Interview with Max Cavalera of Soulfly

Earlier this week I had the chance to talk to another one of the legends of metal, Max Cavalera. He was very laid back and down to Earth and he is the first person I’ve interviewed that has brought up some of our local bands without me asking first! Max talks about Soulfly’s new album and tour as well as his time in Sepultura, the future of Killer Be Killed and he even gave some cool background stories as well. The entire interview lasts a bit under 15 minutes and you can stream it below by pressing the orange play button, download it as a 20mb mp3 here or read the transcription below where my words are the ones in bold. I hope you enjoy this interview as much I did!

Photo of Max Cavalera by Hannah Verbeuren

Photo of Max Cavalera by Hannah Verbeuren

Hello everyone. This is Metal Chris and today I’ve got the honor of interviewing Max Cavalera who is the main man behind Soulfly [and] who is also a current or former member of many other bands including Cavalera Conspiracy, Killer Be Killed, Sepultura and Nailbomb. Soulfly is currently on tour right now and they will be playing at the Ottobar in Baltimore on Wednesday, October 21st. So to start things off here Max, let’s talk about the newest Soulfly album, Archangel, which came out this past August. Can you tell me about the concepts behind it? It seems to have sort of a Biblical feel to it.

It’s a different record for sure you know it’s our tenth album and we are trying to do something a bit different from everything we have done and I decided to call the album Archangel and having a couple of biblical references in some of the songs like “Sodomites,” “Bethlehem’s Blood” and some old Babylonian themes like “Ishtar Rising” and “Shamash.” It was cool. It was a fun record to make. We had a really good procuder, Matt Hyde, he has done Slayer‘s God Hates Us All, and Monster Magnet and Deftones. So he’s a very good guy, very good producer. And we had a good team you know. The artwork was done by Eliran Kantor. He’s a guy from Jerusalem that lives in Germany and does some amazing album covers and the inner sleeve was done by Marcelo Vasco who is a friend of mine from Brazil. [He] does a lot of death metal album covers. He actually did also the new Slayer album cover. So I like the album too. I think the album is extreme. It’s got a lot of influence from the stuff I listen to and I think it is very energetic. It shows a very energetic side of Soulfly that things are not slowing down at all. We’re just getting started you know, even on our tenth album. So it’s pretty exciting.

Cover of Archangel by Soulfly

Cover of Archangel by Soulfly

To my understanding Mike Leon from the band Havok is playing bass on your current tour. So how did he end up joining Soulfly?

Yeah we found out that Mike was not with Havok any more and we thought it would be a great fit for Soulfly because he’s such a good bass player and he’s a good friend too you know. So we knew him, Soulfly did a tour with Havok, we all became friends and he kept in contact with us. When he played near my house with Arsis he came to see me and so we flew him in and did some practice and he’s amazing. And he brought a whole lot of new blood to Soulfly man. A lot of people are saying this line up is the most lethal they’ve seen in a long time man. It’s pretty kick ass. I got somebody I can headbang with now ’cause [Soulfly guitiarist] Marc [Rizzo] doesn’t have any hair. So you know I still got all my dreadlocks and you know Mike has a lot of hair so we can headbang together, haha.

Now I know the guys in Decapitated were having visa problems getting into the country for this tour. Have you heard any update on if they’re going to be on the tour at all or are they still just awaiting to hear anything?

They’re going to be on [the] tour but I just don’t know when. They’re supposed to be getting that cleared out any day now. In fact I heard rumors they were supposed to be here tomorrow or the next day. They’re going to be here. So we just keep our fingers crossed because I love Decapitated and I love to have them. It’s such a good bill with them on it you know it’s a strong four bill tour and it’s a shame that it had to happen to them. I hate those visa things and government things like that so you know it’s like it sucks when that happens. But we are hoping that they will be here soon so we can at least finish the tour with them.

As I mentioned before, you’re in a bunch of bands and after this Soulfly tour ends, which band are you going to be focusing on?

Well right now I’m focused on Soulfly for a long time ’cause the album just came out and I’m really excited for Archangel. I think it’s an album that we can do a lot with you know we can really tour a lot for it and we are going to try to tour a lot. We have two tours right now. This one with Soilwork and Shattered Sun and then we have another one in November with Crowbar and Incite and Shattered Sun and then we have some shows already in Australia early next year and Europe and some invitations to do some other stuff that we are looking at right now and hopefully we can go [to] South America, Australia, China and Japan, Middle East I hope you know and another US run because we didn’t do a lot of the big markets like Detroit, Philadelphia. We didn’t do that on this tour yet so there’s still places to play in the US so for another tour so we are hoping that we can get another one of those tours next year.

That’s really cool you’re going to be playing on this for a while too but I guess that means no new Cavalera Conspiracy or Killer Be Killed any time soon?

No, not for a while. Cavalera [Conspiracy] is on a big break. I will not probably touch Cavalera [Conspiracy] for a long, long time and Killer Be Killed maybe. We [will] see where we [are] at next year. We maybe do some riffing and get some song ideas started for the next record and see where we are at. Where every band member is at the time. Troy [Sanders] had a little bit of family problems early with his wife having cancer and had to cancel a bunch of Mastodon dates so we’re hoping that things get better on his camp and then he can come back and do some more stuff with Killer Be Killed. I’m in contact with Greg [Puciato] all the time. He’s super excited for another record. We’re going to do it, it’s just, we don’t know when or where, but it is going to happen at some point. I think we are going to work a little bit on it next year and then eventually get it out there some time in the future.

Have you ever thought of doing a solo Max Cavalera album or do you sort of see Soulfly as your solo project?

Soulfly is kind of my thing like, ’cause I have all the guests on every album. You know we had Todd [Jones] from Nails and Matt [Young] from King Parrot on Archangel and I had David Vincent from Morbid Angel and Tom Araya from Slayer and Chino [Moreno] from Deftones and Corey [Taylor] from Slipknot and the list of people that I work with is real long but I would like to tour more with other bands. Especially I’ve got a lot of bands that I like. I like a lot of new bands you know like Homewrecker and Genocide Pact and…

Oh yeah, Genocide Pact is from here.

Yeah. Xibalba, Young And In The Way, you know I like a lot of this new stuff man. You know it’s great. The new Genocide Pact album [titled Forged Through Domination] is insane. I’ve been listening to that a lot and I love it and hopefully [Soulfly will] get one of those bands to tour with us next year. Would be great.

So are there any other DC area bands you might be into? We’ve got a bunch from here. Like you said Genocide Pact but also you know Pig Destroyer, Dying Fetus, Pentagram, Deceased.

All of those are great, haha. Me and my son Igor we really like them a lot. You know Igor is a guitar player [in] Lody Kong and they’re really good friends with the Noisem guys and the Full Of Hell guys so they’ve been to our houses a bunch of times and I never actually met Dom [Romeo] from A389 Records but my son Igor has met him. Hopefully he can come to the Ottobar show. I’m really dying to meet him and finally get to know him in person. I’m a big Pulling Teeth fan. I love Pulling Teeth man you know. I mean they were just an amazing, amazing hardcore band, grindcore band you know so I’m very excited to be out to the Baltimore show. I think it’s going to be a great show.

You’re kind of talking about some of like the hardcore bands, you know I remember back in the day when you were back in Sepultura, Jello Biafra helped you guys write the “Biotech Is Godzilla” song and I was always kind of curious, how did that happen?

I’m not sure if I remember exactly how but I think we kind of hand picked him out of our idols that we had growing up in Brazil. Dead Kennedys was a huge, huge band that me and [Max’s brother and former Sepultura band mate] Igor [Cavalera] listened to a lot. I especially loved the lyrics. I love Jello’s black humor on stuff like “Holiday In Cambodia” and “California Über Alles,” “Kill The Poor,” “Drug Me.” So we had the idea to let him to write the lyrics for the song and he did it and sent it on a cassette tape and I ended up using the growl that he did on the cassette tape. I put that on the record. And he was pretty surprised when he heard that. He wasn’t expecting it. He told me like, if I would have told him he would have made a better growl and I told him, “No, no but that’s what’s cool that you’re not thinking that was going to go on the record. That’s why I like it ’cause you weren’t really prepared for it.” You know so, I gave him that excuse and he was cool with that and you know I’ve always been into the whole punk scene. A lot of European punk stuff, Discharge, GBH, Exploited and on the American side of course Black Flag and Minor Threat and Bad Brains of course, one of my favorites. Amazing, amazing. I think they’re pioneers of so much of the stuff. Even some of the ideas that I’ve brought into Soulfly some of the stuff like doing kind of like the metal reggae versions of songs like “Bring It” and “I And I” are heavily, heavily based on the actual original idea of Bad Brains which was mixing hardcore and reggae and I love that mix. I think it’s a great mix. I still think more can be done with it and I think it’s something to dwell with in the future, to do more stuff with that.

You worked with another guy from the DC area in a project. That was when you worked with David Grohl in the Probot project. How did he contact you about that or were you already friends with him? How did you get involved in that project with him?

Yeah Dave used to come see all the Sepultura shows all the time. He was a big fan. When he was living in Seattle he came a lot to the Sepul shows and we struck a friendship and we got contacted from him out of the blue about this Probot project and he sent me five songs actually and he told me to pick one and I love “Red War.” It reminds me of [the Sepultura song] “Territory” the beginning and I even told him that. “Like that’s cool man. Sounds kind of like ‘Territory.'” I love the beginning of the song and so I went in the studio and put the vocals on it but I love the idea [of] an album with his favorite metal singers and I love the record I think that the King Diamond song is excellent, the Cronos song, the Lemmy [Kilmister] song. It is a very, very cool record. A very cool idea and I think he pulled it off man. He’s such a good drummer and the music on it is really good. The Probot music is actually really, really powerful and we actually played “Red War” live with Soulfly a couple times on a European tour and it was really fun. I did a book last year [titled My Bloody Roots: From Sepultura to Soulfly and Beyond] and we actually asked Dave to do the introduction of the book and he was very, very honored and he did it for me and gave me the coolest introduction ever about his speakers that cost twenty thousand dollars getting blown up by the Roots album [by Sepultura]. I thought that was such a great story and it was really cool you know so I was really glad that he got to do the introduction of the book and he’s such a huge fan and loves Roots so much so it was great having him do that for the book and I was very excited.

I’ve always thought you’ve had a really cool story too. You guys came out of Brazil almost out of nowhere out of this underground metal scene that was pretty much unheard of until you guys took the world by storm. It must have been really hard finding an underground metal scene at all in those days. You know this was way before the internet. How exactly did you get into metal in those days back then?

It was very different. Like you said it was before internet. We used to do tape trading and sending tapes out and painting our own t-shirts and sending them out and we were in contact with a lot of underground bands. I remember being in contact with Death, Morbid Angel, Obituary and Kreator and Destruction, Dark Angel, Possessed and all those bands wrote back to me and in fact my first time I saw the name Sepultura was on the first Death album Scream Bloody Gore that he thanked Max and Sepultura. That was really cool for me to see that for the first time. So yeah it was a different time, different era but I look [at] it both ways. It was exciting at the time but I think it’s cool now too because I think you can find a lot of cool stuff on the internet. You can look for bands from different parts of the world. You find Psycroptic from Tasmania and Nervecell from Dubai and Melechesh from Israel. I use Spotify a lot and find a lot of cool bands on it myself so I think it’s cool.

So you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area now right? So do you ever think of going back to Brazil to like live back in Brazil do you ever visit there or anything?

Nah I go there to play and my mom lives there. I get to see her and I do a lot of shows there. I did a big, big Cavalera [Conspiracy] tour. We played everywhere. We had a tour bus even for the first time ever and we went from city to city and went to some really obscure cities of Brazil and it was a great tour and I have been going to Brazil more often than ever the last three, four years. I’ve been there quite a lot, quite massively. It’s great you know. So I don’t really plan to move there. I love Phoenix. I love Arizona. For writing it’s really good where I am. I write my music in peace and it’s really good you know so I love going to Brazil to play but that’s about it.

Now I think I already know the answer to this but I feel like I have to ask. Do you think there’s any kind of way that there will ever be any kind of Sepultura reunion with you. Even just a one-off live show or anything?

