2011. február 28., hétfő

Headbanger fanzine - Bob Nalbandian

To say the truth, I started relatively late interesting in the fanzines, I discovered them only around '97 or so, but since then I started collecting as much as I can. With the help of the internet, I discovered a lot of fanzines and editors from the '80s and I was lucky enough getting in touch some of them with. Legendary L. A. based fanzine editor's Bob Nalbandian tells us the story about those times. Let you read some metal history with the help of Mr. Nalbandian!

So Bob, when and how did you get in touch with Metal music? What made this kind of sound so attractive for you?
Well, I guess I would have to thank my older cousin Harry for that. He's about 5 years older than me and he turned me on to all the great hard rock/metal bands of the early '70s when I was around 8 or 9 years old. He used to make me compilation tapes (cassette and 8-track!) featuring bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Ten Years After, Humble Pie, and others. And from that point on I became a die-hard fan of hard rock and metal music.
For how long have you been involved in metal?
Well, as I said I first got into metal when I was 9 or 10 and I'm 45 now so that would mean I've been involved in metal for over 36 year! (Damn I'm old!)
What were the first songs, records, shows etc. that had the biggest effect on you and you decided dedicating your life for the metal scene? Which groups did you experience for the first time?
Well, when I first heard Zeppelin and Sabbath they instantly had a huge affect on me. I also loved the band Bachman-Turner-Overdrive when I was a kid. I still think the "No Fragile" album is one of the greatest metal albums from the '70s. I was also a big Deep Purple fan but when Blackmore formed Rainbow and released the Rainbow Rising record, that literally changed my life. THat is probably my all-time favorite metal album, along with Black Sabbath's "Sabotage." As far as shows, the first metal concert I saw was AC/DC on the Highway to Hell tour when I was 15 (with Bon Scott!) and that still today was one of the best shows I've seen in my life and had a huge affect on me!
You were born and growing up in Los Angeles, do you still remember, how did the whole L. A. metal scene start and develope step by step? How about the early footsteps of the L. A. scene, with bands such as Slayer, Metallica, Shellshock (later known as Dark Angel), Abattoir, Vermin, Sceptre, Armored Saint etc.?
Yes, I remember all those bands you mention! It would take a whole book to answer that question! But I truly think ARMORED SAINT were the first TRUE European sounding metal band from LA that didn't follow the LA trends (glam, pop-metal etc) and they literally started the headbanging scene in LA. I saw this first hand back in '81 - '82. This was before Metallica were playing the LA clubs (and they were playing covers only of NWOBHM bands then), and a at least a year before Slayer, Abattoir, Dark Angel and any of the thrash bands formed.
Would you say, that the L. A. scene was divided into two parts? There were the aforementioned underground groups and in opposite of the were the glam/hair ones, such as Ratt, Mötley Crüe, W. A. S. P., Dokken etc.?
Yes, like I said you had Armored Saint who were influenced by British groups like Priest and Maiden. You also had bands like Malice and Warrior that were also European metal influenced and didn't sound like your typical LA glam-metal. This was also the starting of doom-metal and bands like St. Vitus were starting out in LA and then of course you had Metallica and later Slayer but they hadn't yet made an impact in LA (when Ratt and Motley were playing the clubs). But the scene wasn't really separated because bands like Armored Saint, Malice and even Metallica and Slayer would open up shows for bands like Ratt and WASP since back in the early '80s if you wanted to play Hollywood clubs like Troubadour, Whisky or Roxy you had to play alongside with all the glam/hair metal bands.
What about the club scene? Which clubs did start opening their doors for metal? Was it easy for the underground groups getting shows in the clubs and making name for themselves at this point?
Not many clubs in LA really catered to metal. They catered more to the glam-metal bands. The Troubadour was really the only Hollywood club to play if you were a metal band in early '80s. It was the clubs in Orange County (where I grew up) like The Woodstock, Radio City and Concert Factory that had most the heavier metal bands. That's where Metallica and Slayer started out, as well as Dark Angel, LA Kaos (who became Hirax) and other big OC bands like August Redmoon, Dante Fox (who became Great White but had Tony Richards on drums and Don Costa on bass and were much heavier), Leatherwolf and others. Also clubs in Pasadena like Ice House and Pookies were where Pasadena/ East LA bands like Armored Saint, Abattoir, Tyrant and others would play.
Were you rather into the underground bands or rather into the commercial, popular ones? How deep you did you dig yourself in the scene? Did you take part in the tapetrading network?
I loved the underground bands but I also loved the popular metal bands like Priest, Sabbath, AC/DC etc. I was a huge tape-trader and one of the first to send out all the underground LA metal demos/live tapes (Armored Saint, Metallica, Slayer, etc) and I would get all the great metal demos & live tapes out of Europe in return.
At which point did you decide to bring Headbanger into being? Who came up with this name?
I started Headbanger in '82. I came up with the name because all the other magazines had the word "metal" in the title and I wanted something different. I was really inspired by Brian Slagel's zine "New Heavy Metal Revue" but even more so by Ron Quintana's "Metal Mania" zine which really made me decide to start up The Headbanger.
Was it the very first fanzine in L. A. and in the surrounding of L. A.?
Brian Slagel's "New Heavy Metal Revue" I think was the first. I started The Headbanger a few months after that.
Was the whole metal scene in its infancy at this point?
Pretty much, at least here in the US. Metallica were a garage band and Motley Crue and Ratt were still playing the clubs and the NWOBHM was just starting out so the only really big metal bands in the US then were the '70s icons like Sabbath, Priest, AC/DC, Scorpions etc.
Did you have any experiences considering making a fanzine?
Not really, I did a little bit of writing for Ron Quintana's Metal Mania fanzine before starting The Headbanger. In fact, my friend Pat Scott and I did one of the first LA HM revues for Metal Mania which ended up featuring the first articles ever written on Metallica and Armored Saint.
Did you start it alone or did you have other contributors (co-workers) right from the start?
