Interview with Kevin Chown

Interviewed by Daniel Bear & Jessica Clingempeel
© Ethereal Metal Webzine
5/28/2012

Welcome Kevin Chown and thank you for doing this interview.

Thanks guys. Its my pleasure.

You have such varied musical interests and work with such a
variety of artists; it must keep you very fulfilled as a musician?

Yes, it does!! I’ve always been a bassist with quite varied
tastes. I grew up in a musical family and have always been exposed to many
styles of music so its always been natural for me to want and need to play
different styles of music. It allows me to bring a little bit different
perspective to each genre….. in other words, when I play with Tarja, I’m not
just someone who plays metal: I bring my experience in classical, jazz, pop,
etc….. and it gives me a larger palate to draw from. The more different styles
just make your well of creativity that much deeper. I don’t think I could ever
be a musician that just stuck to one style. I would be bored!! I need to
explore and challenge myself and always try to grow as a musician and as an
artist.

For those who are not aware could you tell us about your
group Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats? How do you go about putting the songs
together, do you have a process you work through or is it more organic?

“The Meatbats” are a little side project that I
started with Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in 2008. To be
honest, it was something that none of us really set up to do. Chad had just
finished the last big Peppers tour and just wanted to play for the hell of it.
All of us play with a variety of other artists, and sometimes you don’t get a
chance to really do whatever you want…… this band is really about all of us
having no boundaries. Jamming! Sometimes we groove, sometimes we rock,
sometimes we are sexy and all sensitive and shit. It started as us just wanting
to get together in Chads pool house too eat burritos, drink beer, shoot the
shit and make up songs. I started recorded it for the hell of it and it was
sounding really cool…. so we decided to properly record this funky, rocking,
strange instrumental music that we were making up on the spot, so we took it
into the studio with no expectations, and what you see is the result. Some of
the songs were written on the spot in the studio. There was never a label, no
plan, just 4 guys that want to play music for the reasons we started doing
this: to have fun!! The songs are usually seeds to start brought in by one of
us, then we just make it up and roll with it. Some people have called it
“jazz” but I think its more along the lines of jam bands like Spock’s
Beard. We just released our third CD “Live Meat and Potato’s”. Its my
favorite CD that we have made so far because it really captures the band at its
best….. in front of a crowd. Its never the same way twice and we managed to put
lightning in a bottle on this one.

You have just released “Live Meat And Potatoes”, what can we
expect from the album and where was it recorded?

The CD was recorded live in LA at a famous jazz club that is
our second home called The Baked Potato. Its kind of our laboratory. Very
small. People are right on top of you so they kind of become a part of the
show. Chad is a great performer and is VERY entertaining so we go it and have a
great time. Its the kind of place where you can literally reach out and touch
us on stage. Just think of what it would be like if we set up in your living
room and that’s about the size of the club. Its really a great environment for
creativity. You can expect to hear a band on fire. Its us playing our own
material with a few surprises thrown in there.

You recently finished touring with Tarja, how was that like?

It was a great tour. It was over 30 countries I believe. 4
continents. It was a great experience. Doing that many shows really enabled us
to take the show and the performance to the next level. Once we hit the halfway
mark, the show became automatic and that’s always a wonderful feeling. It was
LONG tour to say the least, so towards the end we all were running out of gas,
but looking back it was one of the highlights of my career. Its rare in today’s
music business that you can be part of a tour that takes you from one corner of
the world to the other.

What was the highlight of the tour for you?

To be honest, even though I just got back about a month ago,
it seems like a blur already!! I would have to say having the chance to meet so
many of the fans all over the world, some for the second or third time. It was
great getting down to South America….. I have toured in many places, but for
some reason I had never been to South America!! I loved Costa Rica and has a
GREAT stay there. We had a great run of shows in Russia. It was VERY cool to
hang with Doug Wimbish in Argentina and do the show with TWO bass players. Doug’s a great guy and we had a really nice time. Its hard to pick one
“highlight”, but if I had to it would be one that stretched the whole
tour……the closeness and camaraderie that we developed with the band, crew and
Tarja. We all became very close with each other and its a great feeling to have
such a great team together on and off stage. Its hard to replicate what its
life in day to day life. You live in a bubble. You become family. You are with
each other all day every day and in an environment when NOTHING is the same
from day to day, the only consistency becomes the people and the day to day
schedule, which is usually the same no matter what. You depend on each other
for everything. Its a great feeling and those deep friendships are the hardest
thing to let go of when the tour is over. The bubble is “popped” and
you are thrown whether you like it or not back into real life!!! And after a
tour of this length, it has been a long, strange adjustment back to reality!!!

Were there any particular songs you enjoyed playing live?

Since the set list was constantly changing, its hard to pick
one!! I like to sing, so Dark Star was always a favorite of mine, but I really
like the slower songs like Underneath and My Little Phoenix…… I like to
“move air” as a bass player, and when the songs are slower when there
is more space between the notes, sometimes you can literally feel the room
resonate when you hit a note. One note on this little string in your hands
makes the world shake!! Its the ultimate power!! People hear bass with their
bodies as much as their ears and on the slower songs I love to really dig in
and let them feel it. The soul is in the body, not the head. I like to help
people to find it!!

