Avenged Sevenfold, Revolver Magazine, and QMCODES Join Forces to Create Special Augmented Reality Collector's Issue of Revolver Magazine
Featuring Seven Alternate Covers, to Celebrate July 27th Release of New Album Nightmare
To celebrate the release of Avenged Sevenfold's new album Nightmare, Revolver magazine has created a special collector's issue devoted to the band that features seven different cover images and interactive technology by QMCODES to unlock exclusive mobile content. The issue will hit newsstands on July 27th, the day the album is released by Warner Bros. Records. Featured inside are a complete oral history of the Southern California band's rise in their own words, a tribute to late drummer The Rev (including never-before-seen photos and classic interviews), details about Nightmare, a pictorial of A7X fan tattoos, mobile video, secret interviews and much more.
"We at Revolver have been following Avenged Sevenfold since they first broke onto the national stage in 2002," says the magazine's editor in chief, Brandon Geist. "When I joined the Revolver staff three years later, City of Evil was cranking in our office just about every day. Since then, we've watched Avenged Sevenfold grow, watched them reinvigorate heavy metal music with their unique signature sound, and watched our readers rally behind them. Now in celebration of the band's latest album and in a remembrance for Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan, we're very proud to give A7X their own issue, and we thank them for sharing their story—and their new music—with us all so courageously."
The issue will be printed with seven different covers (see below), with each band member gracing one cover, plus two group portraits. One of the portraits, featuring band members M. Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, Synyster Gates, and Johnny Christ, will be available on newsstands for three months. The six alternate covers, including one featuring a band portrait with Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, are available exclusively online at www.revolvermag.com/store, as part of the deluxe box-set edition of the issue, which is limited to 1,000 sets. Avenged Sevenfold have appeared on Revolver's cover four times over the years, but this is the first time they have received this special treatment.
Also for the first time, the issue will feature QR Codes, an Augmented Reality technology that allows cellphone users to scan a unique code with their mobile phone to unlock bonus videos, photos, and interviews. This Avenged Sevenfold collector's edition of Revolver brings content beyond the page with the QMCODES Link.Me platform, an incredible new way to bring print media to life, leveraging the proliferation of smart phones with the advancement of mobile media and combining it with the reach and depth of established media channels. QMCODES has been pioneering interactive print since 2007 and counts HarperCollins, Warner Bros. Records and Universal Music amongst its clients, creating new user experiences in a simple Augmented Reality experience that keeps readers coming back for more.
"We're really excited to be bringing this amazing technology to the music publishing industry and working with a cutting-edge magazine like Revolver, creating a true convergence of online, offline, and mobile, bringing the best elements together in one simple action with the Link.Me platform," says QMCODES' founder Antony McGregor Dey. "Our years of experience in the book publishing industry with clients like HarperCollins show that consumers are ready to use this and want richer media experiences."
This past April, Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan won the Best Drummer Award at the 2010 Revolver Golden Gods. His parents and sisters accepted on his behalf. Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah) and Joey Jordison (Slipknot, Murderdolls) presented the award.
(From left) Ol Drake, Joel Graham, Ben Carter and Matt Drake
If you're discovering (or in some cases, rediscovering) the new sounds of classic thrash metal these days, you've most likely heard of the Huddersfield, England, five-piece Evile. Their latest Russ Russell-produced record, Infected Nations (Earache Records), established the band—vocalist/guitarist Matt Drake, lead guitarist (and Matt's brother) Ol Drake, drummer Ben Carter and newcomer Joel Graham on bass—as a musical force that's taking the genre to new levels, while staying true to its aggressive core.
Since their 2007 debut, Enter the Grave (which was produced by famed Metallica knob-turner Flemming Rasmussen), Evile have been hitting the ground running, headlining gigs in Great Britain and supporting bands such as Entombed, Satyricon, Exodus, Sabbat (English one) and Megadeth all throughout Europe. Their tracks have even made their way onto the ever-popular Rock Band video game.
But despite their fast rise, Evile have also weathered its share of storms. The most brutal was the untimely passing of bassist Mike Alexander on October 5th of 2009. While on tour in Luleå, Sweden, the 32-year old passed away unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism. While this was obviously a gigantic blow to the band, and an emotionally heavy time for Matt, Ol and Ben, Evile decided to carry on with the band, in part as a tribute to Alexander's memory.
The band eventually recruited Rise to Addiction and Ninedenine bassist Joel Graham, and made their first North American appearance this past spring supporting thrash legends Overkill. The tour was so successful for Evile that they'll be returning for an additional four months later this fall. But before they hit our shoes, these road dogs will be playing before thousands of fans this summer at select European festivals, including Norway's prestigious Hole in the Sky.
MetalKult recently had a quick chat with lead guitarist Ol Drake where he discussed Evile's first-ever American tour, working with metal's legendary producers and the challenges of keeping Evile together after the loss of friend and bandmate Alexander. —Henry Yuan
Evile recently completed two successful runs in North America. Since it was your first time over here, did those tours meet your expectations?
OL DRAKE The tours met and surpassed our expectations. North America is such an awe-inspiring place to travel around and play in. The scenery, the fans, the food, the prices…everything is great there. The only negative thing we were told about North America that ended up being true were the drives. They were ridiculous. I remember one was about 28 hours. We just sat in close proximity with one another, and exchanged colds for 28 hours. Grueling, but well worth it. The highlight, to be honest, was the entire thing. It was such a pleasure and honor to be able to play in North America and we can't wait to do it again in September!
