California-born, Hawaii/Colorado-raised musician Kamtin Mohager is all over the place these days. Under the moniker The Chain Gang of 1974, the former 3OH!3 touring bassist just wrapped up a tour opening for veteran rockers AFI. Now, he’s headed to San Diego as part of a nine-date headlining stretch.
The Los Angeles-based singer, producer and songwriter has been featured on singles by Dillon Francis and Jai Wolf, and his latest band, Teenage Wrist, is working on new music as well.
With a touring schedule as diverse as his output, Mohager took some time while traveling between dates in Chicago and Minneapolis (and also contending with toll booths and evasive maneuvers so the police wouldn’t catch him on the phone) to speak with PACIFIC.
Here’s what he had to say:
PACIFIC: You’ve been touring with AFI. How has it gone?
Mohager: Fantastic. But we’re coming to the end. And needless to say, it’s been a dream come true - and I think it has been for all of us in this crew. We’ve all been longtime fans of the band and getting asked to support them for 10 days was pretty wild. But we’re also looking forward to the headlining portion of this tour that’s coming up.
Is it easier or more difficult to split a tour up like that?
We’ve done countless support tours on a larger scale. But being direct support for a band like AFI is a lot of work. Our last time out was with The Naked and Famous, and we share a lot of the same fan base. This time, it was like 99 percent of these sold-out rooms had no idea who we were. But it has come across as a really fun challenge. There were some awkward times, but for the most part, their fan base has been very welcoming and kind to us. It’s been cool. And it’s getting us geared up for these headlining shows back home.
And you can add AFI to the wildly varied list of people you’ve worked with.
I grew up with a very diverse interest in music. And when it comes down to that aspect of my personality and character, I want to portray that with whatever I choose to do with my life and what I do with my creativity. It was not that long ago that I realized I wanted to do as much as possible while I still can. And that’s why I started branching out, writing songs for other artists, and featuring on other songs. Another band I started, Teenage Wrist, is gearing up to record an album, and that’s another style of music. My creative itch is really just pushing me and it’s branching off into all kinds of different areas.
The Chain Gang of 1974
When: 9:30 p.m. Feb. 11
Where: The Hideout, 3519 El Cajon Blvd., Normal Heights
You’ve long mentioned Tears For Fears’ song “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” as an inspiration. How was working with (Tears For Fears co-founder) Curt Smith on the video for your single “Slow”?
It was crazy. I still have to think about that to truly understand and realize what that moment was. And to this day, I think that song is one of the greatest ever written. I remember when we were kids sitting in the back of my parents’ Ford Windstar and listening to “Songs From The Big Chair.” That album, that song and that band have had a long-lasting effect on me. And the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve discovered of their catalog, and the more I’ve become a fan of the band. But having him walk in on the second day of shooting “Slow” was pretty surreal. And it’s still really weird when I watch the video and his part comes in, and I think, “How did this happen?!” But he was a perfect gentleman and such a nice guy. There was this moment where he was watching what had been filmed the day before, and I caught him just singing the song to himself. I said, “Man, if you only knew how many times I’ve sung your music!” We had a nice laugh about it. But it’s still this pretty incredible thing for to me to have that connection to someone who made such an impact.
When will we see a new album from The Chain Gang of 1974?
“Slow” and “I Still Wonder” are actually two singles from the new album. I’ve had it wrapped up and done for eight months now. We’ll release the third single next month and the official third full-length will follow. It was produced by Thom Powers of The Naked and Famous and I think it’s a perfect blueprint for the band moving forward. Short answer: The new album is on the way.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.