2009. március 18., szerda

Malice - James E. Neal

Again a dream of mine came true with this interview. In my opinion, Malice were one of the most overlooked and underrated bands of the '80s. They managed to release two awesome albums titled "In the begining" and "License to kill", but them never failed to get the major success, that they would have deserved. Singer James E. Neal answered my questions.

The band's career started in Portland in 1979 and a relatively long way led to the forming of the classic line up (you on vocals, Jay Reynolds and Mick Zane on guitars, Mark Behn on bass and Cliff Carothers on drums), can you sum up the early the period of the band?
I met Mick and Mark at a party one night. We decided to get together at my place and see what might happen.
What were the previous bands, that you've played with before you formed Malice? How did they sound like? You went through some line up changes as well, right?
I had been in quite a few local bands across the US, from Texas to Florida to Oregon. Nothing ever quite came of those situations, though. The bands I sang in all played top-notch rock and roll songs, from James Gang to Judas Priest, so it was really fun for me because I loved being able to sing like Joe Walsh, Robert Plant, Rob Halford, etc. As for line up changes, once the band was formed and signed to Atlantic in Los Angeles, we stayed the same. Early on, I think Pete was playing with us, but I don't quite recall the circumstances for him leaving. I'm glad to see he's back with them - he really is a pretty good drummer.
How was the metal scene in Portland back then? Were you familiar with bands, that started their career at the same time as you?
I don't remember all that much about it. Just trying to survive and retain my own sense of rock and roll.
What were your main infuences back then?
Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, etc. Anyone new who had a sound that made my head turn - Van Halen and Judas Priest, for example.
How did you get involved in the metal scene at all? I mean, at which point did you discover metal exactly?
When you think about it, Metal wasn't really invented or created - the genre sort of just metamorphed out of hard rock. I guess I had to metamorph along with it because by the time I got together with the boys in Malice down in Hollywood, it was the emerging force in the current music scene.
How did you end up becoming singer?
I had already sang in church choirs from age 7, where I was teased as being a girl because my voice was so high. It didn't bother me because I really didn't know or care what was meant by that. Later on, when I was about 12, I discovered Eric Burden and the Animals "A Girl Called Sandoz", and the Rolling Sones "Let's Spend the Night Together", and began singing along with the records. That's how I discovered what I loved to do and that I actually could do it. When Led Zepplin came out with "Dazed and Confused", all hell broke loose, and eventually the Malice adventure happened.
How do you view, that not only did Malice sound like Judas Priest by warrant of your heavy European guitar riffing but you, a practising Buddhist, sounded uncannily like Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford and guitarist Jay Reynolds was a deadringer for Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing?
Actually, I didn't think about stuff like that at all. I view Rob Halford as the one of the most amazing vocalist of all time - right up there with Ian Gillan, Robert Plant, and all the others. We weren't trying to be like anyone - it just kind of turned out that way.
Did Malice's insistence on wearing studded black leather only compound the comparisons?
I don't know about that. I just went along with the costume designs - it wasn't a big part of my M.O.. I just wanted to write songs and perform.
Do you think, that it was Jay Reynolds that provided the catalyst for Malice? Would you say, that the band's career has assumed a serious complexion after Jay joined the band?
I'm probably the wrong person to ask that sort of question. I have never considered the complexion of the band or who was any sort of catalyst.
Having returned to Portland from Hawaii, where he had worked with various acts, he soon forged The Ravers and when this band folded Reynolds set to work assembling Malice, the first rehearsals featuring you, Matt McCourt, Deen Castronovo, of Wild Dogs, on drums and then sixteen year old Kip Doran of Evil Genius and The Enemy on guitar, what do you recall of your early rehearsals?
Not a whole lot, really. You seem to know a whole lot more about his life than me.
Did you start writing originals right from the start or were you playing covers, mostly Judas Priest ones in the first line?
As soon as I began learning to play guitar, around 12 years old, I started writing my own songs. They were pretty lame, I imagine.
Does it mean that you were heavily influenced by the NWOBHM movement? Were you familiar with bands, that have came from England, such as Witchfinder General, Jaguar, Grim Reaper, Sweet Savage and a lof of others?
I'm not really that familar with the NWOBHM movement, although they did sign onto my myspace page as a friend. I'm looking into what they are doing now. Seems to be a new wave of metal bands from England. Maybe a resurgence of the 60's and 70's music scene. That would be cool.
You released your first demo in 1982, can you give us details regarding that material? Do you still remember how was it recorded and was it your first studio experience by the way?
I barely remember recording the demo - must mean I was actually there!
Did this demo open some doors for the band?
Seems to me that the demo was used for the first Metal Massacre ablum.
Making your initial vinyl appearance on the first Metal Blade Records „Metal Massacre" compilation album, the only band to contribute two tracks, with „Captive Of Light" and „Kick You Down", were these tracks written exclusively for this record, since they didn't make up on the demo?
Those were the first two originals we ever did together, so they ended up that way. There wasn't anything special about writing them - I think Mark and Mick wrote them initially, and we ended up doing them first.
Do you still remember how did you end up featuring on the record? Did this compilation help to draw a lot of fans attention to the band?
I guess...again, that's not one of those things I worry about, really.
Introducing bassist Mark Behn and drummer Peter Laufmann, this formation the group relocated to Los Angeles, what made you to move to L.A.? Were you aware of the great underground scene, that existed in L.A. those times?
Mick and Mark called me, and told me the situation - that there was an opportunity. I couldn't resist.
What were your views on the L.A. scene back> then? Did you start building up a realtionship with bands, such as Pandemonium, Metallica, Slayer, Shellshock, Savage Grace, Bitch etc.?
Not really - pretty much kept to myself except on stage and at parties.
Do you agree with, that the L. A. scene was divided into two parts? There were the glam/hair outfits, such as Dokken, Ratt, Mötley Crüe, Sister (later became W.A.S.P.) and the underground, mostly thrash/speed/power ones, such as Metallica, Slayer, Shellshock (Dark Angel), Armored Saint, Abattoir, Spectre, Vermin etc.?
Yeah, there was that division wasn't there? I really didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it all. Just wrote songs and performed best I could. They had their little world and I had mine. I did like Metallica and Armored Saint - we all know what happened to Metallica, but I always wondered what became of Armored Saint.
What about the club scene as a whole?
Didn't care for it a whole lot. Every once in a while, a gem would shine in the dark mess of the club scene, but it was rare.
Do you think, that the buzz on Malice now rollercoasted with the respected Dutch magazine Aardschok giving the band a cover story a mere two months after their formation?
The Asrdschok cover is one of the few things I actually have a memory of - just kidding. I didn't know anything about a "buzz" occuring. I was sort busy getting ready to go on the road in support of the album, which required most of my concentration.
The band's first gig came in November 1982 appearing at Los Angeles Troubadour Club headlining a bill with Metallica and Pandemonium as opening acts, what do you recall of that particular gig?
I remember being excited about performing at the "world-famous" Troubadour, and it did not let me down. Probably one of the more fun of any gig we did, in my estimation.
Would you say, that Malice was a highly impressive Los Angeles based Metal band noted for strenuous live work?
