Chris Poland Ė Driven by the Guitar
Interview Ė August 16th, 2012 Ė XtremeMetalRadio.Net
By Brian Gold
Photo credit: Rob Shay
Chris Poland is a heavy metal and fusion guitar icon. His legendary lead guitar work on the first two Megadeth albums helped pioneer the early sound of thrash metal music and to this day has been an influence on countless guitar players. In the past decade, Chris has shifted his focus to instrumental fusion, with his bands OHM and OHMPhrey. They combine elements of rock, jazz, and metal to take you on a musical journey and Chrisís unique tone, superb phrasing, and tasteful playing shines brightly on these projects. Chris opens up with us about his new projects with OHMPhrey and Polcat, his new partnership with Schecter guitars, the Megadeth days, the early days with Kerry King, and his work with Lamb of God. As you can read below, Chris has no plans on slowing down anytime soon.
Brian Gold: Chris, thank you for joining us today.
Chris Poland: Thanks for having me.
Brian: What are your current plans for OHM?
Chris: Actually we just completed three new songs for the new record. We are trying to figure out if we are going to do it live, or possibly doing it like I did with ďChasing the Sun (Chrisís 2ND solo album), by doing the rhythm tracks live and overdub the melodies and stuff. It seems like we are getting better and better live, so we may just do it live in my studio. It seems like the energy comes across better that way. When you get a live drum track and overdub everything, it kind of soundsÖI mean it sounds good, there is nothing wrong with doing it that way, and itís the way itís been done forever. I just have a feeling that live is the way to go with our style of music.
Brian: A lot of your song titles have a little bit of tongue in the cheek humor to them. How do you go about selecting the song titles being that they are instrumental songs?
Chris: Sometimes it means something and sometimes it doesnít. Peanut Buddha, it was originally going to be called peanut butter (laughs). David Eagle (OHM drummer) said, letís call it Peanut Buddha. Thatís when we decided to get the monks on that song. We took it to track with Tibetan monks singing a healing chant. The funny thing was, in the studio when you do stuff like that, it usually takes hours just to time it right, especially when you are pressing a CD player, but Peter hit the button and it came in exactly in time the very first time we did it. So I think that one was meant to be. ďWhereís my Hat, from the first record, I think Pag (Bass player Robert Pagliari) came up with that one, why I donít know. ďCompass of the heart, was a song that I wrote for my wife. That meant something to me, for her. Sometimes its tongue in cheek, sometimes itís about someone or something and itís special. Sometimes we do tongue in the cheek type of titles, but it is all close to our heart.
Brian: Early on OHM was a progressive rock trio, and then you joined forces with Umphreyís McGee, which is a great jam band, to create OHMPhrey. (Chris, Pagliari, are joined by Jake Cinninger on guitar, Joel Cummins on Keyboards and Kris Myers on drums) What direction do you see the band going in now?
Chris: Yeah, itís something that we like to get together to do. We get together to do a record every year or year and a half. Itís an outlet for those guys, being in Umphreyís McGee, they have a style that they have to do. Itís their thing. When they come over here, itís just a free for all. Thatís why we like doing it because what they bring to the table, we donít actually have. I guess what it actually is, is that it frees me up a lot because there is an extra guitar player and a keyboard player. It also frees up Pag up too (OHM bass player Robert Pagliari). We donít have the luxury of two extra members in the band. There are a lot of ideaís are flying around because Jake, Joel and Chris all have really great writing skills. Itís like magic man, every time we get together, itís always good. I donít know how to describe it man, we all come from the same mind set. We have a lot of the same influences. We just love playing and when they come here, they donít have to do their Umphreyís McGee thing and we donít have to do our OHM thing. We kind of just say, what are we going to do, and it just happens.
Brian: I really like Posthaste (OHMPhreyís last album). Some of the songs that I really like include ďReggalic, ďDevilís In the Details and ďThe Sun Also Rises.
Chris: Yeah, we made that record in five days and I think there was one overdub on that whole record. Thatís when we did Devilís in the Details. When Jake went back to Chicago with our engineer to mix it, and Jake is a great drummer, besides being a guitar player, so he put this thing on which sounds like a sequencer, which he did with his hand. When I heard it I was like, oh my god that sounds so amazing. I was like, is that Joel doing a sequencer, but it wasnít, it was Jake doing something with both hands and he is such an amazing guitar player. I think he is so under rated that it is ridiculous.
