2009. május 13., szerda

Evil Dead - Bob Rangel

Undoubtely Evil Dead released in the form of "Annihilation of Civilization" a thrash classic. Unfortunately the record came out a little too late, since in 1989 thrash metal started going out of the fashion. In this interview Bob Rangel, who wrote some lyrics for the album, speaks about the band and about the record.

Bob, do you still remember how did you turn into metal and how did you became a metal fan? What was so captivating, intersting in this music for you?Okay, well I remember always liking whatever my older brothers liked. And luckily my oldest brother discovered KISS and Black Sabbath. So I always just leaned towards that kinda stuff. I expanded my interests as I got older, but starting out it was all Heavy Metal. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and eventually Slayer and much heavier stuff like that.
Did you consider yourself an underground fan or were you rather into established bands?Well at first I just listened to established bands, stuff that I could hear on the radio. But later on I got into a lot of underground stuff. I remember discovering Kerrang! Magazine at this record store and getting a bunch of fanzines back in the day. For those of you who weren’t born yet! That is kinda like a online magazine, but people used to type them up on their own, and just Xerox copy them. They were totally cool cuz you could read interviews with Mercyful Fate, and Exciter, and Armored Saint, and Slayer back before they were big. You could learn about bands from other parts of the country that hadn’t made it to your area yet.
Growing up in L. A. how did you view the scene popping up with bands, such as Slayer, Abattoir, Savage Grace, Sceptre, Vermin etc.? Were they the forerunners of the thrash movement?It’s weird because there were so many rally good bands at that time, but the only ones that you would hear about were the hair bands, the glam bands. The ones who had enough money to pay to play the big clubs. They bought ads in local magazines like BAM, and Music Connection. The good thrash metal bands had to make their own flyers and play back yard parties. But once bands started to play and get a reputation then they couldn’t keep them out of the clubs. Back then the first place that really started letting good thrash bands play was the Country Club which is way out in Reseda in the San Fernando Valley. About an hour away from East LA.
How about the club scene and the clubs as a whole? Did you often go to the clubs to watch bands?Yeah I used to go see bands a lot. Like I said at first you had to drive all the way out the Valley to see Thrash bands. I saw Slayer out there a bunch of times. Dark Angel, Mercyful Fate. There was also the Olympic Auditorium in Downtown LA but that was mostly for Punk Rock shows. I think Anthrax played there one time. G.B.H. and Suicidal Tendencies used to play there. The clubs were only concerned woth making money. They would have booked Adolf Hitler if he had a band. So until the thrash bands got a little bit bigger they didn’t really welcome them.
At which point and how did you end up becoming the roadie of Rob Alaniz (Evil Dead)? By the way, have you ever played an instrument? Yeah I play bass. I played in a few bands with Rob. My first band was Vomitron in 1987. That was like a side project for Rob while he was in Evil Dead. We used to practice at the same place. Rob was in a band with my brother Steve, it was called Virgin Faith. They were like a Heavy Metal cover band at first but then they started writing their own songs. Anyway, My brother and Rob were in a thrash cover band too called The N.O.T. Squad and I used to just be at every gig so I started helping out. Drums take the most time to set up you know, there are so many parts to them, so I guess I just used to help Rob and I got to know his whole kit and how he liked to set it up and all. Plus me and Rob became good friends because we both have the same sick sense of humor. Plus we are both named Robert! We used to call ourselves the “Bobs of Death”
Do you often take part in Evildead’s rehearsals? If yes, can you tell us more about it?Well I used to hang out with Rob all the time. He was in a band called Necrophilia just before Evil Dead and I used to go to practice with them and roadie for them too. Then when he started working with Mel and Juan I used to hang out all the time. Then Rob brought in Albert. Then whenever Albert and Rob and I were there, before anybody else, we would sometimes work on songs and parts and stuff. Eventually that led to me writing some of the lyrics. Then eventually that led to us starting Rise, the band Rob and Albert were in after Evil Dead.
