This interview with George Corpsegrinder was in issue #29
Why are you doing the interviews for the new album? I’m not the only one doing the interviews for this new album.
But why are you doing interviews for this album? Don’t you think that’s wrong? What do you mean?
Didn’t Glen Benton do the vocals? On this album?
Yeah! What the hell?! Did he say that you can speak on his behalf? He’s doing vocals on this album? That’s news to me!
What are your influences? Vocally?
Dude, I’m kidding. Hey man, you never know, coming from you!
Did anybody ask you that, by the way? I know you’ve been doing phoners all day with cliché’ people. I almost couldn’t believe that you asked me that. It’s like, you should get a prize for being the millionth person to ask that question. But you never know with you.
Did you squash that war you had with Dark Funeral? What war? I don’t have a war.
You’ve got to read up on the press. I’ve got evidence that they don’t like you. What’s that?
You posed for some pictures with them. No. (pause) I might have.
I took them! You were smiling so innocently, and they gave you the finger. You probably just made it look like that. You doctored it up!
I swear I didn’t. You know what their nickname is for me?
Stupid American? No – it’s gaygrinder. Ahriman calls me that.
What does the singer call you – you know, the guy who looks like a fat alcoholic housewife? They all call me Gaygrinder.
I can’t believe that you went around in the press and called him the fat Bo Derek. Me? I didn’t say that.
Yeah you did, when he got those gay braids in his hair like Bo Derek, and the flowers. You said that the only way he would be a “10” is if the scale is from 10 to 2 billion. Look man, I’m not taking none of this seriously. You know I didn’t say that.
I made it up, actually. But I was serious about them calling me Gaygrinder. You’re gonna interview them again, right?
No. They’re washed up. Washed up?
Does the world really need another mediocre black metal album? Dark Funeral rules!
Rules what? You don’t even like black metal! What are you talking about? I love Dark Funeral!
You love them as people. You’ve got to draw the line, George. Of what?
See, I like your personality, and I also like Cannibal Corpse. If I didn’t like Cannibal Corpse, I would tell you. You have to be a man. No, no, no – I like Dark Funeral!
I saw the way Pat manhandled you. You’re just afraid of big tall metal people. I am not! I’ll kick all their asses!
Are you afraid of me? I am. Can you hear me shaking? But seriously, dude, this is the truth – if you ever talk to Lord Ahriman, ask him about the song he’s writing about me.
Get out of here! I’m serious.
Michael Jackson must be kicking himself in the head because he had surgery to make himself look white so that he could sell albums, but these days you have to look black. Are you planning to get your nose flattened? My nose is already big, but it’s not flat. It points out.
Do you have a black ass? I have a big booty.
Have you been practicing? Practicing what?
Mary Had a Little Lamb. Do you know it by now? I was ready to do it at the L’Amours show, but you didn’t show up!
There’s always a problem. I swear! This is the curse of the lamb! Every time that you actually sing it, either the tape magically stops recording, the batteries die, or something even more bizarre happens! I’ll get you on tape one of these days! Come to any show on this tour. I’ll do it.
Will you wear a costume? What kind of costume?
Mary? The blessed virgin?
I guess she would be the Mary, since she had a lamb, and they are mindless followers. If you could go back in time to when Mary was pregnant with Jesus, how would you talk her into getting an abortion? Well, as his head came out, I would push it back in.
For the second coming out of the closet of Jesus, what would his new boyfriend be like? One of those queer eye for a…
One of the Dark Funeral guys? No! It’s that show, Queer Eye for a Straight Guy! You know what I’m talking about!
I had no idea that Dark Funeral has a television show. It’s some show!
Some show? You seem to know quite a lot about it. Ah! I’m gonna get hung for this!
Actually, “queerbashed” is the punishment for being gay. Hanging is for black people. Fags just get queerbashed, they don’t get hung. I’m not queer!
Then why do you watch that show? I don’t! My wife watches it!
Your wife is a guy? No! My wife watches the show!
You’re still married, huh? Yeah.
Even after your tour activities? What tour activities?
Weren’t you going to put out a video of Cannibal Corpse groupies? No, but there’s nothing wrong with tits.
I would never put tits in a video, personally. Yeah, like you don’t have any tits in your movies! I’ve seen them!
So what’s the secret of the long-term relationship? How do you keep your sex life alive? Do you pretend she’s somebody else? No.
When you are having sex, do you ever call out Ahriman’s name? No. (Indecipherable)
Do you ever use the Oyster as an aphrodisiac? Don’t fuck with the Oyster!
Have you ever performed anal? With Ahriman?
No, with the female wife. (Indecipherable)
I’m just curious because you’re a role model. So what’s the most bizarre sexual position you ever performed with your female wife? Missionary. It’s totally different now that I did all that other stuff.
What was the reason why you punched Warrel Dane in the face? I heard that Nevermore couldn’t play that night! We just saw those guys.
Really? Did he forgive you? I didn’t see him.
So getting back to how your parents escaped the concentration camp, you have a song about the Nuremberg trials on the new album. Which song?
Blunt Force Castration. That’s not about that.
I read in David Duke’s book, “My Awakening” that the Nazi war criminals, if the term “war criminal” really makes any sense, especially since the Allies committed atrocities too… anyway, I heard the Nazi’s were forced to confess, and many of them had their testicles smashed beyond repair. I just think that it’s bold to side with a guy like David Duke. Most metalheads just want to keep their white supremacy ideas a secret. You are the first to come out of the closet. Come on! I don’t have anything to do with any of that shit!
Are you really mad at Sharlee D’Angelo and Peter Steele because they are considered to be more handsome than you? Look at me! I rock!
Yeah, but you’re married. Girls don’t like that, or are you after the naughty house-wrecking girls? (Indecipherable)
Have you ever had a stalker? Uh…
Did you have to get a restraining order against Chris Barnes? (Indecipherable)
Is he like a girl who got dumped and wants to know all about the new girl? Does he play that same game with you? Does he want to know what you have that he doesn’t have? Who knows what he wants?
Maybe he wants to be black. He’s almost there with those dreadlocks. Are you going to do any Cannibal Corpse covers? (Indecipherable, but I remember him specifying the kind of songs that Cannibal Corpse would NEVER cover)
Will you perform Mary Had a Little Lamb when you play in Brooklyn, just for me? Absolutely not! I wanted to tell you, people have been asking me about that!
See? Are you aware of my influence? Yeah! When I first did it, I didn’t think much of it, but then people started asking me to do it.
Would you do it if the front row chants it? The rest of the guys don’t know it.
Would you do it when you hear that I am dead, as a tribute to me? I would drink a beer and piss in your name.
This interview with Chris Barnes appeared in issue #4
Wasn’t Alan West criticized for coming up with weak riffs? I don’t listen to what people think, man. I think that he writes all the best Obituary riffs, first off. I listen to the music first. I don’t listen to peoples’ opinions because it just taints your whole vision of things. I just like his sound. and have always been a fan of the songs he writes. He reminds me of one of my favorites that write in the vein of Judas Priest where it’s verse/chorus, verse/chorus. It’s stuff that I had never been able to write to, but this is just really a neat thing to do for me.
Art thou happy with he drums? Very! Very happy! I think Greg kicks the beats out fuckin’ excellent. Seeing all this come together in the way that it does was very cool for me. Can’t be any better than this, especially because all out attitudes are along the same lines.
Terry was part of the whole “Chuck” conspiracy. James Murphy told me that when he was in Death, Chuck told him the band wasn’t allowed to wear certain t-shirts on stage. In interviews, they weren’t allowed to say that they liked certain bands that Chuck blacklisted. Was Terry just following orders, or was he an eager participant? I have not even asked him, but from my whole experience, maybe Chuck’s just a very difficult person to fuckin’ work with.
After hanging out with Terry, dost thou not perceive a certain attitude? Not with Terry. I don’t see how this guy could every have a bad thing to say about anyone, man/ He is the most mellowest.. the most laid-back person. I personally know from hanging out with Chuck, he’s far from being laid-back. He’s always got something to worry about.
