Just a few moments after finishing up sound check at The Westcott Theater on January 28, 2011, guitarist Chris Michetti took a few minutes to give LostinSound.org an exclusive interview. Michetti provided insight into his future plans with Conspirator and RAQ, as well as the general direction he is headed in as a musician. LostinSound would like to thank Chris Michetti for his cooperation, good vibes, and shredding guitar licks that kept the crowd dancing all night long. We hope to have you back in the Syracuse, New York area again soon.
Chris Michetti: The whole experience playing with the Disco Biscuits and everyone involved with them has definitely changed me a lot, I think- I think really for the better. Basically, to sum it up, its probably less guitar and lots of keyboard, and I don’t necessarily practice the guitar anymore. I used to just pick up the guitar and practice licks, and want to be that guy, but playing with the Biscuits in March, April, and May… there’s just so much music up there. There’s Tommy (Hamilton), me, and obviously the Disco Biscuits. We just talked a lot about music, especially Marc Brownstein. He would talk a lot about style. He’s very in tune with what’s going on and how to better yourself. I used to think if I could play fast enough and clean enough, or if I played like this guy, I’d be great. Throughout this year and through playing with them, I’ve realized to stop trying to play like other people and just play like yourself. RAQ are like my brothers, so the relationships are different. When you have someone you look up to like Marc telling you do this well, it really gets to you. Even when I go back to RAQ, I now find myself thinking more as a composer, not really just a guitar player. I am not worried about a lick, but worried about framing up a solo. I’ve done a lot of listening, and basically I think I have changed a lot.
Do you feel that this experience with Conspirator has brought your name into a different crowd of people you may not have played for otherwise?
No doubt about it. Playing in front of the Biscuits crowd, it’s just a different bunch of people to play for. It was a little intimidating at first, and it still can be. The Biscuit fans are hardcore, and they give the Biscuits shit when they do something they don’t like, so for this guy walking in, it’s tough. It can be a weird position, but I am just really honored to be hanging and playing with Marc and Aron (Magner) in Conspirator. Some probably don’t like it, but I think a bunch do, and it’s awesome.
How would you compare the creative writing process between Conspirator and RAQ?
For RAQ, I write everything with the guitar. I sit around and work with ideas… it’s sort of a formula. I get a chord structure going and work with it. Now I am always around the computer. With RAQ its a lot of scales and technical stuff. With Conspirator, I tend to follow an electronic formula, whether it be a hip hop groove or adding a lot of dubstep. It’s a formula, a 32 bar intro with usually at least two different basslines. Mostly it’s just about the basslines. RAQ is guitar, Conspirator is bass and keyboards.
What’s next for Chris Michetti after this tour with Conspirator?
I don’t know, but it seems like a really musically positive thing. It’s a cool conglomeration of these really amazing musicians, so I feel like it will keep going. Obviously the Biscuits are their thing, but RAQ will definitely keep on playing as well. After this tour, RAQ is booking some shows. It’s been fun and it’s definitely a different sound. RAQ is a lot more jam based, but we’re having a lot of fun with this new stuff.
Had you always been a fan of electronic music before entering this project?
A little bit. I was always into the New Deal and more of the live-tronic bands… bands that actually played. But now I really enjoy it, and I am about to release a dubstep EP. It’s awesome and interesting, and there’s no guitar.
What type of music do you find yourself listening to nowadays, and how has it influenced your playing?
I listen to so much music, oh man. Skrillex is the man, the new Nero stuff is awesome, and we’re playing with them so that’s awesome. Flux Pavilion is my favorite dubstep producer. Rusko is awesome. Jon (“Barber” Gutwillig) really introduced me to the whole dubstep thing when we were talking about shredding on guitar. That’s when I was like holy shit; this is like the metal of electronic music. Its just so aggressive and I love it. Some of its really teched out and obnoxious, but I tend to gravitate to the more song oriented stuff and the production. I love all of the Circus Records stuff.
Conspirator has gone through a couple guitar players. Any word on whether or not this lineup will stick?
I’d like to keep on playing with them. It’s awesome just to make music with them, and the vibe is incredible. It doesn’t even matter where we are, a restaurant, on stage, anywhere; I am a really lucky man right now. I hope it can keep going. There are a lot of amazing guitar players out there, and they know all of them. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and it’s just a big shock. The people I have been hanging out with, it’s just incredible, the wings of an angel. Everyone in the whole scene is just so nice and awesome.
When going back to RAQ (or any other project), do you think this experience could translate into some style change within your music?
Oh yeah, I think the whole thing already has. I have learned so much from a band like the Disco Biscuits, its interesting. RAQ used to just come out, guns a blazing, and drop it all and play as fast as we can, and if the crowd didn’t react, play faster. Then Marc says, just take your time, first song people are just getting used to the surroundings. The older die hard RAQ fans may have a few problems with the new style, but we’re really enjoying it. We are trying to make it more danceable; we have changed up a lot of stuff, and it’s cool for us. I think it’s awesome, we have always tried for it, we just didn’t know how. We just always played faster when people weren’t moving, and it didn’t work. If we want to make them dance, we just have to think about it. I can still shred the shit out of it, its just a different way. Everyone was totally down to try these different concepts, so we have been experimenting with less songs in the set, bigger jams, different types of jams, peaks into another song, and I personally love it. Hopefully other people will also.