by Carl C. Sundberg
When The Hounds of Jezebel get the party started, they get the party started right.
As the Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas began to fill for the Awards Ceremony on the final night of the 2016 RadioContraband Convention, Lou Brutus and The Hounds of Jezebel were just starting the song that would become the theme of the night. We're not talking some auto-tuned diva in a ball gown, no princess chart-topper squeezing out some putrid glitter hit to a bunch of suits checking their smart phones.
No. This was not how the night would proceed.
This night was for rock. And the song, well it was a song so vulgar, so off the charts profane, that it could never be played on the radio without heavy editing and near constant beeps. It was raw. Fast. Loud. And no one was prepared for it.
With the help from their good friend, Mr. Lou Brutus, host of the nationally-syndicated Hard Drive radio show, who was dressed in a tuxedo with the tails, The Hounds of Jezebel, fronted by the maniacal Brutus, unleashed the thunder and kicked out their jam in full punk rock fashion, complete with a Johnny Rotten-esque accent, “If I Don't Win My Award Tonight, You Can All Go Fuck Yourself”.
The crowd all turned to the stage. Did that just happen? Yes. Yes, it did. By the end of the song, the entire room, all these bands and veterans in the rock industry, they were singing along. It was the greatest start to any awards show that has ever taken place in the history of the world.
“That is a pretty funny story how that all came about,” recalls John Curry, singer and guitarist of Hounds of Jezebel. “Lou knew we would be playing first that night and having never met him, he called me up to see if we would be interested in doing this song he had written lyrics for. We had never met, and I told the guys in the band about it. They were like 'Is he gonna send us a copy to rehearse?' and I told them he just had lyrics and we'd figure it out when we got to Vegas. A little reluctant we agreed we'd give it a try. So, we get to Vegas on Thursday and meet with Lou at the bar before the kickoff party and he tells us the lyrics while we all break out in laughter.'
'We all start drinking and never discuss it again the rest of the night thinking we'd have plenty of time at soundcheck! Well......as we all know......shit runs behind when production is involved and needless to say we had literally about 5 minutes before the show started to put it together!! I think it went pretty well all things considering! Lou is a great guy and we had a blast doing it!”
That was just the beginning of a crazy night in Vegas for the Hounds. After wrapping up the awards show with a raging set, things got crazy for Hounds of Jezebel. Well, for Mr. Curry at least. Perhaps you've seen the Facebook clip of him passed out in his underwear outside the hotel elevators. Maybe not. Either way, we'll get to that tale soon enough.
The Hounds of Jezebel, as you can imagine, make you believe in rock again. They don't pull punches and they aren't afraid of crossing the line. They rock like a band is supposed to. Full tilt. Balls out. Pure Rock Fury. Just like a band from Houston, Texas should. “There are a lot of great bands in Houston,” says Curry. “The thing with Houston is that it's so spread out that it's sometimes hard to put on big shows because everyone is spread out everywhere. You can literally play North and have a totally different crowd than when you play South or East or West. We generally try to do at least one big centralized show about every 3 months to get all of our fans in one place. If you play too much people take it for granted and stop coming, so if you make the show a special event that doesn't happen every week you usually get a great crowd.”
Starting sometime in 2012, Hounds of Jezebel is still a relatively young band, but that doesn't mean this is their first rodeo. “We were all in different bands,” recalls Curry as he explains their early days. “Mike Neyra, our drummer and Chris Loveless, our guitarist were in Earshot and then Daniel Willis, our bass player and myself actually played for Scott Stapp. We all had similar displeasing experiences and after everything fell apart I came back to Houston. I didn't play music for like 2 years, but it was really taking a negative toll on personal life. I called a friend to see if he'd be interested in jamming and he had too much on his plate but told me about two guys that were looking to do something. We had never met but got together at one of my acoustic shows, so they could see me sing. I guess they dug it because literally the next day we wrote a check for a rehearsal space and wrote 6 songs in 6 days. The rest is history!”
The story of the band's name is kind of funny according to Curry. “First of all, every band knows how hard it is to come up with a name. We were no different. I'd say 3 months in we were still getting nowhere and when I say nowhere we had some pretty shitty ideas. One day I was talking with my wife and she recommended something to do with animals or the earth. I loved Hounds. I liked The Hounds of the Baskervilles and was wanting something similar. I was laying on the couch one day watching 'Waterboy' and when his mother said, 'Sep some godless Jezebel like you' a lightbulb went off!!! Hounds of Jezebel!!! I remembered her being in the bible but after reading the story of dogs eating her body after her death I loved it even more!!! I went to rehearsal to convince the guys that this was it!!! They were not impressed to say the least. I told everyone to leave practice that night and ask at least 5 or 10 people what they thought, and we would reconvene at the next rehearsal. Well apparently, everyone loved it and Hounds of Jezebel was born. The name definitely grew on everyone and now it's who we are!”
Their sonic fingerprints are diverse, but familiar and firmly rooted in a bluesy-grooved, whiskey-soaked gospel thunder, belting out sweaty anthems, meaty riffs and sorrowful ballads that would fit perfectly in any southern bar at last call. The Hounds of Jezebel weave tunes for the beer drinkers and hell raisers of the world.
“We definitely aren't reinventing the wheel or doing anything totally different,” admits Curry. “But I do think we have our own sound that's all ours. You can definitely hear 90's, Southern Rock, Blues, and maybe sometimes a touch of country! At the end of the day we are fans of music so what you hear is what you get. I know that each of us have been influenced by many different artists and if you hear an influence here or there it's our way of saying thanks!”
When it comes to songwriting Curry's ego doesn't get in the way of a good story, although at times his writing gets a little personal. “I read a lot about current events and history and stuff and usually from a lyrical standpoint use that,” Curry says. “There are the occasional autobiographical songs though. Those guys make it pretty easy to write. They come up with such cool music and I close my eyes and picture how it makes me feel, I tell a story and then voila. It usually comes together pretty effortlessly! We truly love writing music together!”
Their first album - “Vol. 1” - was released in 2012 and on April 1st of this year, they celebrated the unleashing of their next release, “The Shakedown” a five-song EP, in their hometown of Houston, TX with a rowdy EP Release Show at The Last Concert Cafe. “We really feel like the songs on this EP are really showing the growth in our sound compared to our first release,” says Curry. “So far we've been getting the same response from our fans!!! It really means a lot when you really take your time creating something special to you, and everyone else takes notice and feels it's just as special to them as it is to us!!!! As far as the show the night of the release...WE ALWAYS ROCK!”
One of the highlights of that EP Release Show was the debut of the Hounds' first video, “The Shakedown” which involves a pretty epic trainwreck and lots of fire set to the rippin' title track of their new EP. “We have this old RV that we wanted to burn down, and I contacted the city to see how we could do that legally and shoot a live performance video around it,” recalls Curry. “Well we ended up finding this other location with train cars off of the track and turned over school buses that looked like the Zombie Apocalypse! We just wanted to do a live performance that didn't look like every other band's live performance video and I think we accomplished that! It was an amazing shoot! All of the people involved, cast and crew, were absolutely amazing to work with!”
Now, about that video of John Curry sleeping in his underwear outside the elevators at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas...