I started it with my friend Mike but did most of it myself in the beginning. A few issues into it I had a contributing editor Fid who did a lot of the articles and reviews and he helped out a lot and was a great writer!
Headbanger was one of the first US fanzines along with Ron Quintana’s Metal Mania and Brian Slagel’s The New Heavy Metal Revue, wasn’t it? Did you know Ron and Brian by the way or at least have you heard of them?
Yes, I knew them both. I had met Brian when he was selling records at the Hollywood Record Swap Meet (this is before he worked at OZ Records). I also was penpals with Ron, since he lived in San Francisco and I lived in Orange County so we never met, just penpals and tape traders.
Were you aware of, that by the mid-1960s, several fans active in science fiction and comics fandom recognized a shared interest in rock music, and the rock fanzines were born and Paul Williams and Greg Shaw were two such SF-fans turned rock zine editors?
Wow, you know your history! That was way before my time. I know the names but never met these people. Again I lived in Southern California (OC/LA) and they were all in Northern California (SF) so I really didn't get to know that scene.
Are Williams’ „Crawdaddy!” (1966) and Shaw’s two California-based zines, „Mojo Navigator” (full title, „Mojo-Navigator Rock and Roll News”) (1966) and „Who Put the Bomp?” (1970) among the most important early rock fanzines? Did you know these fanzines at all?
I remember the names of those zines but never actually collected them. I was never really into Sci-Fi or comic books, and only was into metal zines.
Did you know, that „Crawdaddy!” quickly moved from its fanzine roots to become one of the first rock music „prozines” with paid advertisers and newsstand distribution, while „Bomp” remained a fanzine, featuring many writers who would later become prominent music journalists, including Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Ken Barnes, Ed Ward, Dave Marsh, Mike Saunders and R. Meltzer?
I didn't know that. But I did read Lester Bangs work in Creem Magazine (which was after Crawdaddy). I grew up reading Creem and Circus Magazine and also Hit Parader, which were the big US music magazines at the time. But when Kerrang! came out in England, that became my Bible!
Bomp was not alone; an August 1970 issue of Rolling Stone included an article about the explosion of rock fanzines: other rock fanzines of this period include „Flash” 1972, edited by Mark Shipper, „Eurock Magazine” (1973-1993) edited by Archie Patterson and Bam Balam, written and published by Brian Hogg in East Lothian, Scotland, beginning in 1974, and in the mid-1970s, Back Door Man and denim delinquent, so would you name it the start and the turning point of the underground scene?
I guess you can call it the turning point for the underground scene. Again, this was way before my time and I didn't get into fanzine until the early '80s, and most of the mags/fanzines I read were from Europe like Kerrang! of course and also Aardschok from Holland, Metal Forces from UK, Enfer from France and many other metal zines from Europe.
Do you still remember how did you do the first issue of Headbanger? How did issue #1 clog together exactly? I mean what kind of articles, reviews (demo, Lp, tape, live) were featured in issue #1? Who was on the front cover?
Yes I remember. I had Girlschool on the cover because they had just come to the US for the first time (when "Screaming Blue Murder" just came out) and idd a show at the Whisky so I put them on the cover. The quality for my first issue was very low budget! I Xeroxed all the copies of that issue on a small Xerox machine.
What were the criterions for choosing the bands to feature in Headbanger?
If I had contributors that wanted to do an article or and interview I always welcomed it and also Fid pretty much had full reign of band he wanted to review or interview. We tried to do a lot of the underground metal bands to give them exposure but also like doing the bigger bands and often put them on the cover since they would sell more issues than the underground bands. But Headbanger was probably the first fanzine or magazine to ever do articles or interviews on Slayer, Dark Angel, Celtic Frost, and many other groundbreaking bands.
Did you have European penbangers, friends at this time? Did you know what’s going on in Europe? I mean, have you heard of the NWOBHM and the German metal movement, that started at the late ’70s/early ’80s with bands, such as Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Jaguar, Raven, Accept etc.?
Yes, I knew all about the British and European metal bands. I traded tapes with people in UK, Germany, Holland, Brazil, Australia, Belgium, France and many other countries so I had all the killer underground metal albums and demos from all over the world!
Were you concentrating on supporting the underground scene?
Yes, we totally supported the underground scene.
Did you often get demos and rehearsals from underground groups? How did you enter into relations with the bands? Were you aware of the newer bands via flyers or…?
Yes, mostly through penpals or reading about these bands in underground fanzines or mags like Kerrang! (The Armed & Ready section introduced me to tons of classic NWOBHM bands!) Metal Mania, Aardschok, Enfer, Rock Brigade (Brazil), and others.
How did you do the issues of the fanzines and how much did take to do each issues? Did you have enough material for each issues? Were there any materials that left out?
The first 5 or issues I xeroxed at a local copy center. I xeroxed I think 200 of the first issue (very rare free issue) and 300 for the next couple issues and #5 and #6 I think I xeroxed 1,000 each. By the time I did #7 I used a professional printer and #7 thru #11 i believe I printed 2,500 to 3,000 of each issue. I don't think there was much material left out, maybe a few reviews that didn't fit.
Did you do the issues with typewriter? What about the production of the fanzines as a whole?
I first 3 or 4 issues were done on a typewriter, I think by #5 or #6 I started using a computer but it was a basic computer (this was back in 1984) so the font was very small. Production was all cut and paste and ruff off letters! No computer graphics back then - couldn't afford that!
What were the early issues like and how were the responses to them? How many copies did you print and was it hard to get rid of them?
Refer to question #1. I pretty much got rid of all of the issues by now I don't have barely any left! They actually sold really good, I had Greenworld and Important (LA & NY) as my primary distributors and they did a great job getting them out in the stores. I also had a big subscription list of a lot of overseas fans and also traded my fanzine with tons of other fanzine publishers as well as metal radio shows worldwide so most the under metal heads and tape collectors had copies of my zine.
Did you also try to get in touch with labels as well? Do you still remember what were the labels that you got in touch with?
