Ryan Felton - Chaos Divine, Devoid - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints

I guess the best part of my job is that I get to sit down and talk with some of the most amazing talent Australia has on offer. This interview is no different in that sense. Hailing all the way from Perth in Western Australia, Chaos Divine has been leaving their mark on the Australian metal scene over the last twelve months. Early last year saw the band release their debut E.P. 'Ratio' which received amazing reviews from metal fans and journalists within Australia and beyond. Chaos Divine's 'Ratio' was voted the #2 best Australian metal release of 2006 by the listeners of Triple J's, Full Metal Racket program. Since the release of Chaos Divine's 'Ratio' the bands popularity has grown with every performance and their live shows have left metal heads wanting more. Chaos Divine have shared the stage with some of metal's greatest acts such as Slayer, Devildriver and Dark Tranquillity and now the band are ready to embark on their first ever headlining Australian tour. The tour which kicks off on July 27 will feature Chaos Divine ripping it up with some more of Australia's leading metallers. I caught up with guitarist Ryan Felton earlier this week to discuss the upcoming Australian tour, the success the band has had since releasing 'Ratio', the bands future plans and much more. It's time to get chaotic with Ryan!

Metal Fanatix: Hey Ryan, thanx for putting some time aside to speak with me today, you guys are no doubt very busy right now, how's things been mate?

Ryan Felton: Hi nice to chat with you. Yeah we are pretty busy with everything at the moment. There's a lot happening with the tour and more so it's been very full on lately for us - which is a good thing though! Things are going great and it's good that we have finally taken the time to organize the tour and really take it to that next step as a band.

Metal Fanatix: Yeah for sure dude, before we get into that though, let's go back to the beginning mate! Before Chaos Divine was born Simon, Michael and yourself were in a band called Devoid, which over time became Chaos Divine. What comes to mind when you look back on those early days?

Ryan Felton: I saw that really as a big development period for the band. The Devoid days didn't have much musical bearing on what we are doing nowadays (our songs and style has hugely changed - from thrash to more complex progressive based melodic metal), but many of our early songs and songs off the EP are developments of ideas based on Devoid songs. As there were three different members in the band, you can imagine how different the songs were - which is why we needed a name change once we had our final 2006 line-up completed.

Metal Fanatix: Tell us about your first encounter with the guys and how you became the guitarist for Devoid?

Ryan Felton: I was asked to play in a small 'battle of the bands' type of competition one night as their guitarist at the time was away. At that stage their was also a different drummer and singer in the band. Following the show I was asked to replace their second guitarist full time, and following that the singer and drummer where also replaced.

Metal Fanatix: Before joining, what were your impressions of the band?

Ryan Felton: I suppose I liked the direction they were heading - it was more straightforward metal than what Chaos Divine does now, but they had some great ideas and had a technical Meshuggah style vibe to their music which I really dug. To be honest though, I wasn't expecting the band to develop so much when I joined and certainly not becoming what it has today.

Metal Fanatix: It's great to see how far you guys have come! Now even though you guys have been playing together since the 90's you didn't record your first E.P. 'Ratio' until 2006. Why did it take you guy's so long to hit the studio?

Ryan Felton: Well I suppose the Devoid days went right through to about 2003 or so, and our line-up wasn't final until about 2004. As 'Chaos Divine', we hadn't started playing shows with our new material until about mid 2005. We are really glad though that we hadn't rushed writing and recording our EP because I think it was worth having that time to develop as a band and also as individual players. There was a lot of member changing going on so it also took us a while to get a complete line-up.

Metal Fanatix: Late last year 'Ratio' was voted as the number one Australian metal release by Triple J's Full Metal Racket presenter Andrew Haug and was voted number two by the listeners, no doubt you guys were over the moon with that?

