Designed in Kaos: PAO Productions Interview
Designed in Kaos are one of the area's newest powerhouses, a project formed by and featuring a crew of seasoned DFW area music veterans from the Razorblade Dolls and elsewhere. Their sound fuses bone crushing metal with hardcore industrial rhythms in a spectacular display of musical aggression and energy. In early May I sat down with three members of D.I.K for a chat about the band, local music scene, and inspirations past, present, and future.
Designed in Kaos
Photo courtesy Rah Stitchez
Designed in Kaos
Photo courtesy Rah Stitchez

PAO Productions: Thank you for agreeing to talk to me.

Josh Burleson: Thanks for being here.

PAO: Let's begin with the origin of the name Designed in Kaos. Tell me about the origin of that name.

Skar: There was one night where I was watching a band . . . and they told the sound guy they wanted to do their sound check. And so they handed him a CD, and the sound guy walked by me and said, "This is their sound check, the CD." And the sound guy put the CD in, and that band stood there and listened to their CD through the P.A. It was vocals, drums, guitars, keyboards, bass, everything, even though they did have a live drummer. It was everything, and on stage it was two guys. They had a broken keyboard, it wasn't even plugged in, and I was like, Okay, that's weird, you know, I don't appreciate that one bit. But later in the night I tried to talk to the guy and he was a total dick to me. And I'd been drinking, and I had gotten very temperamental about that guy treating me like a dick when he was a total fake, total poser. And on the way home, Rah was sitting next to me in the passenger's seat and I was just goin' off about this guy and I was sayin', "I can do that, I can do everything he's doin'. I'm gonna write all this music and I'm gonna put it on a CD, and I'm gonna . . ." and it was just chaotic the way I was yellin' and and driving and I was mad and I was like, I'm gonna call this band DICK. Then all [of] a sudden I thought, Man, I came with all this in chaos. This whole thing was designed in chaos. And so I decided, you know, hey that kinda works, take this chaos and spell it with a K, Designed in Kaos, D.I.K. And so essentially when it first started it was just gonna be me and a CD player as a joke, but I started writing some songs with everybody and they were comin' out great, so we just decided to make it a full project.

PAO: So the proper pronunciation is "Dick," or D - I - K?

Skar: It depends on how homophobic you are, I guess.

(Laughter)

Josh: Personal preference.

Skar: It's uh . . . we say "Dick." And there's even a subliminal message in the abbreviation of it. You notice we left the third dot off, 'cause generally when you abbreviate three words there would be a third dot after the last letter, but you notice we left that dot off, and look where the two dots are on the I, and look at the I.

Josh: It's become very phallic all of a sudden.

Rah Stitchez: It's the penis.

(Laughter)

Skar: But the band is Designed in Kaos, and the name came about because I wanted to do something different, I wanted to . . . I don't know, I wanted to prove to myself that I could play to a CD, I guess, I don't know. But the name actually was created in chaos. It was designed in a chaotic situation.

PAO: How did D.I.K come together? What prompted the formation of the band and the choice of musicians?

Skar: Basically, when I thought of this project it was just gonna be a small group, it wasn't gonna be like a big full on band. It was just gonna be a side project. And obviously Rah is gonna be my bass player, you know, she's my life bass player (laughs), but originally for this project she wasn't gonna play bass. She was gonna play keyboards, maybe strum a little guitar, do backup vocals. And at the time I was hanging out with Tad Bryant, I was hanging out with him a lot, he was always over at my house, and I'd become pretty close to him. And he had no musical inclination really at the time, and . . . but I just asked him, "Hey! You wanna beat on some drums?" You know, that's simple enough, and bang on some toms. But Josh and I started talking a little more, and I said, you know what? Number one, I'm not a singer. Number two, I really enjoy writing music with Josh - we've written music together since '92 on and off . . . So I said, "You know what Josh, why don't you come in and sing, we'll start writing a bunch of songs together, and we'll get a repertoire of songs written, and then we'll start learning them." And so Josh agreed, which was awesome, so we got in doing that. Josh was actually my very first drummer, back in 1992.

Josh: When we were fifteen years old.

Skar: When we were fifteen, yup.

Josh: Started our first band.

Skar: And Josh had to quit that band back then for . . . personal reasons, and Ron stepped in. So Ron was actually like my second drummer in the mid-'90s. Both of these guys I've known for a long time. Ron and I hadn't spoke in like three years and we reconnected, and I got with Josh and I was like, "Man we oughta bring Ron in, you know he plays to a click, he's a good songwriter . . ." And so that's what happened, that's how we got Ron in. So we had Tad planned to play toms, Ron planned to play drums . . . Rah planned to go ahead and go back to just playin' bass, and Josh was singing and I was playing guitar, and originally we were gonna have Helz play rhythm guitar. And Helz had a lot of things goin' on so he wasn't able to do it, so we put guitar duties on Josh as well as singing duties. But here more recently, just like last week, we decided to give Helz an opportunity to come back in and join us. So he's actually gonna be joining us. But yeah basically it's . . . I've worked with Josh since the '90s, I've worked with Ron since the '90s, both of them on and off. Ron and I have been in two different bands together. And Tad is just a really good friend, a brother, who needed something to do, and so we gave him something to do.

