Interview with Rafal Bowman (guitar, programming, synths) and KC Lyon (vocal, lyrics)
Interview by Jack Merry
Hey, and thank you for your time. How did you come up with the name CHAOS OVER COSMOS; is there a story behind it?
Rafal: There’s not much of a story behind it. I’m not even sure if I came up with that name, I think it was the first vocalist. Anyway, I actually don’t remember any cool story or big concept behind it.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to write music and join a band?
Rafal: It was probably 6-7 years ago, when I noticed that I have more and more ideas, riffs and melodies and it sounds actually good. But indirectly that’s the intention I’ve always had, ever since I’ve started doing music.
KC: I’ve been doing music ever since I went into the United States Marine Corps and learned how to yell properly. Somehow I had this ability to continue to yell in key without losing my voice and realized when I would cover Slipknot, Mudvayne, or Static-X songs, I seemed to be able to sustain a similar attack for hours on end. With a few other young Marines, we started this experimental electronic noise rock/metal project while on deployment and started writing bizarre music. It was pretty mediocre if not terrible but there was some interesting gold in there that had some promise if we decided to build upon it.
Could you tell me a little about what it was like working with each other online, having never met before? Was it difficult at all, did it help or hinder the creative process?
Rafal: There are some obvious impediments, such as different time zones and the inability to meet in the rehearsal room, but we have pretty good communication and from the beginning I had a very clear vision about music I want to make this time. Working remotely has many benefits in terms of finding the right person – you can look everywhere, not just where your location allows you to. This is a huge benefit.
KC: This kind of project requires a lot of communication and trust that the other party isn’t going to fuck up their job. You’re putting yourself and your creative reputation on the line so making sure you have your shit together is a must. Because of the distance, you don’t have time to make a ton of mistakes. Exchanging 400 emails over not getting a part right is an exhausting endeavor so making sure workflow is optimized is a key part to making this kind of thing work… on top of making sure the performance you present is solid. Plus, Rafal doesn’t haven’t to stare at my ugly face for hours on end. Working from afar makes you appreciate that there are a lot of cons to a bunch of sweaty grown men being in the same room emitting strange odors. Rafal still doesn’t know if I spit when I talk and that’s a wonderful mystery he may never have the answer to.
Is there a running concept throughout The Silver Lining Between The Stars, and if so, what inspired this?
Rafal: Musically, it’s a continuation of what I did on my previous record, “The Ultimate Multiverse” from 2020 – technical, dense, progressive music with robotic feel and science fiction tendencies. I don’t know if you can call it a concept, because it’s something that came naturally, without any planning. So far I enjoy this kind of musical “concept” and this is to stay on the next album.
KC: To me, what you hear on this album is trial by fire. Rafal approached me after seeing my vocal work on reddit and essentially said, “yo dawg, I make some complicated progressive techy death metal and think you might fit this project, want to lend your musical ability?” and I was like, “okay, let’s see what this random reddit scrub is putting together” and I was fucking blown away. His technical ability with guitar playing and instinct on song writing structure was (and still is) some of the best song writing I’ve ever heard. Rafal has this crazy ability to create elaborate soundscapes that melt your brain and I was flattered he’d even invite me to attempt working on something this level. So literally, as each song in the album goes forward, you can actually hear our relationship getting more and more comfortable. When “Violent Equilibrium” starts, it sort of reflects my rigidness on wanting to sit in the mix only as another instrument to ensure I felt more complimentary to the project, but I slowly come out of my shell by the end of “The Last Man in Orbit.” Funny enough, even though you’d think our relationship blooming as the album is being made could be problematic, it just happened to fit perfect structurally as the songs progress. We got lucky there!
Who did the artwork for your new LP, and why did you choose them?
Rafal: For the artwork we used photo of the Lagoon Nebula taken by Prabhu, a talented photographer from United Arab Emirates. Also I edited it a little bit. Prabhu is mainly focused on astrophotography, which is very much in keeping with the mood of our music. You can check his work here: https://prabhuastrophotography.com/
Would you mind going into detail for our readers what your favourite songs on the LP are about and what they all mean to you?
KC: To me, “Control ZED” is our banger if you just want your face melted in a contemporary fashion. But the final track, “The Sins Between the Stars” is a special one to me as it capitalizes on our relationship and trust solidifying. I got to sing a bit more and got to tell an incredible story. Performance wise, it’s the best thing I’ve personally ever lent my voice to and is the most dynamic song on the album.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Rafal: I’d describe it as a very technical, modern melodic death metal with progressive twist and really strong cosmic vibe that you can feel through the sound and even the way it is executed – it’s very mechanical, digital and at the same time spacey. Quite a nerdy stuff for people who like guitar shredding, science fiction and the deep vocals in modern style.