I didn't really have luck with the major labels back then but all the new indie metal labels that were coming out at the time - Metal Blade, Shrapnel, Megaforce, Combat, as well as a lot of the European labels would service me their product and were really good about setting up interviews and getting me passes to their shows. Fanzines like The Headbanger worked hand and hand with all the indie metal labels at the time since none of the major US magazines really covered metal bands at that time.
Did they start sending you promos? On what kind of format did you get the advance or promotional stuffs?
Yes, they would send me vinyl and sometimes advance recordings on cassette.
What do the issues cost back then? Did you also change, trade with other fanzine editors?
The cost was only $1.00! So I really didn't make any money since it cost me almost a dollar to print! I think by issue #7 I started charging $1.25. But like I said I traded fanzines with most the fanzine editors worldwide. There was no competition between us, we were all friends and respected one and other.
How did you distribute, spread the fanzines? Were you in connection with penbangers from all over the world?
Yes, I had a pretty big subscription list and I went to a lot of the local LA and OC records stores that sold metal myself. And as i said i had distributors like Greenworld and Important (who later become Relativity) distribute my fanzine nationwide.
What about the promotion of Headbanger back then? How and how much promotion did you make for Headbanger? I mean, did you sell it alone or was it available at shows, record stores etc.?
I would bring a lot to shows, when Maiden, Sabbath, Priest, AC/DC etc would play Long Beach Arena, we were in the parking lots before the show selling Headbangers! And they sold like crazy!
Did you send from the paper to those bands, which were interviewed in the fanzine? Did the bands get a copy from the 'zine that were interviewed?
Yes, I sent free copies of the Headbanger to all the bands that were featured in the issue.
As for the ’80s, both the tape trading scene and running fanzines were very popular, they were at their peak those times, would say, that running fanzines was a chain reaction back then? I mean, the editors draw inspiration from each other or…?
Yeah, totally, we worked together - we all were tape traders, the people that ran fanzines or that ran indie metal labels (like Slagel) or the dj's from college radio stations that had metal shows. It was kind of like a chain reaction.
Was a competition between the fanzines editors or was a unity among them? With which fanzine editors were you in touch back then? Which fanzine was the best back in the day in your opinion?
Total unity. I traded with all of them... Metal Mania, Northwest Metal, Aardshock (Holland), Headbanger (Holland), Shock Power (Germany), Enfer (France), Metal Forces (UK), Kick Ass Monthly (NY), Rock Brigade (Brazil), and tons of other zines! (Too many to list)
Do you think that fanzines played, play and will play an important role in the Metal scene? How can mags/’zines support the career of bands?
I think unfortunately those days are gone now with the Internet and everything else, there are tons of killer metal websites out there where people all over the world can access for free so metal fanzines are now a thing of the past for the most part.
As fanzines were produced in ever greater volumes and developed into new areas of subject matter, a form of culture also developed around them, a "fanzine scene" is referred to by zine producers, do you agree with it?
Yes, it was definitely a scene. But it was truly out of the love for metal, not because it was trendy or to make money. Most fanzine editors from the '80s did it because they wanted to promote these great underground metal bands.
What do you think about, that a major problem that fanzines have is their seclusion and isolation away from the general public?
I think that was the special thing about the Fanzines, it was for a very underground breed of metal heads that loved metal music.
How do you view, that along with Tampa, Florida, New York and Bay Area the Los Angeles scene was widely attributed as a starting point of American thrash metal?
I totally agree, the fanzines didn't necessarily "start or create" thrash metal but we were at the time the only source of media (apart from certain college metal radio stations) that were giving any publicity or media attention to thrash metal.Most the major labels and major mags despised thrash metal at the time so it was only the fanzines that gave these bands exposure.
Do you agree with, that as different thrash metal scenes began to develop starting around the early/mid-80's (I think of Texas, L. A., Bay Area, New York/New Jersey) each had their own distinct sound that differentiated the bands from other bands on the scene?
I think in the beginning that was true, but toward the mid-80s a lot of the thrash bands started sounding alike and cloning one and other.
In your opinion, were there any borders between the styles (black, thrash, death etc.) back in the day or was it a common underground scene? Would you say, that the rise of the extreme metal began with acts, such as Mantas/Death, Massacre, Possessed, Slaughter, Death Strike/Master etc.?
Yes, although I think VENOM really were the band that started Black/Death Metal (even though it was at it's very primitive stages musically). And some will say Destruction, Sodom, Hellhammer were also responsible for the more extreme metal before the bands you mention above. It's all a matter of opinion.
You published 11 issues of The Headbanger from 1982 through 1985 and you gave a big chance to the unsigned L. A. bands through the paper, would you say, that you helped them making a name for themselves? Were they thankful for your job during the years?
Yes, my fanzine was one of the first to feature METALLICA, SLAYER, ARMORED SAINT, MEGADETH etc and I still talk to all those bands today and I think they see the importance of fanzines like The Headbanger in the beginning of their career.
Did Headbanger play an important role considering the developing of the L. A. underground scene?
I think it did, issue #7 and & #8 featured a two-part LA Metal special that featured some of the very first interviews/features of many of the groundbreaking LA metal bands including Slayer, Megadeth, Warlord, WASP, Dark Angel, Abattoir, etc...
How were your views on the mid ’80s L. A. scene, when a lot of thrash/death bands started popping up, such as Archenemy, Death Force, Viking, Recipients Of Death, Sadistic Intent, Terrorizer etc.? Were all of them influenced by the first wave of thrash metal, such as Slayer or Dark Angel?
I think they were all definitely influenced by the first wave of thrash whether it be Slayer, Dark Angel, Exodus or Megadeth. I think those bands will admit that too. I'm not really so into those bands, I'm mainly into the original first wave of thrash.
Do you agree with, that the extreme metal scene started being saturated at this point?
Yes, I totally agree with that. Although there are a lot of great talented extreme metal bands, they tend to all sound the same after a while - not much originality these days with extreme metal.
At which point and why did you stop doing Headbanger? Lack of motivation, money or…?
