Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Glyder-Playground for life

True Talent

Glyder hail from Ireland and have often been compared to fellow countrymen Thin Lizzy. That comparison is fair enough and a good start at defining this band however that is by no means an end to what they accomplish. They are diverse in both styles and tempos and although there is a definite 1970’s classic rock aura, they also create and maintain a definite patient and even subtle quality that I really found to be very refreshing. Right from the start of this album they establish what they want to accomplish and they oh so carefully begin laying down the blocks as they just start building solid hard rock track after track. Even the production is very much tailored to their style as there a shockingly strong balance between a clean feel and just enough layers of a heavy rawness present to keep everything in check. Yes, Thin Lizzy are the main influence although I heard some UFO and even traces of Pink Floyd a time or two as well. Yet this is no retro tribute band because Glyder are doing enough to begin etching their own chapter in today's hard rock scene. Now I do have to admit that this album was certainly a grower because it took me numerous plays for me to completley accept and realize how good this album is. Largely I think this was due to the fact that I am not the most patient person in the world and I am used to a lot of music catering to me in that way by storming on and giving me the best parts first. Glyder are not that type of band on many tracks as they carefully lay down the groundwork and then make their way forward as they manipulate their music and forge ahead at their pace. It's a very tight web once you make it through, but they certainly go at it exactly as they saw fit. Really a fine album and despite the obvious influences they still seem relatively fresh due to their obvious love for this style.


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Monday, September 29, 2008

Interview with Beatallica

What do you get when you cross the Beatles and Metallica? Well, in this case the answer is Beatallica the band who combines songs by the two artists mentioned above. A joke band they may be, but they have been going for seven years and have knocked a couple if EPs and the full length "Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreat pub band". I recently interview bassist Kliff McBurtney to learn more about this band.

MM-Tell us a little about the history of your band.

KM-Kliff McBurtney, Lead Bassist here. I thought it best to give you the Wikipedia synopsis:The project was founded in 2001 by original guitarist "Krk Hammetson" and singer "Jaymz Lennfield". The EP A Garage Dayz Nite was recorded for the annual Spoof Fest concert held in Milwaukee, as a memento of that year's concert. A few dozen copies of the EP were handed out to friends. Later that year, one of those CDs made its way to Milwaukee resident David Dixon, who created a web page that included mp3s of the songs and named the band "Beatallica". The band was unaware of the webpage until Dixon finally met them in the summer of 2002, carrying a stack of fan emails from all around the world. Beatallica gave the webpage its blessings, and after further urgings from its internet fanbase, recorded the EP Beatallica, also known as The Grey Album, releasing it online on April 1, 2004. Later in 2004, the band (including bassist "Kliff McBurtney" and drummer "Ringo Larz") started to perform at live venues nationally and internationally, with a stage show incorporating elements from both Beatles and Metallica performances. They also played as an opening act for Dream Theater; Mike Portnoy even joined the band on stage for drums on one occasion. Beatallica would go on to perform with likes of Motorhead, Testament, Kreator, Sepultura, LA Guns and play huge summer festivals worldwide, including Milwaukee's Summerfest, Germany's Earthshaker Festival, The Netherlands' Kings of Metal festival, and Korea's Busan International Rock Festival. In 2007, the band's current lineup of Jaymz Lennfield (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Grg Hammetson (lead guitar), Kliff McBurtney (lead bass, backing vocals) and Ringo Larz (drums) went into the studio to re-record many of Krk and Jaymz' original songs and write some new compositions for their official debut Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band.May 2008, marked the release of Beatallica's single; All You Need Is Blood recorded in 13 languages as a worldwide thank-you to the network of Beatallica fans known as Beatallibangers. The band added Belgium, Czech Republic, and Poland to the list of places they have toured.

MM-So what are you currently up to? Have you begun working on any new material?

KM-This Summer marked the Japanese Sony release of both Sgt. Hets, and All You Need Is Blood. We are currently working on album #2, whose name I can't divulge at this time due to legal concerns.

MM-You released “Sgt Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band” back in 2007. What was the reaction to it?

KM-Nothing but good news on that front. Everyone seems to enjoy the reworked, mastered tunes, as well as the new matierial on that album. The original release even went to #1 on the Japanese Tower records charts, prompting the Sony re-release.


MM-Did you ever get anyone who just didn’t get what you were doing or were angry with what you were trying to do?

KM-Jaymz (Lennfield) keeps a folder of all the hate mail and threats that we get sent to us. As of yet none have followed through. As a precaution though I have taken up Kung Fu to kick anyone's ass who tries to start shit.

MM-What are some your favorite tracks off of your “Sgt. Hetfield’s” album? Why?

KM-I always say that my favorite track is the Bass solo, primarily because no one else will. That segment of our live show allows me to creep inside our fans' brains a little and lets me showboat a bit. Beyond that I would have to say Cthulu for its creepy coolness, and Sgt. Hets/and the Reprise for the tight vocal harmonies.

MM-I believe most or all or most of you are in other bands as well as this one. So what other bands is everyone in and what kind of music do they play?

KM-Jaymz is in several, mostly Irish trad and Celtic rock ensembles.Grg is in an original rock band called CrumplerRingo, while not currently in another project, has played in various prog-metal groups.As for myself,(Kliff) I am with a punk group called The Crusties and also bassist for God in my church's Praise Team.Samples of all of these can be heard on our site, beatallica. org


MM-Is Beatallica the main project for everyone is everyone just trying to balance all their projects at the same time?

KM-Beatallica has grown to be some kind of monster starting from its humble joke beginnings to becoming an internationally touring outfit. We try to balance our lives as best we can under those circumstances.

MM-Do your consider yourself a tribute band, a comedy/joke band or just a rock or metal band? Or all of the above? Why or why not?

KM-I would say we are a rock/metal, comedy/joke, duo-tribute band. Or in otherwords the world's first Bash-up band. We do it for the love of both the Beatles and Metallica, and for the fans who won't let it go away.

MM-So what should someone who comes to see you live expect?

KM-I like to thrust my bass bayonet in fans' faces if they aren't thrashing hard enough. They should expect to come have a good time, drink a few beers, and have a laugh while jamming to cool tunes.

MM-Do you use any props or much of a set?

KM-Our props have been slowly disintegrating since our inception but there are gravestone crosses, a submarine, and I'm trying to sew back togeather the black meanie hand of doom. Those and more costume changes with each release keep us pretty busy moving shit around.


MM-What bands have you played with?

KM-Dream Theater, Testament, Motorhead, Clutch, Los Straightjackets, The Hidden Hand, The Punkles, OmegalorD, and many many more than I can list right now.

MM-What have been some of your memorable shows so far in your career?

KM-Earthshaker fest in Germany, The Busan International Rock fest in Korea, Kings Of Metal festival in the Netherlands, Summerfest right here in our own hometown - Milwaukee, playing BB Kings' and the Bowery Ballroom in New York, to name a few.

MM-What are your thoughts on “Death Magnetic”?

KM-Thanks to Metallica for giving us more ammuntion, I call it job security. It is nice to hear a return to their heavier sound, but they should have included a Death Magnetic magnet with it.

MM-If you could only listen to three albums over the next month then what would you pick and why?

KM-Currently in my ipod playlist rotation are Adagio out of France, Symphony X out of New Jersy, and Learn to Speak Japanese. The first two because I really enjoy the balls out awesomeness of technical prog-metal bands like that. The last because Beatallica is hoping to make it over to Japan in the not too distant future.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?

