Over the course of a week, more or less, Chaz Halo and I exchanged some emails, which I then compiled into this interview. I don’t really know Chaz. We’ve never met, but I have taken a few peeks inside his mind through his LiveJournal, and I’ve really enjoyed both of his homemade solo discs, both of which are available by contacting Chaz at [email protected], or through his website, www.angelfire.com/punk/haloes. He’s the former leader of Boston’s almost legendary power-pop/punk outfit, The Dimestore Haloes, who probably never had a real shot at commercial success given the fact that their music was so good, and the fact that they were all a little unbalanced.
Chaz is a very talented guy. But, this being the world it is, where our society places more value on the size of our vehicles than on the arts, very talented people like Chaz Halo don’t often find success. Instead, they have to stack apricots and canteloupes in the all-organic food store that caters to upper-middle-class snobs who don’t know their Exploding Hearts from their elbows. Or they have to shuffle paper in the nine-to-five world of Fortune 500 Financial Institutions, whose only function in the world is to siphon money out of the pockets of regular people and into the Swiss bank accounts of the friends of George W. Bush. The only thing that gets people like this through their day without shoving an apricot up the nose of some Volvo-driving, Ben Folds Five-listening asshole is the non-stop soundtrack in their heads. And the source of that soundtrack is people like Chaz Halo. Now, step inside, and don’t mind the fact that the apricots look disturbingly like Bart Simpson’s ass.
Interview by Brian Mosher
Brian: How many times would you estimate that you had sex with girls you picked up (or were picked up by) at a show you were playing?
Chaz: Whooooo-doggie! Pre-twenty years old, quite a few. Post twenty years old, absolutely NONE. I’m a monogamous beast, motherfucker. I was in a twelve year relationship starting at twenty years old, and now I’m in a two year relationship that looks like it’s gonna be “the one.” I’m incredibly stupid and have had plenty of offers, but I know when not to fuck up a good thing, if you’ll pardon my french, sir.
Brian: Can you remember the first song you learned to play on the guitar?
Chaz: Oh yes, baby. It was “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, followed by “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. Hey, it was the 1980s, motherfucker! I’m not proud, but I’m not sorry.
Brian: I don’t blame you for not apologizing about Jessie’s Girl. That’s really a great song. Do you still own a copy of Working Class Dog?
Chaz: On cassette AND vinyl! I need it on CD, man. Rick Springfield’s albums from Working Class Dog through Living In Oz are ESSENTIAL.
Brian: Here’s the cliche question. Ginger or Mary Anne?
Chaz: Definitely Mary-Anne. I don’t go for kitsch glamour in my women, only in my pop icons, and I prefer THOSE dead and ageless. Mary Anne, right… as pretty as Ginger but with none of the ego. However, all in all, I’ll have to go with Ginger from the Wildhearts because he’s the best rock songwriter in the world.
Brian: Star Trek or Star Wars?
Chaz: Captain Kirk. Young Captain Kirk. He made out with green bitches and had rockabilly hair and wore a cool yellow shirt. Very Vegas, baby. Um, motherfucker!
Brian: Does that mean you’d like to have sex with a green woman?
Chaz: If my girlfriend painted herself green, I would certainly make sweet, sweet love to her! I’d have no choice, at that point in time, my friend.
Brian: What’s the best song you’ve ever written?
Chaz: “Beautiful,” on my first solo disc. The best pop tune I’ve ever written. Half the fat, twice the hooks!
Brian: I agree that “Beautiful” is probably the best song on your first solo disc. Was it written for a particular girl?
Chaz: Yeah, it’s about Jenny, my girlfriend of the last two years who completely saved my life, and deserves her own concept album with a nude gatefold album sleeve… but she’d never go for that.
Brian: What’s the one song you didn’t write, but wish you had?
Chaz: “Can’t Explain” by the Who. It may be the best rock/pop tune ever written, certainly the most succinct and relevant to any generation, any human, at any time period.
Brian: Any chance of a Dimestore Haloes reunion?
