Chris Kelly has been working on his craft for over a decade now. As one of the most talented working musicians in the space now he is revered as an international icon and guitar virtuoso. His humble beginnings as a student at the Paul Green’s School of Rock, now known only as the school of rock, help lead his love of music. While developing his craft he brought his talent to multiple bands such as Altered Image and Alustrium, the latter which is still in today. Alustrium has recently signed a major record deal with Unique Leader Records, a behemoth label in the metal scene. Chris Kelly’s career took a huge boost after the viral Galactic Empire, a Star Wars inspired metal outfit, videos went viral. Galactic Empire toured from 2016- 2019 and opened for musical greats such as Ozzy Osbourne, Bullet for My Valentine, and BABYMETAL. Chris Kelly decided to start his solo career at the beginning of the pandemic while moving forward with Alustrium. We had the honor to chat with Chris about his musical journey and how things are shaping up in the music world.
Classic Entourage Mag: Thank you for chatting with us, how are things?
Chris Kelly: All things considered, life is pretty good these days! Sucks not being able to tour, like I would in a normal year, but I’m able to spend a lot more time with my family and give attention to certain projects and creative outlets that had previously been kept on the back burner.
CE Mag: Let’s chat about your musical style. How would you describe your sound? How is it different or similar to others?
CK: I’m not entirely sure it’s my place to try and pinpoint what sets me apart from other players. I think all any artist can do is find what makes them most comfortable and connects them most deeply to their instrument – that’s the best way to keep things genuine (assuming your goal is to create your own material and release it publicly). As for what my personal style or sound is, that’s not always the easiest question to answer, but when it comes to my own music, my priority is always geared towards whatever will serve the song best. I’ve never considered myself to be a “shredder”, nor do I feel like I’m cut out to be placed among that class of players. Any attempt at that title would simply come out, at best, as flash for the sake of flash (and half-assed flash, at that). I like a strong melody. I want a hook. I don’t want to sacrifice the musicality for the trick. Especially if we’re talking about instrumental music (which is currently all my solo project is composed of), the listener shouldn’t have to put themselves in a different headspace in order to digest what they’re hearing. A good song should be a good song.
CE Mag: When writing music what does that process look like? What inspires you to create?
CK: That all depends on what/who I’m writing for. If I’m writing for a client, the goal is to achieve whatever vision that client has for their music, so I might take songs from similar artists as a reference and build on that. If I’m writing for my solo project, the goal is to push my own musical sensibilities and further define my “voice”, so I might venture out of my comfort zone and try writing in a style or even a key that has previously been challenging for me. If I’m writing for Alustrium, it’s very much a collaborative process between me and my bandmates (particularly our other guitarist, Mike DeMaria), so most of that process hinges on feeding off one another’s energy and sort of filling in the creative gaps in one another’s ideas. I find that pure inspiration is often fleeting and unreliable. It can be difficult to keep different projects from bleeding into each other, so what helps most is to set a routine, immerse myself in the project at hand and, eventually, things start to flow more naturally.
CE Mag: Tell us about your time in Galactic Empire. How has that shaped your musical career?
CK: Galactic Empire is responsible for getting me into the professional touring circuit. I did a lot of shows with that band, in a very short period of time, that most people never get to experience. My first arena shows were with that band. My first major festival shows were with that band. My first damn near everything was with that band. It’s undeniable that being a part of GE was an incredibly significant chapter of my career and it undoubtedly gave me my sea legs. Despite the fact that there wasn’t much of a creative component to it for me, the initial rapid growth of that band forced us all to learn a lot of things and get very familiar, very quickly. The most stressful moments on GE tours are what cut my teeth and prepared me for the future. I will be forever grateful for the experiences I was able to have with those guys.
CE Mag: What was your favorite place to play in the world? What was your biggest audience?
CK: To this day, Japan continues to win in the “largest crowd” department. Each time I’ve played there, the attendance has grown (most recently over 20,000) and the audiences are perhaps the most attentive on the planet. Currently, Japan has only one competitor for the top spot – Madrid. Man…I can’t even begin to describe what an audience SOUNDS like, in Madrid. The last time GE played there, it was for Spain’s chapter of the Download Festival and the audience sang along so loud that we nearly couldn’t hear ourselves play. The energy of a Spanish crowd, so far, is completely unmatched for me. If you want that full-blown “rockstar” feeling, Madrid is where you’ll find it.
CE Mag: You are currently in the metal band Alustrium and you guys just signed with Unique Leader Records so congratulations on that. How does it feel to sign a big label? How did you get the news that you they agreed to take you guys on?
CK: Thanks! Honestly it’s just nice to bring some long awaited validation to a project I’ve been working on for over a decade. Mike and I started playing together when we were 16. We’ve spent years pouring our hearts into this band, while it may never be that big-time, arena rock kind of band, we’re incredibly proud of where it has come since we started out. Honestly there isn’t really much of an origin story with the label. Back in 2019 we linked up with a new booking agent, who heard the demos for our new record and took it upon himself to shop them around. It all happened very organically and we’re just stoked to have people behind us who truly believe in the project.
CE Mag: There are new musicians everyday popping up trying to find their place. What is some advice you would give new musicians starting out?
CK: Keep your mind open. Always. 16 year old Chris would not have reacted well to the idea that a Darth Vader costume would launch his music career. Had that opportunity presented itself any earlier, I probably would have laughed it off, and who knows where I’d be now? Whatever headspace you’re in right now, whatever vision you have for your goals, one day it’s gonna change. Maybe a little, maybe a lot, but change comes with experience. Be logical in your decisions, say yes to the right people and learn to recognize a good shot when you see one.
CE Mag: Any upcoming projects that fans should be on the lookout for?
CK: In terms of projects not yet released, unfortunately there’s not much I can discuss publicly at the moment. That being said, the rollout for the new Alustrium record, “A Monument to Silence” is underway and the album drops on June 18, so if extreme metal is your thing, we’d be very grateful for your participation. As for the non-metal folks, I’ll be releasing more solo material in the coming months and there will be more than one bigger announcement, hopefully this year.
CE Mag: What is the one thing that fans don’t know about you and would be surprised to find out?
CK: “So THAT’s what the dude in the Vader mask looks like?”
CE Mag: Thanks for sitting down with us! Any last thoughts?
CK: Sure thing, thanks for the invite! If you enjoyed reading this, please buy things I put out, so I can continue my boyish dream of being a rockstar.
Follow Chris Kelly on his socials and Alustrium as well!
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Alustrium
Instagram – @alustriumBandcamp – https://www.alustrium.bandcamp.com,
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/chriskellyguitarofficial
Instagram – @chriskellyguitar
Twitter – @ChrisKGuitar
Follow CE Mag at our facebook page: https://facebook.com/classicentouragemag
Categories: Music Heads