It was more financial, I wasn't really making that much money and it would have cost too much money to bring the fanzine to the next level (make it full-size w/ color cover). So I started writing and contributing to other fanzines that were able to reach the "magazine" level, like Metal Rendevous where i was their LA editor. I am still very good friends with publisher John Strednansky.
Were you satisfied with the selling of the fanzine by the way? Did it have a big influence on the underground scene? Did it introduce your name for other fanzine editors back in the day?
Yes, I was very satisfied and the influence was overwhelming i believe. Even today people tell me my fanzine introduced them to bands like Armored Saint, Slayer, Raven, Metallica, Megadeth etc. I used to get fan letters from Jason Newsted (back when he was in local Phoenix band THE DOGZ) and the Pantera guys back when they put out Metal Magic. So I know The Headbanger influenced tons of metal musicians back in the early-mid '80s. And people still remember my name today from The Headbanger! So I think it was Extremely influential in metal music.
In the early ‘90s, you landed guitarist Marty Friedman in the multi-platinum group Megadeth and soon after you headed the west coast office of Roadrunner Records working closely with many of the labels cutting-edge artists at the time, including Sepultura, Type-O Negative, and Last Crack. What can you tell us about this period?
It was a good time in my life. Roadrunner was the first record label I worked with so it was all kind of new to me but it was a lot of fun.
Did you work with Monte Conner together?
Not directly, I was the only person working the Los Angeles (West Coast) office and of course Monte and the rest of the RR staff were all in New York. I also didn’t do much in the A&R dept but I did send a lot of demos from West Coast bands over to Monte every week or two. And I would visit the NY office occasionally as well but never really worked together with Monte.
What were your daily tasks?
West Coast Publicity, Retail, and Radio. I would mostly call up Magainzes and newspapwers, record stores and commerical and college radio stations on the West Coast and promote the latest RR bands. I would occasionally visit them as well
Would you say, that at this point the metal scene and the music industry changed a lot compared to the ’80s?
I was there in 1991 so it started to change with the emergence of grunge and alternative music but that really happened more toward the mid-90s.
As for Roadrunner, the label seems/seemed to be a kind of trend label for me, how do you explain this? I mean, they were invilved in thrash, death, grunge etc.
Like any record label, whether major or independent, it’s a business so you need to sign bands that will make money otherwise you go out of business. I think RR always stayed pretty loyal to metal music although at the time they also had a alternative label called Emergo which was a division of Roadrunner but they kept it separate.
How long did you work at Roadrunner?
I believe a little over a year.
After Roadrunner, you went on to Bizarre/Straight Records (Rhino/WEA) assisting label president Herb Cohen (who co-founded the label with Frank Zappa in the ‘60s); their roster specialized in diverse artists such as Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Captain Beefheart, Tim Buckley, Lenny Bruce, Screaming Jay Hawkins and Tom Waits, any comments about it?
It was great to work alongside Herb Cohen who had quite a history in music!
You worked both catalog and new artists for the label, did you like this work compared to your previous ones?
Bizarre/Straight was a lot more laid back than Roadrunner. Roadrunner had several different bands/albums I was working at the same time while Bizarre only had a few. And most the catalog releases (the reissues through Rhino) really sold on it’s own so I didn’t really work them a lot.
You also acquired several license deals through the years with major international companies such as: Century Media, Enigma/Restless, Roadrunner, JVC/Victor, Music For Nations, Bandai/Apollon, Jigu, Polystar, High Vaultage, Dream Circle/Polydor, and Reality/Sony…
Yes, that’s true. It’s good to see someone has read my bio!
Currently you are the VP of press and publicity for HardRadio.com, a top-rated Internet radio station where you also produce Shockwaves Magazine On-line and Shockwaves/HardRadio Podcast which features interviews with some of the greatest performers in hard rock/metal music, tell us more please about it?
The Shockwaves/HardRadio podcast I’ve been doing for a few years now. You can hear it on HardRadio.com (go to the Shockwaves page) and you can also read old interviews and reviews I did. I also have a second podcast I do called the Shockwaves Skullsessions Podcast which you can download and listen to on Roadrunner Records site (RoadrunnerRecords.com/skullsessions). Both are also available for free on iTunes.
Are there many metal radio stations in the US these days?
None of them in Los Angeles where I live, all we have here is complete shit. I’m sure there are still some college stations that still have metal shows and of course there is now satellite and Internet Radio with HardRadio.com being one of the leaders in Internet radio as far as metal goes.
Over the years you were a contributing editor to several well-known music publications including; Creem, Music Connection, Hit Parader, BAM, Foundations, Loud, Metal Rendezvous, New Rave, BURRN! (Japan), Rock Hard (Germany), and Fachblatt (Germany) and publisher/editor of Shockwaves Magazine (now online at HardRadio.com) as well as associate editor for several national men’s magazines, what kind of experiences did you gain during the years?
I always liked to do freelance writing, it was sometimes a lot earier than working exclusively for one publication where it gets too political. It was all good experience and gave me a chance to write about a lot of different things.
Did you leave your mark on the scene? Do you consider yourself (and the band, fans too) an influential writer?
I think so, especially during the Headbanger Fanzine days as I was one of the first ever to write stories on bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Armored Saint and Slayer back when very few people even heard of these bands. My writings gave bands like these international recognition for the very first time. When I was publishing The Headbanger I was also getting several fan letters from a lot of people who ended up being in famous metal bands like Jason Newsted (when he was in The Dogz) and the guys in Pantera (just before they released their first album Metal Magic).
How do you view the present „metal world”?
It’s good. It’s great to see a lot of younger kids getting into metal these days, even classic metal. I think the present metal scene today is very healthy.
Do you follow the fanzines these days? Do you know some fanzines/magazines, such as Snakepit? What's your opinion about it? What about webzines? Do you willingly read them?
I don't really follow the fanzines these days but I do try to check out metal websites and will read Blabbermouth, BW&BK etc and the only music publication I currently read is really only Classic Rock Magazine.
