TreeThugger recently had the opportunity to chat with Conspirator’s guitar virtuoso, Chris Michetti. Talking just as fast as he plays, Chris covered a lot of ground with us on a few topics in a short amount of time.

Conspirator’s newest album, Unlocked: Live From The Georgia Theater is set to release on April, 10th & we are thrilled to announce that we will have a copy to giveaway!

CONTEST: Read the article and then leave a comment with your favorite Michetti quote from our interview. One winner will be randomly selected on 4/10/2012! Update: Joe Rango is the winner! 

How has the transition from RAQ to Conspirator been?

I think it kind of snuck up on me somewhere between when I did the tour with the Biscuits and then before we really started getting into Conspirator. Basically when I started doing the Biscuits thing I spent the first half of the tour learning all of the songs. And let me tell you, that is no easy feat! The songs are really complex and Jon is an unconventional player always playing upside down and backwards. When I was there Jon had a broken arm ya know? So he would sit there and watch me play and finally he would be like “Yeah yeah- thats it! Except, actually I play it like this…” and literally, he would play the same song but it would be backwards and upside down from how I learned it. So after about the 100th time that happened I was able to play it as it was written but then say to Jon, “Here is the song, but I bet you actually play it like this…”

So you started to learn Barber’s style?

Yeah. Well actually- no. (laughs) Honestly, I didn’t. What happened was; after learning the songs I was able to spend time with the band. After a lot of hanging out with Mark and Aaron and Jon and understanding the dynamics and what it means to peak a jam, what it means to invert a song with these guys and stuff like that. But then I really was getting into the EDM genre more than ever- and figuring out how to get the guitar to fit in there because I really don’t see a natural place for the guitar in today’s electronic music scene. After the Biscuits stopped playing there was like 6 month period where I was just listening to electronic music and trying to figure out how to get the guitar to fit in there. RAQ played a few shows and I was able to really sit back and try new ways of improvising together so when I was asked to join Conspirator, it was exactly the fit that the guys were looking for. Its been awesome. I’m a sponge and I am always learning. In every way of my life I love to learn- Im always asking “how do you do this?” & “how do you do that.”

Its hard not to do something on the fucking guitar that no one has done before. Its all been done if you ask me. But here we are now with Conspirator, and I feel like I’m breaking new ground. For myself, I sleep better at night when I think back on the music I just made.

You shred & play rock music but also, its very melodic & dancy. From fans fist pumping along to girls hula hooping to your jam- you really pull out many distinctive layers in your guitar playing.

For sure. You could be the guy playing a million notes and no one will pay attention to you. But if you can play that right melody it might just get everyone hooked. I remember being on the bus with Marc one night and talking till the wee hours and he said to me that I didn’t always have to be shredding. There is a certain weird patience with the Biscuits and how those guys are used to doing things and that to just give it time. So we were at soundcheck the next night and I was doing something, I mean it wasn’t Van Halen worthy, but it was me and it really sounded like how I play, so Mark jumps up and goes (in a spot on Marc Brownstien voice) “Right there dude- thats the stuff that no one else does man. You do it that, you should focus on that”So I thought that was cool you know? When your in your 30s you don’t want to sound like anyone else. You need to find your own voice and be yourself.

Back when you were touring with RAQ heavily there were a lot of comparisons between you and Trey (Anastasio).

Yeah it is flattering and all but it really causes you to not want to be Trey, it makes it your goal to define your own sound and be able to stand on your own for what you create.

Your an old Phan right? Do you still see Phish?

Oh yeah for sure- Marc is too but we are dinosaurs in that world. (laughs) I’ve been into Phish since ’93 or so. Last time I saw them was maybe three years ago- right after they came back. But I still listen to the newer shows once and a while.

What do you think of the overlap of the EDM and jamband worlds?

The jam scene is very set in their ways and, as a stereotype, jam kids are resistant to accepting new bands. Now, from our old ass perspectives; we embrace the overlap. Me personally, I love Skrillex and all of the EDM producers. And thats why Conspirator is so cool for us because we are making electronic dance music on our laptops and then play live as a full band right overtop of it. Its a really great thing and I think its a big factor in separating Conspirator- its a thing that we push and enjoy. Maybe a percentage of Disco Biscuits fans might be pissed that we are throwing a Growl Bass into a track but we are crushing these sounds into the future. For real- we are pushing ourselves so far into futuristic stuff right now- its insane! We can sit around and be a jamband and we can do it really well and if you come to any Conspirator soundcheck you’ll hear us jam the hell out of everything. You know we just love making music and pushing ourselves- that really is my favorite thing about being in Conspirator.

Lets talk about the new album: ‘Unlocked – Live From the Georgia Theatre’.
Its kind of funny how the album came about. When your playing a lot of shows you don’t always listen back on it every night instead you just listen to yourself in the moment and its great but when you are doing 20 shows in 22 days it honestly does just start to blur together. Sometime last month or so I wake up to this email from Marc talking about this show we played in Georgia and then he called me and was like “have you heard this yet?!” So we sat down and listened to it all together and then individually and we all agreed that it was awesome. Marc’s wheels are always turning so he says we should release it as an album since everything else we have out there is studio like and our live shows do sound a bit different. The album will be out soon and we are stoked for everyone to hear it!

I’ve been able to listen to an advance of the album and damn, its rockin!

Totally! Its balls to the wall for sure. Dare I say, its the future? (laughs)

Lets wrap up with a  few questions from fans on our social media sites.

This question comes from one of our Facebook fans: Is RAQ over?

Yeah, for now I think RAQ is over. Everyone has moved on and is doing there own thing. For that band and those songs; the best it had ever been was when we were touring and doing it every day. After we took those few years off and started doing shows again it was great but they were so far between that it was just hard to keep the magic alive.

Another fan question. This time coming from a Twitter follower: Are you and Brownie still set on playing Madison Square Garden?

(laughs) When I was in RAQ we would always say that we wanted to play MSG. But now I feel like a wise man when I say that I want to enjoy the processes of creating music and not worry about the end result. If I were to play MSG with a band that I hate I really wouldn’t enjoy it. You gotta earn it. But yeah- Conspirator is going to be at Madison Square Garden. (laughs) Actually I think we have a hold on it for next Thursday night. We will be in the lobby over by the popcorn maker. Were not even going to be playing though- most likely we’ll just be eating chicken wings….

Along with Chris Michetti, Conspirator features Aaron Magner and Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits and they currently have KJ Sawka sitting in on drums. They are currently touring. Conspirator’s newest album, Unlocked: Live From The Georgia Theater is set to release on April, 10th.

CONTEST: Leave a comment with your favorite Michetti quote from our interview. One winner will be randomly selected to win a copy of the new album on 4/10/2012!