Brian: The next topic I want to touch on is Polcat, your jazz fusion group that you released a new album with in January 2012. Itís a super group of sorts with Frank Catalano on Sax, Sean OíBryan Smith on Bass, and Jim Gifford on drums. All of them are awesome musicians obviously. Tell me how that came about.
Chris: I had done a clinic with Jim and he had done a clinic with Sean. He knew Frank from living in Chicago as they both lived in Chicago. He just decided and said; letís see if we can get some funds together to make a record. That was a three day record. It was totally live. We just got together and said lets pound it out. We have never met together before as a band. We did clinics with Jim Gifford, but I had never met Frank and I had never met Sean. We just came together and had a certain mind set about music and nobody was stepping on anyoneís shoes. The opening track was basically just a jam. It was our last day and our last hour and it was our first take of that jam and it ended up being ďForget about it. Stuff like that just happens. I donít know how it happens, Iím just lucky to be involved with it. (laughs)
Brian: Forget about it, I really liked that song. Even though itís jazz or jazz fusion, you can tell right away that itís Chris Poland on guitar. Your phrasing is very unique, itís very iconic. Another song that I really liked and wanted to send along to my listeners was ďMight Burner. I think itís an awesome tune.
Chris: Oh yeah, there was some songs that didnít even make it on the album. We did Impressions by John Coltrane and a couple of other tunes that didnít end up making the record. Marcus Taylor felt like he wanted to represent what we were doing without having to do the old classic jazz stuff. It was the first time that I had ever played ďImpressions, and it was fun, but we do it live all the time now. When we gig, we always do Impressions. Itís a challenge for me, because Iím just a Blues/Rock guy, who joined a metal band, who liked to listen to fusion and thatís where my head is at, in a fusion place. I donít read music, I donít know exactly what Iím playing, I just know what I think sounds good and thatís what I play.
Brian: Another song that I thought really stood out was Rain. I was listening to that and I thought you could have named it Seal the Deal because if you take your lady out for a nice dinner, come home and dim the lights and you put on ďRain, itís all over but the shouting! (laughs) I have re-named that song for you by the way. (laughs)
Chris: (laughs) Yeah, you know what? Sean came up with that tune. I think itís really cool. I think we did it on the second take. Peter Sardelich, who was our engineer for that project, just hit the button and that was that. We did some shows with Pag (Robert Pagliari) in New York, we played the Iridium, and it was cool. Percy Jones came down, along with some other guests. I sat in with the Les Paul Trio. There is just something about Seanís playing that lends itself to the Polcat vibe. Iím really happy that he is going to be doing the gig with us in Chicago at the end of the month.
Brian: I know that back in the Megadeth days that you played a BC Rich Warlock guitar, and then you played Yamaha for a lot of years, and now you have moved on to Schecter guitars. Can you tell the listeners about that relationship and how it came about?
Chris: Well Jim Robbins was at Bogner, and I have been with Bogner for years, and he wound up over at Schecter. One day I got a package on my desk. I run a couple hundred studios in LA. I basically run studioís all day, so during the day, Iím something like a glorified accountant, and then at night, I play my music. So I got the pamphlet from Schecter and I looked at the guitars and I thought these guitars look really good. So I met up with Jim and he gave me a bunch of guitars and I finally settled on the solo6/SLS, and itís actually the best guitar I think I have ever played. I really mean that. I can play any guitar that I want, but I really fell in love with this guitar. They are going to make me a model and Iím working on exactly what I want. So that when somebody buys that guitar, itís going to be exactly what I play. There are a lot of things that are involved with it, like the fret size, we flattened the neck out. Instead of 12 its 17 for the radius, itís a compound radius. Itís got a German Floyd on it. Right now Iím using a fat finger on the head stock. I usually put a brass plate on the back of my head stock and it kills any dead spots. Almost makes it compress in a way, like you are using a compressor. So Iím getting all my Tís crossed and my Iís dotted, so when we make this model, when somebody goes into a store to buy it, that they are going to play a guitar that I can take off the rack and just play it.
Brian: Fantastic. So our listeners can look forward to a Chris Poland signature model coming down the line.
Chris: Yeah, and I think we are going to call it the ďThe Poltergeist.
Brian: Oh, very cool!
