Known in the music industry as the President of Schecter Guitar Research, Michael Ciravolo has played guitar with bands Human Drama and Gene Loves Jezebel, receiving praise and success over the past several decades. In 2017, Ciravolo started his own musical project, Beauty in Chaos.
Finding Beauty In Chaos, Beauty Re-Envisioned, The Storm Before The Calm, and Out Of Chaos Comes…, are masterfully curated gatherings by Michael Ciravolo of many industry luminaries. The brilliant artists that have previously contributed to BIC include Wayne and Cinthya Hussey, Michael Aston, Ashton Nyte, John Fryer, Kevin Haskins, Mark Gemini Thwaite, Curse Mackey, Simon Gallup, and Al Jourgensen, among many others—the ‘BIC Family’ is continually changing and evolving.
One constant band member is the talented bassist and spouse to Michael Ciravolo, Tish Ciravolo. Tish is also well-known in the music industry as the Founder and President of Daisy Rock Guitars. This innovative guitar company designed the first female-friendly guitar that inspired a whole new generation of players.
Beauty In Chaos will be releasing their new album Behind the Veil, planned for February 2022. Lending his expertise on the new album as well as BIC’s previous albums is multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer Michael Rozon, who Ciravolo tells us, “Honestly, I could not do this without him.” The first single/video off the upcoming album is “Orion,” which features the talented Whitney Tai. “Breaking free from the manipulator’s mind and destroying the links of deception” is the theme of “Orion.” Musically, “Orion” follows in the footsteps of “Stranger,” the final track on the album The Storm Before The Calm. Whitney’s words and soaring vocals were a fantastic complement for this track, and it nicely sets the tone for their upcoming album.
Having curated the music collective Beauty in Chaos, can you share with us your inspiration behind the project, and has COVID affected the creative and recording process?
Saying you are going to ‘do your own album’ and actually doing it are certainly two different things! Thankfully something that, for a fleeting moment, was going to be a ‘solo album’ transformed into something so much more. This was made possible by the amazing artists that have put their talents, heart, and souls into Beauty In Chaos. I am truly blessed to have these artists part of BIC, as God knows no one would want to hear a guitar solo album from me … it would sound like Steve Vai with a LOT less notes. J With BIC being a studio entity, we were thankfully not affected much by COVID. In fact, with our previous remix release, “Out Of Chaos Comes…”, most artists jumped at the chance to create. Tyler Bates would have been scoring John Wick 4 and Roger O’Donnell would have been recording the next Cure album… but with the COVID, both had the time to contribute to remixes.
I fell in love with the electric guitar.
As President of Schecter Guitars and a guitarist for several other projects, what sparks or influences your creativity that is shown in your music?
As a kid seeing T. Rex, NY Dolls, and David Bowie on those wonderful late-night shows, I knew I wanted to be Marc Bolan, Johnny Thunders, and Mick Ronson. I fell in love with the electric guitar. Fast forward many years later, and I have the reigns of a fairly popular guitar company. Certainly sounds great on paper, but in reality, it has its pitfalls. When your family and your employees’ families’ livelihoods depend on selling the product, at points, the guitar becomes almost a ‘widget’ to you. This thing that was so important to me at several points was no longer that. Starting Beauty In Chaos has done wonders for me. I love the guitar again’ I love my guitar pedals and more. The teenager spark is back!
Working with vocalist Whitney Tai on “Orion,” what was her inspiration behind the lyrics, and what was the best part of making the accompanying music video?
Whitney was a joy to work with. Kat Leon, who was featured on our previous album, introduced us. We hit it off musically and as friends right away. “Orion” came together almost effortlessly. I thought her video for “Incantation” was fantastic, so I was excited to use the same team on our “Orion” video, which was a lot of fun to make. Once we had the ‘otherworldly direction … we were off and running! I will let Ms. Tai answer how the music track sparked her lyrics to create “Orion” …
“Orion is a perfect example of building a world of abstractions into stories. I have a serious case of synesthesia and usually just let the music guide my lyrical direction of a song. Michael sent me this gorgeous piece of music to write with him and it was a nebulous playland of texture, color, and shape. Orion, in all its mysterious undertones, is exactly who it says it is. It is a person, an energy field, or a thought process that uses power and position to control or divorce self-governance in another. Everyone who has been compromised in this situation becomes the narrator of the song and assumes this role of regulating all the evil Orions of the earth. Abuse has left lives in shambles, mine included, and presents psychoanalytical hurdles that test our character.” ~ Whitney Tai
With Behind the Veil (currently planned for release on February 22, 2022), what is the theme and concept that we will be seeing with this album, and what artists will be contributing to the new music?
