“I’m Not Afraid Of Death” An Interview With Lariyah Of KHAOTIKA
I will always remember every single detail about the morning of April 6, 2015. I sat down at my work desk with my routine morning coffee and social media scan only to find devastating news that shot adrenaline through every nerve in my body. My dear brothers and sister in occult metal band Khaotika had embarked on their first ever mini-tour only to find themselves in a disastrous car crash that took the lives of three members of the Reich ov Chaos tour, including drummer Nicholas “Dyret” Crisostomo. When the crash first became breaking news, I had no idea who was hurt, who was dead, who was critical, who was fine. The first thought that went through my head was, “Please don’t let anything happen to my sister.” Lariyah Hayes, the beautiful and dynamic frontwoman of Khaotika, and I have never met, but we have bonded like family. Calling Atlanta news stations, messaging friends, running around my desk crying in circles; none of it gave me any more information on how she was. She is important to so many people, there’s no way she can be gone. But nobody should ever underestimate the power that is Lariyah. She endured countless surgeries, skin grafts, and physical therapy sessions to get back to a place of stability and strength. Even through moments of extreme weakness to which many might succumb–imagine not being able to hold your own infant child in your arms or not being able to attend your friend’s funeral–Lariyah marches evermore to continue Khaotika’s young but stalwart legacy. Metal Life is privileged to have an intimate record of not only these recent tribulations but also the insanely phenomenal overcomings that are soon to plague the States, all the way to California.
KS : It’s been over a year now since we talked last time, how have you been?
LH : Ha, is that a trick question?
KS: Of course. How are you doing today?
LH: Doing great! Nothing but amazing news. Tour dates are lining up, music video is coming up soon, album recording is ongoing; it’s truly an awesome rollercoaster.
KS: Yesterday’s news about your upcoming Knotfest performance made quite an impression on your fans. How did Khaotika manage to get the spot?
LH: It’s been an ongoing topic for a few years now to work with Rockstar Energy festivals, and during this year’s Mayhem Festival (R.I.P), after sharing stage with our amazing friends from [Swedish] Sister Sin for that hot minute at their 24/7 song, I got a privilege to finally meet face to face the man that makes those festivals happen. He surprised me with these fantastic news for which we are truly grateful and looking forward to bring our best at it.
KS: Are you are going to put on some shows on the way to California or just a straight shot to Knotfest and back?
LH: Oh, absolutely we will utilize this time to perform! We already picked the route, and I called it “The Devil’s Loop” for a reason. We are pretty much going through the very south bend of America, targeting TN, NM, AZ, CA, TX, LA, FL and back to Georgia so it will be a pretty awesome trip.
KS: I’ve been looking forward to seeing you in California for a long time now, so I can’t wait! Your music video is dropping two and a half weeks before you go on tour, how is production going for that?
LH: So far so great, truly. We had an honor to feature an amazing young , 3-year-old talent, Madison, who role-played the theme of the song. She did a fantastic job. [The video] will certainly tell a little story if you pay attention to it. The video will be combined with the full band feature to introduce us in a new lineup and present to the greater masses who we are and what we stand for before we release the album on the 11th of November.
KS: You mentioned the new lineup… I’ve been following the updates, but wanted to wait before getting on this subject. Are you ok to talk about it at least to a small detail?
LH: Yes, what can I answer for you?
KS: How did you handle Nick’s death? I know it must have been extremely hard on you all.
LH: It’s been a horrible , horrible time for everyone involved with the accident , including families and friends. I cannot even put in words how much we feel for Nick’s parents and family and friends, as well as Paul’s and Ian’s of Wormreich who toured with us in the same van. They are all missed badly.
The only thing that really keeps me happy are his last words before we all fell asleep besides the driver. He poked my arm and said ‘Hey, Lar , Lar! I just wanted to say thank you for letting me join Khaotika and taking me on this tour. I’m fucking beyond happy now. Can’t wait to play tomorrow in Atlanta!”. The misfortune didn’t let him play there though … but we want to carry on his spirit and redeem his name by being unstoppable and pushing further and further, until we die … TO THE DEATH!
KS: Are you afraid to travel now? This accident was all over the news and many bands now are taking big precaution with bookings and traveling.