Well, we did work hard, and then played hard, so maybe those two "qualities" were impressive - I really didn't know what the feeling on us was. Like I said, I was too busy to worry about it.
A line-up change saw the introduction of with new drummer Cliff Carruthers, previously with Snow and Assassin and so the classic line up (for me at least) came into being, correct?
That is correct - he was a good percussionist.
In 1983 you released two demos, can you tell us more about them? Does it mean, that you constantly write newer and newer tracks?
Those two demos came about when Mark and Mick had me record the vocals for them. It seems to me that they then went to LA and got the songs hooked up with Metal Massacre. They called me and made me an "offer I couldn't refuse". The rest is pretty much history.
The quintet's ensuing Michael Wagener produced demo proved an immense tour de force and Malice soon found themselves at the centre of a record company bidding war, how much did Michael help you to develope the band's style and music? Did the demo really represent what you wanted to express with Malice?
Funny, I did not know it was Michael who produced that demo! Maybe, I just don't remember...lol. But anyway, I would imagine that Michael definitely helped form our style we were pretty raw back then. Also, when a producer comes into the picture, he or she becomes that "other" band member. Arrangements, voicings, alternate guitar, bass, drum, and vocal parts become a part of molding what the eventual package will sound and feel like. He helped us get our feet wet, so to speak, as to what sort of musical direction to take. As for the demo representing what I really wanted to express, that's a tough question - I tend to be quite eclectic, from some country and new age, to nearly every genre of rock and metal, to even some hip hop stuff. What I did with those songs represented where I was musically and creatively at that time. Music is an on-going progression of ideas and invention, so you never really know what's going to come out of the creative machine from day to day.
As I as know, in 1984 you released two demos, correct?
Probably - I think it was two of the songs we had been working on. I had been writing a lot of lyrics and the boys had some pretty snazzy riffs, so we took a chance.
Atlantic Records snapped up the band in July 1984 and the demo comprised half of Malice's first album, „In the beginning", but were there still labels, that started showing an interest in the band?
I do remember some other labels showing interest, but, yes, Atlantic gave us the best bid for the time. I always wanted to be on Atlantic, because they had so many great rock bands - Cream, Led Zepplin, etc.
At which point did you enter the studio and what about the recording sessions?
Man! - do you know how long ago that was? At this point in my life, it seems like another dimension, eons ago! I do remember entering the studio and the recording sessions, but dates - forget about it - I might end up hurting myself trying to dig those up! I do remember thoroughly enjoying recording and working out the different nuances that eventually molded each song into the entity it became. Especially, with the producer and engineers - seems to me they always had great ideas that could improve and enhance on what we had created.
Were all of the songs written and ready or did you write some new ones during the recording sessions?
As I recall, a little of both. Most of the stuff was already concocted by the time we got to the studio, but it seems to me that some new ideas came up in the studio and we mixed it up pretty good to get the final result.
What do you think about, that this album deserved a much richer fate than it ultimately received?
Well, that's kind of two-faced question, isn't it? I felt we had really great songs. Any time you put the kind of effort into something the way we did, you hope for the best. Ultimately, it came down to promotion, I guess. However, it seems there are folks in every corner of the world who have heard one or more of our songs. For me, that's all good. If one person gets enjoyment from our creative effort, then we did something right. So I guess you could say that is a "rich fate" of sorts.
The songs are all very strong heavy riff oriented, they are primarily up tempo musically, with excellent vocals and this is a superb record by a band that just didn't get the breaks they needed, although they deserved them, how do you explain this?
I don't have an explanation - seems things just worked out the way they did. You move on, as long as you have life, do what you do and make it work. I have never given up on music (I have my wife, who is my biggest fan, to thank for that) and I have plans to release some solo stuff within the next couple of years. What I'm saying is I'm not wasting time wondering, worrying about could have been, but spending time creating what could be - what will be, actually.
Do you agree with, that highlights on the record are album opener „Rockin' With You", „Air Attack", „Hellrider", „No Haven For The Raven", „The Unwanted" and the completely stellar „Godz of Thunder"?
IMHO - every song is a highlight. No song completely outshines the next. As each song was recorded or performed, it would take on a completely unique personality that would take over my mind, spirit, and body. But "No Haven" was one of my altime favorites, because the raven kept going - I guess he was tired of the crowded boat.
How do you view, that this is pure 80's L.A. Metal in about every way, from the overly glamed up look (eye liner, big hair, eccentrically 80's androgenous attire) to the cheesy song titles („Godz Of Thunder", „Squeese It Dry", „Stellar Master"), to the actual music... this just couldn't have come from any other era, or scene?
Those titles were cheesy? Guess maybe they were, a bit. At the time, they seemed catchy to me. As far as "androgenous attire", like I said before, I just went with the flow - hated the makeup thing, though.
L.A. back in '85 had no shortage on this type of music, that being a sound which blends a Hard Rock base, with more contemporary Metal riffage, and a Traditional/Power Metal approach in the vocals, and structure, in 1985 in L.A. Lizzy Borden, W.A.S.P., Mötley Crüe, Armored Saint, and a massive catalogue of others all had releases, all did great shows, and all, including Malice, made for a some what diverse, and highly competitive Metal scene, what's your views on it?
It was pretty diverse alright. You can see that in today's seemingly astronomical range of genres, just in rock alone. It was definitely competitive, which sort of pissed me off. I am from the old school of the 60,s and 70,s - the "glory days' if you will. People would just come together and write stuff and enjoy it. The 80's seemed to became an arena of metal gladiators trying to take each other out. All I wanted to do was write, record and play. Of course, there's the major part management tended to play in developing rifts among personel.
Did every band – or at least most of the bands- overshadow Malice not only in sales/fanbase, but also in longevity, and output which leaves this little piece of history („In The Beginning") quite misunderstood, and a bit under appreciated?
Do you agree with, that unfortunately for Malice, '85 was when the market of catchy Heavy Metal was beginning to die out, NWOBHM was dead, and in turn most bands from there were trying to cash in on the American pop market (with catchy Heavy Metal of course including Def Leppard or Judas Priest with their „Turbo" record), all the while large scenes were emerging of vastly different Metal styles, and in the end this genre basically saturated itself unto suicide?
Actually, I was glad to see that a few bands held onto their roots during a time (disco) that was quite scary, musically speaking. There was also the "formula" songs that I believe were being coerced on not only bands and performers, but the people in general through the radio.
Are, what truelly makes this album the solo work, the vocals, and the great production/mix?
I think it's a combination of our effort to put a cohesive musical entity together. The production is really nice for it's time, I think. Mick and Jay, along with Mark and Cliff all put in some serious thought and effort - which I really appreciated because it gave me so much latitude with which I could express myself freely. Vocals were fun - I got such a kick out of being able to hit all those notes.
Is „In the beginning" considered a milestone of heavy metal from the eighties?
I wouldn't know...you tell me.
How did happen, that the remaining tracks being produced by Ashley Howe? Were you happy with his work?
Yes - Ashley Howe had produced several of Uriah Heep's earlier albums, which by the way is still one of my all time favorite bands. Ken Hensley is a hell of songwriter and player. Definitely inspiring. So, I requested Ashley to be our producer for the first album, and wouldn't you know it - he showed up!