(Laughter)

Skar: That's the truth.

PAO: I'll strike that part.

Skar: No, totally leave it in there. Tad will totally appreciate. Tad needed this, man, he needed this in his life.

Josh: We'll give him something to do outside of just being a roadie for the Razorblade Dolls, and I think Tad's always . . . I think that's something he's always wanted to do is be a part of a band.

Skar: Yeah.

Josh: He's expressed that to me before.

Skar: And he's really picked up, man. He's really good. I mean, he's learned.

PAO: Wasn't he a guitar player?

Skar: Um, I really don't know . . . I'm not really sure.

Josh: I've heard him mention that too but I've never seen him pick up a guitar.

Rah: I don't think so.

Designed in Kaos at the Rail Club
Josh: I don't allow him to touch my guitar so I don't know.

(Laughter)

Rah: I don't let him touch my bass, either.

PAO: I can tell this is gonna be an interesting interview.

Josh: Nah, we fuck with Tad. He loves it, dude . . .

Skar: Yeah.

Rah: Yeah.

Josh: He is a glutton for pain.

(Laughter)

Rah: Hey, I recognize that!

(Laughter)

PAO: I've been privileged to see some D.I.K rehearsals. You guys are very much in tune with each other musically . . . very tight. No doubt that you've played together for a long time.

Josh: Thank you.

PAO: How would you classify D.I.K as far as industrial versus metal, perhaps in comparison to other projects you've been a part of?

Rah: More industrial.

Josh: I think we're more industrial. Skar's . . . you know, bone crushing metal guitars. What do you always call yourself, a . . .

Skar: A death rocker.

Josh: Death rocker, yeah. I like that.

Skar: It's not really metal.

Josh: It just has that element.

Skar: It just has that element.

Josh: And definitely more electronic, and . . .

Skar: It's a lot more electronic.

Josh: . . . and industrial.

PAO: What would you say are the main influences in the sound of D.I.K?

Rah: Nine Inch Nails.

Skar: The world.

PAO: We touched on this a little bit already, but what does each member bring to the group, musically, personally?

Rah: D.I.K member (laughs).

Skar: Rah and her lack of . . . Rah and her lack of ability to be serious.

(Laughter)

Skar: Everybody has some really good strong points. Rah can pick up on bass licks. She comes in there and will say, "What if we try it this way?" Everybody's like, Yeah we love it. The open mindedness of everybody, that's the strong points. We're all pretty equal.

Josh: What we're inspired by is so eclectic, too.

Designed in Kaos at the Rail Club
Skar: Yeah.

Josh: It just comes together.

Rah: Strong work ethic for all of us.

Skar: Yeah, there is a strong work ethic for all of us.

Rah: But I'm being serious.

Skar: Now you can see why I was like, me and Josh'll just do this?

Rah: (laughs) Why?

Skar: (laughs) I'm just bustin' your balls.

Rah: (laughs)

PAO: What do you draw from the most, stylistically or creatively, in your songwriting?

Skar: Anger. My violent side.

Josh: I agree with that. Like he was saying a second ago, the world in general is just . . . observe and report. I mean not so much just lyrically, but it comes across in the music too. Lots of violence.

Josh: Keeps us from killing other people (laughs).

Skar: Yes it does.

PAO: How do you as a band approach songwriting?

Skar: We have several different ways. For example, the other night, Josh brought in three different song ideas, and one of 'em, I said, "Man I would really like to take that and work on that alone, and let you see what I can do with it." And then the second one he played, I was like, Man, that one's done. We just need to add guitars on it, and it's done. And the third one, I was like, Man, I hear something right now. Let's mess with this, and him and I just . . . boom. We'll sit in a studio and we'll work until the song's done. We never start a song and leave it unfinished because we feel that if you go back to it, that same emotion that you had when you started it is gone, and the song's not gonna be . . . it's not gonna finish right, you know? Man, we'll start writing a song at nine, and it'll be 5:00 in the morning the next day when we're finished.

PAO: Tell me a little bit about the songwriting process for D.I.K.

Josh: It starts with the seed of an idea and . . . expands.

Skar: But we don't start something and say we're gonna come back to it later. In my experience, that does not work. Now, if I was to start something and I just couldn't finish it, then I might send it to Josh and say, "Man, see if you get a feeling or an emotion off this, see what you can do with it." And then he can take it and actually finish the song. Sometimes the song starts with something as simple as a beat, keyboard pattern, bass lick, guitar riff, and even a set of lyrics.

Josh: Like you wrote "A Better World," and then we took a melody or guitar riff and changed that and it just . . .

Skar: That is true, yeah.

Josh: . . . it metamorphosized, and, I mean, it's gone a completely different direction now.

Skar: The first group of songs for Designed in Kaos, we would write the melody, we would take the melody from the song we just wrote and turn it into a bass line, and create a whole 'nother melody, then take that melody and turn it into a bass line for another song . . . So there's about four or five songs that link together not just lyrically, like conceptual[ly], musically, you know.

Josh: It's a complete concept.

Skar: Yeah.

PAO: So you're doing most of your creating with live musicianship?

