Former MEGADETH Guitarist CHRIS POLAND Talks OHM:, New Project With HAWKWIND - "I Was Never A Metal Guy"

February 17, 2013, 6 years ago

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By Martin Popoff

History has ossified around the idea that CHRIS POLAND and Gar Samuelson were jazzers trapped in a thrash metal machine of Mustaine’s making. Gar is now dead, and Chris has moved on from his seminal two records with MEGADETH, most notably with major label act DAMN THE MACHINE in 1993, into the here and now where he’s a fearless seeker of all things front-edge guitary.

“We’ve been playing The Iridium in New York, and so we had a little jam CD we called Tsunami Jams,” begins Poland, giving us the run-down on his current band OHM: and beyond. “We brought that CD there to try to make some money in New York. Because if you’re in New York, it costs you 50 bucks to walk out the door. So we brought that there, and we were selling that on the Internet and whatnot. But we just finished a project with HAWKWIND, you know, the late ‘60s band? Basically, Adam Hamilton came in and we used my studio, and it came out really good. So they’re going to send those tapes to England, and the sax player... they approached us to do it, and they said, ‘We just want you to jam,’ and it’s kind of a concept on each song, and see what happens, and that’s what we did. But as far as Ohm: goes, our new record is done—we just have to find some time to mix it.”

As for the vibe of the new Ohm: record, Poland explains that, “Since playing with the Sean, Jim and Frank Catalano from POLCAT, we decided we’re gonna make a live record in the studio. And I’m glad we did, because the energy that we exhibit live is actually on tape now. So I think people will really get a better example of what the band’s really about, instead of overdubs and everything’s perfect. I don’t know, everything is perfect on this record, but it’s just got way more energy and it’s just intense. So I’m glad we did it live. Peter, my co-producer/engineer, he insisted that we do it live, and I said, you know, you’re right, let’s do it.”

But we’re still confused about this Hawkwind thing... “Well, we composed the music, and existing members of Hawkwind are going to overdub over the top of it,” says Chris. “And some guys from The Doors, you know, just bands from that era, whoever they can find. It’s on Cleopatra Records. It was a blast, man. Because that’s one thing that me, David Eagle and Robby Pagliari, before we even start rehearsing or writing or anything, we jam. It’s something that we do, because we like to do that more than anything else, really. So it just worked out great. It was a pleasure to do it, and it was easy.”

And the title? Band name? Album name? “I have no idea. I’m pretty sure it’s Hawkwind. I don’t know what they’re going to call it, and I don’t know what it’s going to sound like, because basically Adam kind of told me... he said, ‘I notice that you always go into a repeated melody or whatever, and you have a defined theme. If you can just keep doing that, then we can have a sax player kind of repeat that, and we’ll just go from there.’ And I was like, cool. So that was our plan. It’s too bad. I mean, I guess Lemmy Kilmister used to be in the band, but I doubt he’s going to have anything to do with it. But maybe he will; I don’t know. But it was just a pleasure to do. Because as far as off-the-cuff jamming and shit... I love doing that stuff, man.”

“Just go to,” offers Chris, adding, in closing, a summary. “We’re getting ready to mix the album. We’re done with recording. We just did the Hawkwind project, and I’m going to be doing some shows in Chicago. I’m going to be playing the Elastic Festival in March. June I’m playing with Frank Catalano, a sax player from Chicago, and we have our project called Polcat. And Frank is an amazing sax player. He’s played with Miles, played with BEYONCÉ, RANDY BRECKER. I mean, when he was 18, he played with Randy Brecker, and Randy Becker just decided that he’s going to be called The Kid, because he was so young, and he could play like... back then he could play like MICHAEL BRECKER, and now he’s just like effortless. It’s hard to play with him because he’s a stickler jazz guy, and I’m just who I am, and what I do, and I’m faking it most of the time (laughs).”

If this is all a little bewildering for fans of Chris in Megadeth, Poland understands... “Yeah, well, I just want to say, any Megadeth fan who reads this, obviously, you guys are the best fans in the world, and I appreciate it. You know, every time I see a Megadeth fan and how excited they get sometimes it’s... the stuff I’m playing now, sometimes it’s an albatross—guys who are serious guys, they just go, ‘He’s a metal guy.’ But the thing was, I was never a metal guy (laughs). That’s the funny thing about it.”

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