KM-Come visit us on Beatallica. org or myspace/beatallica. Sign up on our forum and say hello to all the other Hybrid Children of the world. Come see us, and bang that head that doesn't bang when we come to your town!!! Then get us a beer, thrashing makes us thirsty!!!Cheers,Kliff McBurtney


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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Early Man-Beware the circling fin


Early Man tap into the beginning days of thrash oh circa 1983-1985. They remind me of early Metallica and Anthrax with a few NWOBHM influences shining through at times as well. Back when thrash was first being developed NWOBHM was a very big influence as bands like Raven and Venom were once thought of us speed metal in the early days. At the same point acts like Metallica, Slayer, Exciter and others were taking what acts like Iron Maiden, Raven, Venom and others had done and sped it up and added thickness and more aggressive vocals. Why the history lesson? Well, these young guys from Early Man have managed to tap into a sound that I think a lot of the retro thrash bands of today have missed out on. That's the fact that solid, classic metal like NWOBHM that was really at the core of early thrash. I think a number of young thrash bands shoot for a late 1980's style and are content to just pump away and try to pretend it's 1988 and sometimes they just come off as a poor copy and they oftentimes lack spirit or soul. Early Man are not doing anything new, but they have a grasp on the raw root of this style and they pick it up, dust it off and parade it around in all it's glory. The four tracks here bring you focus into the hooks and the changes instead of just trying to soar off. Okay, the vocals need a Sure, it's twenty plus years after the fact yet it's still entertaining and they milk it for all it's worth.


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Sister Sin-Switchblade Serenade


I remember those days back in the mid-1980’s when hard rock and metal could sometimes blur together and the music was very straight forward and the lyrics may have been cheesy, but there so instantly likable. Sweden’s Sister Sin are very much from that school of metal as they openly embrace yet master this style. This album has the solid vocals, big rhythms, catchy choruses and ripping solos that you expect from this kind of metal. At several points during “Switchblade Serenade” I could close my eyes, soak in the music and it wasn’t too hard to imagine this album having been made in 1986 instead of 2008 and I mean that in a very positive way. Their approach is basic yet highly effective as they pound and smash their way through yet they never lose their grasp on creating a fairly true metal sound. I would say the influences here include, but are not limited to early Motley Crue, Motorhead, WASP and maybe even mid-80’s Accept. The have a great handle on the pace of almost every song and they seem to shoot out each song rather quickly as there is very little down time and virtually no fillers here. My only real problem was that all five tracks from their 2007 “Smash the silence” EP are on this CD and I played that disc to death months ago. So that was a little disappointing that I had already heard five of the elven tracks on this disc. Out of the other six tracks one is a cover of Motorhead’s “Make my day” and although it’s a barnstormer I still felt a little let down by only getting five new original songs. Yet this is still a fantastic, solid metal effort in a year where there have not been enough bands attempting this style.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's coming up?

I was watching Semi-pro with Will Ferrell the other day and although it's not a very good movie it did bring to mind a much better movie. Semi-pro had Jackie Early Haley in a bit part as a hippie, but seeing him reminded me of the great film Breaking Away from 1979. This movie would probably be in my top ten films of all time, but for some reason I have to get around to buying it on DVD. Maybe I'll get it for Christmas this year. Anyways I hope to have the following out this week.

Glyder-Playground for life and Weather the storm (maybe both on the same day)
Early Man-Beware the circling fin
Sister Sin-Switchblade Serenade
Those who bring torture-Tank gasmask ammo
Detente-History 1

plus interviews with...

Plus last month I forgot to do a First Day Flashback so I'll make it up by doing two on October 1st.

Have a great week.

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Friday, September 26, 2008


Old Metal

Through most of the 1980's Witch were a fixture of the LA metal/hard scene and were known for their hard hitting songs and wild live show. They opened for the likes of WASP, Grim Reaper, Loudness, Exciter and others. Plus acts such as Slayer, Lizzy Borden, Poison and Stryper all opened for Witch at one time or another. The only thing that escaped this band was unfortunately a record deal as they had interest over the years from Metal Blade, Atlantic and others, but for one reason or another they never got signed. However they did self-release an EP and a twelve inch single plus they recorded a few other songs for demos and other purposes. So all of those plus more are presented in this package which includes twenty tracks in all. The first five tracks are "The Hex is on" EP from 1984, but this is actually the version that was on the French version that was on Axe Killer records. The difference between this and the US version that I am used to is that the track order is different and the mix is actually louder and a bit more sharp. The sound here was solid metal not far off from early WASP or Lizzy Borden. Later on in the disc we get "Blond Alert" which was originally intended for "The Hex is on", but was left off and that's a shame because it's very heavy for them and it would have fit nicely with the other songs on the EP. We get the two tracks from the 1987 "Nobody sleeps" twelve inch and the band had changed guitarists by this point. The direction is a little different, "Can't take our rock" reminds me of a cross between Twisted Sister and some of Dio's lighter material while "Victory without pain" is far more melodic, but Peter Wabitt's thick vocals help elevate it a little. "1:45" is a moderately heavy track that was recorded in 1989 for a compilation that was released a year later. The last two studio tracks are "Take me away" and "Hit the road" which were recorded in 1988 and these demos were shopped around to various labels in 88-89. By this point the band was back to their classic line-up and although these tracks are not as heavy as the earlier material they might actually be tighter. The other nine tracks on the album are live songs recorded between 1983 and 1984. The quality on these songs vary from extremely rough to okay. The earliest tracks are really raw and difficult hear while the last three live tracks which are all "The Hex is on" material probably fare the best. These live tracks do afford fans the chance to hear some originals that they didn't do on their albums as well a pair of cover songs including Black Sabbath's The Mob Rules. The booklet includes a brief band history, photos, background on the songs and reproductions of some vintage fliers. The live songs are not the best, but the studio tracks are more than enough to satisfy and they show the talent that this band had. It's a shame they didn't get signed and have a chance to do more two decades ago because there is no doubt they had the sound, the look and the personality to get somwehere yet it never happened for them. However we do get this solid collection and the band is together again so who knows they may yet get their chance to do a full length album of original songs.

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Level C-s/t


This all female band from Cleveland have been in existence since 2002. This is the band’s debut and I gave it a few spins and kept coming to the same conclusion. Almost every track begins with a short burst of something loud and heavy. Yet in turn almost every track immediately tones down and the music shifts down into a low gear. It’s loud, real loud, but it’s just a shame that volume seems to be more of a focus than having a structure that really attempts to accomplish much. It’s as if they just dying to get at the instruments strap them on and then turn the volume all the way up. Yet after that last step they hadn’t really considered what to do next and there’s a lot of standing around just trying to hide behind a wall of loud, basic and ultimately predictable music. The best part about this band is undeniably the vocals of Christine Maynard as she possesses a strong set of lungs and a fair degree of presence. Although there are a few points where she comes across as trying a bit too hard, but that could be that much of the responsibility of creating any momentum has fallen on her shoulders. Level C has put forth an album that does very little that you have never heard before and not enough to make you want to hear it again.


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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lesser of two evils

It's been a while since I pitted clunkers by two normally good bands so up this time is...

Megadeth-So far, so good, so what?