Would you say, that being involved in the underground, in the tapetrading/fanzine network, the gates of a totally new musical world have been opened for you? Did it succeed in building up a lot of friendships with the help of the metal music?
Yes, the fanzine and tape trading definitely opened up a totally new musical world for me and I made lots of friendships with people all over the world from it. I still am in contact with many of the old fanzine writers and tape-traders I traded with 25-30 years ago! In fact I just did a Shockwaves Skullsessions episode (which should soon be posted at RoadrunnerRecords.com/skullsessions) which included Ron Quintana (Metal Mania), John Strdnansky (Metal Rendezvous), KJ Doughton (NW Metal) and Steve Hammonds (Metal Forces, UK) regarding the early days of fanzines and tape-trading.
What do you think about downloading and the mp3 files? How do you view that the labels nowadays are sending their promo materials via ipool, mp3 etc. instead of promotional, physical cd-s?
Well, I guess that’s the way of the future, and the way of the present. I think bands and labels need to be current with todays market and public demands and the downloading of mp3 files is the new way of promoting and selling music. Although I still prefer CDs as I like to have the physical product but I’m not opposed to mp3’s and I understand the conveniece of it.
If you would own a label, what would be its name and what would be the records or re-releases, that you would release?
I actually never considered that. Not sure what I would name it, maybe Shockwaves just because it’s my magazine and podcast name. I would likely release classic metal bands.
Have you never thought about establishing an own label?
No, not really. I think nowadays there are so many record labels out there and most are really struggling.
What about your musical collection? What are your rarest stuffs? Do you buy regularly cd-s, dvd-s etc. these days too?
As far as my collection, I sold all my vinyl collection years ago as well as most my other stuff I sold or got rid of so I don't have much of a collection these days.
What are the 10 most influential, most classic records that changed your life and your musical taste? Would you comment them?
That would take a lot of thought.... off hand I would say the early metal albums that I first heard when I was very young changed my like and influenced me the most like the whole Black Sabbath catalog (up through Born Again), but Sabotage probably changed my life the most. Also all the Led Zeppelin albums, Rainbow, particularly the Rising album which is my favorite of all time. And albums from AC/DC (Bon era), Deep Purple (mostly In Rock), UFO (Obsession, Lights Out), Scorpions (Love Drive and the early Uli albums) and Bachman-Turner Overdrive was always a favorite of mine when I was a kid, particularly the Not Fragile album. Also a lot of the NWOBHM albums namely Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, Saxon’s Wheels of Steel and the debut’s from Iron Maiden, Angelwith, Diamond Head, Tygers of PanTang and several others...
Bob, thanks a lot for your patient, please fell free sharing us/me your final thoughts…
I appreciate the fact that you took the time to put together all these questions Leslie and it was a pleasure to do this for you. I’m still very much into heavy metal music and still a big fan of the music. I appreciate all my friends and fans that have supported me over the years and those who continue to support the Shockwaves/HardRadio podcast and Shockwaves Skullsessions podcast. Cheers!

The Top 10 list of 2010 by Bob Nalbandian

1. Armored Saint: La Raza
2. Accept: Blood Of Nations
3. DIO: Dio At Donnington UK: Live (1983 & 1987)
4. Megadeth: Rust I Peace (Live)
5. Heaven & Hell: Neon Nights - Live In Europe
6. Broken Teeth: Viva La Rock, Fantastico!
7. Texas Hippie Coalition: Rollin'
8. Pretty Maids: Pandemonium
9. Halford: Made Of Metal
10. Exodus: Exhibit B: The Human Condition

2011. február 22., kedd

Old school Swedish death metal history - God Macabre with singer Per Boder

So Per, do you still remember how you got involved in the metal scene? How and when did you discover death metal? What made you becoming a death metal fan?
I've always been into the extreme side of metal, early discovering Motörhead, Venom and Metallica. From there it went to punk, hardcore and grindcore. After a gig with napalm death in -88 I stumbled upon the underground via fanzines, and that was the final push I needed to get out and create stuff on my own. Started tapetrading, started in what was to become God Macabre and made a fanzine.
Do you think, that the Swedish death metal scene’s earliest originators were in the D-beat hardcore punk scene? I mean, is death metal rooted in the hardcore/punk?
I think many has a background in punk yes, and the d-beat was picked from there. At least it was for us. Death Metal is probably rooted in everything extreme from that era, there wasn't 20 BM albums released every month so you hade to be open minded to get your fix..albeit punk, thrash or german speed metal. From Crumbsuckers to Bathory.
Do you agree with, that in the late ’80s/early ’90s two death metal scenes emerged in Sweden, in Gothenburg and in Stockholm?
Yes, I don't know when the Gothenburg scene started out though, that happened a few years later. From the start there wasn't really much happening there. Grotesque were around, but that's about it.
Did the first wave of Swedish death metal consist of the bands, such as Grave, Carnage and Nihilist, who fragmented later into Entombed, Dismember and Unleashed?
Yes, that would be some of the originators, Nihilist pioneered the whole scene.
Many of these bands used the trademark Tomas Skogsberg/Sunlight Studios „buzzsaw” guitar tone, which was created by using heavily detuned electric guitars (usually C# standard or lower), a maxed out Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal, sometimes in combination with a single guitar through a Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal, correct? Would you say, that this type of sound became the trademark of the Swedish death metal scene?
Well the guitarists of the band are more suitable to answer this, I think the pedal was quite cheap and easy accessable, there was no "guide" on how to get that sound. There wasn't like a rule on how to tune your guitar either. The sunlight studio obviously helped shape the worlds view on SDM, a great studio even affordable for teenagers still in school.
Was the originator of this guitar sound Nihilist guitarist Leffe Cuzner (R.I.P.) though it was evolved and altered over the years?
No clue, but as I said Nihilist spearheaded the scene, and Cuzner was a part of that. Nihilist / Entombed certainly set the standard for others to match, the Only Shreds Remain demo has a totally beastly guitar sound.
