interview with vocalist Jason Darnell and guitarist Stacey
Interview by EvilG
With thanks to Luxi
Lahtinen and Lord of the Wasteland
Pictures courtesy of
Jason Darnell - Vocals
Stacey Murray - Guitar
Keven Albert - Guitar
Jay Figueroa - Bass
Burton P. Ortega - Drums
Out of all the indie band’s promo packages I've seen and related
marketing collateral (shirts, stickers, etc.) you guys REALLY have your
shit together…very slick stuff! How much time, effort, planning, and
resources have gone into this business/marketing side of KAOS?
Stacey: First off, thanks for the comment. To be honest with
you, we have no idea what other bands put together as press material for
venues such as yours. What we have is four years of collaborating with
one another, mixed with a lot of pride in what we do. I would say, that
by learning from our mistakes, has played a big part in how we present
ourselves. We think big and do things in a big way.
Jason: Well EvilG, I would say, "endless hours and days at a
time, have been spent and will continue to do so." The press kit, or
package, we put together needs to be the best it can be. Making an
impact is very important.
Tell us a bit about your label Oblivion Entertainment and are
other bands signed, or planning to be signed, to it?
Stacey: Oblivion Entertainment is our partnership. There are
no other bands on the label at this time, but who knows, there could be
in the future. First we have to pave the way with KAOS.
Jason: Oblivion Entertainment is our partnership/label. To add
what Stacey said, this has been a topic and has been considered to bring
in a few bands. To build the metal empire into a bigger operation. Time
will tell with this as we keep booking and putting on shows, with the
Oblivion Entertainment title.
Is KAOS happy with its status as an indie band or are you seeking
a larger label for more PR and distribution? Or perhaps some labels have
already expressed interest (if not then they are retarded)?
Stacey: No. As far as we see it, we could never be good enough
and we will always want more. We are looking for backing on all levels.
As far as the second question....HAHA! Retards....that they may be. Then
again, the industry is in a sad state of affairs. We have had very
little interest. We have sent our press material to only a few labels at
this point because we are concentrating on the media. We have a strategy
and we will stick it to them hard...when the time is right...if somebody
doesn't find us first.
Jason: Our status as an indie band is okay...for the
moment. However, I can sense that an explosion is on the horizon for
this band. As far PR and distribution deals, these things will come.
Retardation...Yes, they are!
What would you see as an ideal situation, or the end goal, in this
regard (concerning the label situation)?
Stacey: First of all, finding a label that would work as hard
for us as we would work for them, would be ideal. Let's face it...I
don't think there is one that can. Yes, that is a challenge to any A&R
dude or management team that is reading this. Second, we will continue
to work hard at what we do, regardless. We have done this with no
outside backing since the beginning and will keep doing it that way, if
that's they way the cards are dealt to us. End goal? To have at least
one KAOS album in the collection of every listener who loves metal, and
rock every stage on the planet.
Jason: Ideal is "our terms" and "our way." This would be best,
but we know that's not going to happen. Goal?? Well... supporting
Pantera on their reunion tour would be a nice place to start, along with
videos for every CD we make and all the backing we need to spread the
How long did it take to write and then record KAOS AMONG US?
Stacey: A couple of songs, from the album, go way back. So in
a sense, it took a lot of years for them to take true form. We used
those songs as a foundation for the album, which actually only took
about six months to write. We spent one month, on the weekend and at
night during the week, recording. Put out four thousand, three song
pre-release promotional cd's. Then put the album out. All in all, it
took about 9 months.
What inspired the band’s name and have you ever been confused with
another band called “Kaos”?
Jason: Inspiration was that everything that has happened, is
happening and will happen on this planet. We wanted a one word name,
direct and effective. KAOS is just that. So it is a perfect reflection
of our music and sound...KAOTIC. The part about being confused with
another band called "Kaos".... we rarely get confused with another band,
though there are other bands out there with the same name.
What inspired the killer album title KAOS AMONG US? Perhaps it has
to do with how messed up the world remains?
Stacey: You guessed right! It has everything to do with that!