What about the shows that were in support of the record? How did the shows go as a whole?
Well, touring tends to be a bit of blur for me - near as I can remember, most shows seemed to go over well. There were a couple of shows in Europe that the audience was downright nasty, but then maybe that was the beginning of the "mosh pit" thing. Overall, I'd say the shows were pretty well received. I've gotten some fan mail of late that seems to indicate this - several of the fans expressed their appreciation for a particular show of ours that they went to, and that must of been some twenty-plus years ago!
Did a lot of fans join to the Malice camp? I mean, did it succeeded in getting new fans for the band?
Seems that way. It was nice that people were responding to our music. When you think about it, though, we didn't have the on-line presence that bands have today - we didn't even have video or CDs back then! That stuff was just beginning to emerge, so we had to rely on the publicity of our shows and the radio. I guess there was a fair number of fans enjoying our music. . If you mean the album, yes I think it did. We actually held a decent position in Rolling Stone's top album sales listing for awhile.
When did you start writing the material for the second record?
I think we already had some material in the works that never ended up on the first album. Like I said, we were always coming up with ideas where ever we were.
How many demo material did you use for it?
One or two, maybe, I don't really remember.
„Murder" was one of the demo songs, wasn't it?
I think you may be right about that.
What can you tell us about the recording sessions of the second record?
It was a bit of a blur, but was pretty cool and fun as I recall. I do remember Max Norman spending incredible amounts of time in the studio whether we were there or not - he was seriously workaholic. He spent a lot of time on details, fine-tuning each instrument and vocal track. He made me re-sing a lot of stuff, but then again, probably about half of the stuff I sang was done in one take.
Did you definitely get your things together far better on this album, losing almost all of the cheesy rocker-ish musical tendencies?
Well, I think it was just another step in musical and lyrical maturity. We were actually expanding our creative horizons, but never got to see it through. You can hear some of the things that could have been on my website, jameseneal.com. I have 6 radically different tunes there that I've written and recorded over the last 20 years.
There is „Licence to Kill", which is a very nice efficient-speed rocker and also „Chain Gang Woman", which is just vicious 80s-styled speedmetal…The driving riff assault in here is incredible, „Against the Empire" is also in a similar vein and quite good, while „Sinister Double” is a nice midpaced opener, how do you view it?
Actually, I started writing that tune in a motel room I was staying in in Hollywood with my brother, David. Chain Gang Woman was Jay's mindstorm and a lot of fun to do. Against the Empire was sort a tribute to Star Wars type ideas. I don't necessarily rate one song against the other - each one has it's own special place in my mind.
Would you say, that it can be listened to a nice combination of speed, melody, and riff work?
Yes, that song is about the obsession people seem to have with the concept of offing someone. To me, it is ridiculous for any human to preconceive another's death. Once you cross the line, I think, it will be too late. Interesting that you dubbed it a "killer" tune.
Do you agree with, that musically this record was reminiscent of „Screaming For Vengeance"-era Judas Priest?
That thought never crossed my mind until now when you mentioned it. Maybe so - I feel that Judas Priest and Malice had different styles and approaches to writing, even though there are some interesting similarities. Of course, we were pretty heavily influenced by them. In fact, I am currently adopting Priest's version of Joan Baez' "Diamonds and Rust" in my accoustic sets I have been working on.
Is this second album easily just as good as the first one „In The Beginning"?
I would like to think that our music and writing at least appeared to be maturing. I also think that License was definitely an improvement over In the Beginning.
What do you think about, that Malice was a band that got lost in the shuffle of 80's metal and you fell somewhere between the hair metal bands like Ratt & Poison and the power thrash metal bands like Testament or Flotsam and Jetsam?
I personally did not group Malice with any of the bands you mentioned above. But I guess we did have a bit of just about everything that was going on mixed in with our music and image. It was pretty hard to establish a unique identity back then.
You guys knew how to write music, the vocals are fantastic and often can reach Rob Halford like levels, the guitar work of Jay Renolds andMick Zane layer each song with a distinct personality, and are immediately catchy and the rhythm section was awesome too, how do you comment it?
Well, I don't really like comment on things like "fantastic" and "awesome", even thought it was fantastic and awesome that we had the opportunity to do what we did. I certainly enjoyed my time spent with the guys and consider everything that happened as a fantastic learning experience and awesome event in my life.
Do you consider this bone-crunching metal at it's finest? Is the band tight and the twin guitars are superb?
Yes, those guys were quite good when they knuckled down and kicked ass. Made me tend to go over the top at times.
The production is very good and there isn't a bad track here at all, do you think, that producer Max Norman did a good job behind the mixing pult/desk? Were all of you satisfied with his work?
I think so. All in all we were pretty happy with the final outcome. We just wanted to get out and play mostly.
Guests in the studio included Megadeth men Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson and Black 'n' Blue's Tommy Thayer and Jaime St. James, how did they end up doing some back vocals on the record?
I wasn't involved with most of that. It happened and I said ok.
Despite making headway with a strong record, a European tour supporting thrashers Slayer proved to be a disastrous mismatch with the headliner's fans hostility showing itself openly with spitting and verbal abuse, whose idea was to tour with Slayer at all? Didn't you have the opportunity to tour with a band, that had the same style and approach as you?
I didn't think so. We didn't seem to have a lot of say in those things back then. We would get the word that a show or tour was on, and away we went. I usually found out who we were playing with when we got there.
Was it your first European touring experience by the way? How did the Slayer crowd welcome the band?
I loved the European audience. They were much more into our music then Americans seemed to be. Same thing happened to Jimi Hendrix, come to think of it.
Did it succeed in reaching some succees with the tour? Was it a successful tour for you or…?
Depends on what you mean by "success". The fact that we did a tour and survived was "success" enough for me.
How were the Slayer guys with you?
Don't remember. They partied a lot, I guess.
Malice folded in late 1987, Jay Reynolds was very briefly to flirt with Megadeth although the friend he entrusted this confidential information to and tutored Reynolds on Megadeth riffs, Jeff Young, put his own name forward and landed the coveted position, but what happened with the rest of the band? Did you remain in touch with each other?
Yes, we are vaguely in touch - myspace and such.
Malice did an EP in 1989 titled „Crazy in the night", respectively the band appears as themselves in the 1988 movie „Viceversa", playing a live concert, can you tell us more about it? Did you follow the band's career after you quit?
Not really. We obviously had our differences of opinion and went our separate ways.
Did you get out of the music business or did you keep an eye on what's going on in the underground?
I keep an eye on things from time to time. But I am also busy redefining my musical existance. Right now it is in an accoustic stage.
Do you consider yourself metaller these days as well and is metal in your vein forever?
I still get a kick out of some metal these days. Even have a few ideas in the works.
What do you think about the band's reformation? Have you ever visited their website or their Myspace one?
I've seen what they are doing and wish them the best of luck.
Are you in touch with 'em these days?
Not much.
Wounded Bird Records released both Malice records respectively this year was released a compilation album titled „Rare and unreleased", how deeply were you involved into the making of these records?
None at all.
Are the re-releases good opportunities to draw more fans attention to the band?
Remains to be seen.
What were your best and worst memories with Malice? How would you sum up the band's career? Would you something change on it?