Did the death metal scene in Sweden influence many bands and genres outside Sweden?
Yeah, that it did. Up until then Swedish metal was kinda weak and forgettable, the DM bands changed that. Judging by the amount mail and offers I got back then it's quite easy to say it made a big impact on the metal world.
In the winter of 1988 a grindcore band was formed named Botten På Burken and a year later you switched to playing death metal and changed your name to Macabre End, correct? How did you get together exactly? Did the line up consist of you, guitarist Ola Sjöberg, bassist Thomas Johansson and drummer Niklas Nilsson right from the start or did you go through some line up changes? Was Botten På Burken/Macabre End the very first outfit for all of you?
We were all friends from school (except Jonas Stålhammar), none really had any knowledge on how to handle their instruments. Nicke the drummer was mainly an guitarist, but had to fill the spot since none else wanted the drums. We met Stålis through fanzines and various gigs, he suited the band well and joined a little bit later. We had dabbled in various local punk bands before, nothing that ever resulted in something. GM was the first proper band where we actually had a goal. The addition of Jonas catapulted the band to a totally new level, even if the direction was set before he entered the band.
Did Macabre End belong to the first generation of Swedish death metal?
Yes, I'd say. Not pioneers, but definately in the first wave.
At which point did you join forces with guitarist Jonas Stahlhammar? Was he the first choice being the second guitarist or did you perhaps audition other guitarists too?
Stålis joined in late 89/90, cant really remember. We didn't look for an extra guitarist (or so we thought) but he was a great guy and we had fun jamming together. He had all the qualities we would have been looking for anyway, so it just felt obvious that he should be in the band. And he joined, it was a great time.
Ola Sjöberg was the editor of Suppuration Magazine, while you were the editor of Senil Nekrofil Zine, does it mean, that you were deeply involved in the underground scene?
Me, Ola and Stålis all made fanzines, tapetraded and attended loads of gigs etc. we were all deeply involved in the scene. That was just second nature at the time. Nothing else of interest, this was it.
You came from Vasteras, how was the metal scene in your town?
Only Stålis is from V-ås, we're from Vålberg outside Karlstad quite a travel from Västerås . No scene to speak of, Vomitory was starting out back then but had some growing up to do (as a band). We hung out with those guys from time to time, but there was no local scene to speak of. If you wanted something done you had to DIY.
What did you want to achieve Macabre End with?
Get a rep. underground, to be part of the scene and get gigs, Maybe record some records. No high flying stuff at all.
What can you tell us about your rehearsals? Were you jamming on covers or did you start writing originals?
We wrote our own material from the get go, but we occasionally covered some song for entertainment. Stuff like Troubles "Psychotic reaction" and KISS "Strange Ways". We did The Day Man Lost by Carnage (SWE) live some times as well. We rehearsed two times a week at the local youth center, and in the summers when it closed we played in an old factory. The accoustics in there was surely deafening!
You released a demo in September 1990 titled „Consumed by Darkness”, how was it recorded? Can you give us details regarding on this demo?
It was recorded and mixed at Sunlight Studios, it took only 11 hours finishing the whole deal. Later Stålis and Skogsberg remixed it a bit for the 7" release on CGR.
Did this demo show a lot of promise?
You tell me, but I guess it did!
How much promotion did you do for the demo? I mean, was it shopped around to attract label interests, did it draw the fans attention to the band, did it succeed in making a name for the band etc.?
It pretty much spread the word through tapetrading, thats how it came to be released as a 7". It was a success to say the least, a lot of attention gained through that 3-track tape. We knew it was good, and obviously others thought so as well. As far as promotion, I guess we made some flyers (back then this was the usual routine) but it was tapetrading that got the word out.
Did this demo turn into an underground hit?
People still today talk about it today so maybe you could call it a "hit". It was a great start for the band anyhow.
Do you agree with, that „Spawn Of Flesh” is/was the highlight of the demo and belongs to the best, most classic death metal songs, that was ever recorded?
It's the highlight of the demo, but I can't say that it is one of the most classical DM songs ever recorded. That would be a very bold statement. It's pure Swedish crust death though!
Why did you thereafter change your name once again to God Macabre? Were you perhaps dissatisfied with Macabre End or…?
We lost our bassplayer at the time, and Macabre End was a bit more on the “gory/primitive” side of bandnames, it really didn’t fit the music we thought. So we changed it to the better GM, which we took from an old Abhoth song. To mark a new beginning since Thomas left. The name has a more “epic” ring to it than ME.
Weren’t the fans confused considering the change of the band’s name?
Maybe, I don’t remember. I understand that today it might be confusing, since the band existed under two names under such a short lifespan. Hopefully with the collected material on the Relapse Cd everything clear now. It probably wasn’t the wisest idea to change it after the 7”, but we didn’t care about those things back then.
You were supposed to record a second 3 track EP titled „Nothing Remains Forever” (with the songs „Into Nowhere” , „Lost” and „In Grief”) for Relapse Records but it never happened, why?
Something in the contract we didn’t like, and due to us being young and stubborn this never came to be realized. In the end the material ended up on Relapse anyhow, so in hindsight we might as well just have done it from the start.
Did Relapse show an interest in signing the band by the way?
I think that was the problem for us, the contract regarding the EP spoke of future recordings and clothing etc., this wasn’t what we had in mind at the time. We wanted to release an EP, and not be tied to anything after that. No merchandise, that we could take care of ourselves. It was all a bit unclear and we changed a LOT of things in the contract, sent it back to Relapse and they never bothered to answer. Teenage know-it-all = No compromise! We were also approached by a Peaceville sublabel (Deaf rec. as I recall), that never happened either.
Thomas Johansson left the band and Jonas Stahlhammar played bass in the Pantalgia compialtion song „Ashes of Mourning Life” (former titled „Life’s Verge”) and in „The Winterlong” cd both issued by MBR Records, so first, what kind of reasons did lead to the departure of Thomas?
