30 years of Persecution Mania

30 years ago today, Sodom released their second classic thrash full-length, ‘Persecution Mania’. What to say; let’s hope we are looking forward to something more quiet and less dark than a Nuclear Winter this year!

persecutionmania

Advertisements

“Everyday was bitter cold”

Here you can read my interview done with Infernäl Mäjesty vocalist Chris Bailey revealing background information for my first video album review, concentrating on the band’s first cult album ‘None Shall Defy’. In case you missed it, watch the album video review here!

Interview with vocalist Christopher Bailey from Infernäl Mäjesty

Interview for Darkness Unseen by Estelle on the 20th of July 2017

11200889_1417535335231992_3281858844037743033_nHi Chris, thanks a ton for doing the interview for Darkness Unseen! You were a confident standout band from the Canadian scene back then besides the big thrash(/speed) bands like Exciter, Razor, Anvil, Voivod or Sacrifice on account of your more brutal sound and salient engagement with satanic themes. Did you guys know any other band nearby with a similarly more violent approach as yours that you could even share ideas or jam together with?

Back then when we started writing the music for None Shall Defy we were really isolated. Our rehearsal space was out in the North West corner of the city and we met there regularly to rehearse and write music. Everyday was bitter cold. We had friends in other heavy bands but we never jammed together. Before I joined Infernal I used to go see all the bands you mentioned play live at clubs, they were a big influence on me. Steve and Kenny used to play in a band with (Sheep Dog) before he joined Razor but other than that we never really hung out with other bands in the area. The atmosphere back then in Toronto was competitive.

Even if it happened 30 years ago, can you recall any interesting, memorable or funny stories from the time of the recordings of None Shall Defy? Could you just describe the feeling that surrounded you every time you got together and the goal you had in front of your eyes with the music you were creating?

InfernalMajesty_liveOne of the most memorable experiences recording the album was walking through the front door into the lobby of Metal Works Recording Studio in Mississauga, Ontario owned by the great Canadian Heavy Metal band Triumph. It was a combination of elation and nervousness. I had never played in a band before Infernal and now we were in the studio with a lot of people expecting results. It seemed like one minute you’re answering an ad in the Toronto Star Classifieds, then the next minute you’re standing in a state of the art vocal booth. It was a world I had never seen before. My world until then was a smoke filled rehearsal space, the walls lined with egg cartons, recording on a 4 track portable studio while we jammed, which we did a lot. We also met regularly to discuss band business and shit. We all had the same common goal and worked well together. That’s why to this day its still a mystery as to why Psyco and Nemes just disappeared shortly after the release of the album. Before I finish writing the book [about the story of Infernäl Mäjesty] I’ve started I hope to have more insights into this.

Did you notice any band(s) that formed after your release ‘None Shall Defy’ that might have got either their music or their habits/practices influenced by you guys? For example I’m thinking of them also doing frequent readings of the Satanic Bible, taking over elements from your imagery, etc.

Over the years we have been humbled and grateful  to hear the great tributes from the album. We hope that the younger generations of metal maniacs discovering their call for the first time are influenced by our works and inspired to write music. Like those before us we are driven by the same instinctive passion and creative nature that leans to the dark side of life. To be inspired in each owns unique way from the gift of our forefathers. We are creatures of the world we live in and exposed to. I was 17 when I joined Infernal Majesty. I was influenced by many of the greats back then in their infancy. Slayer, Venom, Manowar, Exciter, Bathory, I can go on and on. This was already embedded in my brain when I added my contribution into the creation of None Shall Defy. Satan has always been a powerful subject that fascinates me today as much as back then. Now it’s a historical exploration that keeps me up reading at night.

9682227_orig

Christopher Bailey (Infernäl Mäjesty)


Your lyrical themes are based on satanic imagery, occultism and horror (films) and they all convey a strong message against the vision of God. You also stated in one of your earlier interviews for example, “
I believe that until all religion is abolished or reduced to small pockets of insignificance, there is no future for mankind”. How old were you when you first discovered you possess these views and what made you start thinking this way, if I may ask?

I’ve always been a big fan of science and nature. It is just natural to me to ask why. At a young age I began to question the existence of a god. Through my late teens I was Agnostic which lasted until my late 20’s when I realized this is all cookoo bananas. I became a believer of nothing but the physics of the natural world. I don’t believe there is a god of the bible. It requires a complete separation from reality and common sense to believe in its words. Leviticus seems to have conveniently been ignored. It’s all illogical. There has not been any ocean’s parting lately or video of bushes spontaneously combusting. It seems in biblical times this was a normal thing, but now god decides to keep his great powers on the down low. Good grief. There has never been a time more important than now to focus on preventing people from dying.

How important is it for you that fans of your music identify themselves with the views Infernäl Mäjesty is spreading in their lyrics?

