Music Monday – The Chain Gang of 1974

Chain-Gang-of-1974-crowd

“Everyone lets loose at our shows,” says Mohager. “It’s a party, man. If only I had a dollar for every time someone bum-rushed the stage or grabbed one of our instruments.”

Let’s get this weeks edition of Music Monday about “The Chain Gang of 1974″ into gear, and cruise the roads. I’ve got a lot to say, so be sure to take your time on this road trip. Sit back, read casually and be the passenger so you can look out the window and take it all in, like a warm summer night with the radio playing while you cruise the open roads.

|CLICK PLAY AND THEN READ|

FACT | The Chain Gang of 1974 is the stage name for DJ Kamtin Mohager, a longtime beat master whose penchant for dance-inducing music and reverence for ’80s pop pushed him to create this solo project.  “The Chain Gang of 1974″ 

That is a fact…  But there’s really a deeper meaning in the pool of  information about TCGo1974.  So let’s get started with a bit more amount about the band, and the man behind it. But who really is the band?? I wanted to know, probably as much as you wanted to know.

There’s only so many questions you can politely ask, otherwise it’s just over the top and rude. Now before I fill all of you in with the questions I’ve asked, and the answers that Kamtin so graciously provided me to share with the Rockstar Games Community. I’d like to say it’s an honor, and I publicly thank you for entertaining my request and answering my questions. For the rest of you reading this, I thank you too. RSN aspires to bring you the best we can near and far from the Rockstar Games community. I want to share a few things I’ve gathered together for your road trip to the interview..

FACT | GTA V is not the first time Chain Gang of 1974 has been in the spotlight for games or media. Their Songs had other placements in  films like Scream 4 and games such as FIFA. 

Most of TCGo1774’s music is related to an era of movies from the 80’s and some popular alternative, electro, synth pop 40, and post-punk bands.. I even detected some of The Pixie’s and Cure influence in some of his tracks. But most people associate his music to an 80’s only era pop culture. In some of his songs, that’s rather true. But in other tracks it’s way off. And some people have still ear marked the albums as music as heard in the 80’s brand. Which is not quite fair to label an entire album that has a unique sound for each track. For some clarification the track “Teenagers “ from the TCGo1974’s Wayward Fire album rings of an echo from the 80’s but trips us up to a 90’s too. If you check out the track “Hold on” from the same album. It fits right into a modern casual club night. Mix it up a little harder spin in some other vocals from the likes of Lana Del Ray, and it’s a sick upbeat romp around the club beat.  Now if you want to talk about a song as an 80’s esque sound sound. That would definitely be Don’t walk away.

| HIT THAT PLAY BUTTON AGAIN |


If you started up the above track, and you’ve played Rockstar Games Vice city.. This song might just fit right into a remix of the radio tracks without you even noticing what era it was really produced.. It’s clever, fresh and retro at the same time. It’s got a 80’s love song vibe that you can’t overlook.

FACT | Kamtin has been a fan of GTA from the very the beginning. 

Now back to the roots of The Chain Gang of 1974.. Where did that influence come from to begin with for Kamtin’s style of music. Especially when the first 13 years of life was spent on inline hockey, and he was aiming for a career in it. I don’t mean just hockey, he was thinking NHL level. But what changed his mind? It could be that he and his brothers we’re sounded by music though their childhood. It was strictly Persian music that his parents played for the family. What happened, where did the influence come from for his style. He change his aspiring hockey life over to a music career.  He’s mentioned in many interviews that in his teens it was up to him to sort out what music he liked, which turned out to be some rather normal teenage music choices. Typical post modern and 80’s punk, electronic, synth driven music. It’s music that draws you in when you’re not looking. It’s music that forms good feeling when listening and kind of helps you figure things out as a Teen. Which come to think of it, he started listening to music at just that right age to be influenced by many genres, and he found the one he favored.

A series of life-changing events were set in motion once Mohager’s family moved to Colorado, however. The first of which involved the final scene from Real Genius—quite possibly Val Kilmer’s finest hour—and its penultimate ‘popcorn song’, a.k.a. “Everybody Rules the World.” “I love ’80s music, but not typical new-wave stuff,” says Mohager. “Like I’m way into Tears For Fears and Talk Talk, the other side of the spectrum, really.”