On April 11, 1987 Evil Dead its first ever live show in front of about 2500 crazed thrashers at Fender’s Ballroom, in Long Beach on a bill with Possessed, Dark Angel and Cryptic Slaughter what do you recall of this particular gig?That was a killer show! I remember when they first got booked on that bill, I was thinking “Fuck Yeah! Finally a really great bill and a great chance to show off the new songs they had been working on. But when we got there, man it was packed! I couldn’t believe it. I remember setting up Rob’s drums and looking out at all those crazy fuckers. Man! I mean, Fenders was a crazy place. The roof was really low and people would hang on the rafters and shit, it got so hot and sweaty in there. It was like, a dream gig, especially for a brand new band, but if they didn’t kick major ass right from the get go, the crowd would have eaten them up! They would have thrown them off the stage and probably kicked their asses! The crowd was pretty violent. They opened with The Awakening of course and I remember looking at the crowd when they got to the half time part in the middle and people just dug it! They were thrashing, and stage diving and there were so many pits just spinning around in the audience. Aw man it was awesome. A great first gig, a great way to introduce themselves to LA.
Evildead released their first full length titled „Annihilation of civilization” in 1989 and although the title speaks for itself, but how would you comment it with your own words?Well I think it is a great album. I mean I love it! I loved it back then. It is heavy and it has all the different styles that made up that band. There are some great songs on it “Gone Shooting” and “Parracide” are great. “Holy Trials” is awesome. The title track of course, I really like that one! But to tell you the truth by the time it actually came out in 1989, it felt a little old. I mean, they had gone thru so much bullshit with the record label, and it took so long to finish it, that by the time it was released, they had like, 10 or 11 new songs that were really good and that should have been their 2nd record. “Annihilation” should have come out in 1988 and their 2nd record should have come out in 1989. But anyway, you know, that was all in the past. I was really close to Rob and Albert, and I so I was frustrated with all the difficulties they had with the record label and finally getting the album out. But overall, looking back on it, it is a great fucking record. It is a good representation of their sound, and I think it stands up even now 20 years later!
Rob told me, that you co-wrote some lyrics, how did it happen?Well I think that Mel wrote lyrics, you know he was the first singer in Evil Dead. I liked the stuff that Mel wrote. He wrote “The Awakening” and “Parracide” and “Holy Trials”. But when they got Phil to sing, he didn’t really write words. He would sing whatever Mel wrote, and he was a good singer but he didn’t care what he sang. So anyways, I would never have just stuck my nose in where it didn’t belong, but like I said, Albert and Me, and Rob used to work on songs, sometimes I would just start yelling stuff in the microphone, just to help flesh out the song. I don’t remember exactly who suggested that I write some lyrics for Evil Dead, but I remember I jumped on the chance because I love writing words, and I was a little pissed off motherfucker with a lot to say! I think that Mel had heard some songs from Vomitron, mine and Robs little side band and I think he liked them, or at least he realized that I could put words together. So anyway, somehow someone just said “Hey, let’s have Bob do it!” and it just grew from there. I mean it sucks that there are only 2 songs on the record that I wrote on, because after that I started to write all the lyrics and it was fun! I think I wrote like 5 or 6 sets of words for them that they never recorded or anything cuz Rob and Albert quit.
What kind of topics did have an effect on you?Well you have to remember that this was in the late 80’s, so this was at the end of the Reagan years, and then the build up to the first Gulf War. Plus the fall of the Soviet Union, and so on. There was plenty of crazy shit going on with the United Sates Government and that gave me endless material. Then there is always local stuff to write about. There was some racist LAPD shit always going on too. But one of my favorite topics will always be the Catholic Church. They had child molesting priests, Televangelists, donations to non-profit organizations etc. I mean I could just write about them for the rest of my life and never run out of material!
Do you think, that Evildead tried to avoid being clichy lyricswise, but they wanted draw the attention to political, human and social issues and problems?
