Aside from slicing his hand open on the broken shards of a keyboard he'd smashed and earning his girlfriend's wrath after signing a female fan's posterior, Dan Bush, lead singer and frontman of Fort Wayne industrial band Chaotica, would let you believe that the band's show at Picasso's on March 9 was pretty good.
"I didn't pass out or throw up this time, which usually happens," he says, adding it's the band's energetic stage show that usually causes him to do so.
Nearly 600 fans came to the all-ages show that featured local bands Northern Kind, Rosemary Gates and Strut Train. Chaotica opened the show. Fans crowded the stage and mosh pits broke out.
"The energy in the room was definitely over the top," Bush says. Energy, he adds, is what Chaotica is all about. "The lyrics were written especially for the purpose of conjuring up energy."
Combine that with distorted guitars, dissonant keyboards and rabid drum beats, and one can get a sense of what Chaotica sounds like.
Bush describes Chaotica's sound as "heavy metal mixed with a lot of dance and techno elements. It's a hybrid - a cross-pollination of various genres all rolled together into a single musical sound."
"What I wanted to do was make aggressive music approachable and danceable," Bush says. "I wanted it to have a hook to pull people in."
Bush and band members Shane Semler, bass, Gary Toth, guitar, and John Koch, drums, count groups such as Slipknot, Gravity Kills, Rob Zombie, Metallica and KMFDM as their influences.
Most notably, though, Chaotica is reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails' synthetic, razor-edged sound - but with an added element of freshness and originality to it. Chaotica brings something new to the industrial genre - an attitude or nuance that the older, rusting industrial mainstays lack.
Bush compares the band's setup to that of NIN. Bush, like Nails' frontman Trent Reznor, writes Chaotica's songs and, when recording, plays all the instruments.
When the band plays live the other members come in to lend Bush backing rhythm and guitar sections to his vocals.
Apart from playing in one of the area's few industrial acts, band members are involved in music in a variety of ways. Bush works as a graphic designer for Sweetwater Sound. Graphic design, which he's always been interested in, is his major at IPFW.
Bassist Shane Semler also is a recording engineer. Semler has recorded local bands' music for 10 years. He originally got involved with Chaotica after taking an interest in Bush's first solo release, Bottom Feeder. Semler was impressed enough to contact Bush and suggest teaming up for an industrial album. The industrial project that the pair collaborated on became Chaotica's 12-song Turbocharger.
Semler eventually became Chaotica's bassist when the act began playing live.
Semler also has several musical side-projects
including Upshot, a project with his brother Jason, and Insilico, his solo project.
"Jason and I are recording an album of original material and it's nearly complete. I also work on music projects with my younger brother, Todd. I may begin work with a friend on a spoken word/DHC album in the near future," he says. (Semler's web page, www.waveone.net/watchitman, contains links and information about these and other musical projects he's involved in.)
Guitarist Gary Toth attends Ball State University and also plays in the band Hydrophonic. He is "often writing music for my own personal enjoyment as well."
Bush recalls that he and Toth met at a party. "I was playing an acoustic guitar on one side of the basement and someone on the other side was playing an electric guitar," he says. "I couldn't see who it was, but he was playing everything I was, flawlessly, note for note, without even knowing what key I was in or being able to see what I was playing. He came over and introduced himself and we've been in close contact ever since."
For Toth, Chaotica is"the best thing that has ever happened to me. I think we have great potential. Our music has good hooks, is fun, is danceable, and is heavy, all in one. It's a very good blend. The fact that our music is so energetic makes for some very enjoyable live performances."
Drummer John Koch attends IU in Bloomington, with a minor in music performance. He also plays in a punk band on campus.
Bush says he and Chaotica bandmates originally thought the drum tracks on the album couldn't be played by a human being. The drum tracks are fast and often have more than one instrument playing at a time. "But Koch auditioned anyway and we were blown away. We were amazed by how accurate and machine-like he was," Bush says.
For Koch, Chaotica is "a way for me to get out all of my aggressions; at the same time it's a great creative outlet."
Turbocharger represents two years of recording. It was recorded entirely in Bush's own studio, which he says is "appropriately nick-named" Hypergasm Studios. This studio, which took him five years to build, includes a self-contained, 64-track digital recorder and live rehearsal space.
The song "Black Rose" from the album appears on Extreme Essentials Vol. 3. Another song from Turbocharger, "Drill," was featured in a remixed version by Patrick Korst, called "Powerdrill," on Extreme Essentials Vol. 4.
Chaotica's second album, Offset Impact, is a remixed version of Turbocharger. Bush says that "each track was done by a member of Chaotica and several other musicians who are in close connection with us. The album is in its final stage of development."
Chaotica plans to begin working on songs for their third album when Offset Impact is completed.
Three remixes of Chaotica songs on the Offset Impact album, "Krushrose," a club mix of "Black Rose," "Powerdrill" and "Turbocharger (Offset Impact remix)" were done by Patrick Korst.
Korst says that"Chaotica is a refreshing contrast to the rural-funk-rock bands that comprise the majority of Fort Wayne's local music scene. Chaotica's live show is a particularly powerful experience to behold, and their Turbocharger CD stands out as a palatable mix of metal and electronica."
He adds that he enjoys "the energy in Chaotica's music, and the way that human elements, such as guitar and bass parts, are incorporated into a rigid electronic structure. Dan's songwriting is compelling because he is thorough and self-aware. My impression is that he knows what he wants to get across to the fans and doesn't stop composing his music until all of his ideas are represented. He has told me that he can often hear what the finished song is going to sound like in his head before he starts writing and recording it, so it's just a matter of efficiently converting his creative vision into music."
Despite playing few live shows (distances between members' homes and the fact they don't play cover songs limits them to the few all-ages clubs in the area) Chaotica have been fairly successful.
Part of their success can be attributed to their internet presence, which goes well beyond their complex and brooding website, www.chaoticamusic.com. Not only are they listed on The Ultimate Band List (ubl.com), one of the web's most comprehensive lists of links to thousands of bands, many of their songs are available for download in MP3 format at numerous free music sites. Songs can be downloaded at mp3.com, ubl.com and iuma.com.
Having their songs on the web has been a blessing for the band. Bush says the internet erases geographical boundaries and allows music lovers from all parts of the world to discover new bands and music. He recalls recently answering e-mail from a fan in Romania who'd inquired about buying the band's CD.
Bush says Chaotica is being looked at by seven record companies, one of which discovered the band through MP3.com Although no deals have been made, Bush says he and bandmates are "keeping all options open right now. Our goal is to keep making the type of music we enjoy creating. We're looking for a deal that will allow us artistic freedom. After all, that's why we started doing this."