Likely as he watched the 80’s classic movie  “Real Genius”. A movie with the somewhat of a nerdy / heroic parody  following the Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World as a potent part of ending moments of the movie. Something obviously sparked his interest in music, something that he kept a tight grip on and turned it into the passion we hear today.  Of course There’s likely not just one 80’s pop culture movie that got him started. Moves like Pretty in Pink, BreakFast Club, Ferris buellers day off, all films with themes and from the writer director John Hughes..  These films have remained popular iconic teen films, but also very influential even to this day. They inspired love, comedy and heartbreak all within the expanse of teenage rebellion.  All very theatrical, but heartfelt though and though. This is a trait that is deeply embedded into most of his music. Occasionally we hear a little bit dark post punk, pop punk, Echo and The Bunnymen just to name a few from that genre here and there. The end result from the bands music is that it’s an empowering emotional connection to life, love and music. In his 20’s he favored a new inspiration of sound from the music of Ryan Adams.

Let’s explore that a litte with this Track on GTA V, which is about the misery in a broken relationship, but has guilt holding it together for all the wrong reasons. Leaving you lost and feeling as if you’re sleepwalking through life.. A life and love connection broken, left confused, mistrusting and in denial.

 FACT | ROCKSTAR GAMES SOUGHT TCGo194 OUT AT A LOLLAPALOOZA PARTY IN CHICAGO. 

Now that’s you’ve patiently taken the slow road to get here. Let’s get to some interview questions and answers.

RSN|Q1| How exactly did you come up with the Name Chain Gang of 1974 and how many band names did you scratch off a list until you settled with CGo1974 ?

|KM| I started the project back in December of 2006, playing my first show in February of 2007. I just wanted a name that would catch the eye. I’m a big fan of the Raveonettes, and was really into their album ‘Chain Gang Of Love.” At the time, I was also very into Ryan Adams. He has a song called “1974.” I just put the two together to create the band name.

RSN|Q2| What exactly about the John Hughes era of films and music really influenced you to bring about a sound to your own music fitting that genre?

|KM| On my 2011 album ‘Wayward Fire,’ the aesthetic of the 80’s was very obvious. I was basically waking up everyday and only listening to bands like the Blue Nile, Talk Talk, Tears For Fears, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Chameleons, and Simple Minds. I was watching films from that era, and not only John Hughes flicks. The feeling of youth you get from a lot of those stories is truly inspiring. I love the idea of young love and young pain. I find it very inspiring. I wanted the songs on that album to represent that.

However, I don’t think that ‘Daydream Forever’ really holds onto that 80’s nostalgia like the last album did. I literally put away all my records from that era so they wouldn’t influence my song-writing. I find it funny that critics still tag the 80’s sound on this new album, because I don’t hear it.

RSN|Q3| In all your travels and shows. What’s the absolute funniest or greatest moment you’ve had to date.

|KM| Lollapalooza 2011 was the greatest moment this band ever had. We were a very small fish in a very large pond. As we were setting up on stage, there were only a few hundred people there to watch us. By the time we were ready to play, over 5,000 people were there for us. They all went mental. I’ll never forget it.

Grant Park Chicago - Photo Taken by Chicago Enigma
NOTE FROM RSN: That’s the City of Chicago for you. When everyone shows up from all over and get together.. It’s heaps of fun and absolute good madness! I’m glad you had a great time. Hope TCGo1974 makes it back sometime soon for another Lollapalooza. This is a shot I personally took in Grant Park 2 days ago. The image featured at the top of our post appears to better represent his venue here. We did not have time for clarification where TCGo1974 actually played in the park.

 

RSN|Q4| I saw your SXSW interview, about bands that influenced you. If you had to do a cover song from one of your most influential bands. What band and song would it be.

|KM| I still really want to cover “You Get What You Give” by New Radicals.

RSN: Do it, kick it up with a deep club twist that will steal the girls hearts.

RSN|Q5| What was your motivation to get into Music.

|KM|  I grew up in the punk rock scene, attending anywhere from 3 to 5 shows a week. I would lose my mind at those gigs and admire what they were doing up there.

My love for music is overwhelming. I am made of music. Having a “real” job was something I knew I never wanted to do. And if I could make a favorite album for someone like so many artists have done for me, then I have succeeded.

