Metal Mike Chlasciak
Guitarist for PainmuseuM, Halford, Testament, etc.
Interview by EvilG and Lord of the Wasteland
Most people know the name Metal Mike Chlasciak as guitarist for the Halford band. If you?ve dug any deeper, you know that Metal Mike is, and has been, involved in varying capacities in many other bands. More recently Mike has been added to the Testament line-up, his own band PainmuseuM has released a killer album called METAL FOR LIFE, and it was announced that Mike will be on the next Halford album! We touched on many aspects of Mike?s metal life both current and past.
What was the delay in getting the Painmuseum record out? Wasn’t it supposed to be out in 2003 originally?
Yes, that was the original plan. But, to make this record what it is, with the players that it needed and the production that it deserved … we needed for it to wait. In the beginning, I wanted to go in the studio, cut a great quick record and go on the road. If it did not sound like a million dollars, then so be it, as long as the songs were of high quality. My perception on this has changed, as we realized that the needed time had to be taken and in reality I was following up and standing up to the sound and overall quality of the Halford albums, so it took some time as you can see. The band line up and business angle has also changed, but now we are in a very solid place.
Where does the band name PainmuseuM come from?
A song “Pain MuseuM” was originally found on my first solo instrumental album Isolation Chamber “Grind Textural Abstractions” (1996). And, the name carried forward. Its a strong name. And later on, PainmuseuM and it’s vision is something I feel extremely close to … its my freedom to do whatever the fuck I want, so its my Pain Museum, all the garbage that I see everyday, the fuckers I meet …. it comes out in the music. My life is a museum of thoughts, ideas, experiences …. many of them painful. The band is the direct link, the flood gate for all of this to come out. Its a rebellion …. my ideas on also proving people that things can be achieved thinking outside of the box, and that once you let yourself free … no one can stop you.
Tell us a bit about Tim Clayborne (vocals on PainmuseuM CD).
Tim is just incredible. A real dedicated rare talent that you find very rarely. Great lyrical ability, excellent frontman …. loves Metal as much as I. He’s sent in a tape while I was searching for a vocalist, after 30 seconds into hearing it … he was the guy. Never opened another package.
I was expecting vocals that were more melodic since I know you mainly as “Halford’s guitarist”. Did you deliberately pick someone that no one would compare to Halford?
No. I wanted to pick the best person that I could find. It was a full package … dedication, talent, vocal ability, ability to work with others, sence of responsibility. Even if I did find a great cleaner type vocalist, I had to make sure that he was not a Halford clone …. because once you play with the best, imitating it only destroys your credibility and is pointless.
James Murphy, Steve DiGiorgio, Bobby Jarzombek, Joe Comeau, Roy Z?.how did you assemble such a lineup to record this album? Would it of been possible if it weren’t for being known as a guitarist for Halford, after all if the METAL GOD thinks you’re the man for his band, then that right there is a total fucking honor!
A real answer is friends. I asked my friends to play on this album. I never had to make cold introductions. I asked Bobby, Steve, Roy and so on … and they all said yeah, we’ll fucking do it because there is integrity to this and a message. I could not pay these guys as much as they are worth. So, there had to be something greater than a paycheck … and it was …. it was about METAL, in its purest sense.
Why did you choose to release METAL FOR LIFE on your own label rather than through someone like Century Media/Metal Blade, etc.?
A few things. Some of the deals, not necessarily by above two mentioned labels, just did not appeal to me. I’m in a different part of my life and career now …. I have achieved a certain amount of record sales, own a comfortable house, studio … and whatever else …. so I need a decent amount of commitment to move forward with a label or whatever. I could not accept deals that were ok for a starting band with no overhead. I run a bigger operation and … don’t know …. timing was also good for me to expand C.M.M. Entertainment, LLC into a small label, as we were already selling my solo albums up to this point in major capacity as well. So, it grew into this …. its a different structure, and so far I have never regretted it. And, I have a strong feeling of owning something, I guess a pride of ownership. Be it an album or a company.
L-R: Metal Mike, Tim, Bobby
Is CMM Records a viable label or is it just for your own projects?
At this time, CMM Entertainment’s mission is to take care of day to day things of my career, representing the Metal Mike Armory Store … an outlet for all of MM / PainmuseuM related merchandise at painmuseum.com and a label. At this moment, this will be only for myself. In 5 or 10 years … who knows, but I do not have a strong urge to venture that far into it. I’m a guitar player, and don’t want to carry a briefcase … so the business is done out of necessity, so I can play guitar full time. I don’t want to become a wall street guy.
