BioGenesis is the hybrid metal brainchild of vocalist Chaz Bonds. Chaz has been behind the mic of many metal bands, and notably power metal band Jacob’s Dream for many years, but it is his own band that draws him back to it inexorably over and over again. The 20 year history of the band reads like a rollercoaster of ups and downs and breakups and fresh starts that make most band drama look like a picnic. But through it all BioGenesis has travailed, progressed, and matured, and with their powerful third album A Divine Decadence, out May 26th on Roxx Records, they are born again like the phoenix bird of their logo.
Chris Gatto: Hello Chaz, Despite being only one state away, the only time I met you was when you played Mark “Sasquatch” Glunt’s Silent Planet Fest in 2005 fronting Jacob’s Dream. What happened to BioGenesis after the first album?
Chaz Bonds: We went out on tour with Mortification just as our debut was released in 2001. After that we began working with Jimmy Brown of Deliverance. He was planning to produce our next album. He actually did produce the single “Fallback”. Members began to come and go and Jimmy relocated further out west and we could no longer afford to get out to record with him. We continued to play shows but we were finding it hard to find a way to record our next record. Every time an opportunity would come something would happen that would cause everything to fall through. In 2005 I dissolved the band. The second record was never released, sadly.
CG: Then you were the voice of Jacob’s Dream for almost a decade. Both bands are obviously progressive, but yet very different in particular styles. Do you find that you write differently for each?
CB: Absolutely. Both bands are two very different entities. I love every band I’ve ever fronted and I never compare them. In a sense I almost play a different character in each one yet each character is another side of who I am as a writer and as a person.
CG: You released a second BioGenesis album after a long break and then left Jacob’s Dream to focus on one band. What makes this BioGenesis’ time now?
CB: I never wanted Bio to end. Life often throws you a curve ball and when it comes to the history of Bio, there were many over the years. We broke up again after the second album and I figured that would be the final nail but God had other plans and He is the reason why we are back stronger than ever.
CG: Is this a different lineup than the first time around?
CB: Yes. Long time stalemate James Riggs and myself are the only long standing members. Ironically all four of the new members are related to one another. Luke Nealeigh is our new guitarist and producer. Dan is our new bassist. Sam is our new keyboardist, and Majennica, our new drummer is the first female member in our history.
CG: How has the band’s music progressed with each album release?
CB: I think the first album was very raw and energetic. It was also very experimental, since the hybrid metal vision we were going for was still a new idea and we were kinda writing the script as we went along. It was a very powerful and in your face statement type of an album.
The second one was kinda unique. Each song was actually written at various points between the first record and right before we broke up in 2005. Overall, I see that album as being more somber. It was a bit darker. The lyrics were more personal overall. My favorite songs from The Rise The Fall The Rebirth are actually the two ballads, “Never” and “Angel.”
The new album has everything the first two had combined. Then you add the fresh blood talents of the new members and in my view, you end up with our best and most complete album to date. We have always prided ourselves on our ability to be diverse in a way that gives us our own identity. This album has taken us even further into that world of hybrid metal.
CG: The new album A Decadence Divine, a masterpiece in the vein of Operation Mindcrime, releases May 26. I detect a theme of the arrogance of man. Is it an album with a common theme threaded throughout, or more of a storyline going on?
CB: First of all that is an enormous compliment and anytime someone makes a comparison like that, we will definitely take it. There is no story, but you are right. There is an overall theme that revolves around the album’s title. I feel that we are living in an age where many are trying to leave God behind, which is something the scriptures warned us about as we get closer to the last days. Are we in the last days? The evidence keeps piling up.
CG: How does your faith drive or reflect in the way you write music?
CB: Just as my arms are a part of my body, my faith is a part of my soul. I also feel that God has given me a vision to bring my faith to any stage and any audience regardless of how they feel about what I believe. I call it freedom of speech.
CG: Your vocals are quite diverse throughout. It’s almost as if you were making audio costume changes- now you’re singing in Eric Clayton- Saviour Machine mode, and then viola! you reach down deep into the metal rage and out comes Jon Oliva of early Savatage fame. I have to say those are the moments I like the best, songs like “Tears of God,” as I’m a big fan of Jon Oliva’s voice. I don’t know how much you’re into Savatage. At Heaven’s Metal, the karew of writers occasionally has the same argument over who’s the better Savatage singer- Jon Oliva’s raspy scream on the early albums or Zak Steven’s more polished, progressive vocals on their later albums. Everyone picks Stevens, and I’m always the lone holdout who picks Oliva. I met Zak Stevens once at a metal festival in New York and told him as much, and he agreed with me 🙂 What singers inspire your vocals?
CB: I actually get compared to Savatage a lot in many of the reviews I’ve read in the past but I hate to disappoint you. I’ve never owned any of their albums, but when I listen to them now I can see why people might say that and of course I’ll take that as a compliment. My early influences include, Jimmy Brown from Deliverance and Rey Parra from Sacred Warrior. As I went through my teens, I experimented with thrash and death metal vocal styles. Eventually, I decided that I would just do all of it. Today I really like, Matt Barlow and Stu Block from Iced Earth quite a bit.
CG: Yeah. Stu Block has quite the range, especially with his other band Into Eternity.
CG: I like the Genesis cover “Land of Confusion.” Remember the crazy claymation video for the song, with President Reagan hitting the nuke button instead of nurse? And it’s a much better cover than Disturbed did some years back of the same song, I might add. What made “Land of Confusion” the song that was a must-have for this album?
CB: I’ve always wanted to turn that song into a great metal tune. Then Disturbed did it before we could and I was actually pretty disappointed. However, we felt that enough years have gone by so we decided to go for it. I also really agree with the message of the song as well which ironically ties in with the themes of our new album quite well.
CG: What plans do you guys have for BioGenesis with the new album release? Will there be touring, videos?
CB: We want to take it as far and wide as we can. We hope to gain a whole new legion of fans to join forces with our long time fans. We have discussed a music video. That is something we are hoping to do. At the moment we are booking local shows but who knows what is on the horizon. I would like to return to Puerto Rico again at some point. We shall see.
CG: Where do the BioGenesis name and the phoenix- type logo come from?
CB: I found the word BioGenesis in a book I was reading on the creationism versus Darwinism debate. It is a scientific word that means pre existing life can only be reproduced by other existing life.
The Phoenix logo was originally drawn by our drummer Majennica and later revised by Tim Murray, the artist who did our new album cover. I wanted a Phoenix in the logo to represent that Bio is reborn and stronger than before.
CG: What do you want A Decadence Divine to say to the metal world at large?
CB: We are back. We are reborn and stronger than ever. All are welcome to jump on the Bio train as we look ahead to another great album.
CG: Best of luck with it!