Probably not you know. I mean I don’t see it happening and I don’t really care much about it. I think the time has gone when it was exciting to do it was like ten years ago it would have been cool but not now. And we all moved on from everything. You know I got a lot of projects. I got Cavalera [Conspiracy], Killer Be Killed, Soulfly is doing great so I don’t really need it you know it’s like, kind of let it become a, kind of a cult thing as it was. You know when I was with them we did great stuff. The records were amazing and live shows were killer and a lot of that is captured on video and people can see it. We can not live it up to, um, not to ruin it because a lot of those reunions they’re not really good you know so it’s like why ruin something that was good? So I think it’s kind of better to leave it like that you know.

You know I feel lucky I actually got to see you guys on the Roots tour with Ozzy and Danzig out here in like ’96 or something. Well thanks so much for your time today Max. If you’ve got anything else you’d like to tell the fans out here in the Washington DC, Baltimore, Virginia area now’s your chance.

I’m really excited for the show. It’s going to be a great show. You know keep supporting metal and we’ll see everybody at the show. It’s going to be an amazing night. You know I can’t wait. Can’t wait at the Ottobar. It’s going to be a great, great night for metal and we’re going to try to play as hard as we can play. Try to give them the best show possible they can get.

Alright well thanks so much again for your time man. I’ll be seeing you on October 21st at the Ottobar with Soulfly. Thanks again Max.

Alright, thank you man.

Soulfly At The Ottobar on 21 October 2015

Interview with Marty Friedman

Last week I was given the opportunity to interview Marty Friedman. Marty is probably best known for playing guitar in Megadeth through the 90s although since then he relocated to Japan and has played in many bands there since then, including his eponymous solo project. I asked him a lot about his latest solo record, his upcoming tour and even his time living in the DMV area, but unfortunately he didn’t want to talk much about Megadeth and quickly ended the interview when I started asking about it. So I didn’t get to ask everything I wanted to (including lots more non-Megadeth stuff too) but there’s still some interesting info in this eight minute interview and you can stream it by pressing the orange play button below, download it as an 18mb mp3 here, or read the transcription below. As usual, my words are in bold.

Hello this is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and I’m talking to the legendary guitarist Marty Friedman via Skype from Japan right now. Marty released a solo album in 2014 titled Inferno and he’ll be kicking off his US tour in our area at the Baltimore Soundstage on September 9th. Now Marty, you have eleven solo albums to choose material from and songs from other bands as well that you’ve been in. So what kind of set list can fans expect to see on this tour?

It’s going to have a little bit of everything in there. Obviously it’s a lot of stuff to choose from. There’s only about two hours to play. I think we’re shooting for like a two hour show, give or take a few minutes either way but there’s going to be a lot of surprises, a lot of things that people don’t expect. The stuff that’s worked best live in the past and the stuff that I’ve been wanting to play from my new album Inferno is going to get the most air time during the concerts.

So can fans expect anything from your older bands like Cacophony or Megadeth or Metal Clone X or anything like that?

Hahaha. Um, Metal Clone X maybe. Yeah I wouldn’t expect anything from the other bands really. I’ve got twelve albums of solo stuff to choose from. Yeah I really wouldn’t expect stuff from other bands. It could happen but I wouldn’t go counting on it.

So are you going to have a vocalist for these shows on this tour?

No, but there might be vocals anyway.

So maybe a couple guests might come out or something?

That could happen. There could be guests. There could be a surprise vocal by myself or someone else from the band. [There is] going to be a lot of different things that you wouldn’t really expect but the main focus is probably going to be on overall adrenaline and overall, wow I can’t believe it was this intense you know, and kind of surprise. That’s the kind of reaction that I think we’re going to get.

Marty Friedman

In May of 2014 you released Inferno and that is your first solo album to be released in the US in I think a decade or so here. Is there a reason you didn’t release anything to us in the US here for so long?

Yeah I’ve been really pretty much tied up in Japan with my activities over here and I’ve released several albums here in Japan. It was just a, you know, too much… I didn’t have the time or ability to cultivate the world outside of Japan so much and to do stuff like that right you really have to spend a lot of time touring and doing press and stuff like that and there just wasn’t enough hours in the day because I was so incredibly busy in Japan with everything here that I couldn’t give the albums the, you know, cultivation that they deserved outside of Japan. And then Prosthetic Records came up with the idea of reissuing all of my Japan only albums in America and topping it off with a new worldwide release called Inferno. I thought that was a fantastic idea and it allowed me to reissue my old stuff, not really old but my stuff that was only in Japan, and also let people see what I’m doing exactly right now all around the world so I really have to thank Prosthetic for that.

So is this going to lead to more releases here in the West and more touring?

Definitely. Definitely. This first tour is really just to kind of get my feet wet and introduce my Japanese band to people in America and I think they’re going to think it’s super fresh. It’s really exciting and it’s different you know. I really don’t know what to expect from the audiences in America as I haven’t played there in forever. But that’s the whole thing you know. The album got wonderful attention in America. Fantastic reviews in places like Rolling Stone and Grammy.com and Billboard. Places that usually completely ignore anything I do. It seemed to be a good sign to take it to America and go on tour. We’re already talking about a second leg of this thing in America and we haven’t even started the first one yet so that’s a good sign. It’s my home country and especially Baltimore is my hometown so I’m really super excited to kick off the tour there.

Why exactly did you name the album Inferno? Are you a Dante fan or does it have some other meaning to you?

Haha. Actually I wanted to have kind of a cliché heavy metal title. I had the concept for the cover way before I really had finished all the music. I wanted people to know that it was a heavy record and I wanted a really super cliché heavy metal word. But I wanted the photo, or the graphics on the cover to be like really artistic and non-cliché. So I wanted that kind of a opposite contrast. I wanted a super, almost corny title, but you know it’s metal. But I wanted to have the front cover, the whole entire cover, look like a gorgeous piece of art. Not a terribly typical heavy metal cover at all. That’s kind of where the title came from.

Cover of Inferno by Marty Friedman

Now like you said before, you used to live in this area. You lived in Laurel, Maryland then I think right?

That’s right. Yep, Laurel.

So when exactly was that and were you in any local metal bands here or anything?

Yeah I grew up in Laurel all the way through my teens and I was in a band called Deuce. We were uh, I don’t know if you’d call it metal but maybe metal, punk, rock and roll. And we played in the area. We played as far as New York and Delaware and Virginia and DC and all that kind of stuff. Really intense, kind of punk, kind of metal.

So did you ever go to Hammerjacks or some of the other venues around here back then?

Where did we play? We played at Louie’s Rock City. Is that even still there?

No. Most of the older venues are gone. 9:30 Club is still around.

We didn’t play there.

Black Cat, but a lot of the older ones they’ve gone under or moved or whatever. There’s new ones that have taken a lot of their places too.

Yeah, I really wouldn’t… it’s been a while man, it’s been a while. But it was absolutely great times and a lot of the guys from the band are hopefully going to be at this Baltimore show and we’re going to have a good time.

So why did you end up leaving the area?

My dad got transferred. His job got transferred to Hawaii. And which I loved going to Hawaii but it sucked leaving my band and it sucks for music in Hawaii so it was a double edged sword type of thing.

At some point though you ended up out in the San Francisco Bay Area or something right?

Right, that’s right.

Is that when you started Cacophony?

Yeah that’s where we put that together.

Cool, cool. Now how did you end up going from Cacophony to Megadeth? They were a fairly obscure band, to a much bigger name band?

Yeah you know what we’re going to, we’re going to have to like end this interview really quickly because the next one is up so if you have like one last final question you want to ask I can get to that but the next one is already on the line here so I’m already holding him on.

Marty Friedman at the Baltimore Soundstage

Alright I was told I had 15 minutes but alright um… why did you decide to move to Japan?

The Japan thing happened completely because I just got way into Japanese domestic music, or J-pop so to speak, which sounds like pop but it really includes rock and metal and dance music and electro music and everything. I just started listening to it 100% of the time and I’m like, you know this is where I want to make music so it was really that simple.

Alright now are there any songs or albums in your career that you would say that you’re the most proud of?

Definitely Inferno. I mean, hey it’s a common question but like if you can’t say your most recent album, if you have to say well I like my first album or my third album the best then you’re doing something wrong. Of course I like everything I’ve done but you know I wouldn’t bother releasing something if I didn’t think it was the best I could possibly do ever so I would have to say Inferno and we’ll play a lot of that at the show in Baltimore.

Cool. Well is there anything else you’d like to say to your metal fans in the DC/Baltimore, Maryland area?

I can’t wait to see what [the] DC/Baltimore area is like now. I haven’t been there in a long time and that’s where I grew up so I can’t wait to get back.

We’ve got a lot of metal heads and I know a lot of people are excited for this show.

Thank you very much. It’s so nice talking to you Chris.

Alright, thank you so much for your time.

Cool, take care.

Interview with Tom Warrior

On Sunday, May 24th of 2015 I interviewed Tom G. Warrior of Triptykon (and formerly Celtic Frost and Hellhammer). It was the final day of Maryland Deathfest XIII and I had to miss a couple bands that I wanted to see because of it, but it was definitely worth it. Tom’s people had arranged for us to use a small conference room in the hotel for the interview. I basically just sat down in a small room with just Tom, myself and my recorder on the table between us. The following 19 minute interview is the result of that conversation. I hope you all enjoy this interview with one of metal’s legendary pioneers.

You can stream the interview by clicking the orange play button below, download it as an mp3 here, or read the following transcription. My words are in bold.

Tom Warrior of Triptykon

Hello this is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and today, this is the last day of Maryland Deathfest, I’m lucky enough to have with me one of the true originators of underground heavy metal, Tom Warrior, from Triptykon who played yesterday at the festival and people also know him from Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. Thank you very much for talking with me today Tom.

I’m grateful.

So the first thing I wanted to ask you is what exactly does the name Triptykon mean?

It’s the third occult metal band that I’ve formed in my life and as I’m mildly obsessed with the concept of a triptych it just seemed to fit perfectly. The first part of course being Hellhammer and the second part being Celtic Frost, Triptkyon being probably the bookend.

Triptykon was supposed to play last year at Deathfest. You guys were going to headline I believe at Rams Head Live one night and I know that you couldn’t make the show because your good friend HR Giger had just passed away and you had to go to the funeral instead.

We didn’t cancel lightheartedly but there was just no way that I could have left the widow and the other close friends. The week that we would have appeared here in Baltimore was both the memorial service and the burial which were two separate events and I couldn’t have possibly have left them alone for that. Not only because I was close to Giger but I owe him so much that there was just no question and I counted on the understanding of our fans. That’s why I made a lengthy statement (here) hoping that most people would understand what we were experiencing.

Yeah I think most people did. I think sometimes people forget that, you know we have these big ideas of the musicians in these bands that we look up to that we forget that they’re people too and they have commitments they have to do outside of music.

Well yeah. This was also related to music and it was much, much more than that. Giger was also a very close personal friend, and his wife was a very personal friend. There’s so many connections and I’ve always been there for them. They’ve been there for me. There was no way I could have said, “well goodbye, I’m playing a show” you know?

Yeah, completely understandable. Now [last year] you were supposed to play at Rams Head Live which is an indoor venue though and then yesterday you played outdoors on the big main stage. Which do you really prefer to have Triptkyon in because it was kind of weird seeing you guys with all that sunlight on you I have to admit.

Basically I don’t really care as long as we get a good connection with our audience and yesterday was fantastic. The audience were very exceptional. Of course I prefer Triptkyon in the dark and usually that’s a stipulation that we have but I understand that if you play outdoors here there’s a certain curfew because it’s in the middle of the city and we were the second to last band and it was only like seven o’clock or something. The whole thing is much earlier than like for example a European festival and we have no problem with that. We don’t have to enforce some stupid star trip you know? If it’s not possible any other way here then we do it. The most important thing is that we finally came here and that the people got to see us and we had a very good stage sound, we had a fantastic audience so there was some sunlight, tough shit.

It was a great show anyway. So back to Giger, I think fans know your relationship the most just from seeing the album cover art that he’s done for your bands over the years and I was kind of curious any other ways he may have influenced your music or your artistic development aside from just that that we’ve mostly seen.

