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Metal Thrashing Mad! Mitch Lafon's Exclusive Conversation with "Metal" Mike Chlasciak

By Mitch Lafon, Contributor
Thursday, August 19, 2010 @ 7:09 PM

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Polish born guitarist, "Metal" Mike Chlasciak has been living the American heavy metal dream for over a decade now having recorded and toured with legends Rob Halford (Judas Priest) and Sebastian Bach (Ex-Skid Row). Heís also made albums as a solo artist and as part of a band with Painmuseum. "Metal" Mike (whoís currently on the road with Halford) sat down with me on the eve of Ozzfest 2010 to discuss, of course, all things "Metal".

KNAC.COM: Let me start with Painmuseum. Any plans for a new album?

CHLASCIAK: Itís not an active band right now. When I put that band together, I was after a particular sound and feel that I wanted to get across, but every few years I get thisÖ this Ďboring buttoní and Iím searching from something fresh. I want something fresh, as a fan of heavy metal, that I would want to listen to. I donít always make a record to please me. So, thatís what Painmuseum was. It was something different and I wanted to go in a little different direction than what people might have associated with me.

KNAC.COM: You mentioned that you have a Ďboring buttoní, but youíve been with Rob Halford for a decade now. Why are you not bored of Rob?

CHLASCIAK: There are obvious things about Rob, but Iíve never sat down and thought about what is special about him. I donít want to dissect it or over think it. When I started playing in Robís band and we started putting together the demos for Resurrection in í99, I came in there as a new face and I wanted to make the best music I could in order to prove myself. I knew Rob was the ĎMetal Godí and he was legendary, but I wasnít a head over heels worshiper of (Judas) Prrest. This allowed me to look at the situation as Rob being a great singer and not just bow down at the alter of the ĎMetal Godí and I mean that in the most respectful way. But as time goes on, you realize that Rob is just a very special human being. Heís of those guys that can walk on stage and start with a ballad and people will still dig it. I remember when (Judas) Priest would start with "Out In The Cold"Ö thereís something about his energy that is special. Every so often a musician comes along that can connect with a higher being (for the lack of a better word). Those few chosen ones and I definitely think Rob is one of them.

KNAC.COM: You recently played the Heavy Mtl II festival in Montreal. How was that experience?

CHLASCIAK: It was killer and it had a great vibe. From what I saw it was run smoothly and very professionally. It stood out from other festivals Iíve been to that are Ďmayhemicí. It was absolutely awesome and I knew that Montreal had a fanatic metal base. So, I knew it was going to be great and it was the first proper Halford show of 2010. To be honest, my expectations came true and this was a nice way to start the tour. Itís incredibly good.

KNAC.COM: Did you check out any of the other bands on the bill? Alice Cooper, Slayer or Megadeth perhaps?

CHLASCIAK: I saw my old friends in Testament. I missed Slayer because they came on immediately after we were done. I did see Alice Cooper and Megadeth. Megadeth is Megadeth. Theyíre always clean and theyíre always awesome. Alice Cooper was very cool though because he still has this vibe of being this big rock show. What I like about seeing bands like Alice and Megadeth is this feeling that itís a celebration. Itís a big heavy metal show with a bunch of Marshallís and smoke machines. Itís the visuals that I fell in love with as a kid and are now there for other kids. So, itís a good feeling especially when I get to be a part of it.

KNAC.COM: Letís talk about your new solo album. Whatís it called? When is it going to be out and what kind of music is on it? Is it acoustic? Is it metal?

CHLASCIAK: There are no acoustic records in my immediate future unless all my Marshallís go up in flames. The record is called The Metal Worker and the idea behind isÖ after I departed from Sebastian Bachís band in í08, I took a step-back because I wasnít super happy in that and I had to think Ďwhat do I do?í I get asked to join other bands and touring line-ups because they know what I do is heavy metal. Iím a meat and potatoes heavy metal guitar player. Thatís what they get from me. Itís not the side salad and gravy. Itís Marshallís, Flying V and I play metal. Initially, thatís what the Metal God liked because he knew what he was getting and he was very cut and dry. When I sent in my videos and self-produce CDs to Rob, he was just coming out of the TWO project. In my cover letter I said, 'I'm not sure if you guys are doing industrial themed music or not, but if you are doing heavy metal then I am definitely your guitar player.