It’s a bonus if they can relate to our lyrics but it’s more important they just like the songs. We spend a lot of time and energy agonizing over lyrics so it would be cool if people like the message, but not mandatory. We are into getting out and having a good time, bottom line.

bandphoto2.jpgAs we can notice from your band photos from your early period and also on your tour in 1998; besides the spikes, chains and bullets you had such hairstyles that can remind us of glam, causing an interesting contrast between the music you played and the way you looked like. Do you think an explanation is necessary for the hairstyles or did you not purposely want to deliver us a message with your looks at all?

I think it’s a reflection of the era. We wanted to stand out and let our personalities shine. Kiss was the flame when it came to our appearance. When you 10 years old listening to the Love Gun album, staring at the cover for hours it has a lasting impression.  We came from different musical backgrounds but all under the Heavy Metal tent. We had a common goal at the time to write the heaviest, satanic thrash metal music known to humankind.

If anything, probably the only aspect that got a little critique about ‘None Shall Defy’ was the album cover and we can’t deny it surely catches one’s eye; in my personal opinion to the band’s advantage. What is your own opinion on it?

infmaj

None Shall Defy (1987)

You are exactly right, it catches the eye. This was the intention. We wanted it to stand out. When we commissioned the artwork we described to the artist, Fred Fivish, that we wanted an image of Satan tearing through the fabric of space revealing hells inferno on the other side. Everyone really liked it. Admittedly I was a little disappointed, but overtime I began to change my opinion. Looking back now I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

How satisfied are you with the reactions on your new album released this year, ‘No God’ so far?

We are thrilled with the reaction its receiving. The reviews have been excellent. Honestly we did not expect this strong of a reaction. We anticipated the worst and hoped for the best. It’s so difficult to know what will happen with reviews.  We didn’t try and break any new ground, we just wanted to bring back some of our roots into the music and focus on a dark heavy atmosphere and flow.  Its out now on High Roller Records. They are awesome to say the least. We new we were in good hands when they chose Good Friday to release the album worldwide.

If I know it correctly you had your last live concert in 2011 in Canada, performing ‘None Shall Defy’ in its entirety with Corpsegrider from Cannibal Corpse. Now that the new album is already out I’d like to ask, is there ANY chance of us being able to see you guys somewhere in the near future?

Its one of our highest priorities. We are working everyday trying to get things figured out, to bring our show on the road. I will have some major announcements soon. Everything we do is up on our Twitter feed, Facebook Page and Instagram or you can sign up to our newsletter for the latest info. Now you mentioned Cannibal Corpse, yes indeed the Corpsegrinder showing up to do a set with us was phenomenal. There is lots of video up on YouTube if anyone hasn’t seen it yet and the entire show will be up on our YouTube Channel soon.

Is there anything else you would like to tell me about?

Just to say thank you, I really enjoyed this and a shout out to Hungary. When we toured with Malevolent Creation and Vader in 97 we fell in love with you. We can’t wait to return.

Introduction + Infernäl Mäjesty video album review

Dear people,

I finally have my first video out where you can get to know me [in case you didn’t] and what you can approximately expect from me to do – this time in the form of a review of Infernäl Mäjesty’s cult first album ‘None Shall Defy’.

My cutting skills still surely need some polishing but everything will hopefully just get better as I’m also getting new ideas every day. :) Please feel free to let me know what you find interesting to see and what could be changed on in your opinion; or if you have any subject in mind you’d like see a video of.

Contact me at: darknessunseenblog@gmail.com

Have the best Monday that’s possible to have!

Reflections of our yesterdays

Thought I’d share one of my all time favorite lyrics with you. (No feeling can be compared to the one I got while Dreamweaver is spinning on the turntable, I’m leisurely sitting on my bed and browsing over the magical lyric-book of the album.)

Sabbat – The Best of Enemies

Oh instrument of God force –
Fed on ignorance and lies,
So blind and narrow-minded
That you cannot compromise.
Even the most foolish thief
Should know what he is taking –
Lest he find himself within a
Cage of his own making.
The Ways of Wyrd are many and
Our path you must decide,
For the secrets that you seek
Are all around you –
Use your eyes.
The threads cannot be broken
That have brought you here to me –
And bind two foes together
Like the best of enemies.

You gaze upon me –
I can tell what you see,
A simple man
With simple thoughts and
Simple needs.
Superstition –
Preying on a mind filled with fear,
Opposition-
To all your ‘enlightened’ ideas.
Yet I will show you more than
You can comprehend,
Beware delusion is a
Dangerous friend.

Ask loaded questions seeking
Knowledge of a faith that
You wish to pervert –
All our values,
With hidden meanings
You try concealing your
Underlying wish to convert –
‘heathen’ souls,
To a faith that will doubtless
Send our gods to the grave –
Mistake you’re making overlooking
The fact that we might not want
To be ‘saved’.

[THE SORCERERS CREED:]
Fear is an old friend of mine,
We have met many times before.
(Drawn to these spirits like
Moths to a flame –
When there is no risk then
There can be no gain).
Death is a harsh fact of life
You cannot avoid or ignore.