Brian: Ok, letís go back in time a little bit. You first started playing guitar in high school. I know all the hard core Chris Poland fans know this story already, but I know that there are also a lot of listeners that that love your music who do not know it. So, if you can tell the story about the accident that you had where you severed tendons in your hand, which created your unique playing sound that you have to this day.
Chris: There is a guitar player in Los Angeles named Bob Robles. He is not a very well-known guitar player, but guys like Michael Landau and Scott Henderson, they all revere his playing. He actually told me, you know Chris, if you didnít cut your hand, you would have just been another guitar player. I actually kind of believe that now. There was something that happened, I was at school, it was a private school, and we didnít have that chicken wire in the windows on the door. There was an oak door and the hydraulic on it was broken. Some guy was messing with me and I was messing with him, I started chasing him and he ran into this lab and he slammed the door while I was coming through the door, and the glass broke on my left hand and my right hand hit the framing of the window. When it broke, he got all freaked out, he thought I was hurt, so he opened the door up and it just totally tore my hand to shreds. When I looked down, even before it started bleeding, you could see the bones in my hand. So I knewÖI totally went into shock. I didnít want to stand there and bleed all over the floor so I ran into the bathroom. Our science teacher, Mr. Burns, he finds me in the bathroom, Iím running water over my hand and looking at the bones, my tendons looked like sushi, you know. (laughs) So they drove me to Buffalo, and the doctor, who did all of the kneeís and other surgeries for the Buffalo Bills, he did my hand. He told my mom and dad that, you know, he is never going to play guitar again. You might want to tell him that. I had just got Birds of Fire by the Mahavishnu Orchestra and I was listening to all kinds of blues and stuff and I was like, there is no way that Iím just not going to play guitar again. So I worked my way around it. It turned out that I could play guitar and itís just that when you are young, you donít listen to what people say. Iím sure that if I was in my 30ís or 40ís, I would have said, you are right, I can never play guitar again. Back then, I was like, I donít care what you say, Iím playing guitar. (laughs)
Brian: Thatís amazing. What is more amazing is that the worst part of it happened to the index finger on your fret hand. How long was your rehab before you could start playing again?
Chris: Oh wowÖat least six months. I had a cast on my hand for over two months, and then the cast kept getting smaller and smaller. By the time I got the cast off I was totally atrophied in my left arm. I tried to play guitar and I was like, oh my god, wait a minute, I canít bend my index finger. I kind of freaked out a little bit, but then I was just like, ok, I will do it this way. I think if I had been a schooled guitar player, where somebody taught me exactly how to play guitar, I probably would have given it up. I was self- taught and I played by ear, so all I did was re-adjusted everything and you know, made it happen.
Brian: To have that sound, to play with that speed, and have limited use of the index finger, that is amazing.
Chris: You know, I was into John McLaughlin a lot, songs like Hope and Birds of Fire and the first record too, and a lot of his stuff is all triad stuff. So minus my index finger, I still had use of the other three fingers. So I kind of learned how to do those cords, and thatís how I do it now. So when Iím doing cords, Iím using my pinky and the next two fingers. Iím sure that Iím not the only guy who this has ever happened to. You just kind of have to work around it. Itís not like itís a miracle, but I loved guitar enough that I wouldnít give it up. Thatís probably why it ended up working out because I really loved it.
Brian: In 1977, you moved to Los Angeles and you played lead guitar in a fusion band called The New Yorkers. You had Robert Pagliari on bass and Gar Samuelson on drums, who like yourself, is an icon to all of the thrash metal and speed metal guys. Gar was one of the drummers who really influenced metal drummers back then. So you kind of came from a jazz fusion back round. So what made you want to get into heavy metal/thrash metal?
Chris: Well, I grew up like everyone else, and I had the same influences as everyone else. You know how old I am, Iím as old as dirt. (laughs) Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Leslie West from Mountain, Robin Trower, all these guys, and you know, I knew I had this distortion in my vocabulary. Led Zeppelin is basically heavy metal. All Dave (Mustaine) did was, he sped it up. Because Gar and I were doing the Fusion thing, it was kind of an easy fit with the difficult arrangements. Daveís music was very challenging and it was all in the distorted thing, which was cool for us, so it kind of lent itself to the way me and Gar were playing before we ever met Dave. Dave kind of felt the same way about what we were playing. The biggest thing about Gar playing in Megadeth was that he kind of brought that swing. I donít even want to call it swing, because Gar was a fusion drummer that joined a metal band, but he always kept his influences on how he played drums in the band. I think what made Megadeth different from everybody else back then was Gars drumming. Of course I got to play with Gar and I played with him my whole life. So that made it easy for me to play that music. So I got to play with the drummer who I grew up playing with, so it was definitely a win/win situation for us and for Dave.