Metallica-And justice for all

Gasp, Metal Mark how could say that these two bands deserve to be in this column? Well, the short answer to that question is that both these albums were highly disappointing when they came out twenty years ago and neither has aged all that well.
Now for the background on these two albums I think the story would really start in 1986 which of course was when Metallica released Master of Puppets and Megadeth released Peace sells. Both were fine albums, both elevated the bands to higher levels and many fans were thinking that these were going to be two of the real leaders in metal's future. Metallica had to endure the loss of bass player Cliff Burton before the end of 1986. They brought in Jason Newsted from Flotsam and Jetsam to take the spot. They finished the Master of puppets tour and then put out their punk and metal cover album the $5.98 EP in 1987. By early summer 1988 their highly anticipated follow-up to Master was soon to be ready, the band hit the concert trail on Van Halen's Monsters of rock and the new album was going to come out in early fall. Megadeth's Peace sells sold well after it's release in 1985 and the band toured into 1987. The band hit some problems as both guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Samuelson were out and Megadeth's former drum roadie Chuck Behler and guitarist Jeff Young were brought in to replace then. The band was back in the studio and the new album emerged early in 1988. Both bands had line-up changes before these releases, but expectations were still high and that's why it was so hard to stomach the underwhelming albums that both bands put out. Metallica's album was a big, lumbering concoction with a definite lack of heaviness and edge. Megadeth had established a definite style on their first two releases yet their third album was all over the place with some heavy songs, but also some contained some head scratchers as well. Let's get into the categories and see who is going to take this one. Just a reminder that in a Lesser of two evils featuring veteren bands that the Originality/production category is replaced by the Disappointment factor category.

Vocalist-So it's James Hetfield against Dave Mustaine in this round. If Hetfield's vocals are off from previous albums it's largely because of the change in musical direction. I think he tries to sound like he means business, but it doesn't take on this album. You can grind your teeth and try to sound like you mean it yet it rings a bit hollow on several songs here. Mustaine perhaps had a more unique style and sounded even better on Peace sells than he did on the debut. However he's far more uneven this time around. He sounds strong at times, but then mutters and comes across as more subdued at other times. Tough match-up, but I think ultimately Mustaine varies his style enough to pull this one out.

Point to Megadeth

Guitarist-So it's the duo of Hammet and Hetfield for Metallica going up against Mustaine and Young for Megadeth. For Metallica, the guitar style is similar to previous albums although slowed down. It's still heavy, but not as heavy as it should have been. Some of the solos hit and some are sloppy. While I normally think that Dave Mustaine is incredible, he was hot and cold this time around. Jeff Young is alright and perhaps gets treated a little unfairly because his one album wasn't one of Megadeth's best. The best guitar parts by the Megadeth duo are either very basic slightly watered down takes on the style that the band was so good at on the previous albums. Close but...

Point to Metallica

Rhythm section-Let me first say that I think Jason Newsted did great work on Flotsam and Jetsam's "Doomsday for the deceiver". Yet for some reason on this album the bass cannot be heard and although that is the fault of the producer it will hinder Metallica in this category. Dave Ellefson is an underated bass player and even though this album was not his best, he still does well enough. Lars Ulrich fares better than Newsted and probably beats Chuck Behler who was maybe the most ordinary drummer to ever sit behind Megadeth's kit. Still I can't get past not hearing the bass.

Point to Megadeth

Disappointment Factor-This is a tough one because both albums were very disappointing. However I think this category ties in with the one below. Master of puppets was a better album than Peace sells, but I wasn't thrilled by the $5.98 EP. Still Metallica had moments on this album that worked, but they went over far too often by trying to create some epic and it turned out dull. Megadeth had problems just figuring out where to start on several songs. Ultimately I can still today take AJFA a little more and I still shake my head more whenever I think about SFSGSW.

Point to Metallica

Who rocks more-Perhaps "who bores the bejeezus out me less" would be a more appropriate title in this case. I think the biggest problem with Metallica on this album is that they go on for too long, but the biggest problem with Megadeth is that there are too many tracks where they just never do much at all. So before I get as long winded as a Metallica song, I will say that they do a better job of having some rock parts here. No, they don't follow-up on them as well as they should have, but they are doing more than Megadeth.

Point to Metallica

So Metallica pulls it out in this battle of the albums that should not have been. I still often refer to Metallica's album as "An injustice for us all" and Megadeth's release could easily be summed up if they left off the beginning and middle of the title and just called it "Megadeth-So what?"

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

D.OA.-Northern Avenger


Sudden Death

D.O.A. has released their 12th studio album just in time for their 30th anniversary. Thirty? Wow, can that really be true? I guess so, hard to believe though as I remember first hearing and becoming a fan of theirs back in the 80’s and they seemed kind of like a newer band at the time. Founder/vocalist/guitarist Joey Keithley has always been the real deal in my book, he has kept true to the punk rock sound, lyrics and spirit that he had three decades ago when this band began. Not a lot of surprises on the new album as the lyrics include both political and humorous leanings. The music has quite a few barnstormers and a few where they take their time as well. Okay the playing is tighter as years ago they wouldn’t have been able to change up the pace as easily as they do now. Also Northern Avenger was produced by Bob Rock (Metallica, Motley Crue) as he does a fine job of bringing to sound to the forefront with losing any of the natural edge. D.O.A. has always had a knack for bringing out the rock in punk rock yet they have always kept focused and grounded about delivering the kind of lyrics and feel that they want to bring to the label. Punk rock as it once twenty-twenty five years has changed and now you get a lot of variations and some are fine, but others are more watered down. So it’s great, even refreshing to hear a band sticking to their roots and putting a strong rooted, heavy punk rock album.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clash of the album covers

Here are your choices.


Running Wild-Black Hand Inn


Grave Digger-Excalibur

***Which cover do you prefer?

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Uli Jon Roth-Under a dark sky


As I scanned the back of the CD case before listening to this disc my eyes took in the listing of ten tracks and then one of those was broken down into three chapters and the final track was broken down in no less than a dozen chapters or parts. Suddenly I felt like I did back in college when my professor plopped down copies of Moby Dick on every one’s desk and informed us that we had four days to read it and write a ten page paper. Yes, I was expecting to be a bit overwhelmed by this album just due to the number of tracks and the number of musicians contributing as well. I am most familiar with Roth for his time with the Scorpions back in the 1970’s, but now he plays a rather neo-classical style. There are a number of people contributing to this album including vocals from Mark Boals, currently of Royal Hunt, and Liz Vandall, ex Sahara. Roth plays all guitars, bass and keyboards on his creation. I am sure that the attention here was to build moods and no doubt there are some definite ideas behind this release. Listening to this album would be kind of like doing a long dot to dot puzzle but finding out in the end that it doesn’t really form a picture. The vocals and orchestral and choir parts do a great deal of floating and wandering around yet they never quite contribute enough to really construct anything very definite to latch on to. Much of this album just swirls about with sounds coming and going although it’s very light and spacey at times with far more fog than substance. At times I wasn’t sure if I was listening to many songs or just one long, giant track that was going to meander on forever. Now Uli Jon Roth does tip in with some guitar passages of course and some are quite stunning because he far more about tones and feeling than about flash and dash. Yet the length and format of this album sets it up to be a huge creation and what’s really inside is a lot fluff and go around with only a few assorted moments that really accomplish much. I can appreciate having grand ideas, but you should only do so if you plan or seeing through the entire project and to me this album just a bit too thin and long-winded for my liking.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Interview with The Exalted Piledriver

Piledriver (now the Exalted Piledriver) have an interesting and somewhat unusual background story. They released two albums back in the mid-1980's and then Piledriver moved on to other things. However a few years ago he got a band together again and now they set to release another album this fall.

MM-I am sure that many of have heard the story, but can you please briefly tell us a little about how this band and “Metal Inquisition” and “Stay Ugly” came to be.
PD-In the early summer of 1984 I was asked by a former band mate, Leslie Howe, if I would like to do some metal vocals for a recording project called Piledriver that he was producing. I was told that Metal Inquisition was going to be an album that would be released worldwide, but that there would be no band... it was just a recording project designed to capitalize on the burgeoning thrash-metal movement. While I wondered a little bit about the ethics, the simple fact that my voice would be heard on an actual album that would be available in actual stores worldwide won out quite easily. I was 23 years old and anxious to get my career going full guns. Unfortunately for Leslie and me, the Record Weasel who put it together decided that he didn't want to put any money into it, keeping us under the impression that sales were not good due to piracy, etc., and keeping all the money for himself. He was even ripping the fans off by taking their t-shirt money and not sending any t-shirts, a problem that still pokes its head up to me to this day. Thank the record Weasel, folks! I had nothing to do with it!!! He then expertly sweet-talked me into doing it two more times, for the Convict- Go Ahead Make My Day and Piledriver- Stay Ugly albums. I thought he was telling me the truth when he told me he would make me a star. Yeah. I became famous for being a fake-band singer and famous for being ripped off by a Record Weasel more than any other artist since the 50's!!! It's been a long hard battle beating down these labels.

