Full Blown Chaos Interview with Ray Mazzola

Full Blown Chaos

Blow The Scene Editor, Joshua T. Cohen, recently caught up with Full Blown Chaos vocalist Ray Mozzola, as the band just wrapped up a co-headlining US tour with Malevolent Creation and is about to embark on a European tour April 1st. Ray shares with us the history behind the making of their latest self-titled full-length that debuted impressively at 94 on the Billboard Heat Seekers chart in February. Ray also shares inspirations for the new record and insight into life on the road, the NYC hardcore scene, and much more in this in-depth, exclusive interview.

Joshua BTS: Thank you for taking a few minutes to answer a few question for Blow The Scene readers around the world. Let’s begin by having you introduce yourself by declaring your weapon of choice with New York City powerhouse band, Full Blown Chaos.

Ray Mazzola: Ray Mazzola, vocalist for Full Blown Chaos. That’s pretty much it! [laughing]

Joshua BTS: Right on. Your new album, Self-titled, debuted at 94 on Billboard Heat Seekers chart, your highest debut ever. With four years past since your last release, did you expect this strong of a reception right out of the gate? Especially with this being your first release through Ironclad Recordings?

Ray Mazzola: We really didn’t know what to expect just because it’s been so long between record cycles. We either have that buzz back or the industry is that shot. Ya know? You can look at it as the glass is half-full or half-empty. We’re very positive with this record, I feel it’s the best we’ve put out to date. We had the most fun writing and recording this record. We had very high expectations for it and it’s doing very well. We’re stoked on the fact that it actually hit Billboard.

Joshua BTS: Share with us if you would a little history into the making of this new LP. Where and when did you record? And whom did you record with?

Ray Mazzola: This record, we actually went last July to Dexter’s Lab in Milford Connecticut. Nick Bellmore was the engineer. He is the drummer for Kingdom of Sorrow and Toxic Holocaust. His recordings are just phenomenal; he’s so underrated as an engineer in my opinion. We went in and were like ‘we need this, this, and this,’ and he came back with an epic package. He put his heart and soul into it and we gave him all our aggression and our anger and he made it that. He listened to everything we wanted. He’s a great engineer, great producer, and he made the recording process absolutely amazing. It was a lot of fun.

Full Blown Chaos - Self-Titled LPJoshua BTS: Absolutely. The thickness and entire musical presence is really solid. So definitely congratulations on that.

Ray Mazzola: Thank you. We had a joke during the entire recording process. He would read all the lyrics and listen to the music and everything and be laughing at us, “You guys aren’t heavy!” I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ [Laughing] It was pretty much the running joke the whole time we were in the studio. We were in the studio less than two weeks. Get in, get it done, no nonsense, just do our thing and he works quick to begin with. And that’s with time in between vocal sessions, like a day off in between. Cause I have to get sick. [laughing] I always get sick when I record for some reason, I don’t know if it’s just what happens, or my nerves, or whatever it is. I always happen to get a cold or get the flu, or something ridiculous, so I have to take a day off in between vocal sessions. But all the music was done in less than four days.

Joshua BTS: Wow

Ray Mazzola: Ya, I mean we just get in there and just track. Pretty much rule of thumb. We’ve never had a big budget to record any album, so time is money. We go in with that on our minds.

Joshua BTS: What did the writing process look like for the new tracks that led up to the actual recording sessions? Do you guys all contribute to the writing process or is there a captain of the ship that directs the process?

Ray Mazzola: The brothers in the band, Mike [Facci] and Jeff [Facci], they pretty much do the majority of the music and they’ll start writing and just coming up with ideas. I do a majority of the vocals and lyrical writing and put in my two sense as far as music goes, adding a lot of song structure. We have our most recent guitarist that we added [Mark Gumbrecht], being a five-piece now, he comes in and he pretty much polishes it all off with what he has to offer.

Joshua BTS: Full Blown Chaos just wrapped up a tour with Malevolent Creation. You’re about to head over to Europe on April 1st, which is pretty exciting, I’m sure your European fans are stoked on this. Can you share with us a little bit of what your fans should expect on the upcoming tour?

Ray Mazzola: You know what, on the Malevolent Creation tour we didn’t know what to expect because, you know, we’ve never toured with them, everybody was new to us. A lot of the tours we go on, we at-least know one of the bands. We have that bro-down factor, you know, it’s very comfortable. We’re really easy to get along with so we kinda find our bands that become comradery on that tour. With this Europe tour coming up, it’s pretty much people are going to get what they paid for. They’re going to get 100% of us and that’s really what we have to offer right now. We’ve been out of it for a bit, took our time coming back, and, you know, now it’s time to rattle a bunch of cages, let people know that we’re there again.

Joshua BTS: Now it’s often been said that Full Blown Chaos remains one of the most accessible of the larger hardcore and metal bands, which is generally exemplified by your willingness to still meet and greet fans and sell merch by hand. Can longtime fans still expect to see you mixing it up with the crowd and the fans in the same hands-on manner of years past?

