Full Blown Chaos

author PP date 07/12/07

Meeting with Ray Mazzola, the vocalist of Full Blown Chaos was an event I was quite looking forward to, after having enjoyed their highly underrated new album "Heavy Lies The Crown", especially after reading about his dedication to the fans. This was clearly a band who was tight with its fans, and highly aligned to the whole hardcore movement so I had thought of questions that would specifically get the guy to talk much. And my opinion of him turned to be right, he was one of the nicest guys I've had the pleasure of interviewing. Going into plenty of detail, he answered all my questions thoroughly, and best of all, he had no trouble doing the interview at the upstairs bar "World's End" instead of the backstage area most interviews are usually done at. After the interview, he had no hurry in getting back to the venue, and he stayed around for a good half an hour enjoying a pint together with the Ferret Records publicity representatives and another interviewer, chatting about this and that, a genuinely down to earth approach about being in the band.

RF.net: Hi! First of all, can you introduce yourself?
Ray Mazzola: Oh yeah. Ray from Full Blown Chaos, the vocalist.

RF.net: Well, thanks for doing the interview

Ray Mazzola: Oh, my pleasure

RF.net: So how are things in Full Blown Chaos right now?

Ray Mazzola: Things are good. We are where we need to be right now. We are on tour, pushing the new record, and we're having a great time doing it.

RF.net: How's the tour going?

Ray Mazzola: Great. We're having a good time. We had a little vehicle trouble but we have one van in the shop right now, and this is another rental van, that I'm pretty sure has a couple of days left on it. It happens!

RF.net: You're on tour with First Blood and Since The Flood - what do you think about those bands?
Ray Mazzola: Oh they're great! They're good bands, great people, we've known for a long time. I was singing, like how this whole tour came about, Full Blown had a month off after we had recorded the last record, and Since The Flood needed someone to fill in singing. They had lost their singer and they had a tour coming up with First Blood and The Warriors, and they needed someone who knew the music. I've always been a great fan of theirs. We took them on their first tour, way back like years ago. So they called me up and they were like "Ray can you fill in, being that you're off". I filled in for them, and in that duration of time, just hanging out with all the guys, I was like "you know what? I wanna go back to Europe. I wanna try to do a headlining tour for Full Blown" and First Blood was into it, Since The Flood was into it. [Clicks fingers] There you go, it just worked out. You know they're great bands, and they do what they do best.

RF.net: So what's been the best show so far and why?
Ray Mazzola: You know what, there's been a couple. There's been a couple so far. The turn outs have been great, everybody has been really responsive. One of the best dates was Hammerstadt, in Germany. That was... it was close to 400 kids there, and it was just out of control. Everybody stayed late, I mean everything was running late and kids were just flying everywhere. There were a couple of times that my mic got ripped, like the whole chord got ripped just from kids diving off the stage, power driving into kids. It was out of control. It was really intense, everybody was just getting all their aggression out. And with this tour, all the bands dance too. It's like everybody supports each other, as much as possible. So everybody's having a great time. And it was a really great vibe, we did like two encore, played over twenty songs [laughs], and we just kept going. We were like "oh, we'll play for a couple of hours if we have to". So we just kept going kept going. We played in Sweden also, and that was out of this world. That was so.. we've never played Sweden before and just for people to be singing along to our music, and we've never been there.. that's a good achievement. That feels good.

