Organized Chaos – Growth and DevelopmentTuesday, 23rd January 2018
Fortunate to establish numerous relationships with passionate music followers across the globe led me to discovering Organized Chaos. Otherwise, how would one normally find that a progressive metal outfit exists in Serbia? Forming in 2005 – the development of the project into full band situation provides insight into the band’s forward-thinking outlook on the genre. They appear intrigued at the possibilities that lay before them – incorporating guest musicians and instruments at their disposal to shape their ideas into reality.
Divulgence is their second full-length, and ideal for listeners who enjoy the outer realms of the genre – the ones that tug at the heart strings, and reach for a deeper emotional connection than most. Think Pain of Salvation, Rush- and even visions of Psychotic Waltz or Queen on the vocal front. Electricity shimmering against tranquil acoustic transitions, odd-time signatures while multi-part vocal harmonization appears out of nowhere – intellectual, cerebral, contextual, even spiritual if you will as the musical thoughts flow. Adding in electric, techno, hip hop, jazz, and fusion accents only intensifies the outcome – keeping ears on alert.
Seeking out more information regarding the group, guitarist/vocalist Vladimir Lalic took the time to discuss how things progressed from Organized Chaos the project to the band, learning lessons from their debut album Inner Conflict to the follow up, guest appearances, and an intriguing concert memory with Pain of Salvation.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you tell us about your childhood and musical development in terms of first bands you were exposed to, styles of music, and when you felt the desire to pick up an instrument and develop your own material?
Vladimir Lalic: In my family, there wasn’t too much music. My father was into fusion jazz and had a bunch of records but, he didn’t play them that often. Still, I remember grabbing some of them like Head Hunters, looking at the cover and realizing that the records are some sort of mysteries and a very important object that I yet needed to discover.
First at about age nine, I wanted to play the drums. I banged on all couches and pillows that I could find, driving my parents mad. My older brother went to some guitar lessons, so one day I went with him, because I stupidly hoped I will find some drums there, but instead, started learning the guitar.
As soon as I learned to hold the guitar, I started composing my own songs. It was a shitty song, using just a few notes, but it was my song. That was for me, the main point of learning how to play the instrument, to have a tool to express my feelings.
Dead Rhetoric: Organized Chaos began as a project in 2005 – how did you secure the members to play on that early demo of “We” and at what point did you decide you wanted to take things into more of an active, ongoing band with live performances?
Lalic: When I started recording the first five songs, the demos, I wasn’t planning to make a band. I wanted more to make a project, because I thought at the time, to have a progressive band of this sort in Serbia was too ambitious. But in time, the songs somehow wanted to be free from just recorded versions. And with the complete crew at the time, Alek Darson, Djordje Golubovic, Marta Vlahovic, Milan Jejina and myself, it just felt right to be a proper band. That was around 2008-09.
Dead Rhetoric: Your debut album Inner Conflict hit the streets in the fall of 2011. Why did it take so long to develop this material – and how do you feel about the recordings, performance, and overall response to this record?
Lalic: Inner Conflict was a really good title actually (laughs). It was an experiment, and as most bands’ first album, a need to say as much as you can. Looking at it now, I still love the songs, they are extremely personal and still meaningful. I like the performance, I think we all gave everything we’ve got on that album. Maybe the production and the overall sound could have been clearer, but still some people have written to me that this album helped them in troubled times, and that for me is most important thing. To release a debut album that is 80 minutes long with 14 songs, orchestral arrangements and conceptual story line and to do a self release in Serbia in the era of Myspace, was a big marketing no no. But, at the time, I didn’t care- I just wanted to get that out of my system.
Dead Rhetoric: Divulgence is the latest Organized Chaos album – which appears to be much more compact than your debut. Was this a conscious effort to keep things more focused and concise, and where do you see the major differences between the two records?
Lalic: As I said, after you said all that you wanted to say and more on the first album, you are bound to chill out on the second. And I wouldn’t call it an effort – it was a very natural songwriting process for me.
The main difference is that I was learning some things with the first one, doing songs in shitty midi-based Guitar Pro, and developing the songs from there. On Divulgence, I had better tools for making the demos at my home studio. Divulgence could have been called Scrapeland or something like that, because I was taking the scrapes of old songs that I had on my hard drive and re-interpreting them, 4-5 years later.
Dead Rhetoric: You have numerous guest appearances on the new record – how did you decide which musicians you wanted, and did you have specific song(s) in mind based on the songwriting and the individual needs per track?
Lalic: In the spring of 2017. I was lucky enough to have a guest appearance with Haken. I sang the full set in Switzerland and I really had a great time with the guys. Then I figured that I really wanted to do something with them, and when I finished the song “Broken Divine”, Richard Henshall first came to my mind. Also, I started following Nick Johnston when David Micic started touring with him. Such an amazing guitarist, so I just had to have his chops on the track “Ache”.