MM-I think I first heard the song “Metal Inquisition” on the radio in 1985. When were you told that the first album was getting some notice?
PD-I knew it was getting noticed that very year because of all the interviews I was doing for it, all the magazines with full articles and even cover shots and center spreads. And all the stores stocking it. And all the metal radio shows playing it. The only negative reports were from our lying Record Weasel whose expertly golden tongue kept us from knowing the truth.

MM-How shocked were you?
PD-Um... not shocked at all! I knew it was a benchmark album, and tried my damnedest on my own to put a band together to legitimize it.

MM-Did the band ever do live shows back then or not?
PD-No. I never did get a band together at the time. I would have the bass player and the drummer while we searched for a guitarist. We would find one, work a few months, then lose the drummer to a paying job. Find a drummer, lose a bassist. Find a bassist, lose a guitarist. It was a looooong period of ebbing, flowing, changing, arranging, that sadly, never panned out. At the time, people were quite wary of the over the top bdsm imagery, and the (offensive for that time) lyrics. Back then it was next to impossible finding musicians that could get down with it all... egos prevented them from even thinking of performing in masks and stage-names. Nowadays, musicians seem to get it, that the music and the image are more important than 'look-at-me' self-promotion from within a band.

MM-Who designed that crazy helmet? How many of those things do you own?
PD-During the dinner meeting at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa where I signed my first bullshit contract, the Record Weasel, Leslie Howe and I were discussing what Pile should look like, and I drew him up on a napkin as we chatted. The Record Weasel then went to George at LeatherCraft (now Northbound Leather) in Toronto to make it real. There is only ONE Piledriver outfit, and it's getting trashed. It was never really designed for actual touring use... it was just for photos. It really should be retired, but, it wasn't cheap to create, and I can't afford to make another, yet. Hopefully it will last the cycle of this album and touring, because I really think the fans want to see it, the original outfit. For the next album and tour, we are planning an update of Pile's outfit, to bring him into the current century.

MM-What were some of your favorite tracks off of those two albums and why?
PD-Ok... this is easy! Alien Rape is my favorite off of Metal Inquisition, because I've always been a fan of big, bloated, long-ass power metal songs. I love the sci-fi lyrics, and the variety of riffs n' grooves. The sound effects. The vibe. To me, it's a perfect song. Close second there would be The Piledriver if only for my hilarious accidental burp at the end. On Stay Ugly, I would have to say The Executioner. It's a really fun song to sing, to get all growly n' sickly, then get all aggressive and beastly... really fun to sing! The Fire God is a close second there.

MM-What were you doing after “Stay Ugly”?
PD-I had finally gotten a working version of a band lineup by '87, and I was working on what was supposed to be the third Piledriver album, Shock. During the mixing sessions, the Record Weasel dropped by to see how it was coming along. When I was told that there would be no cash advance (I demanded one, since I hadn't received shit for the first two albums) I told him to leave the studio, that I wasn't going to be ripped off again, that this was no longer a Piledriver album, that the band was now called Dogs With Jobs (a band name I had in my back pocket for years), and that he had "no business being in our session, GET OUT"!. That was it. I had shut down the Piledriver bullshit machine. I then re-wrote and re-recorded 80% of the lyrics to de-Piledriverize it, make it more normal, and shopped it as Dogs With Jobs - Shock. (One of those songs, Road Pigs, has been returned to it's sickly Pileriffic glory, and is on the Manifesto album!) Canadian independent label Fringe Product picked it up, and also released Dogs With Jobs second album Payday. I hear you may still find copies of DWJ albums on e-bay. Not the greatest productions, but, I really love the material. Real from-the-heart-metal.

MM-At what point do you decide to resurrect this band? During the 1990’s were you getting fan mail or anything like that? Did people still know who you were?
PD-These questions actually all tie together. In 1995 I finally got a computer and internet access. I figured out what a search engine was, and for the hell of it typed Piledriver into the search bar... I was shocked!!! Not only were the fans out there, but they were still rabid! Site after site, I was amazed.Once I put up my own website (sofa-q. com) the message came in loud and clear -"Come back Pile, we NEED you!" After a few years of being prodded by the loyalest of the loyal, and at the behest of my dear, departed friend and manager Ray Wallace, I began the process of writing new Piledriver material, resurrecting 2 old unused Pile songs, and assembling a band. Again, it's been a loooong slog of auditions and short tenures, but, Piledriver has finally coalesced into a solid, tight, unbreakable unit. Together now for almost two years, a new record in my band!! And truly, if this lineup doesn't work out, NONE will. There is a trust, love, respect, and bond between the four of us that none of us have ever experienced in a band before. No question, the chemistry is there, and it shows in the music.


MM-Your new album “The Metal Manifesto” is due out soon. Please tell us a little about it and when’s the due date?
PD-The Metal Manifesto is hitting you smack in the face this coming Halloween!!! I think this album fits right in between Inquisition and Ugly, and while mostly old-school and Pile-icious, it's definitely a step forward. Since I only try to please myself when writing, I'm sure that the fans will enjoy it, as it's not extremely different from anything I've ever done, just recorded on more modern gear. I tried this time to get it in-yer-face and tight... Ugly was really loose and noisy, and I wanted to get back to the precision of Metal Inquisition... but with some Ugly dirt tastefully smeared on top. Some fans may be disappointed by the lack of Satanic imagery, oh, well. Unfortunately, in order for me to believe in a Satan, I would have to believe in a God. I believe in neither, so I can't justify singing about them. In fact, there's a song called God You're Stupid II that says everything I need to say on that subject. There's a juggernaut of a fighting song called Battle Axe that I'm dedicating to all the men and women fighting for what's right in the world. There's sex, gore, anger, violence, and my twisted humour that I can't seem to hide no matter how I try to be serious and dark. It's like a 'silliness curse' has been put on me. I blame my exposure to Monty Python at an early age. And, of course, there's a metal-anthem in the title song. We recorded the tracks ourselves to make sure no-one watered us down in the studio, and we strong-armed none other than Neil Kernon to mix it. We're really happy with it, and are sure the fans will be too!


MM-Who else is currently in your band and where did you find them?
PD-In 2005 I headed out to legitimize Piledriver with a band of alcoholics, and that didn't work out too well. In fact, the stresses of trying to be a 'world-class' band with such non-functional people drove me to a nervous breakdown, hospitalization, and me completely quitting the business after a show that April 29th here in Toronto, when the alco-bastards ruined my music worse than they ever had in previous shows. I couldn't go on, I needed the fans to hear Piledriver, not drunken, sloppy, out of tune, barely recognizeable imitations. I felt that I had done everything I could, and that perhaps it just wasn't meant to be. It just wasn't supposed to be that damned hard to pull off. I then poured myself into my day job, determined to put the bullshit of the heartless music business behind me. 2 months later, I got a phone call. It was a guitarist who was answering an old ad I had placed looking for a guitarist half a year earlier. I began to explain all the above, how I was done with it all... by the end of a 4 hour phone call, Kinky Pork Cream had completely turned me around, re-ignited the fire in me, and with his drummer Glace Frothfritter and my bass player Lobo Elf Snort, we set out to be the band that Piledriver was always destined to be! Here we are, two years later, having brought Pile across eastern Canada, the northern States, and into Germany, Italy, and Greece, about to release what I think is our crowning glory! I've never been more happy in a band situation, and I truly cherish the great relationships we all have. I'm sure we'll last for a good, long time. Professionals all, and funny as hell, no addictions either, so it's ALL good!