“That same Thursday night we had the kickoff party, where we met you as well, and being a rock band from Texas we like to drink,” remembers Curry. “Unfortunately for me, sometimes when I drink I sleep walk. We had been partying and the guys were tired, so they went to bed and I went to sit at the Poker tables. I got back to the room around 3 am and went to bed. At some point I got up to use the restroom - asleep - and after finishing instead of taking a left back to the bed, I took a right and walked right out of the room in my underwear. I continued to sleep walk all the way down the hall and post up on the couch right in front of the elevators!!!! The guys found me at around 8am sleeping on the couch in my underwear right in front of the casino elevators!!! So, they took video of me and posted it online! Guess sometimes what happens in Vegas makes its way to the internet!!!”
Originally published on radiocontraband.com
by Carl C. Sundberg
If the Holy White Hounds were a stock, you'd invest. So many bands come out and get tagged with the “buzz-worthy” label, but this time...this time it's different. Holy White Hounds deserve it. Their feral name best described in their bio by singer and guitars Brenton Dean: “We're dirty but we're not unclean. We're mangy, but you'd still let us sleep in your bed.” With their unique look, their peculiar vibe and infectious grooves, the quartet from Iowa are about to launch into the stratosphere of the rock world like a magnificent laser beam of glory. Why? It's the songs, stupid. Take a listen to their wild, quirky single, “Switchblade” from their upcoming debut album, “Sparkle Sparkle”, which has whiffs of Beck, the swagger of Beastie Boys, the fuzzy punk thunder of Queens of the Stone Age and an epic guitar solo that would turn Jimmy Page's head. And that's just one song. Every other song is completely different, utterly surprising, refreshing and fun and just as hard to explain. And every single song even more infectious as the last.
Hailing from an unlikely place for rock stardom – Des Moines, Iowa – Holy White Hounds might have never been heard of. That is, of course, if you forgot that a little band called Slipknot also hails from Des Moines. Which was a trip for the band growing up. “Slipknot is a hometown treasure for a lot of people,” explains Brenton Dean. “Around my high school there was always rumors of who went to our school from Slipknot, and I had friends who worked delivering pizzas who would swear they once delivered to one of their houses. Up until their other projects where they took off the masks most people still had no idea what they looked like. It was funny wondering if Corey Taylor might be lurking around the corner and you wouldn't know because- what does he look like? Slipknot worked so hard to get where they are that I think they are such an inspiration to Iowa kids and musicians because they show others what is possible.”
As cool as it was that they lived in the same city as Slipknot, the music that Brenton Dean was into was a bit different. “In the early years I really liked a lot of pop punk, Warped Tour style bands,” recalls Dean. “I was up late one night in 9th grade and saw Ben Kweller perform live on Craig Kilborn. That was a performance that really changed things for me. Shortly after I got The Hives' 'Veni Vidi Vicious', and became pretty obsessed with The Beatles and my tastes expanded quite a bit. Always been a big fan of Beastie Boys as well.”
“Music was always something that just helped me to climb out of a shell,” Dean continues. “I would never dream of dancing at a wedding or anything like that, but with a guitar on stage I felt like I could move any way I wanted. Also realizing I could say things in a song that people would accept in song form that I couldn't say in real life... that really turned me on too. I think the freedom music brought with it was what inspired me to play first.”
It was 2005 when Brenton Dean started Holy White Hounds with childhood friend and bassist Ambrose Lupercal. As kids, the two were tight and informally played music around town, becoming buzz-worthy even back then. During this formative stage, Brenton and Ambrose had encountered producer Brandon Darner who produced Imagine Dragons, Radio Moscow and Envy Corps and earned his respect. They didn’t contact him until years later, after they were out of college, and got him to produce their debut album, “Sparkle Sparkle” due out in May. But we'll get to that soon enough.
The band gained traction the old-fashioned way – playing as many live shows locally as they could. And in time, the crowds grew. “Like most bands, when we started we played a lot of hometown shows,” says Dean. “Our friends and family have always been very supportive of us and would come to a lot of our shows. But then people started coming to shows that I didn't recognize. I remember one show where people were actually cheering for us before we started playing. That was something that never happened before. It was a very cool moment for us.”
It wasn't until 2014 when the band started to get airplay on their local rock radio station, powerhouse KAZR in Des Moines, that things started to really pick up steam. An unofficial national campaign around the single, “Switchblade” began to form. “Ambrose was emailing back and forth with our local station and talking to them about dropping off a demo and asked me to take our EP [Oh Mama] down to the station,” says Dean. “We met up to hang out with Andy and Ryan from Lazer 103.3 and they were very kind to us and just fun to hang out with. They helped us out giving us some radio play and even introduced us to our managers. We have big love for those guys.”
The band continued to build momentum, showing up on the rock homepage of iTunes as a New Artist Spotlight and Apple has added them to the “Ones to Watch” playlist. In May, Holy White Hounds will unleash their debut album, “Sparkle Sparkle”, which was produced by – you guessed it – Brandon Darner and engineered by Micah Nuterra at Sonic Factory Studios in the band's hometown of Des Moines.
Behind the scenes, Dean, being an impatient type of guy, was anxious and wanted to get things done quickly, but that wasn't in the cards. “The original plan was to go in and record all the songs live and do very minimal dubbing at the end,” says Dean. “When we completed the live performances, and looked at what we had, we shifted our plans to take a bit more time with overdubs and searching for specific tones we wanted. It just took a long time to make it. For a lot reasons. It's a good thing we had a producer because I am not super patient when it comes to searching out the perfect tone and stuff like that. But in the end the time we took really paid off and we have 'Sparkle Sparkle' in all of its sonic glory.”
One thing that seems to permeate the album, in addition to the killer tracks, is a strange, unique sense of humor, which wasn't really expected going into the studio. “It gives songs with dark lyrics a weird feeling sometimes, which I like,” Dean explains. “I thought we were going to polish things over to make them squeaky clean and to the point. But our producer encouraged us to let our freak flags free in a couple moments of the record and I like how it came across.”
Holy White Hounds are poised for a prolific career at the rate they are writing. They haven't even released their first album, but that doesn't stop them from writing more music. “We try to make a habit of writing as much as possible,” says Dean. “It's easier to write when you do it a lot. I wrote the majority of 'Sparkle Sparkle', but Ambrose wrote most all the music in 'Switchblade', and 'In Your Skin', which are two of my favorite tracks on the album. We like to collaborate a lot. Anymore with the lineup of Hounds being solidified to James [Manson, guitarst], Seth [Luloff, drums], Ambrose, and I...there really is no process. Just a constant throwing at the wall of riffs, lyrics, and beats and seeing what sticks.”
So what's the secret to writing a great song? “No one has told me,” says Dean. “But if I were to guess – if you write a song that you don't think you would listen to – don't expect other people to wanna listen to it.”
Originally published on radiocontraband.com
by Carl C. Sundberg
There was a time when the band Hellyeah, the supergroup of sorts featuring Vinnie Paul, drummer of Pantera and Damageplan and Chad Grey, vocalist of Mudvayne, conjured up visions of partying, getting tore up on a Saturday night, getting a little ass, a little alcohol, a little weed, hell, maybe a fight, who knows. Basic “Hell Yeah!” Behavior. But what happens when a band sheds that good times mentality and goes a little deeper, a little darker? You get one of the most powerful albums of the band's career. For Hellyeah that's just what went down on their latest release, “Unden!able”. The album features, in addition to some of the most powerful songs the band has ever written, a cover of Phil Collin's “I Don't Care Anymore” that also happens to have the guitar work of Vinnie Paul's brother - the late, great “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. A few weeks back, we caught up with former Nothingface guitarist and co-founder of Hellyeah, Tom Maxwell at Rock on the Range 2016 in Columbus, OH before their set. We talked about the genius behind the band's name, the diehard nature of their fans, and how they left the party behind to get down and dirty on their new album, “Unden!able”.