Those questions probably would require and autobiography on my part. Best memories were in the studio and on stage. Worst - you don't want to know.
James, thanks a lot for the interview, anything what I forgot to mention or to cover?
Yes, what I'm doing now and my plans for the future. But later.

2009. március 11., szerda

Jim Nickles

Jim Nickles was one of the original founder member of Malevolent Creation, but at one point he was involved in Hellwitch too. Nowadays he is playing in Vile Vindiction.

Jim you started Malevolent Creation with Phil Fasciana and Brett Hoffmann in 1986, do you still remember how did you get together? What were your musical faves, interests and influences?
Phil, Brett, and I grew up together,and attended North Tonawanda High School together. At the time,I was into all the old Judas Priest,Iron Maiden type of stuff. I remember the first time I heard old Metallica, it was "Creeping Death" while we were at a friend of ours Dan Nadoe.We were skipping school at the time and frequently went there to party.The song frightened me and I didn't understnd the concept of music like this at first..But of course later that was all we listened to..Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax,S.O.D.,Mercyful Fate,etc.. It wasn't til later that I explored even heavier stuff..
Did you share the same musical interest or all of you had different faves?
I have to admit,our interests were similar, but Phil and Brett both explored the really underground stuff alot more.and they were always turning me on to new stuff..
By the way, what were the previous acts that you've played with before you being involved in Malevolent Creation?
Phil Brett, and I played a talent show at Payne Junior High School,along with our friends Kevin Peace on Bass and Dennis Kubas on Drums under the name "Resthaven" which Brett got from a local graveyard.That band started before I was in and went on momentarily after I left. I left because I joined "Leviathan" and was in that band with Chris Barnes(now Six Feet Under and formerly Cannibal Corpse),Angelo Lacocco,Jeff Jeskewicz(i don't think that's spelled right),and Greg St.John on Bass for a year or more.Incidently I wrote the guitar riffs for the title track "Leviathan"(except I think Jeff may have written one riff) which appeared on a compilation later after I left but I didn't play on the demo.. I've never received credit but that's the TRUTH..I would love to see all those guy's again.. I left "Leviathan" to form Malevolent Creation with Phil and Brett. We all practiced at the same rehearsal warehouse "Ultimate Storage".(So did Cannibal Corpse and Tirant Sin and the Goo Goo Dolls which were a punk band then)
Who came up with the name of the band?
Brett Hoffmann.
You practiced at your house for like a year without drums or bass, does it mean, that it was hard to find the suitable members for a death metal band?
Yes. Because most people still didn't tolerate this form of music.. So Phil,Brett and I practiced for like ten months without a drummer..We just tried to get tight together as guitarists while Brett worked on the lyrics and titles...The mic chord which Brett tied to the ceiling so he wouldn't have to hook it up every day is still hanging from the ceiling in the exact same spot in which is now the drum room in my studio.Nobody is allowed to disturb it.. haha.. it's a keepsake.
How much did you rehearse a week? What about your rehearsals at all?
Seriously? More than I even wanted too.Phil would be at my house every morning at 10:00a.m. like clockwork beating on the door to wake me up.. I'd open the door finally and he'd be like.. "Come on.. we gotta jam"
Did you start writing originals right from the start or were you jamming mostly on covers?
After the Resthaven thing we weren't interested in playing covers.. We just wanted to make our own stuff.. We always did do Raining Blood by Slayer in our set though..Out of pure respect..
Then your mom lent a drummer you knew the cash to buy a set, because he was good but had no drums, how did that happen? Who was this drummer exactly?
The same guy who did that talent show with us.. Dennis Kubas.. I actually offered Dennis the oppurtunity to record the Vile Vindiction E.P. with us before I had found Evan. He agreed ,but later backed out...I figured if we could just get the initial recording done,then we'd be able to find a permanent drummer.
Does it mean, that your mum supported your musical goals, interests and ambitions?
Yes.. She is a Saint.. and Still alive.. bless her. Incidently, Dennis Kubas NEVER PAID HER BACK.
Later you went and picked up Jason Blachowitz from Buffalo, what about his musical background?
I don't know if Jason was in a band before Malevolent?? I can't remember.. But he was full of ambition and he could really use all those fingers on his right hand!! Plus his hair was super long!! haha.. believe it or not,that shit mattered to us back then...haha
How about the Buffalo underground scene? How much were you involved in the underground? Were you familiar with acts, such as Leviathan, Tirant Sin, Beyond Death etc., that started their career at the same time as you?
Haha.. That's funny.. You're asking me if I heard of Leviathan?? I wrote it!! Don't get me wrong.. I'm not mad at those guy's or nothing.. I just think everybody should always be given the credit they are due....But all those other Leviathan songs were already written by Jeff when I joined..Such as "Lamentation of Death" and "Destructive Agressor"..
After Jason joined you were finally a whole band, you played numerous shows, was it easy getting shows in the Buffalo area at this point? Have your name been quite known yet?
Yes. Now we had a drummer and bassist so we did play numerous shows around the area..One was with The Goos at The Metal Shop..Haha.. Like I said,they were a punk band back then...
In '87 you recorded the very first Malevolent Creation demo ever, how was it recorded? Which songs were on it?
It was recorded at Select Sound Studios in Buffalo, N.Y... It was recorded on a 2 inch 24 track reel to reel.I own that master reel,and am soon having it transferred to digital to be remixed and digitally mastered.Phil and I are going to release it this year..It contains two mastered tracks,"Sacrificial Annihilation" and "The Traitor Must Pay and The Price Is Death". It also contains a scratch live recording from the studio while we were warming up of "Confirmed Kill".
How did it sound like? Did this demo represent, what you wanted to achieve with Malevolent Creation?
As far as the riffs,drumming and vox go.. yes.. but the producer didn't have a clue how to record metal.. Which is why I'm going to remix and tweak it without comprimising the integrity of the music..
Why has the demo never been released? Were you dissatisfied with it or…?
Mostly because of the bad mix,and lack of capitol to have it remixed and printed..
It mean, that you didn't do any promotion for it, you didn't shop it around, you didn't send it to fanzines and stuff, correct?
Nope.. Never.. The first M.C. demo to get shopped was the next one they did without me..with Injected Sufferage on it etc..
Shortly after you moved to Florida minus your drummer, what made you to move to Florida? Were you aware of the big and influential death metal scene, that existed in Florida back in the day?
Yes. But honestly Phil talked us into it mostly because his parents moved there... Our drummer was afraid to go..
Did you want to be closer to the scene?
That was the plan...
Cannibal Corpse moved also to Florida…
Yes.. Later on they did.. Rob Barrett was a very early fan of M.C. when he was just learning guitar.He used to come and watch us practice very often and just stand in the corner by my amp and stare at my fingers...I taught him everything I could at the time about soloing "in the box".. Buy my knowledge of theory at the time was very limited.. Rob and I were great friends and still are..of course I don't get to see him much..As I am in Buffalo again now.. He did visit me last year though, just before Vile Vindiction was formed.
Malevolent Creation released still two demos, „Demo I." in 1989 and „Demo 1990" in 1990, did you still play on these materials? Can you give us details regarding on these demos?
