Amerikan Kaos: How, What and Why?

Well, Amerikan Kaos was born out of the fact that I have spent my career with, of course, Annihilator, for many decades. 17 studio records and many other releases… and a lot of touring.

People that follow Annihilator know that I like all kinds of music.  I have influences from blues, punk, thrash, speed, heavy metal. To pop music, classical and jazz.  I have tried to do as much of that with the Annihilator music as I could, but there was always a certain limit to the area I stay within.  And I always knew for decades that I hoped I would have the opportunity to sit down and write a record for a new band, or a new project for a different kind of music. I didn’t really know what it would be. So, when the world shut down, I lost some interest in the writing side of Annihilator, and I took it as the perfect opportunity for me to explore my creativity and do something, finally, that let’s me create and apply a lot of what I’ve loved and learned over the decades. Whether it is other musical styles than I have been known for making, different studio productions/technical ideas (engineering, producing, mixing… and have a blast making great music, with some great talents and people involved.

As much as it was cool to have that time in the studio, it was also confusing, as I had no solid idea of the style of music I wanted to do, and I had to be careful that it was not too influenced by my favourite bands.  I have so many different favourite bands and different types of music that when I write songs, sometimes they sound the same as other bands, because I’m so much of a fan of them.

That was a tough thing to do, to decide to write a record when you are known as a thrash metal / heavy metal guitar player for your whole life.  If you sit down and put something else out it’s going to get criticised, so I decided to just do what I wanted to do.  I started writing a few songs and they were scattered … one was like a pop song, the next was back to a heavy metal song, the next was Rolling Stones style and another, with some The Knack grooves. So, I thought I really need to come up with a plan and get some focus here, because I can’t just put out a record with ten or eleven songs that make no sense to each other.

So, I decided what area I was going to go into for writing and try to keep some focus, but the problem was that I wanted to write across many areas and styles.  I didn’t want to be held back to one style again, so I thought what about maybe three records.  What if I have the focus and time in the creative space that I was in during 2020.  Why not spread the styles across three different records, with maybe three different singers and maybe three different sets of line ups or people.  So that is where the trilogy came from, whether it made sense to anyone else. This was for me, to get the ideas out of me while I had the time and creative mindset to get it done.


So, the album I wrote first came out with a Van Halen, stones vibe. There is a little Van Halen tribute song and also heavy metal meets hard rock songs.   This one, AK1, we call it Armageddon Boogie.  I really wanted it to have that Alex Van Halen kind of groove, he’s one of my favourite drummers. So, I needed to find a drummer that was a big Van Halen fan also, so I immediately thought of Brian Tichy from California.  I talked to him, and we became immediately drawn to our Van Halen connection and a few other things.  Brian and I hit it off right away musically and we knew exactly what we wanted to get out of the drums on this record.  It was essentially a fun, Alex Van Halen meets Brian Tichy and that’s exactly what we got.

For the songs and the sound, I literally did try, on some of the songs to get that more singular early Van Halen sound of more of a one guitarist sound, but sometimes put the guitar on the other speaker so there are two guitars playing.  Then on some I went for a Rolling Stones, 2 guitar players, 1 on each speaker with different guitars and set ups and playing different parts. So, we kept it mid 70’s, late 70’s to 1985, it’s not a brand new sound, it’s trying to go back and try to take the best of what I loved about the 70’s and 80’s but keep it in a Heavy Metal meets Hard Rock vibe.

The key on this one was always going to be the singer and I had a long list of people I was looking at. I wanted to stay away from heavy metal singers for this one, and long story short, I ended up working with a guy named Chandler Mogel from New York, who’s in a Lou Gramm / Foreigner cover band.  I was put onto him through Bob Katsionis, keyboardist from Firewind and a great guy and studio owner.  So, when I listened to Chandler he had a very clean tone, almost gospel/George Michael tone. There was no raspy Roth or ballsy deepness to his voice, which made me pass on him at first.  But then I kept coming back to him and he ended up being the perfect person for this record.  He brought a bluesy tone to the record and was anything but heavy metal.  That was one of the best decisions I made.  That along with Brian Tichy on the drums, both gave it exactly what we needed. 

So, the concept for that first record in just that. That 70-85 vibe, it’s got a bit of Alex Van Halen/Brian Tichy style drums and it’s got a clean vocalist with a lot of feel and that gospel/Blues …. just rockin’ …a rockin’ singer, I played bass and guitar.  Bob Katsionis played keyboard.  We had an incredible backup singer, Jessie Wagner, working a few tracks.  And of course, someone I enjoy working with always the amazing Marc LaFrance, who worked on probably most songs you remember from the 80’s and 90’s from Living on a Prayer to Doctor Feelgood to David Lee Roth, as well as many Annihilator songs.

We used a hell of a team on production and artwork also.  The cover for Armageddon Boogie was done by Gyula Havancsak, from Hungary who happens to be one of the most amazing creative artists out there.  He has done Annihilators artwork for decades.  For production we used the amazing Mike Fraser who is known for working on pretty much every ACDC release.  He engineered the drums in Vancouver, in Armoury Studios.  Brian travelled up from Los Angeles and recorded the drums there.  Mike Fraser worked on the Balance Van Halen album, which I love, so he was of course the natural choice to work with on this record.  The album was mastered at Sterling Sound in Nashville by one of the top mastering engineers in the world, Ted Jensen.

I mixed and produced the album myself in my studio here in Durham UK, and apart from one cover song I also wrote all the songs; lyrics, melodies and music.

This was a fun record to make! 

So as far as this trilogy goes the next one, AK2 (finished by the time you read this!) is a different style again, and a different singer (many will know him!)… more rock n roll/less Heavy Metal… and the last one of the Trilogy, will be much heavier! 

I hope you enjoy Armageddon Boogie!

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