Well I definitely tried that. I mean I think that I always liked the kind of lyrics that expressed a feeling or something. I mean I liked Slayer and Testament, and Dark Angel and all that, but all the devil stuff was kinda boring to me. A was always more drawn to the lyrics of punk rock bands like The Minute Men and Suicidal Tendencies and Dead Kennedys. I liked pissed off stuff, angry at the world type of stuff. I’m not sure what Mel wanted to say with his lyrics. He was really good at writing about moods and imagery. Like with “The Awakening”, he saw the movie Evil Dead and just told that story with words. He painted a picture and caught the mood of the movie. I couldn’t really do that. I just wanted to yell and shake my fist at something thru my words.
This album is full of sweet riffs, great solos, and well written lyrics, the guitar playing rules and from start to end the kick ass factor doesnt go down, how do you view it?Yeah it’s great. They had a lot of time to work on it, and I remember how many times they re-recorded stuff and rearranged stuff just to get it perfect, or as good as they could. It came out really good.
The speed increases as the album keeps spinning it seems until the final track „B.O.H.I.C.A (BEND OVER HERE IT COMES AGAIN)” which is the fastest most intense track, is that correct?
“BOHICA” is pretty much out of control. I guess that it is good that it is the last song because I don’t know what they could have put after that. And “Unauthorized” is pretty crazy too. It starts out pretty fast too with “The Awakeing”
Do you agree with, that all the tracks on this album are brilliant; Albert Gonzalez and Juan Garcia can really shred up a guitar?Um, let me see…. All the songs are great. Let me think about it, Yeah I guess each song is pretty good. I can’t think of a band one. They all came out really good. Albert is fucking incredible on guitar. I was always in awe of his playing. He was ridiculous. I am really glad that they captured his playing and his solos on there. Juan is a really good player too, he writes great riffs. He has written so many songs over the years with Agent Steel and Evil Dead. I always dug his riffs. Him and Albert aren’t exactly the same type of players and I think it was a little rough at first, but they came together very nicely. All the songs they wrote after that, the ones that never really saw the light of day, those were some killer songs too. It’s a shame you never got to hear those.
Some of the solos are just throw to make the song sound better but some of them are truly intense like on B.O.H.I.C.A., on „The awakening” or on „Future shock”…Well the solo at the end of “BOHICA” is actually Casey the guy that produced the record. I remember that was the last song they recorded and they had become such good friends they just invited him to play guitar on it. I remember Albert used to put a lot of thought into his solos. He always considered everything, the tempo of the song, the feel, the mood. Albert comes from like, blues, and jazz shit. He never even heard thrash metal, or speed metal guitar players before hi joined. The stuff he listened to was like, Eric Johnson, and Wes Montgomery, and Miles Davis. He brought that mentality to his playing.
While this record came out by the ending of the US thrash glut, meaning it was hard to differentiate which band was which by that time, but somehow Evildead stood out, what do you think about it?I think it came out too late, as I said earlier. I do think that they didn’t sound like other bands. Even though it came out late in the thrash scene, I think it had a fresh feel to it. They definitely had a sound of their own. All the bay area bands kinda sounded similar, and there were a lot of hard core noise bands coming out at the time too. But Evil Dead managed to keep their sound. They could have made it really big I think and they would have had their own sound.
Was maybe the fact that you were faster and more vicious than the legions of Bay Area bands clogging the arteries of the scene or maybe it was the fact your guitarists knew how to shred riffs and leads equally well?Well they did sound different that the bay area bands. I mean there were some great bands around at that time. Vio-Lence, Death, Carcass, Testament, Exodus, Death Angel, Holy Terror, etc. I think Juan has a sound of his own. His style is all over the Evil Dead sound. Then when you throw Albert in there, he just takes it to another level.