No I did not..But Phil ,Brett and I had a total of like 8 tracks I think..I'm not sure of all they've used since then..
Would you say, that it succeeded for Malevolent Creation to make a name for them with these materials? Did they draw a lof fans attention to them?
Oh yes..Obviously the material I co-wrote in the band didn't get them signed,because it never got sent out.. But they did use some of those songs on "Ten Commandments". Such as the tracks "Malevolent Creation" and "Sacrificial Annihilation".
You wrote most of the riffs on two songs that appeared on the debut record titled „The ten commandments", those tracks being „Malevolent Creation" and „Sacrificial Annihilation", although you never received credit because you left the band before the album got recorded, what were the resons of it?
I was badly on the Cocaine and I think Phil and the Guy's were embarrassed by my actions, and a little bitter for awhile. We thought we'd be a band forever..
What do you think about „The ten commandments"? Do you consider it as a classic death metal stuff?
My answer may sound biased. but,"The Ten Commandments Rules" !!!!
How do you view Malevolent Creation's career as a whole? What do you think about their developement?
I'm very proud of the band,and the whole entity it has become..
Are their records on the same level or did they do some weak ones during the years?
They are all good.. But yes, some tracks are better than others.. It's hard to write so many songs,and keep the next one as brutal and in your face as the last..
Did you never think about to rejoin them? Why did they have often line up changes?
The truth is, over the years,I was so far out of the scene, that I wouldn't even have considered it.. Only now do I feel that my ability as a guitar player is once again polished enough to play this form of music..-I don't know why they've had so many line-up changes.. You'll have to ask Phil that question..
If they wouldn't have moved to Florida -and Cannibal Corpse as well- wouldn't they have been as great as they became? Do you consider them an influential act by the way?
Yes I believe they would have gotten just as big,it just would have taken a little longer......As far as influence?? We just write what comes to mind.. The main influence for us musically, is Slayer..
You joined Hellwitch in 1990, but you formed your own group Vile Vindiction inbetween, correct?
No...Vile Vindiction was first started in 1990 by the current member George Grant along with a mutual high school friend of mine named Mitch McMurray who was on drums and Rick Nigro on guitar. The band played a couple shows, the best one being at The Skyroom Country Club in Buffalo, formerly known as the Rooftops Skyroom. It was one of the premier clubs in Buffalo in that day. That show took place on Friday, Feb 15th 1991. Later, the band recorded one track on a local compilation called "Frozen Metal Thunder". But the band didn't have a vocalist so Mich McMurray took on the duties... That was it for Vile Vindiction at that time. Later in '94 when I was up from Fla. for a stretch, George, Mitch and I got together at my house (where Malevolent Creation was born and rehearsed) and jammed for quite a few months on and off but never got the remaining members needed. So the band never got off the ground then either. So I went back to Fla. Although it was during that time that, we wrote two tracks that appear on our debut. "Your Honour" and "Death Wrapped In Plastic"
Do you still remember how did you end up joining Hellwitch? Were you meant to be a session member or a full time one?
Phil hooked me up with Pat. I learned their debut L.P. (SYZYGIAL MISCREANCY, released on Wild Rags Records in 1990) in three weeks and went on tour. I was still messing with drugs on and off and later decided I wanted to do the family thing. That's why I left..
Hellwitch were on tour in support of their debut record „Syzygial miscreancy", to which extent were you familiar with their stuffs?
Before I joined, I had never even heard their music..
Do you agree with, that „Syzygial Miscreancy" delivers a barrage of constantly changing riffs and intricate structures? Does this album sound like a cross between Gorguts and Atheist's „Piece of Time" or „Unquestionable Presence", especially when they tremolo pick those odd, weaving, melodic phrases?
Yes, that what Hellwitch is...The next riff is never what you "expect".. Pat likes to think differently.. He's a Shredder!!
Is Patrick Ranieri, vocally similar to Kelly Schaefer in your opinion?
Pat sounds similar to alot of guys.. There's even more singers like that nowadays..
The album is technical death-thrash of the highest order, and there is no denying the incredible musicianship, what do you think about it?
That album rules..When I first agreed to go on tour, I was like.."There's no way I can get this shit down in three weeks!!".. But ,ultimately, I pulled it off.
Fans of technical death or thrash will find much to rejoice about here: dizzying guitars, blasting drums, intricate songwriting, right?
Well, if your a person that wants to hear something different.. Hellwitch is the band for you..!
The instruments have a thick sound, a benefit of Morrisound production, especially the guitars are thick, the rhythms having a strong, sharp punch to them and the tremolo lines having a clear, spacey quality to them when they are highlighted by production, how do you explain it?
To be frank...This type of sound comes mainly from the players ability, not the production.Tremolo picking is an art..
So, with the addition of you the band completed successful tours of the East Coast, culminating in an appearance at the 1990 Milwaukee Metal Fest, can you tell us more about it? How did the whole tour go?
It was a hell of alot of fun...I still remember the night we stayed at Chris from Goreaphobia's house in Philly, instead of the hotel,and we laughed and laughed as we were tormented by "The Fan From Hell'.. It's actually depicted in the Hellwitch comics..
Did the tour help Hellwitch getting new fans?
I think so.. definitely...
In February of 1991, Jesse Trevino returned to the band and a very successful 4-date tour of Texas shortly followed, why did Tommy Mouser leave the band?
Oh you mean Tommy Buckley?? (Mouser) That is his real name.. haha.....I think he went back to school.. I'm not sure..I can't remember..
Any memories of that tour?
Pat did the four shows in Texas on his own..I had just left the band prior to that..
Have you ever penned any tracks for Hellwitch? Did you start writing the material for the follow up of „Syzygial miscreancy" or…?
Pat and I collaborated on Terrasymatry and Dawn of Apostacy..But only a couple of my riffs actually remained when he recorded those tracks..
Would you say, that Hellwitch never quite received the attention they deserved?
The most under-rated band of all time...
In late 1991 Hellwitch replaced you with Craig Shattuck, why did you decide to leave them? Did you want to concentrate only on Vile Vindiction?
I wish I didn't have to keep admitting to it.. But the truth is I was all messed up on cocaine....That's the main reason why I never remained in either band. But that part of my life is long over, and not even an issue anymore..
The band never got off the ground due to a failure to find members to complete the lineup, however, one track was recorded in '91 on a compilation called „Frozen Metal Thunder" released by Siberia Sound Productions in Buffalo, N.Y., would you tell us more about the early footsteps of the band and why was it hard to find the perfect members?
I just don't think everybody was serious like George was.
In 2007 George Grant and you were determined to get this project going, so you searched for members, and in April of 2008 teamed up with vocalist Kris Poole, drummer Evan Leuer, and bassist Chad Cogar (the trio are formerly of new school metal bands Forgotten Theory and Buffalo's Body Born Still) are they permanent members? Is it a stable line up?
Oh yes...Kris's lyric writing is impeccable.. These three guy's are young and have fresh ideas.. Plus they like all this new metal that I can't stand..So that's the only way our music even has a chance to take on any "new school flavor"...
What have you done in the last 17-18 years? I mean, until 2007?
I was living in Fla. until 2005.. That's when I decided it was time to turn my life around and do what I was meant to do... Make music..I didn't even own a guitar for like 12 years.. What a mistake...But we all live and learn don't we??