When thou were writing lyrics, wert thou trying to stay away from the Cannibal Corpse tendencies? No. Not really trying to. I know that these songs bring out a different feeling. Just listening to the music first, as I always do, I just kind of react from the vibe I get. Maybe some of the stories I had thought up in the past – they weren’t appropriate for Cannibal Corpse.
What comprises they musical diet? Lots and lots of Lynard Skynard.
So thou art a hick. No. I ain’t a hick. I’ve always liked Skynard even when I was a Yankee. I’m a fuckin’ reborn southern boy. I can relate to a lot of fuckin’ rock bands’ lyrics. I just get a personal feeling when I listen to his words. His voice is fuckin’ amazing. I wish I could accomplish as much as he could in that short amount of time, and be remembered like that band is remembered.
Dost thou think that a lot of people who have seen Ace Ventura know who thou art, or do they think that the band is just a group of hired actors? I think that maybe they might think that, like lot of mainstream older people. It’s happened a few hundred times where I’ve been in a store and someone says, “Oh, you’re in a band?” These people just have no idea that death metal even exists. I might as well throw in the Ace Ventura question. “Do you remember that part? That’s me.” It’s a surprise to people that this is an actual band.
Was it a big goof for thee? Yeah! It was totally cool. It was nerve-racking because I was traveling with a half ounce of the best pot, down my pants, and a dog came walking up about ten feet next to me in an airport – a fuckin’ police dog! So I almost didn’t make it down there because I was shaking, man. The dog didn’t come up and sniff at me. I would’ve been in fuckin’ jail. I try not to do that anymore.
Dogs sniff groins anyway, so it would not have been unusual. That’s my ploy, but I don’t think it’ll work. I’m getting a little paranoid in my old age.
If thou ever wert a dinosaur for a children’s’ show named “Barnesy” what color wouldst thou be? Puke green.
Thy band refers to itself as intelligent black metal. I hope that it is not too cliche for me to ask thee to explain this term. It is an attack on people, black metal or not, who either look upon black metal as something pathetic, or black metal people who often tend to make the genre look pathetic. We want to distance ourselves from the pseudo-evil, non-musical, and non-artistic side of black metal. We demand a certain standard and insight.
The Laveyans say that Satan has been the best friend the christians ever had because he has kept them in business. Cannot the church burnings also be the best advertisement that the christians ever had? Yes! It can! It’s obvious that christians feel they have to keep strong together after such tragic events.. Anyway, the church burning was, in my point of view, more of a statement rather than a real attempt to destroy christianity. I mean, it takes more than burning a few churches to get rid of the whole belief system.
In the past, black metal bands were ridiculing commercial death metal, but now, I hear black metal bands are cannibalizing their scene, directing criticism upon their own kind. What is thy assessment of the scene that thou hast helped to create? Dost thou think that a wrong message was sent by the forefathers when they insulted commercial death metal without making the distinction that true death metal was in no way life metal? I think people got bored with the death metal trend, and that led to black metal getting back again with full extremity. A lot of those death metal bands got away from the real death metal concept, and certain people in the black metal scene made it an image to mock such bands, and by doing so, also making black metal more extreme. Anyway, black metal has now gotten just as popular as death metal, and has kind of topped itself with a lot of moronic bands offering nothing but bad music quality and, in many ways, an infantile attitude. I think that’s why a lot of people are getting influenced by death metal again. I think metalheads rather should stay together rather than spending unnecessary energy on putting sticks in each other’s wheels.
The extreme pride in Norse heritage inspired similar loyalties across continents. In America, a land without culture, confused people became attracted to Odinism even though they have no Scandinavian blood. Dost thou see this as weakness? It should be natural for Scandinavian people to honor their past history, because it’s our heritage, but I feel it’s rather ridiculous when bands, let’s say, from Italy, write lyrics in ancient Norse, especially when they have such a rich cultural history themselves. Well, I guess some American people can actually link their blood to the Scandinavian heritage, as their past family might have emigrated from the north… anyway, we see a lot of stupid people claiming to be this or that, and it makes no sense.
It was rumored that Emperor could not play the Metalfest because a certain felonious church-burner was not granted a visa. I know that the reaction to thee at the Metalfest would be one of worship. I am still not granted any visa, simply because I did not apply for one. Nothing has been straightened out, actually. We’re taking the risk of being refused to get in. The people who booked us are aware of that. Worst case scenario is that Emperor will not play because some fucker at the airport causes trouble. Yeah, it seems everybody is waiting for Emperor to arrive in the States. We feel, of course, a little pressure, because people have such great expectation. When people have great expectations, it’s easy to be disappointed. It is impossible to deliver the same atmosphere as on the CD in a live situation. We also hope for a good audience who shows that they like the music. Emperor are not in favor of the I’m-too-evil-to-headbang attitude.
Obviously, thy albums are produced with particular preferences. I am wondering why the guitar is so low in the mix, and why the instruments seem too tightly compressed. There is a feeling that there is no space between notes. Are you referring to the Anthems album? I do not agree with you. The guitars are not that low in the mix. I do not think the Anthems production is perfect… neither are Nightside. You learn as you live. Next time we’ll definitely try to get a clearer sound with more fine balance between all instruments.
Is it true that spandex is worn on stage? No. That was one of Kerrang’s attempts to mock us after our live appearance in London. Ihsahn had black tights on. They might have been cheesy-looking, but it was not pink spandex, as the fucker wrote.
It is a pleasure to come across masters of poetry. Couldst thou explain why thy CD insert shows only one printed line for each song? I know that the heavenly operatic vocals are easily deciphered if the ear is open. “You faded away like a line drawn on the water.” The idea for that was that the CD cover art looks better with those lines than whole lyrics, and also, we had two different types of writers. Hanna Kalske, our vocalist, and Jan Mekitanta, our bass player. We decided to put only those lines that put things in balance. We have got more info from fans, and now it’s possible to get them (ed. – lyrics) from the Internet
The vocals are a highlight, but there is a more powerful tool that makes thee craft immense catchiness. It is the lead guitar. It is a combination of a savory tone, choice of notes, and picking style that works magic on the listener. Couldst thou tell more of the ingredients, such as how the sound was processed? It seems very close to chorus and flanging, but not quite. Hey, I made about fifty interviews, and you are the first one to ask me about guitars! Perhaps the main thing that made the lead guitars sounding like they sound was that we used much time to arrange suitable guitar parts on each guitar. We used about twelve different guitars. Those very processed guitar sounds are made by using analog type machine called “vocoder” that I have from the ‘70s. It’s Roland, and absolutely great! With vocoder, you mix two sounds, like vocals and guitar, and get sound like guitar could talk. You control your guitar sound by singing. About keyboards – I used fifteen pieces that contain the old stuff, like Honher clarinet from the ‘70s, electric piano from DDR, two analog synths… Korg Polysix and Jen SX1000, sampler, and et cetera.
Thy songs are darkly atmospheric and rather exquisitely detailed. When I listen to thy masterpieces, I cannot help but to wonder how this beauty was created. Where does it all begin? How painfully is the music composed? It has soul-crushing build-ups and resolutions. The process of creating over sixty minutes of music took the band nearly three years. The present sound is a blend of metal roots and various other forms of music that have influenced the members through the years. The aim is to write timeless music. The songwriting period is always very painful.
When putting the band together, was there an advertisement for a vocalist, or was Hanna known? Her voice is quite perfect for the music. The truth about that is that Hannah was the girlfriend of Ari’s friend, and the guy came up to us and told us that there is one girl that is fucking great singer, so we asked her to come and try to sing to tape, and that was it! I agree with you 100% that Hannah is the best kind of singer for our music.
When I first heard that thy band had a female singer, I expected a higher register, but I did not let this prejudice me. I set the CD aside until I was in the proper mood, and then I listened without any prophesy. A similar magic overcame me with Straus when I heard “Biem Schlafengehen” which started flat, but it lulled me into a state in which I became defenseless against the crescendo. The lure of thy band is that there is no dominant talent that overshadows the other instruments. Each musician is contributing something to intensify the sorrowful beauty. You know, here in Finland, everybody have some kind of base element of thinking things melancholic. It’s perhaps because of our long dark winter.
