Fireworks Magazine Online 67 - Interview with Khaøs

KHAØS: An interview with Chandler Mogel & Mark Rossi

Swiss band Khaøs, fronted by American singer Chandler Mogel of Outloud, have delivered a terrific debut album that combines the Melodic Rock that Mogel is renowned for with a tougher, more contemporary edge. Duncan Jamieson found out more about the band from Chandler and guitarist Mark Rossi.


How did a group of Swiss musicians hook up with you?

Chandler: Well it so happens we had a mutual friend who connected us; Rolf Munkes (from the band Empire) who also owns Empire Studios in Germany. Mark was getting ready to record with him and asked him if he knew any singers. Rolf dropped my name and Mark was all up in my Facebook the same day.

We’re familiar with Chandler from his work in Talon and Outloud. Can you tell the readers about the rest of the band?

Mark: Khaøs consists of Chandler Mogel on vocals, myself, Mark Rossi on guitar, Nic Angileri on bass and Trevor Franklin on drums. I formed this band back in mid 2012. I also write the majority of songs and took care of the album, video production and artwork design. You probably know Chandler Mogel as one of the hardest-working independent singers in Rock and his recent work with Greek/US Melodic Rock band Outloud. Nic Angileri is just a musical monster! His credit list is longer than the Nile. Just to mention two names, he has played as a touring musician with Swiss rockers Gotthard and was for several years the bass player for Jorn Lande. Trevor Franklin is a young and talented Anglo/Swiss drummer with tour and studio experience. A nice combo!

Khaøs has managed to balance a Melodic Rock sound with a harder more modern approach. Was this your intention and what are the musical influences of the band? It sounds quite diverse.

Mark: Yes this was pretty much what I wanted to achieve with this band. Having a bunch of dynamic players you don’t have to explain too much what they have to do (laughs). Diversity per se was not a goal we had to pursue come hell or high water. I think it’s just here as a result of our different characters. Our roots are pretty various; they stretch from Jazz to 70s Rock, from Hard Rock to Metal, the latter which is definitely our common denominator.

Why did you pick the moniker Khaøs?

Chandler: Khaøs just seemed to fit what our union was; coming together from afar and of course from different backgrounds and styles. That and of course that great things are all born out of chaos. The phonetic spelling was Mark’s idea I believe! Now I always spell it that way referring to the band or not [laughs]!

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Your EP that came out at the end of 2012 surprised a lot of people as it was quite a different direction for Chandler. How did you know he’d fit in so well?

Mark: Because he’s a great singer above all and he really liked the material I think. He was a bit hesitant at first to be really honest. Probably because of some of the darker moments this band can sometimes offer. But all in all the chemistry worked really well. The good vibe and fresh energy far outweighed his initial doubts.

A lot of bands’ debut albums feature some or all of their EP songs. Your debut is all new material and there’s a big step up in terms of a cohesive band sound since the EP. How do you think you’ve developed since the EP?

Chandler: Thanks, that’s our thoughts exactly. The EP is cool but sounded very much like a “project” and we needed a band. So we really worked on the chemistry in the studio - even though I was in the US, it can be done - and worked the songs to death until we knew we had something special. The songs really tie in well with one another and there is a definite cohesive sound throughout. Now the challenge will be to pull them off live!

How are the songs written?

Chandler: Most of the tracks started with a musical idea from Mark and he would send this to me and I would add lyrics and melodies and arrange the music for the vocal. A couple of songs I believe were actually started with a vocal melody idea and had the music subsequently worked around it. Once the songs were where we wanted them, we went into the studio.

Tell me about the recording process. 

Mark: We’ve pre-produced all the songs together this time. We worked out all melodies before entering the studio, this was a quite crucial decision because this gave us the opportunity to interact a bit more and strengthen our musical dialogue. We’ve frequently spoken during the recording sessions using Skype, texting and phoning regularly, so compared to what we did on ‘Rising’ it has definitely been a more intensive collaboration even if, once again, we didn’t record the album all in the same room. After the EP experience we knew how to manage the distance issue a bit better and what we could accomplish together as band. The fact that we met in real life and filmed two video clips together has definitely helped to consolidate the band.

The lyrics cover social and personal issues. What are the stories behind the likes of ‘Imagined Danger ’ and ‘The Breathing Room’?

Chandler: That’s true. ‘Imagined Danger’ is pretty literal. My mom always said that most danger is imagined, and she was right! ‘The Breathing Room’ is one of those songs that the lyrics really just came together and sounded cool, but it was inspired by taking a “safe haven” or “sanctuary” type place and juxtaposing an opposite emotion over the top, like a sinister vibe, one you’d least expect in that vicinity. It sounds kind of odd but makes for a nice song I think. Sometimes there’s no deep meaning at all – just good songwriting!

How did you end up on the MRR label?

Mark: MRR is our own label actually. Releasing the album on our own was an option we had from the beginning. We tried to shop the album first and proposed it to selected labels but for some reason it just didn’t fit in with their scheduled release plans. Others just didn’t reply or it took an extremely long time to get solid answers. So since we self-produced the whole album it wasn’t unthinkable to bring it out ourselves. But, it was a hell of a lot of work to be honest! (laughs). Finally we were really lucky to get in touch with Plastichead and to work out a worldwide distribution deal with them. All ended well.

50% of sales of your previous EP ‘Rising are going to the charity Love, Hope, Strength. Can you tell me more about that?

Mark: 50% is donated to the Mike Peters’ foundation. The new album is not linked to that program though. I really like Mike Peters and his music and what he is doing with Love, Hope, Strength. I thought it might be a good opportunity to connect to his charity project and contribute to a good cause. There are too many people around us who are suffering or dying of all sorts of cancer every day. We just wanted to give our small sign. By the way ‘Strength’ is one of my favourite Mike Peters’ songs, and I think that as a two times cancer survivor he is now stronger than ever, musically and as a human being. He never stopped playing music and accepted his fate as his mission, challenging himself and his audience through music. Hats off!

How does Chandler’s commitment to Outloud interfere with Khaøs?

Chandler: It doesn’t, not yet at least. Neither band is working on a full-time basis yet so scheduling can be done around one another pretty easily. Khaøs has just begun to start working on live gigs for 2015.

Will there be a chance to see Khaøs live?

Mark: On November 18th we are going to celebrate the release of our second video ‘Exalted’ here in Switzerland and will be playing a couple of songs as well. So if you want to see this band live immediately this might be the perfect occasion. Of course we would like to promote the whole album live next year and can’t wait to get this band on tour and celebrate 2015 with a ‘Risen’ tour. Fingers crossed.

What’s the next step for the band?

Chandler: The album was released on October 20th so we’ve been doing any and every promotional action to help with that. Then in November we are releasing our second video, for ‘Exalted’, as Mark just mentioned. Then we go forward and continue working on live dates for next year and getting our name out there in a big way. Thank you for helping us do just that!

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