How did you view the developement of death metal? Did you always keep an eye on what's going on in the death metal scene?
Yes I pay attention as much as I can.... But as I stated before,the majority of new metal is crap in my opinion.. It's so full of breakdowns and chaos that the structure and melody are gone.. And who the fuck wants to hear sweeps over and over.. ?? "Hey buddy!! we get it!! You can do a sweep!! now enough already!!"
12/13 2001 is a sad day in the death metal history…
Yes it was.... Chuck was a legend....I'll Never forget playing with them and Carcass in '91..
Do you agree with, that with this young talent you found a fresh sound that is reminiscent of old school, with strong, focused riffing and brutal drumming combined with modern vocal styling? What about the influences of the others by the way?
They like alot of different bands...Like Cradle Of Filth, All Shall Perish, Dimmu Borgir, Acacia Strain etc.. and anything full of breakdowns..
When did you start writing the material for the EP? Were you the main songcomposer or did everybody have a big hand into the songwriting process?
No.. It has been mostly George and I on the E.P... Now everybody has input,and George wrote "Goodbye Morbid World" recently on his own.. what a kick ass tune.. It appears on the full length being released on April 4th,2009
What about the recording sessions of the material?
The first nine tracks on the L.P. were recorded at Watchmen Studios in Lockport, N.Y. and the last is now being recorded here at my studio.Shredly Studios in North Tonawanda, N.Y.
The EP has proved to be brutal and yet filled with structure and melody, right?
We'd like to think so.. It has meaningful lyrics, Brutal blast and bomb beats.. Double bass, fast open picking,harmonies,trem picking, and rippin solos..!!
How do you view, that Vile Vindiction strives to deliver the sick and twisted truth of today's reality in the lyrics and energy delivered, without compromising a single note?
We just aren't willing to compromise and conform to the trends.. We play what sounds good to us..And there's so much fucked up shit goin on in this world past and present,that it gives you plenty to write about.. and Lifes experiences... like with Phantom.. which basically is inspired by my lifes experiences..
What are yor future plans for Vile Vindiction?
Just that Vile Vindiction and Malevolent Creation plan to tour the U.S. together in the summer and Our Album will be avail. April 4th.. But I think I mentioned the release date alreay..Then we will put the next one together.. My plan is to make at least 8 full lengths with Vile Vindiction
Anything to add what I forgot to mention?
Thanks and please send me links to where-ever it is posted online.. !! Have A Great week..anything else you need, just let me know.. - Jim Nickles

Texas Metal Alliance - Bruce Corbitt

The Texas Metal scene played an important role in the '80s to help developing the metal movement in the States. Bands such as Helstar, S. A. Slayer or Watchtower popped up and tried to make a name for themselves. They also opened the doors for the next generation of Texas metal, such as Gammacide, Devastation, Hammerwitch, Rigor Mortis or Militia. In this interview Bruce Corbitt (ex-Rigor Mortis) speaks about the past, present and future...

Bruce, do you still remember at which point did you join Rigor Mortis? Was this your very first experience as musician?
I officially joined Rigor Mortis in July, 1986. My first experience as a singer actually came back in 1982. I joined a band called Spectrum that had a 16-year-old guitarist named Mike Scaccia. Mike was part of forming Rigor Mortis a year later with Casey Orr and Harden Harrison.
How did you end up becoming singer and what were your influences to become musician at all?
My friendship with Mike from the Spectrum days gave me a better chance when Rigor Mortis started looking for a lead singer. For a while I was just helping the band out in any way I could. Such as giving them rides and with promotions etc. I also got up and sang a couple of songs with them at a few shows and parties before they made the final decision that I would become their new singer.
My influences went back to being a big Beatles fan as a little kid. Then in the 70s I loved bands like Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Rush, UFO, Alice Cooper, The Scorpions, Judas Priest, etc. Then in the 80s it was Iron Maiden, Sabbath with Dio, Ozzy with Randy Rhoads, Slayer, Megadeth, Motorhead etc.
In 1986 you released a demo, can you give us details regarding on this tape?
We recorded our 7-song demo in about 8 hours on one day. It was only recorded on 8-tracks and it was recorded sort of like the old Beatles albums. What I mean by this is that the guitar was coming out of one speaker and the bass came out of the other. We planned to only do 5 songs, but we ended up having enough time and space to record two others.
Was it your first studio experience by the way?
Yes it was my first time in the studio. The first song I sang was Re-Animator and I remember we kept my very first attempt. So I always liked knowing my first ever take in the studio ended up being on the demo.
How much support did you do for the demo? Was it sent to radio stations, record companies, fanzines etc.?
Yes, we did all of that and we also got it in local record stores to sell. Obviously the Internet wasn’t around back then. So that was just the way a hungry band got their music out there in those days. We made 1000 copies of the demo and we tried spread them everywhere.
What kind of reviews did you get on it?
Most of the reviews were positive, especially on the songs themselves. But of course many people noticed it was just an 8-track demo. So obviously the quality and production didn’t sound as good as Slayer and Megadeth albums. Some people pointed that out, but many others understood that it was just a cheap demo. So they could look past that and just pay attention to the songs themselves.
Did you get your deal from Capitol on the base of this demo? Which labels did still start showing an interest in the band besides Capitol by the way?
Yes, the demo led to us getting noticed by Capitol Records. But, it was our live performance that finalized the deal. Rachel Matthews was a new A&R scout at Capitol and she liked the demo. So she flew out to see us perform live. She was impressed and not long after that, she brought the Vice-President of Capitol to check us out. They told us they were going to sign us after he watched us jam. We had some label interest before that from Electra, Geffen, Island and Metal Blade. The demo was a piece of shit, but it did us a lot if good.
Is it correct, that Rigor Mortis has been regarded as the first death metal band to be signed to a major label?
I have heard some people say that many years later. At the time, the death metal band explosion was a few years away. People have always put us in so many different categories. Some would say we were thrash, others would say speedmetal and some said death metal etc. So it wasn’t like we were strictly considered as a death metal band at the time. We really never had the traditional death metal sound as far as guitar tones and vocals. But, our lyrics were about death and gore. So I have heard that some of the great death metal bands that came later have mentioned us as an influence. That is always a great compliment to us.
I do remember that Capitol promoted our first album as ”The most intense album ever released on a major label.” I think we might have also been the first underground Texas metal band to sign with a major label.
Didn’t want the label to push you into a commercial direction?
We would have refused to allow that to happen. I know we scared off at least one label because of that. Luckily, Rachel at Capitol loved us the way we were. So it was almost like we had 100% control of our music, because Rachel never tried to change us.
Were you aware of the New York based Rigor Mortis at this point who later named themselves –and are known as these days- Immolation?
We weren’t aware of them until after we had used the name Rigor Mortis for a few years. We also found out there was a Punk band called Rigormortis (with one word) that had released an album on an independent label. When we signed with Capitol, we bought the name from the Punk band. I guess that forced the Rigor Mortis from New York to change their name.
You released a two tracks single in 1988 called „Demons”, what was the importance of it?
That was just for promotional purposes. Those were sent out to radio stations, metal mags and record stores. But as far as I know... they were never actually sold.