This interview with Seth Putnam appeared in issue #8
Dost thou find it pretty gay that have not received thy CD yet? Yeah. I’m pretty upset about it. I’ll scream at Earache today. Next week I’ll be there. I gotta give ‘em this new CD of love songs that’s coming out in, like June. There’s 6 songs with acoustic guitars. Actually, it’s 5 love songs and I politically-correct environmental song.
I heard that the name of the new album was supposed to be called “You are Gay” and that the front of the album was supposed to contain a mirror. Yeah. That’s one of the things that we were considering doing. But I figured that Earache’s too stingy to spring for a mirrored cover. So that’s why we didn’t do it. With an album like “You’re Gay” – whoever buys it – that’s their face on the cover.
Didst thou know that the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary? Really?
Yes. I didn’t know that.
Hast thou ever seen visions in a person’s anal vapors? No. Not really.
Oh, it is that type of interview, is it? I don’t give a fuck, dude.
I shall have to give Blood Duster a call. In any case, I heard that thou called Chris Barnes “gay,” and then punched him in the face, and then his roadies beat thee up. The non-exaggerated true story is, they were playing, and me and my guitarist were heckling them the whole show. And then after he got off stage I said, “Ha ha. You got kicked out of Cannibal Corpse” and he, like, walked over and tried to grab me. It was like being grabbed by a 3-year-old. I was like, “What? You want to fight me or something?” He’s like, “Yeah.” “Anyway, let’s go outside.” My back was turned in front of him as we were walking toward the door so I can beat him up outside. Then I got jumped by like 5 of the roadies and band members. And then I got thrown out of the club by the bouncers.
Not everyone who aspires be an asshole succeeds. Even before A.C. started, I was a pretty well-known asshole around here, especially tormenting bands when they were playing, and getting into fights with Possessed when they came, and wearing John Travolta suits when Wargasm played and break dance during the whole show and stuff like that. They’d be totally mad and wouldn’t want to finish playing. I just made it more of an international level kind of thing, being a dick to everyone across the planet.
There is a problem between thee and the English band “Solstice.” I’ve never actually heard them or heard of them until you brought it up. I know it’s some stupid thing the old publicist at Earache was trying to get.. something gay like… he’s a publicist at Relapse now. I don’t know the exact details. But he was making up this stupid metal thing. I don’t even know what the fuck he was talking about. It’s some “publicist” thing. So what are you saying, Solstice is all mad at me or something like that? It’s not like I care, but what did that publicist say to them?
They are mad because thou stole the idea for a Manowar cover. Yeah, ‘cause THEY’RE the first persons that probably ever thought of doing that because they’re totally unique and original and all that stuff. So I’m sure they’re the first people ever to think of doing a Manowar cover. Yeah. I was, like, spying outside their house. I had, like, a van with all their house tapped.
Dost thou think that it is gay to think that? Yes. Exactly. I never heard them. But I know that they’re gay anyway with a name as stupid as that. Do they spell it like “S-o-u-l” or something like that?
No. They spell it with a silent”G-a-y.” (laughs) Yeah, that’s what I thought.
But supposedly they will pay to fly thee over to England just to destroy thee. How much gayness is in thy anus? A plethora.
Let us turn our attention to dick-heads. I did notice that thou dost enjoy use of the word “gay.” I don’t know if it’s like that where you are from, but around here it’s the typical Massachusetts common word,” calling everything “gay.”
So are there are a lot of gay people in Massachusetts? Not really. No. But calling everything gay is very common around here.
By that reasoning, there are a lot of gay people in Massachusetts. There’s a gay section. It’s on the gay part of the map, with flowers.
But if everything is called gay, by that reasoning, everyone where you live is gay. Yeah
Will there ever be a song called, “I am Gay? Maybe if I ever become gay, yeah. If I get a job as an interior decorator or something like that. We’re already working on our “I’m Old” album to put out when we’re, like, 70 or something like that because by then we probably wouldn’t be able to do this stuff anymore. So if we record it now and put it out then as a “comeback” album…
Hast thou ever been dicked over Finberg? I remember he was kissing my ass one time. We played Allentown in, like, ‘94 and he’s like “I want to be your booking agent really bad.” He’s giving me the whole sales pitch. And then when he saw us wrecking the place and hitting people, he wasn’t too much interested anymore.
I thought it was because thou referred to him as “Mr. Whipple’s grandson.” No… He is, though, isn’t be?
Didst thou ever see him squeeze Charman? I’ve heard a lot of funny stuff about him. He got mad at someone who was calling him a “fat Jew” or something like that. I think Tom Pasquale said something like that.
Is Tom a fat Jew as well? He’s, like, a big fat Jew.
Just to complete thy sentiments of Finberg and Pasquale, dost thou think that their enmity is just because they are from different tribes of Israel that are warring factions? Yeah. I think that in the old times Finberg walked out of Pasquale’s grandfather’s bakery stealing some bagels. There’s been problems ever since.
Really? You know how it goes with feuds and everything…
What is it about thee that makes gangs of people fight thee at one time? I don’t know. I haven’t gotten in a fight with “one” person in like a million years. Every time I get into fights it’s with 6 people or so.
Dost thou think that it is gay to be Jewish? Yeah.
l was afraid that though wouldst back down from that question. Dost thou not know that it is politically incorrect to say things like that? It’s definitely pretty mustache-growing to be Jewish.
Dost thou also think that it is gay to be Middle-Eastern in any way? Oh yeah. They all have mustaches, so…
The Geraldo mustache? Yeah. That’s a definite sign of a gay person immediately. When you see a mustache you might as well have a pink triangle on your forehead.
Who dost thou think is gay in the underground and at the same time pretending not to be gay? Chris Barnes, anyone who wears corpsepaint, and any band in the last 12 years.
Wilt thou have a 20-page insert booklet describing how to avoid gayness in the underground? No. I’m too lazy, I’d rather just write stupid songs about it. I don’t even give a shit about the underground. So I won’t waste my time.
That is easy for thee to say now that thou art a rock star. It’s not like, “Be friends with everyone in the underground. Please like us.” We were never like that. It wasn’t like we were trying to be underground. We just had no choice. The stuff that we’re doing – we can’t get signed to Capital Records.
What dost thou think of Diggy? He’s never seemed to pay much attention to us. He’s been signing a lot of gay bands lately. His label’s just gone totally limp-wristed. He just has no idea what he’s doing anymore.
Didst thou ever write a song called, “Dig is Gay?” We did some song about him before…
But he did not “dig” it? (Fake laugher). Everyone knows it. If we had songs like, “Homos are Gay” everyone knows that. So why bother?
Thou liketh to challenge with the word “gay.” Yeth. I like to make people aware of stuff that’s gay that they might not know is gay.
So each A.C. album is a path to enlightenment. We’re just, like, messengers of enlightenment.
Dost thy pastor know that thou writeth the lyrics that thou dost? No. He’s dead.
Didst thou attend the funeral? No.
Didst thou ever officially break away, or art thou officially a church-going boy? I was, like, forced to go to Catholic school when I was younger.
Wert thou ever punished in a very unusual way by a man? Well, a nun smashed my head against a blackboard. So I punched her in the face… when I was in 4th grade. And she was, like, horrified.
So thou wert a terrifying child? Yes. I was way worse than I am now.
Was the battle with that nun thy last one-on-one fight? Yeah. Pretty much. Actually, the group thing started in, like, 6th grade. I was chased by everyone in my class once. It was pretty fun.
Did it involve the word “gay”?
No. I punched one of the girls in the class in the face. The whole school was chasing me.
Thou dost not care if the person is male or female. No. They complain about equal rights.
I have no more topics.
Oh yeah, how come you have that stupid disclaimer on your fuckin’ thing, like, that’s the only thing, like, that’s the only thing that I got bummed out about. You make fun of everything and then you have that gay (he war- bles in mock wimpiness of me).
