UPDATED 11/10/2017: I have just been informed that Chuck Mosley has died. As far as I know, this may be the last interview he participated in. I truly enjoyed chatting with him, and found him to be a gentle, kind soul who seemed to have turned a corner in his career. I’m deeply saddened to hear of his passing. R.I.P. Chuck.
Chuck Mosley is a man on the move. In addition to his group V.U.A. and his new acoustic project (Chuck Mosley and Friends), the original vocalist from Faith No More was already plenty busy. But he’s also the new frontman for Primitive Race, the industrial alternative collective that features Chris Knickr (Ministry),Erie Loch (Luxt), guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite (The Mission U.K., Peter Murphy, Tricky and dozens more) and The Melvins’ Dale Crover.
The group are set to release their sophomore album Soul Pretender on November 3rd (on Metropolis Records). It hearkens back to classic 90’s alternative, full of anthemic choruses, crunching riffs, and Mosley’s inimitable vocals.
Mosley took time out of his busy schedule for an interview to discuss the new album, his upcoming acoustic release, and much more. Enjoy the full Q&A below.
So tell me how did you first got involved in the Primitive Race project? Did the group approach you first, or were you a fan of their earlier work?
I’ve been friends with Chris Knickr on Facebook…and I met him last year, and he was telling me about the project and asked if would I like to sing a couple of songs.
And I said “sure, send me the tape”–and I liked it a lot so I called him right back and said “yeah I’ll do a couple of songs.” I thought I was going to be singing with Tommy Victor (of Prong).
And then I ended up singing on the whole album (laughs). And I didn’t mind except for a little bit of stress–because I had a lot of things going on. I was also trying to work on getting V.U.A. in shape for another record, and I was also working on an acoustic record. So it was a lot of things hitting at once but it turned out alright.
Your vocal performance feels much more subdued and moody (on tracks like Stepping Stone and Nothing to Behold) than some of your past work–was that an intentional stylistic choice or did that evolve spontaneously as you approached the songs?
It was kind of both. I like to do a lot of Bowie influenced things, like octaves and harmonies.
I started goofing around more with it–and some stuff I started liking by itself and I stopped doing the octaves–because sometimes I worry I lean on that too much.
And I already had been just more or less singing that way on my acoustic tour, so it was just kind of a natural evolution…the mood was different. I just never really depended on it that much with the rock stuff and since the new songs have been more mellowed out, I just started doing it more and I liked it (laughing).
It makes for different moods and different themes and I guess the stuff I’m doing now is more introspective. And I had kind of a rough year so it all kinda goes hand-in-hand and fits together. I was like “whoa, I’ve got this whole other voice that I’ve never really used.”
I still do some of the higher stuff, but I tend to need to scream more to work it out. But I still like mixing the highs and the lows, like this one song off Soul Pretender where it really comes out, called Nothing to Behold. That’s one of my favorites because of the melody. I just really like it, and that’s why I agreed to do this album because it just took me somewhere new that I haven’t been yet…it was a fun challenge.
And it inspired me to come up with the lyrics and melodies just like Faith No More did way back when…it took me to the next place.
About that acoustic tour–what did you enjoy about that process? And was it challenging to jump from that into a group dynamic with a more aggressive sound?
Well the acoustic tour started as a 2 piece and then jumped to a 4 piece–I was still just coming out of the gate. It took about 10 years to talk me into doing an acoustic set in the first place because I’m pretty bad on acoustic guitar (laughs).
With electric I can cover everything up using pedals and stuff to mask my ineptitude (laughs). But we just kept doing it and it started sounding better.
And by the time we got to England last summer our driver (Andy) started playing bass…and it sounded really good and gave us more bottom-end and depth. So by the time we got back, it just seemed like the natural thing to get another guitar player because I could even cover up my mistakes even more (laughing).
Then I started writing more songs and practicing everyday and I built up my calluses and things started sounding really good. With the new songs I had a lot of vision on the things we could do, but I needed the extra instruments to be able to pull it off…to do more psychedelic stuff which I like…so it really opens the door to the next level.