You entered the studio during mid 1988 to record your debut album „Rigor Mortis”, what about the recording sessions?
I think it was in January of 1988 when we started recording that first album. We recorded it at Dallas Sound Lab. I remember how proud we were to be making our ideas and visions come to life in a huge nice studio. It was definitely a thousand steps up from where and how we recorded that first demo. But, looking back on it, I don’t think that Dallas Sound Lab was the right place to record it. We were the first extreme metal band to record there and I still don’t think it captured what we really sounded like. If you would have heard us perform live back then, you would understand what I mean. We were always tight as hell, but we had an intense, powerful and raw sound. The album was kind of too clean and thin sounding in my opinion.
How much budget did you get from Capitol? Did you have a lot of time to record the material?
We got good advance from Capitol to spend on recording and getting band equipment etc. But of course all of that has to be paid back with album sales. Anyway for a band like us we did have a lot of time to record, maybe too much time. It was done over a 3 week period and we few days off in the middle of the recording sessions. We were such a tight live band, I know we could have done it in a much shorter time and saved a lot of money. But that was how everyone thought albums for major labels had to be made at that time.
„Rigor Mortis” is a mix of rough thrash metal, some impressive guitar work by Mike Scaccia and particularly extravagant, gory lyrics with lots of humorous overtones, how do you view it?
Rigor Mortis was just a band that created music that we wanted to do at that time. We didn’t give a shit about trying to please anyone or fit into a certain category. If our music or lyrics offended anyone... we didn’t give a fuck. We honestly just wrote songs we liked to perform and the Rigor Mortis style developed from there. I think our love for horror movies comes through in the songs. We could appreciate the art and talent it takes to create bloody gore scenes that looked so real in the well-made big-budget horror flicks. Then find the humor from the bad acting and bad special-effects in the low-budget Horror movies. So I think we had a mixture of that in our own songs.
Do you agree with, that the best part on the album is the guitar and Mike Scaccia must have been one of the fastest guitarists of the 80's?
I absolutely agree that the best part is Scaccia’s guitar work on the album. If he wasn’t the fastest guitar-soloist of that era, I am not sure who was. Mike was always an amazing talent and just being in a band with him made the rest of us improve over time.
The sheer speed and fury is amazing, the album is flawless, isn’t it?
I think the musicianship on the album is almost flawless for playing songs at those speeds. Those guys were tight as hell when we went into the studio. But there are a couple of things that maybe only we noticed. Plus, like I mentioned before, I don’t think the production and overall sound was as good as we hoped it would be.
Most tracks are full of wonderful energy, partially due to your strong vocals that add to the powerful feel of this album, is that correct?
My vocals are kind of in the middle. I certainly can’t sing like Bruce Dickinson and I wasn’t as intense at the death metal singers that came later. So I just tried to sound evil, and at the same time I wanted people to understand the lyrics as much as possible. I think that what I am most proud of is that I can honestly say over 20 years later, Rigor Mortis has a distinctive sound and doesn’t sound like any other band. I also think that can be said of each individual member when we perform with Rigor Mortis. We all have our own unique styles.
What were the shows to support the record?
We did a couple of album-release shows in Dallas/Ft. Worth. One of them was at a club called Tommy’s in Dallas and the other in Ft. Worth, at the legendary Joe’s Garage. We did a few shows around Texas and then went on a 6 week USA/Canadian tour with Death Angel. That was about it really. We thought there was going to be a lot more tours, but the band was about to make some changes and we will get to those in your next question.
Why and when did you leave the band? How did wrap your departure up? I mean, was it friendly or...?
I was fired from Rigor Mortis in February, 1989. I was mainly because of personal problems with some of the members and certain things like the band wanted try a different direction. They wanted to have a singer that could play guitar too. I was devastated and took it very hard at the time. So it didn’t end in a friendly way when it first happened.
After you quit the band you formed Malignancy with Scott Shelby, Bryan Leigh, Ed Velez and Mark Powell, how did they get in the picture exactly and what about their musical background?
By the time I joined Malignancy, they had changed some of those members you just mentioned. The version I was in was with Bryan Leigh (Guitar), Ed Velez (Drums) and Kirk Williams (Bass). They were a good upcoming band and they were part of the same scene I was. We sort of knew each other, so they just asked me one night if I would be interested in jamming with them. I checked out their songs and liked what I heard.
You recorded a demo in 1990, can you tell us more about it?
I thought we had some great songs, but the demo just turned out sounding like shit. So we never really did much with it or released it. We had plans to go into another studio and record them the right way... but we never got the chance.
How did it sound like? Was it in the vein of your previous bands or…?
It was nothing like Rigor Mortis and didn’t really sound like any other band. It was fast and furious and very technical stuff. I did more speed-vocals than I did with Rigor Mortis. It kind of got ridiculous how fast I had to sing some parts.
It was a short lived act, why and when did the band come to an end?
One night we went to a club to promote an upcoming gig. I got drunk and I remember I pretended like I was going to pinch our guitarists’ sister on her ass when she came walking by. I was just having fun, but her brother (Bryan) didn’t like it. He tried to get me to apologize and I told him to fuck off. Then he just sprayed mace in the face and we started fighting. There was just no way I could be in a band with him after he used mace on me. I can handle getting my ass kicked, even though I didn’t that night even when blinded. But no guy should ever use mace and that is just something you just forget about at the time.
As for the Texas scene, what about bands, such as Watchtower, Helstar, S. A. Slayer, Militia? What were your views on that talented scene?
I think all of those bands were/are incredible. Texas is so big that a lot of those bands are several hours away. So I never really got to see those bands back in the 80s. Except for Watchtower, they came to Dallas in 1987 and did a show with Rigor Mortis and Gammacide. I have been friends with Jason McMaster ever since then and he’s a great singer and person. I never knew much about Militia until they reunited recently. They did a show in Ft. Worth with my new band Texas Metal Alliance back in December. It was actually their first show in 22 years. They will also be doing the “Keep It True 12” fest in Germany in April... along with Rigor Mortis. I have never got to see S.A. Slayer or Helstar, but I think both of those bands are great too.
Would you say, that they opened the doors for bands, such as Gammacide, Ripper, Devastation, Necrovore, Solitude Aeturnus, Rigor Mortis, Morbid Scream they belonged –so to speak- the second wave of the Texas metal movement?
I never thought about it, but I guess in some ways you could say that. Those bands helped put Texas metal on the map. But, honestly I never knew about any of those bands until I was in Rigor Mortis for a while. So I can’t say that they opened any doors for a thrash band like Rigor Mortis, because we had to kick down every door we came across... Ha! So it wasn’t like there was this big metal scene just waiting for us here in Dallas/Ft. Worth, as far as clubs booking underground thrash bands etc. That isn’t taking anything away from what those bands did for the Texas metal scene as a whole. It just means they didn’t have anything to do with what the thrash bands from D/FW accomplished. We had to pave our own road.
Did you start building up a friendship with them?
All of the Texas metal bands of that era were always helpful to the other Texas metal bands from different Texas cities. We would let each other know what record stores, fanzines and radio stations to send demos to in our cities. Then we would set up a show for them here in Dallas and they would return the favor in Austin or wherever. Now it wasn’t like all of the bands worked together like that as one big happy family. Usually each band would have a few other bands that they became friends with and they would work together well.