Thomas went into the military and there was some lack of dedication from him overall. Great guy, still hang out with him but back then we were hellbent on the band, and we probably demanded more than he could give. No hard feelings, that’s the way things goes. Life’s Verge is a completely different song never recorded, not a former title of Ashes..
Jonas took over the bass duties, does it mean, that you didn’t start to find a new bassist?
We tried somewhat to find a position for the bass, but troubles arose with the drummer so the band were put on hold (and soon disbanded). So we looked for a while but no-one ever auditioned.
What about the aforementioned compilation? Was the song „Ashes…” written for that comp.?
Yeah I think so, but it ended up on the Winterlong CD as well. But at first I think it was meant to be an exclusive track for the comp. It was 20 years ago, my memory is fading on these subjects.
How did you get in touch with MBR (Mangled Beyond Recognition) Records? What kind of releases did they have at that point?
Through my fanzine, they had released a Grave 12” and were about to release a record with Sweden's Crematory. They seemed to be a label that got shit going instead of just talking about it. A label with some visions, and that’s what we liked about them. Also, this was a one-time deal, we were free to do whatever we wanted after the recording.
Did they offer you a contract by the way? For how many records did you sign them?
We wrote a contract regarding the Winterlong album and the comp, nothing else was planned other than that.
When did you start writing the material for your debut which became „The Winterlong”? What do you recall of the recording sessions?
Directly after the 7” we set out to do another recording, we thought of another ep, but in the end it came down to the Winterlong recording. It was recorded and mixed in 3 days, I was only in the studio the last day. We did all the vocals and then mixed it the same day. Short on memories, but Skogsberg was a great guy, it was a bit hectic and the cartrip to Stockholm was a nightmare due to bad weather and broken windshield-wipers (this was in late December). I had to hang out from the passenger seat and wipe the window by hand, of course in full motion. There’s a death metal stunt you never heard of,...:-) That’s a 4 hour car-ride by the way, there was some wiping to be done!
Is it correct, that Niklas Nilsson left God Macabre before „The Winterlong”, but he played on the album as a session drummer? Why did he decide to leave the band at all?
Again, a bit of dedication problem there as well. He also had a bad back that kept him from playing periodically, which slowed the whole situation down too much. He did the the drums for the CD as we couldn’t find a replacement, after that he was done with the band. Again, great guy that I still hang out with, but back then it was too much to handle. We never found a new drummer, which was the final reason to split the band. Nicke’s back is still not ok, and he never played the drums again. Too bad on natural talent.
As for the album, how do you view, that synths are used selectively and appropriately to add further depth in atmosphere?
The synths are just used to highlight something, never to move the music forward or to be a important ingredient in the mix. On the remix for Lamentation the mellotrone really added to the song, that was really cool and became much more significant to the song than the original synth stuff.
Did electric and acoustic interludes add immensely to the overall flow of the album?
We wanted an album that was memorable and dynamic in its structure, not 5 d-beat death songs in a row. It works for me, others be the judge if it flows the right way, or otherwise.
Do you agree with, that „The Winterlong” is another superb example of the strength of the earlier Swedish Death Metal scene?
I think its a good example of what was happening in Sweden back then yes. The competition was tough, but time has proven that we did some solid stuff. People talk about it still today.
Did the Sunlight sound capture the true spirit of their brand of Swedish Death Metal in a magnificent way?
From the start Sunlight had a cool organic/fleshy/warm sound that defined the swedish style. A bit later on it got more mechanical/cold, I’d rather have had the EP sound on the album. There’s a difference in tone that can’t be ignored. The Sunlight sound suited the Swede death, crushing, dirty and powerful. I think we did good in what we did, but I wouldn’t say we outshined Entombed etc. We made our mark in the history of SDM, without a doubt.
The throaty vocals, the excellent upbeat drums and the always compelling buzzsaw guitar sound are/were a winning formula, correct?
Yes. No sound can save a bad tune though, the ideas got to be there from the start.
Is this album, for those who are not familiar with it, is never less convincing than the best albums of the biggest bands in the genre, Entombed, Grave, Unleashed, Dismember etc.? Would you say, that as with many other great Swedish death metal releases, „The Winterlong” was a bit overlooked at the time of its release and failed to get the recognition it deserved?
The Winterlong was delayed almost two years in its release, so nobody really cared about SDM when it arrived. It was practically impossible to get hold of as well. We have gotten lots of recognition the last few years though (due to the reissues), and it really never bothered me back then since the band quit shortly after the recording. It was a great thing to be part of, but we were off doing other stuff. But the timing/release failed miserably, too late for even us to care.
How do you view, that 1993 was already a bit too late this record should still have caused a tremendous thrill throughout the whole extreme metal scene, despite the upcoming black metal hype?
As I said, we never thought of it that way as the band had already split up. For the bands that still was around, the BM bands surely was competition hard to match. It was pretty much over for the foreseeable future..
When the album came out, the band splitted up, because no suitable replacements could be found replacing Thomas and Niklas, how did that happen? Were all of you sad because of the demise of the band?
It was along time coming, we knew it would be extremely tough finding replacements, so in our minds we were probably already there. I know I was, so it wasn’t sad it just felt a bit unfullfilled.
If „The Winterlong” would have released around ’89/’90, would it have been one of the biggest Swedish death metal classics and would it have made a big name for the band?
If it had been released in 79 we would probably be the biggest metal band in the world, you never know about these things. The band is rather known for the stuff we did, I’m pleased with that.
You and Ola formed the band Snake Machine which evolved into Space Probe Taurus, what can you tell us about it? For how long did this outfit exist? What type of music did you play compared to God Macabre? Have you ever recorded any materials as SPT?
SPT still exists, Ola is singing/playing guitar. I left about 10 years ago but you should check them out. It’s a fuzzrock outfit and a great one at that. I had left the band when they recorded their first album, but all that info can be found at their myspace-site. http://www.myspace.com/spaceprobetaurus
Jonas joined then Utumno and he is/was involving in bands, such as Bombs Of Hades, Darkcreed, The Crown, but what about Thomas and Niklas these days? Are they also still involved in metal? Are you still in touch with each other?