Joel Graham stepped in to handle bass duties after the unfortunate passing of Mike Alexander. How has it been with him in the fold?
DRAKE At first it was strange, obviously. Amidst our mix of emotions
and pondering whether we should carry on or not, we decided to stick at it and look for a new bassist. I'll admit there was a point where I expected I wouldn't be able to do it because Mike wasn't there, but Joel is such a nice guy that it changed my feelings on the subject. It will never be the same Evile again, but it made me realize that this is Evile now. It's just different. He's had to take a lot in, like getting thrown in vans around the world within weeks, but he's handling it really well.
Infected Nations is a big step forward from your debut, and showcases more death/thrash influences and epic, Metallica-style dynamics. What was the atmosphere like during the writing and recording sessions?
DRAKE The atmosphere was very, very creative. Russ Russell is like a fifth member of the band, in a sense. The album is so different, but in a good way, because of his involvement in our back and forth ideas. We purposely wanted a more epic approach to songwriting instead of standard thrash metal riffs.
Why did you decide to work with Russell as opposed to Flemming Rasmussen?
DRAKE We intended to work with Flemming again for the second album, but our schedules just didn't meet. We'd met Russ a few years before and he—rather drunkenly [laughs]—pointed out he'd love to work with us, that he had a "vision" in which we should stride for to be "that" band, and not just another metal band. When it came to the decision of who to work with, we just said, "why not" and got in touch with Russ. Very glad we did!
What are the differences between the two producers' styles?
DRAKE It's hard to compare Flemming and Russ. When we worked with Flemming it was our first time in a studio, with "the guy who did Metallica." We were a bit intimidated. He's a very laid-back, friendly guy though, so in that sense he is great to work with. Russ is very much more hands-on and knows what he likes and doesn't like. Like I said, it was a very creative process.
Let's step back into your history a bit. What were the early days like for a young band that played classic thrash?
DRAKE Very difficult. When we started in 2003 we were playing cover sets, and people took interest. But, when it came to getting gigs as an original band, it was tough. Everyone saw it as, "Why are you playing a genre which died 20 years ago?" As more and more time went by and more bands started revisiting classic styles of metal, it just became accepted. But it took a few years for us to be taken seriously as a band.
You guys are playing Hole in the Sky this year. What are you looking forward to at this festival?
DRAKE I'm looking forward to getting back to Norway and playing, simply! We did some dates with Satyricon there and it was very cool. Plus, I can't wait to see Obituary. I'll never grow tired of seeing them live. So, so, so, so heavy.
You guys recently released a cover of Pantera's classic "Cemetery Gates." The B-side, "Time No More," is a track with Japanese vocals and lyrics. How did this idea come about? Do you speak Japanese?
DRAKE We initially recorded the track for Metal Hammer Magazine in the U.K. They were doing a Dimebag tribute issue and asked if we'd want to record a Pantera track for them. We said yes straight away and put our dibs on "Cemetery Gates." I'm so glad we got to do this with Mike before he passed away; it really means a lot to us to have done it.
I have a big interest in Eastern life and culture, and I want to learn to speak Chinese and Japanese. I just don't have a lot of time.
What's next for Evile after the autumn American tour?
DRAKE We've already started writing our third album and we're feeling great about it. I can't wait to get Joel in the studio. We're just gonna work on material and play shows, that's it! But in the meantime, check out our latest album Infected Nations out on Earache…and my favorite-to-play track "Metamorphosis"!
In 1992, Dutch death metal band Pestilence were riding high. The success of a trio of heavy-hitting albums—Malleus Maleficarum (1988), Consuming Impulse (1989) and Testimony of the Ancients (1991)—had secured their position in the European extreme metal underground and they were poised to become one of the major players in the death metal genre. But their success was about to grind to a halt.
When the restlessly creative group, led by vocalist/guitarist Patrick Mameli, added jazz and fusion styles to its sound for 1993's Spheres, fans of Pestilence's earlier straightforward death metal were confounded, and accused the band of biting off more than it could chew. A sentiment Mameli has come to appreciate—"We really messed up on that one," he confesses. "We definitely made a lot of heads turn and I didn't think it was the right follow-up to Testimony. If we would've had Resurrection [Macabre, 2008] after Testimony, I think we would've been one of the biggest death metal bands out there right now."
Instead of breaking out, the band broke up soon after the release of Spheres and the possibility of a reunion was close to nothing. "I've always said that there will never be a reunion, and a reunion with the original line-up," Mameli stated. "It just wouldn't work."
However, despite putting his energies into his post-Pestilence band C-187 [featuring Cynic drummer Sean Reinert and Atheist/ex-Pestilence bassist Tony Choy], Mameli just couldn't shake his past. "When I did interviews for that band, people of course knew me as Patrick Mameli from Pestilence and everyone who was interested in me always asked me about Pestilence and not about C-187—my project."
Luckily for Pestilence fans, Mameli had a change of heart. When they reformed 15 years later, with Darkane drummer Peter Wildoer, one-time Pestilence bassist Tony Choy and original guitarist Patrick Uterwijk, Mameli refocused Pestilence's sound for 2008's hard-hitting Resurrection Macabre. Building on their successful Resurrection, the current band—which now features newcomer Yuma Van Eekelen on drums and Spheres-era bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling—hope to claw their way back to the top with their upcoming album, Doctrine.