What kind of clubs did exist at this point?
Not many clubs in D/FW would book thrash bands in 85 & 86. So a lot of shows were at dumps that weren’t even legal clubs. One of these places was called The Tombstone Factory. It was an old building where they actually used to make tombstones. Of course the police would always catch on after a while and the place wouldn’t last very long. The first actual club that allowed D/FW thrash bands to play on a regular basis was called Joe’s Garage. Joe’s Garage was in Ft. Worth and that happened in 1987. From that point on the D/FW underground metal scene just exploded for the next several years.
Can we speak about a common Texas scene or was it divided to San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Houston?
It was a little bit of both. We were all proud to be part of the Texas metal scene. But Texas is so big and some cities are so many hours away. So the distance made it have to be divided in some ways. Each city was sort of creating its own scene. I think you can even notice the different types of metal bands and vocalist coming out of the different Texas cities. The great bands from Austin sounded different than the great bands from D/FW etc.
As far as the Dallas/Ft. Worth goes, it was the thrash bands that changed our local underground metal scene. Rigor Mortis and Rotting Corpse were formed around 1983. But things didn’t really start happening for those bands until they released demos in 1986. That same year (1986) Gammacide was formed, Hammer Witch moved here from New Orleans, Talon/Sedition released their demo and Morbid Scream was formed etc. All of these bands were part of the original underground thrash movement in D/FW, but each band had its own unique sound. The emergence of these bands was when the D/FW underground metal scene went to another level.
Both Gammacide and Rigor Mortis reformed a few years ago, but in 2006 came Texas Metal Alliance into being, to what does the name refer and how came up with it?
Your next question sort of explains all of that. Scott Shelby thought of the name once we decided to team up to do a benefit show. The name fit because it was an alliance of many of the old D/FW metal bands coming together to do a show and play each others songs.
The band features you on vocals, guitarists Rick Perry and Scott Shelby (Gammacide), bassist Alan Bovee (Gammacide/Devilfist) and drummer Joe Gonzalez (Demonseed) and originally it formed for a one-time performance to play a benefit show for Hammer Witch bassist/vocalist Wayne Abney, who had suffered a near-fatal motorcycle accident in August 2006. TMA’s performance for the benefit included special guest members from some of Dallas/Ft. Worth’s original thrash bands... Gammacide, Rigor Mortis, Rotting Corpse and Hammer Witch and after the benefit, some of the core members that made up TMA decided to make it a real band, can you tell us more about it?
We had such a good time working together and there was such good chemistry. So Scott and Rick called me up after the benefit and asked if I wanted to make it a full-time band. Rigor Mortis and Gammacide weren’t able to get together very often. So this gave us the chance to jam on a regular basis.
The band recorded a 4 song demo in Dec 2007 and a 5 song demo in Sept 2008, how were they recorded? Can you tell us more about those tapes?
We just went to a friends studio to record the first one. Like any new band you just want to record a demo. That way people can’t get to know your songs and you also hope it leads to getting some label interest. We were already signed by the time we recorded the second demo. So that was done much cheaper and faster just for the label to hear our other songs.
Are the demos good old thrash metal ones, that rooted in the ’80s or did you turn into a modern approach? Are the materials common with your early outfits?
We stuck to our old-school styles with this band. But unlike Rigor Mortis and Gammacide, we don’t stick to a specific style. It’s thrash… but not every song is full-speed thrash. We have more variety with TMA, so we are able to mix in some classic metal parts that are similar to Priest, Maiden, Sabbath or Slayer. In other words, we are just playing metal that we like and you can hear our influences in some songs. I think you can also hear some Gammacide and Rigor Mortis in the music and vocals too… because that is where we came from.
Both of them impressed the ears of Philip H. Anselmo (Pantera/Down/SJR/Arson Anthem) and he now plans to release the debut Texas Metal Alliance CD sometime in 2009 on his label Housecore Records, how did it happen exactly? Although it’s well known that he is very much into underground…
In December of 2007 Rigor Mortis did a small tour with Arson Anthem, which is one of Phil’s newer bands. We had been friends with Phil for over 20 years from back when he lived in D/FW and sang with Pantera. Phil is also a Rigor Mortis fan. Anyway, I told him about the new band I was in now and that it was with Rick Perry and Scott Shelby of Gammacide. Phil of course was friends with them back then too. So after the tour I sent him our demo in the mail. About a week later he called me up and said he loved it. He wanted first chance at releasing our first full-length on his label Housecore Records. We honestly never even tried to get signed by any other labels after that conversation... we knew that we had found our home.
When do you plan starting the recording sessions and is the whole material already written?
We go to New Orleans from April 10 – 19 to record it in Phil’s studio. We are going to record 10 songs and the songs are already written. We are definitely going to change the name of the band before the actual CD is released later this year.
TMA’s current live shows consist of a set list of many new TMA songs and a couple of classics from some of their former bands Rigor Mortis and Gammacide, do you plan to add more covers from bands, such as Hammerwitch, Rotting Corpse etc.?
We played Rotting Corpse and Hammer Witch songs at the 1st benefit show for Wayne Abney and at a couple of other shows after that. We had some of the guys from those bands come up as special guest at those shows. But once we decided to make TMA a real band, we slowly got away from the special guest thing as we wrote our own originals. We still do a Rigor Mortis and Gammacide song or two at some shows. Obviously because Scott, Rick and myself are from those bands. Scott did some solos on one of the Rotting Corpse demos and joined Hammer Witch for the last year of their existence. But Gammacide is the band he is known for. On special occasions or benefits we will still do the special guest thing and play songs from some of their bands.
Being a long time underground musicians you are, how did you view the reformations of ’80s acts, such as Heathen, Death Angel, Hallow’s Eve, Helstar, Devastation (Texas) etc.?
I think it’s great! Especially since our old bands have also reunited in recent years. Doyle Bright (who replaced me in Rigor Mortis) is now in Hallows Eve. It sucks that the Devastation reunion didn’t last very long. But, Texas Metal Alliance at least got to do a show with them before they disbanded.
Is the spirit of the ’80s alive? Did thrash metal reborn these days?
I think it’s safe to say that it is reborn. Metal has been strong this entire decade. But in the last couple of years, thrash has gotten bigger again.
Are you familiar with bands, such as Merciless Death, Toxic Holocaust, Avenger Of Blood, Warbringer etc. that aren’t original, but they are totally committed to the ’80s bands?
I am very familiar with those bands and I think they are awesome bands. In fact during our Rigor Mortis reunion tours, Avenger Of Blood opened for us in Las Vegas and Toxic Holocaust opened for us in New York. I consider those bands friends of ours now.
Are you listening to these days present bands or do you rather prefer the old stuffs?
I listen to both. I will always love the old bands. But I love checking out the new bands demos and CDs.
Thanks a lot for your answers, anything to add what I forgot to cover?
Thanks for the interview bro! I would just like to let your readers know to keep checking on our Texas Metal Alliance myspace page for our new band name change and the release date of our debut CD. www.myspace.com/texasmetalalliance