Brian: The timing that Gar brought to Megadeth along with his style of drumming was special. They talked about it on VH1ís Megadeth Behind the Music special. That he was like a praying mantis behind the drum kit.
Chris: Thatís so funny that you brought that up. When Gar would play the drums, his torso never moved, but his arms and legs looked like he was a spider. (laughs) He was crazy good. I can honestly say that if Gar had not talked Dave into shortening the song ďPeace Sells, I think originally it was 8 minutes long, and Gar said, you know what; this is too good of a song to drag it out like this. He said letís shorten the arrangement, cut it down to size and make it a single and Dave said yeah, letís do that. If Gar had not said that, and I honestly think that Dave Mustaine respected Gars opinion on stuff because he was the only guy in the band who Dave wouldnít mess with. He totally respected Gar and thank god that he did that because I donít think we would be on the phone right now.
Brian: I think you could tell when Dave (Mustaine) talked on the VH1ís Behind the Music Special about Garís passing that he was shook up talking about it. When they re-mastered the ďKilling is my businessÖand business is good album and he dedicated it to the memory of Gar SamuelsonÖ I thought that was awesome that he did that and it meant a lot to the old school metal fans.
Chris: You know, I think so to. We had ourÖletís put it this way, me and Dave, with David Ellefson and Gar, we were like brothers, and we fought like brothers. It was just the drugs that got in the way. Thatís all it was. Drugs, and when you get four guys in a room who all had pretty big egoís, about what they wanted to do, there is always that clash. I think that is what fueled the fire for that band. It was competing with the other guy and that added a little extra something that a lot of bands donít get.
Brian: There was definitely a special chemistry with not only the rhythm section, but the musicianship level was just incredible from all parts of that band.
Chris: You really have to give Dave (Mustaine) credit. Dave wrote a lot of the material, it came from hisÖhe was fueled by hate for Metallica, so that added that extra angst to what we were doing. It was perfect timing and like you said, the chemistry was right.
Brian: You were playing with the New Yorkers in jazz clubs and then you joined Megadeth. Of course you now know how crazy the Megadeth crowd can be with the mosh pits and all that craziness. How did that crowd influence you, especially playing live and how much of a change was it from playing in jazz clubs to that type of crowd?
Chris: Iíll tell you man, my first gig was at Líamourís, with Slayer and Iím standing behind two stacks and they are playing the old Diamond Head song ďAm I evil. I had never even heard that song before and I am looking at the audience and they are just going insane. Iím thinking, what is this about!?!? (laughs) Then I got on stage and I realized that they (the crowd) had fed the fire for us. Itís the audience that gives the band energy and the band just feeds off of it. Itís pretty incredible really.
Brian: What I like about the old school metal fans was this past year I went to Yankee Stadium to see the Big 4, it was awesome to see just how loyal those fans still are. You have not been in Megadeth for a long time and their fans still talk about you, they still follow the projects that you have done since then. Marty Friedman still lives over in Japan and the Megadeth fans still follow his projects, they are very loyal.
Chris: Oh yeah, you know, I think once you are a part of that, especially back in the day, itís something that stays with you. It stays with me. When I wrote Return to Metalopolis (Chrisís first solo album) it was basically homage to that whole era. I just wanted to put my stamp on it which was something I didnít get to do when I was in the band because Dave had a vision and it was hard to get in the way of that. I had my two cents in that band, but when I made Return to Metalopolis, I was like; this is what I get to do. The fansÖthere are no fans like Megadeth fans.
Brian: The next topic I want to touch on is the Killing is my businessÖand Business is good album. I think ďRattlehead had your most extensive solo play of any songs on that album. I know that Kerry King not long ago picked that song to play live with Megadeth and he has raved about your playing in that song.
