My Interview with Chvad SB of Controlled Bleeding
Chvad SB and Controlled Bleeding?
Chvad SB is a composer and experimental musician. He performs in the bands Controlled Bleeding, The Qualia, and Tongue Muzzle. He also composed the score for the independent horror movie called "GUT."
Controlled Bleeding is one of the longest-running and most influential experimental music bands around (having to date released over 30 albums). They are most well known for their Wax Trax period (starting with the EP Songs From The Grinding Wall. Founding members Paul Lemos and drummer Tony Meola teamed with Chvad and Mike Bazini to create their most recent release "Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps"
I included a song from "Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps" on my "Soldier Girl Driving" #Spotify Playlist which started the conversation between Chvad and myself that resulted in this interview (Twitter magic at work).
Josh: I really enjoyed the new album, let me give you a chance to let you say whatever you would like people to know about it.
Chvad: I’m really just relieved that people dig the record. Response overall has been really positive and I was definitely more than a little stressed out about that. I’ve released a lot of music and I certainly don’t mind criticism… that’s part of the package when you record and release material. I was worried about crapping all over a well-established and credible artistic gesture. That gesture being Paul’s work with Controlled Bleeding and his previous collaborators. I listened to Bleeding in High School and those records were a big deal to me. I didn’t want to be the new guy that ruined the band. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Josh: As near as I could tell, you first started working with the legendary Paul Lemos and Tony Meola in 2011 how did you become part of the current lineup? What have you learned from their process and experience?
Chvad: We met sometime in 2011 at a show Paul and Tony were playing not far from where I live. I didn’t know they’d been playing so when my girlfriend mentioned they were we made it a priority to get to the show. After the show, we chatted a bit and that was that. We went to see them again at another gig shortly after that and we chatted a bit more and I don’t know who said what to whom but that ended with the idea that we should get together at a rehearsal space to see how things would work out. The first rehearsals were pretty nerve wrecking. Paul and Tony have known each other a long time and when people are friends that long they communicate in unique ways. I was just some idiot in a room with people that inspired him trying not to be a fanboy and well... trying to not be too much of an idiot. We ended up playing some shows that went well and kept stuff going from there. Paul has a real physical connection to his performances. A visceral transformation of sorts. That took some getting used to… that switch. The intensity can be a bit overwhelming. I’ve made aggressive music for years but always very predetermined and calculated. Paul’s approach is much more raw than that. It’s awesome energy to be around and witness. It’s also intimidating at first to collaborate with. Our friendship has strengthened a lot over the past few years and recording the record I think helped us to understand each other far better than when we started off in the rehearsal space. You hear that Paul? You no longer scare me!
Josh: What did you bring to the group and how did it add to or change what had to be a pretty well-established process?
Chvad: I think I bring, along Bazini (Mike Bazini), a degree of technical focus. Helping create sonic constructs for Paul’s combative playing style to reside in.
Josh: I grew up loving Neu! and Can and Captain Beefheart which led me to bands like Foetus, Einsturzende Neubauten, Coil, and Controlled Bleeding.
I have read some articles where Paul talks about his influences from Captain Beefheart, Ramones, Henry Cow, and Einsturzende Neubauten all the way to his contemporaries like Coil, The Boredoms, and Swans. What were your influences (yes, the typical music interview question)?
Chvad: I grew up in a swamp so the stuff I was exposed to was pretty haphazard. I didn’t have places to hang out with friends and get exposed to new and weird things. Or at least that seemed to be the case. In 1981, when I was 8, my Oma bought me Devo’s New Traditionalists for my birthday. I honestly have no idea what she was thinking or why she thought I’d like it but she did and it had a huge impact on me. I didn’t really get any of the records messages at the time… at least not consciously but I loved the way it sounded. When I was a kid I didn’t grasp the idea that there were record stores and places to get more Devo records so Devo, to me, was just that one album. I just listened to the same record over and over again and nothing else on the radio really nailed me like that did. Later a friend of mine gave me a mix tape of Vietnamese New Wave songs and that stuff blew me away. I had a dozen or so tapes of that stuff. I never knew the artists… I just loved the drum machines and keyboards. Decades later I found out these were all cover songs of European Disco-Italo bands. That kind of blew my mind and I’m not sure if I’ve ever fully recovered from that. Later I’d been lucky enough to have bands like The Residents, The Damned, TSOL, The Dickies, Neubauten, Controlled Bleeding and The Ramones all slip into the mix but musically the real catalyst was Ministry. Up until then I was just a lover of music. While djing at my college radio station the single for Jesus Built My Hotrod was sitting on a stack of CD’s and I decided to play it. Something about it resonated and everything changed for me. I completely right-turned existence, went to my crappy apt, took whatever I had of value (not much at the time) and traded it all in at a pawn shop for a drum machine, microphone, distortion pedal, keyboard and a tape deck. All pieces of shit. Just total junk... but I was determined to make music and that’s where it started. I didn’t know anything about music. Truth is, I still don’t but that’s fine. I found some kind of way, I guess.
