The project, Beauty In Chaos came to fruition in 2018 with the first album, Finding Beauty In Chaos, which was an amalgamation of friends around the core instigator, Michael Ciravolo. Having been in the music business for a while, lends itself to having friends such as Wayne Hussey, Al Jourgensen and Michael Aston, to name a few, help you out in recording. Now in 2022, the latest adventure, Behind The Veil, is a full female fronted affair, with voices that that are beautiful, bold and bring a new dynamic to the project. In essence, Beauty In Chaos (BIC), has become a family of musicians which includes Ciravolo’s friend Michael Rozon, as well as his wife, Tish Ciravolo, both whom have been involved with the project since the first album. The latest single off the new album, “Afterlife“, is sung by Tish, who also wrote the lyrics, so we decided to have an interview in two parts. The first part is with the lovely Tish, while the second half is with the man behind the guitar, Michael. Excitingly, we get to find out about the up coming documentary and personally, I love that history of the scene they candidly talk about in the 80s and 90s. So, what are you waiting for?!
PART 1 – THE BEAUTY – Tish Ciravolo, welcome to the beating heart of Onyx.
Tish, you also started your musical career in the 80s as a bass player at the tender age of 16 playing in bands, though you also did a degree in journalism. Hearing stories, such as the way Joan Jett was treated, as female musician, how was were you received due to your gender in the scene back then?
Of course, horrible! The first music store I went into in LA, I was asked if I was picking something up for my boyfriend and that was the nicest comment I got. Girls didn’t work at music stores and most female musicians were treated like they sucked, whether they did or not. And this was almost 10 years after The Runaways started kicking open doors. The guys at sound check basically just had the girl bands plug in, play a note and unplug. That was the normal reaction from men in the business but I have to say, there were guys out there who helped and understood the struggle.
Lypstik was a big hair metal band you were in Tish…. how much fun was that and is this about the time you contributed vocals to a Human Drama track?.
LYPSTIK was a blast until it wasn’t. We were playing Battle of the Bitches type events all the time, pitting the girls against each other for a show. The Sunset Strip was a sight to behold. You never know what the memory is when you are living in it and you don’t think it won’t be the same in the future. But the entire scene did change. At the time, we had a billboard on the side of The Roxy facing The Rainbow so we really felt like we brought the “girl” side to a very dominated metal scene, along with some very cool other girl bands at that time.
Having a band like Human Drama ask for a simple vocal was a dream come true! But my name gets misspelled during interpretations… its not Trish, but Tish 🙂
Many people might not be aware that you, Tish created the company Daisy Rock, which makes bass/acoustic/electric guitars for girls and it has been really successful. What prompted you to create guitars for girls and what makes a guitar more for girls?
Daisy Rock Guitars came about organically. After my experience as a female musician with all the discrimination I experienced, I happened on a way to change that for my daughters and all female musicians. Our daughter, Nicole did a drawing when she was 1 1/2 years old and I turned that daisy drawing into a guitar drawing and showed it to my husband explaining that if we made guitars that girls would want to play, that maybe, just maybe, we could get more girls to play guitar. With Michael’s expertise, we created a “girl guitar” – lighter in weight, slimmer neck profile, in super fun designs and colors. Daisy Rock Guitars were born. Fast forward ten years and I’m training 600 men on how to treat women in music stores….
Tish, you play the guitar with a plectrum (pick). Why does this weird people out and who are your guitar heroes? (mine admittedly are John Taylor of Duran Duran and the late Mick Karn of Japan, both fretless players)
I love Simon Gallup of The Cure and Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs. I absolutely love Mick Karn and adore what Japan did way before Duran Duran, but fretless is not my forte 🙂
What is in the works for Beauty In Chaos as well as Tish and Michael Ciravolo, for the future?
I believe my husband already touched on the 5 year retrospective album he’s started putting together. Also, I filmed my segment for the “Unveiled” documentary that should come out later this summer. We have some live shows coming up with Gene Loves Jezebel where I will dust off the old bass guitar and get back on stage. And there are some rumblings of trying to put BIC on stage playing live. The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades!
Beauty can be found in the darkest of places, so what is your beauty in chaos?