MM-What should someone who comes to see you live expect?
PD-Well... first off... we're all faaaat bastards!!! That's usually a bit shocking for them... hey, I ain't 23yrs old no mo! I'm a fat, OLD bastard! As such, you won't see us flinging and running ourselves around the stage like we did when we were kids! But... you can expect a tight, dynamic, powerful band! You can expect tons of great old Piledriver favorites! You can expect lots of slammin' new tunes too! Every once in a blue moon, you might get lucky and catch us destroying some crappy cover song fer laffs.

MM-What are some of your favorite shows that you have played in recent years?
PD-One that definitely stands out was our appearance at Keep It True Festival in Lauda-Koenigshofen, Germany. I was EXTREMELY hung over (not used to drinking like Eurofreeks), my voice was shot ragged, but... that crowd sang every word to every song, even the new ones, headbanged like maniacs for our entire set, and truly made us feel accepted. Sheer magic for me. I croaked like a frog, and they didn't pelt me with rocks!!! They actually enjoyed it!!! Another was at Up The Hammers fest in Athens. Definitely the most rabid crowd we've played to outside of Quebec City. Maniacs!!!! It was definitely the hottest damn stage I've ever been on, but, the breeze from the headbangin' freeks in front kept us quite cool and comfy! Manolis has a great lil' fest going there, and we can only dream of being invited back again.Besides the costumes do you have any props or sets that you use on stage?No... no budget yet. I do have lofty dreams, though! If we could tap even a small percentage of them for stage, we'd really have something. For now, I rely on my innate ugliness and disgusting fatness to get me by, ha ha!


MM-Are you hoping to tour much for the new album? If so do you when and where you will be playing?
PD-Indeed! We want to paint the entire planet Piledriver Black!!!! We are starting to get a Summer2009 tour of Europe together, that will hopefully be 10 times as large as our Auf Grosser Fahrt '07 tour, and hopefully take us up into Scandinavia as well. We've not had much luck with American promoters yet, only a few gigs have happened. Hopefully the release of the album will open more doors for us there. Also, we are reaching out to promoters in Japan and Australia.

MM-What do you hope to achieve with your new album?
PD-I hope to please my loyal fans by not straying too far from what I've always done, while sneaking in a bit of modern production and sensibility. And I hope to gain new fans, of course! Numetal kids and wiggers need to hear old-school metal, even if only to educate them, if not influence them.

MM-What kind of music are you currently listening to?
PD-Like I always have, I listen to as much variety as I possibly can. I'm not just a metalhead. I love ALL music if it's done well. It's a shame that many people paint themselves into such stylistically confined corners, like "I only listen to SymphonicDeathThrashTrashMetal, everything else sucks". So sad. I couldn't live on just one style of music. I mean, do you live your life experiencing only one emotion? Music is such an amazingly diversified language, why limit yourself to hearing only 5 words? Sure, I looove hamburgers, but I also often eat club-sandwiches, shish-kebabs, and wonton soup!!! Same with music. So, what's currently in my cd player? My Metal Manifesto, ha ha ha!!! But the disc that was in before it was Spewgore. Before that, Joe Jackson's Symphony #1. Before that, Fight-War Of Words remix/remastered. Before that, Jason Becker. Before that, the Mentors. Before that Delirium Tremens. Before that, Iron Maiden. And no single day could go by without me listening to AT LEAST ONE Frank Zappa piece. I could go on, but... you get the picture... mostly metal, but not all.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
PD-Naah. I would hope that the album and live shows will tell you what I've not said here. I hope that people will see the honesty in my efforts to bring the Piledriver properly to life for them. It's too funny to me when people say I'm 'cashing in' or 'selling out'... wouldn't one need to be making lotsa money for that to happen... ha! I'm still playing for peanuts and working a day job. I'm still 3,000 dollars in debt from bills from our April'07 tour! If that's selling out, what the fuck??? Also, I think many people are wondering about the name change to The 'Exalted' Piledriver, and why it's changed. Well, in my absence, no less than 4 different bands have usurped my great name, and instead of wasting money fighting them all in courts, I simply plucked Exalted from the lyrics to help delineate me from such lesser bands. What else? Most of all, I need to thank all my loyal fans who have not forsaken me over the decades, and trust that I will give it my all to bring them the Pile-beast they always dreamed he could be, until I die onstage from my various fat-old-bastard health problems. It should be a fun ride for all of us!!! Will you be there the night Pile croaks??? Hope so!!! Ya wouldn't want to miss THAT!!!


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Villain Interview


Villain are an up and coming hard rock act from South Carolina who show a lot of promise. I recently got to check in with them and learn more. So after reading the interview make sure that you hop over to their Myspace page and check out their tunes.

Hello, please introduce the members of your band.

We got Robert Falsetti on vocals, Wes Brown on drums, Justin Stenji on bass, and Eric Perry on guitar .

Tell us a little about the history of your band.

Been playing for about a year and a half and just got Falsetti on vocals since about late April.

What are you currently working on?

Recording 3 new songs, 2 of which still need to be written and one is a ballad, the other is the title track for our debut album "Sleaze on the Roxx"

Who are your musical influences?

We all like different music but yet we still enjoy the same things. Eric: is influenced by Randy Rhoads, and glam metal. Justin: dudes that look like chicks. Wes: early Ozzy, Black Sabbath, rush, and motley crue. Falsetti: everything from Aerosmith to ZZTop, to Nickelback, Motley Crue and Incubus and Crossfade.

What is your band doing that’s going to get you noticed?

We dont give a fuck what anyone thinks we just go out and kick ass.


Have you had any interest from any record labels yet?

Yes we've had people check us out.

How important is it to you to get signed at this point?

It's a plus, but were doing this cause we love it. Nothing else counts to us. music is all we do and girls.

Would you ever consider doing a self-released album if you didn’t get signed?

Thats what we're working on now, Motley Crue created Leathur records and released "Too Fast For Love" on their own label, then Elektra bought it out and we're gonna do the same thing if we have to.

What are some of your songs about?

Sex drugs and rock n roll.

Where do you get the ideas for your songs?

From personal expirience.

Who have you opened for?

The Cute Leppers, Sick sick sick, The Scurvies, Examing Emma.


What have been some of your most memorable shows so far?

Probably our first show because we got alot of positive feedback, we were talked about on the radio, and the first show at New Brookland Tavern with Falsetti.

What should someone who comes to see you live expect?

Expect the unexpected. You're not going to think your going to see a great band in a shithole club, but then you hear us.

Where do you hope to be three years from now? On tour.

If you could only listen to three albums over the next month then what would you pick and why? Falsetti: "The Long Road" Nickelback, "Make Yourself" Incubus, and our own cd because they are my fav. albums
Justin: Diary of a madman, Appetite for destruction and Rest in sleaze.
Wes: Ozzy's tribute, Rez, Push it by Salt and Peppa
Eric: Blizzard of oz, Diary of a madman, Red white and crue.

What do you think about the current hard rock/metal scene in general these days? Is it improving or not? Why?
Its getting worse but in Sweden its getting better.

Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why.
Bang Tango or LA Guns:
Which LA guns?
Ratt or Twisted Sister:
Motley Crue or Guns and Roses:
Thats a fuckin hard one!
KISS or Ozzy: Ozzy for sure, but KISS for a show.

Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band?
We're bringing back Sunset blvd in the 80's.