KC: A taint tearing cosmic joyride full of brutal and technical riffage combined with a vocal style found in the Swedish death-metal scene in the early 2000’s.
Now that live music is starting to return across the globe, will you be looking to book up some shows as soon as possible? Or are you strictly studio based for now?
Rafal: Hope you’re right about the return of live music, however I wouldn’t be so optimistic about that, unfortunately. But I’m saying it as a listener, because Chaos Over Cosmos itself is strictly studio project.
KC: I think this project will always be enjoyed best sitting in front of a good sound system. We’re the nerdy metal band that focuses on studio polish more than anything, and I think that will always remain our strength.
Which brand of equipment do you like to use when performing in the studio?
Rafal: My main guitar is 7 string Ibanez RG7421 and the second is a vintage Stratocaster with humbuckers. For recording I’m using Line 6 Pod Studio which is a really simple and effective tool. Besides that – tons of amp simulations (most of them are totally free, like LePou amps). I’m also using a lot of Guitar Rig 5 and from time to time – Melodyne. As for the recording DAW – mainly Reaper. Pretty basic stuff. I’m doing really a lot of editing on recorded tracks so I needed something that would be comfortable and not overly complicated.
KC: I’m rocking a 2017 Macbook Pro with 8Gb of RAM and modified the Mac to support a 1Tb Samsung PCI-E SSD since the 120Gb drive it came with is hot garbage. I use Garageband but I’m upgrading to Logic soon. With a Satechi USB-C dongle, I connect my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 v3, AT2020 microphone (XLR), Fostex RP Diaphragm Stereo Headphones (T60RP) and PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5″ Near Field Studio Monitors, I use a shitload of gumption to make my vocals pop!
Do you have a favourite track from The Silver Lining Between the Stars, and if so, why? What makes it stand out for you?
Rafal: I almost never even listen to my music and I don’t have any favourite song, however I’m really happy with the final effect. Maybe it would be The Last Man in Orbit, but as I said – it’s hard to say for me.
KC: So here is where Rafal and I differ a lot! I have to like my music or won’t release it because I am that self-indulgent asshole that listens to his own music. Why not? I like to listen to shit that rocks and if I made something that rocks, I want to hear it! I want to analyze it, dissect it, figure out what I love and what I cheese-dicked. I want to find where the seams are and figure out how to improve it so those seams don’t show. Rafal is a mad scientist that builds and engineers beautiful homes, does his best to perfect the foundation and walls, then quickly moves on to the next house he has an idea on how to build. I want to decorate his house! I want to paint the walls, furnish it and actually live in it. But to answer your question: Which is my favorite song? The final two are my favorites (“Control ZED” and “The Sins Between the Stars”) but every song is fucking fantastic. The last two songs stand out because I felt like Rafal and I clicked and trusted each other to not fuck this up.
Where do you draw your influences from when it comes to producing new music/lyrics? Could you list me some bands that particularly inspire the sound of CHAOS OVER COSMOS and why?
Rafal: Well, the first bands that come to my mind are: Symphony X, Animals as Leaders, Obscura, Death, Cynic, In Flames, Scar Symmetry, Children of Bodom, Dream Theater. Mostly because of their guitar parts, but also general sound and mood. For example Cynic is a really unique band when it comes to mood of their music.
KC: As a 37-year old millennial, I grew up on nu-metal but quickly found the Swedish death metal scene while in the Marine Corps. In 2003, a fellow Marine handed me an In Flames and Opeth CD after hearing I listened to nu-metal and told me to “study up cuz these two bands are gonna define their genres” and he was right! So I’d say bands like Static-X, In Flames, Tool, Mindless Self Indulgence, The Used, Opeth, Mastadon, Mudvayne, Slipknot, Rammstein, Korn, and System of a Down played a huge role in where I’m at vocally and lyrically.
Are there any new bands or albums that have caught your attention lately?
Rafal: I haven’t been looking for new music lately, but I can tell you that I’m waiting for the new Abstract Void album – this is a project made by a guy who is the main producer of our album and friend of the band. Black metal mixed with synthwave – fantastic music and fresh approach. Also I’ve listened / am listening to new Maiden album, which is really nice, as always. I’m waiting for new Dream Theater too. But in general I’m not looking for new bands or new albums right now and I don’t really know what’s going on in the scene. Oh, I forgot about new Steve Hackett album – I wasn’t overly impressed by his single but I believe that whole album will be great.