Well the album covers, especially the first one of To Mega Therion, those are the visual tokens but the mere fact that Giger believed in us in 1983 when we first contacted him when we were nobodies, we didn’t even have a record deal. We had like two miserable demos. Nobody knew us. The few people who had heard us laughed about us in our own scene. I’m not talking about regular people I’m talking about the metal scene, they laughed at us, nobody gave us a chance. Everybody we approached wouldn’t touch us with a stick, promoters and record companies. The only person that took us serious was Giger who was at the pinnacle of his fame. He had just won the Academy Award and had just done Alien, and it gave us a tremendous boost that somebody of his format would actually believe in us and work together with us when everybody else wouldn’t take us serious. So it had a far larger implication to us than just the cover, which of course was a huge honor but it also made it easier for us to believe in ourselves if Giger, our idol for many years believed in us and he became our mentor. What can I say? That influenced just about everything else that came afterwards. And of course the To Mega Therion album became legendary, not the least by means of the cover so that was the beginning of a very long relationship that has implications to this day.

Tom Warrior's HR Giger Ibanez Iceman

I saw you had the bio-mech guitar that you were playing yesterday as well. That was pretty cool.

Of course. It’s the best sounding Iceman, it’s actually a coincidence. When we brought back Celtic Frost in the early 2000’s and we were working on the album, of course I’ve been playing Ibanez Icemans for forever, but just around that time Ibanez collaborated with Giger and created this Iceman model. And Martin Ain gave me one of those on my birthday in 2005. He surprised me with one of those and we played it during rehearsals and it turned out to sound better than any other Iceman I had. I had pretty much every Iceman model in my life and this one sounded so aggressive that we knew we have to have more of those. I’ve owned four of those in addition to the other Icemans and the other Icemans cannot compete. And of course its highly symbolic. It’s the Giger Iceman. It’s the best sounding and suits our sound perfectly. But there’s no design behind that, it’s just mere coincidence.

That’s a cool coincidence.

It fits perfectly, what can I say?

Cool. So have you written any songs to commemorate or as in a tribute to Giger at all?

No… I don’t know if I could write an appropriate song for that. What I intend to do is dedicate the next Triptykon album. The first one after his death, dedicate that to him. And the fact of the matter is that we designed three albums together while he was still alive. The cover, the booklet and everything for the third album from Triptykon, it has been designed, it has been approved by him. So it will be a memento to him at any rate and we plan on dedicating it to him. It’s going to be the very last cover that he was ever actively involved in. That’s basically our tribute, to realize that album that he was still involved in.

That’s really cool. During your live set you guys play a lot of the old Celtic Frost and Hellhammer songs as well.

It’s just about half/half. We always try to have it roughly half/half.

Do you prefer playing the older songs or do you like playing the Triptykon stuff more or is it all just kind of the same to you?

It’s exactly the same to me. If I had my way Celtic Frost would have existed for many more albums. Unfortunately certain people’s grand designs on their own fame and certain egotistical stunts interfered with that. And eventually the band became so unworkable that I personally said the only option that was left was leaving it. I formed Triptykon but in essence it’s exactly the same thing I did with Celtic Frost. It’s simply minus the egotism and the personality stunts. Even though it’s younger people, behind the scenes Triptykon is far more mature than Celtic Frost ever was. But musically the whole infrastructure around the band and my approach and the way I produce and everything it’s exactly the same. It’s basically what I would have done had Celtic Frost persevered. So to me the Celtic Frost songs merge perfectly with the Triptykon songs. I really don’t see a difference. We try to strike a balance because Triptykon is not just me, it’s four people and I don’t just want to be a Celtic Frost cover band. I think it’s fair enough to play half/half. Half newer songs, half older songs, but I think we’re doing fine with that.

So here’s one thing during your set also, you guys introduced yourselves [as being] from Sweden. Now I thought you were from Switzerland.

We are but just about maybe 70% of all Americans say, “well you’re from Sweden” so we said, “yeah, we’re from Sweden.”

So it’s sort of a joke on the audience then?

It wasn’t a joke on the audience. Nobody in the audience has any responsibility for that but it’s just, I’ve been playing, for the first time in North America in ’85, and ever since then I’ve been named a Swede uncounted times so yesterday yeah, we were Swedish.

Well a few of us around me, we all noticed for sure.

Pete Beste, the famous black metal photographer, [was] standing right in front of me when I said that and I saw his puzzled face because we are friends and he was looking at me like, “what the hell?”

Do you think there will be a full US tour from Triptykon any time soon?

It remains to be seen. I really don’t know. I’ve been becoming a bit of a recluse in recent years. I’ve toured so much and I’ve played so many concerts in my 33 years as a musician that I don’t want to endlessly repeat myself. I’d like to keep it, this is a really overused word, authentic. I’d like to still be excited when I go on stage and not just play a conveyor belt set. I’ve been shooting down so many things in New York and elsewhere when it doesn’t seem right. I want to play concerts that are still honest and I don’t want to do it like a job. I don’t want to come on stage and just be a routine. As for the United States there’s even more ??? Since I first played over here in 1985 the bureaucracy to obtain the necessary visas has multiplied and it has become very difficult, very expensive, the whole process and also [some] parts that are very humiliating for a 52 year old man who doesn’t really have to submit to all this stuff. So if we get a reasonable offer [then] yes of course we’re coming over but it really has to make sense for us to go through all of this. This time for 60 minutes on stage we went through months, months and months of visa petition process and interviews and payments. There’s no relation to the actual show time so next time if we come over here we would love to do that. It’s always been a high point for me for every album to come to the states but it’s got to make sense on some level given the time you invest and the nerves and bureaucracy and everything.

I know you saw Goatsnake today.

I interrupted the interviews today because I love Goatsnake.

I was supposed to interview you earlier today. They moved it back. It’s ok, I don’t mind.

That’s why I told you I’m grateful for all your understanding, your commuting and everything. I don’t take that for granted.

It’s no problem.

I saw Goatsnake in 2010 at the Roadburn Festival. They were monumental. I went back stage and I told them its one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, and I really meant that. So we were all dying to see them today. Today it didn’t sound as good as back then for probably many reasons. But they’re still friends of mine and I really wanted to see them and I’m very, very glad that you made this possible by being so flexible.

No problem. Were there any other bands that you caught at Deathfest this year that you really enjoyed?

I don’t really listen to so much metal. I’ve been listening to metal since 1973 and I… I find that I fare much better if I listen to some of the other music that I passionately enjoy such as jazz music and old hippie music and all kinds of stuff. Because I’m doing this every day with the band and I’ve listened to 45 years or whatever it is of hard music and I don’t want to get tired of the music. I don’t want to get saturated to the point of not being able to be creative any more. You need some other horizons too and that’s not me blasting metal. Metal is my life and my life has been lived as part of the metal scene but as somebody who’s creative you have to have some other input as well and there’s so much good music out there. I love 70’s or late 60’s swing and so there’s just so much music that moves me, you know? After so many years I listen to that a lot because when I’m with the band or when I’m on stage we play very loud, very heavy and that’s already saturating enough.

Sometimes you need a little break, you know?

Well that’s just how it works for me, you know?

No I think it is for most people to be honest.

I listen to a lot of heavy rock but it’s mostly heavy rock from the 70’s and the first half of the 80’s.

Well that sort of leads into my next question anyway. Now you’ve been a big influence on, I don’t even know how many metal bands and musicians over the years, are there any newer bands that have come out in the last maybe five years or so that are any kind of influence on you?

Well maybe not an influence. I think I’m too old for that. I have crafted my style and I play the music that is inside of me. I don’t really need an influence. But there’s bands that I honestly look up to. Portal [who are] from Australia I believe.

They’re playing tonight, yup.

They’re sensational. Or the Wounded Kings from England. I’ve found that the albums they did with their female singer, they’re sensational. So there’s the occasional band that catches my attention, of course.

And I’m guessing from some of your earlier comments that there will probably never be any kind of Celtic Frost reunion or anything like that.

I’m afraid that’s impossible, yeah. I mean there’s no more animosity between me and Martin, we just met actually a few weeks ago as we do from time to time but I think that window has closed. Even though Martin once said, “yeah we’ll play music together again” but after that gargantuan disappointment I don’t think I want to set myself up for yet another one. Celtic Frost was my life and losing that twice wasn’t very easy. And I don’t trust these people any more. I invested so much time and so much of my personal money and effort and my songs and my production and everything into the Monotheist album and I did this because I believed the band could exist for many years and I felt betrayed and stabbed in the back and I really, if I would ever get involved with that again it would probably end the same and I don’t want to do that. Triptykon is a circle of friends and I prefer that. And you know anything I want to do creatively I can do in Triptykon.

I am actually also a big 1349 fan and I know you worked with them on some of their albums. How did you meet up with those guys? How did that get to the point where you were, I think you were producing a couple of their albums right?

I got to know 1349 through my friendship with Frost, their drummer, who back in the early 2000’s was far more involved with them than he is now. I heard 1349’s first album after reading a review in Terrorizer magazine and I thought it was fantastic. To me it was really a black metal album that really caught my attention. At that time there were so many black metal bands out there, many of them copying another one and 1349, their first album really hit me. It was fresh and it was aggressive. It was just right. And I knew Frost was playing in there and we had talked to Frost as a possible drummer in Celtic Frost.

That would have been really cool I think.

It would have been much cooler than the drummer we had eventually, I tell you that. So there was already a friendship so when 1349 toured and came to Switzerland we went to see them and that’s when I also struck a friendship with Ravn, the singer, and we just have so many things in common [that] we became very close friends and we visit with each other in Norway and in Switzerland and made trips together and everything before so eventually it ended up being a musical collaboration as well.

The phrase “only death is real,” what exactly does that mean to you and where did it come from exactly? I’d love to hear the back story to that.

Well it’s basically a line from the song “Messiah” which we wrong in 1983 in Hellhammer and it is probably extremely difficult for young people nowadays to understand but this was written during the time of the Cold War when the Soviet Union and America were basically staring down each other and there was a very real possibility that somebody would press the red button and the world would be obliterated by nuclear war. I mean it was in the media every day. It was in the news and everything and us young people at the time, we grew up with this constant realization that the next hour the world could be eliminated. There was such tensions always between the two super powers and a lot of Hellhammer’s material reflects that kind of aura, that kind of feeling that was in the air at that time and “Messiah” even though it sounds like a religious song but it is very much about the Cold War and this fear of the destruction of the world and “only death is real” hints to that of course it’s also true it’s the only thing that’s guaranteed in life. Death is something that unifies us all. Whether you’re black or white or whatever. Whatever kind of being you are, even a stone on this planet eventually will be ground down to dust. Everything will pass on this planet. Death is the only thing that’s a given, that’s a guarantee on this planet for everything. That’s really, that’s the end of it.

So you’re here in Baltimore for this and I don’t know if you’ve heard any of the news about some of the protests and…

Of course that’s why I said yesterday on stage, “you’re very rowdy tonight, that’s not like Baltimore at all” then everybody had to laugh. It was of course a little joke about that which, of course, it’s not funny at all.

Well I think the police officers that had been involved in that incident were actually indicted I think on Friday or something and I think it’s actually very lucky for Deathfest because what happened in Saint Louis was the day that the police were to be indicted they were not indicted and they were basically not going to be charged with any kind of crime, not even given a trial and that’s what started all those protests that were going on in Ferguson near Saint Louis, Missouri. And I was thinking, man if those guys had not been indicted on Friday if it came out that they were not going to be charged with anything…

Of course it would have…

I mean not only would that have probably called off the rest of Deathfest, but I mean it would have affected a lot of people here in a lot of ways.

Of course, yeah.

And I was just kind of curious if you had any kind of opinion on any of that.

Well who am I as somebody who lives in Switzerland to have a right to comment on an inter-American affair? I’m not somebody who buries their head in the ground but I’m also very respectful of national affairs. Of course we all followed that in the news. I’m an information junkie. I’m a history junkie and an information junkie constantly ever since I was a child. It’s a hugely complex issue that we cannot possibly address just in a few sentences. I understand police officers who are charged with securing a modern American city. It is humongous you know? You don’t have cities like that in Switzerland. And you’re tasked to ensure security of these cities and there’s these masses of criminals and problems and drugs and whatever. I totally understand that you might get trigger happy and in the heat of the moment you might make an irrational decision but I also understand the other side. The people who suffer from this and who feel disenfranchised and in a world that’s governed by mega corporations that don’t leave people without any education any chance to ever achieve anything in their life. I understand both sides and both sides are so complex so who am I to say who’s right, who’s wrong, what’s the solution? It’s a problem that is so gargantuan.