With Branislava Podrumac I am in a couple of shows in Madlenianum Opera in Belgrade, so when I decided to have a duet on “The Mask” she was the first logical choice. And of course, no album is complete without Larissa’s beautiful violin. She played an acoustic show with us, so we are always super happy to have her on board.
So, when I make the songs, I never think of a particular guest musician, it is in the later stages that I get the idea who can do the guest appearance.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you personally define progressive metal? Do you believe it’s a genre that has expanded its horizons and scope over the decades?
Lalic: The reason that I have spent time in prog music is that the sole purpose of that genre is that it progresses, grows, develops. Like in every music, there are clichés, but I feel that in prog, there is a lot to explore and experiment, without wondering will it be accessible to the public.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the progressive metal scene in Serbia? When you perform live, what types of reactions do you receive from the audience, and are you able to pull in a diverse crowd because of the many sides to your sound?
Lalic: I must say that there is no progressive metal scene in Serbia. There are maybe a few other bands, but a scene, definitely not. So, we did a couple of gigs in Serbia back in the day, they went really good, the crowd was awesome. But, there are not many people here who are interested in this kind of music, so it is a thing to do once a year. We are now concentrating more on doing a few festivals (abroad), then to do concerts in Belgrade.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you see as some of the greatest strengths and challenges being a DIY, self-sustaining band during this wide open, internet/instant technology landscape that we have in today’s scene?
Lalic: There are, I think more good sides then downsides. The downsides are that you have to do everything by yourself. But, in the end, that way you are even closer to the fans. Everything you do, now through social media reflects back. To be free from the big companies, and be free to let your own voice grow, is liberating, even though it is hard and time consuming. I think that Frank Zappa would agree.
Dead Rhetoric: Who are some of the musicians or bands that you respect most and would want to Organized Chaos to mirror as far as maybe how they handle themselves professionally or in terms of the way they approach their songwriting/recording output?
Lalic: There are so many. I would love to bring Organized Chaos to the point like Snarky Puppy is right now. To have a bunch of guest musicians and lots of different influences from all around the world. Devin (Townsend) is also an inspiration on how he just makes songs as a reflection of himself. I respect Muse also for being such a big band and still being so straight forward and true.
Dead Rhetoric: Beyond your music activities, you are also an artist – how would you describe your approach and compositions, and what do you hope people are able to get out of your work?
Lalic: Truth and sincerity. That is what I am hoping people will get (out of this). That my works are kind of a diary and a self portrait. That when they look at my works, there are actually looking at my interior that has become the exterior. Some describe my works as vitriolic, shocking or maybe disturbing, but that is not my intention. If I was to shock someone with my drawings, it would be myself.
Dead Rhetoric: What worries, fears, or concerns do you have about the world that we live in today? If you were put in a position of power, what would you focus on first to maybe improve the world for future generations to treasure?
Lalic: I am not a political being. I believe that the ‘ordinary’ guy has the power to change a small portion of the world day by day. And I don’t know if I would accept that place of power. That is not my thing. For me the biggest ‘power’ comes from art and creativity. Art could often be a selfish, egoistic thing. But, if you can through your art, visual or musical, change a person’s point of view, help them in troubled times, even make them see what they couldn’t see before, that is for me true power and happiness, and it could help people to feel more together as a species. But, humans are strange animals.
Dead Rhetoric: What are three of the most important albums that have shaped your musical knowledge and appreciation (they can be metal or otherwise), and can you tell us some of your favorite concert memories purely as an audience member when you’ve been able to take in shows?
Lalic: Uh, just three? I would say, Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth, Dreaming Neon Black by Nevermore and George Benson some live recording. But there are so much more. A few years ago, it was Snarky Pappy’s Family Dinner Vol I and II.
And the concert that is stuck in my mind is Pain of Salvation’s concert in Budapest on their BE tour. Besides that being an awesome set and visually strong concert, Daniel was kind enough to call me to join them on stage and sing the lead vocals on “Forward”! A truly amazing feeling and a cherished memory. I think there is a video of that on my YouTube channel, to remind me that wasn’t a dream!
Dead Rhetoric: What is on the agenda for Organized Chaos over the next twelve months? Are there plans for conceptual video(s) for tracks off Divulgence, and will there be many shows to support the record?
Lalic: Bunch of things, actually. The hard copies are on the way, we have just released the first of many playthrough videos with Benjamin Lechuga doing “The Mask”. We will also release a lyric video that will contain animations of some of the drawings that are in the booklet. And some surprises also, so whoever is interested follow us on social media where we will reveal it all.