One person’s chaos is another person’s beauty. My beauty comes from a place of being a mother, being a wife and being a creative artist. All those things comes with its own chaos no matter what stage you are in. Toddlers to teenagers has its own chaos and beauty. Loving my best friend, my husband for over 30 years now carries its own beauty and chaos. Continuing in life to create, to bring my dreams to life, to continue to dream, to not give up. That is my Beauty. That is my Chaos.
PART 2 – OUT OF CHAOS– Welcome Michael Ciravolo to the darkness within the heart of Onyx.
Michael, your career spans back to 1980, in New Orleans, with The Models. When the band moved to Los Angeles, in 1985, there was a name change to Human Drama. What was it like playing goth rock, in those cities, in the 80s for you and especially at the (in)famous Scream Club in LA?
Looking back, the mid to late ‘80s scene in Los Angles was truly magical. There was certainly the Hollywood’s ‘hair-meta’ scene happening in a big way. GnR, Van Halen, Motley Crue and the dozens of 2nd and third tier replicas ran rampant on the Sunset Strip. Many getting massive record deals. But there was also a cool darkwave scene, with its focal point being Scream. So many great nights playing and hanging there; especial when it was at the Park Plaza location. Not to be outdone by the strip scene, A&R types flocked there, as well as a few other clubs… not only signing Human Drama, but also Kommunity FK, Caterwaul, Jane’s Addiction to name a few. Another cool thing was there was sort of a comradery between bands… even with the goths and big hair metal kids. It was not uncommon for us to be hanging flyers on the strip besides guys from Poison and Faster Pussy Cat.
At that time, America was in the grips of hair metal. What made you take to the gothic rock style?
As a kid in New Orleans, I gravitated to glam and punk when I picked up the electric guitar. Marc Bolan, Mick Ronson and Johnny Thunders were my heroes. When we formed The Models, we were a bit more power-pop, but got heavier and darker as Johnny’s writing matured. Before we made the move to LA, we were listening to The Mission, The Cure, Joy Division and The Sister. I guess we sort of ‘absorbed’ that into our look and sound.
You are also a member of Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. What is it like for you to be a part of this iconic band?
When I rejoined Human Drama to record the live album at The Troubadour, Michael Aston had just released his solo album on Triple-X. With that being our label too, he was opening the show. After our set, a mutual friend, who ironically booked Human Drama’s first LA show, introduced us. He told me that he and Jay (Aston) were going to reform to do a reunion tour and would I be interested in being the guitarist. I had a few of the early post House Of Dolls Gene Loves Jezebel albums, which I though were quite good. I learned a few of the songs and I hit if off well with the twins. This lead to a 20+ date USA tour. I got to witness firsthand the old wounds Michael and Jay had, had burst open… which lead to us doing the last few dates with them not speaking to each other! The attempted to record an album with some of the ‘original’ line-up… but Michael left or got booted, depending on who’s version you believe. It is truly a cluster fuck, sort of like Oasis without the fame and money!! Michael again approached me about writing an album … which lead to two. “Love Lies Bleeding” and “Exploding Girls”. I have probably played over 100 shows with Michael’s ‘version’ of GLJ and there is talk of both Tish and I joining for some shows in support of The Mission. I guess we will see. I am proud of those two albums … but it is a shame as it could and should have been so much more.
Your latest project is Beauty In Chaos, where the debut album, “Finding Beauty In Chaos” was released in 2018. When did you originally decide this was a project you wanted to take on?
After Human Drama’s ‘final show’ in October 2015, Johnny had released a few solo albums … sadly with little notice, except to hard core Human Drama fans. I guess I am credited to talking him into doing another Human Drama album, which began to take shape in early 2017. In my head, I had hoped we would return more to the darker, edgier sound of the band; but it was really not what Johnny was into. In the recording process of what became “Broken Songs For Broken People”, I grew frustrated and probably tried to force a more aggressive guitar approach than really fit these songs. Looking back, I am happy with the album and what I added on guitar. I was never a big David Gilmore / Pink Floyd fan … and that is what Johnny continually referenced for the guitar parts he envisioned. In the end, it made me delve a bit into it … and now I truly appreciate how great Gilmore is. Michael Rozon, was recording my guitar parts for the album, and certainly could sense my growing frustration … which lead to him turning to me and saying “why don’t you just do your own album?”. I quickly blurted our ‘YES’! Then the stark realization crept in that now I had to do it. Not being a real singer, I decided that I could ask some friends to sing. Luckily two few friends … Robin Zander (Cheap Trick) and Al Jourgensen (Ministry) jumped in quickly .. and thus Beauty In Chaos was born. Thankfully, what for a few moments was my ‘solo’ record (which I find most solo records by guitarists to be quite boring) quickly morphed into this revolving / evolving entity we call Beauty In Chaos.