Well thanks a lot Tom. It’s been really awesome talking to you. If there’s anything else you’d like to say…

I just want to say thank you for the audience here at Maryland Deathfest for being so patient and waiting for a year for us and for being understanding. Nobody said anything negative about our pulling out last year. Everybody understood what it was all about and I’m very grateful for that.

Well you know there’s a lot of bands also that have canceled for various reasons and said they will come back the next year and [then] not do it and it was really cool that you made sure the next year you guys were back.

Oh no that was never a question for us. We had decided, we had this discussion, the band, when this all happened and when we decided we cannot do it you know? We said if there’s an offer for next year of course we will say yes no matter what the offer is. There was never a question in [my] mind about coming back. We were hoping that they wouldn’t be disappointed with us, the organizers, we were hoping they would ask us back. So they did and of course…

Well I think [Maryland Deathfest organizers] Evan [Harting] and Ryan [Taylor] are usually pretty reasonable about stuff so.

Yeah but you know, you don’t take anything for granted after a life in this industry and they were very cool, very understanding so yeah of course we come back.

Well thanks a lot. Thanks again for your time Tom. It’s been awesome talking to you here so thank you a lot.

Thank you.

Interview with Nick Holmes of Bloodbath

On Saturday, May 23rd of 2015 I was given the opportunity to interview Nick Holmes, the vocalist of Bloodbath (and also Paradise Lost). At the time of the interview Maryland Deathfest XIII was in full swing and I was running a bit late to meet him due to traffic. We met at the bar in the band’s hotel so there’s a bit of background noise on this recording and since I was running late I just kind of jumped into the interview without any last minute prep. It’s my shortest interview to date but it should still be interesting to fans of Bloodbath and Paradise Lost. I have another interview from Maryland Deathfest with Tom Warrior of Triptykon/Celtic Frost posted here and it’s a lot longer, more in depth and higher quality as well.

You can stream my six and a half minute interview with Nick Holmes by clicking the orange play button below, download it as an mp3 here, or read the following transcription. My words are in bold.

Nick Holmes of Bloodbath

Alright this is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and I’m here with Nick Holmes, the vocalist of Bloodbath who just headlined Friday at Maryland Deathfest on the Edison Lot last night. So first Nick, thanks for giving me some of your time here. How exactly did you become the vocalist for Bloodbath?

We toured in the States with Katatonia and Devin Townsend and we’d known them for years anyway so, but they asked me if I wanted to do it a couple years ago now so I had quite a long time to think about it. At first I wasn’t sure but then I thought, “why not” you know? We have a mutual love of the old school metal, death metal, and we’re all friends so it kind of made sense. You know if I didn’t know the guys I’d have probably hesitated but we’re all friends and we all… it just worked out great so.

Why did the band keep your identity as the new singer a secret for so long?

Good question. I guess it’s a bit of a tease thing isn’t it? I mean, you know.

Marketing?

Yeah well it’s just a little bit of excitement there. I mean everything’s already on the internet the minute it happens so when you’ve got to wait for something it makes it a bit more exciting I guess, you know.

Now I know you weren’t a member of the band yet but technically Bloodbath has played in America before and they played in Baltimore at Rams Head Live on November 1st, 2011 when Katatonia and Opeth were touring together the final night of their tour was here in Baltimore and they came out and did a surprise encore.

Oh did they?

Where they came out and they played “Eaten” and like another song or two.

Oh I didn’t know that. Was he playing (pointing to Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson)?

I think so. I know [Mike] Åkerfeldt was still doing vocals. I think that was the last time he ever performed with [Bloodbath].

Probably, yeah yeah.

You know Baltimore has been spoiled here. We’ve gotten you guys twice now. Is there any future US tour plans for Bloodbath?

Not in the immediate future. I mean, I’m starting to cycle the tour ??? but then they just did a new Katatonia album so there won’t be anything, it certainly won’t be in the next year or two. I mean it would be nice to do some more stuff with Bloodbath and we’ll see. We didn’t make any long term plans. We just did the albums and we’ll just see how it goes, you know? But obviously commitments with what I do and what Axe [Bloodbath drummer Martin Axenrot] does with Opeth and Katatonia you know that’s first so we’ll see.

So I guess there’s no plans for a new Bloodbath album any time soon as well?

It won’t be any time soon, no. I mean, if at all. So at this point it’s just a question mark.

Understandable, you guys are in so many other projects.

Yeah, yeah.

It must be hard just to find the time together.

Yeah, that’s it.

So speaking of which, your other band Paradise Lost has a new album, The Plague Within, which should be coming out in about two weeks.

June the first.

Pretty soon yeah, a week and a half or something like that. So how has it been managing your time between those two projects? I know you’ve been setting up for this Bloodbath show here but also if you’ve got the new album coming out you’ve got to do a press cycle for that as well.

Yeah it hasn’t been to bad yet. There’s a few kind of back to back things that I’m going to do with Bloodbath and PL which is next week actually. Which is kind of, I’d prefer not to do it but that’s just the way that the cookie crumbles you know? Because we’re starting a tour cycle we’ll probably do a tour and then we’ll do more festivals next year with Paradise Lost but we’re doing a lot of festivals this year with Bloodbath. So yeah it’s kind of working alright. I mean [Paradise Lost guitarist] Greg Mackintosh he also does Vallenfyre as well so he’s in a similar situation but we’re doing about three festivals with Bloodbath and Vallenfyre outside of PL so, but we’re not doing anything the same day. Which, that ain’t gonna happen you know?

Shane Embury yesterday from Napalm Death was in…

Oh he loves it. He will just play.

He was in Lock Up and [then] he went on with Napalm Death and Napalm Death played for like 85 minutes last night.

Yeah well he can just go all day, shit. Can’t he?

That’s a trooper man. Are there any plans for Paradise Lost to come to America? Maybe at Deathfest or another festival or a full tour.

I would love to do it but not in the immediate future. I mean hopefully next year. I don’t know you know it’s tough on, it’s expensive to tour here, that’s the thing. You know if you don’t play in [front of] X amount of people you end up losing your ass.

Yeah, yeah.

It happens to a lot of bands. It’s not like in England or Europe where you can, you [can] lose a lot coming here to do it. So you’ve got to kind of justify it. So it’s tough I mean. You know we did a lot of support so I mean if we did it, it would probably be as a support sort of thing. But yeah, hopefully we can.

Well the other two Peaceville Three bands have been to the US in the last year or two with My Dying Bride actually was one of the headliners for Deathfest last year and then Anathema came on a tour a year or two ago.

Yeah, yeah.

Out of the three Peaceville Three bands Paradise Lost is my favorite for the new material that’s still coming out. I loved the last album. Really excited for the new one.

Alright, thanks.

So OK. What did you actually do with the Necrophagia shirt that was thrown on stage last night?

I don’t know what happened to it. Yeah I forgot about that. I don’t know what… did I… I think I gave it to Waltteri [Väyrynen], the Vallenfyre drummer. He was just there cause he’s like a young guy, he wants all the shirts. He’s like, oh yeah?

So what did you think of the car park that Deathfest is in?

Yeah it was great. It was great a really good show, yeah. We really enjoyed it yeah, I mean, it was so much hassle just to get here to do it with the visas etcetera, etcetera. But yeah it was really good yeah we really all loved it. It was good, good fun and the crowd was great, really good.

Did you see any other bands at Deathfest this year, any that stood out?

I saw Aura Noir which I already like them anyway. I was kind of eating my dinner at the same time. But I mean yeah I like Aura Noir. Who else was it, oh obviously Lock Up as well obviously. But yeah you can’t really get away from it anywhere at a festival site because it’s so loud everywhere.

Yeah.

So you’re going to hear them at least if you don’t see them so.

Well anyway thanks a lot for your time man. It was great getting to see you guys. I got the little teaser before but it was really great getting to see you guys live man.

Good one.

[Bloodbath was] one of the big bands I was hoping to see this year.

Yeah well we loved it. It was good fun you know. Glad to do it.

Well thanks a lot for your time man.

Cheers bub, thanks.

Interview with Brian Posehn

There aren’t a lot of metal heads that have broken into the mainstream without being in a huge band, but comedian, actor, writer and heavy metal fan Brian Posehn has done just that. He has appeared in too many movies and TV shows for me to list them all here but you can see him live at the Black Cat doing his stand up routine this Thursday, November 20th, 2014 (details here). You don’t have to be a metal head to enjoy his style of comedy but there’s usually some inside jokes for us in there too. I got the chance to talk to him on the phone recently and what started as an interview quickly turned into a conversation between two metal heads asking each other what bands they like and what they’re listening to lately. You can stream the 19 minute interview by clicking the orange play button below, download it as an mp3 here, or read the following transcription which is full of useful links. Bonus points for reading along as you listen! If you’ve ever wondered exactly what kind of a metal head Brian Posehn is then you’re going to love this interview.

Brian Posehn head shot

Hello this is Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com and I’ve got comedian Brian Posehn here on the phone with me right now. Brian will be doing stand up at the Black Cat in Washington, DC on Thursday, November 20th. He’s put out three albums of stand up comedy including The Fartist in 2013, has appeared in several movies and TV shows including Just Shoot Me! and [as] the heavy metal loving neighbor Brian Spukowski on The Sarah Silverman Program and he’s even been the full time writer for the Deadpool ongoing comic book series. He’s known as a metal head and often references metal bands in his stand up routine. To get things started here Brian, can you tell me what fans can expect from your stand up show on Thursday?

*Iron Man’s helmet*

Yeah my son is saying that Iron Man is a metal head because he has a metal helmet. Sorry you have a five year old chiming in helping me answer. What was the question? Sorry.

What can fans expect from your show this Thursday?

More of the same is a terrible answer but it’s me and the act right now is pretty self deprecating, but it has been. I’m transitioning out of The Fartist. I’ve retired most of those jokes. There might be one or two of those jokes left but I’m already working on the next album and it’s almost there. I have 45 minutes of new material I just need to kind of cap the hour off with some new stuff and then it’ll be ready to go. Metal Chris is his name, Rhoads.

*OK*

Rhoads is named after a guitar player.

*Yeah.*

Rhoads you love Ozzy don’t you?

*Yeah I like Ozzy*

Yeah.

Is there an opener for your set this Thursday, and do you know who it is?

Yeah it’s a buddy of mine, Jeremy Essig. He’s kind of my regular– not kind of, he’s been my regular feature for the last couple of years. [I] met him in Saint Louis and he flies everywhere and he drives everywhere and is just a really funny dude and loves being on the road so, it’s nice.

So is there any reason you decided to perform at the Black Cat instead of a more traditional comedy venue? I think the last time I saw you here you were at the Arlington Cinema And Drafthouse which does a lot more stand up.

Yeah I love that spot and will probably go back there but I’ve done the Black Cat before with Comedians Of Comedy [a 2005 comedy tour featuring Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford] and it’s a good rock club space for comedy. I had a couple of good experiences there. I’m looking forward to it. Mostly what I’m doing lately is rock clubs. I still have a handful of comedy clubs that I will forever do pretty much but I’m trying to do more of the one show or two shows in and out at a rock club and then go to the next city.

I heard that you’ve got a comedy album in the works that’s going to be all music, with Scott Ian of Anthrax, that you guys are putting together. Do you have a name for this band or this project?

Yeah we’re just calling it Posehn. That’s what we did for the songs that were on my two Relapse records that I did. It’s just kind of simple, just the last name. And then [I] don’t know what the record is called yet but we’re done with all the demos. We’re mostly done with the basic tracks and Scott’s got to come in and redo some guitars and then we’re filling up solos. Guys like Gary Holt [of Exodus and Slayer] just sent me a solo the other day. Alex Skolnick [of Testament] did one. Kim Thayil is going to do one, from Soundgarden, it’s crazy. It’s shaping up to be really funny and with actual amazing musicianship. Not me of course but all my friends.

Do you plan to tour to support this once it comes out?

Scott and I have talked about doing something. He and I want to do a spoken word tour and then maybe. It would be really hard to get a touring band behind one record too and I don’t know. I’d love to think about it at some point but what we might wind up doing is just doing acoustic versions of stuff, he and I. That [would] probably be easier to schedule.

You could always try to set up getting another band to open for you and then steal some of their members for your set later that night.