Ray Mazzola: Well, that’s part of being in a band. You know, we’re not the guys who sit in the dressing room and run away from our fans and our friends and everything. You know, we’re very hands on. That’s only way we can get feedback. We like to show our appreciation by doing all the merch, sitting at the bar with everybody, talking to everyone. Half of the time, the people who have just heard our music and never seen us live don’t even realize that I’m in the band or anybody that’s in the band. We’re just sitting there talking shop, talking music, and, you know, then they see on stage and are like ‘oh wow.’ They don’t even realize and then they come back afterwards and are like “wow we didn’t even know,” for our newer fans, and it’s more personal that way. That’s how you keep fans. That’s how you make regular fans into die-hard fans. People are important. You know, we wouldn’t be doing this if we’re just going to put out a couple records and not really care about anybody and go on and off our bus and act like we’re here to make a buck. That’s not the case. We care genuinely about our fans and about people. That’s the only way we can do what we do and get something back from it. It’s our way of giving back. They’re helping us, we’re helping them.

Ray Mazzola - Full Blown ChaosJoshua BTS: Can you touch on some of the lyrical themes that running throughout the new record? Did you step out of your comfort zone with this new album? What can fans expect to find within the lyrical themes of Full Blown Chaos these days?

Ray Mazzola: Actually, you know, I didn’t step out of the comfort zone at all. We write very close to what we do. Very much close to what is going on in our lives at the time. And being that we had so much time off, a lot of things have happened. We had a lot of personal loss, we had a lot of hardships, just a lot of anger with everything that’s going on and the only way to actually get it out for us is to put it down on paper, track it, put it down on the record, expose everybody to what’s going on in our lives. We write something for everybody. There isn’t a song that we have that somebody can’t relate to in one way or another. You can pretty much read our lyrics and it’s looking into pretty much everybody in the band, looking into what’s going on or what’s been going on. There’s a lot of aggression. A lot of people were telling us ‘oh you guys can’t do it’ or, you know, like, ‘You guys are done’ and ay’ we just constantly prove people wrong.The overwhelming theme is pretty much of ‘you can’t hold us down, we’re going to keep moving forward. If there’s a will, there’s a way.’

Joshua BTS: Very cool. So what are you guys looking to for inspiration these days? Across the board, is there anything that is really exciting you guys? I know you are all from New York City. Anything close to home that you guys are really stoked on right now?

Ray Mazzola: You know what, there are a bunch of newer bands coming out of New York right now. Just being from New York we’re exposed to an entire hardcore scene coming from Madball, Sick of it All, Agnostic Front, Judge, Warzone, you know, Biohazard. You know, there’s always been a staple. It comes in cycles. When we were coming up it was us, Full Blown Chaos, Sworn Enemy, Everybody Gets Hurt, a lot of those bands. Now there’s a new group of bands that are pushing the scene right now. There’s a band called Severed that’s excellent. Diary of Demise, Gemini Myth, there’s a lot of solid, solid bands right now that are pretty much rebuilding the scene.

Joshua BTS: Now apart from your musical endeavors, what do the daily lives of the members of Full Blown Chaos look like? Did you hang up the day jobs or when you get back from tour is it back to the 9 to 5?

Ray Mazzola: Back to the 9 to 5. You know that’s pretty much how it works. You know we write as much as we can and when we get back home, we try to get back to work and try to recapture what we’re doing and try to settle back into the daily life and then plan to hit the road again. We try to keep a momentum and keep everyone happy in our families.

Joshua BTS: Right on. What are some of the things you guys do, if you don’t mind talking about it, when you’re not doing music? What do the 9 to 5s look like? Things you guys really enjoy doing, or are you trying to build up and get back on the road?

Ray Mazzola: That’s pretty much it. Everyone does what they can, whether it’s retail, one of my guitarists works at Sam Ash, you know pretty much slinging musical gear. Another one works at Yankee Candle up in Massachusetts, you know, like making candles in a factory, whatever is available to try and keep the bills paid. We’re trying to maintain our personal lives while trying to keep this afloat, pushing our records.

Joshua BTS: Going to switch gears into some light-hearted questions. We at Blow The Scene hear quite a few tour stories. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We always like to hear about the odd touring habits of bands on the road. We’ve heard it all. From ice-t bottle collections of urine, to roadies who like to shat out of moving van windows. How do you guys rank in the odd touring habits category?

Ray Mazzola: You know, we have a habit of playing parent for other bands. I guess its kind of an odd touring habit. Like especially on this past tour, everybody wasn’t making a lot of money, so there were times where we were pretty much convincing the other bands not to freeze out in the van that’s sitting at a Walmart or something like that. We would have like 14 people in one hotel room at a time. We go in, we get it, we open up the window and do a ‘how ya doing’ to distract the person at the front desk and have people jumping in through the window and pretty much having dudes just laying on every inch of the floor, sleeping bags, just to keep everybody warm instead of being out in the elements. Especially with this winter, this winter was rough. We don’t want anybody sitting in a van freezing, just being miserable. Anything that we can do to help other bands, you know I guess it’s kind of paternal. It just kicks in.