Q: We're here at Rock on the Range 2016, tenth anniversary and I'm here with Tom Maxwell of Hellyeah!
Q: Has that gotten old, when people are like, “Hell Yeah!”
A: Nah. Everybody says it. I say it. You know what I mean.
Q: It's a genius name.
A: Best never ever, man.
Q: Everyone says it and they don't realize it until...
A: Wait til you hear the crowd today when they chant it and how badass it sounds.
Q: Yeah, I was gonna ask you, what's some of your favorite things to witness from the crowd?
A: Ah man. I obviously like to see action. Bodies flying around. Like last night, I saw this poor lady get out of the pit, man, she had her eye bashed wide open. Probably had to get stitches. They took her outside, and she was like, “Huh-uh, I'm going back in there and finish watching this fucking show and then we'll go to the hospital.”
Q: My old band opened for you guys in Eugene, OR a long time ago and there was a guy in the pit who had a compound fracture in his leg and he wouldn't go to the hospital because he wanted to watch the show.
A: I mean, c'mon!
Q: That's rock n roll.
A: That's it man, that's what it's all about.
Q: Hellyeah seemed to start off almost like a side project in the beginning but it's definitely evolved into it's own thing. What's been the path like for you?
A: Personally, it's been a weird one in the beginning. This was kind of me and Chad's baby. I had a clear vision for what I wanted to do musically, as he did lyrically. Now when we all got together, there was a lot of excitement. A couple other people were brought in. It was great. Then the second and third records, for me, I don't have much imprint on those [albums], because I didn't get the music too much. It was getting “Alcohol and Ass-y” and “Drink, Drank, Drunk” and “Helluva Time” and all these like, to me, just like, shitty hillbilly rock. So fast forward to a couple, a few years ago and we parted ways with Greg [Tribbett, guitarist] and Bob [Zilla, bassist] and the whole sole responsibility of writing fell on me, I was like, 'fucking it is on now'. I get to do what I want to do without any other cooks in my goddamn kitchen. And that's what happened. “Blood for Blood” showed up. And now we're doing the same thing with “Unden!able” that's coming out. It's taken four records, nine years, to get to this point. But I'm happy and we're happy and everybody else is happy. Everybody's coming in, radio's coming to us. You know, we didn't write music for radio. We write for us. And the fact that they're coming to us is a good sign.
Q: The band's vibe has changed over the years and recently, it's become very serious. It's not that party rock that it started off as, it's more of a, you know, this is a song that speaks to my gut, not my beer-drinking head.
A: Yeah, you know it's a great novelty, you know what I mean, for like a one-time thing. But it pigeon-holed us. It really pissed me off and it annoyed me. But now, no, it's full on...you know musically, I want to go in to a gun fight with a fucking razor blade and win. And with Chad [Grey, vocalist] it was time for him to be Chad. Who are you? There's a lot of fucked up shit in that head of yours. Let it out.
Q: Do you think he was saving some of that for Mudvayne?
A: I just think all the pieces of our puzzle finally came together. You know, I write music for him and for his life and he writes lyrics for me. I've been in a band with my favorite singer ever, we're best friends and what he does in his other band is what he does in his other band. With me, it's fucking Chad and Tom, Vinnie, Kyle [Sanders, bassist] and [guitarist Christian] Brady. It's transparent, it's real, it's organic and it's fuck all.
Originally published on radiocontraband.com
by Carl C. Sundberg
Take everything you know about the typical rock tale and throw it away. It's time to get weird.
We're talking accordions and face paint. We're talking zombie clowns. We're talking dark, bizarre fantasy worlds. We're talking car crashes with rich, wasted Vegas strippers. We're talking golden showers in hotel hallways. We're talking Jonathon Davis of Korn. We're talking about Sunflower Dead, a band you will not forget any time soon.
They rose from the ashes of the band Droid back in 2011, when ex-Droid guitarist Jamie Teissere joined up with old friends and fellow musicians Michael Del Pizzo and Jaboo to discuss a new band with a goal of “entertaining people”. As time went on, the lineup emerged, which including Buckethead bassist Luis Gascon, who was later replaced by Lats Kearns of Memento and drummer Jimmy Schultz, who, among other high-profile gigs, was a touring drummer for In This Moment at one point.
“The music industry is hard, and I can see how much it weighs on other bands we are around,” says Michael Del Pizzo, vocalist and accordion player for Sunflower Dead. “Everyone is scrambling to fit into a mold and hang on to any dollar they can bring in just to survive. I feel people have lost focus on the point of rock… you know, to throw all the rules out the window and have some damn fun. I had been feeling for quite a bit before we started SFD that the world needed something like us.”
Sunflower Dead had to be beyond guys in T-shirts and jeans on stage, it had to larger than life. “I have 5 guys that have submitted to the idea of just being themselves 100% artistically,” says Del Pizzo. “And yes, the makeup allows us to take it to places performance wise that I don’t think would be there if we wore the fad of the weeks clothes.”
To achieve their different approach and goals, they took a different approach to creating the band, spending their time crafting songs and stage personas rather that doing the old-fashioned “record demo - play local shows - rinse and repeat” technique that so many bands use in their early days.
The band had a goal to create a world where fans could escape into a dark, complex, twisted world, if only for a little while. “It’s no longer time for the world to have a villain to help them escape,” says Del Pizzo. “In the 90’s, Marilyn Manson was that villain and it was amazing. But today, we don’t need the villain, nor do we need a saint. We do need the Anti Hero. In the SFD back story which is being turned into a graphic novel, our characters are these undead vigilantes that rise from the dead and destroy the evil. We are the good guys in a sadistic kind of way. That’s how we are on stage, we might kinda look creepy, but we are a hell of a lot of fun.”
Their approach has worked, as they started their career with a 2012 self-titled debut, produced by Christin Olde Wolbers of Fear Factory.
“Christian is a friend of ours and we were such a new band and at the time and he was trying to get into producing bands that we just said, f it, let’s do it,” says Del Pizzo. “Chris is hilarious and a great musician. We had a lot of fun with him and his stories in his accent, haha.”
The album includes a darker, creepier and more sinister take of the Police's, “Every Breathe You Take”. “I am really proud of that one and it goes over live great,” says Del Pizzo. “After we wrote our debut album, I asked the guys if they wanted to do a cover. Us being the kind of guys that are generally too preoccupied to learn the correct way to play a song, I sat down with Jaboo (my lead guitarist) and rearranged the song to make it fit SFD. I believe we truly tapped into the stalker vibe of the song and brought a killer dynamic to it. It’s not a love song when we play it!”
Their most recent album, the 2016 release, “It’s Time to Get Weird” is gaining traction on radio stations across the country as well as online, with the help of an old friend and special guest, Jonathon Davis of Korn, on the self-titled lead single, “It's Time to Get Weird”.
“The guys in Korn have been friends with my one guitarist Jamie Teissere since before they were Korn,” says Del Pizzo. “I mean real friends. Jamie even took guitar lessons from Munky back in the LAPD days. It wasn’t our idea though to put him on the song. Our album was completely finished, and the original version of the song just has me. We were meeting with record labels in early 2015 and one of them suggested since we were going to tour with Korn in the summer if 2015 in the UK that we should ask JD to sing on a track. Weird, we actually never thought of that. We didn’t end up signing with the label, but we did take their great idea. Jamie sent Jon a text, then just like that we were in Bakersfield, CA at Jon’s studio tracking his vocals. It was awesome, and Jon is so rad. What a nice person he is, and I was humbled to get to work with him.”