Those boys were damn good and the guitar attacks of Garcia and Gonzalez work extremely well together, right?I think they came out really good especially on the record. There are few tracks where Juan plays a solo, then Albert plays one, or they exchange stuff like on the beginning of “Parracide” or in “Gone Shooting” There are some great dual sounding stuff. I mean I can totally tell which one is Albert and which one is Juan. They have their own sounds.
Juan Garcia knows how to write riffs and he shows it on this album…Definitely! Juan is a riff monster. I was a total fan of Agent Steel form their first couple records. He wrote some killer stuff with Evil Dead too. He is a metal pioneer! An LA metal legend!
How did you view Rob’s drumwork, since you were his roadie? Did he do a phenomenal job?Rob is a fucking monster. When I think of how many years he has been playing. I mean back in the day, he had a reputation for breaking stuff. I mean all his cymbals were broken. He would break drumsticks like they were glass. He plays so fucking hard, which I love! I love how aggressive he plays. He is really creative too, and can sound like a freaking avalanche sometimes. Thru the years he has gotten so much better too. I mean he used to tell me that he broke so many cymbals because he didn’t know how to play right! The he didn’t hit them right. Anyway he knows now, and he is really good, and he hasn’t lost his anger behind the kit. He still beats the shit out those drums! I hadn’t seen him for a few years, and I went to see him with Winterthrall a few years ago, and man! He is still a really intense player.
His drumming is fantastic, tight, furious, and keeping the band-machine on overdrive most of the album, he is on the same level of Gene Hoglan or Dave Lombardo…I think he is up there. Gene Hoglan used to dig Rob’s playing back in the day too. He used to hang around. He was a fan. I think there weren’t that many really good drummers for this type of music. I mean when you think about Slayer, whenever Dave Lombardo would leave they would never sound as good. A lot of dudes could play fast, but the aggression and the feeling wasn’t there. The fills weren’t as creative.
Wasn’t a disadvantage for Rob, that we wasn’t as experienced as the other members were in Agent Steel, Abattoir etc.?Well Mel and Juan had already experienced some measure of success in those other bands. But Rob had been playing for years. I know more than anyone because I was there helping out! At every ghetto backyard party, and tiny club. He played around Los Angeles for years before Evil Dead. Maybe recording, and playing out of state and stuff, that was new to him, but he fit right in. I mean it was all new to him and it was fun.
Phil Flores’ high-pitched snarl was limited and best suited to high-speed spitting out of lyrics more than anything else, do you think, that he was highly influenced by the hardcore scene?Phil was weird. Totally cool guy, very laid back, almost a surfer type. I don’t know if he liked Hard Core stuff or not. He didn’t seem to be really angry or anything like that, which is what I usually associate with Hard Core. I mean, he yelled, and screamed pretty good. He sounded good on the songs. But he was never really involved with the songs or the words. At first Mel was writing all the stuff and Phil would just sing it. Then I was writing lyrics and he would just sing whatever we gave him. He was good, but a little hard to read.
As I mentioned above, the guitar tandem of Juan Garcia and Albert Gonzalez are top notch, whipping out wailing solos alongside stunning riffs at those velocities, Mel Sanchez even gets in some licks here and there with a growling distorted bass tone, what’s your opinion about it?Yeah they had a cool sound. I love the way Mel’s bass sounds and he plays some cool shit. Albert pretty much defined the Evildead sound. His style is insane and so out of place in a thrash metal band. But he managed to bring a fresh style to this music. Juan is great too, I mean he writes some amazing riffs. Together they had a great sound, it’s a shame they all 3 didn’t get to record more songs.
Was upon the release of „Annihilation Of Civilization” Evildead’s sound notably more fresh than that of most other bands of the time?Well they definitely had a unique sound. Way different than other bands from that era. But like I said, by the time the album came out, more than a year late, well things had changed. I think Mel had left the band by that time, then Rob and Albert. I wish you could have heard the stuff that they were writing after they had recorded “Annihilation”. Not the stuff that came out on “The Underworld”. This was a lot heavier and intense. Really aggressive pissed off stuff. Me and Rob and Albert made a band called Rise and we were doing all those songs. I left that band, then they eventually got that guy Istvan and then they both left and he is still in that band. But that is the stuff that should have been the second Evildead album.