That’s a great idea too. Yeah, I’ve never really thought out the logistics because honestly it’s not really a dream. Touring as a stand up is so much easier, from what I’m told, than touring as a band guy.

You don’t have to tear down all the drum kits every night either.

Haha, right.

Who would you tour with, do you think, if you could? I could see you with Tenacious D or Gwar or something like that.

Yeah those guys are funny but I’m talking about going out with bands that I’m friends with that I actually like that wouldn’t be funny. Somebody like Red Fang might be a good fit. Go out with them and just do the straight metal and then I do the goofy metal and then maybe do a stand up routine. I think if you went out with Steel Panther or something like that it would just be… I don’t know… almost too much, you know, too much comedy. I like breaking it up with a regular metal band because I have no problem performing in front of, or after, really heavy bands.

Do you have any favorite metal bands from the DC area?

Not metal but probably one of the best shows all time still for me is seeing Bad Brains [on their] Quickness tour which is their crossover record. Well yeah that is a metal record.

Yeah, definitely.

Yeah I saw them [on] that tour with the band Leeway in San Francisco and it’s still one of the craziest shows I’ve ever seen in my life. Kids were hitting the ceiling from stage diving and crowd surfing and then, because it’s Bad Brains, they would transition from like a really heavy, fast, crazy song to a reggae song and then people were still going off and going nuts and hitting the ceiling. It was insane. Twenty-five years ago [and it still] holds up as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Maybe almost thirty, ugh, god I’m old.

Have you ever seen the Heavy Metal Parking Lot documentary movie?

Yes! Love it. And that takes place out there right? Yeah.

Yeah it’s from DC. So have you ever thought about coming out to Baltimore for the Maryland Deathfest we have out here every year?

Yeah I’ve been wanting to it’s just never worked out. It’s kind of hard to justify and plus once you’re a dad, like, hey honey I’ve got to fly across the country just to go to a metal show. And if I was performing or bringing people up that might work, that would be awesome. I just did Phil Anselmo’s festival. The Housecore [Horror Festival] thing. Yeah if it was something like that situation that would be perfect because there I got to perform and then I got to hang out for two days and watch a bunch of bands. It was awesome.

So what would you say your favorite metal band to see live is?

Still… I mean the best show ever is still [Iron] Maiden. You can’t beat that. [You] can’t beat that band and those songs and their live performances are insane. Newer bands… not that Lamb Of God is new but I love Lamb Of God shows, I love Mastodon shows, I love Down.

So are there any metal bands you’ve always wanted to see but you haven’t had the chance to yet?

Not really. No there’s not a lot of bands out there that I haven’t seen yet.

So you go out to a lot of shows, that’s good.

I do man. I try to. Like I said it gets tough with me being on the road and then sometimes you know I’ll be in a place like Maryland and then I’ll see that Lamb Of God was just there and then of course I don’t get to see Lamb Of God when I’m in LA cause I’ve got something else or I’m on the road but that said, I make as much of an effort as I can to see bands.

Well on DC Heavy Metal here, next time you’re coming through this area, which will be on November 20th, you know we do have a calendar on here that shows all the metal shows from Maryland, DC and Virginia with links to where to buy tickets, all the venues, all that stuff on there so.

Nice.

Yeah. So, what are exactly your favorite genres of metal? I know you like some different bands from kind of across the spectrum but what are your favorite genres?

Well traditional and I love a lot of new wave of British heavy metal stuff. I was into that before thrash came. And then thrash. But I also love death [metal]. I love a lot of Florida death [metal] bands. I’m probably more versed in Florida death [metal] than any of the other versions just because I was working at a record store when those first couple Obituary and Cannibal Corpse records came out and bands like Exhorder and stuff like that. I really like that stuff.

You grew up like in Sacramento right? Like in the 80s I think.

Sacramento and Sonoma. Sonoma is where I went to high school and then I went to college in Sacramento.

So that’s around when the early thrash scene was starting there too right? So you were probably into some of that weren’t you?

Oh absolutely, yeah. I was reading fanzines and going to San Francisco to see shows, when I could. I was a little young and then 45 minutes away so it was hard to get my mom to let me go to as many as I wanted to but I got to go to some key ones. I saw Death Angel quite a bit when they were really young and I was young and I saw Vio-lence and all those bands. Saw Metallica a couple of times before they were massive and then even after they were massive they came back and did shows in Petaluma when the black album came out so I’ve seen a million great shows being up in that area.

What bands have you been listening to lately?

A bunch of the old stuff. I love the new Carcass record. I love the new Overkill record and then I’m trying to think of newer bands. I love some of the Swedish kind of melodic throwback stuff where it’s more traditional stuff like Graveyard and some of those bands. God who else? Who should I be listening to?

Well let’s see I’m a big fan of Pallbearer. Their new album I’ve really liked a lot.

Yeah I picked it up but I haven’t played it much but I should check that out. I’ve got it.

Windhand out of Richmond, I really like them a lot too.

Say that again.

Windhand.

Windhand. No I don’t know them.

If you like that doomy stuff check them out. They just put out an album on Relapse last year, their first album on Relapse. It’s really good.

Oh ok.

It’s female vocals but it’s doom. There’s not a lot of bands that sound like that I don’t think but they pull it off really well.

Cool.

Brian Posehn

I have a few just straight up metal head questions that I wanted to ask you like, do you prefer Ozzy [Osbourne] or [Ronnie James] Dio in [Black] Sabbath?

Well now the answer is Ozzy but as a kid I didn’t get into Sabbath until Dio. I wasn’t really that well versed because it was a little before my time but I was in junior high and high school when Ozzy left and did the [Randy] Rhoads records and then when Dio joined up with Sabbath so Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules were my two favorites but now I’ve done my homework and I go a little deeper. I love the early Ozzy stuff. I listen to Sabbath non stop pretty much so.

Right on.

It’s all amazing. And like you heard with my kid I’m trying to… I’m not playing crazy metal for him yet. He hasn’t heard the really brutal or nuts stuff.

Haven’t gotten him into Cryptopsy yet?

The basics. I’ve got him on Sabbath and he knows both singers and I haven’t played any Ian Gillian for him or any of the other records. I’m starting him with the basics. I think it’s super important you know?

Yeah, definitely. Are you more of the Metallica fan or the Megadeth fan?

I love a bunch of Megadeth records but no at the time it was Metallica for sure and still. Those first four records are pretty perfect. But I was also, and still am, at the time a bigger Anthrax fan than Megadeth or Slayer. It was kind of Metallica one and Anthrax two for me.

So have you seen this Baby Metal thing that everybody has been talking about? Do you have any opinions on them?

Of course. Yeah man. Am I going to go see them? Probably not unless it was easy for me. If it was at some festival thing I would walk over and check it out but I think it’s funny and I don’t know why they didn’t come out 20 years ago. It just seems like something the Japanese would have already done, combining cute school girls with metal. I can’t believe they didn’t tour with Loudness 20 years ago.

You know Marty Friedman finally comes back to metal and then this stuff blows up.

Hahahaha yeah.

Do you listen to much black metal?

Not the really brutal kvlt stuff or you know, K-V-L-T version of that word. No, and I’ll tell you why. I’ll probably lose some metal cred for this but I’ve always had a problem with… can I cuss?

Yep.

I haven’t yet.

Nah this is on the internet man you can say whatever the fuck you want.

Oh right on. Well my son was in the car earlier now he’s out or we’re at the house but anyway, yeah man shitty production always bothered the fuck out of me. I bought those Venom records as a kid. Didn’t love them. Never loved them. [I] bought them because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do and then when I put them on… You know even the early Slayer, like I love Hell Awaits but the stuff before that… not produced well and if it’s not I just can’t get into it so that’s my problem with a lot of the original black metal. You know Mayhem and that early stuff, it hurts my ears. My precious, precious ears. But then I got into the probably false version. I like some Dimmu Borgir. I like some black but I feel like that’s not my area of expertise.

Have you heard of the band Liturgy?

Only by name. Are they one of the ones worth checking out?

Haha, uhh, well they’re sort of divisive. They are a bunch of kids from Brooklyn you know they ride bicycles and that kind of thing and they’re basically Brooklyn hipsters from Williamsburg. Well they’ve started a black metal band so I always like to ask people who they think is more trve in the black metal sense, Liturgy or Cradle Of Filth?

Hahaha. I uh, I don’t know. I think that Cradle Of Filth guy would have trouble getting on a bike with all the props and his make up and it would be hard to see with those crazy contact lenses in so maybe Liturgy is more metal.

Haha. Do you have any favorite albums of 2014 because the year’s wrapping up here?

Well, the new Exodus.

The return of [the late Exodus vocalist Paul] Baloff. [Ed. note: I knew I said the wrong name as soon as it came out of my mouth but his answer was too good to edit this part out.]

Yeah or no, of [Steve] Souza.

Haha yeah I wish it was the return of Baloff but that’s not going to happen.

That would be super metal man if he came back from the grave. An undead singer is the most metal singer you can have. That record was great. Fuck, you kind of caught me off guard. I should have been thinking about what my favorite shit is from this year. But like I said that last Carcass record I was listening to a lot.

Did you hear the new At The Gates?

Yeah, well no I bought it but I haven’t checked it out yet. I just got it. I love them but I hope it’s good. Is it good?

It’s not terrible.

Haha you’re selling the shit out of that.

Well it sounds like old At The Gates. It’s not going to be as good as Slaughter Of The Soul. You’ve got to just accept that. It’s not going to be that album. But at the same time it’s not a terrible album. It’s kind of like the new Black Sabbath album with Ozzy. It’s not horrible it’s just…

Right.

It’s not going to hold up to those classics but it’s not bad.

I think a lot you know, for doing comparable work, I think Carcass’s new record is comparable to Heartwork. It’s probably not classic status yet like that but I don’t know. It’s so hard. And then I’m working on that Scott Ian record, he and I we call ourselves grandpa metal. We make fun of each other for being kind of so set in our ways and you judge these bands on the classic albums and a ton of people think that Anthrax hasn’t ever done anything past Among The Living and [it] depends on your opinion. I do.

Like I said you’ve got to understand what it is going in. When people think it’s just going to be this…

Right.

The new At The Gates isn’t Slaughter Of The Soul but it’s still a good album. It’s got some great riffs on it.

Cool. Yeah I want to check it out. You know what I like is that new Slipknot record and again I’m probably losing cred for not loving Venom and liking Slipknot but whatever. It’s good man. If you like that band there’s some good stuff on there.

So do you really have anything on your iPod besides “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors?

I actually don’t have “Two Princes” on my iPod.

So now in addition to being a metal head you’re also a big video game fan and I was kind of curious what you’re thinking about this whole #GamerGate thing that’s been going on.

I don’t even know what it is.

This whole reaction to feminism that’s going on in the video gaming world right now.

Oh man… I don’t know. Oh man no I’m not even going to get into it. The whole internet… haha “the whole internet,” I’m a grandpa for sure… Eh I don’t have time for any of that shit. I don’t know what #GamerGate is. Feminism in video games… I don’t know.

It’s a bunch of guys at like 4chan and Reddit [that] have been attacking a bunch of people that have been commenting about sexist things going on in video games and stuff and they’ve been publishing these women’s addresses on the internet and things like that to scare them.

Oh that’s not good.

But then they say they’re doing it all to try to make it so there’s more honesty in journalism or something. I don’t know it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me either but I’m not the biggest gamer but it’s been all over Twitter.

Yeah I just try not to spend too much time on Twitter or getting into online fights. [There is] not enough hours in the day to care about that shit.

Yeah it’s gotten to the point where Intel I think was pulling ads off of sites. It’s snowballed out of control. At this point I’m not even sure what it’s really about any more.

Huh.

Anyways, so moving on… hahaha So you’ve stopped smoking pot and I was wondering do you still drink beer because there’s a whole craft beer revolution going on right now and there’s a lot of breweries in DC that have ties to metal as well like DC Brau, Port City, Adroit Theory, and in Baltimore their Oliver Ales makes a beer for The Sword and Brewer’s Art makes an Ozzy beer so I’m just curious, are you into craft beer at all?

Yeah but it’s like asking me about new black metal. I’ll drink it but really I really am not that knowledgeable about it. It’s not something I follow or care about but I enjoy beer and will try ones that are recommended to me and that kind of thing. Boring answer but it’s the truth I just kind of don’t give a fuck haha.

I mean it’s just like music, sometimes you have to start somewhere and have someone push you in the right direction ya know?