RF.net: How did you decide to be called Full Blown Chaos? Is there a story behind the name?
Ray Mazzola: It was before I was in the band. But the name came about because they wanted something that was going to describe the intensity of the music. So they wanted really aggressive music, they needed a really aggressive name. So you hear Full Blown Chaos and the first thing you think is: "oh, okay, it's gotta be out there", you know crazy. And that's what happens. Our live show gets intense sometimes, a lot of kids get out of hand, they're crazy so.. [big grinning]

RF.net: Listening to "Heavy Lies The Crown" I can hear a bit of inluence from a number of hardcore heavyweights, so I'm curious to hear, who do you consider as your most important influences?
Ray Mazzola: For me personally, my influences.. I mean I have my hardcore influences and I have my metal influences. My hardcore influences, you have like Biohazard, Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Madball, Judge.. I mean these are all bands that I grew up listening to.. Ignite, and you have metal, which is Slayer, Testament, old Metallica, Machine Head, Forbidden, Exodus, Sepultura, Pantera.. you have all those bands. And that's for everybody. Everybody is metal influenced but we're also hardcore influenced. We listen to both, so we just incorporate our ideals and our styles into the music.

RF.net: I've read that the album title was derived from something a fan told you at last year's Groezrock - can you elaborate?
Ray Mazzola: You know what, we had a time slot at 12:30 in the afternoon. There was about 9 or 10 000 people there. And we got to play in front of that many, probably the most amount of people we've ever played in front of. And it was a great set. Everybody was singing.. the best way to say it man, excuse my language, is just playing with a hard on the whole entire time, and then getting off stage like, "YEAH!", just pumped. Just having that good of a response and then running to do merch, because we were shorthanded.. we didn't have anybody so.. anytime we are shorthanded I take care of everything else. I do all the business, do all the merch, everything that's needed. So I was doing the merchandise and I was there for like 4-5 hours. Constantly taking pictures, interviews, talking to kids, slinging merch, going crazy. Finally I had a break, got to sit down and a kid comes over and sits with, we're talking, and he started elaborating on how a lot of bands try to do what we do musically. And I'm like "Well, there's a lot of similar bands that have a similar sound as us. It's not the most original stuff in the world, but we put our twist to it, we put our selves into it, which makes it totally different from other music". And basically he went on to say how like "Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed used to do, he used to sit around and talk to kids.. and a lot of other bands need to do that and they don't, and they don't try to either. They don't try to get out there and talk to kids, to let them know that you know what, we're all people, you know. It's like everyone is here for the same music. To show appreciation that they're at the show, that they're buying a shirt. Cause sometimes you don't have money, and they're still trying. They walk around the crowd, begging, trying to collect for a shirt, a CD, a hoodie, whatever it is." And I do that, I show my appreciation to everybody. I say thank you may about a hundred times during a set when we play, because you don't have to be here but you like the music so, thank you. I do appreciate everybody here.

So the kid comes up and says "you know a lot of people try, but they just don't have the discipline, they don't have the drive to do it. Everybody wants to be a rock star nobody wants to be responsible." I'd rather be responsible, I'd rather have people come up to me: "Yes we enjoy the music" than have groupies. I don't need groupies. I don't need that. Put your clothes back on, thank you, have a beer, lets hang out and get to know each other. I'd rather do that than anything else. And he tells me "it takes a lot of sacrifice to do it. Not a lot of people are willing to do it." And then he points at me and goes "heavy lies the crown." And it had so much meaning because it's really easy to attain a certain status. But to maintain it, is what's difficult. Not a lot of people wanna do that. So to hold that title, and to keep it solid, took a lot. Right there, I was like "aight, that's the title of the new record. I'm gonna write a song that's basically fitting to that", and that's how it worked out.