Did you ever envision that you would create your first album with such people as Wayne Hussey (The Mission, ex-Sisters Of Mercy), Simon Gallup (The Cure) and Aston Nyte (The Awakening)….in essence an amalgamated super group?
While I never set out for this to be a ‘supergroup’, as I hate that term, as to me, it sounds a bit pompous. I am certainly blessed to have a lot of friends that also happen to makeup a big part of my record collection. I never take any of the artists that contribute to BIC for granted. Whether well-known or lesser known, each of these artists put their heart and soul into the song(s) we created together.
But the ‘kid’ in me sometimes must pinch himself when I look at who has been part of our BIC family. Even the artists that are ‘platinum’, iconic or even in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame treat the entire concept of what BIC is with complete respect, and myself as a contemporary. Yes, still all more than a bit surreal.
Michael Rozon has been there, recording, mixing, and producing, not to mention playing instruments as well. Could you please tell us about this relationship/friendship?
Michael is one of my best friends in this world. I could not and would not do BIC without him. Far more than just suggesting I make my own album … he allows me to play my guitar while he focuses on the tech side of recording. He is also amazingly talented. Like our records or not … they do sound great and that is due to him. He has a talent to push and encourage me at the same time. He sure as hell has made me a better musician. And we have a fucking blast being in the studio together!
We met back in the mid ‘90s. I was in a post Human Drama (pre GLJ) band that was getting label attention, but our singer had a drinking issue. I could see that we had hit a dead-end. My then girlfriend and now wife, Tish, saw a ad on a telephone pole of a band, Drain The Doves, looking for a guitarist. She actually called Michael and invited him to a show, which ironically ended with me smashing my guitar against the wall on the stage out of frustration. I walked off stage, out to Sunder Blvd. and Michael walked up to me as I was probably screaming ‘fuck this I quit’ and said you are our guy. We have been great friends ever since.
Since that release, there has been the release of the album “The Storm Before The Calm” and two remix albums, which brings us to the 2022 unleashing of “Behind The Veil”. This release is a little more special as it features only female vocalists. What was the inspiration behind going in this direction for the album?
When we were finishing up ‘The Storm Before The Calm’, I was having an internal debate with myself if we should include “Stranger” (featuring Holy War’s Kat Leon) on this album or if we should write an additional gloom-rock track. While I absolutely love “Stranger”, I knew it was a bit of a departure from the rest of the album. In the end, I went with my original thought and ended the vinyl with it.
After hearing the album in its entirety, I thought it “Stranger” would be a cool lead-in to what came next for us. I do love all three female featured songs on ‘FBIC’, and what Kat and Cinthya had done with us … there is the genesis of ‘Behind The Veil’.
The latest single is the slow burning and dreamy “Afterlife” sung by your incredibly talented wife, Tish. What has it been like for both of you working together on this track for Beauty In Darkness as best friends and lovers?
“Afterlife” is a great song and a perfect opening song for this record. I could not be prouder of what my wife did. I love what she did on “Lookup” on our first record, but this tops it and is easily one of my top 5 BIC songs. When Michael and I wrote the music, I knew her voice would work well on it, but it is a bit of a different, linear song … there’s not the big obvious chorus section. She took the music and made it into a great song. Honestly, I am probably a bit more demanding on her because she is my wife and best friend … and I am sure she feels the pressure to prove she is on this because of her talent, not because she is my wife. I defy anyone to doubt her talent after what she delivered on this song … lyrically and melody , and the video. I think her ending line ‘love is all there is’ will live alongside Ashton Nyte’s ‘there is always a light (from ‘Storm’) as seminal BIC lyrics.