KNAC.COM: They made a great choice. The guitar sound on Resurrection and the album itself is fantastic.

CHLASCIAK: It was wild when we were making that record. Everybody that heard the music would say, ĎMan, this is going to be bigí and Iím thinking, ĎOf course itís going to be big. Itís Rob Halford singing. How can it not be big?í Then you go on an arena tour with Iron Maiden. Isnít that what everybody does? It was a very special time and I donít take it for granted. To get back to the earlier question, Iíve been so privileged to work with a lot of great artists that have great fans. So, what is it I do? I do heavy metal and people call because they know what they get and thatís why the record is going to be called the Metal Worker. Iím going to basically draw a self-portrait on the record.

KNAC.COM: Will you be singing on the record or is it an instrumental album?

CHLASCIAK: There will be a couple of instrumental songs, but itís not an instrumental record at all. Thereís a vocalist and his name is Carlos Zema (OUTWORLD). He could be a successor to the greats. Heís an incredibly talented and fantastic singer. Heís a phenomenon boiling under the radar.

KNAC.COM: Is the band called Metal Worker as well?

CHLASCIAK: The plan is to release it as a solo record, but Iím a fan of that name so who knows how itís going to morph? I think The Metal Worker is a cool name for band. The album itself will have that Halford sound (for obvious reasons), but it will also have Accept, Loudness and the late Ď80s Bay Area thrash bands that really shaped my guitar playing sound. Itíll be a current recordÖ

KNAC.COM: How is it different to what Painmuseum was doing?

CHLASCIAK: On a musical level itís a similar coloring, but obviously my sound has progressed. However, the vocalist is a lot cleaner now. Heís more of a ĎRipperí (Owens)/ Halford type, but without riding anyoneís coat tails because Carlos can obviously stand on his own.

KNAC.COM: Musically, this is closer to what Judas Priest does compared to a Def Leppard or b>KISS?

CHLASCIAK: Without a doubt.

KNAC.COM: When will it be out?

CHLASCIAK: I was hoping to release it sometime this year, but with me touring with Rob I donít think itís the greatest move to have a new record out if I canít really promote it. When I complete the touring cycle with Rob, Iíll be able to concentrate on my own record instead of doing too much at the same time. I want to give my full attention to Rob and make sure everything I do supports what we need to do as the Halford band.

KNAC.COM: Youíre also working on the new Halford record Halford IV Ė Made Of Metal. Is the record done or are you still tweaking it?

CHLASCIAK: The record is pretty much done, but you know how it is. Yes, itís done, but when youíre in L.A. come in and letís do another guitar solo. This is a time to re-establish Halford.

KNAC.COM: Let me pick up on one thing Ė you mentioned Sebastian Bach before. I saw you on the Guns Ní Roses tour In Quebec City. What happened with Sebastian and you? Was it musical differences or a personality thing? Why did you leave his band?

CHLASCIAK: WellÖ It just stopped feeling comfortable for me. It was fun and I had a really good time, but I just really wanted to get back to guitar playing. I felt like I had a lot more to say. If you want to do the rocker/ rock Ďn roll lifestyle thing itís perfect, but it was time for me to get back to my love; which is playing heavy metal guitar.

KNAC.COM: How was it being around the guns Ní Roses camp?