The Life-force is as strong in
You as it is strong in me,
The difference is what you
Hold captive I set free.
You seek to subjugate all
Those who won’t comply,
I’ll take your prejudice and
Pride and show you why –
The values that you hold so dear
(all your laws and rules),
They hold no more sway here
Than the mutterings of fools.
Just look about you and
I’m sure that you will find –
Heaven lies within our hearts
And Hell is but a figment of
Your mind.

These teachings that you deem so
Sacred bcome words devoid of meaning,
When compared unto a faith that
Preaches something worth believing.
What is to become of us when
Truth is turned to lies,
Will none remain to wipe the tears
When Mother Nature cries?

Proceed with caution –
Subservient to all you survey,
Hidden dangers await us on
Each step of our way.
Do not falter –
For if you do you will fall,
Prey unto perils far worse
Than you’ve encountered before.
Compared unto the threats we face
Your devil seems so mild,
A relic from the faerie-tales my
Mother told me as a child.

Why do you carry your God
Like a weapon –
A dagger drawn ready to strike
At the heart of a foe when you
Don’t really know the reason
That you fight? –
To replace our disgrace with
The ‘loving’ embrace of your Lord –
Can’t you see that the plans
Made for me and my people
To us seem absurd?

[THE SORCERERS CREED:]
Death is the only recourse
I require in my hour of need.
(Drawn to the spirits like
Moths to a flame –
When there is no risk then
There can be no gain).
Impassive it shows no remorse
For folly and greed.

Pre-emptive prejudice has
Dogmatised your life,
These blinkered views that once
Held true will no longer suffice.
For in my world there is no point
Where you can draw the line,
‘twixt good and evil,
Saint and sinner,
Damnate and divine.
Shaven-headed servant of
An infantile faith –
By what right do you presume
To come and try to take my place?
If there is one grain of truth
Amidst your hoard of lies, ’tis
“Love your neighbour as yourself”
With this alone I can abide.

These teachings that you deem so
Sacred become words devoid of meaning,
When compared unto a faith that
Preaches something worth believing.
What is to become of us when
Truth is turned to lies,
Will none remain to wipe the tears
When Mother Nature cries?

[THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR]
When living your life
Like an arrow in flight
You must always accept that
The end is in sight,
Be grateful at least for the fact
That you knew: you came to death –
He did not come for you.
You are like targets
Who sit and await –
Patiently suffer
The arrows of fate,
Saying “I am but mortal
And destined to die –
I can change nothing
So why should I try?”

Each morning you wake is an
’ember day’ dawning,
Your penance for living in
Permanent mourning.
By erstwhile ideals your
Hearts are enslaved,
You crawl out of the cradle
Straight into the grave.
What reward is a banquet
Of red wine and bread,
When you hunger for life –
But on death you are fed?

Do not underestimate
The task you undertake,
Overcome your hopes and fears
And meet them face to fate.
These spirits aren’t your enemies
But neither are they friends,
Do not dare insult them lest
All nature you offend.
They who were here before us
Will remain when we have gone,
And though we’re long forgotten
Still their memory will live on.
Perhaps one day mankind will see
The error of its ways,
And in its future glimpse
Reflections of our yesterdays.

“The different types of music I’ve played have had satisfied different aspects of why I like playing extreme metal”

Interview with Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault, ex-Anthrax, ex-S.O.D, ex-Brutal Truth)

Interview by Estelle at Brutal Assault on the 5th of August 2015 

Hey Dan, first of all thank you so much for doing this interview with me! First I’d like to ask, if you could go back to the very beginning of your metal career, would you do anything differently?

Dan: Maybe making decisions about signing to certain labels, but not artistically. I’m completely satisfied with the paths I have taken even though I could have maybe sold out and made money or something; but I couldn’t really do this, it would go against my heart. So now I can’t think of too much I would do different as far as a musician. Maybe some business decisions, but not as an artist.

Out of all the bands you were involved in, which one was the most fun to work with?

Dan: This is a difficult question because the different bands I’ve played with have satisfied different feelings inside me: thrash metal is fun, you’re drinking beer and smoking weed; if you’re playing black metal it makes your hair stand up (this is such a special feeling), or if you’re palying grindcore, it’s like there’s lightning in the air. So the different types of music I’ve played have had satisfied different aspects of why I like playing extreme metal. As far as having fun, it’s difficult to have fun playing black metal because you must stay in a very serious vibe – and it’s hard to because sometimes something happens and you have to laugh, something falls over or I don’t know. (laughs)

I’ve read that you are still kind of satisfied with how your first record with Nuclear Assault, Game Over sounds – as I’ve noticed that is not something common among musicians. Do you want to recreate the same vibe and sound both on an album and live or can you accept the fact that we don’t live in those times anymore?

