reppin: la, usa // modern art records
featuring: Kamtin Karimi Mohager
latest singles: “slow” (see below) and “i still wonder”
albums: Wayward Fire (2011) // Daydream Forever (2014)
A beautiful mixture of 80s synth and reverb rock makes for pure bliss in the ears. I had previously posted on TCGO1974 in August and I’m back with an interview. Kam and his squad have been out supporting AFI on tour...here is my chat with the awesome human:
It’s been awhile since the last full album, makes me think you’ve been hard at work finding the next album’s identity...what has impacted you as far as growth as an individual?
Kam: I like this question cause though Chain Gang was pretty inactive for a few years, me as a writer, I have never been more busy in my life creating music. There was the birth of Teenage Wrist, which started just gaining buzz and momentum without us really doing anything. That was really cool. Towards the end of the Daydream cycle my distaste for CG in general was very strong due to my relationship with Warner Bros and I just couldn't really make music the way I wanted to make it. I found myself writing a lot of songs that were heavier and more guitar driven, as you can see through Teenage Wrist with Marshall, Anthony and Scott. I started focusing on external writing and the first taste of that was with my collaboration with Dillon Francis. That was my first time doing anything like that and landed my first single for a major label release...shit i may be good at this. I’m enjoying myself.
I was able to then book a lot of sessions through my team and work with a bunch of different artists. That helped shaped my writing skills in a better way cause it allowed me to look at pop music differently. Wow, this is a smart way of writing music and I can take what I’m learning and apply it with what I want to do next with CG. Fast forward a few sessions later, I scored some good cuts with Dillon, Luna Shadows, 3OH3, Grace Mitchell…Then I came to this point where I wanted to make the new record and I wasn’t really afraid of pop anymore. There is a way to write something poppy, catchy and hooky but I has always masked it with something in the past. Those 2 ½ years of being able to focus on different things allowed me to become a better writer for this project. (CAPS??)
Moving onto words....i get a lot of reflection, “remember when” sort of vibe from your lyrics...what do hope your fans take away from your stories?
K: Chain Gang is lyrical content and put this band in a certain type of thing. It is more darker side, bare human emotions, but sometimes people don’t wanna listen to that shit. Wayward Fire and Daydream Forever were both written about the same person...you know, shitty ex girlfriends. This time around I was in a happier place and moved on from the past relationship and found myself in a new complicated love stuff. I didn’t want to focus on just that and made me want to touch on some more general human aspects...addiction, heartbreak, breaking off with the label. There are some songs that lyrically sound positive and some that are kinda a bummer, BUT MUSICALLY IT COMES FROM A MUCH HAPPIER AND BRIGHTER PLACE
Kinda in the same sense of injecting feels into your fans, what do you want them to experience during your live set?
K: My live show is always aggressive, more rock. There was always a difference between listening to the record and seeing us live. With this new stuff, how can we reflect our sounds as a full band? So instead of program drums, the new songs have been live drum recorded. The live show, if there is that moment to feed from the crowd, that takes me to the next level. I grew up a punk rock kid and being able to jump around and mosh around is what I want kids to experience.
It is a weird time in music...while there is plenty of “new genres” evolving sound and great artists, there is also a ton of bullshit. What positive message do you hope to send in the midst of all of this?
K: I think there will always be crap out there and people will always view it differently. I don’t know if CG will ever be a household name...I mean I’ve been around and put records out. It is hard when you do something for so long, you really want to see the reward. But I mean, shit, I am at the Riviera in Chicago right now. Will CG be that band that sells out Empty Bottle, headlines the Riviera? At this point, I’m still currently teaching myself to not ask these questions. You just have to do it. I have so many different extensions of my creativity. I can’t always throw all my energy and everything I have into CG or else you just get mentally and physically drained. Just go out and do as much as possible. As a creative person, I’m getting to that point I have this urge to just be creative in other ways. I’’m going to do a lot of exploring when I get home, play around with some ideas and SEE WHAT SPARKS THAT YOUTHFUL FEELING AGAIN.
I don’t know what the public wants...media and society tells you what to like. Maybe those people don’t have much of a grasp of a personality and kind of fall for it. I do like this, but in fact they don’t even know what they like. It kinda goes back to the first part of the question, you just have to go out and do what you believe, be honest and smart about it.
I always use funny metaphors to describe bands and artists i write about, your post: that moment when you bite into the juiciest, most delicious piece of fruit followed by the liquid goodness down your throat...your turn
K: Mannnnnn I can’t give an answer only because I knew when I started this project 10 years ago. First song I released in December of 2006 on MYSPACE. It has evolved and that was my desire and purpose with this project; never to release the same thing twice. And granted, yes, the band kinda found its world and grew within that, but it was this big bubble of everything. There were moments when I wanted to be BRMC, trying to be LCD, Daft Punk, Talking Heads….THIS BUBBLE WAS KINDA BOUNCING BACK AND FORTH, BACK AND FORTH AND THEN ANOTHER LITTLE BUBBLE POPPED OUT...oh wait, that’s the metaphor!!