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De samenwerking tussen gitarist Bob Katsionis en zanger Chandler Mogel blijkt ook op het vierde Outloud album ‘Virtual Hero Society’ nog steeds prima te functioneren. Dit keer heeft het echter wat langer geduurd voordat de plaat opgenomen en uitgebracht was en dus werd het weer eens tijd voor mijn reguliere “update”-gesprek met Chandler. Helaas waren onze agenda’s op korte termijn niet goed op elkaar af te stemmen en dus heeft Chandler mijn vragen per e-mail beantwoord.

Door: Sjak | Archiveer onder hardrock / aor

Hi Chandler, I would like to start a couple of years back when I spoke to you about your previous album ‘Let’s Get Serious’. What did that album mean for the band both from an artistic as well as a commercial perspective?
Well, that was our third album and an album we weren’t sure it was even gonna get done because of our schedules…lol. But we always make it go right and in the wake of that album we did a good amount of live shows and had a great overall response, to both the album and the tour. We hope to exceed all that with this album!

It has taken you four years to come up with this successor ‘Virtual Hero Society’, so what have you been doing during that time…besides getting married?
Ha, that didn’t take up TOO much time, lol. Well, we began writing songs for ‘Virtual Hero Society’ as early as 2015, when we had about four of the songs down at that point, then the process kept getting delayed by mine and Bob’s schedules. But this past year we really commited to getting the album finished. I’m singing full time here in New York Ccity doing lots of different gigs and Bob is running a studio in Athens and of course touring with Firewind during that time.

Well, of course there was the compilation album “Destination: Overdrive – The Best Of Outloud’ from 2015. Why did you decide to release a compilation album in the first place with only three full-length albums under your belt?
It was requested from our new label. They had just bought the rights to our entire catalog and wanted something that would give a good overview of the band and bring in new fans. It did well but in hindsight I would have liked to put a new original or two on it to better hold the older fans over until the next record.

For that compilation you recorded ‘I’m So Excited’ from the Pointer Sisters. Why did you opt for this song as it’s not really a common choice for a rock band?
That’s exactly why, it’s not a song that really ever had a rock remake and was something we felt we could really do in our own style. Which I think we pulled off well, and it has since become one of our most popular songs.

The album was also the first release for the new record label Rock Of Angels Records. Why did you leave AOR Heaven and how did you get connected to the new label?
The label owner/manager Akis had been growing his label in Greece and had his eye on us for awhile. He finally approached us to be the flagship band on his label. He now has some bigger name bands and acts and actually helps develop bands like a label should. We’re very happy with the job he’s doing. No hard feelings at all with AOR Heaven, they did a good job with our releases up to that point, but Akis had just made us a better offer overall.

When did you start with the preparations for the new album ‘Virtual Hero Society’ and what was the game plan that you had with it?
Like I said the songs started manifesting back in 2015, we wrote about four of the songs or so then. Due to financial and schedule commitments, it was tough to get everything off the ground for a bit, but within the last year we really buckled down and got everything going and finished the record. We wanted to create a message with this album that was a little more meaningful than just the “party rock” vibe we’re known for, however that’s still prevalent in our music of course.

Did you change anything in the song writing process within the band and if so, in what way?
Not really. Bob and I have our ways and understanding of each other and the “Outloud style” just comes out every time. I mean, I think we evolve with each record since we are always striving to get better as musicians, songwriters, so that seems to show up with each release.

On the new album we find a new drummer in Thanos Pappas, who replaced Kosta Milonas. Why did you part ways with Kostas and how did you get Thanos on board?
Thanos is a super awesome talented dude who has been our drummer since those live shows as well. Kostas really only did the ‘I Was So Blind’ video with us. He couldn’t tour with us because of other commitments, great drummer though. It was George Kollias who played drums on the ‘Let’s Get Serious’ record.

On the new album lyric-wise you’re exploring new territories and tackle the influence of technology in today’s society. Why did you feel the urge to write about more serious topics this time and will you keep on heading in that direction in the future?
I think it’s important to address this. Too many people don’t realize that we are becoming slaves to a degree to these things. They’re very convenient but in many ways are keeping us from seeing the world around us. Our lyrics aren’t really inspired by this though, this is really just the overall concept surrounding the album (but it’s not a concept album if that makes sense).