Nuclear Assault – Game Over (1986)

Dan: Honestly, I think the guitar sound on Game Over is not distorted enough. But this was the analog days – and now we live in a digital world. We accept the fact that the old process of recording is different now, but we have technological advantages; it’s much easier to fix a mistake immediately instead of having to start from the beginning. The sound of analog recordings had a special real warm sound to them that’s hard to recreate digitally, but there are ways to imitate this.

John Conelly (vocalist of Nuclear Assault who just sat down next to us): How hard is it?

Dan: What’s hard?

John: Well, to recreate the sound of old recordings. How hard is it Dan?

Dan: Are you being perverted? I’m talking to a woman, have some taste for Christ’s sake! (John’s laughing)

[To John who was hoping that I’d do the interview with him instead of Dan:] Aren’t there any conflicts in Nuclear Assault because of Dan being the center figure?

John: Nah, no problems.

Dan: Nobody wants the attention, I just have to take it.

[To Dan:] Seeing the huge success of and interest around Anthrax counting right from Fistful of Metal, don’t you ever feel awkward for being fired from the band in ’84? Didn’t you ever think about going back?

Dan: I was asked to leave Anthrax – I didn’t have the opportunity to continue with them, they told me to go. So it doesn’t matter. I called up John and said “we have to start a band” and that’s how Nuclear Assault came. Anthrax’s music went to a more commercial direction than I think I would have enjoyed playing; but it’s all okay, everything happens for a reason – that’s what they say.

Daniel Lilker

Daniel Lilker

I’ve read in one of your earlier interviews when a guy asked you about your further plans with S.O.D. that you said “the more we do, the less special it becomes”. Is this a general view of yours or does it only apply to S.O.D.?

Dan: Absolutely. S.O.D. was kind of a weird thing where we just didn’t have any idea it was going to get popular, we just said “oh, we’re just gonna play some pop-rock songs and record them” and the more you try to recreate that, it would become less. We had a surprise attack at the time, you can never repeat that. So just forget it, just be happy with that and don’t try to milk the cow too much.

It’s clear that you do not like today’s metal – still, have you found any new bands (let it be thrash or anything else) recently that did surprise you or gave you something you haven’t really heard before?

Dan: I can’t think of anything in the recent past that I’ve heard that was totally original, but it’s understandable because people playing thrash metal in 2015 have a lot of influences. When we started, we did our own thing to get things from hardcore and maybe a couple of Slayer riffs or whatever, or maybe more Venom, Hellhammer or Discharge. The point being, it’s harder to be original 30 years later.

Nuclear Assault (1986)

Nuclear Assault (1986)

[To both of them:] What is the thing that you mostly miss from the old days when it comes to music?

Dan: I’m not sure I miss anything from the old days. Maybe just the fact that back then everybody knew each other. There was a community, and now it clearly is exploited.

John: We got to play with Exodus on a fairly regular basis. We saw the guys in Testament often too, great guys, fun to be around.

[To Dan:] You are not only a bassist but a really diverse talent as you also play the guitars, piano, drums and you’re a vocalist as well. Where does all this come from?

Dan: It’s the same source. I played piano when I was five years old and heavy just came in later. But playing music – whatever you’re doing –, it’s all from the same well. It depends on what instrument you are using at the time and of course I’m not the best guitarist or anything, I’m a bassist. But I write songs on guitar because it’s easier to explain to the other guys.

John: The nice thing is that we both have a qualification in classical music, we speak the same language. So if I tell Dan “do you need something in E-minor and 6/8 time signature?”, he knows what I’m talking about. A lot of people don’t even know what E-minor is – it’s odd because they are really good musicians. For Dan and I it’s like common vocabulary.

Do you want me to ask a particular thing from you?

Dan: “Why are you guys so handsome?” – I don’t know! Or: “Why do you do what you do?” – Because we don’t give a fuck.

Okay guys, thanks for taking the time and doing a quick interview, also thank you for your nice show!

Dan: Thank you!

“I hope we are all getting old together”

I realized that I still haven’t published my phone interview made with Tankard’s Gerre in September, so here you go people! It clearly shows he’s an easy-going and easily likable guy.

Interview with Andreas “Gerre” Geremia (Tankard)

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 4th of September 2014

tankardHi Gerre, first of all thank you for doing the interview for Metalegion Magazine! If you had to describe the work of Tankard over all the years in three words, what would you say?

Thrash, fun and beer. (laughs) 

In what aspect do you think you are different from the other old school thrash metal bands?

I think the main difference is that we had a lot of humour from the very beginning of Tankard. We called our second demo just ‘Alcoholic Metal’ because at the time there were a lot of new metal styles, black metal and speed metal, and posers against all the others… And you know, we never took ourselves too seriously, we always had a lot of fun and I think it wouldn’t really fit for us to have an evil kind of image or something like that.
We have a lot of serious lyrics, a good combination of funny stuff and serious stuff, but we still have a lot fun in playing that kind of music. I think this is the biggest difference between us and some other bands.