Right, right, right.

Anyway thanks so much for your time Brian. It’s been a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see you…

Yeah man sorry. Sorry my son was on the phone in the beginning it’s just timing wise he was in the car.

Nah it’s all good man. [It] sounds like you’re raising him to be a hell raiser already so that’s pretty cool.

Haha yeah, [I’m] working on it man.

Alright man well I can’t wait to see you this Thursday, November 20th at the Black Cat.

Yep, thanks man.

Alright take it easy. Stay metal man.

You too.

Interview with Bill Ward of Black Sabbath

On Tuesday, April 8th I was given the opportunity to interview one of the founding fathers of heavy metal, Bill Ward, the original drummer for Black Sabbath. He played with the band through the Ozzy years and on the first album with Dio as well as on Born Again then came back into the fold in the late 90s when the band reformed for their reunion tours. In November of 2011 the four original members of Black Sabbath reunited again and announced they’d be creating their first album together since the late 70s. However issues arose and Bill Ward ended up not being a part of the new album. He hasn’t slowed down at all though and one of the things he’s done is work on a new visual art project called Absence Of Corners. We’re really lucky because they’ve decided that the public viewing of this collection will be in Annapolis, Maryland, and on May 9th and 10th Bill Ward will be on hand to speak about the pieces himself! Even better, if you purchase (here) one of the very limited prints you’ll be invited to a special reception on May 10th where you can meet Bill Ward yourself, have him sign your piece, get your photo with him and even ask him any questions you think I might have left out of this interview (more details here). This isn’t a traveling art display, this is the only exhibit so don’t miss it!

This interview is 32 minutes long and we covered a wide range of topics from the art exhibition to his time with Black Sabbath, his time after and even what new metal bands he’s into (spoiler: there’s a lot of them). I suggest reading along while listening to the stream of the interview as I’ve packed this post with photos and links related to what we’re talking about. You can also download an mp3 of the audio here. I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did! My words are in bold below and you can click the orange play button to start the stream.

Bill Ward

This is Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com and today I’ve got a very special guest with me, Bill Ward, the original drummer of Black Sabbath. Mr. Ward will be in Annapolis, Maryland on Friday, May 9th and Saturday, May 10th at the Annapolis Collection Gallery showcasing his new Rhythm On Canvas visual artwork series known as Absence Of Corners. The viewing is open to the public for free and limited prints will be available for purchase by fans. Anyone who does purchase a piece will be invited to an exclusive VIP reception with Bill Ward where he’ll be available to sign your piece and answer a few questions and just talk to fans as well. So to start off Bill, why don’t you tell me about how this Absence Of Corners project came to be.

Thank you. It started back in the spring, I think it was the spring of 2013, and we were approached by [the] two main guys in Scene Four, that would be Cory [Danziger] and Ravi [Dosaj]. They’re the technicians and the producers and they had already established this new way of producing art in terms of drummers just playing their drums completely in the dark and having lighted sticks or lighted brushes and just playing whatever they wanted to play, for the most part, and taking all kinds of pictures. And the all kinds of pictures really was all kinds of pictures but at times I think we probably had between two and three photographers right in and out of the kit. There were so many different lights that were going on. And that’s how all this started. We were just approached, we liked the idea, Liese Rugo was heading it, and Liese said let’s think about this and go ahead and do it. It might be a nice change for you right now so I thought OK. So that’s how we went ahead you know, it’s quite simple. That’s how it started.

Did you use your own drum kit for this?

Oh yes sir, yes I did. Yeah in fact I used the master kit. When I say a master kit that would be a kit that I would normally use with Black Sabbath. It was set up in its drum rehearsal mode and we went in and I just slammed. I slammed for probably an hour and 45 minutes. We just jammed, jammed, jammed everything out, yeah.

Wow. Now so they took a lot of photos here. Did you have any input as far as to which ones they used of which angles they used or anything like that?

No, not at all. I stayed out of all that. I followed direction. I let them tell me what they wanted. As far as the playing I went wherever I wanted but as far as any kind of cameras or anything to do with their end of it, I stayed well out of all that [and] let them do their thing. I only started to collaborate at the point when I began to view the pictures. And when I viewed them you know it’s like… it took me a while to digest everything but the collaboration began when they said, “Well Bill can you suggest some titles,” and I love writing. I love coming up with words and things like this so I said OK. That’s when I started to realize what each picture meant to me personally and it’s when I came up with the titles and then we just started to gain some depth as to where it was all going so it was a nice collaboration. That was very enjoyable actually.

I saw you made some videos that describe the naming process of these pieces and I found the one for “Soundshock” particularly interesting. Can you describe to me what sound shock is exactly and is it something you deal with on a daily basis?

My idea of sound shock is pretty tricky stuff because it’s something that, through all the years and years and years of playing on stage, and playing very loud, I think that there are some prices to pay. One is in the way that I perceive the sound of right now, the sound of your voice, Chris. The sound of the room around me, the sound of the fan that we have on right now. And I can hear, I guess, well enough but sound shock becomes more apparent if I went into a super market or a grocery store or into a restaurant where there’s multiple voices and multiple sounds. Train station, airport, anything like that and I have a very difficult time listening to things that are right next to me. If someone’s talking to me I can barely hear them but I can actually hear things that are going on two aisles over so my hearing has become unique I guess. Not unique to me. I think other people have this phenomena also. It’s very strange. When I first started getting this it was a bit scary you know. I was just wondering what was going on. It’s been going on now for a number of years. It’s something that I’ve definitely gotten used to. It can also be called mixer’s ears. Just recently I’ve spent an awful lot of time in the studios finishing up a piece of work I’ve been trying to get done there for quite some time and only the other day I was in the studio and I can only listen for about three hours now and I went, you know what? My ears have completely gone. And I was hearing things that weren’t there and you know that happens to a lot of musicians when there at the final stages mixing and things like that. But what happens with mixer’s ears is when we break, take five, sit outside or whatever, the sound of being outside is a little bit different than what it was three hours before going into the studio. So I have that too. There’s imbalance and incorrect perceiving of sound. I think that’s the best way I can describe it. I did see a documentary a few months back now. It was about a soldier that had been in Iraq and they were focused on this soldier and what he went through when he walked into supermarkets having been around bombs and explosions and I was intrigued by what he was sharing because I thought oh my god. I said I feel the same way. I feel just like this guy, the things that he was going through. I went to see a couple of doctors to talk about it, neurologists. So we’re still researching it ya know, we’re still going through it and I’m sure there’s other musicians, I’m sure I’m not unique in this at all, other musicians that are either on their way and got a better understanding of it. It’s not like something that I’m desiring to fix. It’s something about learning exactly like, oh this is what I live with now and I have an explanation for why things can sometimes sound really strange. Especially in a restaurant. I can hear the other people talking three tables over [louder] than I can my own wife whose in front of me. She doesn’t think of– my wife doesn’t mind ya know? She’s used to me being kind of crazy you know so, hahaha, so it can be taken as quite rude I think. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Annapolis when I start talking with everyone.

“Soundshock”

Are you interested in doing more visual art projects in the future?

I think I would have to really take a look and see what it might be. There are some other things that I would like to get to and it’s trying to have the time to get to it. So I did have something else on the back burner but it would not be working the same way that I did with Ravi and Cory in terms of playing drums to create art. But however it depends. I like to keep an open mind. One never knows. It could be something that’s completely different so if it appeals and I can feel the nature of it and it has some substance and it can be meaningful to other people then you know I’d look at it, yeah. I think I’d say yes to that, to that question. Yeah.

Are there any specific pieces about Black Sabbath or your time with the band or your time after?

I think that there are actually and I didn’t realize that until after. It was during the time I mentioned earlier, Chris. There was a period that happened where we started to collaborate, you know myself and Liese and Ravi and Cory, in terms of going into each piece and what it meant. That’s when I– it started to hit me. It really came quite strong actually. There were some things that were primarily related to the turbulent emotional stuff that I was going through after the contractual agreement [with Black Sabbath] couldn’t be sorted out. You know it just couldn’t be sorted out. And I just felt so horrible about everything about that not being able to be sorted out as I believe they did but I’m not going to quote them or anything else. I read something from Tony [Iommi, Black Sabbath guitar player] that he was not particularly happy either so, well neither was I. But that turbulence and that emotional upheaval, I think some part of it may have reflected through my playing. There’s that one piece, I’ll just use the most poignant piece if you like, it’s called “Grief.” And somebody had put the picture, a huge picture of “Grief,” and it was leaning against some cases, we were in the warehouse, I was up at the warehouse just signing off a bunch of paintings and what have you. And I hadn’t seen “Grief” prior to going to the warehouse, and I turned around, it’s almost like I felt something in my back and I turned around and I looked down and I saw this– I made out a face immediately. I was about maybe fifteen feet from the painting, Chris. I just peered into it and I went, “Oh my god.” And I said, “What’s this?” And they were smiling and they said, “That’s one of your paintings, Bill.” You know and I said, “Oh my god you’ve got to be kidding.” And I came up with the title immediately. It’s so sad. It was so, so, so, so, so sad. And that’s exactly how I felt about it you know. Even as we speak I’m still recovering from all of this you know. And “Grief” would have been my number one choice in attaching something to the emotional well being, or the unemotional well being, of that period. 2012, 2013, very, very, very tough years. Would you like me to give you a couple more examples?

“Grief”

Sure, yeah.

“Grief,” it’s really quite morbid looking. Kind of right up my street, haha. It’s very gray. It’s gray looking and I think to really feel “Grief” you have to stand about ten feet away from the picture. And you see it and it’s just this tormented soul. It’s just really… not OK at all. Of course, technically, Ravi and Cory showed me in the picture where my arms were and what I was doing at that particular point from a drumming point of view, not what I was actually playing in terms of notes. But because I couldn’t see, I couldn’t make it out. You know was I playing with brushes, what was going on there you know?

Yeah.

It scares me to be honest with you. It really scares me. It really bothered me, bothered me a lot. But at the same time it brought a semblance of relief because I thought, you know what? I’m in a lot of pain man. And all of this stuff that we’re talking about, Absence Of Corners, became more of a therapy session for me. A long therapy session which is still continuing. And it turned into that. I didn’t expect that. Nobody planned that. But that’s what it became then you know. And I’ve discussed Absence Of Corners with people from all over the world and they give me their– how it touched them you know. What it means to them and we sit down and we rap for two or three hours you know talking about emotions and what have you so it’s been very fulfilling. Very, very fulfilling spiritually.

That’s good.

Yeah, it’s great. One of the things also that’s connected with the turbulence that I felt, emotional turbulence [is] this one that I have it’s called “We Focus. We Persevere.” And that one as well I can see myself. I think I was actually playing jazz because it looks like I’m using the brushes in the picture. That one was particularly nice. It was about drummers and that comes back from the way that I was brought up as a drummer not only as a child but into my teenage years and then of course into my later teenage years when I was 18 of course I’d been playing with Tony for two years. When I was 18 and we were already in some pretty good bands you know and Black Sabbath was just around the corner. I didn’t know that but it’s just the influences. I look at the picture and I can actually see my study. I can actually see that I’m focused and I’m really enjoying playing. And that came from a lot of discipline and a lot of listening to blues and jazz which were all incredibly influential inside Black Sabbath. In fact I think more people now are recognizing just how much blues and jazz was inside Black Sabbath and how we utilized that. How we would have our grooves if you like and how that structured itself inside everything that became metal. But that’s a particular favorite of mine, that one, Chris. We overcome. We persevere. No matter what. We come through. We have to ascend our difficulties and we have to come through and that’s part of the action of my life. It’s a very strong, living statement for other drummers primarily and of course for other people or interested parties that might be interested in them. If they can receive something from those things in terms of heightened senses then more power to them. It’s beautiful you know. I didn’t invent it. It’s just something that is part of my life as well and part of a lot of people’s lives and I’ve seen this happen with a lot of other drummers who are friends of mine, some of the people who have passed away, that I dearly love. So yeah, that’s a little bit about that one.

“We Focus. We Persevere.”

OK now in November you did an interview with Rock Cellar Magazine and in that interview [read it here] you said that you hadn’t listened to any of the new Black Sabbath album, 13, except for maybe about 40 seconds of [the promotional track] “God Is Dead?” Have you listened to that album since then?

No and I probably won’t.