I’m in touch with all the old members, Nicke and Thomas have left the music-scene behind them a long time ago. Thomas actually recorded an EP with a band called Ozium some years later, but that is ancient history. Nicke never ventured into anything after GM.
„The Winterlong” was re-issued in 2002 with the demo as bonus tracks by Relapse Records, how did it come into being? Do you think, that did it succeed drawing more fans attention to the band with the reissue?
Ola was asked by some Relapse-employee if we wanted to do a reissue, it wouldn’t be a full on big, advertised release but just to get it out there. The original release never got around and was sold out long time ago. We thought about it, we knew there were bootlegs out already so why not do it properly? We decided to remix it and remove the synths and adding mellotrone instead. The final mix was done at a local studio by a friend, at the time there was a trainee working there as well. That was Björn whom I know play alongside with in Mordbrand. Pretty much the same regarding the Live 12” on HMSS, if we release it officially at least we get some copies and have some saying.
In March 2008 the Relapse version of the album was also released on vinyl for the first time by the Swedish label Bloodharvest Records, was it done only for the collectors, for the die hard fans? Was it a limited release?
Yes, I think it was a first pressing about 500 ex, we agreed on releasing 500 more after that but I’m not certain those were made (or have been made yet). Ola was the man handling all that stuff, so I don’t have all the facts.
This Blood Harvest release is the vinyl version of the re-release through Relapse Records, which means that we are talking about the remixed recordings at Speed Ball Studio the 5th and 6th of December 2000 were the keyboards of the original release got replaced and played with a mellotron, correct?
Yes, that is correct. At the time, the mellotrone was the “weapon of choice” for Stålis.
Are/Were you aware of the CD-reiusse 2007 by Strike Force Records, that was one of many cheap CD-R bootlegs made by the infamous bootlegger vegascds to cash in expensive /sought after CD rarities? Was „The Winterlong” often bootlegged by the way?
We are aware of bootlegs but not what the labels are called. I think there were a couple of unlicensed releases, it they were factorypressed or just cd-r’s I dont know.
Last year was released a bootleg, titled Eve Of The Souls Forsaken, what can you tell us about it? Who came up with the idea to release this gig at all?
We figured since the gig was widely spread through tapetrading ages ago, it would probably end up on a release anyhow. It was the label that approached us, we thought if we were involved it would be better than an non approved release.
A Carnage cover can be found on this record, does it mean, that Carnage was one of your most important influences? Did you often perform covers in live situation?
They had that kind of background that we had, a bit on the crusty side of death metal. You know, napalm death, carcass, ENT and Discharge. we did a cover of there song Day Man Lost live atleast twice. They were our favourite Swedish band back then, I listen to their demos still today.
How often did you play live? What can you tell us about the live gigs of God Macabre at all?
We planned to do a lot of gigs but had to cancel due to circumstances out of our control. Like I said earlier, our drummer couldn't play periodically, so that put an halt to a lot of plans. we played live 3-4 times only, nothing much to say about it. Typical underground gigs back then.
In your opinion, is God Macabre's name still big and is it in people's minds? I mean, did you leave your mark on the scene?
As I have said earlier in the int. I really can't say what is big or not, we were not up there with Entombed. Since the reissues we have gained attention in the last few years. I guess we left a mark in the scene, as did all the other bands back then.
These days you are involving in Mordbrand along with Björn Larsson and Johan Rudberg, when was the band formed exactly? Is Mordbrand a project or a „normal”/full time group?
The band was formed in 2005, recorded some tracks in 2006 which just recently got a proper release as a split with EVOKE (UK). I joined just last year and we’re working on some stuff for a future release. So I’m not doing the vocals on the said split. Mordbrand is a normal/serious band in a sense, but Björn and Johan has the thrash band The Law who need their attention as well. Mordbrand exists solely to release some good old DM, there are no big plans for world domination and touring etc.
You released a split album last year with Evoke, whose idea was this cooperation? What can you tell us about this split as a whole?
Björn has known John Redfern (vocalist from Evoke) for a number of years. The songs on this split were never meant to be released in the first place, so It was basically Johns idea to release the songs as a split with his former band.
What do you think about, that it’s a dirty, raw and sloppy kind of death metal, where gore and horror is key, so it hasn’t anything to do with God Macabre or…?
It’s a different approach to the same kind of thing. There’s a different theme, but there’s definitely some stuff that resembles GM. Björn told me that GM was huge inspiration for the recording they did, and there’s some beats and riffs that made me feel at home straight away. This is NOT a continuation of GM by any means, this is the spirit of ‘88-91 through the crimson eyes of 2010.
You do your slow to mid paced death metal very well…
You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Since 2010 is finished and a new year begun, what do you think about the death metal releases of 2010? Which record did you like?
I liked the Immolation and Blood Revolt records, Bombs of Hades and Bastard Priest also did some excellent stuff in 2010. Hey, Autopsy reformed, what can top that?
How do you view the present death metal scene compared to the late ’80s/early ’90s? How much did this genre develope during the years?
The bands are marching to a different drum now, a drum that beats well over 300 bpm. It’s very fast, technical and not really my cup of tea, but there’s always something popping up that grabs my attention. I prefer the old ways though...
Per, thanks a lot for your answers, feel free sharing us your final thoughts…
Thanks! Check out Mordbrand at: http://www.myspace.com/mordbranddeath New songs uploaded shortly.

2011. február 21., hétfő

My current playlist

1. HOODED MENACE: Never Cross The Dead
2. PROCESSION: Destroyers Of The Faith
3. BOLT THROWER: Warmaster
4. TROUBLE: Psalm 9
5. CROWBAR: Sever The Wicked Hand
7. NEUROSIS: Times Of Grace
8. UNHOLY: The Second Ring Of Power
9. COUNT RAVEN: Destruction Of The Void
10. MORGOTH: Cursed