BY JEANETTE MOSES
Rob Chaos is a very busy man. He has been touring with his band Total Chaos for nearly ten years and in 2003 he and his partner Ezzat Soliman started SOS Records. SOS has been responsible for reissuing some of the greatest punk rock albums and convincing some of the most influential punk bands to tour the US. And between all this, Rob Chaos and Total Chaos have finally released their seventh album: Freedom Kills. Freedom Kills is the band's first album in four and a half years, and like most of Total Chaos's previous releases, its pumped full of heavy, fast, street punk songs that scream out about the injustices being done to the American people by their government.
Freedom Kills was released shortly after the 2004 presidential elections and because of its' timing a lot of the songs on the album are more politically charged than earlier songs.
SLUG: Did you vote in the last election?
Rob Chaos: I did vote, because I had to. I didn't want to because there was no one I really wanted to vote for. I just didn't want [George] Bush in office. I personally believe that stuff doesn't change anything. If voting really changed anything it'd probably be made illegal. I just think that we need to take our government back over if we want real change. There was an old statement made, I believe by Thomas Jefferson, that when the rich control the government its time for the people to take the government back. When the rich control the government, like they do now, they only care about the rich and are only out for their own interests. They aren't there for us at all. They try and pretend like they are, so that we feel like we have control but really we don't.
Lots of the songs on Total Chaos' older albums are not only politically driven but also address other problems in society, especially in the punk rock scene. One of these problems are the Nazi's.
RC: We wrote, "Kill the Nazi's" because back in the 80s we had a lot of fights with Nazi's. They were trying to run the scene, showing up to shows, fighting with kids, and stealing their boots. Then in '92, I got jumped because my girlfriend was black. I was stabbed in the back and was in the hospital for some time and after that I wrote "Boot Party" and "The End of White World Supremacy." After that, they were trying to stomp me out saying things like I was a race trader. So, I just wrote more anti-Nazi songs. When Patriotic Shock came out in '95 we were considered one of the biggest threats to the Aryan Nation. We had the Aryan Nation guys, the American Nazi Party and Ku Klux Klan guys showing up to our shows. We had a rally in front of our show in Orlando, our tires were slashed in Lancaster, death threats in Jacksonville, and some Nazi's jumped our old guitar player in Miami. That all happened in one tour too. The next year in '96 people from the anti-Nazi League showed up to help us out. In Houston, Texas Nazi's started shooting into the crowd during a drive-by-shooting. After that happened all the anti-nazi leaguers pulled them out of their car and started beating the shit out of them.
He laughs as he remembers that time in Houston.
RC: Those were some crazy times. I had forgotten about a lot of that stuff. We've had some problems recently, and I thought these guys were gone, man. Nothing compares to as bad as it was in '95 though.
The conversation then switches back to the earlier years of Total Chaos and the scene in general.
SLUG: How'd you get into punk rock?
RC: How'd I get into punk rock? Well, back when I was 12 or 13 my brother and me used to skate around the neighborhood. At around the same time there was this punk rocker that had moved from Boston who would skate with us. He was a lot older than us maybe 18 or19 but he stood up for us and when he was around none of the neighborhood bullies messed with us because he was some crazy punk rocker. He also took us to some of our first shows.
SLUG: What were some of the first punk rock shows you went to? Everyone's first punk rock show holds a special place in their heart...
RC: I saw DI in 83' and then in 84' I saw Social Distortion, but that was back when Mike Ness spiked his hair, wore eyeliner on stage and would just get drunk before they played shows. There were a lot of backyard parties for punk bands to play at in the 80s too ... so I saw a lot of bands.
SLUG: Why are so many bands on your label from the late 70s/early 80s?
RC: I love the older bands. I think the kids do too. Right now the Adicts are bigger than any band out there. They can get 5000 people at a show without being on the radio and without any promotion. It just shows that the kids are into the older stuff too.
SLUG: Did you have any trouble getting any bands to agree to tour and re-release their older albums on the label?
RC: Most everybody was pretty willing to do it. I had to work on Wattie (from the Exploited) though it took years to get him to tour the US. I'd been trying to convince him since about 94'. He just had a real bad experience here, he was ripped off by a lot of promoters and just a lot of bad stuff. Right now I'm working on getting Blitz their first US tour.
SLUG: Are you kidding?
RC: No, I'm real excited about it. It's their first US tour ever.
SLUG: Are they coming to Utah?
RC: Yeah, they will probably be booked at Lo-Fi; I hope they sound good. I've never seen them live. I've never even seen any live footage of them. All their songs sound good though." He says. I am still amazed by the information.
SLUG: So are there any bands that are going to be signing to SOS in the near future?
RC: I don't really want to say, but the label is getting big. In the next three to four years I'm guessing every punk band will be on it. Most of the stuff Epitaph has been putting out lately is lame, and they haven't really been supporting the punk bands. And then there is Hellcat, but it's basically the same thing as Epitaph. Ezzat has been supporting punk bands since the late 80s, and has basically saved the punk scene three times over. I think punk bands will get sick of not getting support from the other labels and sign onto SOS.The big thing I'm working on right now is putting together an all punk rock festival to travel around the US. No commercial bands like Warped Tour has though. Just good punk rock bands.
Total Chaos will be playing with Blitz and Endless Struggle on Thursday, November 3 at the Lo-Fi and this is one show that shouldn't be missed.