In one of your earlier interviews when someone asked you how many albums the band plans to do, you said that in a case of beer there is space for twenty bottles. You just released your sixteenth album, R.I.B. (Rest in Beer) – are you still determined about doing four more?

At the moment it looks like it. (laughs) We still have a lot of fun, we still have good things happening, we keep going now for 32 years and I can’t see the end with the band, I could not imagine my life without Tankard – so I guess the case will be full some day!

Tankard – R.I.B. (2014)

Tankard – R.I.B. (2014)

How much work and time does it take for you to record one new album? You seem to go pretty easily with it, even besides the fact that none of you is a full-time musician.

This is a very hard period for us, but it’s actually not planned to put out a new album every two years. I mean I think it’s cool releasing a new album two or three years in between, but now R.I.B. is out, we’ll see what we’ll do with the next album. I think it will take another ten or twelve years to keep Tankard alive for the 20th studio album to get the case full.

How is it different to work with Nuclear Blast from how it was when you were at Noise, Century Media or AFM Records?

Nuclear Blast is the biggest one among the heavy metal labels, they have a lot of power, so I think this was really another step forward for Tankard. They do a lot of promotion stuff and it was really a kick for Tankard, we are very very satisfied and hope that we can stay much longer with Nuclear Blast.

1623

Tankard – Chemical Invasion (1987)

The cover of R.I.B. is kind of an obvious reference or ‘recommitment’ to your classic album Chemical Invasion, as well as the continuation of some of the lyrics and the insane professor character. Is this a sign of the fact that you are not willing to distance yourselves from your roots, from the simple and primitive thrash metal?

No, we never distance ourselves from our roots. You know, it was a funny idea to bring the mad professor back on a cover, but I think this album sounds different than Chemical Invasion. The story is totally weird because the professor failed in ’87 to stop the chemical invasion and now he’s back to take revenge on mankind and poison everybody with free beer. I actually really like the stuff that we did back in the eighties, but I’d never do that again in these days because a lot of things have changed with the sound and everything. Tankard is a band that never forgets about its roots, we always play a lot of old songs live, yet we always try to do a good mixture of old and new stuff.

Could you choose one song from the new album and describe what it means to you?

This is a very personal song on this album, it’s called ‘Hope Can’t Die’ – it’s one of my fave songs on the record. I lost a very good friend two years ago, at that time you have this confusion of feelings, anger and sadness and hope, “what did go wrong?”, “could I have helped?” – something like that – a mixture of emotions I had two years ago when I lost that very good friend of mine.

In the song ‘No One Hit Wonder’, you are asking “Where the hell did we go wrong” and saying “We played our asses off for more than thirty years, but now our patience’s gone, we want cash, keep the beer!” – is this just a fun track again, or do you (to some degree) mean what you are saying with the song?

Noo, this is a totally fun track again. That was my idea, because it’s really interesting to see that there are some musicians who only had one song in their lives and they can live all their lives from the money for it because the track is always played in the radio. And of course, Tankard will never do a ‘one-hit wonder’ song, because we played that long, so the idea was born to call this song ‘No One Hit Wonder’ and of course the lyrics are totally funny.

Tankard (Chemical Invasion era, 1987)

Tankard (Chemical Invasion era, 1987)

Besides the funny lyrics, you have some serious stuff going on in the lyrics again, for example in ‘War Cry’, ‘Hope Can’t Die’ or ‘Clockwise to Deadline’. Do you want or try to prove the fans that you also have this more mature side of songwriting? Or do you think that if they still haven’t noticed that Tankard is not Tankard only because of the beer, it doesn’t even matter?

We had that kind of beer-image since Chemical Invasion, we did everything for it, but later on we wanted to get rid of it – we totally failed in the nineties of course. Nowadays we do a lot of jokes about our own image, we see it with lot of parody and stuff like that. Since Chemical Invasion we always had a good mixture of serious lyrics and funny lyrics – if you watch the news every night and if you walk in the world with open eyes, then it’s not only fun, there are a lot of bad things happening on this planet.
We will always write also some serious stuff – first of all we are a band with a lot of humour and a lot of fun, but we are also a band that can play serious songs on stage while having fun. But we would never do an album only with fun lyrics.

As you said with your album Two-Faced from 1994, you began to try getting rid of this concept, of this image that the band built around beer, still, nowadays you accepted that it probably became the largest characteristic of the band.
In general, do you guys usually stick to the key things that seem to work for you, or do you still have the desire to try something new?

We never have a plan when we start the songwriting, about which direction it goes. For example if we did the next album totally seriously, nobody would believe that it’s Tankard. Somehow the old Tankard is reduced only to this beer stuff and we did everything at the beginning for it, but now we have to live with it, and as I told you before, nowadays we make a lot of jokes about our own image, so of course nobody has to take it so seriously. We really can live with that Tankard is sometimes just reduced to this kind of beer image, but we still keep on going, writing good songs, trying to do the best and hoping that the fans like it and expect Tankard to continue the music.