Chaz: Oh, absolutely. I’d love to have Jimmy (Reject, author of The Enemy’s Within) on drums again, but he’s got his writing career, which is great. Plus, he’s so fucked up he’ll never get it together musically. In all fairness, so am I, although I would at least TRY. I did ask him to play drums for me again months ago, and he didn’t reply. He believes I’ve raped his soul and sees me as some crazy abusive father figure, which I am not. But If I could get Lorne on guitar, Marcus on bass, and Jimmy on drums again, I’d love to see that happen for an album and some shows.
Brian: How many different members did the Dimestore Haloes have, total, over the years?
Chaz: Um… hmm… If you count me, fourteen. Not EVERYONE left because I’m an asshole. Several did, but most left because they wanted to move out of town or go to school somewhere else or follow their girlfriend cross-country or whatever. For the record, I have been an asshole. But, you know… out of LOVE.
Brian: What do the members of Haloes Nation need to do to get Pelado Records to release the last Haloes CD?
Chaz: Email Pat Pelado! He dropped the ball on putting it out but he still wants to …tons of kids wanna buy it. Plus, I’m selling pro packaged CD-Rs of it via my website, without all the bonus tracks. When Pat is no longer so busy, it’ll come out.
Brian: The Boston rock scene seems to be pretty hot right now. How many shows do you get to, and do you have any favorite current local bands?
Chaz: I go to a few shows when I like the bands. I really love Jake Brennan and the Confidence Men. He’s a total rockstar ego tripper but he writes amazing tunes. And what a haircut! Um, I like Downbeat 5, Brett Rosenberg, Kings Of Nuthin’, Raging Teens. Lotsa cool stuff going on, although I don’t hang out and schmooze with the bands and I have no desire to know them as people or to hang on their coattails or what have you.
Brian: If you were going to start a cover band devoted to one band or artist, who would it be?
Chaz: Thinking about doing rockabilly covers of ’80s metal tunes, but there’s no one artist, I don’t think, that I would wanna pretend to be.
Brian: Do you plan to vote in the Presidential election in November?
Chaz: John Kerry, baby!
Brian: We’ve reached a point now where the people who are running our country grew up listening to rock music. Many of them still claim to be fans, even though they are part of the very establishment that rock usually rebels against. Given that, do you think that rock music is still relevant?
Chaz: It can be if the artists would make it that way, but video games sell more units than music these days. People have switched to non-emotional types of entertainment and very few people care passionately about music anymore. It’ll come around again, but maybe not in our lifetime.
Brian: You’re originally from the Chicago area, and have lived in Boston for several years now. If you had to move again, what city would be next for you?
Chaz: I’m from Detroit, not Chicago, but I’d love to move to Nashville or Memphis.
Brian: Why do you think the Dimestore Halos didn’t “make it big”?
Chaz: We didn’t schmooze, we didn’t tour enough at all, we were arrogant (as theater/irony, but nobody got it), we were all mentally ill, all of us, in some form, certainly dysfunctional, and people thought we were unreliable, unstable weirdos, which was right on the money, babycakes.
Brian: Do you have any immediate plans for a new band?
Chaz: Um, in a lazy sunbather kinda way. I’m on the lookout for hot rockers and I’ve got a steady willingness from ex-Halo Jake Wark, king of suave bassplaying coolness, to rock with me whenever I feel the need. If I found a REALLY hot and reliable drummer I would do it, but I’m only looking as an afterthought right now. I’m a studio songwriter at the present, with no real burning desire to perform… yet. But I’m making records and they’re out there, and soon everyone will know this.
Brian: As great as your homemade solo discs are, do you think the songs could be recorded even better by a full band?
Chaz: Nah, because this way I can make ’em sound like they sound in my head, and if I fail, there’s no one I can blame. With the Haloes, a few really good songs were kinda ruined by people who didn’t care much, you know? So yes, I’d like to have a band someday, or more specifically a ryhthm section, but right now I just want to record my tunes myself and get ’em out there.
Brian: You talk a lot about your girlfriend, Jenny. Does she have any aspirations to be a rock star?
Chaz: Nope. She’s gonna be a nurse. I need a nurse! She plays a great piano, I mean she’s really fucking good, but she has no desire to write or record or perform. Her keyboard skills will be used on future Chaz Halo discs though, I’m sure. She doesn’t seek the limelight. In fact she may not even dig that we’re talkin’ about her in print, boy-o!