Will you be participating in any of the recordings of
Tarja’s new album?

Not sure yet. Recording hasn’t started yet, and drums and
guitars are first when it does start. t would imagine in some way I will be
involved, of course, but that’s up to Tarja. One of the things I love about her
is that she looks at the musicians that surround her as part of her team and
she always goes out of her way to share the spotlight with each of us and keep
us as a part of every aspect of her creative process as well as the live
performances.

Is there an artist you have not performed with that you
would like to?

Its hard to say!! There are so many great bands and artists
out there, but I’ve never really looked at anything and thought “wow, I
would love to play in that band!!”. I try to appreciate a band for what it
is, with the players that are in it. There is nothing that can replace
chemistry. When it comes to solo artists, I would love to play with an artist
like Jeff Beck. I would love to play with a classic European metal artist like
Doro Pesch or Whitesnake. I really like performing in Europe….. would love to
spend more time playing on that side of the pond. I will play with anyone as
long as I like them first and foremost as people!!! Hard to make music with
people that are hard to get along with!! I would love to do a big pop tour one
day.

If you could go back in time and perform with anyone who
would it be?

REALLY good question. Probably James Brown. The greatest of
all time, or Marvin Gaye. As far as rock artists, Hendrix!!! There is no
greater than Jimi. He had it all…… soul, lyrics, groove, best guitar player
ever, great song writer. An innovator in every way.

What are your plans for the rest of 2012?

I am currently writing a new record of my own, I have a few
projects booked in my studio with other artists producing and playing bass, I
plan on spending much of the summer on vacation with my family (after being
gone on tour for nearly 4 months) and since I have 2 new puppies, I will be
spending every extra moment training my dogs!!! We will have a few Meatbats
shows here and there as Chad’s schedule allows.

You mentioned you were a history buff, what is one
historical place you’ve visited that was your favorite and why? Also, what
place would you like to visit?

From a historical perspective, I love all the European
capitals, but I really enjoy visiting Prague the most. Its one of the few
cities in Europe that has not been destroyed by war and its just gorgeous and I
love the people too. As I like to say to my friends here, its Paris without the
ego. The architecture is really amazing, as is the old city. I have been to
some darker places in my travels too such as Auschwitz in Poland. Its not a
pleasant place but as a citizen of the world, far too important to see with
your own eyes to understand the depths of how far the human soul can fall into
darkness. I certainly can’t say its my favorite place in any way, but since
your question is in regard to historical significance, I can’t think of a place
that gives you a completely different understanding of the word persecution and
cruelty. People would complain much less about what they feel are their own
unsatisfactory lots in life if they took the time to travel and to see just how
lucky most of us are simply to live in a world where we are free to do whatever
we want, for the most part. History has the light and the darkness and there
are so many places that have given me both sides of what history has to offer
all over the world. As far as places I would like to visit? The short list is
South Africa, Egypt, Thailand, Hawaii. Some day I would LOVE to see Tibet.

We have had many wonderful Presidents in the past, who do
you wish could serve again, dead or alive, and what do you think about the
current candidates?

That’s hard to say….. different presidents for different
times, right? I liked Truman’s decisiveness and clarity and openness, not to
mention the fact that he was by far the poorest president….. he moved back in
with his mother in law after he was president for gods sake!! Jimmy Carters
honesty and humility. Lincoln is a giant who saved the country from itself. FDR
of course. TR for his goal of natural conservation. In regard to the current
President, I think President Obama has done a great job given the challenges of
what he faced, especially considering he has done it with no cooperation from
the other side of the aisle. I am a strong supporter of the President. Mitt
Romney represents everything that I think is wrong with the world: where
success is measured in financial terms, where the rich are viewed as the
saviors of society, where business trumps personal liberty, where the
destruction of businesses in the name of personal profits is considered “a
positive record in business”.

You represent yourself as a humanitarian, do you think the
Government is taking all the right measures to help the welfare of the American
people?

HA! Hardly. I think people have a responsibility to be
responsible for themselves and their own actions, but the government owes every
American an opportunity as success. We now have a government that is for the
rich because all of the politicians for the most part ARE rich, and in my
opinion for the most part are corrupted by the fact that they have to raise
millions of dollars to run for office. They have little care for the average
person except when they need their vote. They spend more time raising money
than they do actually in session. There is far too much adherence to
ideological dogma, little to reality. They spend billions on the military for
wars that will never be waged while kids go hungry and schools go to shit.
There are some fine lawmakers out there, but there are so many that are there
to represent themselves before the interests of the people they are elected to
represent.

Do you volunteer in any humanitarian projects?

I have been traveling so much I have not had time lately,
but my wife and I are very involved and interested in animal rescue
organizations and we both volunteer at her sons school….. the schools in LA
rely greatly on the parents due to budget cuts. I hope to become more involved
in politics on the grass roots level as we approach the elections. And given
the choice in this election, I would consider that a humanitarian effort, when
you consider the choices!!

Any final words to our readers?

Thanks for the opportunity to speak to you all. Its a
pleasure to be a small part in Tarja’s world. I’m always blown away at the love
and devotion of her fans. They have always welcomed me with open arms and I
would like to thank each and every one of them for all of the love and support.

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