Ryan Felton: That was a massive surprise. When we began recording the EP we weren't ever expecting such national recognition. In fact, when the recording process started, we had the expectation of only making a demo to have for promotional use. The more we recorded the more we realized that it had potential for proper release and marketing and so we are really glad that it has been well received. Andrew Haugs' show and the amount of airplay he has given the EP has been overwhelming and we are completely stoked about it.

Metal Fanatix: Even now half way through 2007, you guys are still doing a lot of press surrounding 'Ratio' let's talk more about the E.P. I loved the artwork you guys used and I believe you came up with the concept. Tell us about that!

Ryan Felton: Yeah that was me. I completed a Graphic Design degree and am a graphic artist by trade so at the time I turned the cover art into a Uni project. The concept or Ratio was really based along the lines of the (what I call) 'Ratio Doll'. This is what we have used on a lot of our promo material so far following the release of the Cd. The idea behind the doll and the name 'Ratio' is a symbol of the bands sound and direction of our music. The Latin word Ratio has meaning which extend beyond its more obvious mathematical interpretation and its origins refer to having control, judgment, purpose, reason and co-ordination. The doll and parts of the doll are really symbolizing this as the 'building blocks' of structured and formulated music and controlled chaos - The doll appears constructed yet coming to life. On a personal sense, it's also about breaking out of your shell and realizing the truths that exist outside of this media constructed world.

Metal Fanatix: Once you guys hit the studio, how long did it take you guys to record 'Ratio'?

Ryan Felton: We pretty much did the whole thing ourselves, which was a huge help to have a lot of recording and editing time. We took two days in November 2005 to roughly record drums in a separate studio and then over the course of a month or so we recorded everything else at a mock-up studio we set up at my place, and I pretty much learnt to mix and edit as we went. Like I said, we weren't expecting to release this thing which is why we chose to do it for the most part, ourselves. The disc was mastered and pressed in April of 2006 and then released in June 2006.

Metal Fanatix: What different factors surrounded the writing for the album?

Ryan Felton: It was really a collection of new ideas, old ideas and everything in between for the songs on 'Ratio'. We wanted to get as much into each song as possible and get across a good range of styles that are evident in our music. To this day I'm not even sure what our bands classification is, but I have always considered that to be a positive aspect of any band. You can hear a lot of the Devoid, Meshuggah and Pantera style riffs in 'Ratio', and then you can also hear at times where we have brought in elements from bands such as Tool, Cog and Pink Floyd. I guess there is something for a broad range of listeners.

Metal Fanatix: Ryan, what come comes to mind when I mention the following tracks from 'Ratio':

Ryan Felton:

At Both Ends: This song is our most ambitious in terms of structure and was the first completed track we wrote on the CD. It reminds me of Opeth in parts and Soilwork in other parts.

Disposable: I don't think there was any doubt that this track would open our Cd. It really defines the style of the band from heavy to soft and has an overall really big fear factory sound.

Still Bleeding: When we wrote this song, we had doubts about weather it would even be on our Cd but since recording it, this song has become somewhat of our trademark track (most likely because of its shorter length). It definitely reminds me of In flames or Soilwork.

Metal Fanatix: Mate, I want to talk to you a little about touring. You guys are about to embark on your first ever Australian tour, which is fantastic news, and as you mentioned has been keeping you guys very busy. I have heard from a lot of metal fans in Perth that you guys are killer live! What can the Aussie fans expect to see when you hit the various cities?

Ryan Felton: I suppose we hope to deliver the same level of performance that people have credited us for having here. I'd like to think that as a live band we are tight, technical and display some good range of styles which will have something for a broad range of metal heads and rock fans alike. We will be featuring both songs from 'Ratio' and a lot of tracks from our next album which we are really excited about. And maybe even a surprise song in each set too!

Metal Fanatix: Over the last few years you guys have shared the stage with some amazing international acts such as Devildriver, Fear Factory and Trivium to name a few. Who have you enjoyed playing with the most and can you share a funny story from the show?