The band recently released the official video online, an animated tale that you've just got to see to appreciate. Check it out below.
In addition to the stage personas, the face paint and the dark anti-hero approach of the band's characters on stage, one of the more interesting aspects of Sunflower Dead is the use of the accordion, an instrument that may just be on the bottom of the list of expected instruments in a hard rock band.
“It’s under used for a good reason, it’s heavy and bulky and looks weird,” says Del Pizzo. “But for me, it makes sense. I started playing the accordion when I was about 20 out of boredom. I already played the piano (sloppily) so I figured I would go out and buy an accordion and learn it. It would be a good challenge. The first time I strapped the thing on, it just felt 'right'. I can’t explain it. It was like I was supposed to play this ridiculous instrument. I love the thing though. I call it my 'Inhuman Lung' because it feels like an extension of my body. When we put SFD together, Jamie actually requested that I use it in this band and he was right, it really is perfect for us. It has been with SFD from the beginning.”
The accordion is certainly a great tool to set a band apart from the pack. It's inclusion into Sunflower Dead has certainly worked for the band live.
“Since every show starts with me walking out in my makeup and holding my accordion, you can imagine I have gotten every possible kind of reaction,” says Del Pizzo. “People yell “Weird Al” or “Urkel”, haha. People have even straight busted out laughing. But, as soon as I play it, everyone shuts up and the cell phones comes out to record it. That’s the point of doing the show that way, especially for those that don’t what we are all about. When you walk out looking like a zombie clown and you are playing an accordion, everyone’s and I mean EVERYONE’s expectations drop as low as they can go. People think, this is going to be a catastrophe. It’s another band in makeup and this idiot has an accordion. Then we give it to them and the script flips. It is a set up on our part and done purposely and always works the same. Look at us getting all psychological on rock audiences haha.”
It even got the attention of nationally syndicated heavy metal TV and radio host Eddie Trunk, who was in the audience and caught the band's set at The Vinyl in Las Vegas for the RadioContraband Convention and Awards Ceremony. He dug it enough to tweet about the experience: “Checked out a new band called Sunflower Dead in Vegas the other night. Metal accordion! Was very cool.”
“The experience was incredible for me personally,” says Del Pizzo. “Being a people watcher, I was happily surprised that it wasn’t a room full of industry suits. I mean, you never know what something like this could turn out to be. The Rock Radio Community, from what I saw, was this amazing group of people that are huge fans of the music they promote. It was great to watch because these are the people that help build careers with their on-air support. You could tell their excitement to be doing what they do and how stoked they were on the bands performing. I absolutely loved that!
And speaking of Vegas, what rock band's tale would be complete without a wild night on the strip...
“Here is a fun little story that happened when some of my guys were coming back from the Killswitch Engage show at the Convention,” says Del Pizzo. “They were driving down the strip and they got whacked by a car out of nowhere. Apparently when they looked at the driver it was this banging hot stripper who was completely obliterated. This chick was so out of sorts, she decided to drive off, fast. The SFD guys, drove after her and were chasing her down the strip hanging out the window of their car taking photos and videos of her. She eventually pulled over and she was really, really messed up, haha. Perfect opportunity to make a deal, right?!?! Instead of calling the cops, they told her to give them $3000 in cash for the damage and they would let it all go. SHE DID, haha. So, they got the cash and went to the next party of the evening, which I won’t repeat what happened. But I do know that some hotel hallway in Vegas apparently received a golden shower. Ok, that’s enough, the convention was AWESOME!”
Originally published on radiocontraband.com
by Carl C. Sundberg
With six full length albums - seven total - and relentless tour schedules that keeps them on the road most of every year, Bobaflex believes in the power of blood, sweat and tears. Formed in 1998 by brothers and guitarist/vocalists Shaun and Marty McCoy, the band is celebrating their 15th anniversary. For many bands, this act alone is feat. But the McCoy brothers come from a legacy of family honor and strength as they are known for their ancestral ties to the most infamous family feud in American history between the Hatfield and McCoy families.
The notion of conflict, struggle and fury that fueled that feud remains strong generations later in the blood of the McCoy brothers and is clear in Bobaflex's music and album artwork. Take their latest album, “Anything That Moves” their seventh release for example. In addition to powerhouse songs from start to finish, it features an album cover of the sexiest post-apocalyptic world since Mad Max. Complete with a scantily-clad female warrior standing in the ruins of a devastated American capitol, holding a couple of wild weapons of mass destruction in each hand, you don't get more aggressive.
“Sex and violence is always the theme of every Bobaflex album,” says Marty McCoy. “She is the perfect image for the album. The title 'Anything that Moves' can be attached to whatever statement you like. Fuck, kill, love, hate, help, crush, anything that moves. That's the band in a nutshell.”
The latest single from “Anything That Moves” is a mammoth anthem called “Spider in the Dark” which follows in a long tradition of imaginative and haunting tunes from a band who fearlessly weaves their personal lives into their songs.
“It's about becoming a monster,” says McCoy. “Experiences shape our lives and not always for the better. Some of the things I've seen keep me up at night. I think a lot of people can connect with that.”
People are connecting to it. “Spider” is rising the rock radio charts and is being played on over 25 stations across the country and growing. It's connected even more online. In a world of trolls where it's more common to see disgust and hate in any given comments section, the YouTube video for “Spider” is flooded with fans from every walk of life, young and old, singing praise for the song, the band, and the legacy they continue to build with consistency and unique songwriting.
What helps Bobaflex stand apart from the rest of the pack most likely comes down to their lineup, which consists of not one, not two, but three vocalists who also play guitar. In addition to the McCoy brothers, Dave Tipple rounds out the trio of singers and axe slingers alongside Jymmy Toland holding down the low end on bass and Tommy Johnson in the back on drums. The three singer/guitarist approach has always been there, even before Bobaflex existed. It may come as surprise to many fans as to where it came from.
“It came about from our bluegrass roots,” says Marty McCoy. “We grew up with my father always jamming with bluegrass musicians in our living room. Everybody sang, and switched instruments and it was common place to hear harmonies and different lead singers. We always thought 'if you can't sing you can't be in the band'.”
In addition to that, Bobaflex also writes their music as a group, leaving no one out of the process. Unless of course, someone gets to rehearsal late.
“As far as writing goes, we all are involved,” says McCoy. “It's a beautiful thing. If you show up to rehearsal late you might be left out of the song. Everybody writes, and we like it that way. Keeps us from sounding the same on every song/album.”
This variety is one of the great aspects of Bobaflex, who has managed to write distinct, yet signature songs on every single album that never stray from heavy topics including: drug use and abuse, violence, broken relationships, nasty booking agents, insanity, death, wild sex, self-image issues, America's disintegrating society and the trials and tribulations of being a touring band among other things.
Each song is a novel in itself and the epic tales within them tend to come from an autobiographical, personal point of view. Take the brutally intense, “Home” from Bobaflex's 2007 album, “Tales from Dirt Town” which tells the story of a musician on the road who longs for the comfort of his home and does everything he can to endure and keep moving forward, including the ingesting of medication from a doctor. The dark, Pink Floyd-ish vibe is chilling to the core.