RSN|Q6| Where did you start, what was your 1st real paying gig. Did it go well and what would you have done different if you had a do over!

|KM| The first ever show I played was when I was 16. I was in a really shitty emo band called Long Time Coming. We played at a music store in Colorado to about 6 people. I think there’s footage of it floating around.

RSN|Q7| What kind of advice would you give someone just starting out in music.

|KM| Don’t trust anyone but yourself.

RSN|Q8| When you have down time, are you plotting out your next track, or do you take time to just decompress and relax. (Basically when you decide to write a track what works best for you?)

|KM| I never write for the Chain Gang Of 1974 unless I am in the studio, about to start a new record. I can go two years without writing a song for this project. I like to keep all the feelings and thoughts locked in until I’m ready to turn them into musical pieces.

|RSN|Q9| When I listen to you music, I can sense you have organized thoughts but the emotional sense from the some of your tracks are a mixture of emotions from mellow to excitement. When you play live, is it harder to convey.. Or do you pour more energy into your music.

|KM| We come off as more of a punk band live. At least with our energy and attitude. I turn into another person the second I walk on stage. Something comes over me that I cannot describe. For me, darker, more emotional, music has always drawn me in. I want to write and listen to someone that is honest. Something that has pain and human feelings behind it. So when that is presented in a live environment, it’s inevitable that agression will come out with the performance.

RSN|Q10| When you first learned that Rockstar Games was interested in your track Sleepwalking, for GTA V.. Where were you, and what level of excitement did you reach.

|KM| I knew that I would have a song in the game back in 2011. They approached me then while we were playing Lollapalooza. But it wasn’t until the week before they released the trailer that we found out it would be the lead song for the game. “Excitement” would be a massive understatement. It was pretty surreal.

RSN|Q11| GTA FAN Bonus question… Did you complete GTA V (or most of it) and when you heard your song on the radio for the first time in game.. What did you think ?

|KM| I still haven’t beat the game yet. I don’t have time to play it like I’d like to.

It was really awesome of you to spend your time answering questions about The Chain Gang of 1974.  One track that clearly fits into your genre of music is “Death Metal Punk” I in particular think that one rocks a summer drive… Hoping to catch you playing live sometime this summer here in Chicago! The rest of you reading, check out your local concert scheduals, and get out to see TCGo1974 at a nice low volume venue.. I’m talking people count here, the band will blow the doors off the place…

Best,
Chicago Enigma

For our post interview wrap up, check out the videos, and additional information below! -Cheers!

|SUPPORT GOOD MUSIC – GO BUY SOME GOOD MUSIC AND MORE|

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-chain-gang-of-1974/
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/music/artist/The_Chain_Gang_of_1974
 
| OFFICIAL STORE |  
 
 STORE | http://thechaingangof1974.bigcartel.com/

|CONNECT WITH TCGO1974|

WEBSITE       | http://www.thechaingangof1974
FACEBOOK  | http://facebook.com/thechaingangof1974
TWITTER       | http://twitter.com/chaingangof1974
SONG KICK   | https://www.songkick.com/artists/567284-chain-gang-of-1974
INSTAGRAM | http://instagram.com/thechaingangof1974

|READ & LISTEN UP ON THE CHAIN GANG OF 1974 |

http://www.npr.org/2011/12/22/144067881/the-chain-gang-of-1974-on-world-cafe
http://www.thevinyldistrict.com/storefront/2014/02/chain-gang-1974-tvd-first-date/

|PLAYING NEAR YOU ? |

Empty Bottle, Inc.
The Chain Gang of 1974 / Blondfire
Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 8:30 PM CDT
Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL – 21 years and over

|ONE LAST LISTEN | THESE SONGS ARE SICK! |


| REFERENCES |

http://www.sfstation.com/the-chain-gang-of-1974-humans-and-mighty-mouse-dj-set-e1960752
https://soundcloud.com/thechaingangof1974
http://www.thevinyldistrict.com/storefront/2014/02/chain-gang-1974-tvd-first-date/
https://www.youtube.com/user/THECHAINGANGOF1974
https://www.songkick.com/artists/567284-chain-gang-of-1974
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-chain-gang-of-1974-mn0001035500/biography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chain_Gang_of_1974
Email privately exchanged through The Management company for THE CHAIN GANG of 1974 

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Author: Chicago Enigma View all posts by
Rockstar Games Fan since GTA2 .. Following, playing and participating more actively in the community since 2008/09.