KC: Holy shit, I’m stoked about a bunch of cool stuff right now! I love anything that’s keeping metal alive and healthy, especially so we can get more zoomers into the bands that make all their TikTok musical videos possible! Otoboke Beaver from Kyoto, Japan is a punk rock outfit consisting of only Japanese girls and they fucking kill it! Code Orange and Knocked Loose are awesome. The Swedish metal band, Avatar, is incredible. Fever 333 is filling the void Rage Against the Machine left when they broke up. In Flames and Soilwork still put out bangers. The new Jinjer singles have been crazy good. I really think the last Slipknot record was the best thing they ever recorded too. There’s an artist nearby to me that I’ve worked with named Maria Davis who just released two really good electronic albums, “Echo” and “Evocation” that are great synthwave albums I enjoy chilling out to. Also, a local guitar player and one-man band artist named Doctor Shepherd always makes awesome folk/rock songs I can groove to!
Any bands you would like to go out on tour with? Who would be your ideal tourmates?
Rafal: As we are a studio band, this is an abstract question, so my answer will be abstract too: Deep Purple at the time of Richie Blackmore’s biggest crazes and eccentricities!
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally?
Rafal: I still love progressive metal, melodeath, shred, whole other metal and rock subgenres (especially technical stuff) but the more I’m making this kind of music, the less I feel like listening to it. I’m still a big fan of the bands mentioned before, but right now this is much more of looking for inspiration than being a “typical” fan. I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music for a few years now, I find electronic music very inspiring, especially when it comes to guitar playing – really! Sometimes I’m making riffs or lead parts that easily would be part of some electronic music. This gives much more room for creating interesting, fresh stuff than being inspired by only typical rock or metal music sound and compositional ideas. I’m a big fan of Squarepusher or Aphex Twin for example. Also I listen to a lot of jazz and classical music, lately especially Debussy and Strawinsky.
KC: If it isn’t the melo-death scene from the 90’s or 2000’s, or something new from an up and coming metal band, I’m either listening to ambient electronic music from projects like Hammock or Maria Davis, or I’m studying and analyzing pop music. Yes, I like some pop music. Pop music is always interesting music to stay current on so I can monitor trends and understand what “over-produced” and “over-polished” music sounds like. You can learn a lot of what to do and what not to do when recording by listening to pop music.
You’re stranded on a desert island with only 3 records and a record player. Which 3 albums would you want with you?
Rafal: That would be so difficult to choose. Even 100 albums would be quite difficult. It depends on current mood and probably most of all nostalgia. Maybe that would be “Rock in Rio” by Iron Maiden, “Dive” by Tycho and “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd.
KC: Tool’s “Lateralus”, Mindless Self Indulgence’s “Frakenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy”, and In Flames “Soundtrack to Your Escape”.
What do you like to do outside of music? Have you watched any great TV lately on streaming services etc?
Rafal: I’m reading a lot of books. Actually that’s my biggest hobby if we exclude music. I am currently reading “Quicksilver” by Neal Stephenson. I like good fantasy and science fiction (Dan Simmons, Tolkien, Lem, Alastair Reynolds and a lot more), but also classics – like Stendhal and Camus for example. And of course, I’m watching a lot of movies too, and what can I say as a s-f fan? Well, I’m waiting for “Dune”! I love Villeneuve’s movies and I’m pretty sure this one will be awesome too. But my favourite director has nothing to do with s-f – it’s Paolo Sorrentino. I think his movies have an excellent sense of aesthetics, which is especially evident in a movie like, say, The Great Beauty, which I watched recently with my girlfriend – for me this was the second time I saw it and it’s still great. I’m also a big fan of such directors like Kubrick, Polanski and Scorsese. As for the streaming services – I watched the second season of After Life last week on Netflix. Also I’m waiting for the new season of Peaky Blinders. Both, books and movies are extremely inspiring musically.
KC: When it comes to visual media, my wife and I hate wasting our time. Because my wife manages a restaurant and I run PC Simplicity (a computer repair shop in Prescott Valley, AZ) the films or shows need to be top tier stuff, or we skip it. Sci-fi stuff like Westworld is a 10 out of 10 watch. The Handmaids Tale is incredible as well – though that one is painful. Since we’re coming into the autumn, it’s spooky season!! I’ve especially loved the horror films put out by A24, as well as Jordan Peele’s new stuff. A guilty pleasure is YouTube true crime, like ‘That Chapter’ and ‘Jim Can’t Swim’. Otherwise, I’m playing PC games or working on my YouTube channel, “KCdoesVOX” where I do vocal covers of all my favorite metal songs!
Thank you for your time, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Rafal: Listen to good music and get vaccinated! Thanks for your interest!
KC: Don’t be an idiot, get the vaccine in your arm and stop treating people in the service industry like shit.