That was pretty gay of me, was it not? That’s the only mustache tendency I found in the fanzine. I think you should stand behind everything. We don’t have disclaimers.
Hast thou ever been sued? Yeah, I punched some girl in the face at one of our shows. I got thrown in jail and had to pay $1,200 in restitution.
Why didst thou punch her in the face? It could have been anyone. I was just drunk. Someone pushed me and I turned around and swung, with a mike in my hand. It turned out to be this woman with a huge bump on her face.
Was it a fat pig? Yeah.
Hast thou ever been with a fat girl? Well, you know that I drink a lot, right?
Yes. Well there you go.
Didst thou throw some modern art into it thy CD to make people give clueless interpretations of thy intentions? I have an art opening at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Not too many people know that thou leadth a double life, that thou art actually quite respected in the artistic community. Yeah, like, Andy Warhol personally gave me a beret once, and a cigarette holder, because he’s very respectful of my art.
And didst thou not accidentally burn the beret with a cigarette that is smoked exclusively in gay clubs? (with a lisp) I wath thmoking a thigarette at dith bar, and thum philly wath lighting my thigarette, and it juth went up. And I got a bit of my hair and my nailth methed up. It’s just too avante garde for words. I can’t even explain it.
What is the relationship with thee and Relapse? Um… well… What do you mean?
Thou knowst what I mean. Um… How do I know them, or somethin?
I was just trying to railroad thee. The only way I can badmouth them is by saying that just about every band on the label sucks. But, um, I get along with the guys at Relapse and stuff.
Even the Jewish guys? Oh, there’s no Hebe’s at that label.
I heard that there are. Really? Who?
Either Mat or Bill. Really? I don’t like ‘em anymore!
Didst thou get along with them until just now? Yeah. I mean, I used to like them ‘til now. Now that I found out that they’re fuckin’ Jews, forget it!
Well, I have run out of questions that thou could give one-word answers to. I’m boring. You know? What can you expect?
Move over, I have to interview Cradle of Filth. What will you be having, quiche, or something?
This interview with Aphazel appeared in issue #10. Raychelle Tiege, who was a publicist at several labels, told me that when she went to Norway, she rang the doorbell at Aphazel’s house, and he answered the door. She was shocked that he had short hair. When he realized who she was, he closed the door, put on a wig, and then answered the door again. You can ask her about those details.
Hast thou been called a Cradle of Filth rip-off? Yeah. Mostly in Europe.
The table on thy album cover might have the same symbolism for over-indulgence as used by Cradle of Filth. We really didn’t have Cradle of Filth in mind when we took the photo. When I look at it now, it looks kind of similar.
The vocals of the female also mirror those of Cradle of Filth. That, I can’t really comment on too much. I, myself, am not really a big fan of Cradle of Filth.
Thou art the one who has short hair and wore a wig out of shame. I don’t care if people… if that’s the worst thing that they can say about the band, then that’s cool.
There was a singer, Kim, on thy last album. Yeah. We kicked her out of the band.
Someone alleges that wherever she sleeps, she leaves with more that she had. I am not surprised to hear that. She’s really… what’s the word… conceited. She stole money from Metal Blade, and she stole money from us. I’ve heard that she’s stealing from everybody. I lent her money for a keyboard. She didn’t pay back the whole amount.
I heard that she was thrown out because she had an affair with Hellhammer from Mayhem while she was dating John McEntee from Incantation. It was way before she even started to go over to Norway, I think.
Did she show any member of Ancient a bit of loving? No.
She didn’t get the job that way? No. I met her at a festival in Tennessee.
Wert thou wearing a wig at the time? No.
There is, on the back of thy CD booklet something that looks suspiciously like a King Diamond symbol. Yeah. That’s exactly the same one that King Diamond uses.
Dost thou make snowmen? No.
Does Kalaphus write songs about snowfall in the Amazon rain forest? Not that I’m aware of.
When Euronymous was killed, what was Ancient doing at the time? We were getting ready to release the first album.
Wouldst thou agree that there are a lot of bands riding that trend? Oh yeah. There’s more and more black metal bands all the time because they see that as an easy way to get recognition.
If thou were Superman, would originality be thy kryptonite? What’s kryptonite?
Thou never heard of Superman? Yeah, but we want to do something original, and I think we pretty much have done it on the album in a lot of ways.
This interview with Jeremy Wagner was printed in issue #9. It occured when I was at the Milwaukee Metalfest in 1997. He kept humping my leg for an interview, and I finally consented when I was drunkenly walking around outside to take a break from the fun indoors. I laughed at the notion that this was a ghetto part of town, because it was tame compared to NJ shit-holes like Paterson, Newark, Irvington, and Asbury Park. Ironically, Jack Koshik held the “Marshallow Meltdowns” in Asbury Park and Irvington a couple of years later. It angered me that he gave no warning about the high crime areas. I hoped that girls who went to the show did so in big groups of male friends. Unfortunately, metal events may have to occur in such places. I liked listening to Broken Hope, but I did not like seeing them live because of the gayness of the band members. The bass player wore hockey jerseys on stage and smiled and waved. I forgave that because he was in Sindrome. You can imagine how excited I was when “Into the Halls of Extermination” finally was remastered for CD. I did not like the things that I had heard about Jeremy, which later on turned out to be true (and I will omit from this article), but my Spidey senses told me that he was not to be trusted. Jeremy was familiar with the magazine, and he said some things to ingratiate himself to the readers, specifically about Metal Blade, te label that he was signed to. The publicist, Ralph, was one of the rare cool and knowledgeable reps at that label. I had a history of insulting Metal Blades idiotic publicists, and as a result, I was boycotted for a few issues before a new idiot publicist was hired, or the label people realized that they were foolish to be omitted from a magazine that printed 40,000 copies, for free, that also was in big music stores all over the world, as well as recording studios. Ralph called me to tell me that I was again boycotted because I printed lies about the record label. I thought that he was referring to a joke I might have told, but Ralph told me that when a label head read the Broken Hope interview, he called Jeremy to discipline him. Jeremy told the bigwig that I had made all that up – that he had never said such things. I told Ralph that I won’t say anything in defense, but I will send a package that will explain everything. Ralph laughed. The package was a cassette that contained the audio of that interview. The people at Metal Blade heard, word-for-word, that I printed exactly what Jeremy said – no embellishments, nothing made up. Regardless of the fakery of Jeremy, when I listen to music, I never picture actual band members. I experience a theater of the mind. Music is escapism for me, and in this case, an escape for a gaylord.
What happened with King Fowley from Deceased? What I’m about to tell you, Bill… I have never talked about with any other magazine. Press people have always asked me about this. So if you can bear with me, I’m going to say how it all started. Michigan Deathfest III, back around 1994, out second album, Bowels of Repugnance has just come out. It was us and Gorguts that were headlining the fest, and Deceased were on the bill. As most people know, we’re from Illinois, the same state that Macabre are from. At one time, Macabre used to have a t-shirt company. They used to make a bunch of t-shirts for Relapse Records. On the day of our show I got a call from Mat or Bill at Relapse, and they said, “Hey Jerr, could you do us a favor? Macabre has a shitload of Deceased shirts that they have for us, and they’re still making them. They’re not coming to the Deathfest now. Could you please pick them up?” Being the nice guy that I am, I said, “Sure I will.” They live in Downers Grove, which is an hour and a half out of my way. So I went an hour and a half out of my way. At the time, I had a little shitbox car. I filled it to the hilt with Deceased shirts. Then I had to drive five hours through a blizzard. This is January. I mean, you’re talking semi’s going off the road and stuff. I get to the venue. Deceased are copping an attitude. Everybody’s pissed at me because I showed up late with the shirts. I’m like, “You know what? I just went an hour and a half out of my way to get stuff for you, and I had to drive through a blizzard. What the fuck?” So ever since then, Broken Hope are a bunch of rock stars. It’s just thankless. And I never had a problem with Deceased at all. They had done shows with us. One show, in particular, in Chicago, that I helped promote – we opened up for Deceased and Repulsion back in 1989 – and I’m an asshole all of a sudden. Since that happened, every fuckin’ zine that Deceased ever did an interview with said “Broken Hope are assholes. Jeremy Wagner’s a poser.” I was always like, “Jesus Christ! Where are these assholes coming from?” I just started saying shit. People would ask, “What bands do you hate?” I’m like, “I’ll tell you who I hate. Deceased. They’re a bunch of thankless shit-talking assholes who fuckin’ obviously don’t have a clue, and I don’t know what their problem is.” Anyway, that’s been going on for about three years. We fuckin’ did our last date of the Extremities tour, which was in Virginia or something like that. When we got to the show, we heard all day “King Fowley is coming here to start shit with you guys” and I told the promoter of the show “If King Fowley shows up, don’t let that fucker in. He’s just gonna cause trouble.” Well, King Fowley shows up. Him and Shaun, our bass player… I see them going back and forth at it, so I go up to King. As most people know, I’m the metal midget.