There is simply no fluff or flashy gimmicks in these songs, and the vocals have a slight hardcore-ish edge which adds to the concise feel of the music, correct?
Yeah they didn’t really do anything fake or phony. I think the hard core thing you hear with the vocals was probably because it is clear and you can understand the lyrics, which is good. A lot of bands had gotten way into the cookie monster singer thing by that time. But they kept the heavy aggressive music with a clear angry hard core sounding singer.
Do you agree with, that the strength of „Annihilation of Civilization” and what makes it stand above their other releases, lies in the guitar riffs done by Albert Gonzales and Juan Garcia and songs such as „F.C.I./The Awakening”, „Living Good”, „Future Shock” and „Annihilation of Civilization” showcase fast, brutal and, dark guitar riffs?Definitely! Albert’s playing, Rob’s monster drums, Mel’s sound, Juan’s riffing, Phil’s voice, they all came together to create a really cool sound. Too bad that band didn’t get to record anymore records together.
As far as the opening track „F.C.I./The awakening” is very similar to Slayer’s „Angel of death”, considering its aggression, brutality and intensity, one of the best openers and thrash songs of all time…Yeah that is a killer riff. Albert came up with that and the leads. You know what the F.C.I. stands for? Well I think it was the first time Albert played those riffs and Mel, or Phil, someone said that it sounds like flying cats! The lead guitar parts, so they called it the “Flying Cat Intro”. A little bit of trivia for you!
„The Awakening”, kicks things off in furious fashion, pelting the listened with adrenaline fueled riffs, supplied by Juan Garcia, the title track kicks in next, a solid mosh inducing track and sounding also like a cleaner Slayer, with a higher degree of technicality, and a decidedly hardcore-style vocal delivery, what do you think about it?
I remember I didn’t think it was a good idea to put the title track as the second song. The Intro and the Awakening are killer to open the record of course. But I thought they should have put “Annihilation” later in the mix. But now, when I listen back I think it sounds good. I like the order. It does kick you right in the teeth from the get go!
„Living Good” is fast, technical and with a midpaced break to die for (an awesome mosh break), a prime example of what Evildead can do, correct?Yes! That is a great example of all the styles they brought together. Really heavy riff with a good groove too. I really like the lyrics on that one too. “Adultress bisexual, not one time but several” that is fucking awesome writing Mel! And the part that goes “If you’re truly chosen then hell must be frozen” That is some good shit right there! Mel had a very cynical outlook on stuff. That song was about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. These 2 twisted religious yahoos who stole millions from little old ladies in the mid west. Eventually they got exposed as 2 faced, perverted, thieves, and rapists. They got what they deserved. Good Song!
Would you say, that the rest of the record rips along, with varying success, the best being „Gone Shooting” and the awesome „Holy Trials” and varying production, as some of the songs sound flat and quickly thrown together („Unauthorized Exploitation”, and the admittedly hilarious „B.O.H.I.C.A”)?Well “Unauthorized” should have been a great song. I remember when they wrote that riff. I think Albert wrote it, and it sounded really quick and punk rock like, but I think Mel and Juan didn’t like the way it sounded so they slowed it down and changed it. That song was a little thrown together, you pretty much nailed it on that. But the lyrics are great too! Another Mel Sanchez gem. “B.O.H.I.C.A” was an old, old song that I remember I saw Abattoir play back in the day. It was like a legendary song around the clubs of LA back in the day. I think they just wanted to record it for the hell of it and I guess the label decided to put it on the record. It is a total joke song, but it’s cool. Some great lyrics by Mel Sanchez once again. It is all about his love of a certain kind of sexual activity. A kinda taboo sexual practice. Something very naughty. But it is funny as shit though! Pun intended!