You don’t think you ever will?

I, I– Maybe if I reach a point of serenity where I’m able to give it a listen but no there’s nothing of value in there for me to listen to. I love the guys. I really hope that they receive blessings and wonderful things in their life. [I’m] communicating with Terry [“Geezer” Butler, Black Sabbath bass player], I’m communicating with Tony, privately. We always send our very, very best wishes to each other and our love to each other. But no I’m not interested in the album. It was something that I wanted to play on. I was completely able to play on it. There’s no question in my heart at all. [This refers to comments Ozzy Osbourne made (here) about Bill Ward not being on the new Black Sabbath album because he was out of shape.] So you know it’s still something that I don’t care, I don’t care to listen to it. Even if it was the most brilliant album in the world I don’t care to listen to it.

That leads me to the question, do you ever see yourself as a part of Black Sabbath again?

Well a lot of things have happened to me. Starting in September, 2013, I had a horrible illness which I’m still recovering from and it created some other things that I am still recovering from. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t come to [my previously scheduled appearance in] Annapolis you know. So aside from me now having to do a lot of work to gain my health and my strength back, you know and I’d be the first to admit it if I can’t cut it physically as a drummer then my answer would be no. I would not be prepared to play with Sabbath you know. I would never, ever, ever elude to being able to play with Sabbath if my health wasn’t absolutely smack on. And my health right now is not bad but it’s not good enough to certainly play in any band never mind Black Sabbath. I have to get a lot stronger than where I am. I lost a lot of weight. I’ve got to gain all my muscle back. I lost all my muscle. And I’m doing some stick practice but if I was in a good position where I felt strong enough I can overcome the hits that I took, the verbal hits, I can overcome all that stuff. I can overcome you know just the shut down and the way that I felt and everything else. I can overcome all of those things. All of the things that were like at the time just like– what the hell? I can certainly recover from all that stuff actually. I can do it pretty good. You know in fact I’ve recovered from most of it as I’m speaking to you this morning. I’ll always have an open mind to playing with Black Sabbath. I love the band. I miss them terribly. And so my answer would be leaning towards if something could be worked out. Something that I could live with and I’m talking politically now, contractually. And not the kind of things that I’ve done in the past. I’m talking about the very core of what I talked about in my big statement of February 2012 [read it here]. If we can come to some terms and we’re all OK with each other and the most important thing for me is being able to know that I can play drums the way that I want to be otherwise I wouldn’t even enter into any kind of conversation with them if I knew that I wasn’t back on the mark. Then I would be moving forward. I think that a lot of fans have suffered horribly through these undertakings of the last couple years and I fully, fully blame the inconsiderateness of just a few people who created, and I won’t talk about who, but a few people who created such a huge wasteland of real, real pain when everyone was just so excited to see the original band with an original record. And I’d already stated my boundaries quite early in all this. It didn’t come overnight. It wasn’t a shock. You know it wasn’t something that suddenly happened. We’d been negotiating for over 15 months. Things like that so. But I have to be careful in overstating because there’s still a political agenda attached to this. So I’ve definitely got an open mind. I miss playing with Terry, Geezer, just horribly. I absolutely miss him to death. And I miss playing with Tony just… every day. I mean every single day I– it just blows me away man. And obviously I miss Oz [Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath vocalist]. I’ve had to– with Ozzy I– I’ve lost a friend as far as I’m concerned. A man that I dearly loved, and I still dearly love but I’ve had to really now readjust just how much I’m going to trust and love him. He fired back on some pretty mean stuff in the press so. And I’ve gone OK. Like with any of us when we get hurt we’re going to pull back our love and our considerations for another human being when they kick out at you and you know. So that’s been a big loss.

In the last couple years in the world of metal there have been several high profile drummers that have either been kicked out of their bands or just kind of you know similar situations to you I think where there’s contract issues and things where I think the drummers feel like they’re not getting at least a respectable compensation for what they’re doing. I’m talking about like big bands here like Dave Lombardo of Slayer, Mike Portnoy leaving Dream Theater, and I’m sure there’s others as well. But do you think drummers right now, in the world of modern metal, do you think they’re just being under valued?

Yeah there’s something going on. Just for the record I know Mike and Dave Lombardo is a very good friend of mine. Me and Dave have had many Indian food– much Indian food and we’ve discussed these things in the last two years, that’s for sure. Yeah, I think what’s going on is we find the key players and the other players have less value and its become some kind of new modern thing, modern thinking. It’s like the other guys don’t count as much or they can be replaced. Let’s just focus on who we think are the stars in the band and you’ll see it all the time. It’s been going on for a long, long time. A lot of other bands have adopted this similar idea. It’s been around for a while. I think it comes out of a managerial idea, for the most part. Not a very good managerial idea at all. But it’s just something that’s going on and I’ve had private discussions with a lot of people about this and I think it’s not only necessarily aimed at drummers I think it’s aimed at other people as well. And it’s not just because the guys are being [night] owls or whatever you know. It’s nothing to do with that. Back in the day that was like it’s about him, it’s about him and let’s blame him and that and that and that you know. And it’s not about me. I absolutely refuse to take any responsibility of blame that’s been thrown at me. I will be accountable to the fans and I will be responsible to the fans because they are extremely important to me. I think what we’re seeing is something that’s been going on for a while that’s starting to take seed and we’re now seeing the results of defocusing other people and we’re seeing that more focus goes on the primary players and that’s been going on since, well I’ll probably get into trouble with this, since all of the teams. [Mick] Jagger and [Keith] Richards and all the way through. And I’m not saying for one second that the [Rolling] Stones‘ set up is like that OK. I’m not saying that. It’s a very interesting subject and as more is being revealed I can probably be a little more revealing but it’s so bloody political that I have to watch what I’m saying. Because otherwise– I know that there are some people that would probably love to sue my ass and I would think they would get a great deal of pleasure from that.

Well I’m not trying to get you in any trouble here either so…

No, no I know. I know. No, I’m enjoying the interview but I just have to be careful you know. And a lot of the times I wear a lot of my stuff on my sleeve. I’m so bloody transparent and I hate having to play hopscotch but I feel like I’ve been as honest as I can be with you right now.

“Solidarity”

You are also the host of a radio show called Rock 50. You play a lot of metal, both older and current and I was really surprised that you are a fan of a band that was a favorite of mine growing up. You are a big fan of Cryptopsy it turns out.

Oh definitely, yeah.

Phenomenal drummer Flo [Mounier] in that band. Are there any other bands that people might not really expect the drummer from Black Sabbath to be into? Any other modern metal bands like that?

Oh God I go right across the board. When I play my radio show I only play bands that I sincerely really like, really, really like. That I’m a fan of. These are some of my long standing bands. The first one has got to be Slipknot you know. I got a couple of guys in Slipknot that are real good friends of mine.

They’re another band that’s recently had drummer issues as well with Joey Jordison leaving.

Yeah. It’s hard for me to say anything about that but Slipknot’s one of my favorite bands. An example Sunday night, I’d just gone Sunday night I was watching– Vinny Appice used to be in the band… Kill Devil Hill. Anyway the reason why I went to see them play was because there is a couple of guys in the band that I know and love. Especially I went this time because it just so happened that Johnny Kelly, who is a friend of mine he played drums with Type O Negative, Johnny has replaced Vinny. When Johnny told me that I was like, “Oh my god.” And they were playing only a mile from where I’m speaking. The band came down. I went to see Johnny and Rex [Brown] was playing bass from Pantera and they’re fucking outstanding man. Outstanding bass player. Johnny did a great job. The other guy, Dewey [Bragg] the singer, I’ve known Dewey for years man, years and years and years. And they absolutely kicked ass man. They were great. We were in this little club. Nice club, at least they’re doing a shout out for metal. It’s called the Gas Lamp down off Pacific Coast Highway here in Longbeach. There’s another band that was supporting them called Seeds Of War and I really liked Seeds Of War as well. I like anything Mastodon. I’m a huge Mastodon fan. Slayer all the way down the line man. All the way down the line. Megadeth and Skeletonwitch. We met them when they were first new and I’ve always supported them. Always played their records on our radio show. Their production is getting better and better and better. Their songs are tight man [their] playing has become better. They’re really good you know. So I’m right in the mix. I’m right in the middle of it all and I feel completely at home. I sit there with my metal brothers and my metal sisters and drink my tea and I just like to be by myself. I like to sit nice and quiet and watch the bands and everyone’s nice enough to come up and say hello. I just look at them all and it’s just a wonderful part of my life. It’s a very sacred part of my life. I love metal.

DC has quite a few metal bands from this area and I was kind of curious are there any from the DC area or Maryland that you’re a fan of?

Oh I’m sure if you name me the bands I can tell you instantly.

Some of our bigger ones are Clutch, Pig Destroyer, Darkest Hour, Deceased

OK can you stop? Haha. We play Deceased, Darkest Hour, Clutch and what was the first?

Pig Destroyer.

Pig Destroyer. I think that they elude me, I’m not sure about Pig Destroyer. All the other bands have been regularly played on Rock 50 for years.

Pentagram and The Obsessed, they’re both from here too.

OK, yeah. I know Pentagram.

The Obsessed was Wino’s old band before he started [with] Saint Vitus.

Oh yeah Wino OK yeah.

But he’s from DC originally and his band out here was called The Obsessed.

OK, yeah. I don’t think I’ve heard The Obsessed but I’ve heard of Wino before.

Yeah well, they’re not as big as Saint Vitus but to DC people you know we love ’em.

Yeah of course. You’ve got your home grown metal man. It’s like that’s where it’s at you know for sure. It’s got to keep rolling. The doors are open and the sky’s the limit. And I’m just glad to be a part of the journey. I’m glad I’m on the bus and just riding with everybody. It’s a real honor. It’s a real privilege. I was sitting at the side of the stage. I’m like ten feet away from Dewey when he was singing the other night. You know sitting on the side of the stage and some of the audience were looking saying, “Who’s that gray bearded old man sitting there?” I don’t give a fuck you know. I’m on stage rocking out man.

That’s the way to do it.

Yeah, I’m a fan. That’s just where I’m at you know.

So how often do you go to see live shows these days?

Well, since I got sick not that often because if I go into population, in other words I’m not coming in back stage, if I’m in population I have to take a bunch of security guys with me. And it’s not because I’m scared in case somebody’s going to beat me up. I’m scared in case somebody’s going to run up and give me a big hug and it’s so painful right now cause they cut my stomach open three or four times so it’s still pretty sore even though it’s been– January the 7th was the last operation, January 7th, 2014. So I’m afraid that, haha, somebody’s going to give me a big hug. They’ve already done it OK. They’ve gone oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Whenever we go out anywhere when I know I’m going to be in public we have to have a little security shield say, “Don’t touch him. Don’t hug him so hard,” you know. Haha. It’s pretty crazy man but it’s what it is right now and I laugh about it. I like getting hugs from people. I love people. To answer your question I like to get out a little bit to be honest with you. Obviously if we’re touring with Black Sabbath then I’d see all the bands. Any band that was playing I’d watch them all the time or I’d go out afterwards, maybe see a little jazz in a club.

You also have another solo project in the works, Accountable Beasts I think I heard the name thrown around.

Accountable Beasts and right now it’s 9:15 here in Pacific time and in about an hour and a half I’ll be on a mixing board. We had to stop the final, final, final mix of “Accountable Beasts” the song on Sunday because my ears went. We were talking earlier about sound shock. My ears went and I went, “Oh my God I just don’t know if it’s there or not.” So this morning we’re going in with fresh ears and we’re just signing off on just a couple of little things. It’s like OK we got that, it’s there, oh that does exist you know. You weren’t dreaming it it’s still there. And once we’ve got that that’s another song done. I’ve got two more songs that are ready for final mix. They’ve already been mixed but they have now to do a final, finite mix, which is making sure the balances are OK. Does it feel good? Have we got everything there? Are we happy? Can we live with it? We gotta kind of go through that kind of measuring stick and that’s it and that album goes to mastering.

When do you think we’ll expect to see that, either download or physical form that we could actually buy?