So then we started blowing out PA systems even though we’re an acoustic band.
And then a couple of guys that were playing with us were like “I don’t get it, we’re an acoustic band—why are so many metal-heads showing up?” And I was like well that’s kinda my origins!
They started calling it “Moselyhead: the loudest acoustic band in the world!” Which is pretty funny, but it works.
Even back as far as Faith No More and even Haircuts that Kill, there would be times that I would pick up the acoustic guitar…but there were only like one or two songs I could play. One of my old standbys is Life’s a Gas by T-Rex.
But it just opened up the whole gamut of what I could do. And now we’ve got it down almost to perfection–we got our last show for the year at the Angora in Cleveland on November 3rd and my mad scientist dream for this one is like I did with Faith No More last summer at the Troubadour.
That started as an acoustic set and then ended up as Faith No More–so we’re going to do the same concept, but we’re going to start as the Chuck Mosley four piece but evolve through the set and end up as V.U.A. So we’re gonna end up with like 2 or 3 guitars, drums, bass, congas and keyboards.
So we’re going to start working on that when I get back to Cleveland and that’s our last show for the year, so we are going to go to the next level.
Primitive Race’s last album was more industrial based than Soul Pretender which has a rawer alternative rock sound–did your joining the group help drive the music in that direction, or was that musical approach in place during the early phases of songwriting?
I kind of did it the same way I did in Faith No More. Much to the Chagrin of many producers and engineers I tend to write lyrics in the studio while I’m recording.
I always feel like I do better that way than if I plan it out beforehand. I treat the vocals like another instrument and just go at it like that and start yelling right from the gate. Sound unheard and sight unseen.
That’s usually when I get my best stuff…and like I said I thought this whole time that Tommy (Victor) was going to come along…and I was like “so he’s going to do this part? Are we going to harmonize? Am I just going to mirror him?” But as we kept going Chris, said “you’re just going to sing on the whole album.”
And I was like alright no pressure here!
But it worked out. So the lyrics are inspired by the music and the melodies are inspired by the lyrics, so it’s kind of a back and forth process.
And of course its my job to say “yeah it turned out great and I really liked it,” but I really do. Because it takes me somewhere that I’ve never gone before vocally. I’m just proud to be a part of it.
Any plans on doing a tour with Primitive Race?
That’s up to them–I think they’re going to wait and see how the record does–we’re all so spread out that logistically it would be pretty tough. But I know that Chris has talked about doing a couple of shows on the coast. But so far no–I haven’t been informed of any such shenanigans.
So in addition to Soul Pretender and your Reintroduce Yourself tour, what else is on the horizon?
Our label EMP, run by Dave Ellefson (from Megadeth) and Tom Hazard, are gonna re-release The Man With The Action Hair from my old 90’s band Cement around January, and it’s remastered by Bill Metoyer who recorded it originally and it has a new cover on it.
And that’s cool because it was a really good album that got way overlooked, because we were starting out on a world tour that was going to last over a year but I broke my back before the album even came out.
Yeah, the driver fell asleep at the wheel and that album never really saw the light of day. And I just recorded a new album with Matt Wallace, who produced the first four Faith No More albums, and that one is gonna come out hopefully by March. That’s for the acoustic album coming out, some people even call it distorted acoustic.
And we’re gonna start picking up around January and hit some places in the states where we’ve missed or where we did well to promote that acoustic album and then go to England and Europe. And then V.U.A. will be putting out a new album, but we haven’t even started on that yet, so not sure when it’s coming out.
So it’s just a bunch of work–touring and recording. It’s cool because I haven’t had anything new out in a while–and as far as the music business goes, I gotta put out a ton of shit so I have something to sell on the road, because that’s the only way to make money anymore. But I’m one of the lucky few that has gotten their foot in the door with royalties and a little bit of a name for myself. And its fun, I like to travel. Especially Europe, I’m a history buff.
Thanks to Chuck Mosley for taking time out for the interview. I’m glad I was able to chat with him. You can pre-order ‘Soul Pretender’ via Amazon below.