The Greek/American melodic rock band Outloud was formed in 2008 and has released three studio albums so far. Their latest is called Let's Get Serious, which was released earlier this year. Outloud did a small tour in November, which included their first show in Sweden in Stockholm Rocks. I caught the vocalist Chandler Mogel for a forty minute interview backstage before the show. With us happened to be sitting Mark Mangold (songwriter, singer, keyboardist, Drive She Said, Touch) right next to Chandler, and the rest of the guys from Outloud were hanging around too. I interviewed Chandler first, with Mark participating a little, and caught up with guitarist/keysman Bob Katsionis for a couple of questions at the end of the interview. Chandler was a chatty nice guy in a good mood, and with Mark making funny sidenotes this interview was hilarious. Thank you Mark for participating.
FIRST SHOW IN SWEDEN
RockUnited - First of all how did you end up playing in Sweden, you havent' played here before have you?
Chandler - No I haven't. This is our first time. We got in the wake of promotion for our new album Let's Get Serious, which came out on May on AOR Heaven. We got invited by the team here, Sun Hill Productions, to play and we were honoured. It's cool, because I don't think a lot of mid level bands like us are getting a lot of these kinds of offers. So we jumped on it and made it happen. We're really excited about it. Stockholm is a great town, it's beautiful everywhere I look. There's cool architecture, buildings and layouts.
RockUnited - You've never been to Finland either.
Chandler - No, I haven't. I would love to go. I've heard it's like the land of metal.
RockUnited - Maybe someday then. You don't seem to tour too much. Is this because you live in the States and the other guys in Greece?
Chandler - That's one of the reasons and the other is Bob's engagement with Firewind, which takes up a lot of time. So usually when we have a new record out we do some shows in and around in Greece. But now that Firewind is in a bit of a hiatus we have a lot more things going on and a lot more planned for next year, so we'll see. We might be opening for Kamelot in Athens, it's not confirmed yet and we might do a small tour in Spain in addition of doing some other shows in Greece, and obviously whatever else we can pull in.
RockUnited - The Kamelot guys are really nice, I've interviewed them before.
Chandler - Yeah, and Bob actually recorded or wrote something for their latest album. He's good friends with the guitar player.
RockUnited - You've had some lineup changes. How is the new lineup working and do you think this lineup will be more permanent?
Chandler - Yeah, definitely. The new line-up is great, the band has never sounded better. I feel like we've come more into our own sound with the
liveshows. It obviously takes a while for any band to get there, but I feel like we've finally gotten there. The chemistry is great. We had to fish around
for a bit, but we knew we'd come to it eventually. Sometimes it's hard and bands never get the right kind of people, so I feel kinda lucky. And the
RockUnited - You actually just last month added Jim as the new guitarist.
Chandler - Yes. He's a good friend of Bob's from Greece, an amazing guitar player. One of the most underrated guitar players in Greece. He can play anything like rock, metal, jazz, blues, funk, whatever. He's a very schooled guitar player. Very tight and solid and a great guy too. He plays some crazy jazz stuff and metal like Satriani.
RockUnited - Why did Mark Cross and Tony Kash leave the band?
Bob is actually at the backstage with us and laughs at this.
Chandler - Bob seems glad he doesn't have to answer this one. Well, in short, Mark moved to London and started a family and wanted to go on
different direction. He's got a beautiful son now, who's actually already shown perpensity for music and he's only two years old. And with Tony,
there's no hard feelings with Tony, but it wasn't his priority anymore and we needed people who wanted to make the band more of a priority.
He had other responsibilities and things he felt he had to do and we accepted that. He was one of the founding members of the band unfortunately,
but ultimately we had to do what was best for the group and go forward. But the band is great now and it's the best line-up and best chemistry we've
had so far, so there's no regrets.
LET'S GET SERIOUS
RockUnited -Tell me about the working process on the new album. How did it all go?
Chandler - It was different in that a lot of stuff was written over the internet. The horrible word to use, the internet (laughs). Bob would send me riffs
and musical ideas and I would write on top of them. Or I'd send him a couple of ideas about the vocal melodies and he would come up with music
underneath it. But most of it was done with his musical ideas first and then we add the vocals to it. Three of the songs were written in the past tours
and a couple of songs we've had for years that we finally firmed up and solidified for the album. One More Time and A While to Go were written in
2011. In the past I recorded all my vocals in Greece for the other albums, but this time I recorded my vocals in New Jersey with a great engineer and
friend I do a lot of my sessions with now. We just did that and sent the vocals over and with the magic of the internet everything comes together. But
RockUnited - Any funny stories to share about the process? Readers always love to hear these.