I think we might be able to make an announcement because Liese Rugo, she’s my publicist and she watches very carefully about the things that I might say, haha, and say “Don’t say it’s coming out in six months. Wait until we know it’s coming out in six months,” but I think that we’ll probably be making some kind of an announcement pretty soon. On our timetable right now, this morning, we’re hoping to be finished with the two songs but I know I’ve been whistling that tune for a while but I can’t see anything in front of me that could can stop me. And I thought “Don’t say that either,” you know because I was doing this back in September and I got a perforated diverticulitis so I better not say anything at all. Haha. So I’m just going to keep it nice and quiet and say we’re on our way to really, really coming to the end of this album and more will be revealed and we’re going to let everybody know when we’re in a better position to get more information out. I think that’s the most polite way of putting it right now.

Well I’m coming to the end of my questions here. One thing I wanted to know though is what is your favorite Black Sabbath album?

The first one. I like the naiveté. I like the camaraderie then. It was a band. It was a real band. It was everything that I thought a real band– or while I was learning what a real band ought to be. Camaraderie, it was the four musketeers. It was everything. And hard, tight. Just playing a lot of gigs. It was a live band and then they went and put us in a studio for 24 hours, 36 hours, whatever it was. And they managed to get us on a piece of tape, Tom Allom and Rodger Bain, they just got us on a piece of tape and it was just absolutely incredible so it’s because of that. It’s because of the naiveté and the spontaneity and it’s all that and I listen to it very, very fondly.

Black Sabbath cover art

It’s been a real honor for me to get a chance to talk to you today. I’m a big fan of metal and all its genres but the thing that got me into it all was when I first got a copy of We Sold Our Souls For Rock And Roll and nothing was the same for me in my life since then. The chance to speak to you today has been a real honor and something I won’t ever forget.

Thanks, Chris. Thank you I really appreciate that. I’ve really enjoyed myself. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you when I get into Annapolis.

Yeah I can’t wait. I’ll be very excited there and I’m excited to see your work as well. It should be a fun day and this winter seems to be finally ending so hopefully it will be very nice around here too.

Very good.

Alright well thanks so much for your time this has been an awesome interview.

You’re very welcome.

Well take it easy, have a good afternoon.

And you.

Interview with Kerry King of Slayer

I got to speak with Kerry King of Slayer this week and it marks another first on DCHeavyMetal.com. Previously I’ve only interviewed people from the area that this blog covers however when you’re offered an interview with a member of Slayer you accept it! I did try to ask several questions with a local focus though. There was some crackling on the phone and I did my best to reduce that in editing without making the recording sound too choppy. Our entire 10 minute conversation is transcribed below (with links, photos and videos) and you can stream it by clicking the orange play button below or if you want to download the 9.78mb mp3 file you can do that here. As usual my words are in bold.

Kerry King photo by Metal Chris

This is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and I’ve got Kerry King, guitar player for the legendary thrash metal band Slayer on the phone with me. Slayer will be playing at the Fillmore Silver Spring this Tuesday, November 19th with opening acts Gojira and 4Arm. Now I’ve heard there’s going to be some sort of old school set list on this tour. What exactly can fans expect from Slayer this Tuesday?

It’s going to be Seasons In The Abyss and prior. It’s pretty fun, [the] set goes by in no time.

So we get to hear some old stuff like “Black Magic” and “Hell Awaits” on there?

Uhhh… yeah. I had to think about that, I’m like ah man. We just played a show in Austin, we played Fun Fun Fun Fest and we had to make our set shorter so I was just trying to remember what’s on the set list. Yeah, it’s really cool. We came up with this idea ’cause we played two nights in LA and they wanted something special for the second night. I came up with this idea and then I realized right away everybody was going to want us to do the old school set. And it’s cool timing. This is the last tour before new music and we’ve never done anything like that before so the timing’s cool, it’s fun to do and people dig it.

Now this will be the first time that Slayer has played in the DC area with the new line up, which includes Gary Holt of Exodus and Paul Bostaph. What have these guys brought to Slayer’s live show?

Well Paul, this is what the third time he’s been in the band. Hopefully he sticks around this time. And Gary, he’s just an old school thrasher like I am so it’s really as close as Slayer can come to not missing a beat, I think, as it could possibly be. It’s just as good as everybody ever wants it to be, you know?

Now you’ve said [in previous interviews] you were talking about going back to the studio I guess with this line up. When exactly are you planning on starting the recording process?

Well you know if you ever read my interviews I’m always the optimist, haha. It just never always pans out but my plan is to be in [the studio] in January. That’s what I want to do. Me and Paul have, I think we’ve demoed like eleven songs and I think there’s parts of fourteen, fifteen that are just mine. We just gotta get a plan set and follow it. But we’ve got way ahead of the game. I’ve got seven songs done lyrically and I’ve never had that many before we hit the studio so it should be, whenever we get in it should be a quick process.

Now Paul Bostaph, since he’s back behind the drum kit here for Slayer and you know on one of the Slayer albums that he was on, Undisputed Attitude, there were a few covers of a famous DC harDCore band, Minor Threat. Is there any chance we’ll hear Slayer play a Minor Threat song for us on Tuesday?

I couldn’t play one if I had to hahahaha. It’s probably been since then that I’ve played those. We might have played some of that stuff on that tour in like ’96 but I would definitely have to go and do some homework.

Do you have any favorite bands from DC?

I don’t really pay attention to where bands come from. I mean it sounds kind of silly when you think about it but I don’t even know who’s from DC. Help me out here.

Well we’ve got you know Pentagram and The Obsessed. We got a lot of old doom bands from here. Pig Destroyer is from here, Darkest Hour and then of course all the old harDCore bands like Minor Threat, Fugazi, Bad Brains.

Yeah Pentagram is one of those painfully obvious names. Cool as shit hahaha.

Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King photo by Metal Chris

Unfortunately Jeff Hanneman who was the other original guitar player for Slayer, he passed away in May of this year. This was a big blow to the metal community as a whole but I’d actually like to know how this affected you personally.

Ummm… Well you know it just… Untimely death just sucks and it’s the guy that I made music up with for thirty years. That super sucks. He went early. It sucks. Heh, that’s all I can say, it sucks. My guitar tech died the year prior so death has become no stranger to me and you just gotta deal with it. You know I’m not set up to where I can just go away and live in my house and not work ever again. You just pretty much gotta tighten your belt a little bit and get on with life. It’s a horrible thing but we gotta trudge forward.

Now Slayer’s last appearance in the DC area was July of 2012 when Mayhem Fest came to Jiffy Lube Live. I heard a lot of older metal fans complaining that legendary bands like Slayer, Anthrax and Motörhead, that they shouldn’t be opening for a band like Slipknot. What’s your take on that?

You know I understand that perspective and everyone knows I believe that sometimes but whether you’re playing in front of us or behind us– sometimes I even think it’s even harder to play after us so I just go up there, I do my show. I don’t put a lot of thought into the politics of it and say all right we’re done. Now your turn. Have fun buddy.

Now in 2002 Paul Bostaph had just left Slayer and you guys were holding drumming auditions and one of the guys you did an audition with was Kevin Talley who DC area metal heads will know for having played with Dying Fetus and Misery Index for years. There’s video of this that’s gone around on YouTube and other places on the internet for a while. And I was kind of curious what were your thoughts on his performance and is there any reason he didn’t get the job?

He was definitely in the final one or two and I think that was the first time Paul left that we did that. The second time Paul left Dave [Lombardo] came back so we weren’t doing the auditions then. It had to be the first time, probably like ’97 but yeah I remember him playing with us. He was definitely one of my top choices but the guy that we picked just seemed like the better fit.

Washington DC is something of a craft beer town these days and several of our local breweries have metal heads working there and running the places and brewing beer. And with bands like Iron Maiden, Sepultura, Amon Amarth and even locals Pig Destroyer, they’ve all got their own official beers. Have you ever thought about making an official Slayer beer?

I know it’s been brought up and I know we have Slayer wine over in Scandinavia and I don’t really understand exactly what it all takes to get the permit to sell that stuff here. You know that’s not something I worry myself about all day but I’m sure it’s going to be getting world spread. And then there’s been talk of beer, there’s been talk of spirits. You know it’s just gotta get it all thought out and then be presented to us in a way that it’s ready to go. I’m totally into it.

You know I could probably get one of these guys to bring some great local beer backstage if you want on Tuesday.

Oh Gary would be into it. I’m not a beer drinker.

Alright man, what would you rather have some Jäger I guess?

Nah we got plenty of that, hahaha.

There was a recent commercial on ESPN with sports analyst John Clayton wearing a Slayer shirt and I saw you guys recently posted a photo with him backstage I think in Seattle. And apparently he’s actually a really big Slayer fan in real life, it wasn’t just on the commercial.

I know that’s when I found out too. I was like, ah he’s really into us, haha.

That’s pretty cool. So I was wondering do you know any other public figures or celebrities that are Slayer fans that people might not expect?

Oh I’m sure I do. Um… But I mean it’s more like people you’d expect like Josh Barnett the MMA fighter he’s big time into metal. I always see him in the pits actually at my show or anybody else’s show you can always pick Josh Barnett out cause he’s the biggest guy out there.

I don’t think I’d want to be in a mosh pit with him at a Slayer show, hahaha.

He doesn’t have to worry about getting his ass kicked, that’s for sure. So you know that, you know ball players, but that’s kind of obvious you know. Anybody that gets pumped up before they do anything Slayer pumps you up as well as anything you know, gets you fired up.

Yeah it definitely does that.

John Clayton one was definitely crazy. We didn’t know he was coming to the show. We’re warming up and our tour manager says “hey, John from ESPN” and Gary says “John Clayton?” hahaha and he comes in and we’re like “ah man that’s cool” and he had the shirt on that he wore in the commercial. It was rad.

Alright so what’s your favorite Slayer song to play live? You know it really does get people pumped up but what’s your favorite?

Probably “Raining Blood.” There’s so many musical changes in that song and when you hit the opening riff the place just becomes electrified. It’s awesome.

That’s an awesome song. You know I’ve always loved that song too because it sounds like a thunder storm ripping through the area. So here’s another question about music: What’s your favorite new band putting out music right now?

I don’t have one. That’s a question I really struggle with. You know and I’m not really checking out new music right now because when I’m working on new material of our own I don’t listen to things I don’t know so it doesn’t outside influence me. And I know that sounds crazy for a guy that’s been doing this thirty years but I mean your subconscious is a strange thing. You might hear this riff and it ends up in your song kinda. You know even now it’s five, the last ten years I don’t have anybody. I wish I did. Most [of] the stuff I listen to is old.

Kerry King photo by Metal Chris

Alright. You know DC is the seat of political power in the western world. Is there any kind of statement or anything you’d like to say to any of our politicians or about policy here?

Not really. I’m not a big political evangelist type person. I make music, they play with the law.

Alright. The last time you guys came really anywhere near here with the original line up was when you played 1st Mariner Arena [in Baltimore] in 2010 and that’s when you guys were doing [the] complete album Seasons In The Abyss and I think Megadeth was on that and they were doing Rust In Peace as well.

Yeah.

You did Reign In Blood years before that as well and I was wondering are you ever going to do South Of Heaven straight through?

I don’t think so. South Of Heaven‘s got great songs on it but it’s also got a cover on it and even though we sometimes do covers… doing a whole tour… I just don’t think that’s as strong a record as Reign In Blood and Seasons. I think we picked the right two to play. I don’t like “Cleanse The Soul.” I think that’s one of the worst songs we ever made up.

Oh really?

Yeah.

Another thing I was wondering is, I know last year Slayer put out those Christmas sweaters that were so popular. Do you have any other ideas for off the wall Slayer merch coming up?

It always comes up man and I know they’ve got new ones this year because they just made a limited amount last year and they were gone before you could blink an eye which I thought was ironic because I vetoed that to start with. But yeah they’re going to have more this year. They planned on making more so people would be able to get them I know that. They’re always coming out with different shit that we’ve gotta approve. I just approved a coffee mug. I don’t even know where they sell those things but you know the ones you put in your little cup [holder] in the car so they don’t tip over.

Oh yeah like the traveler mug.

Yeah, yeah. If it’s cool I approve it. [If it] sucks I don’t hahaha.

Alright well that’s about all of my questions here. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans of DC?

I’m stoked to come to DC man. Always a good show there.

All right man. Well thanks for taking the time to do this with me. This has been a cool experience for me so thanks a lot man.

Cool brother. Come say hello in DC.

I shall. I’ll be up in the photo pit too so I’ll be taking pictures.

Cool.

Well alright man. Have a good one.