How seriously do you guys take yourselves when it comes to writing and recording a new album? Do you just have fun during the recording, or are you rather the hard-working types?

The songwriting and the recording stuff is very very hard and needs a lot of work, of course sometimes we have the moments in the studio when we are laughing and having a little bit of fun but it’s 95% totally hard work, you really have to concentrate on it. To tell you an example, I don’t drink any alcohol in the studio. I just open my first beer when we finished, when we are in the last minutes of finishing the last song.

tankardd

Tankard (current lineup)

Now that’s dedication!
Counting from 2000, the lineup of your albums are always the same. Have you ever thought about having some kind of a refreshment?

We are now together since 1998, especially with our guitar player Andy, he wrote most of the songs on the last couple of albums. I could not imagine to play with another member in Tankard, so I hope we are all getting old together.

I read that you are working as a social worker together with drug addicted people, can be an interesting situation for you day by day! Can you draw influence from the happenings at work for the lyrics of the band?

No, I would never do a song about that because this is my normal work and Tankard is a totally different world and I don’t really want to mix that. 

In the end I’d like to know: Is there any question that no one asked you before, and you would like someone to ask it from you?

(laughs) This is a really good question. I did so many interviews and now I had to think this over for a moment. Nobody asked me, actually nobody knows that I was a really good football player when I was young, and I really wanted to become a professional player. And nobody asked me about that! When I was getting older around 15-16, the partying started and then my career as a football player was over.
But concerning the music and singing, I think if you asked me that question at the moment, I would have to call you back in two hours maybe. (both laughing)

Thank you very much for the interview Gerre, have a good time with Tankard and put out some more albums because we are curious about you!

We will, thank you very much! Just so you know, we hope to go back to Hungary one day. Thanks for the support and have a nice evening!

Steve DiGiorgio: “Playing all those styles to me is just different branches of the same tree”

Interview with Steve DiGiorgio [ex-Death, Sadus, Testament, ex-Control Denied, ex-Autopsy (guest), ex-Obituary (live)]

Interview by Estelle on the 25th of June 2014

steve1Hello Steve, first of all thank you very much for doing this interview with me! Firstly I would like to ask, what is or what was your greatest fear in connection with your career? 

Greatest fear? ‘Fear’ is kind of a strong word, I guess we are always concerned with being able to live, make a living from being a musician. And metal music is underground, so it is a struggle. But it’s not so much of a fear, because I do it anyway.

What was the worst thing that happened to you in any of your current or previous bands, and if you could do anything differently, what would it be?

I guess I’ve been kinda lucky, I didn’t have many bad experiences. I guess I would really just try to encourage other people just to be more different. It’s not really something which is the worst that happened, but the worst thing I’ve seen is just so much reputation and non-originality. I’ve been trying to keep myself as different from everybody as I can. Once again ‘worst’ is kind of a strong word, but if I could change something I would focus more on just being unique.

You are practised and proficient in many styles of metal – you tried yourself in different styles such as thrash, death, progressive metal or rock, power metal, also some jazz – what’s the most joyful and the hardest genre for you to play?

The stuff I tend to play is stuff that has melodic basslines, maybe some technical involved stuff. That’s what I favor, so the hardest stuff is sometimes playing some of the simple or more basic songs and staying focused on that. Sometimes I tend to wonder, lose the purpose of the songs. I had to really train myself to ‘put on the hat’ of that specific style that calls for it. That’s probably the biggest difficulty. Like you pointed it out, I really love to keep variety in life, so playing all those styles to me is just different branches of the same tree. It’s just music. When we look at it all together, it’s not that different.

It’s already 8 years since your last album with Sadus, Out for Blood – are you planning to release a new Sadus album? I read somewhere that you said that Sadus is really good at taking breaks and doing nothing, is this going on right now, or will something happen in the future?

I hope you noticed that it’s kind of a sarcastic comment (laughs), I mean it’s true, we’ve been a band for so many years but I’ve done so little compared to other bands that have the same amount of time to work together. But I’ve learned with Sadus either way, because in the past we thought we were done and we would never do another album, and then we got together and made a new album. So if I say ‘no’, or ‘we might’, or if I say ‘yes, definitely’, maybe it will never happen, I don’t know. I just know I can’t do it alone. I would love to do a new Sadus album, but it takes a group effort and I don’t know if everybody in the group is on the same page about doing it. Maybe it comes around in the future, we’ll leave it open.

steveeYou are one of the few bands who did not have any member changes (besides the leaving of Rob Moore). Did you guys have any massive misunderstanding or argument through the years since high school?