The album artwork is also quite different from the previous releases. What’s the idea behind the album cover and who was responsible for creating it?
Yeah it’s pretty much based on the concept I told you about. The girl (yes, we’re continuing the tradition with a girl on each one of our covers) is lying injured on the ground and people just stand around and take pictures, not helping. People are too concerned about their “social status”. This kind of vibe is way too prevalent today as I’ve seen similar situations happen unfortunately. Bob took the photo and the great Gustavo Sazes (who has done a lot of well-known album covers, including Firewind’s recent stuff) did the artwork on it and the album art layout. We’re really happy with it!

band image


’Fool’s Train’ is a great album opener and in all honesty I had expected this one to be the first single, but instead you opted for ‘Virtual Heroes’. Why did you choose this one as the first single?
Well, because it most closely went along with the album’s concept, even though the lyrics are a little tongue-in-cheek…lol. Yeah I love ‘Fool’s Train’, but it’s an album track and we wanted something that was a little bit more “single sounding” (whatever that means today). But this may not have been the best option, as our lyric videos released subsequently with the more “traditional” Outloud-style songs are getting a bit more attention. I think we took some people by surprise with this song, as it’s a little different overall than people are used to from us. But not to worry, there’s still plently of classic Outloud stuff on the record.

You also recorded a video clips for this single. Is this still worth the effort nowadays as Youtube is about the only broadcast medium around?
Yes, it’s of course important to have plenty of visual media, as most consumers these days need to get as many of their senses stimulated simultaneously as possible. Me, all I need is the music, but maybe the next step is music to touch? Or scratch n sniff?

Another track that’s stands out is the beautiful ballad ‘Share My Dreams’, which reminds me somewhat of ‘This Broken Heart’ from the debut album. Do you also think that this is one of the highlights of the album?
Hey thanks! It’s a great one. Yeah, a lot of people like that one so far. I really dig it too!

’Fallen Love’ is sung acapella, which isn’t done too often nowadays. Who came up with that idea?
Well, that was me, the singer, of course. I wanted to do something different, like an interlude, for the penultimate track of the album, just before it closes (actually Harem Scarem, one of my fav bands, did a similar thing I think on ‘Mood Swings’). Something very melodic yet unexpected and a bit of a break from the guitars. That song took a very long time to do, even though being under three minutes.

What are in your opinion the best moments of the album and why?
Well that last one is definitely one of my favorites. Also the first couple songs and ‘Borrowed Time’, I’m just really proud of myself on those songs…lol. But I’m really proud of all of it actually. This album really shows me how far I’ve come as a songwriter and singer. And Bob did a great job mixing the record, it really came out better than we expected.

Did you write and maybe also record more material that didn’t make it onto the album and if so, what’s going to happen with that?
Not really. There are other incomplete ideas but nothing waiting as a bonus track or anything. These days not a lot of people have a budget to do more songs than actually show up and make the release like the old days.

The album was produced by Bob Katsionis and he’s done a great job on that. How hard is it to produce your own songs? Doesn’t Bob feel the need for an independent ear sometimes?
Ha, you’ll have to ask him. Yeah, we work on the stuff together as he’s doing all the instrumental and technical stuff, but it’s really me who calls the shots on everything vocally, and he brings everything together overall. Like I said I was impressed with what he did this time around, as he mixed it as well. We really didn’t take it too far like you can when you mix your own stuff as it’s very easy to get mixed up in that (pun intended). But we put it to bed at just the right time, we’re both very happy with it!

What are your own personal expectations from the album? When will it be a success for you?
Well, I’m very happy with it and it’s out and getting heard and we’re getting great feedback so it’s already a success to me. But I will be even more happy when we’re playing more often live and especially in Japan as I can’t wait to play there, been dying to….

Do you already have plans to promote the album after the release? Any concrete shows in the pipeline already or is it still a bit too early for that?
Yes, it’s in the promotional phases now, but as far as playing live, we are planning our first shows right now for this run for December/January in Greece, and then some more European dates to follow.

Do you as a singer have any other projects going besides Outloud, as the band is not touring very extensively? Or have you become a true family man now that you got married?
Yes I have plenty of other stuff I’ve done and working on, check out my website for details, too much to mention here. I’m a “family man” I guess but not so much that I can’t do my work as I gotta make a living!

The band is quite an established name in the melodic rock scene right now, but what are some of the dreams that you still want to accomplish as a musician?
Well, like I said earlier, playing in Japan is one of my goals and also, touring a little bit more than I already have. Playing to large crowds my own music, doing a true solo act. Lots of stuff! I’m never satisfied.

Okay Chandler, I would like to thank you for your willingness to answer my questions. Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you still want to mention to our readers?
No problem, always great to talk to you Sjak. Thanks for your interest! Please order the album (don’t stream it!) at Roar.gr, amazon, etcetera wherever good melodic rock CDs are sold.

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