“It's absolutely an autobiography,” says McCoy. “We tour so much that sometimes you get really home sick. When you're 2,000 miles from home and your woman tells you she never wants to see you again you get great songs out of it. Pink Floyd is one of my favorite bands. Any time we can rip them off I'm all for it.”
Speaking of ripoffs, it would appear that Disturbed took a page out of Bobaflex's book recetnly when they chose to cover Simon and Garfunkle's “The Sound of Silence”. Disturbed's rendition came out five years after Bobaflex recorded the same song on 2011's “Hell In My Heart.” We asked Bobaflex what they thought of this.
“I love Disturbed's version,” says McCoy. “They can do no wrong in my book. When we covered it, we wanted to do it as if Simon and Garfunkel were a new band in the music biz today. It's a beautiful song and it stands the test of time. All you have to do is sing it and it will remain beautiful. I'm glad to have been a part of it.”
Originally published on radiocontraband.com
By Carl C. Sundberg
If you’ve never heard the sound of missile alarms, you should be thankful, you’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. When this sound is a routine in your day-to-day existence, it’s not hard to wonder how heavy metal could seduce a young teenage boy growing up in a region where war and violence is the way. For Orphaned Land frontman, Kobi Farhi, these alarms were commonplace in his hometown of Tel Aviv, Isreal in the early 90s. “Back then it was the first Gulf War; Saddam Hussein was throwing all these missiles in Israel,” Farhi recalls. “And every time we had the missile alarm, this sound was part of our daily life. And if you listen to Metallica’s Ride the Lightning - I don’t remember precisely which song it was - but one of the songs, the ending of it is like this siren going off.”
Ride the Lightning was the first metal album Farhi purchased. He was 15 years old and still listening to Michael Jackson, Wham and George Michael. One day he stumbled upon an interesting piece in the daily newspaper about a band called Iron Maiden and their album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and it’s influence on someone. “There was a story about a guy whom they suspected committed suicide because he was into Satanism. Which was very untrue, but it was enough to draw my attention,” Farhi says. “I’m growing up in this very tense region asking myself questions about life, and everything is looking fake to me. And I’m seeing this metal band, and everything [about it] looks like some kind of rebellion. It’s maybe the only true thing I can find in this stinking world [at the time]. I was fascinated and I really had to check it out.”
He ran to his local record store that day to buy the album but he couldn’t find Iron Maiden. Instead he found Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. When Farhi got home and listened to it, the album changed him completely. “I can divide my life in two,” Farhi says. “Before and After. I had shivers all over my body. I felt like I discovered the Treasure. Like I discovered a secret world. Like I’m aware of the secrets of the universe.” He grew out his hair, he cut up his jeans, and from that day on, Kobi Farhi knew what his destiny would be.
He soon started a band, called it Resurrection, and it started off sounding like the death metal bands of Tampa, FL, ala Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse. “Everything that was coming out of Tampa back then was like the thing.” Farhi says. “But being from the Middle East, its kind of boring to try to be this Tampa, FL wannabe band, because at the end of the day, we’re not from Tampa, FL.” Within six months the band realized that being from the Middle East, they should incorporate more traditional Middle Eastern sounds into their music. “That was the point where we decided to change the name of the band to Orphaned Land,” Farhi says. “We see Israel, or all these holy lands, we see them pretty much as orphaned lands.”
They began to combine a multitude of Jewish and Arabian melodies, languages and themes into their metal band’s sound, creating a powerful cross of progressive death metal with authentic Middle Eastern folk music, instrumentation and story. “We found ourselves, very fast, at the age of 18, sitting in the studio recording our first album [Sahara],” Farhi says. “I remember looking at one another, and we had the feeling that we were doing something very much unique.”
Six years and four albums later, Orphaned Land has returned to the metal world with the epic masterpiece The Neverending Way of OrWarriOR, their second release on Century Media, and their first album mixed by Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree. With 15 songs - in three parts - the album fills a CD at just under 80 minutes. Years in the making, it tells the tale of the Warrior of Light, first born as an orphan who emerges a powerful being, yet one who still constantly battles darkness, in any capacity. “We live in such a darkened world,” Farhi says. “And if you are a warrior of light, you have to go through the never-ending way of fighting, or trying to enlighten your people or your surroundings. The warrior of light is not some kind of heroic messiah that is going to come and rescue us. It is simply me and you. Every single one of us is a warrior of light.”
Combining everything from Yemenite folk music, Jewish and Arabic melodies into their unique blend of progressive death metal, Orphaned Land also utilizes a plethora of instruments on this album, ranging from standard rock instruments to saz, bouzouki, violins, shofars, santurs and pianos. “This is really fascinating to work with these instruments,” Farhi says. “I really like synthesizers and everything, but if you have the real thing, then this is an added value.” Not surprising, due to the complexity of this album, as all Orphaned Land albums, it was a long, arduous process to create. And one that is virtually impossible to recreate live. “To perform everything we do onstage, we need twenty people,” Farhi says. “And this is pretty much impossible to do in terms of budget. We really need some kind of millionaire to get behind us, and I’m still looking for that guy. But when we play live, most of these elements, you do hear them, but they simply come from the PC computer.”
Since 2001, after their first show outside of Israel, Orphaned Land has become a powerhouse in many Muslim-based countries, like Turkey, Morocco, Egypt and much of Eastern Europe and Russia. And while they are not allowed to tour most of the Middle East, they have a strong fan base throughout the Arab world, albeit hidden under strong censorship laws, war torn regions and brutally oppressive governments.
The only place in the world that they seem to have a poor response from is the United States. But Farhi believes it because it’s easy to misinterpret the message of the band, perhaps because of their album artwork, or the overall sound of the band. “You always need to dig deep to get to the bottom of things and sometimes the fans in America just don’t bother,” Farhi says. “They see our photo and they immediately label us, like ‘What is this religious crap?’ or ‘Why the hell do you think you have the right to combine religion with metal music?’ It’s like they see us as some kind of missionary, which is completely untrue.” And while Farhi doesn’t take offense to this kind of criticism, he does want people to understand what he’s actually doing with his music. “We’re coming from the Middle East. We’re living this conflict of Christians, Muslims and Judaism. I really don’t see any sense of us taking a photo with a Lamb of God t-shirt, sunglasses and having this very tough, rockstar face. This would have been much easier for us to do that. You see, these three Abrahamic religions [from the cover of OrWarriOR], these religions that are supposed to be about charity and tolerance, all these groups are killing each other in the name of God - for centuries - and we have a lot of criticism against it. We’re not religious, we’re not preaching. We have a lot of criticism about religion and what it has made. This is a simple photo saying to people, ‘Why can’t you just get the fuck along’.”
Orphaned Land is determined to change the view of their band in the states, one show at a time. “We’re really happy to come to the states,” Farhi says. “It’s a start, and for a start, it’s very good. And the plan is to tour as much as possible. USA. Europe. Wherever we’re wanted, we’ll go. We want to film a DVD in Israel, maybe next year. We want to continue to make music and to help our region with our music.”
And when it takes years to complete an album, it should be no surprise that Orphaned Land has the patience and the determination to carry on with touring, recording music and essentially carrying forth with the never ending way of the warrior. Perhaps one day, this world of darkness - of critical metal heads, of holy lands filled with the sounds of missle sirens - won’t be so commonplace, or won’t exist at all. Or perhaps it will always be this way, and that, precisely, is why the way of the warrior is never ending. And why Orphaned Land will play on for as long as they shall live.