MetalKult recently caught up with Mameli during the band's final tour stop in New York City where he discussed Pestilence's unexpected rebirth and their latest extreme metal offering, Doctrine, the trials of touring North America, and his ever-present goal to keep growing as a musician. —Henry Yuan
In the late Eighties and early Nineties, the death metal spotlight was mainly focused on Florida and Sweden. However, even though the Netherlands had a smaller scene, the bands left a prominent mark in death metal history. What was the death metal scene like back then?
PATRICK MAMELI You just mentioned the Scandinavian scene and they were very present in the Dutch culture and music. There wasn't a very big underground scene in Holland so I don't really understand why Dutch bands made a lot of impact on the market, since everybody was influenced by the Florida scene. Everybody was into tape trading stuff like early Death and Possessed. Everybody tapped from their influence. There were only a few bands that mattered and some bands that weren't well known, such as Sinister, who are still doing stuff now. And of course Pestilence, who were the biggest band coming from Holland. There were a few other bands, too, but I think they all tapped into the same Floridian scene. Later on, we all started to understand that we needed to put our own stamp on things to change our role. That's kinda how it happened. When we started to create death metal around '86, there weren't many bands at that point in Holland doing the same stuff we were doing.
Prior to this U.S. tour, Pestilence made an appearance at Maryland Deathfest. I take it this year was better than last, where you guys had some trouble getting into the States.
MAMELI Yeah, we just didn't have our paperwork in order last year. There were some files missing. We came over and got detained for a bunch of hours and
then got sent back home. We had a headlining spot on Sunday and we just felt so bad. Our drummer was already there. He called me and I told him we were detained and he was like, "you gotta be joking me." It was a long flight back and we were all down about it. This time, we made sure everything worked. We went through the proper channels to have it done. So to finally be able to play at Maryland Deathfest was very nice. It was a great beginning to our tour.
Was it a good feeling to be playing with old friends, like Asphyx and Sinister?
MAMELI Well, we played on Sunday and Asphyx played on Saturday and I think they stuck around. But, me and Martin don't get along very well so we stayed out of each other's paths.
Tonight's gig is the final show of the tour. How's touring America as opposed to Europe?
MAMELI To be honest, this was a big wake up call for us. Maybe it was an issue of the routing. But some of the venues were not that great and I think the promotion could've been way better. The turnouts have been somewhat bad in some places and, again, it's because of the routing and promotion. The second half of the tour was really good and the way we expected. If you compare European standards and U.S. standards, U.S. standards are very low. You have some places where the PA systems do not work and there are no monitors…it's just a big joke. Sometimes I felt like I was in Spinal Tap. It made me think, Why am I doing this? Obviously, this isn't for the money since there is no money to be made playing death metal. One might think that if Americans put people on the moon, they could have other things together. It was just an eye opener that U.S. standards are not very high.
That's rough. Did you find the bigger cities had better conditions and crowds?
MAMELI Yes, yes. Definitely. But we wanted to cover all of the States. Who plays in Chattanooga?
I'm not even sure where that is.
MAMELI Exactly. But we did. What about Ramona? I never heard of it before, but we played there. For the people there, it was great because they got to see Pestilence. We put on a good show and we always want to play our best. However, if the turnout isn't that great, it just makes you depressed. But, the last five or six shows have been awesome. We played Canada and those guys are crazy. It was nice to finally have a good crowd and have people that are actually into the band.
Geographically, Europe is a lot smaller than America and Europeans are more willing to travel because it's a compact place. Do you think this had some impact on your shows?
MAMELI Definitely. America is huge. If I had to travel for four hours to see a band, I probably wouldn't do it, either…depending on the band, of course. I mean, we haven't been here in 20 years so maybe one can say people have forgotten about us. But that's not the case. But yeah, if you have to travel for a number of hours, you're probably not going to do it. And when it's on a work day, those nights are even rougher. It's difficult for a band to survive. I can tell you a lot of great stories with great turnouts but that's just not the way it is anymore. This is the state of today's rock and roll life.
Let's talk a bit about your band's history. Pestilence broke up in 1994 and regrouped in 2008. What was the reason for resurrecting the band?
MAMELI At the time I was doing a project called C-187, which was more of a fusion project with a little bit of hardcore vocals here and there. It was really intelligent music played with really intelligent people. I thought that would turn into a big success but it didn't. I received a lot of e-mails from fans and everyone was just keeping the Pestilence name alive whereas we were like, "Forget about it." We weren't going to do anything ever again, but the name kept popping up. Since I had to do another album for Mascot Records, we started brainstorming the idea of doing another Pestilence album. My label boss was super excited about it because he said if we had a decent comeback, it might work. Then I decided that I needed to have very good musicians around me in order to make this and come out with a good album. I contacted Tony Choy [bassist of Atheist] and he was down for it and I contacted Peter Wildoer [drummer of Darkane] and he was for it. I figured I needed to have one original member back so I called up Patrick [Uterwijk, guitar], who I haven't spoken with in years. He was excited about it and that's when it started rolling.
The band's comeback album, Resurrection Macabre, shows the band going with a more primal, back-to-roots sound as opposed to following in the style of Spheres. Can you explain this choice?