Chris: I got to tell you man, I have so many stories about Kerry King. I used to work on his guitars before I even met Dave Mustaine. He would come to my house and I would mill his guitar, put a tremolo on it, set it up for him and tune it. He was kind of like a friend who would come by and I would do some work for him. That show that I told you about at Líamourís, where the audience was kind of scaring me, he lent me his amp, because we rented ampís and my amp was just terrible. I said Kerry; let me borrow your boost pedal because Iím not going to make it. He said no problem man, just take it. As far as that recordÖI think we made that record in less than 10 days. Our budget was so small. Karat Faye was the producer. I didnít feel like he captured the band, but I had only been in the band for like two weeks when we made that record so I felt like I wasnít sure what was happening and I did the best that I could to make it happen. It wasnít until Randy Burns (Peace Sells producer) came in and we made ďPeace Sells that I think Megadeth came into its own. Not that Iím saying that the first record wasnít a great record because it is, I just wish Randy Burns would have been there for that record.
Brian: I think a lot of people agree with that. The production wasnít there for the first record, but the energy, enthusiasm and anger came out in the songs and I thought that got captured.
Chris: Absolutely, thatís the point of everything, it doesnít matter how it sounds, itís about how it makes you feel. That was Daveís first shot at getting his thing together and even though we were under money restraints, and things were not as we actually wanted them to be, we did the best we could with what we had. The music came across and that is that matters anyway.
Brian: I want to touch on your solo career; in 1990 you released your first solo album Return to Metalopolis. I remember buying that as soon as it came out. I still play it on my radio show quite a bit. A lot of great songs, your brother (Mark Poland) played on drums, and he is a really great drummer. He plays with power and you could tell that he was doing some experimenting with his play. My favorite tracks on that album, I really loved Heinous Interruptus, ďClub Ded, which kind of reminded you of the Megadeth music, and Theatre of the Damned was just awesome. You have a song on there that you got from the Lord of the Rings book, if you could talk about that a little bit.
Chris: Oh Yeah, you are talking about Kahzad Dum. Iím a big fan of Tolkien. At the time, I just felt like that song reminded me of that tension thing when they were caught under the mountain and they were trying to escape. If you ever read the book, I think when Gandalf was killed, or they thought he was killed anyway, I thought that was the turning point in the book that made you want to go forward and want to know what is going to happen next. Itís my interpretation of the drums, and I do not know if you saw the movie or read the book, but once they heard the drums, they knew that they probably were not going to make it out.
Brian: In 2000, you released Chasing the Sun (Chrisís 2nd solo album) which was further in the direction of jazz fusion.
Chris: That record was a demo. I had made demoís and was trying to get a deal making that type of music and nobody was into it at the time, so Iím sitting at home one day and Steve Bauer calls me up, my manager to this day, and he says I have your record here and I want to start a record company and release it. I was likeÖyou want to what? (laughs) Basically that is what happened. Itís a four track reel to reel recording. We recorded the band live to two track and we had two more tracks for overdubs for soloís and melodies. Part of the charm of it was that there was no pressure; it was letís do it for fun. I do want to say that Steve just had a baby, his son John was born just three or four days ago and want to say congratulations to him and Sandra.
Brian: The songs that I really enjoyed off of Chasing the Sun included Hip Hop Karma, Robo Stomp and Salvador, which has a bit of a Spanish flair to it.
Chris: (laughs) I got to tell you about Salvador. Those were recorded on a cassette tape. (laughs) I was just hanging out, I had an idea, had a little drum machine, and it had such a good feel to it. I said letís just put it on there.
Brian: Sandcastles is another great tune off of that album.
Chris: Oh yeah, that is Coco Romayo on drums. He is a really great drummer. He is a better piano player than he is a drummer. He went to a piano conservatory when he grew up. He was kind of like a child prodigy piano player. I used to be so ďvibed out when I played with him. He could play ďGiant Steps by John Coltrane, but do it with a Latin feel or he could do it with a calypso feel. I would be likeÖoh my god. (laughs) It is hard when there is a guy in the band who knows everything you could of played but didnít, or knows that you should have played this or that. He was just a monster musician.
Brian: In 2007, you released Return to Metalopolis live, which was really cool and you had a song on it called Nightmare Hall, which to this day is still one of the top three requests that I get from your solo career.
Chris: That was a song where we had a guy come out from the Midwest and we wanted him to be our vocalist and that was a song that I wrote for him and it just didnít work out but we liked the song and we said letís just do it. There was a bunch of songs like that which didnít make the record, but we used to do them live. Yeah, Nightmare hall, that was a fun tune. Thatís actually a cassette board tape, that whole record. That was from a cassette that I got after a gig and stuck it in a drawer and then one day Steve Bauer called me up and said ďHey, do you have any live material from Metalopolis. I said, yeah, I think I do, let me look around. I finally found the cassette, which was really old, that thing had been sitting in a drawer for like 10-12 years. I put it in and I was like, this is the best board tape that I have ever heard, ever. I thought, you know what, people need to hear this. Itís a moment in time. It was the best that we could do that night. I thought it came out really good, especially the drums.