Yes, of course, we’re humans, we’re normal people. But the fortunate thing is that the three of us – Darren, Jon and myself – that stuck together, we never had really big disagreements. It seems like the big problems were with Rob. And when he decided to leave, it seemed like any potential of a big problem just went away with him. So we’re pretty lucky, and I think the reason why we stayed as a band without doing any new song is because we are mainly friends, and then a band. Sometimes band members don’t ever hang out after the tour is over, they just know each other musically – we’d say it’s the opposite, we are like a family that just happened to have some music to do once in a while. I think the thing that helped us to exist as a band is that we knew that when we were going home we would see each other the next day, and everyday, because we are so close. We are pretty lucky.

Would you mind saying a few words about why Rob Moore isn’t with the band since 1994?

Well, he was in the band for ten years. We did three albums with him, and those three albums are important to the band’s history because they helped us to ‘get on the road’, they helped to find things. But as those years went on, we felt something was wrong, and by the end it turned out that Rob just couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t have any dirt to say, I mean it happened really fast, we felt it gradually over the years, but when it came to the time for him to leave, one day he was like ‘that’s it, I’m done’.
We tried to replace him because we used to be in four piece, but after being so close friends for so long, inviting someone in was just not right. Darren decided to do the guitar by himself, that made the bass a more important part of the music, and we just carried on in three piece. It seemed to work pretty good, we definitely got a lot better without him.

Do you have any really good memory, maybe some stories about Chuck Schuldiner? I would love to hear some.

I met Chuck because he came out to California when he was a teenager. He discovered the Sadus demo, D.T.P. (Death to Posers), he was a fan so he contacted us. He lived really close to us, so we just started hanging out with him – this was the time when he was doing the Mutilation demo. So I’ve known him from those days, until his last days.

death-humanI have a million stories, it’s always hard to pick one, we had many good times when we hung out. He was really ‘into the outdoors’, we would go to the river and go canoeing, we barbecued a lot in his backyard. He loved animals and he loved his sisters, his little nephew, he was a warm, family guy. He was kind of a nerd in his private life and when he would do an interview on TV or when we would go out and play, he put on a public persona, a little more serious persona. He really liked to convey a message with his music but when we were doing the music, he was a pretty goofy guy; we laughed so much. He loved ridiculous and funny things and he was always making silly stuff, he was on a really young level of humour (laughs). He was really young at heart, silly guy. A lot of serious stuff happened in his life, and I think he just felt more at home when we were being complete idiots. Laughing and making each other laugh, we did some crazy stuff together.

How did you get to know about his death? 

His sister called me. Like I said me and Chuck stayed in contact since he was seventeen or eighteen until he died, so I knew his family. We kinda knew it was coming, he was very very sick. He fought his disease for two and a half years and it was inevitable, we knew it was coming. So when his sister called and said he passed, it felt something like ‘okay, it was time’ – he knew he wasn’t get any better. It sucks but it’s a part of life, you know. He was so young, he was 33 years old. I would love to sit here with him now because we were born in the same year, we were virtually the same exact age, it would be cool to see how he would look like in his mid-fourties. He’s frozen in time at 33. I miss him as a buddy, but it’s cool doing this touring because he’s not here, but… close. We have the guys together, all knew him in the past, we sit down and tell stories all the time, he is talked about so much. And during our show we play a little bit of a movie, it’s about five minutes long, I think it’s great, I think it’s close to having him here as we can get because people see him and they hear his voice.

Did you stop working with Death after Individual Thought Patterns?

I didn’t. I worked on basically every album with Chuck except for Leprosy and Spiritual Healing. I went to Florida and he was there for the finalization of the songwriting process, Gene was there and we recorded really early versions of the Symbolic songs, it’s called pre-production. It’s like you do a practise recording and it helps you decide that if it’s good and you keep it or maybe make some changes. So we worked on this recording, but then I went back to California because I was having my first child. The timing to go and stay in Florida and work on music just wasn’t right for me because I had to go and stay with my family. So we didn’t continue working on the album. But we always stayed in contact and for the next album, The Sound of Perseverance, he called me again to come and do the album, and I went several times and worked on the songs and did practise recordings and demos, but when the band was getting ready to go to the studio to record the album, they had a lot of tour offers, big tour plans. And I couldn’t commit to all that. I told Chuck I could do some of it but not all of it, and he said he wanted somebody to just be there the whole time. You know, we talked on the phone all the time, he wanted me there and it felt great but I just couldn’t do it. Luckily after the Sound of Perseverance tour was over he called me back again to go to do the Control Denied record.
Steve4So we stayed in touch and we worked on music together for all over the years. And to verify that, like you asked if I was there after Individual, the re-release of Symbolic has bonus tracks of those recordings I told you about that we did at his house, and you’ll see my name there, you’ll see I’m not lying! (laughs)

Back then we would have a conversation and I would say ‘okay, well that’s not gonna work out this time’, but now in the future it’s like ‘what an idiot’, I mean I should have found a way because those albums are classics. I know Chuck always knew that I was a part of it and it felt great to be that close to him, but I wish I found a way to make this happen too. But well, now it sounds like I’m talking down about the guys that played on the records, no no, they deserve to be there too. I had the chance, it was my choice first.

