand out. Lately if been liking the DR Neon colored strings. I have green on my fretless six string and I once put red on the CasketCase bass. Currently there are regular stainless steel on it but I’m thinking of going back to the red. I also want to put green on my eight string bass. On anything that 812Guitars builds for me, Sentell pickups are what get put into them. 812Guitars works exclusively with Sentell Pickups and I have yet to have a desire to have anything else in my basses. I’d like to get some Sentell pickups in my six string fretless soon.

Who designs your masks and the other props you wear onstage? Does the inspiration come from anywhere or strictly from your own imagination?
When I first started The Chris Cyanide Bass Solo Project I didn’t use masks. I may have taken a few pictures wearing a mask for some Facebook posts but I played my first 2 shows with no masks or makeup. I was having a problem finding something I could see and breathe in. I ordered a Neoprene skull biker mask and used it on my first video. I wore sunglasses over the mask to cover up my eyes but kept having a problem with the glasses fogging up and I was unable to see. I played my third show wearing the Neoprene skull mask but with nothing covering my eyes. I bought steampunk goggles hoping they wouldn’t fog up but that didn’t work. I played my fourth show at Blackthorn 51 and had to perform with the goggles strapped to my hat and not over my eyes. I did some digging around and found an old mask that I got at a convention that I had used once filling in on bass for a band called Killenstein. It had mesh eye holes and I was able to see through it and perform well. I used that mask for quite a few shows but I wasn’t really happy with it. I found out that I could get colored mesh lenses for my steampunk goggles and mesh sunglasses so tried that with different skull style Neoprene skull masks and they worked. This is the current look I’ll be using for my next string of shows from now until I find something cooler. So basically my masks are just simple thing thrown together with different accessories my custom Cyanide Hats I have for sale. You can find them on my Cyanide Hats Facebook page or on my official website.
I plan on going back to the make up for select shows only such as an upcoming Halloween show. Again check out the website under Upcoming Shows for the details.

You have a full length to be released on Cataclysm Records in October. Describe the tracks appearing on it, how it was recorded and produced, who is helping out with publicity etc?
My album "Bassic Evil" will be released worldwide October 5 via Cataclysm Records. You can digitally download it or buy the physical copy through me. There are eight tracks on the album. The original recordings of these songs were just demos that I was experimenting with at home on a 16-track digital recorder. I would record them and just throw them up on Reverbnation or Soundcloud for my friends to check out and at the time that's all I really expected to do with them. When the decision came to actually sign with Cataclysm Records, I knew I couldn't release those demos as my album. I've seen and have been in bands that have done that. I didn't want to make that mistake so I tried remixing the songs and when that didn't work it tried having it professionally remixed and I still wasn't happy with it. A friend named Johnny Patterson saw that I was struggling with this, stepped in and offered to help. He has his own recording studio in Yonkers, New York and invited to come check it out. Johnny Patterson is a veteran in the music scene having been Billy Idol's and Niki Buzz's touring bass player. He's also recorded his own solo material called Black Tulip. So I took him up on his offer and brought all the stems to his studio to try to remix and master them. He did it but I still wasn't happy with the end result. Johnny suggested re-recording everything and I agreed that it would be the best option. I guess it's true when they say you can't polish a turd. Some of the drum tracks were kept while some were completely redone and the same as for the synth tracks. All of the bass tracks were completely redone. After everything was mixed and mastered, I was much happier with the end results. Once everything was done, Tim McMurtrie set up the meeting between him myself and publicist Katelyn Petersen so she could get some info on me and find out what needed to be done as far as the type of music I was doing and what audience to target and enter that information into a data base. I've never worked with a publicist before but I can tell you Katelyn does a great job! Aside from that, Cataclysm Records and Tim do a lot of promoting and I like to share out things from the other artists as well. It's like having this giant machine that's also like family as well. Signing with Cataclysm Records was definitely the right move.

Discuss the release party you are planning for Bassic Evil?
I was told by the label that I had to set up a CD listening party. I couldn’t just listen. I want to perform so I gave Frank Wood a call and set it up with him. My release party will be Sunday October 7, 8pm at Otto’s Shrunken Head 538 (East Main Street New York, NY 10009). I’ll be performing all my songs live and will have my CDs, shirts and Cyanide hats for sale. My CDs are going for $8.00 and I’ll be signing them for anyone who wants to purchase one.

How recently did you start The Cyanide Project, and how did you go about seeking musicians to work with? How many musicians did you try out before hiring Andy T. Bone and Barbara Chiavelli?
All of that happened quite by accident. I didn't think I'd ever be doing a full band again but I was offered a spot playing Dio and Dio era Sabbath in a band. I have good experience with that material due to some past bands I've been in and I always did enjoy playing that stuff. It's molded me in some ways on how I currently play. I won't lie either. I was getting that itch for a band again. I found out that Barbara Chiavelli was doing vocals and I've actually known her for some years and had wanted to do something with her for quite some time. The scheduling would just never pan out so it just never happened until now. I went to the 1st rehearsal and met Andy T Bone the drummer. We all hit it off pretty good but the band didn't work out and things fell through. I stayed in touch with Barb and Andy because we all actually felt we gelled together and still wanted to do something. I asked if they'd be ok with me putting my Cyanide stamp on this BUT creating as a band AND playing some of those covers we all loved doing. To my surprise they both said YES! Things are in very early stages and we're still trying to find the right guitar player. We have someone to help us out in the video but need someone permanent. If any guitar players are reading this and interested contact Chris Cyanide. I'm not hard to find.

What is The Cyanide Project looking for in a guitarist? How many guitarists are you in contact with at present? Who will be helping the band out for the video we discussed earlier?
We’re looking for a guitar player who has got the chops to play leads, share our interest in what we’re going for and willing to put in the time to do it. Andy T Bone has taken the reigns on the video and has his people working on it. We go into the studio November 11 to record the song and then begin the video shooting shortly after. The finished product should be out in 2019.

Are you planning to produce the new video independently? At some point would you consider working on your promotional videos with a professional company?
Right now the new video will be produced by me and friends who are helping me out. It’s all I can do at the moment. Working with a professional company is currently not in my budget however I wouldn’t be opposed to doing it once the timing and situation money-wise is right. I just have to be patient and play my cards right. I’ve been keeping a positive outlook on things and so far I can’t complain about what’s been accomplished. I do see a nice professionally shot music video in my near future.

How would you want people to remember you as a musician and performer in the future?
I think with the passing of people like Lemmy and Peter Steele, and that a lot of my bass heroes are getting older and closer to retiring is leaving an enormous hole. It’s my dream to be that next epic legendary bass player. I think I’ve got some pretty okay chops and a good gimmick to pull it off. I’m crazy horror film looking, loud as hell, well rounded bass player that could do anything from a one man industrial metal act to a kick ass metal band. Will it ever happen? I don’t know but I can tell you that nothing will happen at all if I don’t try.

-Dave Wolff

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