Skar: Yeah. We don't use loops -- we make our own loops. For example, Rah can kick out a bass line and we'll record it, and Josh can hear a keyboard part, and he'll record the keyboard part, and then we'll take the keyboard part and place it where we need it. But there's no pre-made loops in what we do at all. Everything is recorded live by the musicians in the band.

Josh: I mean, Skar, he's a freakin' juggernaut. Sometimes you walk in, there's just this complete fucking formulated song and it's done, it just needs lyrics. And his music's always spoken to me. It's like I can hear, maybe not always what needs to be said, but I hear where the words belong in his music. It's always been that way, and it's one of the reasons we work so well. The music is laid out, it's complete, and nothing else needs to be done except for to add vocals and lyrics. And then sometimes I'll sit down and if I get stuck I'm like uhhh, bounce ideas back and forth and there you have it.

Skar: We actually did that with "Go Away," a new song we're performing at the Combichrist show. And Ron is kind of the same way. He hears where drumming should be placed within the songs. I'd say, you know, between the five of us and now . . . which will be six here soon, there's a good connection, like everybody can hear where things need to be placed, their duties.

Rah: Duties.

(Laughter)

Skar: Their job.

Josh: We feed and inspire each other a lot. It's almost effortless, sometimes.

Skar: It definitely keeps me from running out and mass murdering a large group of . . . Well, I guess that would be mass murdering, a group of people.

(Laughter)

Josh: Don't be so redundant in your killings.

Skar: Yeah.

(Laughter)

PAO: Josh, what do you draw on in your approach to your vocals for the band?

Josh: It's just . . . it's a great way to release stress and anger, and frustration, and it . . . I don't know, it just makes you feel alive.

PAO: Many people seem to feel that as musicians, they have a responsibility to agitate for some sort of social change, to point out or draw attention to social inequities or social issues, either in their personal appearances and interviews, or inside the lyrical content of the songs themselves. What's your stance on that?

Skar: I don't know. I think that . . . I don't think people need us preaching at them about the way they need to live. I don't think people need a band or any group of musicians to tell them how the world is, you know? (laughs) I don't know, I think that with us it's more about . . . You're not alone. You're not by yourself. We're not trying to change the world.

Josh: Well I agree with Skar. I mean, you're looking for people that wanna . . . that can connect and find that common ground. Yeah, being preachy and political, leave that shit for Rage Against the Machine. I mean, he's good at it, and everybody knows politics is fucking stupid, religion's been beaten into the ground. What else is there to say? It's all observe and report, to coin another artist.

Rah: They just wanna have a good time and know that we feel how they feel, and get out their anger.

Josh: And that's key too, we have a good time.

Skar: Having a good time, yeah.

PAO: If I had to pick one word to describe your shows that I've seen, it would be "exhilarating." Do you feel that real connection with the audience when you play?

Skar: We're starting to.

PAO: The Razorblade Dolls formed out of the ashes of Trend Kill Clinic and were arguably the most popular industrial / metal band in DFW, certainly one of the most successful in the current scene. Do you feel that this puts any additional pressure on D.I.K to make a separate name for itself?

Rah: No, I don't.

Josh: We do what we do.

Skar: We do what we do. We do what we love and we love what we do.

PAO: How have the hardcore Razorblade Dolls fans reacted to the very different sound and direction of D.I.K?

Skar: They love it.

Rah: They love the D.I.K (laughs).

Skar: They love it. In fact, there's been a couple that . . . 'Cause I had stated that I didn't think that we were as heavy as what we do in the Razorblade Dolls, and a few of 'em have said, "No, you're just as heavy, it's just . . . you're more on the industrial."

PAO: What were your earliest musical influences?

Rah: The Ramones were the first. White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, like that.

Skar: What got me wanting to play music was seeing a picture of my grandfather holding a banjo and my dad standing next to him. Growing up watching my dad and uncle both play, listening to my aunts all sing. But what influenced me [in] the music I like was the same thing that influenced every person, you know: popular radio.

Josh: I can go back when I was a little kid . . . Elvis Presley, then go on to like Michael Jackson and Prince. It was popular radio for the most part. Purple Rain, Thriller, all that came out. I never thought about it till Skar just said something, but I remember watching my cousin - she's a pianist, and she's phenomenal - and I used to watch her recitals and that was very inspirational too. Then from there . . . I mean, god, everything from Guns N' Roses, when they were . . . whatever they were (laughs). I've had a lot of different influences, musically.

Skar: We don't base our writing style off of just industrial bands.

PAO: You can generally tell musicians who only listen to one style of music.

Skar and family
Photo courtesy Rah Stitchez
Skar and family
Photo courtesy Rah Stitchez
Skar: Yeah.

Josh: Well when we first started, Danzig was a huge influence.

Skar: Oh yeah, when we were kids.

Rah: I wanted to be a rock star since before I knew what that was. From the time I was born I was jumping off the bed, and going "AAAAAH!" and strummin' my hair bands across the dresser and thwappin' it and going crazy when I was like in diapers (laughs). And then MTV came out and I was like, Hell yeah (laughs).

Skar: (laughs) MTV.

Rah: But don't put in that part 'cause then they're gonna say I'm old (laughs).

Josh: MTV? How did The Real World inspire her to be a musician?

Rah: (laughs)

PAO: Come on. We gotta leave that part in, just because of that.

(Laughter)

PAO: How did you choose the name Rah Stitchez?

