After a stint as a metal vocalist in his own projects as well as for mega bands like Korn, Kalen Chase was itching to get back to his roots, which were not exactly metal. Chase, who fronted Vimic, with former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison, hard rock group Superfix and was a touring vocalist with Korn now wants to share a completely different side of himself as a singer-songwriter.
“I started out in singer songwriter music and I never really stopped,” Chase told American Songwriter. “All of my friends kept asking me ‘hey when are you going to put out that sappy song you wrote?’ And I said as soon as I get off tour or am not doing this headbanging thing. There was just some life changes and stuff that happened and y’know I love listening to metal, I love playing metal and I’m sure I’ll go back to it at some point, but it’s not connecting with me right now and the stuff I have been writing does.”
Kalen has been working on fleshing out several singer-songwriter tracks, which include current release “When The Sun Comes Up,” a quarantine song intended to inject some light into these dark times and his latest offering “Good Things”, making its official debut on Friday. The latest single utilized a selective group of players, from all backgrounds. Kalen recruited a bunch of friends and artists from the Musicians Institute and tapped all of his resources in the biz, bringing “Good Things” full circle. And like so many songs before it, the concept was born from a frustrated conversation with a significant other.
“The inspiration for ‘Good Things’ was just one of those magic moments where I was in a bad mood and my wife said something like ‘y’know there’s good things happening’, and I said ‘well they’re not happening now!’ and walked away,” he laughed. “That’s where the line of ‘good things are happening somewhere, but not happening here today’ came from, then I did my usual thing of writing filler.”
The writing techniques Chase used for “Good Things” at first sounded redundant but after further discussion seemed to make a great deal of sense when battling pulverizing writer’s block, the biggest issue many artists face and a likely DOA status for a potential song.
“The biggest issue that people have is the blank page, with music or lyrics,” Chase said. “You have a great verse, but can’t figure out how to get into your chorus, so you sit there and stare at it. What I do is write in filler garbage. I think even with established artists there’s this fear of failure and I figure the only thing that is going to keep you from finishing a song is the blank page, so I’ll put in filler all over. Then I’ll go back and change it because it’s better to have a completed thing that you can fix, than an incomplete thing that you have no idea what to do with.”
With fresh material just waiting to flourish, Chase reached out to his previous producer, Kato Khandwala, who had worked with him in Vimic. Showing the material to Khandwala, who advised Chase to “run with it,” Chase actually ended up working with Khandwala’s partner at Eldorado Recording Studios, producer Phil English for the song, due to Khandwala’s unfortunate passing from a motorcycle accident.
“I was distraught and, in a funk,” Chase said about Khandwala’s passing. “Then realized this is what I need to do. I called his engineer partner at Eldorado Studios Phil English. I had seen him in passing and asked if we could get together and meet. So, we did and I showed him the songs and he loved and said he’d help me record and produce them.”
“Everybody came in with the whole idea if it takes a village to build one of Kalen Chase’s songs, so we did it,” he said.
Solidifying the song and also a part of the founding village for “Good Things” was drummer of alt-punk band The Dresden Dolls, Brian Viglione. Viglione had recently relocated to Los Angeles and was seeking out new collaboration opportunities on social media. With perfect timing, Chase reached out to the drummer in response to one of his Instagram posts.
“I immediately messaged him and he hit me up instantly,” Chase recalled. “He played a few shows with me and he is now going to be working with me on a lot of my stuff in the future because he came in like a pro. If he likes it, he’s in and he’s honest when it can be better. He’s just an all-around great guy.”
Chase’s widespread use of studio players is not so much out of necessity, but more a part of his collaborative style as an artist and something he wishes metal music had more of. Chase exercised this mastery on HiFi Americana, a collaboration record released in March, featuring some of Chase’s originals, “While You Hide,” “Dear God,” and “All in All,” as well as several other singer-songwriter artists, all of whom played interchangeably on the record.
“I love the idea of bringing multiple bands in to play a compilation,” Chase said about HiFi Americana. “We were all in different projects that sounded different but we all came together to play on each other’s stuff and it flowed because of that. I hope more bands do more stuff like that in any genre.”
Mounting off of everything else Chase has been part of this year, he is planning to reveal more for his singer-songwriter project, with “Good Things” jumpstarting the leg of four or more single releases.
“My plan is to put out a few songs with a video for each and then work on an EP with bonus tracks or a full album. Lots of songs will be coming,” Chase said.
To kick off “Good Things”, you can catch the lyric video here today. Be sure to also tune in to a special Stageit livestream performance with Chase on Friday.