Ryan Felton: It would have easily been when we recently supported Slayer and Mastodon at Claremont Showgrounds in April of this year. It was a massive experience for us to not only play in front of a crowd of around 4000 but to share a line-up with probably the biggest ever band in metal. An awesome story from the night was getting all the members of Slayer to sign a custom made Slayer mirror backstage that was a family treasure of a friend of our bands. Also having pre-gig beers with Mastodon was cool, and being able to watch Slayer live from backstage.

Metal Fanatix: As a guitarist, do you do anything specific to warm up before hitting the stage?

Ryan Felton: Sometimes a few beers helps me get in the swing of things.

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]

Ryan Felton: I will always sit backstage and do a few warm-ups on my guitar and tune-up, and just warm up my hands and fingers.

Metal Fanatix: Ryan, what's the strangest/funniest thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

Ryan Felton: I suppose there would be a couple of things. One gig my fly was down the whole set. Another would be breaking a string, and then the back-up guitar I was using had a dodgy jack and it ended up sounding like I was playing the entire set through a clean channel. Not very nice at all!

Metal Fanatix: Mate, what do you recall from the first show you ever played?

Ryan Felton: As in first Chaos Divine show?

Metal Fanatix: Yeah mate, tell us about the first Chaos Divine Show!

Ryan Felton: It was a Wednesday night around about august of 2005 and it was at a venue called the castle (which still hosts a lot of metal gigs). It was a great show for a first gig - for a Wednesday - there were over 100 people there and the sound and reception was great! We were to soon realize though that we would definitely soon play some better shows and venues.

Metal Fanatix: This current tour which kicks off very soon will include some other amazing Australian bands, is there any one in particular that you are looking forward to playing with?

Ryan Felton: A couple I think. I have heard great things about Double Dragon and Truth Corroded who we are playing with in Adelaide on July 27 at Enigma Bar. And we are playing our NSW shows with a band called Black Asylum who have been great to us with help promoting the tour so I'm really looking forward to seeing them and hanging out with them in NSW.

Metal Fanatix: With 'Ratio' still doing so well for you guys, there is no doubt that you are gearing up to do a full length album as you mentioned, can you tell us what plans you guys have once the tour is completed?

Ryan Felton: Basically we have pretty much finished writing all the tracks for or next release which will be an eleven-track full-length album (at this stage). We are currently working on a pre-production demo and hope to enter the studio to properly record this one with an actual producer this time, around about December 2007 or January 2008. Hopefully we can release it early-mid next year

Metal Fanatix: Are there any new working titles in the works that you can share with us?

Ryan Felton: A few working track titles from the album include: Narcosis, In Our Delusion, Rapture, The Carnal Thirst

Metal Fanatix: Awesome mate! Ryan if you don't mind, it would be great to share more info about yourself with our readers! What's the craziest rumor you had ever heard about yourself and or the band?

Ryan Felton: Not so sure about any rumors about myself! All the other guys might be able to tell you different though

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]

Ryan Felton: I know I get a lot of crap for always trying to put too many wanky solos into our songs!

Metal Fanatix: What's the one album that changed your life?

Ryan Felton: I'd say it would have to be Dream Theater's 'Images & Words'. While it's not my favorite album of all time, its one that made me change the way I think about listening to and writing music.

Metal Fanatix: Did you always want to be a guitarist?

Ryan Felton: Yes, ever since I was ten!

Metal Fanatix: What was the first guitar you owned?

Ryan Felton: A classical guitar. The brand was Craftsman I think? My first Electric was a black Japanese model Jackson Kelly.

Metal Fanatix: I know you are heavily influenced by the great Steve Vai and actually use his 1997 model Ibanez guitar, what other killer guitarists influenced you growing up!

Ryan Felton: Steve Vai is easily at the top of my list! Others would be John Petrucci, Tony Macalpine, Michael Romeo, Mikael Akerfeldt, Steve Wilson, Frederik Thordendal and Brian Gilmore.

Metal Fanatix: If you could go on tour with any band who would it be and why?