Rah: Oh, because in my first band, my drummer . . . She would get so excited when she'd see me that she couldn't finish my whole name. She would just go "Rahhhhhhhh!" And so my nickname was Rah, and then everybody started calling me Rah. And I went around town all the time with fake cuts and bruises and stitches all the time. And then I was like, what's gonna be my last name for my stage name? And I looked down and I was covered in bloody stitches. I was like, Rah Stitchez!

PAO: Skar and Stitchez.

Skar: There's kind of a funny story about that.

PAO: How did you get the nickname Skar?

Skar: When I was five years old I was attacked by a German Shepherd who ripped off the side of my face and left me with physical scars. Growing up everybody called me Scarface, and I just latched onto it.

PAO: Sorry, I don't have a nickname question for you.

Josh: That's fine, 'cause I don't have a nickname (laughs).

Rah: He gave me my first stitches.

Josh: I did.

Rah: He stabbed me (laughs).

Josh: Yup.

Skar: With a plastic knife.

Josh: With a plastic knife.

Rah: Plastic clown knife.

Skar: That makes it better.

(Laughter)

PAO: I don't really know what to say to that.

(Laughter)

Skar: But you had to have been there.

Rah: It was funny, going to the E.R. Like, I got stabbed by a plastic knife. And then they were calling me in - we were all drunk - and they were saying, "Okay, who had the spork incident?" And I was like, "It was me!" (laughs) Even the doctors were laughing.

Skar: I forgot they said that. They did say that.

Rah: Yeah. The doctors and everybody was laughin'. They were squirtin' it in; they were like, Does it hurt? And I was like, nooooooo! (laughs)

Josh: I felt horrible, just for the record.

(Laughter)

Skar: I felt pretty good. I had a good buzz going.

Josh: It killed mine completely. It was like, ooh.

Rah: I couldn't stop laughing 'cause it was so absurd. I got stabbed by a plastic clown knife (laughs).

Skar: Do most of your interviews go this way, Peter?

(Laughter)

PAO: Tell me about your earlier bands and musical projects.

Rah: My first band that I was in was Murder 13, and it was all girls and one black dude that played guitar.

Skar: Daveed Long. Amazing guitar player.

Rah: And Mickey Murder was the drummer, and Leslie was the singer. And we played a few shows and . . . Skar booked our first show, and that's how I met Skar. We went to go see Daveed and his other band play, and they were like, that guy that booked it, he's at this club. We were hanging out and then he made some guy come over and request my presence at the pool table, and they walked me over like the Godfather or something (laughs). Walked me to Skar and he was like, "Hi, I'm Skar," and I was like, "Hi, I'm Rah Stitchez," and . . . that's where it started (laughs).

Skar: Well tell about Trend Kill Clinic. Not our relationship.

(Laughter)

Rah: He was in a band, Trend Kill Clinic, and he was playing bass, and . . . I don't remember your guitar player's name.

Skar: Dwayne.

Rah: Dwayne. Then he left?

Skar: Yeah.

Rah: He had to leave, and so Skar went to guitar 'cause he's more a guitar player. I came in on bass, and then my other band kinda broke up.

Skar: And that's when Elle came over too, to Trend Kill Clinic.

Rah: Yup. We joined our bands together. We used to play shows, like Murder 13 and Trend Kill Clinic, and then it just went ffffffft. We formed a new version of Trend Kill Clinic, and then the Razorblade Dolls, and now, D.I.K.

PAO: [To Skar and Josh] You two have been playing together a long time.

Skar and Josh of Designed in Kaos
Photo courtesy David Carpenter

Skar: We started our first band together. It was False Idol. We started that in '90, I think, '91. And then after that era of False Idol we all became . . . in our twenties, and, you know, life has many different paths. And it kinda went on certain paths, but for some reason his and my path always seemed to have an intersection. And later on, about . . . I think it was about '99, 2000, him and I got back together and were trying to start a full on industrial project, and we were gonna go under the name False Idol. We couldn't really find any musicians that could do what we wanted and we ended up recruiting a bunch of guys and we became more of a metal project. And we did that from . . . like I said, '99 to about, I think 2002? Something like that.

Josh: Sounds about right.

Skar: I tried to start a couple other industrial / electronic style projects. I had one called Meganism, one called Isms, one called . . . whatever, I don't even remember half the name of 'em (laughs). We could never get anything goin'. And then Helz and I actually came up with Trend Kill Clinic. It was just him and I in the studio, and we wrote a bunch of music, got a couple of people together . . .

Josh: Tried to bring me into it, but I was doing the Overman thing . . .

Skar: Yeah.

Josh: And my loyalty got in the way of that. Stupid . . .

Skar: Well, but . . .

Josh: Just 'cause I was doing it first.

Skar: And then, Trend Kill Clinic was me, Helz, and this mutual person that we know, Blaine. The thing is, I couldn't find a bass player, so I got a guitar player and I went to bass, and then met Rah. I was like, "Hey, why don't you come play bass for my band?" and her singer at the time was like, "Well I wanna join too." Trend Kill Clinic went from being a straight up industrial band to a . . . this sounds funny - to a psuedo punk rock / rockabilly / industrial band. That's kinda what it ended up being. And then . . . like you said, out of the ashes of Trend Kill Clinic . . . Actually the Razorblade Dolls was a side project. I had both bands. And Trend Kill Clinic ended and I just went full force with Razorblade Dolls. And then this project.