„Holy Trials” displays variety and a little change in pace in the album starting off with a very melodic acoustic beginning, it then picks the pace up again and breaks into thrash and „Parricide” is another great song that starts off with Gonzales and Garcia trading off riffs which creates a very cool sound as the riffs transfer from the left stereo to the right, how do you explain this?I like “Holy Trials” especially Albert’s lead. “Parracide” is a great song, I really like the riff. Mel’s distorted bass sound is really cool too. The leads in the beginning, well that was Albert again, I remember he figured out how to make that interchangeable riff/lead thing where they trade off in the intro. That sounded really cool live too. Casey, the engineer extended that part in the intro, it used to be shorter but he cut and spliced it and made it sound more groovy and shit. Altogether a great song.
Is „Annihilation of civilization” a prime choice of thrash mayhem and craftsmanship? Is it vicious, piledriving thrash, with tons of energy and originality, a very worth purchase?I think that if you want to hear what real thrash metal sounded like back in the day, and you want to experience some killer Los Angeles style hard core fucking aggression, than yes, definitely get this record. It is a great example of what a group of pissed off metal heads can come up with. I think that you will not be disappointed!
Would you say, that this album shows what thrash is all about, crushing riffs played lightning fast with vocals that are of a sort of shouted snarl and Phil Flores’ vocals on this album are thrash perfect; aggressive, fast, but still clean enough to understand?
Yeah I like that the vocals are clear and understandable. The riffs are harsh and aggressive. The drumming is insane, monster, and over the top. Over all it’s a metal masterpiece! Buy It!
Great, pure thrash metal is what „Annihilation Of Civilization” delivers in a splendid way, right?Yes dude! Thrash metal at its best! Late 80’s angry hard core thrash metal!!!!
What do you think about, that released at the waning end of the thrash movement, „Annihilation Of Civilization” suffered from lack of promotion and no American record deal? How did it happen?Well like I said, it came out way too late, there was absolutely no promotion. They played a lot of shows before and after that, but none of it was directly from the record company. As I remember it was a label called SPV or Steamhammer. One of them was the European label and they were starting an American branch. Anyways one of the first bands they signed in America was Evildead. I guess the money fell thru or someone got fired, or I don’t what the fuck happened but the American label just basically disintegrated. So here is Evildead with a whole album recorded and no label to put it out. I think at one point Road Runner wanted to just buy the already finished record and put it out, which would have been killer but the European label just sat on it forever. When they finally pulled their heads out of their asses and released it, it was kinda late. So that is the bad luck they experienced. It was frustrating and I think it led to everyone getting into arguments and shit, which eventually led to them quitting and leaving. Anyway, it’s a shame but at least we have this record to appreciate.
Were maybe from a band trying to get a product out a little too quick?
Absolutely not! They were more than ready to put out that record! I mean, like I said, the record should have come out in 1988, then they should have out the second record in 1989 and so on, and so on. They could have been huge! But it happened the way it did.
Can you tell us more about the shows that were in support of this awesome record? How did they go?Well it was really cool when they would play the songs live. “Parracide” always got a good reaction. “Gone Shootin” was always great too. I remember people really liking the new stuff, even if they hadn’t heard the record yet. They used to play some of the stuff that they never got to record like “Greenhouse” which was written BEFORE Testament wrote their song by the same name! Anyway, they never got to play together in Europe or Mexico where I am sure they would have just killed. I know Juan finally took the band to Europe for a some shows but him and Phil were the only original members at the point. I keep bugging the shit out of Rob to do a reunion. Hopefully it will happen. Since they are doing this Abattoir thing, it’s basically the same band, so lets keep our fingers crossed! Maybe everyone in Europe will finally get to see Evildead the right way! Even if it is 20 years later!!
Anyway, thanks for the interview! It was fun! Long! But fun. Anyways I am scanning some pictures too, I will send them to you, just some stuff from back in the day. If you have any more questions or need to know anything else, just let me know! Good bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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