Having Elena Alice Fossi of the legendary Kirlian Camera sing “Kiss Of The World” must have been a bit of a coup. How did you end up getting the beautiful Italian singer to become involved?
I tried to remember how I became aware of Elena while doing press for “The Kiss Of The World” video. I think my press agent, Shauna (from Shameless Promo) was promoting something Elena was part of. No denying her beauty, but it was an interview I saw with her. Far more than a pretty face, she is extremely intelligent and I loved her courage to stand up for some social issues that plague the world. Plus she has an amazing voice. I got her email, and just introduced myself. I tuned out we had a mutual acquaintance in John Fryer, who had has done several BIC remixes and I am of Italian decent! I just straight out asked if she would be interested in working together at some point. Thankfully, she said yes and then fast-forward at least a year and we sent her a music track that she turned into “The Kiss Of The World”. I also love the video we did for this song, which she shot all her parts on a green screen in Italy. Industrialism Films, who have done most of our videos, did an amazing job of melding her into the dystopian sets we created. I must add that her Kirlian Camera fans have been so gracious towards Beauty In Chaos.
There are three more extremely talented women on the album, so were they acquaintances or professionals you felt you needed to have sing on the album?
Yes, Cinthya Hussey, Betsy Matin, along with my wife, Tish, are BIC alumi … appearing on songs on previous albums. Besides Elena, Whitney Tai and Pinky are new to our BIC Family. I knew Pinky Turzo from the early days of Human Drama; and loved what she had done vocally in Silver Ghost Shimmer. “Not Your Fault” is a different song for us … but I love everything about it. She channeled the ‘chaos in her beaut’ in the song’s lyrics, but in a way that most of us can interject something from our life into. To me, that makes a great song.
Whitney Tai was introduced to me by our mutual friend and BIC alum, Kat Leon of Holy Wars. Whitney and I immediately hit it off musically and she has become a really good friend of Tish and I. I heard some of what she had done on her albums and could hear the Bjork influence. I told her I wanted to do a song with her that fell between Bjork and Bauhaus. Wide net I know … but it rolled off the tongue nicely! What became “Orion” evolved so easily … almost effortlessly. To me, it encompasses all of the elements of BIC. Lots of ethereal guitars, but with blasts of chaos and sonic interference. Love the video too!
Remixes were a huge thing in the 80’s (hence all those wonderful 12-inch singles), though they seem to fall out of favour with the era of CDs and now there seems to be a renaissance. Half the album is remixes, so what was the reason behind this decision plus tell us about the newest remix album as well?
I was certainly a fan of the great extended 12” singles, however I never cared much for a remixer just replacing the drums with a ‘dance beat’. In BIC world, the remix concept happened really by accident … but I am a believer that things happened for a reason. When we were making our debut album, ‘finding beauty in chaos’, I had imposed a ‘no synth’ rule. Meaning every sound on that album came from manipulating my electric guitar. Wayne (Hussey, The Mission) introduced me to Tim Palmer.. who has always been one of my absolute favorite producers.
I was in Austin with he and Wayne, as Tim was mixing The Mission’s ‘Another Fall From Grace’ album. We were out having a few libations so I said what the fuck and asked Tim if he would mix a BIC song that Wayne was featured on. Amazingly Tim said yes. I sent him both “Man Of Faith” and “The Long Goodbye” to mix. In my excitement that he was doing this, I failed to tell him about the ‘no synth’ rule. See where this is going? So I get back “Man Of Faith” and is brilliant … but Tim added so cool keyboards and some nice guitar bits. So how do you tell your favorite producer “Great mix mate, but can you take those keyboards and guitars out!!!” . The answer is you don’t! Thus the idea of ‘Beauty Re-Envisioned’ was born. Thankfully, I am blessed with a lot of very talented friends that were eager to jump in and do some amazing reinterpretations of songs from ‘FBIC’. Since this worked well, at least in my opinion, we again followed up ‘The Storm Before The Calm’ was ‘Out Of Chaos Comes…’.