Ryan Felton: I think I would love to tour with Meshuggah They are a band that all of us in Chaos love and would like to see live, and to share the stage would them would be unreal. I also think we would be a worthy fit for a line-up with Meshuggah

Metal Fanatix: What song would define Ryan Felton to a complete stranger?

Ryan Felton: There are so many I'm not sure if there is just one that could some up my style, influence, taste and so on. I think one however would be 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here' by Porcupine Tree. Not so sure if that song lyrically relates to me as a person, but musically the song is something I consider to be right up my alley.

Metal Fanatix: When you do get spare time what do you enjoy doing?

Ryan Felton: I get into Art a fair bit and graphics; I am a graphic designer for an exploration and production company which is quite corporately styled at times so I don't get to really let loose on the page. Apart from that not much else besides the usual weekend drinking and partying when I'm not at work, rehearsing with the band or writing new music.

Metal Fanatix: Mate, tell us something about the other guys in the band that we may not know!

Ryan Felton: They are jokers 24/7. If you want a laugh and to be made fun of then id suggest coming to hang out with us after one of the shows!

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Sounds like a plan. Ryan, what is your take on this downloading and file sharing? Do you think it hurts artist like yourself or do you look at it as a great way to get your music out to so many more people around the world?

Ryan Felton: Of course it hurts artists - there is no denying that it makes them loose money they would have otherwise rightfully earned. But I personally think that downloading and the effect it has on promotion of music nowadays (through my space, iTunes) actually can have a conversely beneficial effect on music and artists. People I think nowadays are tending to 'hear' about more bands through the ability of downloading and the internet and will in time spend more money on that artist because of it. It may slow down Cd sales to start with, but if you look at the popularity of any well known band and its whole promotional aspect over the course of 5 years, I bet money that internet and downloading has a something to do with their success and earnings in both merch, album sales, ticket sales and more. The internet is the first place 90% of people will go to find out about a band, so it seems strange that the music shouldn't be there to hear, not least of which to make us all more aware of a band.

Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed and/or present who would they be and what would you call the band?

Ryan Felton: At the risk of sounding very lame I won't title it but the members would be (and correct me if I'm wrong but I actually think two of these members are actually going to be starting a band together)! Vocals: Michael Akerfeldt, Guitar: Steven Wilson, Guitar: Steve Vai, Drums: Gavin Harrison, Bass: John Myung

Metal Fanatix: That sounds like a pretty good band dude! As for two of them doing soothing together I can't say I'm too sure mate! Ryan, there is no doubt that Australian metal is alive and doing very well, besides Chaos Divine what other killer Aussie bands do you recommend we keep on the look out for?

Ryan Felton: Locally in Perth, I would keep an eye out for Noctis (Katatonia style doom metal), Vespers Descent (In flames style melodic death), Hope Here Gone (Extol style alternative Rock), Sight Transcend (Sikth style tech metal), Grotesque (Decapitated/Nile style tech death).

Metal Fanatix: Cool, will do! Mate, what is the one band you never want to hear again and why?

Ryan Felton: I think I would be happier to never hear any more of several so called 'bands' that have gone completely shitty from over commercialism. Lets leave it at that!

Metal Fanatix: Ryan thanx again for your time today mate, it's been a pleasure, I wish you guys all the best of luck out on the road stay safe! Do you have any last words for our readers?

Ryan Felton: Thanks for the interview Cameron!

Metal Fanatix: No problems mate!

Ryan Felton: Just to get along to the shows, come check us play and have a beer with us! It will be a blast!

Chaos Divine's debut E.P. 'Ratio' is available now from the band directly and or Prime Cuts music.

To keep up with all the latest news on Chaos Divine make sure you check out the following websites:

http://www.chaosdivine.net/ - Official Chaos Divine Site
http://www.myspace.com/chaosisdivine - Chaos Divine MySpace Site
http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints - Inside Out 666

© Cameron Edney July 2007, February 2008 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.