The death metal leprechaun. I’m about 5’4”. King is, like, twice the size of me. I’m like, “Man, what are you doing here? You fuckin’ hate our band. You fuckin’ don’t like our music. You’re obviously here to start shit. You fuckin’ don’t like Vader either because they already told me that when they toured with Suffocation.” King called them Polaks. I’m like, “You’re not wanted here. You talk shit about us all the time.” So King starts in, “No man, I don’t say anything about you guys. You’re always talking shit about us.” And I said, “Fuck you, motherfucker! You’re full of shit!” And out of the blue, a bright flash of light. That fucker just cold-cocked me. Dude, my nose went kablam! Blood just fuckin’ ripped out. Hey King, if you’re reading this, what can I say? Boy, you blasted me real good in the fuckin’ face. When I opened my eyes, the singer of Monstrosity and the bass player had smashed beer bottles over King’s head. I was bleeding all over, and that little Deceased bass player fuckin’ jumped on me and was punching me in the back of the head. And then security guards got involved. It was total chaos. So my nose wouldn’t stop bleeding. We couldn’t do the show. After I got blasted, King wanted to talk some shit. He said, “I didn’t come here for any problems.” But it was totally unprovoked. Hey, there’s two sides to every story. I’m not a violent guy. But if someone really wants to cut our band and literally go out of their way just to talk shit… I mean, King Fowley puts out a fuckin’ zine and votes me #1 poser, #1 worst album… stupid shit. You know, someone who just fills their time with negativity… they’ve got a problem or something. It’s total bullshit. So I’m just giving you my side of the story from day one til now. What can I say? My nose wasn’t broken. (laughs)
The name of your band won’t be Broken Nose? It won’t be Broken Nose. But my nose is pretty fucked up. I hope he’s happy with that. And you’ve got the inside scoop. I haven’t talked to anybody about that.
Was your favorite person, at Metal Blade, Rhonda? Oh! You and I talked about her at the Z Bar. Well, you know Paula Hogan pretty well. Paula’s got the same problem with Rhonda. She says, “Hey Rhonda, you’re not servicing these people at these zines.” And Rhonda’s response – “I’m looking at the big picture.” Click. Hangs up on Paula. Thinks zines are shit. Let me tell you about Rhonda. Loathing comes out. I get a call from Metal Blade. I don’t know who I talked to. Mike Faley or someone. “Rhonda will be doing publicity.” Well guess what? I’m the one who got us the Metal Maniacs feature, the PIT feature… every other thing we’ve done in America. All the Metal Edge shit. Most people know of that as a poser zine. Yeah, I did all that. I told Metal Blade, “Hey, I want you to know that Rhonda hasn’t done anything.” Rhonda can go blow somebody, like Paradise Lost. That’s off the record. Maria Abril, who Brain Slagel hates, steps in and says, “I want to manage you guys.” Four months into the tour, Metal Blade’s like, “Jeremy, we want you to know that we’re not going to pick up the option for your next album.” Why is that, Mike? I’ve got friends at Metal Blade who talk to Slagel, and we pretty much got dropped because Maria’s our manager.
I heard that Rhonda got the job because of a favor she did for someone. What do you think that can be? (laughs) I know this for a fact, when Rhonda got that job, certain people voiced their opinions to Brian Slagel. “Hey, what about her track record?” I hate to say this, because I’m not a shit-talker.
Drink your beer and talk. If you run any kind of business, you should be business-minded, not thinking with your dick. (He looks at my magazine.) Can I see this real quick? (I hand it to him). I’m looking at the Grimoire Girl. My god, dude! She’s awesome! I’m serious as a heart attack. I just want to give you a salute. Have you ever encountered a Grimoire Girl you’ve gotten to know pretty well? The Grimoire Girls fuckin’ rule! You can quote me on that. Dude, I love them!
This interview with Christopher appeared in issue #7
Jak velka je tva prdel? (How big is your ass. As big as your ass.
Has thou ever thought of naming a song (In Czech, “I am being viewed by feces, and I am in excrement up to my neck”)? I’m sorry. I can’t find a good name with that song. Hovno vidim – I see the shit, Jsem pod krk – I’m under neck… I don’t really know.
Art thou being a good Czech citizen by spitting in the face of everyone from Poland? And do not answer like a coward by licking the gay ass of Vader. I must tell you that we haven’t any problems with any people from Poland. I only know good people from Poland, like Vader and Dead Infection.
Why do some labels in Slovakia hate thy band? And do not answer like a scared bitch. I know which label you mean. I think we are friendly band. Maybe some bands from this label do shit about us and hate us. Maybe some competition war. I think that is stupid from them. But what can we do? I think some other people can do the dirty work, and we can have clean hands.
When thou performed at the Metalfest in Wisconsin, what idiotic things didst thou notice about Americans? And do not answer like a diplomatic pussy. I can’t tell you so many bad things about Americans. We met really a lot of good friendly people. One big bad experience we had with some black people which want to purloin from one guy of us. But this was mistake for him because we haven’t anything.
The person who is wearing the “Stop the Madness” shirt is making a peculiar facial expression. Do people from Poland find him to be terrifying? And do not answer like a douche bag. This guy is our drummer. I don’t know why you are still talking about the Poland people.
Has a Russian soldier ever raped a woman in thy family? And do not answer like an oppressed crybaby. I don’t like Russian soldiers. But this problem with a woman in my family, I haven’t.
How can Krabathor be set apart from other straightforward death metal bands? And do not answer like a poseur. I don’t know for sure what you mean. We never kick out any other bands from the death metal scene. Maybe you don’t trust me. But that is the truth. I know a lot of people who will tell you that bands must cooperate with each other, but sometimes it isn’t possible.
What does thou feel about the Slovakian label Metal Age? And don’t answer like a sniveling fag? I think that they are doing half of their work well. But they are still a small label.
Which bands are total pussies? And don’t answer like an insecure dumb-ass. I can’t tell you which bands I hate. But I little bit hate bands which changed their music and make shit about death metal bands.
Is it true that the only thing worse than someone from Poland is a Yugoslavian? And don’t answer like a terrified lab animal. I think that in all countries you can find good things.
Which country is the most hated in Europe? And don’t answer like a raped hippie. In the middle of Europe, it’s Russia.
Art thou at a disadvantage because thy sexual organs are external? And do not answer like a clueless shit-eater. Oh man. I don’t know!
Which magazines have been assholes to thee? And don’t answer like a person pretending to be mature. Maybe you will wait that I tell you that it is yours. Maybe your questions are harder to answer. But that is your way. I like all zines because they are doing with their work big help to the bands.
Any last words? And do not answer like a peace-loving socialist. OK for the end. Thanks to you for possibility to do so hard interview!
I would like to address the rumor that thou art living in Sweden to run away from the imprisoned members of Emperor. Which is crap. I moved to Sweden in January ‘94 because I had a girlfriend in Sweden, and the police was getting on my nerves. The school was going to was fucking me over at the time. My parents went hysterical because of the murder, and I felt like Norway’s just a stupid fuckin’ place to live.