MAMELI Well, everybody expects the last album to be a "follow-up" to that album. If you look at the whole discography of Pestilence, every album is different. If you're an insider, you just know the next album isn't going to be like Spheres and the next album isn't going to be like Resurrection. I always want to try and do something else and sometimes that's difficult for the fans. We're not Obituary or Slayer, where one can always expect the same style but with different songs. We keep true to our own style but we become better musicians all the time, you know? You get a deeper understanding about your instrument all the time. Within the frame of Pestilence, we can move around a little bit and get better and better. For the next album, Doctrine, we are using Ibanez eight-string guitars. That will allow us to go even deeper within our material with different chords and sound heavier. Every band wants to be heavier and better and that's what's going to happen with Pestilence. I have a new line-up now. The line-up I had on Resurrection just didn't work out. I had to fly people in and out all the time. There was no time to rehearse and when we got together, we'd do something and everyone flew off to do their thing. The band feeling was not really there. It was more like using hired musicians. In the long run, we wanted to have a steady line-up. Now, we have an all-Dutch line up. It's a lot easier for us to communicate—not that we aren't good at speaking English—but it's just a hassle to fly everybody over. We feel like a band now. Are you going to hang around for the show?
Yeah, I am.
MAMELI Then you'll hear my drummer. He is amazing. And he's only 22. He's bringing us up to a new level. I don't want to look back or go down in levels, I just want to go up. And of course, with Jeroen on the six-string fretless bass…what else can you ask for?
You mentioned using the eight-string guitar. As a guitarist, how do you utilize the extra low string?
MAMELI We're not using the eight-string as a rhythmical instrument. I mean, that's what a guitar essentially is. Meshuggah does the rhythmic thing and I don't really see them using chords. I mean, they have their own thing but it's more of a polyrhythm thing with the F#. We still leave the guitar in standard E tuning, with the B and the low F as is. But we now play the B and the low F as we would a regular guitar in E. Basically, we're playing our riffs as we would on a regular six-string. It took a lot of effort because it took me a year before I could make it sound like a guitar that wasn't so muddy and it was difficult to palm the strings. But yeah, we're just looking at it as if it was a six-string guitar. You can't play the chords as if it was a six-string anymore but you can mess around with it to make it sound like a six-string. It's just deeper and heavier.
The next problem is getting the right equipment. If you play in analog, it will be muddy. Yes, the strings are thicker and the speakers are now using different frequencies where you'll get a lot of low end and the mids will be gone. You have to crank up the mids, which causes you to lose the low end. It starts to mess with your sounds. I think we're going to stick with our [Line 6] X3 Live Pods. It's all digital, you get a very clean sound and we came up with a very good sound for the eight-string. We're going to record Doctrine with the X3 Pod. I mean, now we go directly into the board, as well.
So when people see you live, they won't see any amps on-stage?
MAMELI Nope. There are no amps on-stage.
Spheres was an album that caused a lot of heads to turn, as it was a major shift in sound for Pestilence. At that time, there weren't many death metal bands that explored the futuristic, progressive sounds of fusion and jazz. What was the atmosphere like at the time of writing Spheres?
MAMELI Well, we knew we had to come up with some new stuff. As I said before, I will never make a part two of any album. We wanted to evolve as musicians and try to incorporate different styles into our music, which was bold. It was something we felt we had to do. If you look back at it, it wasn't such a good idea. There were bands like Cynic and Atheist who did it, but they had it from the beginning—not from their demos but from their first album. Look at Atheist—they were already incorporating jazz parts. But for us, from hanging out with them, we began to listen to that music. We wanted to bring that into our music but we have a whole different history. The combination was not so good. I actually heard some demos from Spheres and they were way heavier. It also had a lot to do with the synth-guitars. Sometimes it sounded like a keyboard and not a guitar, right? It was all guitar and I think that detached a lot of real, true death metal fans from the music. We didn't have skank beats anymore and it was all groove. The vocals were brutal but different and the guitars sounded MIDI, tiny and small. That also caused a whole bunch of problems for the record company and they wanted to drop us. I was speaking to some people a few months ago and they said they liked the album now. I was like, "Well where were you then?" Now it's considered a cult album, as it was back then. It's no use for us to go back and self-criticize, but I felt it was the wrong move. We should've done Resurrection then and we would've been way up there.
It's interesting to note bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling's arrival to Pestilence during Spheres. How did you hook up with him? Did he have a strong musical influence on the band at the time?
MAMELI I knew him from mutual friends. We were always hanging out and have the same musical interests. Me and him had the same ideas about music, what makes a good song and he knows the jazz standards. It was easy to communicate with him on a musical level. He did an awesome job on Spheres but I already knew that since I knew his other projects. He's a really good musician and really knows how to phrase his instrument.
Pestilence played the Brutal Assault festival with Obscura and I had the chance to talk with Jeroen. I said to him, if you have the chance, it would be awesome if you did Pestilence. He was very excited but he didn't know if he could combine it with Obscura. He talked about it with them and then he ended up on tour with us. He feels very comfortable in the band. Obscura is a German band and we're an all-Dutch band so the communication is different. I think he likes that, as well.
Technical and progressive death metal has been on a rise in recent years, and the influence of Cynic, Atheist and Pestilence has finally crept into the newer generations. What are your thoughts on the amount of interest in technical playing in death metal, and do you like any newer bands?
MAMELI I don't know what you mean by technical playing. Is it a deeper understanding of your instrument or using a lot of notes, scales…well, not even scales since most of those bands don't even know what a scale is. You know, putting 20 riffs into a song with blast beats and fast shit, pig squeels—bands like Devourment, Brain Drill—that's considered technical, right?
Well, yeah in some respect but also bands like the Faceless, the Red Chord, Between the Buried and Me…more of a "musicians" death metal.