Brian: I thought it came out awesome, and it really captured the chemistry in the band.
Chris: I got to tell you, three piece is hard. There is something about being in a three piece band where you have to think two seconds ahead, and the only time you get a moment to think is when you get a solo section and then you are thinking about that. You also have to think, how am I going to get out of here and get back into the tune and not blow it. (laughs) Thatís why I enjoy the OhmPhreyís thing because you get so much freedom to relax and just think about what I want to play or not play, but I like both formats.
Brian: You have played with great drummers throughout your career, and Iím talking about 7 or 8 fantastic drummers. In 2004, you were contracted (to play soloís) on Megadethís The System Has Failed album and you played with another really great drummer.
Chris: I was just happy that Dave (Mustaine) even asked me to play on that album no matter who played drums, but when I heard that it was going to be Vinny Colaiuta on drums, I was like yeah, Iím going to do it. That was a lot of fun playing on music with a guy that good. He is maybe one of the best drummers alive.
Brian: You really had to be proud of your playing on that album, a song like ďKick the Chair, which is a total melt your face off kind of song. I think it is the album that really got Megadethís career kick started again. Songs like ďKick the Chair, ďOf Mice and Men, and ďThe Scorpion are songs that I think are really as good as anything that Megadeth has ever done.
Chris: Yeah, I think honestly, I think if I was going to call it, I would say that was Daveís solo record. I thought it was a great record. My favorite track is actually the last song on the CD (My Kingdom) which reminds me of if Frank Zappa wrote a blues. I thought that song was genius. I was so lucky to have Ralph Patlan, who was the first engineer on the project and he had a crate of pedals that was probably worth thirty grand. They were vintage pedals and stuff. We found this Wah, a vintage Wah-Wah, itís a Vox Fuzz volume thing, and I plugged the fuzz into the thing. That was a fuzz made by Oztone, and man that was the best guitar tone. I actually brought my whole guitar rig there and Dave had a half stack 50 watt Plexi Marshal and after I heard that, I said you know what, forget my rig. Iím going to play through this half stack. (laughs) It sounded so good and it was so loud, that every 20 minutes somebody had to go back into the room and move it back into position because it was vibrating all around the floor. That was an awesome amp man, I got to tell you.
Brian: Itís nice when you are in a studio and you have free reign to use whatever you want.
Chris:Iím telling you man, that was a really fun time. Dave even looked at me and said You miss me, donít you (laughs) I was like, Yeah, I do.
Brian: Was there any thought about you re-joining full- time? I know that was supposed to be a solo album for him or was there just not any discussion about that.
Chris: No, I think there wasÖone of those if you read between the lines, like what do you want to do. I think Dave knew that, that bridge has been crossed. I canít go back there. If anyone brings me a project that they want me to solo on, whether itís Lamb of God, Jeff Loomis, or whoever, Iím totally into it. My whole thing right now is about this band that Iím in. Itís my writing outlet. I get to do whatever I want. I donít make a lot of money doing it, but I love doing it. Itís my outlet you know.
Brian: Plus you get that creative control also.
Chris: My creative control is I let Pag (Robert Pagliari) and David Eagle (OHM drummer) do anything that they want. I will bring in a song idea and they will bring in a song idea. Everybody is free to do whatever they want to do and that is what I like about it. Everybody has their input and that is what keeps a band together, as long as everybody is happy. Iíll be honest with you. Iím a slave to guitar. After I got off of Heroin, guitar became my focus. I think that before that, I didnít really love guitar like I do now. Guitar has been the thing that saved my life.
Brian: Your playing style is so fluid, you play so clean, and I know that a lot of it is a god given gift, but you also must practice every day.
Chris: Well, let me tell you what happens. I am at work right now, I am in my studio and we are doing this thing on the radio, but this is where I come in and half the time I donít even eat lunch. I will play guitar a couple of hours each day and that is where I will get my writing in. My daughter Kaley and my wife Allison, I have to make time for them, and there is other stuff that I have to do. Iím just blessed to have the job that I have, a big studio that I own and that I can go into while I am at work. If I get an idea, I just push the red button and put it on tape and that night Pag and Dave come in and we work it out. Iím so lucky man.