I really enjoyed turning the keys over and hearing how other treated these songs. When it came to ‘Behind The Veil’, I was adamant about releasing it before the end of 2021. My BIC cohort, Michael Rozon, was working on a Ministry album at the same time, so our studio time was a bit limited. We created these six songs, which worked in the confines of vinyl, both left a lot of ‘time’ remaining with the 75-minutes+ available on a compact disc. I thought it would be cool to change what we had done previously, and include remixes on the CD version of ‘Behind The Veil’. In typical BIC fashion … the idea expanded, and we had so many creative and diverse remixes that it lead to 25 tracks, and ‘Further Behind The Veil’ !!!
Who or what music inspired you to become a musician?
Watching those great late-night music shows… The Midnight Special and Don Kirscher’s Rock Concert. Seeing T. Rex and David Bowie was a life changer for me. Until then, I wanted to play pro football. I quickly realized that girls, especially cute ones liked guys in bands more that jocks! Watching Marc Bolan pout and prance and seeing Johnny Thunders with has big mane of hair and low-slung buzz saw sounding guitar sealed the deal for me. One of those surreal moments in BIC, and there have been a few, was getting to record and do a video of T, Rex’s classic, “20th Century Boy” with Marc Bolan’s son, Rolan. Yeah, doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Do you find yourself listening to new acts now and what gets your creative juices flowing?
Sadly, I don’t find a lot new or very ‘inspiring’ in new music. Maybe it’s showing my age …. but I am looking far more forward to the next Cure record than anything I have heart of late. I am sure I am missing something, but I got more inspiration from sounds, and new musical ‘toys’ as opposed new acts. I just don’t see much longevity in what I hear.
Beauty can be found in the darkest of places, so what is your beauty in chaos?
Life is indeed filled with both beauty AND chaos. Sadly our world has fallen more into the latter as of late. For me personally, my beauty is my family. My wife and two beautiful, healthy, strong-willed daughters. I am beyond blessed for them.
Now, if you were given the chance to record a track with any goth rocker from the past or present, dead or alive, who would you pick and more importantly, why?
To me, and something I carry into Beauty In Chaos is lyrics. I want our singers to write from the heart, songs that have a deeper meaning, even and especially not overly obvious. To be clear, all of the singers in our BIC write their own lyrics and melody. Michael and I don’t give any verbal-guidance, but I think the music we send them sends them down a path to turn it into a song. As for your question, I think in the goth/darkwave world … most of the great singers do write wonderful lyrics. I would love to work with Robert Smith and Peter Murphy. I do know both and have approached them both. Each was kind and did consider, but at the time, each was very deep into writing for The Cure and Bauhaus. Maybe one day! Siouxsie would certainly be someone I would love to work with. I know you question was ‘goth’ specific, but there are other amazing, influential singers I would to have had, or have the opportunity to have as part of our BIC Family.
Having the chance to work with David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Michael Hutchence would have been amazing. Shirley Manson, Bjork, along with several of fantastic ladies of shoegaze … Elizabeth Fraser, Rachell Goswell, Lisa Gerrard and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons would be on my ‘want list’. Can’t end this hypothetical list without adding The Furs Richard Butler, who has always been one of my favorite vocalists.
What is in the works for Beauty In Chaos and Michael Ciravolo, for the future?
We are working on a behind-the-scenes look at ‘Behind The Veil’, cleverly untitled ‘Unveiled’. This is being done by the great people at JammerDirect. This documentary will include some great insight from the six amazingly talented ladies that make up this album, along with some thoughts from a few of the remixers involved. This should be premiered before the end of summer.
We are also planning a video from “Open Would Heart”, which features the lovely Cinthya Hussey. I really love this song, and her lyrics are beautiful. With her in Brazil, it has some challenges, but we managed with Elena, so I am confident that we will create something special that fits this song.
With Michael Rozon currently on tour with Jerry Cantrell, our studio time is a bit hard to come by, but I think it gives me a writing break that I probably would not have! That said, we are looking at releasing sort of an anthology CD…. BIC 2017-2022 type of thing. I am going thru all of our tracks, including the remixes and trying to pick the 13 or 14 songs that give the best sonic overview of what we have done to date. I have both a title and a photo in mind … so that’s half the battle. I am thinking of adding one new song to this…. Which may indeed by a cover song that stuck in my head during my recent visit to my hometown of New Orleans. We will see.
Thank for indulging us Michael and Tish, and we can’t wait to hear what you do next.