Chandler - Any funny stories, hmm, Mark? (Chandler laughs).
Mark - I do have some funny stories.
Chandler - Actually everytime we do something it's serious. No. But yeah, using shower stalls as vocal booth.
The guys laughed about using the shower and the toilet in the recording process.
Chandler - (doing a fan impersonation) "I love the waterfall intro you have on this record, that was really serene, man."
More jokes followed, but it got too noisy to figure them out from the recorder.
RockUnited - The album is a bit heavier than before, especially Toy Soldiers.
Chandler - It's cool that you say it, because there are some heavier elements to it. Toy Soldiers is more like a Judas Priest kind of song and Death Rock and Bury the Knife even have some screams and growls. We did those for the Finnish people, we hope they like them (laughs). And that wasn't me screaming on them, it was my engineer.
RockUnited - Not your ex-wife?
Chandler - Oh wow, no! (laughs hysterically) I don't have an ex-wife yet. I'm not married yet, I have a fiancee. But she knows what she's getting
into. But those two songs, it's not so prominent in the songs, it's just background stuff to add a little bit of extra bite to the songs,because of the
metal fans. We've found out that we have a lot of hard rock and metal fans, that are kind of right on the edge, on that line, so we wanted to give
RockUnited - How did you end up having Mike Orlando (Adrenalin Mob) on the album for Toy Soldiers?
Chandler - He's a friend of mine from New York. He and I worked together on some tracks back in 2006 or 2007. Then he went on to do the Adrenalin Mob thing and I called him up and said "dude, we'd like to have a solo on this", and he said no problem. It was easy. He's not very far from me, he lives on Staten Island. A great guy and a great player.
RockUnited - How did you decide on playing the Enola Gay cover (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), you haven't done covers much?
Chandler - That's true, we've done a couple covers on live shows, but we've never recorded one. We wanted to, because it's always cool to
reinvent a song and make it your own. So we wanted to find that song that we could do that. Maybe have something in the workings of the song
that has some of that playfulness of our vibe, but all we have to do is add our sound on top of that. Bob proposed that song, which is popular in
Europe. So we made the arrangements and it seemed to work. We changed the keys, so it's more rock. The fans love it when we play it live.
That's like the 80's new wave kinda stuff.
THE OTHER BANDS
Outloud was still doing a few shows after Sweden from this tour in Thessaloniki, Lamia and Athens in Greece, which were the big finale for the tour. Chandler then went to Switzerland for a couple of days, where he has the Khaos band project going on. This band is more heavier than Outloud, in the vein of Alterbridge and Shinedown, and released an album in October, which sounds good.
Chandler - We're doing an album release kind of a party (in Switzerland). We also released a new video. It's gonna be a cool hang.
RockUnited - I don't know many people who are as busy as you are. You have a lot of band projects going on.
Chandler - Yeah I know, just trying to stay busy. Mark is one of them (busy guys). Just trying to stay out of trouble, that's the key. (laughs)
Chandler's voice can also be heard in Chrome Public, Iron Bridge band, Theater of the Absurds, Porphyra, D-I-O-N, Dangered Ace and Iceland to name some.
RockUnited - So how are your other bands, other than Khaos, doing at the moment?
Chandler - We play shows with Iron Bridge band in and around New York city and New Jersey and we have a nice fanbase there. This is kind of
Jersey kind of crowd with the classic rock kinda vibe, but more like The Eagles meets Bad Company meets CCR maybe. More rootsy stuff. We
have a female background singer, Amy Harnell (TNT's Tony Harnell's ex-wife) and Jessie Wagner, who's amazing. She sang with Kid Rock,
Chic and now she's with Lenny Kravitz. Whenever she's home she joins us. We just did a private event recently in New York and were featured on
one of the big billboards on Times Square. It was a cool thing for us and then it got re-tweated by the Wall Street Journal, so we got a bunch of
social media buzz from that. We're just getting ready to go to the studio and work on the new record. We have a couple of songs already.
OUTLOUD, "THE BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD OF MELODIC ROCK!"
Chandler has been coughing during the interview, might be the cold Swedish weather doing tricks for him. He joked about adding all the coughing to the interview, and everybody laughed at the idea. So here's "cough, cough" for you, in print.
Chandler - When I'm singing it doesn't happen (coughing). But yeah, do it in rhythm (coughing to the songs). Haha, "this is a death metal song." (Chandler makes low coughs)
RockUnited - That also sounds like Beavis and Butthead when they're laughing.
Chandler - Yeah, that's what it would be (laughs).
Mark - Exactly that.
Chandler - We would be introduced as that from now on, the Beavis and Butthead of melodic rock! Now all this laughing is making me cough even more. We better get serious here (laughs).