Jason: Yes, that is it. Kaos Among Us was the first song we
wrote and is the greatest description of the whole CD. Kaos IS among us
What topics motivate you lyrically? Can you give us some examples
from what are some of (in your opinion) your more poignant tracks on the
Jason: Topics that motivate are blood, flesh, aggression,
creation, God, the devil, heaven and hell, greed, rape, murder, peace,
wrath...just about everything. A lot of it is the aggravation of the
stupidity of people and the illusion that they can get away with. For
example, in "Paralyzed by Fear", this songs deals with the haunting
mental images that are sustained in rape victims.
How much do you think well-written lyrics support a song - or vice
Stacey: Lyrics and music are equally important. It's great to
listen to a rippin' tune. If the lyrics are a bunch of nonsense, then
you have failed the song. Music is a way to tell a story or express a
point of view. When I hear something I like, next thing I do is read the
lyrics. I'm looking for something deeper.
When you are writing songs, what kind of things do you pay
attention to during the whole process in general?
Stacey: Structure and intensity. Does it fit in with the big
picture?! We start with an idea and develop within it.
Does it become harder to please yourselves when writing new
material as I assume you always try to top yourself?
Stacey: Well yeah. There is a level of expectation. I'm sure,
that as time goes on, the bar is raised. That's just part of getting
better and writing better songs.
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist as far as all these song
writing things are concerned?
Stacey: We try not to be too stringent. That would just create
limitation. For us, some of the best stuff comes out of nowhere,
especially in the recording studio.
What movie is the sample from at the beginning of "Descent Into
Stacey: "One Flew Over the Coo Coo's Nest," one of my favorite
movies of all times. The song is based on the movie.
An instrumental version of the title track appears in the new
movie, NO PAIN, NO GAIN. How did you get involved with that project?
Stacey: Zukor Entertainment held a contest. We sent them a
press kit and we were hired on...just like that.
Would you say that the band adds some hardcore influences into
your Bay Area Thrash sound? Would you call your music ´Thrashcore´? Or
do you dislike these labels?
Stacey: Not intentionally. We have heard this a lot lately. We
consider ourselves metal. We are just playing what comes out and we will
continue to do so. Call us what you want, but metal is what we are.
Bands that combine elements from Thrash and Hardcore have
different types of people at their shows - from Punk to typical
metalheads to just about every type of person. Do you consider that an
advantage or a disadvantage?
Jason: I really don't think that it matters. Whoever you are,
if you like the bands or music, that's all that matters. A mixed crowd
is good sometimes.
Does the Bay Area have a good scene for Hardcore-Punk bands as
well? Are there some worthy names one might be interested in checking
out from this particular genre?
Jason: I'm not into punk too much so I could not give you a
good description of the punk scene in the bay. Though I'm sure there are
some worthy names, I could not give them to you. It's a metal rules
around here...hehehehe EvilG.
Do you feel any pressure to sound like "classic" Bay area bands
like Death Angel, Exodus, Vio-Lence, Testament, etc.?
Stacey: No. We are going to write what we want. If you hear
them in our music, it's because that's the school we came from. Those
were our favorite bands as teenagers and their music means a lot to us.
Jason: The influence is natural. It just comes out that way.
What are some of those Hardcore-Punk bands you listen to and some
of the other thrash/metal bands you listen to?
Jason: As far as punk/hard core...not too much. Some of the
other guys like old DRI, Agent Orange, Agnostic Front, Verbal Abuse, and
GBH. For metal, most of us like the same stuff...old Metallica, Anthrax,
Slayer, Pantera, Death Angel, Vio-lence, Kreator, Testament, SOD/MOD,
old Megadeth, etc. For newer bands it would be Slipknot, Hatebreed, the
Haunted, Carnal Forge, Defleshed, Arch Enemy and the list goes on.
What do you think of Exodus & Death Angel getting back together
for new records?
Jason: I think it's great. Good for metal and good for the bay
area as well. New Exodus is killer. I have not heard the new Death Angel
yet, but I'm sure it will be good.
What do you think of Rob Flynn & Phil Demmel recording & playing
together once again? Are you fans of Machine Head?
Stacey: I'm really happy Phil mad that move. Bad to see
Vio-lence go to the side, but to get to hear Rob & Phil put their heads
together again is truly a gift to metal music. We are huge fans of
Machine Head and are very happy to have them as friends.
Did you attend the Thrash of the Titans gig in 2001, and if so,
was it godly or what?