Originally published on 101d.com
By Carl C. Sundberg
Triptykon originally began as a side project for black metal pioneer Tom Gabriel Warrior, founder of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. It wouldn’t be long before ego battles and inner struggle within Celtic Frost would lead Warrior to disband it once and for all and make Triptykon his only band. Taking the music and frustration he endured during the final days of Celtic Frost, Warrior went back into the studio with all new members and made Triptykon his primary focus and recorded some of the most furious music to date.
“The roots of Triptykon date back to the final months of Celtic Frost,” Tom Gabriel Warrior explains. “I found myself being a part of a band that no longer played any music but instead spent its time at the rehearsal room arguing in circles about ego problems. I became so immeasurably frustrated by this situation and I was unable to break the situation that I began a side project so that I could continue writing and recording music.”
Warrior hoped that Celtic Frost would become a band again and settle its differences, but it never happened. The band fell completely apart in April of 2008. By this time the side project known as Triptykon had grown drastically and eventually became Warrior’s only band.
The music of Triptykon’s debut album ‘Eparistera Daimones’ is more personal than anything ever written for Hellhammer or Celtic Frost. In the liner notes, Warrior goes into detail about the backstory of each of the songs, but also points out that they are totally optional when listening to the album. “I think it’s important that music forms an image in the listener’s head.” Warrior says. “At times it’s probably negative to explain too much, but if a fan’s interested in what’s behind these songs, he or she can read it. But it’s totally voluntary.”
And while this album is very personal to Warrior, he was also trying to push his musical evolution further than he had in the past. “On this album I wanted to continue to develop the kind of writing style that we already recorded on the Monotheist album,” he says. “I was very curious to see where this music would lead.”
Half of the music on the album was written during the days of Celtic Frost and half was written afterward, and while Warrior wrote most of the music, he said it was always a group effort when it came to writing. “All but two songs were written by me,” he says. “But all of the songs are developed after I bring them to the rehearsal room by the whole band. The arrangements are made by the entire band. It’s very much a band even though I’m the main songwriter. It’s not a dictatorship by any means. I made that clear in the beginning I’m interested in a band, not a solo project.”
Unlike the last Celtic Frost album, which took five years for the band to write, ‘Eparistera Daimones’ was written rather quickly. The band started writing the album in early 2009 and December of that year the album was finished. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. “This album carries tons of baggage from the breakup of Celtic Frost which was a hugely difficult time for me,” Warrior says. “There’s a million emotions in it. And writing these songs and putting these emotions into the songs was anything but easy.”
There were many people in the music industry who urged Warrior to continue under the name Celtic Frost, using different musicians, as the last album from them - ‘Monotheist’ - was very successful, and starting over would be difficult, if not devastating. “I knew full well that if I formed a new band, I would have to start pretty much lower than Celtic Frost,” Warrior says. “But I didn’t want to go onstage and lie to my fans and pretend it’s Celtic Frost when it’s not. There’s enough bands that do such things. I don’t want to be part of that.”
While Warrior expected Triptykon to have to build a brand new following from scratch, he mentions that the response from fans and critics has been unanimously positive. “I’m overwhelmed by the reaction,” he says. “We received amazing reviews almost universally and I’m completely flattered and blown away by what’s happening.”
Originally published on 101d.com
By Carl C. Sundberg
Forming in 1989 in Gothenburg, Sweden, Dark Tranquillity is one of a handful of bands widely considered being one of the forefathers of Swedish death metal (along with At the Gates and In Flames).
The band recently celebrated their 20th Anniversary with a double live album and DVD entitled, “Where Death is Most Alive” recorded in Milan, Italy on Halloween night of 2008. The album charted #1 on the Swedish DVD charts and spans their entire spectacular career.
Dark Tranquillity spent the last few months recording the follow up to the bands most successful album to date, 2007’s “Fiction” and on March 1st/2nd, they will release this ninth studio album, “We Are The Void”, worldwide. The recording process was also filmed by Anders Bjorler (At the Gates/The Haunted) and released as webisodes on their official homepage. They have confirmed their first US Tour of 2010, hitting the road with Killswitch Engage and The Devil Wears Prada throughout February and March.
We spoke with vocalist Mikael Stanne from the comforts of his bed in Gothenberg, Sweden about their 20th anniversary, the upcoming tour with Killswitch Engage, the recording of their new album, their new bassist and overcoming studio anxiety.
Q: First things first, happy 20th anniversary, you got that killer live double album. Tell me about this. I mean it’s rare that audiences chant the riffs…
A: Thank you. That was fun. It’s something that…I think the Italians are amazing when it comes to that. It’s something we noticed the first time we went to Italy in 1995 or something like that and ever since then we’ve been dying to record in Italy. Let’s do something, do an album, record a DVD, whatever and we didn’t have the time or the financials to pull it off but now, last year we just decided, fuck it we had to do it. There was this venue we really liked [The Rolling Stone] and they were shutting it down so we decided we had to be there before they shut it down. So we raised a hell of a show and we had this camera crew and a sound crew and they came down from Finland to record it, and it turned out really, really well. We’re really fucking happy with it. They shut it down, I think the next day, they shut the whole thing down. It’s an amazing fucking cool place. So it just felt really special to do it there and the crowd as you can hear and see, they’re awesome. It turned out exactly the way we wanted it to. (Laughs)
Q: Is that a typical thing to see the crowd going apeshit for your band or is that few and far between for you guys?
A: Yeaaaaahhh, more often than not, I guess. Italy is special, especially when you bring out 15 cameras. They get a bit enthusiastic. But I mean south of Europe, for sure, that’s pretty much the norm and most of Europe I guess, especially the southern parts, like Spain and Italy and Portugal, France. It’s just amazing.
Q: Do you get that kind of response in the states?
A: No, not really. I mean sometimes, you know. But it’s definitely growing and that’s why we really love touring the states, we see this growth with every tour we do. We’ve done five, seven tours and every time we come back, the audience is twice as big. So that’s amazing and we’re really looking forward to coming back.
Q: Yeah, you’re going on tour with Killswitch Engage. That should be a pretty significant tour this year.
A: Oh yeah, absolutely. We’re really looking forward to that. That’s gonna be amazing especially since were going out before the album’s coming out, just promote the shit out of it, makes sure everybody hears it and hopefully we get to introduce our music to a lot more people. I think it’s going to be really, really cool for us.
Q: I want to talk to you about the new album, “We Are the Void”. Man, I’ve heard a couple songs on the myspace page and it’s sounding pretty outstanding, tell me about what you guys want to do with this new album.
A: Well, I guess since it’s been 20 years since we started, we figured we cannot just do another album that is similar to the last. It has to be new; it has to be different. We kept telling ourselves this is life or death stuff. This is serious. This has to be the first album for the next twenty years instead of the previous twenty. It has to show we’re still relevant, it has to show that we’re still a force to be reckoned with and we haven’t stagnated, we haven’t stopped evolving. It has to feel fresh and new and a good starting point for the next couple albums and the next twenty years. So we took it really, really seriously. We wanted to make sure the album was more diverse and had a wider range of emotions and ideas, so it goes from really, really heavy stuff to really, really fast and grinding stuff to some really kind of mellow slow, depressing stuff. Everything is in there. But I think it comes together really well. It’s a way more serious album than anything we’ve ever done because we looked each other in the eyes and was like, “fuck this is it. It has to be right. It has to be the best ever”.
