2008. december 28., vasárnap

Culprit - Scott Earl

Culprit was born of a three piece hard hitting power trio that included John DeVol's guitar, you on bass, and Bud Burrill on drums, do you still remember how did you get together? Was Culprit the very first band for all of you or…?
I was playing with Adam Brenner and Gary Thompson who went on to play with TKO and Q-5 Adam also had a solo career with Adam Bomb and Gert Animal when I was 14.
I moved to California for a period and they replaced me. So when I got back I met Bud through some friends in High School and I was darting John's sister at the time so when Bud and I needed a guitarist we hooked up. The original band was called Orpheus. We had several singers, but finally met up with Jeff and KJ when they opened for us. We joined forces and Culprit was born.
Who came up with the name of the band?
Shortly there after, Jeff Le' Roux and KJ Kristofferson would join, how did they get in the picture exactly? What about their musical past?
They were in a band called Amethyst
Were they the first choices or did you try out some other musicians as well?
Our first choice was Jeff Tate for vocals. We met one time to discuss it but he was involved with a band called Myth at the time and as much as we tried we couldn't persuade him. Ha!
Was it easy the members that were sharing the same musical taste and interest as you?
Did you have common musical roots or everybody has its own fave, influence and as a mix from this did you create Culprit's music?
Yes and no. We all liked the same bands but in addition KJ and I also dug more pop bands like Cheap Trick etc. I guess that's why we went on to do other things together.
What about the Seattle scene at this point? What kind of bands did start their career at the same time as you and which clubs did start opening their doors?
Let's see there was Rail, Myth, The Mob, Shadow, TKO, Wild Dogs, Overloard, Perenial, Q-5
There were no clubs just a lot of Roller Rinks and private party's/ We were the first to rent out Theaters and put on our own show. Years later clubs started to open their doors, such as Astor Park.
Culprit was a band that paved the way for what has since become the „Seattle sound", do you agree with it?
I don't know...we probably had an influence.
A few years later appeared Heir Apparent, Sanctuary and Queensryche, many new artists began to emerge from Seattle at the early '80s showcasing their musical abilities were you familiar with them?
Queensryche, yes
As Iron Maiden was to England and Metallica was to San Francisco, Culprit was to Seattle, correct?
If you say so. We never claimed that. That was written in a magazine drawing a comparison to that of, in Seattle we were as important of a band.
How about the Seattle scene, if you compared it to Cleveland, New York, Texas, Bay Area or Los Angeles? Was a great underground buzz around you respectively around the Seattle bands? I mean, while in these areas appeared a lot of bands at the leate '70s/early '80s what was the situation with metal in Seattle?
I don't really know what the scene was like in those cities, I didn't live there. When Culprit started,ther was no Metal scene in Seattle, we kind of started it.
What do you recall of your rehearsals, of he early musical footsteps of the band?
A lot of pot smoking and creating of music
Did you start writing originals right from the start or were you mostly jamming on covers?
The frist songs we ever did were
Kill the King / Rainbow
Ready for Action / Gamma
The Trees / Rush
Hell Bent for Leather / Priest
Then we started writing our own songs. The first was Players.
Your first demo was released in 1982, it was a six tracks effort, how was it recorded at all? Did you record it in a studio or in your rehearsal room?
In some guys basement
How did it sound like? Did it clearly reflect your musical world, goals and ideas?
Not even close. Nor did the album
The NWOBHM had taken root and spawned a newfound avenue of artistic expression and the results are not only etched in time but have forged a permanent place in the annals of Rock and Roll, you were the predecessor to the metal rock and roll, how do you explain this?
I think it was people sick of what we called Corp. Rock. Styx, journey etc.. We just took the bands we loved such as Rush, Priest, Sabbath, The Who, Deep Purple and Zeppelin and tried to create something new by taking the blues element out of it.
Did you spread it through the fanzine/tapetrading network, that started popping up at this point?
We didn't, they did
Was the whole metal thing still in his infancy?
In the same year, thus in 1982, you released „The basement tape", can you give us details regarding on this effort?
Our first time in a studio. We didn't release it, it just spread around.
Was it a demo too or was it meant to be a pre-production material for your first full length?
Definatly a demo. We just wanted to hear our songs for ourselves.
You had „Innocent 'Til Proven Guilty: The Rarities" (1982), what about this material?
I have no idea what this is?
With which song were you featured on the „U.S. Metal Vol. 2" compilation? How did you make up on the record at all?
We sent a tape to Mike Varney through Guitar Player magazine and he choose us to be on it.
Exciter were also featured on it, weren't they?
I don't remember. I wish I had a copy of that. Ha!
Would you say, that this compilation helped to expand the band's popularity in the underground, creating more buzz around you and drawing more fans attention to the band?
For sure!
Did this compilation resemble Metal Blade's famous „Metal Massacre" series?
I think so, not sure. I thik the US metal had more importance placed on guitarist. And not actual songs.
If I'm correct Shrapnel Record attended to this compilation, at which point did they start interesting in the band? Did you send them your demos or…?
Yes we did
Do you still remember when did the label come into being at all?
Probably 1981 or so.
You signed the label at the same time as Exciter did, does it mean, that you were the first signings of the label?
It was us and then Steeler
When and which studio did you enter to record your debut album „Guilty as charged"?
Prarie Sun, Cototi CA
What about the equipments of the studio? Did you have to hurry with the recordings or did you have enough time to record it?
Once again the album was totally rushed and the Producer and Engineer had very little experience.
Were you prepared to record the material?
We were but the producer didn't have a clue
How much money did Shrapnel give you? Did you have a decent budget to record the album?
What budget.. Ha!
How did the recording sessions go with album?