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Sunday, September 21, 2008



Not to be confused with Wisconsin based metal trio Bone Shaker, this particular band hails from France and play a rather straight, bare knuckle style of hard rock. The first thing I noticed here was of course how much the vocals sound like Bon Scott. Although AC/DC may be an influence on the music as well, I think they do an admirable job of establishing their own style despite the obvious vocal similarities to Bon Scott. The music is wired up and often fairly fast as they play like they have something to prove and a fire in their bellies. On their four original tracks they don't often give you much time to think as they kick in the doors and just stomp forward. It's heavy, it rocks and they know how to take charge of the pace and keep everything bouncing and grooving along with enough twists to keep it sounding fresh. This is a slightly odd album in that it has four originals and then three AC/DC covers, naturally all from the Bon Scott era. So they tackle "High Voltage", "Sin City" and "Shot down in flames" as their trio of choice. Their versions are faithful to the originals and good enough, but I didn't get a sense that they put enough of themselves into these songs. That's kind of a shame because the four studio tracks did enough to show me that they had their own sound, but they didn't apply it much to the cover versions and doing a different take on a cover is what to me makes it worth doing. Still a very decent album as they rattled out some strong hard rock with a real sense of confidence and a great deal of grit.



Crash Kelly-One more heart attack


When I look at this album cover my mind immediately recalls the front of Alice Cooper's classic "Schools Out". Well these guys don't sound like Alice Cooper yet vocalist/guitarist Sean Kelly's band wear some other 70's hard rock influences on their sleeves. I easily hear some Thin Lizzy, KISS, Cheap Trick and others yet rather than go for a straight retro sound these influences are occasionally mixed with 80's hard rock as well. Unfortunately instead of being a smooth, even blend it's more of a collision as the two styles don't quite mix well enough. I certainly think that Kelly has a fine voice with a decent range, but too many songs tend to be far too polished. They show some hints of shooting for hard rock grooves yet too often the case tends to be that everything gets coated in a big sugary shell that smooths down any edges that may have existed. Pop hooks are one thing, but I get the impression that part of this act wants to be hard rock and the other wants to accessible pop rock and the end result isn't really enough to appease fans of either style. The talent is evident here and they even get some guest help from the likes of former G-n-R guitar slinger Gilby Clarke and former Whitesnake/Quiet Riot bass player Rudy Sarzo, but the direction seems a little confused to the end result is really just a somewhat bland sounding album.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Megadeth-Set the world afire


Megadeth certainly seem set on keeping their name out there what with having released a studio album, a boxed set, a live CD, a live DVD and now this anthology all in about a two year time frame. This two CD set has 35 tracks spanning much of Megadeth's long and varied career. I got into Megadeth in 1986 when "Peace sells" was released and immediately became a fan. I was drawn in by Mustaine's unique vocals and the finger bending riffs, they were different from other thrash bands of the time. My favorite albums are "Rust in peace", "Peace sells" and "Killing is my business" because those were the albums where they showed their edge and bared their teeth a lot more. Those were the albums where Megadeth were at their best at creating these winding, slightly offbeat tracks. "Countdown to extinction" in 1992 was a good album, but it most certainly spelled the beginning of Megadeth's attempt to establish a more mainstream metal sound. Then the next decade saw them issue a series of albums that had them slowing down and settling into more basic material. The first disc in this set does have mainly earlier material starting with "Mechanix" from Killing is my business and ending with a previously unreleased demo version of "High speed dirt", the final version of that song would of course end up on "Countdown to extinction". We get a lot of their signature tracks like "Wake up dead" and "Hanger 18", but no real surprises. Disc 2 picks up on more "Countdown" material beginning with "Skin o' my teeth" and continues into some of their later material with again not a great deal of surprises. The final two tracks on the last disc are live versions of "Symphony of destruction" and "Peace sells" both recorded at the Cow Palace in 1992 and this version of "Symphony" was previously unreleased in the U.S. Okay, this is a decent package, but I can't help but wonder why there are only three songs from "Peace sells" included yet the far more uneven "So far, so good, so what?" gets four tracks and the fantastic "Hook in mouth" isn't one of the four. The biggest question here is why they felt the need to release this collection when the huge majority of the material was included on the "War Chest" boxed set from 2007? Actually the single disc "Greatest Hits" from 2005 also includes much of the same material as this set although "Set the world afire" of course has more. Releasing multiple best of, greatest hits and anthology type albums in a relatively short amount of time is something that seems to occur more and more in recent years. Still if you don't already own all of these studio albums or the boxed set then it may be something that you want to track down.

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What's coming up?


I was watching Back to school with Rodney Dangerfield the other day, a fine movie for sure. I got it for $5 at the Wal-mart bargain bin. I had never actually seen the whole thing before. This was one of those movies that seemed to be on tv a lot in the 1990's and I would always turn it on like halfway into it. My daughter lost her first tooth this week, the weather has been nice and we are just trying to keep everything going. This upcoming week I hope to have out...

Interviews with...

Reviews of...
D.O.A.-Northern Avenger
Uli Jon Roth-Under a dark sky
Crash Kelly-One more heart attack
Level C-s/t
Megadeth-Anthology: Set the world afire


if I can get to it I'll do a lesser of two evils featuring two well known metal acts.

Have a great week!

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Top three


I think at some point I did top 25 lists for hard rock/metal vocalists and drummers, but never got to bass players and guitarists. For now I just give you my top three for each instrument.

1-Rob Halford-Easy pick, the range and the power for such a long time.
2-Ronnie Jame Dio-Amazing and highly consistent over the course of a very long career plus he has been golden with every band that he has been with.
3-Bruce Dickinson-Incredible voice, he had added another dimension to Maiden when he joined.

1-Hendrix-He did more in his first album than other top guys have done in twenty years of work. Plus it all just seemed to come so easy for him
2-Tony Iommi-He didn't just play heavy, he created and defined heavy metal guitar.
3-Adrian Smith/Dave Murray-Yes, they go as a pair. Incredible players who just seem to be pulling out a nearly endless supply of riffs

Bass players
1-Steve Harris-No doubt on this one. He has those fingers flying and he doesn't even look at them. Fantastic.
2-Geddy Lee-Just interesting bass parts right from the start of their career and then he just got better.
3-Geezer Butler-Killer sound, just bending those parts and like Iommi he knew that the tone was more important than the speed.

1-Neil Peart-Just all over the place and he adjusted his style to suit the many sound changes of Rush and he still sounded no matter what he was playing.
2-John Bonham-Superb rhythm and style and he grew as a player as well.
3-Bill Ward- The most underrated member of Sabbath. On those early albums he was destroying those drums, a big heavy hitter who along with Butler really laid
down that heavy backbone for Sabbath's prime albums.

Well, Jon Lord is undoubtedly the best organ/keyboard player in hard rock/metal, he was just everywhere and really added such depth to those classic Deep Purple albums. Other than him I can't think of a whole lot of keyboard players who were that outstanding. Some of the guys for Uriah Heep had some moments and Tony Carey was fantastic on Rainbow's Rising, but not a lot of lot people who really stand out that much.

There you go.