Q: And you got a new addition, Daniel Antonsson, the old Soilwork guitarist on the bass for this album, is he just on the album or is he in the band?
A: Yeah, he’s in the band. He joined us for the tour we did for the DVD, which was a year ago and we just felt this was perfect, this is right and we’ve known him for pretty much 15 years, so it was the most obvious choice for us. He definitely contributed to the construction of some of the songs, with the build up and the setup of all the songs. He wrote most of songs that are up on the myspace page. He has a different kind of idea and a different background, which is interesting for us. The four of us have been writing music for 20 years together, so it’s kind of hard to have someone new in, but it actually has worked. It’s just a matter of him getting how we work and the way we communicate. But he’s totally grown into the band and for the next album I think he’ll contribute way more.
Q: On your website, I noticed also you got some sweet video of you guys recording the album. How did that come about?
A: We wanted some kind of update so the people knew what we were doing and kind of build up expectations for the album. And the cool thing is Anders Bjorler, guitar player for The Haunted and ex-At the Gates has been a good friend of ours for 20 years and he asked us, “Can I, you know, record and document this recording,” because he usually hangs out anyway. He loves to film and shoot stuff, so he starting shooting the whole recording process and he made these webisodes and I think they turned out really well. He managed to capture the boredom and the excitement and the anxiety of recording. We did like five or six of them and I think they’ll end up in a longer version as a full length, 50 minute documentary with the album, kind of a limited edition or whatever. The way we record is kind of laid back and simple and we wanted to document that so I don’t have to explain the process a 1000 times (Laughs)
Q: What I found interesting watching the videos, is that it really shows the modern day technology that’s available to a band in this day and age. I mean it’s all computers…
A: Yeah, there’s no tapes rolling, you don’t need tons of hardware. You need the proper computer and the software and a couple microphones and stuff like that and you’re good to go. And that’s how our studio works. It’s the bare essentials but it’s perfect for us. It’s just a matter of getting good, clean signals. Then you leave it up to a mixer and they create something magical out of it.
Q: I noticed you spent some time on the Xbox…I mean, vocalists are usually looked at as the key person in the band, but they’re usually the last to record.
A: Oh yeah, yeah yeah…(Laughs)
Q: You get to hang out and wait. (Laughs)
A: Yeah, Absolutely. Up until the last two weeks I do nothing. I just supervise the whole thing. “Yeah, that sounds good. Yeah.” Then I go home and finish all the lyrics. Yeah, absolutely. I’m so envious of all the other guys in the band, especially Anders [Jivarp] who finishes his drums in the first two weeks then he can relax and just criticize us.
Q: Do you have anxiety during that period when you’re waiting to do your thing?
A: Oh shit, yeah! Absolutely .It’s the worst! I hate it. I don’t sleep for two months or so and I’m up all the time rearranging vocal lines and changing things and adding words and removing stuff so yeah. It’s horrible. I hate it. We felt so bad, especially me and Martin Brandstrom, he’s always pretty late when it comes to keyboards as well. He has all his sounds, he does them all the way up to the last possible second. So we can call each other at 4 oclock in the morning, and be like, “Hey how do you feel?” “Oh, like shit. I hate it. I want it to be over. Fuck..” But I think that’s good. It’s a good driving force. And when you finish it, it makes the whole process…the first time you listen to it and we realized we were done, it was just fantastic. It’s just a sigh of relief. Holy shit, we’ve done it and it works and it sounds good. We’re happy. We can finally crack open a few beers and enjoy it.
Originally published on 101d.com
By Carl C. Sundberg
It’s been about five years since Nevermore released a full-length album. Between world tours, solo projects and life in general, it’s just the reality of a busy, legendary progressive thrash band from Seattle, WA.
But Nevermore is back with a vengeance with their seventh studio album, “The Obsidian Conspiracy”, an album that finds Nevermore taking their monstrous sound to a brutal new level. It was produced by former Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers and mixed by the notorious Andy Sneap.
Vocalist Warrel Dane spoke with us about the album, the artwork, the early days of the band fighting through the grunge movement that exploded in their home city of Seattle in the mid-90s, and his thoughts on the heavy metal movement of today.
Q: It’s been five years since your last record, why so long?
A: Well it didn’t really take five years. I know it seems like that for a lot of people, but for us it doesn’t seem that long. We toured almost two and half years for the last record, and when we were done, we focused on doing a DVD. Then after that we did a couple of solo records that Jeff and I obviously had to get out of our systems. So it’s not like we really went anywhere, we were just doing different things.
Q: Now this album has some pretty intense artwork. Tell me about what went into it, what were you guys trying to do with it.
A: Well you know, Travis [Smith] is amazing. He’s a great artist and anytime he does a Nevermore cover, people know it’s going to be something special. And whenever that happens, I work pretty closely with him; we lob ideas back and forth. For me it’s always important for the artwork to really reflect the music and the lyrics, and I think it really does. But at the same time I’m not going to explain it all, literally, but you can see that the Washington monument is decaying in the background. So I think you get the gist of it probably.
Q: What were some of the themes on Obsidian Conspiracy?
A: Suicide, murder, abortion and capital punishment.
Q: Wow. Very aggressive.
A: Yeah, within the context of some of the mellower songs, you’ll find some very, very subversive text.
Q: When you’re writing lyrics, where do you get the ideas? Are you a news watcher, is it stuff that happens in your own personal life or…
A: I’m a life watcher, I’m not sure that I’m a news watcher, but I watch CNN sometimes. Fox News makes me wanna kill myself. But the weird thing is if you watch CNN when you’re not in America, it’s completely different. It’s so slanted here toward our agenda. A lot of people don’t know that. But uhh…I get my influences from pretty much every thing; I’m not really sure how to explain that.
Q: Nevermore started in the mid nineties when the grunge movement happened, and you guys were from Seattle doing metal, tell me about that period - the early days.
A: That was a really weird time. Basically anybody that was playing metal in this city was completely disrespected by the media and other musicians in this city. So it was rough. But we always had our ideals in place. We knew what we were doing. We knew what we wanted to do and weren’t going to change it. I just remember when we first started, technically when Nevermore first started, it was under contract from Sony because of Sanctuary and we gave them demos, and this is the first response I got, and it goes like this: Frankly I expected something a little grungier. [Laughs] So that should clue you in to what the climate was back then. So basically they said no, after we’ve kept you on a leash for three years, you can go find a contract on your own and that’s when Century Media signed us.
Q: Was there ever a time during that period where you guys thought maybe we shouldn’t be doing this, maybe we should go grungier?
Q: At what point in Nevermore’s career did you see the tides turn more in your favor, in terms of the metal scene?
A: Well, I’m not really sure if the tides really have turned. But I know that perseverance pays off. There’s a reason we’re still here right now.
Q: What’s your thoughts on heavy metal in general, has it reached its pinnacle, is there room to grow?
A: Any genre has room to grow, but I’m sure metal isn’t going anywhere right now. Actually I know it’s not going anywhere, cuz its always going to be here. But within any genre of music, there’s always room to grow and boundaries to be expounded on. I’m not sure if we’re doing that, but at least we’re trying a little bit.
Originally published on 101d.com
By Carl C. Sundberg
Known as one of the bands that ushered in the new thrash revival, Municipal Waste has been wreaking havoc from the US to the UK since 2000, after playing their first gig at a keg party in their hometown of Richmond, VA - home to other veteran metal bands Lamb of God and Gwar.
