Metal Mike Chlasciak is the guitarist who helped Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford reclaim his status as the true Metal God. With over one million units sold, Mike appears on all now-classic Halford albums, videosand DVDs. Mike has also spend time playing guitar with Bay Area Thrash masters Testament, his own band PainmuseuM and Sebastian Bach – the voice of multi-platinum Skid Row. Mike has toured the world several times over sharing arena tours with Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses. He has appeared on records with Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses).
Mike has released five solo based records and has written two guitar instructional books Ridiculous Riffs For The Terrifying Guitarist and Monster Coordination – Guitar Boot Camp. Mike writes his own “Metal For Life” guitar column for Guitar World Magazine.
Metal Mike is preparing a new album release entitled The Metalworker featuring Daath’s Kevin Talley and vocal phenomenon Carlos Zema.
Why did you change out your stock pickups?
You know, the guitars that I play which are USA Jackson Randy Rhoads models already come armed with the pickup choice I prefer. They come with Duncans already out of the shop and whatever tone testing and matching you guys and Jackson have done works really well for me. I am a meat and potatoes metal player–I play flying V’s through Marshall stacks–so give me something that sounds great, clear, and gives me tools to inspire me one way or the other, and I’m in. I know immediately if I like something or not. I stay with the same gear for a very long time.
Which pickups do you use and for which guitars?
The only guitar that I play is a Jackson RR1 USA Model. It is the Randy Rhoads model. And, the bridge pick-up is the JB model, SH4. For the neck, I go with the SH-1 ’59. That is it. We’re done as far as what I need.
How would you describe the sound of those pickups?
They are a very important link between my hands and the sound that comes out of the cabinets. They help instead of take away from what I am going for. The Duncans sound clear, not harsh, have a really nice internal supportive tone to them without distorting or coloring the sound that a player might have in his or her hands. That is the key.
I do not want my pickup to be a distortion box. I need a pickup that can put out a sound similar to a dozen rottweilers barking at you, but at the same time have the ability to sound very sweet and innocent. I play through two stacks. I also need the pickup to project the pick attack through those stacks to the audience. This is for both rhythm and lead playing. The pick attack is very important to the sound.
My Seymour Duncans provide me with the subtle things that I am looking for. I guess, in the end, they are pieces of gear that enhance what it is that I am trying to do. They give me a pure, crystal clear in your face heavy metal tone.
When you know the gear is there for you it comes down to your ability in the end, doesn’t it? I know that if I am not sounding good, 90% of the time it is me and not the gear. I mean Seymour Duncans are made solid as hell. I sweated and spilled water, beer on them and they are still going every night.
So, the short story is – the Duncans provide all those qualities for me.
How would you describe your playing?
Well, obviously I am a metal player. But, I believe that when you listen to it you will find shades and depth beyond the standard metal repertoire. You will also see me paying attention to tone, vibrato and things like that. I like when I am in control of my own recording process. In my playing I want to provide excitement and a sense to the listener that they will never know where I am going to go next, and what I will play next. I find beauty in notes that many would not choose. But, with that said, I am also a meat and potatoes metal player. I want to create excitement to the listener and a sense of joy. Believe it or not, I still work on things that make me sound like me and I got a few of them down pretty close.
How would you describe your music?
My guitar playing and style of music that I write and play goes hand in hand–meaning they both mirror each other and are closely related. I’m a heavy metal guitar player. Always have been and this has been a constant point of concentration for me, but within that world, I like to create a variety. I like intensity. I like the ability to take a listener on a journey with a constant element of surprise. I like to play music that moves from point A to point B. I like music that I feel has a purpose to it even if it just makes you bang your head. That is perfectly fine with me. I like to make a statement with a song, a solo or an album and get out. I’m not a fan of plotty bands. I believe metal is a working man’s music and I stay true to that because it makes sense to me. I strive to create things that are new and hopefully uncharted.
To succeed – knowing what you desire and your persistence to get it are the most important things. It is more important than talent, more important than luck and hell lot more important than any trend.