Didn’t thou testify in court against one of those people? No.
Is it true that black metal is in no way more popular in Sweden and Norway then death metal? That’s a matter of trends. I think, for a period of time, black metal was really hyped. Certain bands are extremely popular. You’ve got Emperor. Burzum is still very popular. I don’t know if it’s more popular than death metal because I don’t know what you define death metal as. If you define Entombed as death metal, then the answer is no. They obviously do sell a lot more, and so does Carcass. So does Morbid Angel.
Thou apparently called Moonspell niggers. Did I?
Yes. Canst thou explain this? They’re from Portugal. I think once… this is, like, three years ago, I was in a very destructive mood. It was in like a Twilight Zone. I didn’t even know what I was doing or whatever, and I saw this interview in a Hungarian magazine which I do not recall the name of – that doesn’t even matter. They interviewed somebody from Moonspell, and this is like three or four weeks after Euronymous is dead and Grishnak was in jail, and he was starting to open his mouth and just slagging these people off. I said, “OK, You could have done this, like, a year and a half ago, when these people had a chance to defend themselves” and felt like, “What a fuckin’ coward!” and I just wrote him this letter. I’m not sure if I called him a nigger, but if I did, that was just to fuck him off, you know, to piss him off. I’m not a racist. Really. I just wanted to give these people a chance.
Is there a problem with black people in Sweden – something about the unemployment system there? There is a feeling from Swedish patriots that black people are abusing the unemployment program. Well, I don’t really know. I know that Sweden has a strange moral when it comes to, shall we say, colored people. They seem to get a lot more advantages than the normal unemployed Swedish person, which I think is fucked up, because, I mean, this is Sweden, and they should prioritize their own people. I don’t mind them letting black people or foreigners coming in here. I don’t mind, as long as they don’t do any harm, but I think it’s kind of weird. They get a lot of advantages. They get money much easier. They get more money. They get things easily. A normal Swedish man has to fight a lot to get something from the welfare system. I know that. I’ve been trying.
Wert thou on a label called H.R. Puff & Stuff Records? Ah, no. That doesn’t sound very familiar.
That was a joke. There was a television show that had a character called Witchy Poo. (Laughs) Well, I am a stupid man. I don’t know anything about that.
That was a cultural question. I doubt that thou has ever seen the show over there. (laughs) No. I don’t think so. (laughs) Witchy Poo.
Thy appearance is very bizarre. Yes.
How didst thou conceive it? Was it at the same time that thou decided to compose the sort of music thou plays today? Yeah. It came kind of naturally. We were doing some photo sessions, and I had been thinking about doing something special. I just wanted something extra. It kind of helps me write. My spirit looks like something in the Mortiis vein.
Dost thou get offended when people say thou looks like a fairie? Ah (laughs), that is nothing new to me. I’ve heard… you name it, you’ve got it.
But thou looks like a fairie in the true sense of the word. Instead of a gay man, thou appearth to be a woodland spirit. Yeah, well, that’s a compliment to me. I’m into that kind of stuff.
In Emperor, how much of an influence didst thou have in the songwriting? (Sighs) That was so-so. I gave them some ideas, and if something sucked, I told them. We kind of did the songwriting together. They made a riff, and we arranged when we rehearsed. The main thing I did in Emperor was I did the lyrics. I did most of the interviews. I was kind of like a spokesman. I dare say that I was. That’s basically it.
Was there anything about Faust that made thee think that he was unstable? I don’t think he was unstable in any way. I just think he was extreme. I don’t know if he still is. I haven’t had any contact with him for quite some time. He did extreme things. I don’t care.
Wouldst thou say that the evil personality attributed to the members of Emperor was created by the record label, or did the people act in ways that can be called evil? We did have periods when we were like (sighs) how should I say? We were dark-minded, and I think the record label noticed this and I suppose they acted on the freshly born black metal explosion back then, in ‘92. They probably did some propaganda which was overblown. Like, for example, they said when the mini LP came out, that it was the most evil record in the world That’s just bullshit. There’s nothing eve remotely that should be called evil.
I had the feeling that the personality of the band was just a media creation. At the time, the publicist at Century Media said that there was no possibility of a phone interview, so questions had to be faxed. When I sent her my joke questions, she said that there was no way that she was going to fax them, because the members of Emperor would kill her. (Laughs) That was Raychele.
I printed the questions anyway. Hilarious.
I was disgusted with the lies of black metal. They have also. From the impression that I got, Faust has become easier to deal with. I don’t know when you did this interview. They might have been angered if this was three years ago. Even I would have been. I don’t really like to speak on their behalf, which I hope you can respect. I don’t think they would kill her. (laughs)
Of course I wanted to get the band mad. That’s what I am known for. We have copies here. I recognized the name as I was calling you.
In one of thy pictures, it looks like thou art wearing a long black nightgown. That’s your imagination, isn’t it? It goes down to the knee. It’s not a nightgown, which I can guarantee. It looks a lot longer than it really is. I can kind of agree that it might look like a nightgown. I don’t really care. I mean, I know what it really is. Why should I be angered?
Dost thou wear inverted crosses? I never did. I never do.
So thou art not an upside-down-cross dresser? (laughs) No!
Didst thou pose naked for a poster? Yes, but it didn’t show any genital organs or anything like that. It’s a poster for the Vond LP. It’s me and my former girlfriend in a bathroom with a lot of blood, knives, hammers – it’s a torture kind of crazy scene. I’m holding a knife to her head. It’s mostly for shock effect.
Dost thou think that the Gothic crowd embraces thee more than the metal crowd? I don’t know. In America, it seems a lot more Goth people like my music than metal people. How dost thou feel about the trendy people in other countries playing the Scandinavian rhythms? I hate that! I was there, creating this black metal explosion thing. We didn’t even call our music black metal when we started. Just make a note of that.
There are bands in corpse paint, with members who have short hair. That looks stupid. I hate these people. What they do is disgusting.
Let me being with just an open-ended “what’s new, Mr. King?”
(Laughs) You shouldn’t think that there would be a million things new in all that time that has gone by. There’s not that much new because a lot of the time has been spent, of course, getting new record deals in place. That takes way more time than it aught to take, but it just takes that time, and it always does. But what has happened… the Abigail tour is postponed, you can say. It didn’t come around simply because of bad economy – with the record label. You heard that it’s everywhere, since then – that the record labels are suffering . And they are. Hopefully it will turn around slowly. Of course, we had to re-evaluate what we’re doing, and new contracts were due anyway because the old contracts were fulfilled. Yeah, we went in and started negotiations and all this stuff. That took a while. But that’s in place now. Everything is written now, regarding the music. All the music is done. I did receive the package from Andy, with his songs, and I listened to them yesterday, and they’re awesome. So that’s in place too. But that has taken time. I mean, it was from about the first of October up until two weeks ago that I spent writing. It’s nine songs, and one of them is a short two-minute thing, you know, which is more like an intro song – like a prologue, or something like that. It’s not like the traditional horror intro, but it’s an intro that will set the stage for what is going to happen. So it’s kind of like a prologue, but it’s a full song with organ – there’s church organ on it, and there are violins, and full-blown guitars, bass – the whole thing is there. It sets the whole stage up until it’s cut off real sharp, and you will hear the words, “Let the show begin!” and it will definitely give the listener the feeling of “Wow! That was prologue, and now we go here, and then come double kicks right in your face, which is “The Puppet Master”. The first little piece is called “The Cellar”, but then the first real song is “The Puppet Master”. The feeling it gives me, myself, is in the direction of “Welcome Home” with the double kick drums, you know, really fast. Of course it varies. The song is never just fast throughout. There are a lot of really intricate parts and arrangements going on in that song. Creates some really good feelings. There’ll be twelve titles on the album. Nine of them I did. Andy had an instrumental piece that is going to be attached to one of mine, and then he had three full songs. So that’s where we are set with that. We are that far, and I am going to start working on the lyrics. I have a lot of ideas. I mean, the story is written out. The story is done. It’s even divided up into chapters. All of the songs have titles, but I will not give all the song titles now because I know myself – I often change them as we go in the studio and, “Ooh, that title would have been better if it was this because now I changed that over there.” But the titles are in place for me, and for all the different chapters of the stories. I spent more time, this time, on writing, than I have done before. I haven’t spent this much time on writing. It’s really, in some way, paid off. It’s not like it’s different. I talked to you before about how I see “King Diamond’s” style of music as a painting on the wall. It’s in a frame, but the painting has not been completed. You still see white spots on the canvas. A lot of those white spots, I feel, I have covered with the songs I wrote this time. I’ve gotten into some fresh areas, but it is totally King Diamond. I expect a certain level of compositions from Andy, and he does the same from me. And now he has had a week to listen to my stuff, and it was great to hear his response. He was very positively surprised, he said, and he felt it was more aggressive than it usually is from me, and there was just much more covered in what I did this time. And I really feel like each song has its own atmosphere. You can really distinguish from song-to-song what I’ve done this time.