CHLASCIAK: It was absolutely incredibly good. They have really good professional people on board. The band guys are cool and Axl took Sebastian and his band in his circle of friends and it was very cool. Axl and his crew were nothing but awesome to us. We never talked smack about GNR or Axl and the reason we didnít was because there was no smack to talk about. It was cool and he was great. Itís weird, but I feel like Iím disappointing people when I tell them that. Everybody in that band is a kick ass player and the people around it work on a high-end level. They make miracles happen. Iíve seen Axl come off the stage and tell the monitor man to pack his bags. Heís out. Next morning, boom Ė Mariah Careyís monitor guy will show up. Shit happens. Itís not a put your diaper on and get learning tour. Itís full on Ė private jets and Victoriaís Secret model type band. Thatís what Guns Ní Roses is. Axl is one of those guys like Rob Halford. Heís connected to the big guy above in many ways. It was cool and it made me a better player in many ways because I had to play outside of my comfort zone.

KNAC.COM: HalfordÖ

CHLASCIAK: Iím very protective of the Halford name. Itís the band Iíve been the longest in. It was nothing when I started. There was no Halford name. It was Rob, Pat and myself writing music in a rehearsal studio on a trial basis.

KNAC.COM: You also came in at a time when Rob had to save his career. He did Fight and it was well received, but after his Two project people thought he was done. They were ready to forget him.

CHLASCIAK: Rob was able to place people in his band that had the raw hunger and energy, but that already had a level of professionalism established. We werenít Steve Vaiís, but we knew how the music business worked. We really worked hard and we always work hard in Robís band in the sense that we are always prepared. Even today, Iíll show up at a venue at noon. Iíll go in there and make sure my damn digital delay is working or change the strings on my guitar and make sure they feel right. I put in the time. I double check everything.

KNAC.COM: I saw that at Heavy Mtl II. I think you showed up by 1PM.

CHLASCIAK: And you know what Ė thereís still never enough time. You have to do that. Thatís what the word professional means. Itís to deliver quality work under stressful crazy circumstances.

KNAC.COM: Letís work your plugs in hereÖ. www.planetshred.com is your web site.,p> CHLASCIAK: Or www.metalmike.net . Iím also really active on Twitter which is http://twitter.com/MetalMikeC and I keep it interactive whereas a couple of times a month or so Iíll go Ďfirst two people to send the words Ďheavy metal rulesí will get a Jackson T-shirt.í Just to keep the faith going.

KNAC.COM: If they follow you on Twitter Ė do you think they could win a guest pass to a Halford show?

CHLASCIAK: Iíd say yes. Itís easier to make that happen if itís our own show compared to a festival show.

KNAC.COM: Letís talk Ozzfest. Youíre sharing the stage with Ozzy Osbourne and Motley CrueÖ

CHLASCIAK: Right there you mentioned two of my favorite heavy metal bands. My plan is to play a killer show with Rob and then go watch Crue and Ozzy every night. I plan to make friends with Tommy Lee and see what heís doing after each show. The music business is so difficult and anybody who has been able to have a career like Motley Crue Ė itís been what? Twenty-six years? There is nothing but respect from me for a band like that.

KNAC.COM: Career bands just donít exist anymoreÖ

CHLASCIAK: Thatís the Gospel Iíve been saying lately. Thatís why festival like Heavy Mtl are so so important because when bands like the Scorpions retire or Black Sabbath Ö these bands that are able to sell millions of records say, ĎWeíre not going to do it anymoreí. The artist development with bands is so strange now that even big bands that have that Ďradio hití still play a one thousand-seater club. Where does that leave us? The big shows with Marshallís, fireworks, the horns up in the air and the bullet belts in front of 12000 peopleÖ itís time to see that right now. We may not be able to see that in eight years. If you want to experience that big heavy metal concertÖ

KNAC.COM: You bring up an interesting point. In ten years, the Scorpions will be retired and maybe KISS, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Judas Priest will be retired as well. They canít keep playing into their 70s. All the established arena acts will be gone.

CHLASCIAK: Thatís what Iím saying. The chance is right now to see these bands. You canít wait until these bands are gone because I donít think the music industry is nurturing the bands to be the next Iron Maiden.

All pictures by Mitch Lafon Ė Taken July 24th 2010 at Heavy Mtl II

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