RF.net: So based on what you just told me, and obviously things that I've read in your biography and stuff, you guys seem to hold a tight hardcore ethic to your whole band. Can you tell me a bit about what being hardcore means to you?
Ray Mazzola: To me, it means just.. doing the best you can, for yourself. A lot of people think that hardcore is unity, hardcore is doing this. Basically preaching like an overall.. "hey we all listen to the same music so we all have the same ideals" and this and that. Bullshit. Absolute bullshit. I hate unity, I hate anything that has to do with it. You know what, I have my own feelings and if I don't like something, I'm not gonna like it. Just because somebody else likes the same thing, I'll respect them for it. But it doesn't mean that I have to go "hey alright, great, I'll give you everything I have". I don't agree with that. Hardcore for me is the extreme of anything that you are doing. And for us it's taking care of your friends, taking care of your family. That's a true hardcore mentality. Looking after yourself, doing the best for yourself that's possible, and then working, making sure that everybody around you is solid. Making sure that you're friends are safe and your family's safe. That's a solid hardcore mentality. Doing what is right, doing what's basically.. it's a responsibility. I mean I'm trying to pull out the main meaning of it. For me, it's that you have responsibility. Hardcore is.. not to be cliche, but it is a way of life. It's a proper way of life. Doing the best for yourself, doing the best for your family goes close to doing best for your friends. There's some people that, because we play the same music, we're both hardcore, we're both metal. It doesn't mean that we have to.. you know, I can disagree with them, they can disagree with me. And they have. So that's basically what it means to me. It just means.. it's a mentality of personal peseverence, and being able to establish a good family bond.

RF.net: Before you signed to Ferret, you were on Jamey Jasta's Stillborn Records for about four years and now you're on Ferret. How did this come to be, and how are things different now that you are on Ferret?
Ray Mazzola: You know what, Stillborn was a great label at the time we were on it. Jamey is a very busy guy, and he just wasn't able to provide what we needed. We were growing, and we needed special attention. There were certain things that.. you know, we were getting bigger as a band, we need more. We need tour support, we need this, we need that. There's tons of things that we needed that he just didn't have the time to do. I mean he has three bands, MTV, a clothing company. He's got Stillborn, he's got his rap label Illborn, he's got so many things going on. He's producing records, managing bands.. he was spread way too thin. So we gave him "Titans", we gave him that album and after that it was time to find a new label. We got contacted by just about every label out there. About going to Ferret was the best way to go for us. We knew everybody at Ferret US. We knew all the guys, they were fans of the band forever. Great people, and their work ethic is amazing. I could call them any time of the day, no matter if its a business call, a personal thing.. I can call them in the middle of the night and go "hey look, I need help". And they're there. They support their bands above and beyond. And that's what we needed. We needed that type of availability. It doesn't mean we're gonna use it, but knowing that they're there.. they call us all the time just to make sure we're okay, making sure everything is going alright. They email us, at least once a week saying "hey what's going on guys bla bla bla this and that, you hooking up with any girls in the world? Tell us what's going on!" Like they wanna know what's going on, make sure everybody's happy, everybody's in the right place. They're a great label, they're solid, and they take care of their bands.

RF.net: Did you also get approached by major labels, then?

Ray Mazzola: There was a couple.. a lot of indie stuff, you know like the Century Media's, the Metal Blades, the Victories and all that. Then there were a couple of bigger ones like Warner Brothers and this and that. We've heard Roadrunner, and gotten words about them. And I'm like no. I wanna stay. I don't wanna get ahead of us. I'd rather have a slow burn than a wild fire and that's it, you're done. I'm not in that, I'm in this for the long run. Longevity is the key.

RF.net: I wanna talk a bit about the actual songs on the album now. Almost all songs on the album are kind of in-your-face and brutal, really hardcore. But then you have the last two songs "Mojave Red" parts 1 & 2. The first one sounds much more like a melodic metal band to me, whereas the second one is flat-out hardcore. Can you tell me something about these songs?
Ray Mazzola: Well that whole two song "Mojave Red" part 1 and part 2, it's based around our experiences when we were out on Ozzfest. We got into a really bad accident out at the Mojave desert. Two weeks into Ozzfest, destroyed our RV, destroyed our trailer. Everybody almost died. And we were left out there for a week, basically. No help from Stillborn, no help from anywhere. And we had to get ourselves out of the situation. And basically the instrumental is the calm before the storm. At that point, everything was perfect. And as soon as the accident happened, everything went down hill. And then we saw where everybody's loyalties were set. We saw who helped us, who didn't help us, and where we were supported and where we weren't. It was the calm before the storm and then the actual cursion. So that's how that came about.