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Todd Rundgren-Arena


The career of Todd Rundgren has certainly had some highs and lows creatively with the majority of the highs having occurred some time ago. On this his 19th studio album he said it would be a return to “riff-oriented guitar rock” and that’s sort of true. This is generally a rock album, but it’s a moderately wide range of styles and results. We get some 1980’s style pop-oriented rock, some hard rock and some songs that surprisingly even flirt with being metal if you can imagine that. I am all for changing the pace and mixing things up, but the overall feel of this album is a bit awkward. More than anything the success of each song seems to depend a lot on how comfortable Rundgren sounds. Quite honestly it’s the heavier tracks that ultimately suffer here as saying the vocals sound “forced’ on most of the heavier tracks is a vast understatement. Many of the lighter tracks are perhaps rather safe, but the vocals compliment the music to a far greater extent. I had just about written this off as a mediocre album at best, but then the final three tracks “Mountaintop”, “Panic” and “Manup” all show a sense of purpose and control that was lacking on the previous 10 tracks. It’s still a rather average album as a whole, but those last tracks are certainly worth checking out.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wrench in the works-Lost art of heaping coal


The fact that this release is on Facedown records plus the band name and cover lead me to know that this was going to either metalcore or hardcore with some metal elements pushed in. Wrench in the works actually lean more towards that second style with a fairly aggressive hardcore approach as the primary sound. It’s certainly not bad at all, but it’s all too typical for the most part. The vocals growl and go along with some aggression, but nothing really stands out. It’s a bit like instant coffee, it looks and sort of tastes like coffee yet it doesn’t quite have enough bite or strength to really satisfy. The most original part of the music is the occasional swirling guitar passages that come and go rather quickly. At first these parts provide some promise because it’s the most original aspect of this band’s music. Yet these passages are a little too low in the mix and fly out of the picture like a shooting star and we never get enough time to really absorb them. That’s a shame because that was an angle that could have helped this album. As it stands it’s slightly above average as a whole, but not all that distinct or original.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Interview with Jim Warmon of Witch