Have you invented any new chords that confused Andy?
He hasn’t had the time to go in and actually try and just turn everything to the left and figure out what is the guitar doing on the left side and what is the guitar doing on the right side. There are definitely some things that I have not done before. I have not used those kinds of chords before. There’s a few of those in there. Then, arrangement-wise, there is definitely new styles of arrangement that you will get some extra goodies out of if you put headphones one – where you can really pinpoint the stereo picture.
Have you ever thought about performing guitar on stage?
On stage? No. I want those free hands to concentrate on the other aspects than just singing, and that is of course to pay attention to the audience, and those things that are part of the show. I don’t think you’ll ever see me play guitar on stage. (referring to playing guitar and singing) You have to have the microphone standing, and all this stuff. I like the freedom of just having that bone in my hand. (laughs)
And the line-up is exactly the same?
Yeah, it’s identical to the Abigail 2 line-up, which is definitely – I don’t even have to say “in my opinion” – it is the best line-up we have ever had. When we did the European version of “House of God” (tour) – that’s where the line-up was complete the first time, and I got the feeling of how these guys are, live on stage, and it’s the tightest unit we’ve ever had – the most skillful unit we’ve ever had. I know the people over there felt that too when we played those shows over there. Everybody just has a huge enjoyment out of doing it, and that can be felt from the stage into the audience. There’s no doubt it’s the best line-up that we’ve ever had.
You’re returning to the same studio to record?
Well we are using a different process this time, actually. That’s one of the things we’ve been forced to do, even though we got new deals. They are very good deals for how the whole scene is at the moment. It’s hard to get a good deal. A lot of bands are suffering. A lot of bands have been told, “We simply can’t have you anymore. Bye-bye.” Some bands, especially if you’re living off it – I’ve been living off the music since ’83 – it’s been my job, and it’s so positive to have a job that you totally love. To me, working like that is the best possible way it could be. But at the same time, it’s a job. You’ve got to make sure that’s what puts the bread on the table. If, suddenly I couldn’t live off the music, I’d have to say, “OK, I have to do something else.” And that could have been a problem had we not found, let’s say, a new way of actually recording out material. The way that we have planned the whole thing out now is probably going to end up giving the fans an even better product. But you really don’t think about that when you are so used to going into the studio – and you go for two months or two-and-a-half months, and you do the whole thing there – finish it up and that’s it. Now you’ll be in the studio finishing the album. This time around, Andy has a studio in Sweden where he’s produced so many bands, so many albums, and stuff like that. It’s just been growing and growing, getting better and better in quality. He’s actually going to bring a bunch of it over here to my house. So it’s going to be like, you can say, a mobile recording unit that he’s flying over here, and it’s going to be set up in my living room. I have the same speakers here that they have in the studio, both in their mastering suite and in their control room. But it’s a much better listening environment, actually, because in the studio it’s a little tight in the control room and you can’t really sit behind the engineer, so you get an off-center listening position. Here, there’s space in my living room to sit comfortably, with a perfect stereo picture, and like I said, the same speakers. Another positive thing is that the sound you are listening to in a home environment is with carpets and furniture, which you don’t have in the studio. You usually have a very hard floor and very hard walls. So you get more of the listening environment that the fans are getting at home, which is actually what you should go for, because they are the ones that are going to listen to it, not the people sitting in the studio. So there’s a lot of really positive things, in that respect. It means that we’ll be using the same kind of equipment – we’ll have the same quality equipment to record on, but we will have much more time to go into details. Sometimes when you sit in a studio you can have trouble with a certain reverb unit that you really want to use on a certain effect. It could be one spot on the album, but it’s really important to create a certain listening experience. You can sit there and work with this unit for two hours maybe, and when you think about it, suddenly $160 went out the window. We can do that here and not think about it. We can spend four hours on a thing like that if we had to. It’s not costing us studio time. So what we’re going to do here is record all rhythm guitars and harmony guitars, in exactly the same way that we do in the studio, on exactly the same equipment. We’re going to do the bass in the same way, and all of the keyboards. Most of the keyboards that I recorded, I was really thorough recording already in my demo studio, which is digital recording anyway. So that’s going to be loaded into the other system and used there – probably most of it. Some of it might have to be re-recorded, but most of it will be right where it should be. And then we, of course, are going into the real studio. There’s a 98% chance that they will give us a good deal on going in there and recording the drums. We can’t, of course, record that in the house here. That will be after all of the rhythm guitars and keyboards are done, with a click track – bring that into the real studio and put the drums down. And then we’re going back here and Hal will fly in – I think it’s on the 20th of March that he’s going to come here, and he’s going to put all his bass on here, using the same equipment that we used in the studio the last time. No difference at all. The only advantage will be that I will, in at least the next three weeks, until Andy gets here, be doing vocal demos for the first time. I never really did demos, you know. But at my home studio, I found a way to do it. I’ll put demo vocals on so Hal has all the vocal melody lines. Not the right vocals, but the right melody lines that he can add his bass to. He’s a very versatile bass player. Sometimes he will follow what the kick drums are doing. He’ll go with the guitar riffs sometimes. Sometimes he’ll follow vocals. It’s that style of bass that Uriah Heap used to have, where he would go his own little way sometimes and follow different things, not just always follow guitars or drums. So he will have everything he needs to lay down the right bass lines, and he will even be given the opportunity to put three full different versions on, that all fits with the vocals, so we really choose later on. That side of it will be much more interesting than it’s ever been before. Then we’re going to do a rough mix of it that Andy will bring back with him to Sweden, and he and Mike will do all their solos in Andy’s studio. The vocals will be done here in Dallas, probably at the same studio again, with a different engineer this time because the other engineer is not in town anymore. But the guy that is going to do it is overqualified – an amazing engineer. He has been second engineer on the past two albums. So there’s no problems there either. And then Andy will come back over here to Dallas, probably in June, and that’s when we’re going to mix it all here, at my house, with the same equipment pretty much as you have in the studio – all the same tools, except we can spend more time. Can you just picture – you sit in the studio and then everyone gets hungry. You have to eat dinner every day. Sometimes you decide to go to a restaurant and eat dinner. If you think about it, you go to a restaurant, and it costs so-and-so much money to eat a dinner, but then you can add $160 on top of it because it took two hours. But you have to pay for that. It doesn’t matter. It’s not like, “We’re gonna leave now to eat dinner.” “OK, we’ll stop the clock now.” No, you’re block-booked. It’s going to cost money. You look at those things when you are in the studio. It creates a little tension sometimes. “Come on! Let’s move on now! It’s taking too long!” But you want the quality there, so we usually always end up going over budget in the end. We will not sacrifice the quality. Now we’re going to be having all the time that we want. That’s going to be such a cool feeling. We all know that doing this way here is a necessary way, but we would not have thought of it had it not come to that part where Metal Blade did not have enough money to put us on tour, and we had to renegotiate new deals, and stuff like that. It was a matter of, “Can we still live off of it – those of us that live off of it – can it still be our job?” We found a way that makes it possible so we sit exactly as we were before. It’s great that you can come up with an option that makes you sit where you were before, but actually will be able to come out with a better product. So we’re in a very good situation, and we’re all extremely positive about what’s going to happen now. We’re looking so fucking much forward to it – also because of how the material has turned out now. It’s just like FUUUCK! We can thank our fans for putting a lot of pressure on us. There’s always going to be albums in your career that, even though you’re putting everything that you have into it, there are so many circumstances in your life that will affect maybe the way a product is – or the studio that you’re in, or the way that the engineer was handling certain situations – where you’re not as proud of the overall final sound – not so much the compositions – but more the final sound, which actually plays a big role in how people perceive a song. If you have an album where the kick drum is just thundering loud, and sticking out every time you hear it, it’s just irritating to listen to. That has happened on one of our albums. I wish I could go in and remix the whole shit with a new sound because then it would have a whole different expression. But that’s the way it is. That’s the way it is with all artists. If you go back and listen to some of the old Ozzy albums, for instance – I loved them, but if you start analyzing them a little bit, oh my god! The drums are so dry! And the guitar is very trebly. If they only did that again with a more full sound, and not like, up here hangs the guitar and down here is that dry kick drum, and stuff like that, the songs would sound better. They are awesome songs, but if you are into that ‘sound’ part of it, then it means a lot. It can bring a song to life, or it can kill a song. And we’ve had that sometimes. There have also been periods of the band where we didn’t have… well, I would say, the ‘best’ line-up. We have the best line-up now that we’ve ever had. That is why I look so much forward to the next album. That line-up was doing Abigail 2 as their first product. That worked out really well, but it’s going to be even better now. The drummer knows exactly how we go about things. He knows exactly that he has much more space than he even took himself last time. The fans can, and should, expect something exceptional this time. They will get it. They will definitely get it.