On the albums Human and Individual, how big role did the others besides Chuck have? As far as I’m concerned Chuck did almost everything in connection with the albums, he wrote the songs, he wrote the lyrics, he was also the producer – could you guys do anything like that?

Yeah, he had the songs written for guitar. But it’s maybe like an art class in school – the teacher tells you: ‘We’re gonna paint a bridge’, but he wants you to paint a bridge in your own way. And that’s what it was like when we played the songs, we could play what we wanted, what we felt, what enhanced the song. He brought us there for our personality in music, but obviously everybody had to be consistent with his vision for the song. So everybody had a big role in the sound of the songs – Chuck was the ultimate quality control, like ‘yes that’s great’ or ‘no, change that’ – but everybody was called upon to bring something to the band that made it better.

As some kind of a veteran of the metal scene, what’s your opinion about this new school thrash metal madness going on in the past few years, these young people who all start a band and try to live like people in the eighties?

steveeeKinda like a retro thing, well that happens all the time, with every style of music. I think it’s getting harder and harder to find good music and good bands, because there’s just so much to look through. It’s like too many. It’s too easy to make a band and get your music out there. There’s a lot of bad quality stuff, and getting away a lot of good stuff that exists out there. But I guess it’s cool to some people because everybody finds something that they like. It’s not my call to say if it’s good or bad for somebody else but I just know that when I was young, we had to go find the music, and now it’s instantly available for everybody. I would like to see bands trying to be a little more original, not playing the same thing all the time.

A little different subject now: Paul and Sean are both admittedly homosexual. Did YOU ever have a problem with that? How did this fact affect your work together through the years, in the sense of how the crowd welcomed your music etc.?

I’ve known those two guys since they were nineteen years old, they’re only about four years younger than me. Until you know somebody, you always think you’re gonna react a certain way, but when it happens to you, it’s different. In this case it’s so easy because they’re my friends. What they do is their business, it’s kind of sad to see people that have something negative to say because it’s really not their business.

You don’t know this about me – okay actually I told you I had my first child in the ’90s (laughs) – but if you didn’t know, maybe you would never find it out because I’m not telling you. But like you said when homosexuals come out, they’re putting themselves in the line of fire for negative criticism. Because they’re telling everybody. But I think in the homosexual community it’s important for those people to let it be known, so that they feel comfortable about themselves, I don’t know, I don’t understand it because it’s not who I am, I would never understand what they’re going through, but this is what I think. I understand as their friend but not from their point of view. It’s easy for me because they’ve always been my friends. It seems normal, it fits their personality. I never had a problem with it.
The fans that come to our shows are overwhelmingly positive and supportive because they’re buying the ticket and coming to enjoy themselves. We don’t really put ourselves in places to hear too much negativity, though I’m sure there are people that have negative things to say about it. Rob Halford from Judas Priest, he was a big part of standing on the ground and saying who he was; but it goes back even farther than that, how many people can you think of? Elton John, Freddie Mercury… it’s more common than you think. And if people just stop and think about that, you could release all your worries about that, just let people be who they are. Also, it doesn’t affect the music at all. Paul’s a vegetarian and Sean eats meat every day – does that affect the music? No, not at all. So you know, they can be different in that regard. No big deal is what I’m saying, right?

steve2For the end: Is there any question that you have never been asked about, and you would like someone to ask it from you?

Yes! I always wanted to share my recipe for the perfect Carbonara. And nobody asked me how to make the special DiGiorgio Carbonara! I also make a very very nice Braciola Involtini, it’s like a flat steak with ingredients, a stuff that’s rolled, and you cook it in the sauce all day long. It’s excellent. Remember the key to a good Carbonara: use five eggs, no ham, no bacon, spaghetti – or even better: it’s called guanciale, salty flavoured meat, you cut it in tiny cubes and cook it in the oil. That’s beautiful. So thank you for letting me say that! I’ve been waiting for my whole life to tell people about my Carbonara. (laughs)

Okay Steve, thank you very much for this honour and for taking some time of yours and doing this interview, I’m looking forward to the amazing show!

Thanks, it was really nice talking to you. Thank you so much for the support!

One week full of chocolate

I just came home from the Benelux where I went for one week with my school, it was awesome! We saw Brussels, Amsterdam (well we only spent a day here and didn’t have any free time unfortunately :D), Ghent, Bruges and Luxembourg. Since we had our housing in a little town in Belgium and had to go there every evening with the others, we couldn’t get to any of the pubs I checked at Metal Travel Guide before – but well doesn’t matter, had a great time anyways. I found an amazing record store in Brussels and bought Sabbat’s first record, didn’t have more than 3 minutes to search among the records but seeing the wide selection of the shop I’ll be sure to go back sometime!