MAMELI Right. You can only get so far with technicality because you will lose most of your fans in the long run. What they want is to go to a show and not think too much. Now, if you're a musician's "musician" band, you'll be really playing for musicians. That'll only be a handful of guys that will really get into it. Most fans that like death metal, they want to go to a show for the sheer brutality. What we try to do is find a nice mix between the technicality and the brutality. We want to keep it interesting for us but also our fans. We don't want them to lose "the one" – we don't want them to get lost. They want to shake their heads and know what's going on. I think that super hyper, technical music is going up and up but it will definitely come crashing down and be gone. There's just so much going on. People get distracted and can't keep up for a minute because something new constantly comes up. We don't want to use many notes or get too crazy and just let people enjoy the show – the overall fan. Not just the guy who is looking for the string skipping or the this and that. We want to make music that sounds good. It's as easy as using a simple chord that works. Look at Metallica or AC/DC. They're big because of the simplicity.
So do you listen to any new music at all? Or do you just stick with the old?
MAMELI I actually don't listen to music at all. As a musician, I think you can get distracted and be influenced a lot by listening to certain music styles, unless you listen to music that is totally the opposite and not influence you. Then it's fine. Of course, I have to know what's going on. If someone asked me about Hate Eternal, I can easily tell you who's in the band, the albums they put out… I really like Derek Roddy a lot. I like what he does for music and for extreme drumming. Now everyone does that kind of stuff. Every drummer can go on YouTube and watch and learn. There's so much information and knowledge out there that the mystique is gone. Everyone is in a band and everyone is doing the hyper blast. There's only a few guys that can actually do it good. There's also only a handful of guys that can single-foot blast, which I think is the only true blast there is. Everyone is doing this [mimics motion] where it looks like you're riding a bicycle and it's because they can't do it as fast as the single-foot. The standards have gotten so low and the bands out there are so overwhelming that it's very difficult to pick out the good ones. But if I had to, I'd say that I really like the old Hate Eternal, which got me back into playing metal. The riffing and the brutality is just so good. That keeps the juices flowing. But, I don't like to listen to too much music. It can influence me too much and I want to stay true to the Pestilence style.
Finally, what's next for Pestilence?
MAMELI We have a bunch of shows and festivals over in Europe until September. We're going to record Doctrine in München, Germany with Victor [Santura], who also plays guitar with Triptykon. He's a producer and also has his own studio. It's going to be out next year in February and then the cycle returns. I don't want to think about a U.S. tour just yet because of the whole recession thing here and it's not a good time to tour here. Maybe next year we'll think about it. There will definitely be a European tour. That'll keep me busy for a bit.
I have to say, though, that I'm a real family man so after three weeks I'm just ready to go home to my wife and kids. They are the most important thing for me, and will always be. If I have to say goodbye to music, I could do so with a smile. I'm just here, really, for the sake of music and Pestilence. I still enjoy playing and that's what keeps me going.
Jex Thoth, frontwoman of her eponymous psychedelic doom-rock band, is releasing a CD of hymns by the Process Church of the Final Judgment today with the group Sabbath Assembly, via the extreme-metal label Ajna Offensive. Here, she talks about the Process Church, which rose to prominence in the '60s and '70s and worshiped both Christ and Satan simultaneously, and how such a unique album of doomy folk rock came into being.
REVOLVER How did you discover the Process Church?
JEX THOTH The Ed Sanders book The Family, makes reference to the Process—but aside from that, I new very little of the Process Church of the Final Judgment. Upon reading Love Sex Fear Death, a book published by Feral House and written by one of the Church's original members, Timothy Wyllie, I learned a great deal more. The book is Timothy's firsthand account of what it was like to be a member of the Process—a member for roughly 14 years, almost to the end. I found his accounts very intriguing. Inside the book, one will also find reprints from some of the original Process magazines—for which Timothy's book was named—photographs of members from all different chapters, and the sheet music to three original Process hymns. Initially seduced by their lyrical content, Xtian, who collaborated with me on this project, sought to find and release the Church's the original recordings of these hymns. To no avail. We asked Timothy about it and he said that to the best of his knowledge, they had never been recorded. With that, we began to conceive of "Restored to One." We played through the hymns (of which there are more than 60) trying to determine which of them felt right for us to do. We also contacted several original Process members, the ones we could find, and asked them which ones were their favorites. We continued whittling down the list until we settled on these.
Do you subscribe to its beliefs?
First, I have no intention to push my personal beliefs onto others. I believe that everyone must find their own path, and that these paths are not always the same. I do connect with several of the teaching of the Process. I strongly agree with teaching the importance of embracing all sides of the self. To ignore our darker impulses is to remain blind to the truth. To take on shame for feeling these dark impulses is to punish our selves for a thing that is natural. If an impulse is natural, whether or not to have that impulse is beyond our control. Therefore, we are best served if we make the choice to embrace all of the sides within us. This is not to say that we ought to act on all of our impulses simply because they are natural. Rather, it is to say that we are in control of how we choose to apply this knowledge to our daily lives. I also agree with teaching the importance of understanding what role that personal responsibility plays in our lives. The Process Church teaches that all effects we create must be created back upon us. If we understand and accept that these darker parts exist within us, and we accept that every effect we create will be created back on to us, then we can understand that we are indeed personally responsible for the effects are created upon us. Comprehending and accepting that we are responsible for the effects created on to us, allows us to better navigate through life.
What is it you like about their hymns?
The lyrics to these hymns are very evocative. Many are praise songs to Christ, Satan, Lucifer, and Jehovah all at once. Now, I love to sing about the dark side, but this was something I had never seen before. The hymns utilize these four deities to categorize the opposing sides of the self. This was something I could truly relate to. Their hymns are filled with imagery, and the melodies are beautiful.