Can you tell us what some of the inspirations were for the songs on the PainmuseuM CD?
Hosanna Hosanna …. is about God just getting tired of us fucking up this Earth time and time again and saying ok you fuckers: I’m coming down and I’ll end this miserable place by my own hand, hence the lyrics “From the cross I’ll come down to ruin this earth”. PainmuseuM (Metal For Life) is about our (Band) shows …. the shows are everybody’s PainmuseuM, its where we are one … in the end its about dedication to this style of music we all love …. “Smashing shit I scream to raise the dead, like sounds of Death Metal screaming in my head, Metal is a way of life, until I’m a corpse its Metal For Life” … this last one is Tim at his best ….what else is there ??
Will PainmuseuM be a touring act as well or is this just a studio project?
Absolutely a touring act. It’s got my full commitment, it?s my life musically. And definitely more albums.
Did anyone beat you at the beer-chugging contest at the Painmuseum CD release party on Sat. Nov. 20th! (**I saw a blurb on Blabbermouth where you challenged any fan to beat you in a beer-chugging contest at the show**).
How is the new Testament CD coming along? Is there a release date yet? Are you going to be part of the touring band for their new CD, as well, or will you only be playing on the CD and focusing on PainmuseuM?
Well, Testament is still strong. And, that’s because I love the music that Testament has and is producing. I really get off on playing it. So, yes, I will be on the new album (Spitfire Records) and I’ll be doing dates with the guys. Release date is not set, hopefully in the beginning part of 2005.
Do you ever get snobby people telling you that playing metal is a waste of your talent as a classically-trained guitarist? Also, tell us a bit about this classical training, I don’t hear a lot of that influencing the PainmuseuM sound though? ha!
Well, I was trained a bit in classical guitar and its techniques, but I’m far, far from saying I’m a classical guitarist. However, when I went to Berklee which is a jazz school pretty much, yeah …. people would look at my Yngwie and Chastain, Satriani, Iron Maiden T-shirts and would make comments …. I took it as a sign of growth and following my own path …. and, of course I never regretted it …. its hard to after I was fortunate to do so many great things playing the style of music I was into. You know, I never cared about the rest that much.
Will you continue to do instrumental albums?
Yeah …. I have some things in mind that I thing would be really new in that genre? when time permits. With my studio now House Of Metal, the beauty is that I can go in anytime and record. We’ll see, but not if it takes from making a PainmuseuM album though.
Are you going to be involved on the next Cans solo album should there be one?
Joacim and I talked about that very recently. It looks very promising and we really enjoyed doing CANS “Beyond The Gates” (Metal-Is/ Sanctuary), so I would say why not. I enjoyed being in Sweden, recording at Studio Fredman, working with Stefan Elmgren and all the guys involved in the album.
Why are all your guest appearances with European metal acts (Primal Fear, Dream Evil, Cans)? Do you prefer the Euro-metal sound to that of North America and if so, can you perhaps explain why PainmuseuM doesn’t sound like any of them? hahah!
That is a good observation. Well, I don’t know I guess. But, you are right most of that that stuff is European. Consortium Project III was also from Europe. Mike Vescera MVP “The Altar” (Singer of Yngwie/ Loudness/ Obsession) was an American thing. Well, its all more coincidence I guess. And, no I do not prefer a sound of particular area more to the other. I love Loudness and EZO (Japan), Accept/ UDO (Europe) and Testament/ Death (American), so I’m pretty even. PainmuseuM is just a huge melting pot of all these styles …. and I think its a pretty good thing.
Were the “Flurry of The Black Notes” guitar clinics a positive thing? Do you enjoy “talking shop” with fans?
Oh yeah, Last year’s clinic tour was an experiment and it turned out great. We retained all the sponsors for this one that was in November, so it?s going strong. I enjoy doing this, as I was never the guy who sat in the bus and played a rock star … in the way that I always talk to fans and hear what they are thinking. I hear what they got to say, their view on things … everything. So going out there to do just that and making my endorsing companies happy is a perfect thing.
How did Halford end up recruiting you for the band?
I sent Rob and his management company a video and that Isolation Chamber album. I did not even know that Rob was going to screaming Metal again …. 2 weeks later I got a call from his management saying – you gotta come out here. We wrote songs, talked about Metal, ate too much food ….and I became Halford’s guitar player.