RockUnited - Sorry. Anyway, you perform in private events back home and have performed to many big names. Which gig from these has been the best?
Chandler - Dare I talk about that in an interview like this (laughs)? But we do so many , we do them every week. I've played with Al Fritsch from Drive She
Said, who's from Mark's band. That's an amazing melodic rock band. We do some of these gigs together with the singer. He and I played together at
Donald Trumps house in Florida for New Years eve last year. That was really good. We were singing Don't Stop Believing (Journey) and Living on a
RockUnited - You actually grew up with funk and soul music with your father?
Chandler - Yes, that's true, my dad raised me on that stuff. Earth, Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder.
Mark - Are you into Black Rose as well?
Chandler - Not so much, I don't have their albums, but I've done a few of their songs.
Coincidentally a Swedish band with the same name was playing in Stockholm this evening in Anchor pub. We were thinking of going there for an aftershow
party, but everybody was too tired after the festival was over. Mark recommended the place, although advised to keep the wallet in a safe place from pickpockets.
TRY TO DO THE RIGHT THING
RockUnited - You also performed with Talon in Firefest 2008, we saw that show. How was that experience for you, it was your first and last with the band?
Chandler - That's correct. It was the only live gig I did with them. It was a great experience, I met a lot of great people and made a lot of connections through
that one gig. They've done Firefest after that one too (2011) and it's a great festival. It was a blast. They seem to switch singers a lot , which is fine, and I was
definitely proud of what we did and it was a springboard that helped launch this, because at that Firefest I gave Andrew McNeice a demo of Outloud's first
album and he thought it was amazing. I told him we were about to sign with Frontiers and he said he wanted us for his label. He had the Angelmilk label at
the time. We decided to go with Frontiers and Angelmilk went under soon after. So it was probably the best move. But Andrew has been a good supporter
RockUnited - You've taken singing lessons from Tony Harnell. How was that?
Chandler - It was very good. I still call him when I need a lesson. I haven't had a lesson in a while. I was consistent taking lessons with him for three or four years. I met Mark through him too. He's a good friend and like a brother to me. He taught me a lot, how to really get in there and let go. He did a lot of shows with TNT this year.
RockUnited - You must be taking care of voice then, as you take your singing career seriously?
Chandler - I like to think so. But like here, there's some extra stuff to do, because I'm still jetlagged and I sleep when I can. It's important to sleep when you can, so you're not tired when you perform. But it usually takes a couple of weeks to get rid of the jetlag. But other than that, eating well, sleeping well, drinking tea. Some herbal tea and caffeine free tea. I haven't drank any alcohol in about a year. Trying to do the right thing.
Mark - That's a good title.
Chandler - Yeah, "try to do the right thing." (laughs with Mark, who's now singing that already) You can use that, Mark.
Since I gathered this interview together fast before leaving home, this pretty much wraps up the interview with Chandler. As we were done Bob joked "so soon?"
We thanked each other and Chandler had the last words from his part.
Chandler - I appreciate the time, it was a great interview. RockUnited rocks!
As for Bob, he was busy with getting ready to go on stage in twenty minutes, but I managed to get a few words from him too.
RockUnited - About Firewind, are there any plans for the band in near future?
Bob - The thing is we really want to come back with a very good album. The industry is really hard. The band did seven albums in ten years, so we decided to take a break, because it was too much. We decided to come back with a really good album. Gus G (Firewind and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist) is now doing his second solo album, so this means Outloud has a little bit more time to do some shows and maybe record another album. Everything depends on the schedules of Gus, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath.
RockUnited - You're also a very productive guy. Do you think you're ever going to work with Timo Tolkki again (Revolution Renessaince)?
Bob - Actually last year he visited me in Athens and stayed in my place a couple of days, but we did nothing musically, just went out to eat and talked about life
and everything. But Timo is one of my idols, I grew up playing his music and I think he's a mastermind, who created a lot of music we are listening to nowadays
And then Bob had to go. He offered to finish the interview later, but the festival kept me busy the rest of the evening. Bob's latest solo release Rest in Keys is not a pure instrumental album like his earlier releases. A few songs have vocals in them, and many guests are included: Gus G, Liv Kristine, Chris Amott, Maxi Nil, Peter Ellis and Gary Wehrkamp. Bob is a talented songwriter and even his instrumentals are fascinating with a world of their own, apart from the Outloud sound.
Did Chandler cough on stage to the rhythm and how did it work for Bob playing with the new guitarist? For those and more check out the review of the Outloud show this evening from Stockholm Rocks 2014.
Chandler Mogel - Vocals
Interview: Satu Reunanen