CHAOS OVER COSMOS: "Our music is highly technical, ridiculous, and science-fiction inspired."
It's been a bit more than a year since I came across the international, progressive tech-death project CHAOS OVER COSMOS when they unleashed their last album "The Silver Lining Between the Stars" (you can find my review here). With a new record already showing up on the horizon - "A Dream If Ever There Was One" is set to release on November 9th, 2022 - I took the opportunity to learn more about their background, the futuristic artwork and their upcoming work.
The project consists of guitarist / composer Rafal Bowman from Poland and singer KC Lyon from the USA, and they both joined our chat. Welcome to get a deeper insight here:
Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions. How are you today?
Rafal Bowman: Hey, thanks for having us today! I’m good - It's been a busy few months both privately and musically, but I’m still alive and well :-)
KC Lyon: Feeling hairless and fancy free… and huggy!
Cheers ;-) Could you please introduce yourself and CHAOS OVER COSMOS to our readers?
R: I’m the guitarist and main composer of Chaos Over Cosmos. I'm a guy from Poland who is still in his 20s (but not for much longer... unfortunately).
What is Chaos Over Cosmos? I’d say that the most correct answer is: an extremely nerdy music project. We make music while living on two different continents. I know it sounds like a story about people who have taken the recommendations about "social-distancing" too seriously, but I started this even a few years before the pandemic. Our music is highly technical, ridiculous, and science-fiction inspired.
KC: My name is KC, I’m from the USA, and I make mouth noises for Chaos Over Cosmos. I’ve always said that Chaos Over Cosmos is unapologetically polished and excessive metal music, and our new album embodies this mantra perfectly.
So we're heading straight on it: "A Dream If Ever There Was One" is set to release on November 9th. How do you feel about it?
R: I’m incredibly happy with this new release. This is our second album (after “The Silver Lining Between the Stars” from 2021) which I am fully satisfied with. It took a lot of work - literally hundreds of hours spent on composing plus dozens more for recording and postproduction, but absolutely worth it.
KC: Holy shit, just listen to it! I’m extremely proud. Of course, as a vocalist, I have it pretty easy… but Rafal continues to write the most insane rhythms I’ve ever heard, and they are incredibly difficult to write vocal cadences for. Listen to the chorus of the song “A Mantra of Oppression” and just try to follow the snare on the first 3 listens… it’s damn near impossible.
Haha, yes - Can totally relate to that. Let’s take a look at the futuristic cover artwork: What can you tell us about its origins?
KC: We like to keep some secrets close to the chest and leave some mystery (and this new album is full of mystery), so I'm gonna leave that one open to interpretation.
Could you dive a bit into the album’s topics with us, please?
R: Musically, it was a continuation of the approach I took on the previous album, or even earlier ones. Regarding the lyrics, album title and song names (with the exception of "Continuum"), these were all KC's ideas.
KC: This album is a dream debuting a dark future for humankind, and tells stories of the oppressors, the victims, and the renegades who can reset the world in turmoil. In this dream state, we even revisit classic Chaos Over Cosmos tracks to reexamine and rebuild them.
Your music is highly technical and often brutal, but nevertheless there’s a lot of virtuosity in your guitar playing. What is your musical background, and where do your main influences come from?
R: Thanks! My first inspiration is Iron Maiden (I still love these guys and go to their concerts every time I can), but as you know from our albums, we don't have much in common with this type of music, neither in compositions nor guitar playing style. When it comes to guitarists and guitar playing, among my biggest inspirations are John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Michael Romeo of Symphony X, Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, and Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry. A very special mention for Allan Holdsworth, a jazz guitarist who completely blew my mind a few years ago. I’m a big fan of his work.
I like highly technical, virtuosic guitarists with their own distinctive sound. I like it when this sound is based more on legato than on staccato playing, when everything is fluid despite the distortion. And that's what inspires my playing - I want it to be advanced, complex and technical. Also, I want to move far away from the typical rock lead guitar sound. I don't have anything against it, and I actually like many such guitarists a lot, but electric guitar itself and the post-production give you a lot of opportunities to create your own sound.
KC: I may be Rafal’s biggest fan, his guitar playing is incredible! I’m fortunate to be the vocalist for this project because even if I wasn’t, I’d still be a huge fan, always wanting to hear what Rafal is working on next!
Personally, ever since I was in the Marine Corps I always screamed. I learned how to control breathing and not blowing out my voice, which ultimately lead me down this “vocalist” path!