RF.net: So I have to ask, which song do you like the best, then?

Ray Mazzola: You know what, I love them all, it's so hard to.. I would have to say.. like "No Last Call" is one of my favorites, because it's about, a lot of people are always telling us "oh why do you play music, get a real job, do this do that". You know what, this is my real job. Yeah it doesn't pay well, but the experience I get from it I can't get anywhere else. Not everybody can say "hey I was on a ferry going in between Sweden to Rostock, Germany", you know. Who can say that? Not everybody. Not everybody could say that they took a boat into Morocco from Portugal because they had time to. The life experience alone.. and that's what that song is about. That song is about in-your-face, just, you know what, I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do. This is who I am, this is what I'm doing. If you can't hang, do your own thing. I'm not judging you, don't judge me. "Heavy Lies The Crown" is really a key for me, there's a lot of personal stuff behind it. It's every song.. every song has its own life. Everything that I write is either a part of me or something that I've experienced. So they all have a certain importance to me.

RF.net: "Heavy Lies The Crown" is now your third full length album. How would you describe your artistic evolution since when you joined the band?
Ray Mazzola: Yeah this is the third album. It's just growing. We're not making leaps and bounds, we're just climbing the ladder as we go. Just keeping it as aggressive as possible, but not stray from our hardcore roots, or our metal elements. Just trying to find ways to incorporate more of what we do into our influences. We don't copy, we commit. We honor our bands.. the bands that have influenced. We don't try to copy. So that's what we're trying to maintain. And we just keep everything going at a steady pace. It's more of a like a snowball effect. You know, you start off a little ball at the top of the hill, and by the time it hits the bottom, it's huge. So that's what we're going for.

RF.net: What have been some of your favorite moments in Full Blown Chaos?
Ray Mazzola: You know what? Right now. Every minute that lapses is a favorite moment. All the negative stuff that we go through just makes us stronger as a band, makes us stronger as people, as musicians, as individuals. Like there was the accident during Ozzfest. We were out on tour with Exodus and I almost died from getting bit by a black spider. It still affects me today. Just from being sick.. just the steady progression of playing constantly and gaining more fans and talking to new people, and just seeing everybody enjoying the music. It's a constant.. it's never just one thing. Cause everything just keeps getting more and more.. like Ozzfest.. amazing. To be able to play in front of that many people every day.. but you know what, we'll do it again. That's just one step. It was a great experience, but "alright, time to hit the small clubs again". And you get back out there.. it's like we're not big headed at all or anything. Right back to playing basements, backyards.. that's how we work.

RF.net:: So what about any worse moments?

Ray Mazzola: You know sometimes you're more broke. It's always like a money thing.. but we make things work. We go broke, we can't pay certain bills, we gotta make sacrifices. It's what it's all about. You know sometimes like relationships go sour because you're always on tour.. you know you find out your girlfriend cheats on you this and that.. that happens. Comes with the territory. It hurts but.. I wrote it in our bio, if you fuck with somebody in the band, you end up with a song about you. And that's the truth. Almost everyone of the songs on the new record I could put a name on.

RF.net: Really?

Ray Mazzola: Yeah. And people should be lucky that I didn't [laughs].

RF.net: So do you reckon those people know when they hear the songs?

Ray Mazzola: Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure there were some letters, emails and arguments to where I wrote them into the songs. So they know. I've gotten a couple of messages about "is that song about me?". Oh yeah, yes it is about you. It's how it works. I write real life. What's going on in my life, that's what I write. [laughter]

RF.net: That's all I have for today, thanks for the interview. Any last words for the readers and the fans?
Ray Mazzola: Pick up the record if you don't have it. "Heavy Lies The Crown" on Ferret Music, and we're just gonna keep pumping out more records and keep touring, so come out and see us!

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