The reoccurring ‘theme’ I hope that runs throughout our albums is combining elements of beauty AND chaos, sonically and lyrically. I think those things are different for each one of us. I try to give us ‘creative limitations’ also, which I think can be a good thing. Sort of like limiting the colours a bit in your paint palette! When I decided to close our last studio album with “Stranger,” which featured Holy Wars’ Kat Leon, I knew I wanted to base the next record around only female singers. Whitney Tai and Kirlian Camera’s Elena Alice Fossi have been revealed on the first two singles, but I’d like to keep a bit of mystery on the remaining singers for now. I was fortunate to have a dozen or so amazingly talented ladies express interest in being part of this new record. For no other reason than my own impatience and desire to get a new record out in early 2022, they are not included. I do plan to work with each of them, either as a ‘part-2’ or maybe even a string of follow-up singles.
BIC has been categorized into many genres such as goth, rock, heavy metal, and others. These genres tend to blend together at times and may also evolve. How would you best describe BIC’s new album?
I do love that we don’t really fit into one neat little category. I am sure the revolving singers help with that. I think what we do combines a lot of the elements you list above, but I think the Beauty In Chaos ‘sound’ starts with whatever comes out of my amp when I plug a guitar in thru an assortment of pedals on any given day! As for what to expect on Behind The Veil, I think my first conversation with Whitney was that it was going to be a mix of Bjork and Bauhaus, which casts a fairly wide net, so I guess I covered myself! I do think Michael Rozon and I have managed to make all of our records cohesive, and not sounding like a ‘compliation’, which is always a possibility with multiple singers. As to what this record will sound like? I think our debut single “Orion” is a good glimpse into that. To me, “Stranger,” which was the last song on The Storm Before The Calm, was sort of the bridge into the new album. Maybe there is a lot of calm elements throughout … with blasts of storm! Also, in the past, we have followed each studio album with a ‘remix/re-envision’ release. The plan this go-round is to flip-the-script a bit and include some remixes on the CD and digital versions.
Honestly, I could not do this without him. I used to enjoy the recording and producing side of this, but with BIC, he allows me to play while he pilots. He pushes me to be better on every take.
I know you recently hit a bit of a bumpy road during the recording process but got everything back on track. What’s one of the best lessons you’ve learned during your career as a producer and engineer?
That I have Michael Rozon as a partner-in-crime!! Honestly, I could not do this without him. I used to enjoy the recording and producing side of this, but with BIC, he allows me to play while he pilots. He pushes me to be better on every take. As for recording in this new digital world, I bitch and complain, but I know a project like Beauty In Chaos would not be possible without it, since most artists are not local and they send their parts from around the world. As far as any lessons? I think knowing when the song is done can be a difficult thing. ProTools is the ultimate enabler, giving you more and more tracks. The key, I think, is knowing if those additional parts make the song better. Always remember that The Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper on 4-tracks!
Since collaboration is all about finding the right singer for the song, are there any musicians in particular that you want to work with, and what are the lessons you have learned from your experiences in this process?
In the case of how BIC works, I think it’s important to trust your gut instinct on who will take a particular piece of music and make it the best song possible. I value every singer’s contribution and certainly take none of the efforts and talents for granted. With the big names on our debut release, I certainly saw the danger of the artists overshadowing the project as a whole and falling victim to the ‘who are they going to get next’ syndrome. I’ve been in the ‘business’ (and I use this term loosely) for a long time. And I do know that popularity or fame does not trump talent. I like to think that BIC has opened up some listeners to some amazing singers that they might not have heard prior. I urge them to delve into each artist’s catalog. I certainly have been blessed to work with a lot of successful artists in BIC, many who make up a big part of my record collection. Are there others? Sure. I’d love to work with Richard Butler, Shirly Manson, Bjork, The Alarm’s Mike Peters, and the Cocteau Twins’ Elisabeth Fraser, to name a few. I came close to having Peter Murphy sing on a track on the first record, but it did not work out schedule-wise and I sent the song to a singer that Wayne Hussey suggested. That lady was Evi Vine and the song became “I Will Follow You,” which is still my favorite song on FBIC. In my heart of hearts, I would not trade what this track became with Evi for what Peter may have done with it. Nothing against Mr. Murphy, who I still would LOVE to work with, but Evi made the song. I honestly enjoy finding lesser-known but certainly no less talented artists as BIC revolves and evolves.