Josh: I didn't play live for a long time. I just wrote music under the guise of a thing I was calling Cytocide. I never did anything with it. Skar would help me put some of it together but he was very busy. I played in this metal band called Overman for a little bit. It was okay, it was a cool deal, some old high school friends. And then I didn't do anything for a long time. There was a time I was about to hang it all up and some sound guy talked me out of it. I started writing but just doing . . . just recordings. Skar would help me. Never had an aspiration to get back onstage until he fronted Designed in Kaos to me, and it was just too good of an idea. I love writing with this guy. He's like a musical soul mate to me. I couldn't deny it, and here we are.

Skar: Full circle, baby.

Josh: Full circle.

PAO: What influences do you draw from outside the domain of industrial and metal?

Josh: Oh shit.

Josh, Rah, and Skar of Designed in Kaos
Photo courtesy Metal Mina Pics
Skar: I like some indie bands. Middle Class Rut.

Josh: Yeah, they're cool.

Skar: I like Middle Class Rut. I like Adele, I love Adele. I like Lord. I like a lot of . . .

Josh: The Beatles.

Skar: Who?

Josh: The Beatles.

Skar: The Beatles. I like the Beatles, Rolling Stones.

Rah: The Doors.

Skar and Josh: The Doors.

Skar: Prince.

Josh: Prince. Michael Jackson.

Skar: Michael Jackson, absolutely loved Michael Jackson. I was a big Michael Jackson proponent.

Rah: George Clinton.

Rah and Skar of Designed in Kaos
Photo courtesy David Carpenter
Skar: George Clinton!

Josh: Hell yeah.

Skar: George Clinton.

Josh: Parliament Funk.

Skar: Sly and the Family Stone. Loved them.

Josh: Bob Marley. God, I mean, it's . . . it's a crazy eclectic mess in our head.

Rah: Johnny Cash.

Skar and Josh: Johnny Cash.

Josh: Fuck yeah. The Man in Black.

Skar: Willie Nelson.

Rah: Lots of punk rock.

Skar: With Designed in Kaos I would say a lot of the riffs are a little more punk rock, just a little on the heavy side.

Rah: I like Bikini Kill.

Josh: Combichrist, especially the new one.

Skar: Yeah, especially the new album's fuckin' awesome.

Rah: Yeah.

PAO: Ever think about doing a musical collaboration with someone from another genre?

Josh: All the time, yeah. We've discussed that.

Skar: Yeah. In fact Designed in Kaos . . . we actually have a plan for that. It's kinda funny that you bring that up. We're going to find different musicians locally that we're friends with - and we have a lot of them - and instead of just having them come up and play a song with us, we're actually going to bring them into the studio and let them start the songwriting process in their style, and then we are gonna finish it off making it Kaos, making it Designed in Kaos.

Josh: We're gonna D.I.K-ify it.

Rah: (laughs)

Skar: For example our friend Jotun from Kin of Ettins, you know, strictly doom metal guy . . . We're gonna bring him in, let him write a doom metal riff, and we're going to D.I.K-ify it.

(Laughter)

Skar: And then when we play that song, we will only play it locally so he can come up on stage and play the song with us. I think that's a great idea, cause I . . . You can ask Rah, I've always been about trying to bring people together. You don't understand how much it upsets me to get on these social networking sites and see these other musicians of different genres say, you know, "Country's the only way", and it's like, really? Because there's so much more, musically, out there. I am not a genre.

Josh: No, not a genre.

Skar: So yes, we would love to incorporate any kind of style but we want to use our musician friends and their ideas to do that.

Josh: It's kind of a Pigface.

Skar: Yeah. It kinda is, yeah.

Josh: Sort of. I mean they stuck to the same genre for the most part.

Skar: Sorta. I mean . . . well they would bring in like Mary Byker from Gaye Bykers on Acid.

Josh: True.

Skar: And the music they wrote for him to sing to sounded real similar to what he was doin' in Gaye Bykers on Acid.

PAO: In the past you've played a lot of shows with RivetHead, Silver Loves Mercury, with previous projects of yours, and you guys all support each other. How important is that, in your opinion?

Rah: A lot.

Josh: Totally.

Skar: It's really important, yeah.

Josh: Hell in July we're playing a show with both of them anyways.

Skar: Yeah. I mean, I think it's real important to have that connection with people around town, and if they want that connection with you, then let them have that connection with you, you know.

Josh: Especially in local music.

Skar: Especially local, yeah.

Josh: There's no need for the competition.

Skar: We're not football players. We're not playing rugby.

Josh: You have to compete against the industry, and that's beating everybody down.

Skar: Exactly. That is fucking genius.

PAO: How do you see the level of support within the music scene in Dallas right now?

Skar: I see it increasing, actually. It really is, and . . . I've talked to a lot of people and they tell me, "Man, it looks like Dallas is coming back a little bit now."

Josh: It's starting to feel like in the '90s, you know.

Skar: Yeah. I mean, minus a couple thousand people (laughs).

Josh: You got the Bomb Factory opening back up, all of that stuff. You know, there are some good things happening.