How did the idea of doing this CD come about?
We set forth to record these hymns initially because no recordings existed. My passion grew because of the personal connection I was forming to the hymns, and the way it felt to sing them. In connection with the release of the book, we performed seven of the hymns within the context of recreating a Process Mass. The sermons were taken from their original liturgies, with the hymns inside. We also performed the hymns in a variety of other settings. I was able to experience playing them in sacred spaces, bars, colleges, and straight-up rock venues, sometimes within the context of the Mass, sometimes not. Each incantation felt very different to me. With each setting, the way I heard the hymns changed. The more we played them, the more I felt I understood them. All the while, we were busy constructing the album. The sheet music was skeletal with only a single melody line, chord symbols and lyrics. My head filled with ideas.
Few people outside the Church had ever heard these hymns before, so it was very important to us that our renditions maintain the authentic passion that was woven into them. We could have easily highjacked these hymns and set them to music which more closely related to our other projects, but we did not write them and we wanted to respect where they came from. We wanted to give others the chance to be moved because we ourselves had been moved. Since no original recordings exist, we went about drawing that authenticity from all we knew of the church, the lyrics and the personal connection we were both feeling toward the hymns.
Which hymns do you find most personally relevant, and why?
I have come to feel a real affection for all nine of the hymns we chose to record on this album. From the beginning I was struck by "And the Phoenix is Reborn." It was the first hymn I connected with. It is a song about the good that can come from destruction. It is where the title of our album came from. The line in the hymn is, "Restored to the One". Removing the "the" changes the meaning of these lyrics, changes the meaning of the word "One." It brings it back to the teachings of the church, to embrace our opposing sides. To be able to live more harmoniously within ourselves, understanding that having all of these different sides only makes us stronger.
What has the Process Church taught you about yourself?
That resolution does not come over night.
The Sabbath Assembly CD is coming out on a label known for extreme metal. What connection do you see between the Process Church hymns and extreme music?
What is more extreme than singing a praise song to Christ and Satan at the same time? The ideas of the Process Church were unconventional and shocking in the late '60s and early '70s, but they are still pretty extreme even by today's standards. These hymns are heavy straight off the page. They don't need power chords or doom riffs for that heaviness to be conveyed.
The Big Four of Thrash—Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax—are four of the most influential bands in metal. And yet, in the nearly 30 years since their debut albums were released, these four giants have never shared a stage due to a mix of bad blood, growing pains, and other logistical problems. Now, finally, the Big Four are sharing one stage for a short string of European festival dates this summer. And as if this meeting of metal titans weren't earth-shaking enough, their performances at the Sonisphere Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, will be broadcast live to select theaters throughout the world on Tuesday, June 22, so that headbangers from New York to Peru can witness this historic day in metal history. Find where the Big Four will be playing near you at thebigfourlive.com. Revolver tracked down Slayer guitarist and hellraiser Kerry King in Austria and Megadeth frontsmasher Dave Mustaine in Warsaw, Poland, where they graciously filled us in on this amazing global event.
REVOLVER When did you first hear the term "The Big Four" in reference to you guys?
DAVE MUSTAINE That term's been around for a long time. We used to be called the Four Horsemen. Maybe 20 years ago.
How did the Big Four tour come about?
KERRY KING It was something that was trying to be made happen, so it just took everyone signing off on it. I gotta tell you, man, I can't believe, in the 27 years since we put our first record out, that no one's tried to make this happen. Because now that it is happening, it's so cool, it's so important, that every territory in the world wants it. I don't know what took so long.
MUSTAINE We had some opportunities to do these festivals, and we had been doing the Carnage dates [with Slayer], which were of course so popular in the States and Canada. For me, personally, I didn't see it coming… Having dinner with Lars [Ulrich] the other night, he told me that he had talked to Slayer's tour manager a year and a half ago about whether or not this was gonna happen, and I thought, God, I'm so glad I didn't know about this a year and a half ago, because I would've had to spend every day with that "I've got a big gig coming" brain.
Has there been a change amongst metal fans to suddenly give the Big Four tour this much worldwide attention?
MUSTAINE No, this has just been a long time coming. The fans have always been there. All types of people love this music. A lot of people like to poke fun at it, or perpetuate this image of the Jeff Spicoli character, but in my experience, that's not always how it is. The other day, a fan handed me a cigar who turned out to be a cardiologist that operates on pregnant women and on their babies. I thought, Oh, God. Someday my wife's gonna get surgery, and the guy's gonna be listening to "Black Friday!"
With the satellite broadcast, will this tour become an international act?
MUSTAINE Maybe. I love to play. It was what I was created to do. This production with the movie-theater broadcast is just much more than I expected, and now, looking back on everything we've done together, this feels like the completion of a journey. It's been up, it's been down…but we've been there, I was there, a part of it, and it's been a great ride. So yeah, hopefully, we'll take it to the States, and we can do the next interview backstage.
KING I think, as far as American metal, it's gotta be the most important tour that's ever happened… I think the only reason [the movie theater broadcast] is happening is because it's not scheduled to go to the States yet. So for now, it's the only way to see it. It's not even full sets—I think it's 45 minutes of all of us and an hour of Metallica.
For a long time, it seemed like there was bad blood between you guys, specifically between Slayer and Megadeth, and Megadeth and Metallica. What squashed that beef?