To rushed and we depended on someone who really didn't know how to record a band like us. Most of the tracks are live no guitars were even overdubed
It contains your demo tracks respectively two newer ones „Steel to blood" and „Tears of repentence", did you write them already in the studio or…?
We wrote those 2 in the bus on the way down to record the record
„Guilty as charged" became a 9 track album full of high energy, raw heavy metal that even 20 years later still holds to the test of time, do you agree with it?
I don't know...there is a lot of cool ideas on it, but the recording is so bad I can rrareley ever listen to it. I cried the day I heard it for the first time
Did Culprit deliver high energy intense metal with great musicianship and vocals?
Fuckin' A right!
Is this album what Heavy Metal is ABOUT?
I don't really like to put labels on music
Would you say, that the record satisfied in full measure the fans demands?
Aaaa You would have to ask them
„Guilty as charged" is a monster of a U.S. metal album, power and technique are the first things that strike the unsuspecting listener, what's your opinion about it?
I agree. It was a fun band to be in
Frequent rhythm and theme changes, great guitarwork, and one of the most interesting bass and drum approches can be listened to on this metal recording, the drum fills of Bud Burill are simply second to none, how do you view it?
Thanks for the complement.. Bud and I were huge Rush fans and we worked very hard on those parts.
Would you say, that you had a unique style, you created something of your own, that couldn't compared to any bands back then?
Well.... I did until I heard Iron Maiden for the first time. We had most of those songs written before the first Maiden record came out. I think they perfected it. The vocals are also of high quality, with Jeff L'Heureux scaling on the higher octaves…
Are the compositions all energetic and some of them rather lenghty, a fact which -combined with their complexity- partly explains the album's lack of commercial success?
Probably. The only song that got any air play was "Ambush"
„Guilty As Charged" is a solid metal platter with a technical edge, screaming vocals by Jeff L'Heureux, top-notch guitarwork from the duo of Kjartan Kristofferson and John DeVol and an excellent rhythm section of you and drummer Bud Burrill, how do you view it?
I agree. I wish we would have recorded it better
Was „Guilty...” the first or at least one of the first albums that was recorded at the Prairie Sun Studios? Did it become a known, famous studio, since a lot of bands, such as Exodus, Possessed etc. recorded here their debut albums?
I don't know if Guilty was the first, but it was the first of the Shrapnel bands. Not sure if it became famous.
Shrapnel has always been a label with the reputation for releasing guitar driven, shred metal albums and while Culprit are most certainly heavy and guitar driven, you are more song oriented than the average Shrapnel Records bands, do you agree with it?
Yes I do , like I said most of the Shrapnel stuff was guitar first. Except Steeler
Were Culprit apparently very popular in their area and inspired a number of followers including Heir Apparent and Queenryche?
What about the sales of the record? Do you consider „Guilty as charged" a successful record?
No I don't but it's pretty funny that a small amount of people thaT KNOW ABOUT IT REALLY LOVE IT. i APPRECIATE THAT.
Did it succeed for you in makig a name for the band?
A little
Did the band seem to be as one of the hopes of the US metal movement?
I think so
In 1983 came out a lot of influential records, such as „Heavy metal maniac" of Exciter, „Into glory ride" of Manowar or „Kill 'em all" of Metallica, so I would say, the timing of your record was perfect, you were at the right time at the right space, what do you think about it?
I do, but with no real Management and not a very good recording the odds were against us.
What were the shows in support of the record? What about the Culprit shows as a whole? I mean, setlist, the mood of the shows, the crowd etc.?
Still to this day those were some of the finniest shows I have ever done. The crowds really listened back then not just some big mosh pit. A lot of head banging, denim and leather
How much support did you get from the label? Did they strive heavily to promote, to support the band?
Absolutely none
The band never got to record a second album, as the departure of Kjartan Kristofferson and you to TKO eventually brought about the breakup of the band, correct? Why did you decide to leave the band at all?
The singer had a drug problem and KJ and I started to write in a different direction. We did do a 4 song demo called Metal Heart and some other ruff stuff that has never been released.
Jeff L'Heureux and John DeVol also recorded post-Culprit albums with other bands, such as Mistrust, but the magic of „Guilty As Charged" was never duplicated, do you agree with it?
I never heard there records but I'm proud of other things KJ and I did.
Did your respectively Kjartan's departure decide the band's fate?
I think so. There is a certain chemistry you can't replace.
What about Bud at this point? Did he also play in several acts or did he stop his musical involvements?
Bud had a hand injury that prevented him to continue for a long time.
Did you remain in touch by the way after Culprit's end?
I still talk to Bud and John
Culprit was one of those bands that should have been huge, guitars, bass, drums and vocals roar along without burying melody, tons of energy was represented from you, how do you view it?
Shoulda Coulda Woulda
How does it feel to have people still get in touch with you based on your efforts from 15-20 years ago?
Very flattering Guilty was 25 years ago
You played with Kjartan in Bang Gang as well, right? Can you tell us more about it?
We moved to Hollywood to write new songs for TKO but then decided to form The Bang Gang. That was the best time of my life
Did you always have an eye on what's going on in the metal scene? How much did it change or evolve during the years?
I never really cared for speed metal. I like some of it not sure what Metal is anymore.
What were your best and worst memories during Culprit's career? What would you change on the band's career if you could turn back the wheel of the time?
Best: The Fans
Worst: The Recording result
No signing with Shrapnel and getting a real Label behind us / Management
Scott, thanks a lot for the interview, any closing words and thoughts?
Your very welcome. Maybe there will be a 2nd record someday. John and I have wanted to do it for a long time.

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