PAO: Trees.

Skar: Trees.

Josh: Clint is . . . well I'm gonna name drop, fuck. I mean he's . . .

Skar: He knows what he's doing, man.

Josh: He's done this town a service, musically, for artists and musicians alike.

Rah: Yeah.

Josh: It's . . . damn my hat's off to that guy.

Skar: It seems like a lot of the major clubs are doing what they can to cater to the bands, to help the bands. But inevitably, it's up to the bands to get out there and let people know that they exist. And it seems like more bands realize that these days.

Josh: There's been a fire lit under some asses, that's for sure.

PAO: Do you think that the clubs in Dallas are doing enough to help support the bands and the music scene?

Rah: I think they are.

Skar: The ones we have, I think, yeah.

Josh: Yes.

PAO: How about local radio? Do you feel that the support of the local radio stations is where it needs to be for local music?

Rah: No, I don't.

Josh: It could be better.

Rah: Yeah. They only have, what is it, one show. I don't even know what day of the week it is, 'cause they never really say.

Skar: And it's like at midnight.

Josh: It's like the Live and Local, or something.

Rah: Yeah, it's when nobody's listening. Maybe if they had it . . . even if they had it thirty minutes during the day or some time when people are listening, or just at least advertise when it's at, 'cause I don't even know.

PAO: You think we'll ever get back to where we were in the '90s?

Skar: Not with radio, and the internet.

Rah: No, but maybe the sound - industrial wise and stuff - it's headed that way.

PAO: This touches on what you mentioned a minute ago about the internet. How important do you feel online media such as Facebook or Myspace or even a site like the old pegasusnews.com are in helping a band promote?

Skar: This day and age it's . . . you can't get away from it, man. It's important. Facebook is a great way for promotions, but these days I think that it's important to try to connect with your fan base as well. It's a different scene. And maybe I'm wrong but . . .

Josh: Connect without the connection going to your fucking computer, you know.

Skar: It's easier to get fans across the country now, than it is . . .

Josh: Right. I think we've become too reliant on that instead of doing the face to face, being accessible and beating the streets.

Skar: I think we all have, yeah.

PAO: There's still a place for flyering, in this day and age? Flyering and on the street promotion?

Skar: I think if we start doing it, it will make a place.

Josh: I think Curtain has a little . . . they have a little booth I think that you can . . .

Skar: They have a box that sits right in front of Liquid Lounge.

Josh: They allow posts. Other than that, tag cars. And there are some local businesses that have told us that we can put flyers up. You know, put a poster in there.

Skar: Yeah, the Deep End, Frazini's.

Josh: All Vapes.

Skar: All Vapes.

PAO: When you talk about building a fan base, what are your goals for D.I.K? Are you looking to branch outside of Dallas, Texas, even outside the country?

Skar: I'm not gonna lie, I don't have any false aspirations, but . . . yes, me personally. Josh?

Josh: I agree. If it happens it happens, and that's a great plus.

Skar: We're gonna push it.

Josh: Push it, yeah. Why not? We wanna share D.I.K with the world. Who doesn't?

(Laughter)

Rah: Wanna be as big a D.I.K as possible (laughs). Oh wait. As big . . . make D.I.K as big as possible. Is that it?

Josh: Yeah, that does sound better.

Rah: Make D.I.K as big as possible.

(Laughter)

Josh: Jesus Christ.

PAO: I've heard people say that Dallas and Fort Worth, especially Fort Worth, are metal towns. Do you agree with that?

Josh: Fort Worth, most definitely.

Skar: Fort Worth, yeah.

PAO: Is there much of a place for other musical genres, as you see it?

Skar: We're gonna make a place for it, and we hope that people follow suit. We hope that other people can say, "You know what? I don't have to be uniform. I don't have to play what I think everybody else wants."

Josh: I think there's enough dexterity in our music to where it crosses genres where anybody can gravitate to it and enjoy it.

Ron Good of Designed in Kaos
Skar: And then hopefully we'll inspire other people to do the same.

Josh: Right.

Skar: And it's just so many . . . not in just Dallas, but just the country, the whole United States of America, period.

Josh: The world, Goddamn it! (laughs)

Skar: There's so many bands that are not only generic, but copycats. And some of 'em are good and some of 'em . . .

Josh: Yeah, we don't copy. You can hear the influence . . .

Skar: It's one thing hearing influence, another thing copycattin'.

Josh: Yeah. We were inspired, and we hope to inspire.

PAO: [To Skar] You have your own home studio, recording software, microphones, and you're about to begin tracking live drums for an upcoming album.

Skar: Yup.

PAO: When can we expect the first D.I.K CDs to be released?

Skar: You know, I always like to give a long shot, as far as ETAs, that way when it's earlier than it's supposed to be, the customer's a lot happier. I'm really gonna say . . . beginning of next year, 2015. I mean, there's a lot of work to do.

PAO: Who's the producer for the upcoming album?

Skar: It's gonna be Chris Telkes.

Josh: Mr. Tickles.

Skar: Mr. Tickles.

PAO: Is there going to be any digital download version of this album?

Skar: Yeah, there will be.

Josh: Has to be in this . . . the way things are.