What is the coolest thing that happened while playing with Halford?
Playing Madison Square Garden …. and seeing our tour manager that we hated carry our shit around for us.
How nervous were you playing in front of 350,000 people at Rock In Rio with Halford?
Not very. I got nervous after I saw the DVD though, ha ha. It was a lotta fun. Rio was fun: screaming girls, crying fans in front of the hotel, Paparazzi following you on the streets and into the night clubs, the whole deal.
What is the REAL story behind the cancellation of the Metal Gods Tour in 2002?
I do not know the real story as there were too many variations of it. However the real story hit really hard when we returned home and had to pick up the pieces again. But, by that time PainmuseuM was already in progress and as you might remember we opened each show that happened. It was a weird dark time of uncertainty, but we got through it and ended up in a better place ultimately.
What were your feelings when Halford announced he was rejoining Priest? Did you know about it beforehand or was it a shock?
Nah …. we all pretty much knew and the confirmation came in as “definite” a few days before. As I said somewhere before …. I was happy for Rob personally, as I knew that he wanted to be in Priest again. So I was happy for that. But, you know, no …. I did not really “want” him to join Priest. In any case, there are many layers that were put together and meetings that people do not know about. But as we all know, HALFORD is doing a new album in 2005. And, I will tell you it?s gonna be a fucking huge crushing record that will shut up a lot of people.
Have you heard any of the new Priest material yet and if so any thoughts, if not, what are your expectations?
Never heard a note. I expect it to be a killer release. And, I’ll just guess it will be British Steel meets Painkiller with a few new things.
On a more depressing note…
Do you have any comments you’d like to make regarding the murder of Dimebag Darrell? Since your former HALFORD bandmate, Patrick Lachman, went on to Damageplan, I assume you have met Darrell? Perhaps you have a nice story to share about him for us fans?
Dime and I met a few times, although we never became great, great friends. Simply, because the circumstances were that we met in quick after/ before the show type scenarios. It sucks. It?s fucked, as neither Dime, Phil or anybody did not break up Pantera – that one fan that shot Dime did. That?s it. Dime was always cool … just sounded like a huge fan, enjoying himself.
What did you think about Pat Lachman hanging up the guitar for the vocalist spot in Damageplan? He is such a great guitarist….
What is your involvement with the Death tribute CD, WITHIN THE MIND?
It?s going to happen. We?re just waiting for James Murphy to get the full tracks together. I think I’ll be doing my part very soon. Chuck Schuldiner is an inspiration and influence on me …. in his thought and ideas. It will be a lot of fun.
Your last name (Chlasciak) is of Polish ancestry. In fact I think I remember reading somewhere you were born in Poland? When did you move to the USA and do you maintain any connections with Poland including the metal scene over there?
Yes, I was born in Poland. We moved here in 1984. I gathered some good connections in Poland as far as it?s Metal scene …. and it is on one of my top things to do?to go to Poland and play some Metal. I got close (Chech Republic, Slovakia), but not Poland … not yet. When we left Poland in December of 1984 there were times of Marshall Law there (not the band everybody, ha) … so I was going to school and passing by tanks. Soldiers with guns. Kids could not be on the street past 6PM! Whenever we would drive into Warsaw to see our family, we had to bribe soldiers with cigarettes to let us through the barricades. It was crazy ….
I read that Rob Halford will be doing a new HALFORD album, and that you will be playing on it…who else will be on it and have you already begun writing material? Did you expect there to be another album after he returned to Priest?
Well as in my answer above: YES there will be another Halford album and yes, I did expect it. It will be a serious fucking killer Metal album and the line up is: Metal God, myself, Roy Z, Mike Davis, Bobby Jarzombek. Ideas, song wise, are being slowly collected.
The closing words are yours man….let us know if there is any other news that you’d like to let us know about.
Stay true to your Metal feelings and beliefs. Do not let anyone change these for you. Do not waiver in your beliefs because you see sellouts wearing Motorhead t-shirts in Metal Manics, but wearing striped suits on MTV (Dave Growl) …. or anyone that will jump on the band wagon when Metal gets really huge in 2005. And when you see the members of LIT: tell them they gave up on Metal …. we don’t give a fuck about their “Metal Roots” …. REAL METALHEADS DO NOT HAVE METAL ROOTS ? THEY ARE JUST SIMPLY METAL —- FOREVER.