With head-snapping speed and riffs that tear mosh pits to shreds, Municipal Waste is also well known for their crazy shows and their wild party antics - on and off stage – having written in their own words, the “Reign in Blood of party albums” with their third release, “The Art of Partying.” Vocalist/frontman Tony Foresta admits this album really put Municipal Waste on the map for a lot of people just waking up to the thrash revival, but it is not their final stand.
Their next release and current album, “Massive Aggressive”, takes the fury and intensity in a more serious direction, proving that Municipal Waste is not just another beer-chugging, pizza-eating, denim-wearing neo-thrash party band. Municipal Waste is here to fuck you up for the long haul.
Q: What got you into thrash?
A: When I was younger, I was more coming out of the punk scene, and I liked more of the aggressive brutal punk, I listened to a lot of Power Violence, stuff like that. You can see back then, most of these really good thrash bands listened to punk bands. You can look at the back of an old thrash record and look at the t-shirts of the bands that they’re wearing, and they were into punk and hardcore. Look at the back of a Metallica record, you’ll see Cliff Burton wearing a Misfits shirt. Dudes in Nuclear Assault wearing NDC shirts, stuff like that. I mean it’s basically punks playing metal. It’s fast and it’s aggressive and it’s catchy. It’s a different style of music. It’s more than just metal.
Q: Thrash had it’s roots in the early 80s, you had bands like Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, Kreator, Testament, and now there’s a reemergence of the thrash movement, people calling it neo thrash or whatever, with the denim jackets, it seems like a very cohesive intentional thing. Did you see that coming or did that shock you?
A: I thought it was kind of weird. I remember 8 years ago, we used to wear denim, but nobody in the band wears denim anymore. Wait, no Phil does actually. But I remember we used to roll up to hardcore shows and we’d be the only guys in denim jackets and long hair, and people would be like, “You guys are fucking crazy”. They thought we were like straight out of the 80s or something, and we were just dressing like what we dressed like. We weren’t really trying to start a throwback or anything. We were doing and dressing how we liked. It just felt right to us. Now, I don’t even wear a vest anymore, cuz it’s just crazy now, I don’t want it to be like a trendy thing. It’s weird now to see how many people are into this whole thrash revival, for lack of a better word. I never would of really expected it to explode the way it has.
Q: It is kind of crazy seeing 13 year old dudes who have the complete perfect thrash wardrobe or wearing something you would have seen at an Anthrax show in 83. It’s like, ‘You weren’t alive back then! Where did this come from?’
A: It is crazy, but it’s cool that people are going back and looking at that music because when we started playing it, it was something kind of forbidden and people were kind of embarrassed to talk about it. Which I thought was ridiculous. But yeah, just to see that comeback in full circle and have people embrace it is cool. It’s helped our band a lot because more people are listening to our band now than they would have ten years ago.
Q: And you guys beat a lot of bands to the punch. You’ve been doing this a lot longer than most of the new bands, you’re on the spearhead of the revival.
A: Yeah, we started out before it. We weren’t really trying to do that. It just kind of happened. I mean yeah, it’s a good thing, like I said, it’s helped our band a lot. We’re able to tour the world now and see all these amazing countries and I never thought I could do that just playing music. I’d be happy just to make it out to the west coast once every couple years. (laughs) But now we’re just a touring force because so many people support what we’re doing. It’s amazing.
Q: You guys are from Richmond, VA where Lamb of God and Gwar are from, what’s the scene like over there?
A: It’s weird cuz it’s a really small town, smaller than like Columbus, Ohio, but the music scene is monstrous. The reason why, I think, is because Richmond’s like a suburb of DC, it’s 2 hours south of DC and 2 hours west of Virginia Beach, and those are two huge cities that don’t have thriving music scenes. So I think a lot of the creative people get frustrated with that, the expensive rent or whatever and they move to Richmond because it’s just a more open-minded community and they move here and start killer bands. There’s also an art school here. So it’s packed with creative people and there’s a killer band for every genre of music, it’s not just thrash or metal. It’s like Seattle in the 90s only it’s more lo-key, people don’t realize it.
Q: You guys are known to be a party band. How much of that image is real, how much of it is more like, “Well we gotta go with it…”
A: Considering I’m standing outside in my sweat pants completely hammered still from last night…(laughs) I mean we party. We’re not crackheads or anything. We’re not drug addicts. But we drink a lot. We have a lot of good friends in different towns so it’s kind of hard to take a night off sometimes, but as much as we travel, it’s good to see our friends as often as you can. So when you see them, it’s crazy. That’s what happened last night. So yeah we party. We party our ass off. But we also take writing music and touring and traveling the world very seriously. It gets me down sometimes when people think that all we wanna do is get fucked up and trash shit. It happens. (Laughs) But it ain’t what we’re about. It’s not the only thing we’re about. If it was, I think we’d be a shitty band and we wouldn’t write good songs.
Q: What’s some of the craziest shows you’ve played recently?
A: On this tour we played Houston, and some guy climbed up in the rafters while the opening band was playing and kicked the sprinkler system, one of the nozzles, and it exploded. And all this black water that smelled like mercury shot all over the crowd. I mean it was seriously like a fire hose going off into the crowd and they cancelled the show. We had to run out and grab all of our equipment and clear it out of the building and it was a huge mess. What other shit happened on this tour…the next day we played Austin, TX and Billy Milano from SOD got up on stage and sang United Forces with us. So that was really cool. Every day something new and crazy happens. And that’s why we do this band. It brings people together and it’s always a crazy experience.
Q: Are there any places you guys have played that are ridiculous hot spots for thrash?
A: Oh man, yeah. LA is just over the top right now. It’s unbelievable. Our shows in LA are insane. London is awesome. Shit man, there’s some surprising ones in there…Philly is always good. Philly’s like our second home. Toronto is pretty wild too, Italy; when we go out to Italy the kids are so hungry for it and they just go crazy. I think it’s more ravenous with towns we’ve never been to, it’s just so crazy. People just freak out that we’re there. Like eastern Europe, the places they don’t get music as much, they’re hungry for it. They live for it. When a band comes through, they rip ‘em apart. (laughs) They kicked my ass dude. It was hard to keep our equipment intact because so many kids were jumping onstage and pushing me over and jumping in the crowd. It’s just wild. We get our ass kicked. That’s what happens when you’re an in-your-face band. It means the world to us to go to these countries and people react that way. I’d much rather have someone knock me over and screaming our lyrics than somebody just be standing there with their arms folded.
Q: Let’s talk about the new album. It’s your fourth release. What was something you wanted to do different with Massive Aggressive that Municipal Waste hasn’t done before?
A: Well, when we did out third album, The Art of Partying, we were trying to write the Reign in Blood of party albums. We thought it’d be funny to have a concept record about partying. But what happened was, the album was a success. We didn’t realize it, but it was actually a breakthrough album for us because it was the first album that people heard by Municipal Waste. It was like, ‘oh that’s this band.’ All they sing about is partying, that’s amazing, so all people knew about was our partying, we kind of had to branch away from that and let it be known that we’re not just a party band. We’re not just gonna write songs about that. We’re gonna write some ripping tunes. And I think we pulled it off. But it wasn’t easy.
Q: What were you trying to do lyrically with Massive Aggressive?
A: We wanted to write more focused songs, something more pissed off, for lack of a better word, something more aggressive .We wanted to have a record that punches you from start to finish. It’s not our fastest record, but I think it’s one of our strongest ones.
Originally published on 101d.com