Skar: Yeah, and the way the music industry is now, we'll probably have mp3 thumb drives. I'm still all about having a tangible product. I'm still all about having CDs. You'll hear people say, "No no, it's . . . digital's the way to go," but . . .

PAO: Something that the fans can buy and walk out with.

Rah: Yeah, to listen to something in their car.

Skar: Yeah, because they wanna leave the show and throw it in their CD player.

Josh: I know we can put all that stuff digitally, but I mean it's really . . .

Skar: It's a lot more fun to open up the paper, and look at the paper . . .

Josh: Yeah, and drop some paper and look at some paper . . .

(Laughter)

Josh: You can scratch that. Or not, I don't give a shit. Instead of bracelets, we can find some kind of device that looks like a condom package that's a USB.

Skar: Yeah.

Josh: And slide it in your wallet.

(Laughter)

Josh: Have your D.I.K with you all the time.

Rah: (laughs)

Josh: My mom's not gonna hear this so I'm good and I don't care (laughs).

PAO: You never know.

Josh: Actually I wouldn't care if she heard it (laughs).

PAO: You've been in the business for a long time. What are some of your wildest adventures, post-show or out of town?

Skar: Some awesome awesome awesome after parties with my family, our family. In Houston . . . we got a good group of friends in Houston and we have done some insane stuff.

Rah: Fucking insane!

(Laughter)

Skar: I mean, it's basically an episode of Jackass. I could get into detail but there's no need for it. All I have to say is, basically an episode of Jackass. And that will continue.

Josh: Things have been seen that can't be unseen.

Skar: Yeah.

Josh: Things have been done that can't be undone.

(Laughter)

Rah: I got video on my phone still (laughs).

PAO: How does DFW compare to other places you've played?

Skar: I don't think there's anywhere else, at least in the state of Texas or at least this region, like DFW. I think DFW is great.

Josh: I have to agree. There's some bad ass people here.

Skar: Yeah, good friends.

Josh: Loyal. They love their music.

Skar: Yeah.

Rah: Yeah, but New Mexico is pretty awesome, even though it . . . it wasn't like a scene or anything, it was just fun.

Skar: We played an arena show one time in New Mexico and there was a lot of kids there . . .

Rah: Yeah.

Skar: . . . and they ate The Razorblade Dolls - it was the project - and they ate that shit up.

Rah: Elementary kids, junior high kids . . . This one girl, I think she was like 11, e-mailed me. It was, like, "My dad wouldn't let me buy your abortion, but I want one!" (laughs)

Skar of Designed in Kaos
Skar: That's a merch thing.

Rah: It's a merch. I made "Rah's Abortions." They were little dolls' heads and jellies type stuff in a jar (laughs). They bought 'em (laughs).

Skar: I mean, DFW's our home so we're gonna be loyal to DFW.

Rah: Yeah.

Josh: But we are fortunate to . . .

Skar: To be in DFW.

Josh: Yeah, it's a great music scene. People talk about Austin all the time. Austin's okay, but I don't see the love.

Skar: Not like here.

Josh: That's true. Sorry I said "love," Rah. Are you okay with that? Can I say "love" on the record?

(Laughter)

PAO: There seems to be a lot less of the onstage [theatrics] with this project than the previous projects. Is that by design?

Skar: No. We're workin' . . . we're broke.

Josh: (laughs)

Skar: We're working up to that.

Rah: Yeah.

Skar: The main thing with us is trying to get the music done first.

Josh: We have some ideas. They just haven't come to light yet.

Skar: Yeah.

Josh: They will.

Skar: We are working on that, and obviously we don't want it to be like any of the other stuff that we've ever done, whether it be Trend Kill Clinic or the Razorblade Dolls or False Idol, or Overman.

PAO: So what else have you been involved in besides music?

Josh: What else have I been involved with besides music. Bad relationships. Um . . .

Rah: (laughs)

Josh: Poor choice of women. Um . . . I mean that's pretty much it. Um, I mean I like art in general. I . . . start with someone else.

Skar: (laughs) Outside of music what have I been involved with? Nothing really.

Josh: I used to draw. I like to write. Obviously I have to 'cause I have to write lyrics for Designed in Kaos. I like to draw, I do, but I'm so impatient I can never . . . It's never complete (laughs).

Skar: I've written short stories in my head, I've got ideas for short stories. I'd like to do my memoirs, but I don't do anything that helps anybody (laughs).

Josh: You might just scratch that question.

Rah: Well of course with the Girls Rock Dallas, I like to get involved with that, help teach bass and help build band coaching and help to raise money for the camp. And I sometimes do the suicide prevention walks. I like to go to Kettle Art to help when they have their fundraisers and stuff when I can.

PAO: You've donated some art pieces to the Kettle Art fundraisers.

Rah: Yeah, I like to do art for that, too. That's fun. I like doing painting, like collage paintings and stuff. I like making hair and I like making . . . lots of stuff.

PAO: How long have you been involved with Girls Rock Dallas?

Rah: It's going on three years 'cause this is the third camp coming up soon.

PAO: You've been involved since they organized in Dallas?

Rah: Yeah, I was invited to join by Scary Cherry.

Skar: Lezlie Deane.

Rah: Lezlie Deane, yeah.

PAO: Tell me something about your involvement with them.

