May 2019 28

As members of Muet, the newly reformed Chemlab, and with a long history in the Chicago underground music scene, ReGen speaks with the trio of Daniel Evans, Vince McAley, and Mike Love.
 

 

An InterView with Daniel Evans, Vince McAley, & Mike Love

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Daniel Evans, Vince McAley, and Mike Love have been among the busiest musicians in the industrial scene. With both individual and collective experience in bands like Cyanotic, Die Warzau, GoFight, and Cubanate, they made up three/fourths of Dead on TV, with an electro-meets-punk/rock style that made the band one of the most virulently energetic and exciting in Chicago. When guitarist Corey Devlin passed away, the band was effectively placed on permanent hiatus, but creative minds always find avenues to cope and continue creating. In 2018, Evans, McAley, and Love could be seen on stages around North America as the new lineup of a revived Chemlab with front man Jared Louche, unleashing a newly polished take on the glam and grit of one of coldwave’s most celebrated acts. On top of that, Evans and McAley hooked up with another veteran of underground music, Steven Seibold, for a new band called Muet. Post-punk rock stylings filled with somber emotion and dark lyricism, Metropolis Records offered us the Muet debut album in March 2019; that same month, the new Chemlab contributed a cover of The Pixies’ environmentalist anthem “Monkey Gone to Heaven” on Riveting Music’s A Riveting Protest compilation. Having completed a tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of Chemlab’s Burnout at the Hydrogen Bar album, and with the band to perform once again at this year’s ColdWaves VIII, Daniel Evans, Vince McAley, and Mike Love spoke with ReGen Magazine about their musical partnership and their involvement with rivethead royalty, complete with some insights into their activities outside of music.

 

The three of you have worked together for quite some time with Dead on TV, GoFight, and now as the new live incarnation of Chemlab. Obviously, you all have fun playing together, but would you tell us about what it is that you feel drives your creative partnership beyond that? Or is there anything more than that?

Evans: I’ve played in so many bands with Vince – like seven bands and counting. I think we have a lot of fun together, whether we’re playing or not. And that’s how it keeps happening.

McAley: It helps that we’re all very close friends and hang out a lot. There’s always some sort of project in the works pretty much at all times, whether it’d be writing songs, recording, producing videos, or working on a live set for the next gig or tour. So, when things get busy, we’re around each other constantly. It’s like a family. At several points of playing with these guys over the years, we would have three or more bands’ full live sets memorized and could play whatever song at will, constantly touring and juggling multiple bands.

Love: For me, I really just don’t want to work with anyone but this crew. I have been in bands now for years and I have never clicked like I do with these gents, as well as Xmas Smits from Dead on TV and Die Warzau. When you find a team that works, you just stick with it. I trust these guys with my life. They are family.

As Chemlab is a band known for its ever changing lineup, can you tell us how you came to be involved in this current incarnation? How did you first meet Jared, and what led to you finally working with him in this legendary band?

Evans: Jared saw Vince and I play in GoFight at the first ColdWaves festival. I don’t even think I met him that night outside of a handshake, but he looked me up after that and told me he dug our style. Once we got to being internet friends and all that, he reached out, told me was into the punk/rock thing we were doing with Dead on TV, and that maybe we could work together someday if the stars aligned. Years passed, and we’d talk here and there. From what I understand, when Jason Novak asked Jared to plug himself in again and play Burnout at the Hydrogen Bar for its 25th anniversary and ColdWaves, Jared said that the only way he was going to do it was if we were the band. I didn’t meet Jared in reality until I picked him up from the airport in Chicago a few days before the first show. He was staying with me while we rehearsed for the Chemlab shows. Needless to say, we became fast friends.

McAley: I first met Jared at the first ColdWaves after I finished our GoFight set and we briefly talked. We had more time to hang out the following day when everyone got to relax after the fest. Fast forward a few years and Dan and I did a remix for a Prude song. We’ve kept in casual contact over the years and he reached out to us, asking us to be his band for the Burnout at the Hydrogen Bar tour. We were beyond excited and honored and started working on it right away.

Love: I met Jared on the 1999 Pigface tour. He walked right by the line and I said, ‘Hey, aren’t you Jared Louche?’ He stopped, we chatted, and then after the show, he pulled me backstage. I probably chatted his head off like the 19-year-old fanboy I was. I even got that jerk Siebold to sign a CD I bought that night. Joining? I saw my phone ringing – it was Vince. I’m sure like the most of you, calls are almost a thing you do for emergency reasons. So, I pick it up and Vince asked if I wanted to be in Chemlab, and now, here we are.

Dead on TV had an unbridled punk rock energy to it, while GoFight had its own funky groove to it, and Chemlab almost seems to be somewhere in the middle. What sorts of challenges did you feel – both individually and collectively – in bringing your synergy as band mates to such a well-known and classic coldwave band?