Witch were very much a part of the 1980's LA scene. They played many of the big clubs with a lot of the top bands of the day. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing bass player Jim Warmon to find out about their past and the possible future of this band.
MM-Hello, what are you currently up to?
JW-Well me and Punk have been working on a couple of projects. Witch and Punching the Clown.PTC is basically an offshoot of Witch, It’s the music we both love performing, basically hard driven backbeats with a melodic vocal…..Anthem rock comes to mind. As far as Witch goes it’s a labor of love to reunite with these great musicians and to re-visit the material. We (Witch) got together over the Labor day weekend to begin re-hashing the material. It took about 4 tunes to shake off the cobwebs and by the second day of rehearsal the band sounded better than ever! It looks like we’re gonna be doing a Halloween special at Elsinor stadium, then the plan is to head off to Germany for a series of festivals……everyone’s very excited and looking forward to getting back out on the road. BTW…..the Punching the Clown stuff is available for free downloads off either the Myspace Punching the Clown icon on my page or off the www.witchtheband sight under the records and CD’s tab. Take a listen…..I’d love to know what you think!
MM-Now you are originally from Minnesota. When did you move to LA? Did you move with a band to make it or did you go out hoping to find a band to join?
JW-Actually I hail from Boston, Home of Tom Brady and the greatest team ever assembled the “New England Patriots” I came out cause I was hearing about this band called Crue and the buzz they were generating in LA. This was/is exactly the kind of band I wanted to be part of.
MM-What bands were you in before Witch? Were they all hard rock or metal bands?
JW-I started out getting my feet wet with a band called Messenger. Great studio band but they had no desire to play out live, sooo the writing was on the wall for those guys as I couldn’t hang with that for long. Then I jumped into a group called Jekel n Hyde….Good band more along the metal lines I was looking for and they gigged their balls off……But I was still looking for “:THAT BAND” My Band….ya know? For some reason I ended up with all the chicks in that band and it started causing a few problems when band mates girlfriends started calling me in the middle of the night ya know? ….Just for the record….I never fucked any of my band mates chicks….that was until I got in Witch that is….then all bets were off! (Witches Bitches were model quality and who the hell could say no to that?)
MM-Now I believe you were offered the job in Witch before they started playing shows and you turned it down. Why?
JW-Yeah, that’s true. I actually hold the record for the dumbest bullshit ever pulled by anyone ….well I think me n Vince Neal are tied for that mistake! I had just joined Hyde and was pretty comfortable with their playing when Pete the singer from this brand new group walks in like he owns the place and hands me a note. (I thought it was weird cause I kept seeing him in the front row at all the Hyde gigs before this happened) I guess he was scouting me for the new group. Anyway he hands me this note in front of my band so I had no choice but to read it……it was something like, fuck this loser shit come jam with me n Punk in Witch! I turned it down and Pete told me I had just made the worst mistake of my life……he was right!! The reason I turned it down was I had actually jammed with Pete in Messenger for a little while and the guy was a total flake, So I thought yeah right, this guy again huh? But it turns out he just wasn’t into Messenger at all and in retrospect I can’t blame him…..we were both looking for that “Special” something that can’t be defined…..It’s either magic or not.
MM-So then you accepted the second time they offered the job right? Why did you accept that time and is there a story that goes with it?
JW-Oh Yeah, Well just for yuk’s I went to Witches opening debut……it was like Ozzy meets Motley!! And I shit right then and there …I shit! Oh my God I have turned down the biggest best band I have ever seen……I was bummed to say the least. But then I began hearing rumors that the band wasn’t getting along with their second choice…..Hmm….maybe all is not lost. I was getting phone calls from their manager Johhny Schultz owner booker of the Woodstock (a freaking great club in Anahiem that really should get credit for starting all this great music that began coming out of the O.C. Johhny was like ….they hate this guy man…..they want him out of the band ASAP…..So with Johhny’s insistance I was re-offered the gig……Punk drove up to my place, I hopped in his van and off to Hollywood we went. I had 3 days to learn the entire set and choreograghy and then play a sold out Troubador gig. Life got good baby, real good!
MM-What were your thoughts when you were you first joined them? Were they different from other bands that you had been in? If so then how?
JW-My thoughts were there is a God! It’s very, very hard to describe a band that has “that magic” something……you basically have it or you don’t…Witch had it period”! There were no rules to this thing called Witch….it was a hundred miles an hour 24/7….literally all the whores, guns, fire trucks and narcotics you could ever want. Again….life was good brotha!The thing with Witch is….these guys were for real…..a perfect example was at a Witch gig, we would wonder over to Rikk Fox’s dressing room (he was in Sin at the time) and they were sitting around cutting out buttons and making promo stuff like it was family night or something…..then you go over to our dressing room and the place LITERALLY WAS ON FIRE!!!! No shit….I don’t know how we never burned a place to the ground cause we set just about everything on fire…..I think Great White (A band I have always loved, Great guys to!) got a really bad bad shake out of that whole Rhoad Island club fire thing…..hell they weren’t even known for using fire…..whereas we had the fuckin fire department following us around from gig to gig! God I love Jack Russel's voice and Mark's guitar playing always reminded me of George Harrison….Great Band! Again guns, whore’s and fire trucks man…..it was fuckin crazy!
MM-How fast were things going like during your first year in Witch?
JW-I’ve been asked this before honestly the best answer I got is: Imagine being loaded into a gun and fired into the air…..that’s what Witch was like! From being the featured band in feature films, to centerfold Hustler shoots and anything and everything in between…..giging our asses off, constantly on the road, constantly in the studio……the old cliché of sex drugs and rock n roll desribes it perfectly…..Hanging out with Crue, Ratt, Wasp, Van Halen….Jesus it was nice!
MM-So by like Spring of 1984, you guys were getting some notice. Slayer and Lizzy Borden opened for you at one point. What were your thoughts around that time?
JW-Slayer was always pissed that they were never the headliners at all the gigs we did together, We did the culver auditorim gig with them opening and we had to be separated in order to reduce the backstage fist fights. The thing is …it was based on record sales and we were out selling the shit outta them at that point. (interesting point to note: I talked with Axel Rose at a party a while after the Appetite for Destruction album came out and he told me that he was at the Culver show….working security!!) I remember Slayer was gigging at a club about 300 yards away from us and they were all over the radio saying shit like…"There’s gonna be a Witch burning tonight”……turned out we out drew them 3 to 1 that night…..I remember a Wolf and Rissmiller Country Club gig where we had Poison and Stryer opening….if ya know the country club the stage is about 10 feet up in the air….So Poison opens the night by Brett walking straight out and off the front of the stage BAMM!!!!LOL!!! They carried him out on a stretcher with a broken collar bone!......Ya gotta remember “The Hex is On” was outselling Kiss and Dio in Japan at the time (granted it was Kiss’s Elder days so I’m not sure how impressive that was) but it was nice to know that as I am a lifetime KISS Aholic!!
MM-Why did you guys not get signed back then?
JW-Man good question and it’s gonna take a little splainin Lucy! First of all we were offer’d a deal with “Combat” Metallicas first label but out management company (who it turns out needed us wayyyy more than we needed them) would not allow it. So we talked with Brian over at Metal Blade…very cool deal. Brian offered us everything including the kitchen sink! We closed a verbal deal with Brian and gave him our word that we would sign with him. Again Tapesty Artist’s (our management would not allow it) They had us by the balls with their F’n contact that we all regretted signing! They were holding out for a deal they had in the works with Capitol that never materialized. So we had to walk away from Brian…a move we regret to this day! Brian didn’t get what the hell the problem was and has put a ton of resources into signing his new band Witch……I think Brian is still mad to this day! Guess what…..So are we!!! Later our management company were shot dead by a guy who went crazy on them……to be honest, my first thoughts were….Wow, somebody beat me to it!!@We fired the management company as soon as the contract expired by refusing to renu with them but the damage was done! Same kinda thing happened with Atlantic, Epic….and everyoine in between……it’s takin' me years to get over all that shit…..man, fucking paper pushers running the careers of artists is just inherently bad for the art itself……you have to realize these manager bastards are out to line their own pockets……nothing more!
MM-Why did you break up in 1985?
JW-Had no choice, Punk was in trouble with the law and was going to jail and contractually we couldn’t perform without him. Yet the band had several commitments to complete….so he had to be let go…..something none of us wanted to do but there was no other option for the band at the time.
MM-The band reformed and added two guitarists in 1986. Do you think that version of Witch was as strong as the previous version? Why or why not?
JW-The 2nd run of the band was technically much better than the first. It had a great energy but you never forget your first love, that being the first and original lineup that took the bull by the balls and ran with it! Also ….and this was a biggy for me, the material started to get softer with the 2nd lineup…..fuck that!
MM-Were things as crazy with the late 80’s version of Witch as they were in say 1983-85? Why or why not?
JW-Yeah the crazy aspects were always there, but again nothing can top your first time thru!The guitar players were kinda like the guys in Sin that I mentioned earlier…..a little girly for my tastes but the deal vreaker was when they guitarists submitted a song called LOVE LOVE LOVE? They were quickly replaced. (David Ezrin son of Bob) was brought in at that time and pretty much had the same results…..David just lacked the killer instinct to survive in Witch. So it was back to Ronny on guitar (who was currently jamming in Max Havoc) and all was well with the world again.
MM-What were you doing that was getting you noticed in what was a very competitive scene?JW-What set Witch apart from the crowd was the fact that this wasn’t an act….these guys were the real deal…..that turned out to be a DBL edged sword cause a lot of the labels were afraid to sign the group cause they didn’t wanna be responsible for someone dieing out there on the raod……we basically frighten’d them. We had Crue old stage setup (they gave us their gear when they signed with Elecktra). Our look was freaking unreal combined with the heavy music we were dubbed the world first Death Metal Glam Band…..fire/fog….again it was more magic than any other single thing…..again and I can’t say this enough…..you either got it or you don’t….Witch had it!
MM-You guys used some pyro on stage quite often. Who got caught on fire? Didn’t a ceiling once catch fire as well?
JW-Every member of the band went up at one time or another…everyione except Pete! (lucky bastard) I remember one gig….Ozzy had just given Ronny 2 new outfits to wear…..custom leather shit…..really nice….really expensive…Ron missed rehearsal the night before the show and Punk was so pissed he changed the fire ques with the road crew……needless to say Ronny was standing directly over one of the pots when it went off on que….(the new que)He completely went up in flames…..the guy was hurt bad…..his outfit was burned almost completely off his entire body…..anyone else I know would have gone straight to the emergency room….but Ronny just had his tech wrap a towel around him to cover up his exposed everything and he completed the show….(note: he went up during the first tune and finished the entire set before going to the emergency room for treatment). You gotta understand Witch was tough man, these were dangerous guys and people got hurt…..mostly US!!!! We did the Stardust ballroom and got sued by them for using fire, the stage mamager for the club was on top of us all day screaming and threatening us that if we use any fire they’d pull the plug and we’d never play there again…….We assured her that we were not like that and would never dream of using fire! The crew didn’t like this to much so they DBL’d the pyro explosions…….there we are, the band just starts playing when the first blast goes oiff…….BAM!!!!The flames reached about 30 feet into the air catching the stage curtains and riser on fire….the blast was so powerful that the can the blast was loaded into shot off the stage right past me and tagged the clubs stage manager in the chest blowing her off the stage and down a flight of stairs where she lay for quite some time……can you say “Law Suit”?
MM-What are some of your most memorable shows with Witch?
JW-Honestly, All of them….every last one. Fucking insanity in a bottle baby! New Years with Great White, Roxy with Mallice, Troub with WASP…..there’s a freaking book to every F’n one of them man….that’s actually why "The hex is on" was released on OTT Records….over the top…..way over the top.
MM-Is there anything that you wish that you had done differently in your music career?
JW-YES!!! Truly and honestly I wish we had the balls and the experience to fire the fuck out of our management company when they told us not to sign with Metal Blade……Tapestry Artists along with some broad name Jennifer should have been sent to the curb as the incompetent hacks they were….I truly believe that had we honored our commitment to Metal Blade and Brian Slagel…..we’d still be with them to this day…….But as I said earlier …some crazed gunman got even for us!
MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked that band.
Quiet Riot or Twisted Sister
Quiet Riot they freaking rocked with Randy and I had know them well before they broke in LA. Twisted was nothing more than a carnival of guys that were typical of bands of the day……they were all image and no substance…..again see earlier reference to Sin…
Guns and Roses or Poison
I admired Poison for what they were able to pull off…..Me n CC used to exchange earings we stole off of bitches we’d fuck’dBut my hats off to Axl and Guns cause when they were faced with the same shitty management bufllshit he straightend them right to fuck out by saying fuck you were signing with Geffen period…..if he had allowed the standard shopping around bullshit that happened to us they may never have done anything. Plus they fuckin rock yo!
Ratt or WASP
Love both bands…..know them both well but I must say WASP was thee best metal band I have ever heard period!@ Witch was never humbled by any other band and had even less respect for all the pussies out there at the time but WASP was one group that delivered….they were for real! Best vocals in the world award goes to Blackie, Ronnie James and Peter….The 3 best singers I’ve ever heard in my life!!
KISS or Motley Crue
Kiss, hands down……Crue to me never really delivered….the guitar playing was weak as was the vocals…..Tommy and Nikki were of the killer variety but of all the bands that broke….why Crue? I don’t get it.
MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about yourself, your music or anything else?
JW-Just that it’s been a pleasure to get a few things straight out there. There’s been a lot of print that gets some of it right but mostly not. As I said earlier I’m in the writing stage for the next PTC disc and am hoping to submit it to Metal Blade and a host of others to see if we can get a new disc out in the not to distant future. Old School records founder King Fowley has already offered to release it or the next Witch disc that we’ll be entering the studio to record in early December…So just remember“THE HEX IS STILL ON” BRUDDA

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