LH: I am not afraid of death. In fact, I am looking forward to it at some point as a reward, just not yet as my mission on this world is not complete. Touring wise … see, it’s like having a candy for the first time in your life, and tasting this sweetness that you don’t want to end. Same with touring and performance. The energy coming from the crowd – once tasted – you wont let go, so whatever obstacles are on the way, they really fade out with the hunger of this energy that pulls you in. We will be more cautious than ever for sure , we know who will be driving, who won’t , plus we will be taking a pro driver with us, who is also a tour manager of Sister Sin, so he is trusted and experienced.
KS: I’ve always loved your drive and persistence, it’s what makes Khaotika’s music so compelling to me! So when the news broke about the crash, media and police reports were saying that your guitarist was driving the van. How is the situation within the band?
LH: It is not easy and will not be, but it was an accident and there is no fault to put on anyone besides … well… the accident that happened, but in order for the band to work properly, we are taking it very professionally and we work on music more focused and determined than before. I guess the grief will linger within everyone for some good amount of time, but the thought that Nick is still with us in spirit is keeping us going. Same with the bands he was involved with prior to joining Khaotika, which one of them was Immortal Decay, with Balor and Moloch, so 3 of Khaotika’s own musicians. What I can assure you is that there will be no drama over this accident, and there won’t be any splits because of it. Everyone is bringing in their full and angry energy, and this anger turns into a very heavy sound that we are very proud of.
KS: Perfect! Very happy to hear. Speaking of the sound – the new album is coming out !
LH: yes , yes, we are very proud of it as well. It’s coming out truly beautifully. Once again we are using Necromorbus Studio , from Sweden, to master our sound to bring the European roots out, and Scott Prian who recorded both of our EP and single before, also Paul Golden , a great engineer will be helping out as well. Well, the album has 11 tracks, all influenced by our spiritual attachment to what we stand for, plus some mantric or meditation influenced tracks , anger coming from the surrounding and the euphoria of achievements, all blended with transitional ambience , so overall it will be a huge explosion of what we wanted to achieve and what we did achieve.
KS: Sounds very promising! So much going on for you guys. And through everything, you are still recovering physically. The pictures you’ve been posting were not pretty. How are you on such a fast track to normalcy after such traumatic accident PLUS just having a little baby prior to the tour?!
LH: Haha, good point. It is not easy, but this year especially has taught me a lesson of my life. Every moment there is something big happening , there was not a day with any rest. Right now I am working every day on the album artwork as everything will be done by hand by me, even the 20 page booklet included in the digipak, as well as the limited edition poster, very special addition for the first 100 orders. I am also polishing the final details on the tracks before the tracking, plus working on bookings and all graphics , merchandise, orders, production, and social media, … yes it’s exhausting so I am hoping for management help soon, but I do enjoy it anyways. If it comes to my little daughter, Lilith Ama, yes, she is a blessing, but also most of my day time is completely consumed by her as I want to spend all time possible with her, to be near her, all the time. I didn’t get to feel the motherly touch as a child since my mother passed away when I was 2. I am blessed with my step mother who is my best friend now, but I do want to give Lilith what I haven’t had.
After the accident, well, this was the hardest part of my life. I lost my job because of the hand malfunction and disfigurement, and lost lots more with it that I don’t want to get into. The most hurtful out of it was that I couldn’t take care of my baby for 5 or 6 weeks, and had to rely on my family’s help. I was on the lowest bottom of depression then, because with broken ribs, every move of that 2 month old infant was a tragic pain. I could not move my hand, couldn’t get it wet, couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t even change her diapers. But it’s all past us; it’s August now and we are doing both awesome. Mommy is taking over the world, and Lilith is taking over a ton of diapers with a smile on her face. We are blessed. The whole family is. And I would never be able to do it without my husband as well.
KS: You do have a strong bond with your family, it is very radiant and shows on social media as well.
LH: I am not showing much really, just enough to give a glimpse of my world to those that I cannot reach out everyday, my family and friends, and the close fans who became a part of my life. But yes, family is everything. A happy family that will go strong all the way to the death.
KS: That is awesome. Well, I wish you nothing but the best, and I am looking forward to see you at the Knotfest! Is there anything else you would like to add?
LH: Sure, to everyone who reads it. You can buy our merch at http://khaotika.bigcartel.com and help us getting further as this is the only resource keeping us going strong with touring and recording and that’s all we want to do. Thank you for all support as always, and blessed be The Father. HS!