Evans: When Jared asked me to play and kind of spearhead this Chemlab set, I had a vision of sorts. I’ve played in many ‘electronic’ bands over the years, and I had this live/electronic instrument hybrid sound idea in my head that I never got to implement. Chemlab was the perfect opportunity to explore it. At that same time, Vince, Mike, and I all agreed that we wanted this to be the Chemlab set we’d want to see as fans; to be as true to the spirit of it as we could. There were many moments where we’d try taking a rhythm or something in a different direction than on the record and maybe ‘technically,’ it was better, but it’d lose the magic. I had only ever seen the band play once at that first Coldwaves, but Burnout… was one of my favorite records when I was 16.
After all the thumbs were skyward on the Burnout… project, I had to figure out, ‘Do the songs exist in some format where I can access the individual sounds?’ The answer was, by and large, ‘No, they don’t.’ Jared had an old live ADAT tape he shipped over, and I was able to get pieces of a few songs to work with, which was really helpful as a sonic reference. Then, I quite literally went through the entire record, learned every note that every instrument played, every percussion hit and sample. I sampled bits of the CD and recreated and/or replayed every sound on the record. I resampled the ‘Chemical Halo’ ‘I’ll see you in hell,’ and recreated the pitch shift and down-sampling effects. Every little bit – I got kind of obsessed with every nuance of it. Mike and Vince had to tell me to stop a few times because I was fixating on minutiae that nobody would ever hear during the show.
Since Jared was in England and we’d only get to rehearse with him a few times before we hit, I even recorded myself singing every song, doing my best Louche, so we could practice with a vocal guide. And that was on top of actually learning the guitar parts and making some cool tones with my pedal rig. As a group, Vince, Mike, and I have worked together so long and are so close that we communicate well, can give criticism and push each other without egos getting in the way. That was paramount to the success of this thing.

McAley: We were approached around February last year and the tour kicked off in September, so we had roughly six months to get ready. Unfortunately, not much backing tracks existed with the parts isolated, so Dan had to program that shit from the ground up. We met several times a week to work on the set and rehearse, figuring out how to interpret the songs while staying as true as possible to the instrumentation and vibe of the record, but also making it doable as a live band. Chemlab has glam saturated all throughout it and we wanted that to be the heart of the show. We wanted it to be as ‘Chemlab’ as possible.

Love: Honestly, there were no challenges. I was a bit intimidated with the unknown of how working with Jared would be, but instantly on our first rehearsal, we all clicked. The whole tour felt so natural and easy.

 

 

Having toured with Chemlab in 2018, are there any particularly fond or crazy memories of that tour that you’d like to share?

Evans: The Metro show at Chicago ColdWaves was some of the most fun I’ve had with some of my clothes on. But really, the whole tour was a flying circus. It was pure comedy watching the four of us walk into airports or hotels after an hour or two of sleep, crazy eyed with nerves ablaze.

McAley: We had a day off in Delaware and had one of the best meals ever of our lives at a hole-in-the-wall seafood joint; where the cook is smoking in back while making your food type place. I’m still drooling over how amazing it was. Practically every day had stories of a lifetime. We gelled with Jared right away, instantly knowing he was cut from the same cloth as us, our personalities never skipping a beat. I gave Jared a black eye during the first gig in New York on the first night of the tour. He pulled my kit down and I jumped on it, not realizing my foot connected with him during our fall. We just laughed about it afterward. I’m still trying to remember everything since everything was a blur.

Love: I had a blast in Dallas. Dan and I rented some of those electric scooters and tore ass though downtown Dallas. We found a bar to hang out at, a nice little dive called the One Eyed Penguin and we all got to just hang out together without soundcheck, gear, tons of people, or having to play. The next morning Vince and I made breakfast and shared stories.
Oh, and stage diving during FLA’s L.A. set.

What were your favorite song(s) to perform? Did getting to play them live give you a different perspective on them as opposed to when you’d have just listened as a fan?

Evans: ‘Derailer’ was my favorite song to play. That guitar riff is so, so sleazy; like a cyborg Johnny Thunders, and that’s exactly what I wanted to be. Playing and recreating it changed the record forever for me. It was a part of my adolescence and my one of my first exposures to music of this style. To claw through it, getting in all those nasty corners and really figuring out what made it tick and what the fuck they were thinking years later was a real treat.

McAley: Your perspective of a band’s music will always grow and change once you break down the instrumentation and figure out how to interpret the songs with your fellow bandmates. Does this part work better in the backing track? Or should it be played on a bass, guitar, or keys? How am I going interpret the electronic drum parts into acoustic drum parts? We comb the material over and over until everything sits well together. My favorites to play are ‘Chemical Halo’ and ‘Rivet Head.’