KING Before we did the Australian and Japanese run with Megadeth, I was reading the Revolver Slayer issue, and reading this interview we did with Dave. And I just couldn't remember why I wasn't friends with this dude anymore—I could not remember what I was upset about. So we get to the airport, and I saw him coming out of the lounge, and I came up, shook his hand, and said, 'Hey, dude, I don't think I've talked to you in about 15 years!' We have a shitload of dates coming up, and honestly, when I've talked to him, I remember the guy I dug 25 years ago.
MUSTAINE We've just learned how to step back see what we stand for in the world, the Big Four, and how each band has contributed to that in its own way. I had a huge turnaround on my whole outlook at life walking into this tour, these dates, with just a brand new relationship. The first person I talked to was Kirk [Hammet]. We talked for a while, and then at dinner, I sat next to James [Hetfield] and Lars, and it was cool to look at it—just how much we changed the world… Twenty years ago, this tour probably wouldn't have happened—we were all young, and we weren't dealing with the fame too well.
What do Slayer represent in the Big Four?
KING We represent all that is evil in the Big Four, and historically, I think we've represented thrash the best, but it's funny, just how these four bands from this same movement went off to become different entities.
What about Megadeth?
MUSTAINE Our lyrics are a little deeper than some of the others, but we're each different in that way—Slayer's lyrics are really different from Anthrax's. We're really just like a four-paned window, you know—four different vantage points, all getting across that same message.
Since Metallica is headlining these shows, Kerry, should they be worried about getting blown off the stage by one of you?
KING The one thing I'm not happy about—and we didn't know this until we got here—is that it's not always the Big Four in a row. Some days, there are bands in between us, and that's kind of a bummer. A night ending with Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer would be brutal. I have nothing against those other bands, but I didn't know about that. But yeah, we open for Metallica some nights. I've seen Metallica twice on this tour, and they may not have all the spiel and bells and whistles they had in the States, but they've been killing it. They're pros, man, they'll have no problem. That said, man, our set's brutal, and it ain't there to make friends.
Interview by Chris Krovatin
As seen on the IFC show Z Rock, hard-rock bruisers ZO2 lead a double life, playing children's parties during the day and rocking out at night (they've even opened for KISS). The Season 2 DVD of Z Rock hit stores on June 8, and Paulie Z., Joey Cassata, and David Zablidowsky of ZO2, were more than happy to fill Revolver in on some of the hilarious events that happened both on and off set.
REVOLVER How did the show itself come about?
JOEY CASSATA We actually are a kid band and a rock band, and we used to pay our bills by playing in the [children's group] Z Brothers. We were doing a kid's birthday party and a William Morris agent was there, and he was like, "You guys are really good, but you look like you're rock musicians. What's the deal?" And we actually had a show at [New York venue] B.B. Kings that night, so we said why don't you come down. So he came to the show and he was like, "You guys are great. I can't believe I just watched you play 'Wheels on the Bus' and now I'm watching you play in front of a big crowd. We gotta do something." So we said, "That's great. Can you book us?" But he wasn't in the booking department; he was in the TV department. So he suggested doing a TV show about a rock band at night and kids' band during the day, because we have this "Superman–Clark Kent thing" going.
What's the craziest thing that happened when filming this season?
PAULIE Z. I got to feel up Joan Rivers. That's pretty crazy. [Laughs] The thing that's cool about Z Rock is that things happen pretty much on the fly, which can also cause chaos sometimes. So they said, "How cool would it be if Paulie got to grab Joan's boobs?" So they said, "OK, let's write it in!" and stuff like that happened a lot.
How are the storylines and situations come up with for the show? Are they scripted?
DAVID ZABLIDOWSKY All of the situations from the show are mostly based on real things that happened to us, not necessarily in the right order. When we first started the show, we sat down with the production team and gave them hours of road stories and personal stories that we had, and they took those scenarios and juxtaposed them together in one episode, while obviously exaggerating it a little bit. What is scripted to a point are the actual situations; so we'll know that, for instance, we're gonna be at a party where Constantine [Maroulis] is going to be locked in a room, but that's all that we know. As far as what actually happens in the scene and what we say, we come up with on the spot. Even with guest stars, we get a call that says they're in town and would love to be on the show, boom, they write 'em into the show.
This season, you guys ended up in jail on the show. Have you ever gotten into any actual trouble with the law when filming the show?
Z. We're pretty good boys, but when we were on tour with KISS I almost got arrested, actually I almost got shot. We were at a 24-hour Laundromat doing our laundry really late at night, and I put my stage clothes in a separate dryer but I didn't turn it on; I just left them there to dry. We walked down the block to the store and when we came back, I looked in the dryer, and my stage clothes were gone. When I asked the guy who worked there if he saw the clothes that were in the dryer, he said that he threw 'em out, and I said, "What?! Why would you do that!" and he said it was because of a policy they had about clothes left in the machines. When I looked in the garbage can, the clothes were covered with detergent and bleach, and I went crazy. I started kicking machines and punching stuff and he actually called the cops. About 10 minutes later, I looked outside and there were like three SWAT cars; they got out with guns and there were like please put your hands up we don't want any trouble, and our manager had to talk 'em down. It was unreal because I've never been in a situation like that.
Any other stories that stick out about celebrities you worked with on Season 2?
CASSATA From day one, as soon as we started working with Frank Stallone, he showed up on set at 6 a.m., hyper as all hell, with a guitar and a little mini Marshall amp strapped to his belt singing Frank Stallone songs. And we were like, its 6 a.m., what's he doing? [Laughs] And then all of a sudden, Mini KISS, in full makeup and full KISS gear, are running around the set, and it actually looked like we were in a carnival for a little while. It was really out of control.