I remember when I was present for the re-mastering of the back catalog on Roadrunner. The producer explained – he was basically re-equalizing the sound – and he was telling me that the reason why there was such a high treble on “Them” was because, at the time, vinyl was being put out, and that the grooves for bass are much wider than for treble, so a trick that they did to save vinyl space was to increase the treble and lower the bass.
And back when “Them” first surfaced on CD, for instance, in those early days of the CD they would just transfer straight over. They didn’t go in an EQ and re-master them. It might say “digitally mastered” or whatever, but that’s just the process of bringing it from one form into another. But to actually go into the mastering session and start EQ-ing on it – that wasn’t done in the early days. Sometimes certain frequencies would suffer. And that makes all the sense in the world what you’re saying.
You’ve had the experience so it’s not that special to you, but to me, to hear your music right off the reel on the best possible speakers was worth any price of admission, even though they were good enough to invite me down.
Yeah, it is a hell of difference. There was one of those re-masters – I can’t remember – is it “Conspiracy” that I wasn’t impressed with, actually – I didn’t feel it sounded better than the old one. It sounded louder, but not better. Maybe the top was a little bit over. Maybe it’s “Abigail”. It could be Abigail.
There were also great demands for time. They had a certain schedule and it was very aggressive.
I know. The main part of it definitely turned out sounding more powerful and better. It’s hard to make them all sound “right on”, you know. It was time-consuming, yeah.
I would like to address something that you would also want to vindicate yourself. The lyrics that were included – only your earliest fans have seen lyrics to “Devil Eyes” – fans who bought the E.P. when it came out. But even lyrics that were officially put into vinyl, like the Melissa album when it was on Megaforce – those lyrics were not used (for reference on the re-masters). The lyrics that were used were taken off the internet, and they were wrong, like at the end of “Melissa”, instead of “They’ve taken her away from me” it’s “They take the pain away from me”.
Oh god!!! Well, I don’t know where they get the lyrics from. You know? We don’t see a print of it – the actual jacket and the packaging until it’s out – with a thing like that. We were not really involved in doing the packaging. I didn’t know what photos they put into it, for instance. I didn’t see it until it was in the street. They sent me copies. “Oh, OK, they used that photo over there.”
You should thank me for me stopping them from using photos that they had planned to use. (I had selected the photographs for the re-masters. There was a limited pile of photographs, and some pictures that were chosen have King in make-up that was not characteristic of the particular album era, but they were preferable to the selection that was available from the pertinent time period. Some pictures were chosen because of their rarity).
Oh really? When you’re on the label, you’re not involved in that respect. We were involved in the re-mastering process in finding those bonus things, and you were too (ed. – I am the one who gave them the version of “Black Funeral” from the “Metalstorm” compilation, and that bonus track appears on the re-master of “The Beginning). That’s great. I think they did a good job. I liked the way they did the packaging. But the thing about where did they take the lyrics from – well, you’re always going to run into those things. Almost every single time you will run into things where you say, “What happened here? What is this? Why?” You sometimes get an explanation where say, “Why didn’t you first send us a copy so we can see it?” You know the old misspellings. I mean, welcome “princess” of hell. (sarcastically) Oh that sounds so heavy. It’s like I’m thinking of Sleeping Beauty. We’re not singing about princesses here. And it’s in the title, big and fat! In the lyrics it’s correct. That makes you wonder “Why?”, “How?”. And when “Fatal Portrait” came out the first time, I remember clearly – I saw it the first time in a hotel room in Paris where I was doing a photo session, and a guy from the label was there and he showed me. I saw it and I flung it like a Frisbee through the room so it splintered against the wall. I got so fucking mad. He ran out of the room, I remember. He came back like twenty minutes later. I was sitting there, just foaming. It looks like a fucking Monopoly game, you know. It had all the colors from the monopoly game sqeezed into the logo. There was pink, light blue, and I don’t know what color they used in the logo. Everything had a different color there. Almost every letter had a different color. It’s the most horrible shit I had ever seen. They had already produced so-and-so many thousand. They had changed it for the next one (pressing). I don’t know who had that brilliant artistic idea to turn it into something that you can play Momopoly on the logo if you want – you get it/ We had so many of those little things that have been going wrong. One guy on the “Abigail” album, on the back – I don’t know if it was Andy or Michael Denner that had turned into a left-handed guitarist. They thought it had looked better if the guitars were both going to each side, pointing to the outside of the cover – suddenly one of the guys was mirrored. He’s like, “I’m not a left-handed guitarist! There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m just not!” Those things, man, were just done over your head for an artistic purpose that made no sense. And it’s always too late to change. It’s out there on so-and-so many covers. Sorry!
If you had more time to dig up material, would your cover of “The Immigrant Song” have appeared on the “Melissa” re-master as a bonus track?
No, because we never fulfilled it. I don’t know if there’s anything on tape, actually. They were rehearsing it. The engineer might have pressed “record” while they were rehearsing so that we could listen to it, but he might have gone (recorded) over it, using that same tape for other things because at that time, those big reels cost money, and you have only six reels at your availability, or three, or whatever. So he might have gone over it completely. There was never vocals. I never actually sang it. The band was trying to get it right, but it never got the right swing that Zeppelin has on their version. It wasn’t working. The band just couldn’t play it that way. It could also have something to do with the sound we had. There’s a very special fat bass line going on in that song. Since then we never did it (a cover) except for “The Ripper”. We were already in the studio, and I had sung that song before, live, with some of the Pantera guys, for fun, at a New Years Eve party. In that respect, I had my own touch on the song. I didn’t want to try and copy Robert Halford. I don’t think I could, because he has a certain sound to his voice. Just the same, I don’t think there’s anyone who can copy me because I have a certain sound to my voice – not the things I’m doing technically, maybe – but more the sound of my voice. The same with Ozzy. No one can sound like Ozzy. People can sing the notes that he’s singing, sure. But his voice has a very unique sound. You shouldn’t do that anyway if you are paying tribute to a band and you’re trying to do a version of their song. It should be your version of their song – how your band sounds, playing that song.
You’re not a cover band – you’re a band.
That’s exactly the issue. That’s it, exactly. You pay tribute to a band. You show, “You influenced us, and this is what your song would sound like if we played it.”