Josh: Yes, I love Ministry too, my favorite album has always been "Land of Rape and Honey"
Chvad: I definitely agree about Land of Rape and Honey. An awesome album. Also my favorite.
Josh: For me, DEVO was the first band that said it was okay to not feel comfortable in your own skin or in society or with your own feelings. Did you ever go back later and revisit the larger DEVO catalog (I referenced my article about Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO)?
Chvad: Nice article man! I got to meet and interview Gerald when he was promoting "Jihad Jerry" a number of years back. Really nice guy to talk to.
I absolutely did (check out the rest of the DEVO catalog). Once I had discovered record stores were a thing and I had a job I went digging for as much as I could. I have all of their official releases as well as some fan stuff and tons of bootlegged concerts. Hell, I still have the Adventures of the Smart Patrol CD-ROM Game and some more confusing moments like the DEVO 2.0 release. I'm far from "mega-collector" as I just don't have the space to for that type of habit but I'll pretty much buy whatever they release music wise. New Traditionalists still stands as my personal favorite though with Oh, No! It's Devo! a close second. Not their two most popular records I know but they definitely ring true to me. I just love everything on those from start to finish. I recorded a cover of Going Under once back in 2004 or something. I keep joking about going full "Laibach" and just re-recording the entire record. Not because I'd do it any better... I think it'd just be a fun endeavor. You can listen to the track here:
Josh: A long time ago, I met Graeme Revell after an SPK show and now he is really well-known for movie soundtrack work. If you think about it, Brian McBride, Brian Eno, Trent Reznor, and even Danny Elfman have all done what might be called "experimental" or even "noise" music as well as movies soundtracks.
I saw that you did the soundtrack for the movie "GUT," do you think it is an easier path for so-called experimental artists to compose for the screen? And can you expand on your answer?
Chvad: It might be yeah. Experimental artists deal with non-pop/rock music structures a lot. I more or less started off with making soundtracks. While one of my best friends and collaborators Elias (who directed GUT) was cutting his teeth on making films I also happened to be doing the same with my newly acquired music gear. So whenever he’d make something I’d make some music for it. It seemed like a natural fit. My oma always said my music sounded like something that should be in a movie. I found that really frustrating for years really because I wanted her to hear the “songs” but she had good instincts. She heard something that I hadn’t yet.
Josh: Is there anything you would like people to know about your solo work, Controlled Bleeding, or any of your other projects?
Chvad: I had a few other releases this year as I try to stay as busy as possible. Not sure if Bleeding fans will dig this or not but a release I’m really proud to be part of is Cotillion Knives by The Qualia. I’ve been with The Qualia for a while now and the band founder, Lars Casteen, writes some really compelling songs. This album straddles rock/pop/synthpop for the most part and if you dig catchy hooks there’s a ton to be found on that record. My solo stuff tends to be really on the abstract end of things… the solo record that I think best represents me right now would be 2014’s “Crickets Were the Compass”. There have been releases after that but that record is special for me. If people were wanting someplace to travel sonically… I think that can take you to some pretty interesting places.
Josh: Thanks so much for the interview, a great pleasure!
Chvad: Thanks for the interview and support. It means a lot to me.
Hope everyone enjoyed that interview as much as I did. Very nice guy and very knowledgeable, I hope you will check out all of the links!.
What did you think of the interview?
What are your favorite experimental, noise, or industrial albums?
Let me know, leave a comment!