You've already worked with several musicians from all around the world without having seen them in person, which makes the creative process clearly different from bands who can play together in the same room. Could you briefly describe your way of writing and recording, please?
R: Theoretically, living on the other side of the planet doesn't interfere with anything here, as I compose the music myself. The vocal melody lines are always composed by the vocalist in Chaos Over Cosmos – and in the case of KC, I’m very impressed by what he came up with. I composed and recorded track after track, which took me from last December until the end of June 2022. The recording itself is probably not different from the one done by standard bands, aside from the fact that we discuss what we’ve created over the internet.
So, we work separately - I on the compositions and recording the music, KC on vocals and lyrics. As you know, our song structures are definitely not of the intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-outro type, so it took some work to get it all figured out, but we did it :-)
KC: The writing process is definitely iterative. We trade what we have, send notes, rinse repeat. With this album, the process has been pretty simple as we just put a lot of trust in the other person to not screw up the track, and we make sure we set the other musician up for success. If there is a solo, don’t bork it up with vocals. Rafal always makes sure to plan out verse riffs for me to spread my wings on… stuff like that.
However, for the next album, this process will be dramatically changing as we’re going to be working even closer to focus on songwriting and structure. When we listen to “A Dream if Ever There Was One,” we’ve noticed that we maximized the potential of this workflow, and we doubt we’ll make it any better. We want to change the process to hopefully steer the outcome in an even cooler direction for the next album!
How did you come up with your project’s name, and is there a deeper meaning / story behind “Chaos Over Cosmos” for you?
R: Actually, no. I don't think it was even my idea. I need to come up with some sort of a story behind this to make it make more “sense”, haha. But speaking more seriously – no deep meaning here.
Haha, I see. Very fitting name nevertheless. Do you have any plans to bring your music on stage, or is it a pure studio project?
R: Well, with each album I had thoughts like "oh, that part would sound incredible live!”. Sometimes I think about it, but just completely hypothetically. It’s not possible for logistical reasons, but I think it's quite possible that some of Chaos Over Cosmos' tracks will be included in the setlist for my live band in 2023. So nothing is lost!
KC: Man… if we actually pulled this stuff off live, I think people would be blown the hell away!
How would you describe your local music scene, and is there anything special about it? Did you notice changes over the past years?
R: I'm from Krakow, Poland, but I have to admit that I almost don't follow the local scene and am not up to date. I don't know what's going on in the underground and only know a tiny bit more what's popular. I know that the black metal scene is very strong (the Krakow one), but it's rather not my cup of tea.
When it comes to Polish music in general, not just local music, I definitely value jazz musicians the most, such as Adam Makowicz for example, as well as some great composers of classical music, with a special mention of Witold Lutoslawski. As to some more popular music, my favorite Polish band is Kamp! - they play a really great synthpop.
KC: Here in Arizona we’re starting to see a pretty vibrant scene again. Doctor Shepherd, Hidden Gateway, Maria Davis, The Devil’s Back, Sculpin Terra and of course my live project Postmordia are awesome local acts that are worth keeping an eye on!
What can you tell us about your future plans?
R: I think in the coming months we will focus mainly on our other projects - my band, with which I am starting rehearsals, and KC with Postmordia, his killer thrash metal band from Arizona.
KC: I’m gearing up for the new Chaos Over Cosmos album for next year, but in the meantime I will be working with an electronic composer, Maria Davis, on an awesome metal project. Plus, I’ll be playing live locally in AZ with my band Postmordia. Lots of great stuff for the future!
R: New Chaos Over Cosmos won’t happen very soon, but watch the space – there will be a lot of new music from both of us!
Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
R: Check out our music! And now for something completely different: remember - every time you click on a dumb site or go to see a dumb movie at the cinema, you are supporting an entire trend of cultural collapse. People think that it’s okay when they watch those retarded Kardashians or any other stupid celebrities, because it means nothing, but it’s exactly the opposite – their choice means a lot. The more followers of idiotic movies, idiotic music, and idiotic celebrities - the greater their popularity. Read good books and interesting sites (e.g. Mostly-Metal!) and listen to good albums, regardless of genre. Be kind to each other. And if anyone from Ukraine is reading this - stay safe and well!
Cheers on that! Thanks again for your time and these detailed insights into your work :-)
R: Thanks for your interest and all the best, Katha!