Love: I loved ‘Suicide Jag,’ ‘Rivet Head,’ and ‘Summer of Hate.’

 

 

Daniel and Vince are now working with Steven Seibold in Muet, which released the ‘Muscle’ track almost two years ago, and now has an album on Metropolis. Would you tell us how this band came to be, and in what ways it contrasts with your other musical partnerships – how do the working methods, songwriting and production styles differ, that sort of thing?

Evans: It’s pretty funny how Muet came to be actually because it’s pretty much the same story as Chemlab. I met Seibold briefly at the first ColdWaves; nothing more than a handshake. Again, we found one another on the internet and he told me he loved Dead on TV. Dead on TV ended up playing a few shows with Hate Dept. and we all got along so well that we thought we should try to get together and play some music. Mike was initially involved too – he actually came up with the name Muet and contributed a bass riff to the record, but playing bummer songs wasn’t where his head was at. Not long after those initial Hate Dept./Dead on TV shows, our guitar player, Corey got diagnosed with cancer.

After Corey passed, I was lost and absolutely crushed. I couldn’t do Dead on TV anymore. We tried, and it just hurt too much. Seibold was very supportive and helpful through all of this. He and Corey clicked on a level I will never claim to understand. This idea to do a project with Seibold was just kind of floating in the ether, so I took everything I had at that point and poured it into a concept – loud, sad, rock songs; no synths, no sequencers, lo-fi, and we maintain pure democracy.
Vince and I demoed some riffs and sent them to Seibold. He immediately shot back vocal ideas and it just grew into a thing unto itself. Writing with Steven like this was very therapeutic for me. He was taking our conversations about and our love for Corey and turning our words for our friend into lyrics for this band. It just felt right and extremely cathartic. It was definitely what I needed. We made the whole record via file sharing without ever being in the same room at the same time. The approach with Muet is different because, for the most part, Dead on TV was my baby; GoFight is Jim’s child, like Hate Dept. is Seibold’s. It’s more of a monarchy with a court that adds. But with Muet, we wanted it to be a real ‘band.’ Admittedly, I kind of drove the project, but I needed to exorcise the sadness I was carrying.

McAley: Dan and I have been working on music for over a decade now and have played in many bands together over the years. We’ve always talked about wanting to write something that was dark and post-punk. When Corey Devlin died, we all needed a break from Dead on TV. We toured constantly for years leading up to his passing and everything took a toll on us all at once when that happened. The writing on the wall was that we needed a break and that was the final straw. For a change of pace, Dan and I met up and worked on new ideas, which eventually turned into Muet. Mike was involved in the beginning for a bit too. We got to know Steven Seibold when we played a bunch of Hate Dept./Dead on TV shows together and we entertained the idea of writing some songs together. So, Dan and I sent Steven a few demos to sing on and we ended up with an album’s worth of material. We kept going back-and-forth over the internet and wrote the record that way.
For how Muet contrasts with other projects I’ve been a part of, I always approach a project with this question. Am I here to execute your idea, your vision for the recording session and/or live performance, or am I here to write with you? That will determine pretty much everything afterward. I’ve been in many incarnations with all sorts of people all playing different roles. It’s exciting to take the wheel, but it’s also exciting to let someone else. It’s all about having the right people in the room.

Love: I was there at the start, but had to bail for personal reasons.

Are there plans to perform live with Muet in 2019?

Evans: We will definitely be playing some Muet shows this year.

McAley: Yes, we are currently booking and working out the details.

Daniel, I’ve seen you behind the soundboard at a few shows. Vince, I know you’ve done some direction for music videos and such. Mike, I expect to see killing the competition at the Tour De France any day now. What can you tell us about your activities and other creative endeavors outside of music?

Evans: For me, music is pretty much all I do. I do live sound for a living, and in my free time, I try to make as much music as I possibly can.

McAley: I’m a commercial video editor and most of my time is spent working in post. I’ve made video content for most bands I’ve played in and I directed a feature film a few years ago. I release one or two videos a week between my commercial work and visuals for bands. I pretty much live and breathe the medium all the time. There’s always an idea that’s in some stage of production.

Love: Yeah, 2019 for me is nothing but bike racing. I missed a lot of races in 2018. It was worth it, but I’m ready to suffer in ’19.

Anything else you’d like to talk about? Any other plans you’d like to reveal for 2019?

McAley: We have a bunch of things in motion for Muet. We’ll be talking more about that as the year goes on! Other stuff as well.

 

Muet
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
Chemlab
Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud
Dead on TV
Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp
GoFight
Website, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Metropolis Records
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
ColdWaves
Website, Facebook, Twitter

 

Chemlab Live Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)
Muet Band Photography by Kirsten Miccoli, courtesy of Kirsten Miccoli Photography

 

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