Rah: I teach bass and I also do the band coaching. I love the band coaching because I have to coach them with all their drama, like them saying, "She can't sing. She needs to go if she can't sing in front of us by this show." And they're just going back and forth and one's trying to take control, and it's just like, Ah, I've had experience with this. I know how to deal with them (laughs). You know, helping them get a song together and saying, "No, no, you gotta match the drummer," and different things like that. It's pretty cool.

PAO: And you'll continue to be involved with them in the future?

Rah: Yeah, definitely. The girls are awesome.

PAO: What other volunteer or charity organizations are you involved with?

Skar: We're big into animal rescue. Both of our dogs are rescued.

Rah: Yeah. And I helped raise money to save the pit bull that I rescued when he needed the hip replacement . . . It helped and it saved him, and he got his surgery and then he got adopted. I love to help the dogs and animal[s] a lot, but I get so heartbroken when things happen that it's hard for me. That Sweetie Pup, he did awesome, everything was good, and they didn't have the heart to tell me that he only had two years to live after that, and then one day they broke it to me. I was like, Oh my god, that is horrible.

PAO: What kind of merch can we expect for Designed in Kaos in the days ahead?

Skar: The typical stuff. You know, t-shirts, patches, and bumper stickers and . . .

Josh: CDs.

Skar: Obviously yeah CD's. We talked about making our own dildo e-cigs.

Rah: We did talk about it.

Josh: We did talk about it, but it was a joke when we . . . (laughs). I still think we should do condoms.

Skar: I like that idea.

Tad Bryant of Designed in Kaos
Photo courtesy Kelly Whitehead /
Spacial Tension Photography
Rah: Tad's not allowed to vape while he's playing 'cause he'll stand there and do this [makes vape gesture], you know, between drum beats. So I told him we were gonna put a big dildo stand up there and he was gonna have to suck it every time he wanted to vape while he's playing (laughs).

Josh: He'd still have to use his hands on it.

Skar: The typical stuff. You know, the patches and stickers and t-shirts and . . .

Josh: Condoms.

Skar: Condoms.

Rah: Yeah.

Skar: Cigarette lighters, matchbooks . . .

Josh: Shot glasses are always a good thing.

Skar: Shot glasses, coasters . . .

Rah: Shots.

Josh: D.I.K shots.

Rah: (laughs)

PAO: What does the future hold for Designed in Kaos?

Josh: More chaos.

Skar: You know, we're Designed in Kaos but we're not inundated in it. A good friend said that to me one time when we played some music for him. He said that, "Man it's designed in kaos, it's not inundated in it."

Josh: Sometimes there's peace in chaos.

Skar: Sometimes there's peace in chaos.

Josh: Beauty.

Skar: We've got a bunch of new songs written that we haven't even learned yet, and . . . I see good things happening for us, man. And hell we're just gonna play. I mean, we wanna play, we wanna perform. We wanna write, we wanna perform, and we're just gonna continue to do so no matter what anybody says or thinks.

Josh: We have some songs that may not even be live. We've discussed that.

Skar: Yeah, yeah. We're gonna get out on the road. We'll get out on the road, you know. It just takes time. You can't just instantly do that. Music video . . . I see a music video in our future.

Rah: Yay, I've been wanting one of those.

PAO: Are you going to crowd fund it?

Skar: No, we're not into that. We're not into the whole, what is that website . . . Kickstarter. We're not into that. I don't know, that feels like panhandler shit to me. No offense to anybody that does it . . . Everybody has their options and their own choices in the way they do things, and that's just a route that we choose not to take, because we don't want to promise something that fate may lead that we can't hold up to, you know? (laughs) 'Cause the things don't always work out the way you think they're going to. And I don't want to say, "Hey everybody donate and you get this and this and that and that and that," and then we don't meet our goal and we can't provide what we promised. I don't wanna get in that situation. I won't do consignment merch with people . . . Like some people want to do consignment merch, you know, like, Hey let us make the merch, we sell it, and you get a percentage off of it and we get the rest. I'm not doin' that. That's a disaster waiting to happen. So anything like that that has to do with fan funded stuff, nah. It's fan funded because they come to our shows and pay to get into our shows and they buy the merchandise. It's fan funded in the sense that they're the ones who are are keeping it alive and keeping it going, and without the fans, we're nothing, plain and simple. So we're not gonna beg them on the internet, "Hey send us a bunch of money so we can record our album." Man, that's ridiculous.

Josh: You can't go out of your way to meet other people's expectations. We meet our own expectations and usually people are really happy.

Skar: Yeah, yeah.

PAO: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

Skar: Well I will say this about Designed in Kaos. We're not out there trying to imitate anybody, you know. We're just doing what comes from our hearts and from our minds, and we're not your typical Dallas metal band. We don't even want to really be lumped into that metal thing, but we will because we use distortion on our guitars. I want to leave a legacy of . . . we made a place for everybody in the music scene, and not just one genre. And I'd like to say, I am not a genre. I am music, and that's the way I wish everybody would approach it. You know, "It's not metal enough!!" I mean, come on, man. There's more out there than just metal. There's more out there than just industrial, you know. There's a lot of good music out there of all different types.

Josh: Open yourself up to it.

Burleson household, 5/3/2014