We strive to make each video unique and as different than its predecessor as possible.
Besides the upcoming album release, you’re also working on music videos for several of the songs. Can you share with us what fans can expect?
Well, without being a ‘live’ band, our videos have always been the face of BIC. Unless I’ve miscounted, we have released fifteen official videos to date. “The Kiss Of The World” is done and will premiere on 12.2.22. We again worked with Industrialism Films to create sort of a dystopian-matrix-inspired video which features the Italian Industrial-Goth-Rock goddess, Elena Alice Fossi. We strive to make each video unique and as different than its predecessor as possible. I think we have accomplished that so far. We have started discussing plans and a concept for a third video, and I would not be surprised if there is a fourth.
You have stated that being in tune with the lyrics is the most important element of BIC. What is meant by that?
When we started asking artists to be part of the first record, my only direction to each singer was that the record would be called finding beauty in chaos and they were free to write about what that meant to them. I think those terms are different in everyone’s life. I think once I got into my mid-20’s and being more involved in the goth scene with my involvement with Human Drama and Gene Loves Jezebel, I saw how important lyrics could be and how they could touch people in different ways. I wanted lyricists that could write lyrics that made the listener feel. I think the music we wrote certainly had a vibe… and did not want lyrics about partying or getting laid sung over it. I love lyrics that each person interprets differently… even if it is not what the singer intended. To me, Ashton Nyte’s lyrics on “Storm” set the bar high. ‘There is always a light’ is an important lyric in BIC. Positively in all of the chaos around us. I think I have been blessed with not only some great singers, but great lyricists as part of our BIC Family. I feel the new record carries that torch wonderfully.
“Is there healing for an open wound heart?
Perfect target for the Archangel’s dart
Will you break my fall
And kiss me against the wall”
“Open Wound Heart” from Behind The Veil
Tish Ciravolo, as President and Founder of Daisy Rock Guitars. a company that has inspired many women and girls to pick up an instrument and play, and the bass player for BIC, how has it been returning to playing and recording music with BIC, and what has it been like contributing to its creative process?
I have been so blessed to be part of the Beauty In Chaos creativity! I love playing bass and recording music, and it makes me super proud to be part of this masterpiece that my husband continues to create. I believe that I am his muse – the thing that continues to motivate him to create and create and create! Seriously, I do everything I can to help him both behind-the-scenes and also being a contributor on the bass and always adding my own touch to the vocals :). Love working with hubby!!!! ~ Tish Ciravolo
What gear is BIC currently playing, and why?
Obviously, we use, and sometimes abuse Schecter guitars and basses! For this record, I pulled out some various guitars I had not used in a while, and had them set up in a few alternate tunings. I think it is easy to get stuck into familiar chord progressions and the alt-tunings helped spark a few of the songs on this record. I also bought two sort of ‘odd ball’ instruments, which also led to songs. I started the music, which became “Not Your Fault” on a little 12-string Avante Gryphon, and “Orion” descended from an Eastwood ‘Warren Ellis’ 8-string mandocello. Every other note, guitar, and bass are Schecter. Most guitar tracks are thru several small Supro combo amps; run through more pedals than I can count from EHX, Keely, Bogner, Strymon, and more. Michael Rozon also has a lot of cool plugins that bend, fold and mutate the guitars ‘in the box’.
What is the future of BIC? Are you considering any live performances, and how do you plan to achieve your future milestones?
Well, we will release Behind The Veil on 2.22.22 and we will have released our second video/single, “The Kiss Of the World” on December 2. There is also a ‘making of’ documentary in the works by the great people at Jammerzine. We hope this behind-the-scenes, titled “Unveiled,” will be released to coincide with the album. As for BIC live … in the beginning, I never looked at this as something to bring to stage. Slowly, I began thinking about it a bit more. More than I thought I would; the who/where/how. I guess the more singers that joined our BIC Family, the more of a possibility it could happen. When COIVID hit, I put those thoughts on the back burner and focused on the massive undertaking on our 27-track remix release Out Of Chaos Comes… and this new record. Now that we are somewhat in the home stretch of Behind The Veil, I guess I am starting to mule over the live idea again. I guess this project has taken on a life far bigger than I had imagined in late 2017 when we recorded the first notes of BIC. I think now it would be really sad if we never brought this to the stage. While it is a romantic notion to think we could play London, Paris, Berlin, and some cities in the States; probably a 2-night concert is more of a reality; maybe a live-stream thing… and certainly would be recording it. I guess we will see what happens!