Joshua BTS: Right on. Anything that sticks out in your mind as being particularly funny or just out there as an experience touring around with Malevolent Creation?

Ray Mazzola: You know, there’s always something new on every tour. On this tour the only thing that kinda stuck out was the instant comradery with two of the other bands, with The Absence and Havoc. Great dudes and from the first day, it was instant friendship. There wasn’t a whole getting to know each other process, it was just like instant hugs like ‘Hey what’s going on? Hey! Let’s do this!’ It was a very family-oriented experience. Just pretty much getting into it, it was like I knew them already.

Full Blown ChaosJoshua BTS: Very Cool. So what’s your favorite spot in the US or even abroad to go and just woof down some grub on tour? Are there any spots you’re really looking forward to on this upcoming European tour?

Ray Mazzola: European food is interesting, but I’m allergic to everything, so I stick to bread and cheese in Europe. That’s pretty much what I’m stuck with.

Joshua BTS: Gotcha.

Ray Mazzola: Ya, I can’t read the labels, so I don’t know what is going to make me sick or not. Everything has nuts in it or something like that and I’m very susceptible to my allergies so I’m very cautious as far as Europe goes. That’s just kind of how you have to live unfortunately. With Europe though, everything is fully catered so you have one of those benefits where you can kinda take advantage of deli trays and vegetable trays and stuff like that.

Joshua BTS: Right on. So what’s the rest of 2011 look like for Full Blown Chaos? Obviously you have this European tour coming up in April. Any big festivals coming up that you guys are looking forward to? Any music videos? Stuff like that.

Ray Mazzola: With the agents that we have now we’re working on a lot of things. We’re looking at getting on Crash and Burn or Summer Slaughter possibly. It’s all in the works right now. We’re looking at doing a headlining run with a small hardcore package to try and keep it a low ticket price. This way we can get kids coming out with 5-dollar tickets. You know, it’s like ‘Who can’t afford a 5-dollar ticket?’ That’s pretty much what we’re working on right now. As far as festivals go, we’ll know more within the next couple of weeks.

Joshua BTS: For your fans, where would you recommend the best place to go to keep up-to-date on what’s happening with Full Blown Chaos these days?

Ray Mazzola: You know the best place to look is Facebook. Myspace is pretty much geriatrics right now, it’s almost extinct. I would say Stereokiller or ReverbNation. We have a Facebook page that’s probably the easiest place to go. All of our personal Facebooks are on there and anybody can get in touch with anybody these days. It’s really simple and that’s the best place to look.

Joshua BTS: We really appreciate you you taking the time to answer a few questions for Blow The Scene readers around the world. We’re looking forward to keeping up with your future endeavors and we want to wish you the best of luck on this upcoming European tour. Any final thoughts or shout-outs?

Ray Mazzola: Ya actually! Come out and see us if we’re coming to your city. Please help us out, come to the shows, pick up merchandise, and push that record for us. You know we’re getting able to roll with the big boys and that only comes with coming out to the shows an’ supporting. And support all of your local music, that’s the only way bands get out of their backyards and onto the scene.

More info at The Official Full Blown Chaos Facebook

Purchase the New Self-Titled Full Blown Chaos full-length at Ironclad Recordings.

Full Blown Chaos – “My Suffering” – Feb 15, 2011 – Milford, CT

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYyB4ZweyI8[/youtube]

Full Blown Chaos @Pump Up The Volume Fest – 2011 – Kawasaki Club Citta – Japan


Full Blown Chaos – Europe Tour 2011
***UPDATE*** 3/31/11: This tour has been postponed until Fall. For more info go here.

Apr 02 Boston Arms canceled
Apr 03 Boston Arms London, United Kingdom
Apr 07 Zall de Zwaan Lichtervelde, Belgium
Apr 08 JH Tydee Mol, Belgium
Apr 09 De Pit Terneuzen, Netherlands
Apr 10 Het Bolwerk Sneek, Netherlands
Apr 11 Bei Chez Heinz Hannover, Germany
Apr 12 Klex Greifswald, Germany
Apr 13 OJH Riesa, Germany
Apr 14 Generator Zlotow, Poland
Apr 15 Liverpool Wroclaw, Poland
Apr 16 WoTuFa Neustadt, Germany
Apr 17 Musicbar Jam Opava, Czech Republic
Apr 18 Randal Bratislava, Slovakia
Apr 19 Shelter Bezirk Brigittenau, Austria
Apr 21 Blogos Bologna Bo, Italy
Apr 22 Werk 21 Zurich, Switzerland
Apr 28 Garage Saarbrücken, Germany
Apr 29 Beteigeuze Ulm, Germany
Apr 30 Muldenwiese Leisnig, Germany

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