Brian: Robert Pagliari mostly plays fretless bass and he is an absolute burner on it too.
Chris: He only plays fretless bass. (laughs) One time I asked him to play a fretted bass on a tune, I think it was on the first record and he was very upset. (laughs) I was like, come on dude, just this one song. You know what? It really didnít make a difference because no matter what he plays, he always sounds the same. (laughs)
Brian: He is a super talent and he has been with you pretty much from day one when you first moved out to LA, so that is awesome that you guys have remained together for this long.
Chris: Oh, Absolutely man. I can remember when I decided that I wanted to do the OHM project and I told Pag, letís just do what we like to do, I donít care if we donít make any money doing it. Letís just play what we like to play so we do not feel so terrible. (laughs)
Brian: Just to let all of the listeners know that you can purchase pretty much all of Chris Polandís material on iTunes. They have Return to Metalopolis, ďReturn to Metalopolis Live, ďChasing the Sun, and all of the OHM and OHMPhrey material, which is great. There are some things that I do not like about modern day technology in regards to music, like bands over doing the Pro Tools, which seems to take the heart out of the music, but getting music online is not one of them.
Chris: Yeah, you know what; I feel the same way that you do. Thatís why, every rehearsal, we record live, so that I can hear what is going on. Iím adjusting stuff all the time. So right now we are at the point where our live rehearsals sounds like a record. Like I said before, we are thinking about recording it (new OHMPhrey album) live and if it needs some ear candy here and there, then I will do some overdubs. I really like this live thing because the real energy and the real feel are there.
Brian: You were asked to play on two songs with Lamb of God. The musicianship in that band is fantastic. You played on 2003ís ďAs the Palaces Burn and in 2004, ďAshes by the Wake, if can you talk about that a little bit.
Chris: When I got the first song, Peter Sardelich worked on it with me in the studio, and he put it on and I was likeÖman, my whole world is in slow motion compared to this. I couldnít believe who good the drums were, and I couldnít believe how great the guitars were. I could tell that they were influenced by Megadeth, but I was really just overwhelmed by how far they took it. They took it to the 10th power. Peter looked at me and said, dude you need to step up. You need a Quad Vinty (Starbucks) dude. (laughs) So I said ok, I had some coffee (laughs). So I tried it and tried it and I think by the 5th take I got something that actually worked with the song. Then the next year they asked if I wanted to do it again and I was like, sure! Luckily that song wasnít as intense, but that band...I canít tell you how much I love that band.
Brian: They are super great guys too. I think before I even had seen them live, just listening to their music, you would expect blood to be dripping from their eyes, but when you see them in interviews and things like that, they are really down to earth guys who pay a lot of respect to the old school metal.
Chris: Absolutely. They are just great song writers and their guitar tone is just likeÖcome on! Their rhythm tones are so perfect and the way it accents off the drums and the drums donít get in the way. Whoever produced that first record, I canít remember, but when I first heard that I was like holy cow! That is about as good as it gets right now.
Brian: Just to wrap it up, with OHMPhrey, what are the plans for the new album and tour?
Chris: Right now they are on the road with Umphreyís McGee and they have a lot of dates and Jake just had his second child. I think their schedule is pretty full, but usually what we do is a west coast tour when they have a break. Right now, my main focus is to get this new studio live OHM record made because its time. It will probably be 14 tunes. We just wrote three songs in something like 10 days. I think we have everything we need to go forward now. We just need to get Peter Sardelich in here now to figure out exactly how we want to do it. Iím not opposed to doing it live on two tracks. The band is getting so good. David Eagle is so good on drums that the energy is always there at rehearsal. None of the guys are afraid of turning on the red light and recording. They donít freak out when itís time to get it to tape. Iím not afraid of doing it live. I think the fans will actually like it better that way.
Brian: Just in final, is there anything that you would like to say to all of your fans out there?
Chris: Well, I just want to say thank you. Iím not going to stop until they put me in the ground. (laughs) Sometimes I get five hours of sleep for like two weeks straight because we are rehearsing or writing, and itís something that I have to do because Iím driven by the guitar. Sometimes I think itís a curse, sometimes I think itís a blessing, but man, I just canít stop doing it.