Stacey: It was the metal show of all metal shows. I'll never
forget it. It's really a tragic story. Schuldiner is gone...RIP. Chuck
Billy had to fight for his life, but some really positive things came
out of it. It opened the doors for the rebirth of our bay area metal
scene. It re-united some of the greatest metal bands of all times. This
show created a domino effect in the bay area metal scene.
I guess a common question for you occurs when people learn that
the band formed back in 1989 and they ask why have you only released 2
albums in 15 years?!?! So…why 2 albums in 15 years? Ha!
Stacey: Correction! Two albums in four years. We reformed in
2000 and released "Vision Beyond" in early 2001. The band split up from
1996 - 1999. From 88 - 96, there were a total of 5 demos released.
You’ve opened for a lot of big name bands, even back in the 89-91
period for example….so did you ever get frustrated with not “breaking
out” back then? Is that the reason why your first demo/album never came
out until 2000?
Stacey: Yes, very frustrated. It just was not meant to be. We
made our bed and we had to sleep in it. We got in right at the tail end
of the peak and rode it all the way down. I remember 93-96... No clubs,
No SCENE. Just a bunch of rave parties and grunge rock. It sucked.
What do you see as the bands greatest improvement over the past 15
Jason: Our greatest improvement is that we are older and wiser and
work together better than ever as a band, and as friends. Oh, of course
we have a better budget for KAOS/Oblivion Entertainment versus 15 years
ago, when we had very little money to finance or promote shows.
Do you have any thoughts on the '89 riot at your show with Death Angel,
Vio-Lence & Pestilence? Tell us about it!
Jason: There is lots to tell and we could go on and on about it, but
it was just that. A riot! The local police decided to shut the show down
during the 2nd Death Angel song. They headlined the show. After Vio-lence tore it up and the pit was crazy, the police saw that the
bathrooms had a little damage, to them, and they did not like or
understand the "pit" so they shut it down. This resulted in an angry
crowd, which turned into a riot. It was total chaos at this point.
Do you have any interesting stories to share about this time period from
when the bay area thrash scene seemed to rule the world…then so many of
it’s bands either disbanded or watered things down.
Jason: Stories, well hmmmm.... let me think. Stories about who?? Lots
to share on this. Too much to tell. There was this one time, at band
Do you think there were any bay area thrash bands that didn’t get their
fair share of the spotlight and have been overlooked by many fans?
Jason: Yes, overlooked, fair share... I can think of one... KAOS.
What do you think about how moshing seems to of changed from “friendly
violent fun” to many pits being a “lets elbow and maim people”? It seems
some goons don’t give a shit about the music, but just want any
aggressive noise as a backdrop to their tough guy posturing….
Jason: Well I think it has changed some. However, you enter the pit
at your own risk. When you get out, you can't complain about it. You
either go or sit down. All in all, we still mosh at shows and we like to
see a pit at our shows also.
How do you think the Bay Area scene has changed over the years? Do they
still have that strong ´unity thing´ amongst people as they seemed to
have in the ´80s?
Jason: Unity?? "What's in it for me?" is the tip. The screaming "me,
me, me!" seems to be the attitude we get... like "it's all about MY
band." Some, or very few appear to have the brother band attitude.
Others are just too busy to listen to your CD or take your flyer because
they have better things to do.
Besides the mighty KAOS…what are some of the new and recommended Bay
Area Thrash acts to keep an eye out for? (Perhaps Imagika who I’ve been
supporting since their first album?)
Jason: Imagika and Osmium are very good as well. For metal or thrash
metal, there are only a handful or so of bands around like KAOS or
Osmium. Darkin Fluid is pretty heavy too and Stomach.
How was the March 2004 Metal Meltdown festival that you
recently played at? Did you come away with any cool stories about Testament, Obituary,
Vital Remains….? Is this the first time you’ve played the east coast
Yes it was a great show. We've had some really big shows with Death Angel,
Testament, Exodus, Gwar, Vio-lence, Forbidden and Nuclear Assault. No
stories about the other bands because everybody was running around all
day and all night long. Testament came on late anyhow, so no one really
got a chance to chat with them. Yes it was our first time to the East
coast, but not the last.
What other areas of the USA or the world have you played gigs in?
Jason: So far, all of our shows have been in the USA. However, things
are looking good for shows overseas in the near future.