Any plans for Season 3 of Z Rock?
ZABLIDOWSKY Right now we've actually parted ways with IFC, so we're looking for a different network to be the new home for Z Rock. In the meantime were actually putting out our own webisodes on youtube.com/zo2videoz. We're actually taking our camera out with us on the road and filming Z Rock for real. We'll have footage of us recording, us on the road, and little skits that we do.
Interview by Roger Vai
It's common knowledge to many die-hard death metal fans that Florida has nothing to prove when it comes to quality death metal. In the late Eighties and early Nineties, the Sunshine state was spewing out bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Death, Deicide, Monstrosity, Atheist, Cannibal Corpse and Nocturnus – just to name a few. It was the equivalent to New York City's exclusive Eighties hardcore scene, where all bands knew each other and each band carried the desire to top one another.
Now, Deicide co-founder and drummer Steve Asheim is ready to take the now-stagnant Florida extreme music scene to new levels with Order of Ennead. The band, which also features guitarist/vocalist Kevin Quirion, bassist Scott Patrick and lead guitarist John Li, rose from the ashes of Council of the Fallen and released their sophomore album, An Examination of Being, this year through Earache Records.
In the following interview, both Kevin and John discuss An Examination of Being's creation and concept, give a lesson about living life on the road and discuss what it's like being in a band while attending college.
How did Order of Ennead come about?
KEVIN QUIRION Our bass player, Scott Patrick, who I played with in Council of the Fallen, knew everybody. We stopped playing for a while and I actually ran into him at a Cradle of Filth show over in Tampa. He said that Steve [Asheim] from Deicide wanted to jam. I was like, sure he does, because, you know, he's from Deicide. We got together and started putting songs together immediately. I actually had a lot of material already since I'm always writing. Later, we got John Li involved.
JOHN LI I met Scott through Ralph [Santolla of Obituary/Deicide] at Gigantour, I think. I was 16 or 17 at the time and he asked me if I wanted to try out for a black metal band called Council of the Fallen. They disbanded and a few years later after my freshman year at NYU, they asked me again only this time they had a record deal and they were going to record an album. I was like, yeah, of course I wanna do it [laughs].
Kevin, as the lyricist and the voice of the band, what are some of the themes you want to expose? How are An Examination of Being and the self-titled different in that respect?
QUIRION It's pretty similar. We pretty much talk
about the same type of topics, which are life, existence, how we're here… things that you think about when you're sitting at home late at night. Later, I went to seek out other avenues from other people with similar thoughts. Dante's Inferno and the concept of karma are pretty interesting, as well as the Hindu religions and Japanese death poems. Any concept of why or how we're here inspires the lyrics.
LI I think it's a pretty unique lyrical concept because even though a lot of black metal or death metal bands preach against religion, if they preach Satanic ideas then they preach Satanism and they indoctrinate that onto the listener whereas Order of Ennead aren't telling people how to think. We're telling people to follow their own intuition and I think that's a pretty unique aspect.
An Examination of Being was tracked and mixed at Audio Hammer Studios with Mark Lewis. What was working with him like? How and why did you decide to go with him?
QUIRION We tracked the first album with him also. He's close to where we are and he has good rates, which is always good. After having done the first album with him, we already knew what to expect. It's always nice to have the comfort of knowing what to expect in the studio as well as other factors like being able to sleep in there for a week and so on. He also worked with some great bands so we knew he was able to get the right sound for us.
LI It's also nice to get the antics of [producer] Jason Seucof. It's really refreshing. Every time we needed to take a break, we would just go talk to him because he's one funny motherfucker.
QUIRION And I was able to watch the whole third season of Dexter in the studio [laughs].
LI Mark Lewis is also good with ProTools so every time I fucked up a solo he would be like, I got it! Just kidding, of course. [laughs]
Musically, the songs on An Examination of Being seem more direct and to-the-point. Were there any conscious decisions on how the songs would sound like?
QUIRION I'm always writing songs. I never have an idea of where or how I can take a song. I'll just pick up the guitar and come up with a riff I like. That's the beauty of song writing. I never think, I'm going to make this song heavier or this song faster. I can easily interchange the songs from the first album to the second album and I'll be fine with it. Yes, this album is heavier, but it was nothing intentional. I always try to come up with something groovy. To me, metal is all about the riffs. That's the main thing. I enjoyed listening to death metal in the early 90's because I liked the riffs. When black metal got better in the mid-90's, it was because they got better riffs. That's the main focus for me.
LI I also think it's good for me to be able to look at the songs with an objective point of view. I think I heard things differently from what Kevin heard. All of the songs were written at the same time with a certain mindset, which is why I think this album is more cohesive, unlike the first album where one song was written four years ago and this one was written three weeks ago…
QUIRION Well, "In the Mirror" I've had for six years.
LI And that's the only one that stands out because of that!
John, how did you approach the solos this time around? Were there any specific goals you wanted to achieve as a lead guitar player?
LI I think I wanted to sound like Eric Johnson as much as possible [laughs]. I was in a weird Eric Johnson phase. All jokes aside, I had more time to sit with these songs so I had more time to get a better feel for them. I came up with specific themes that I wanted to at least improvise off of and in that sense I think the solos have more narrative. They flowed and transitioned better and said something rather than just going in knowing you have to record. For the first record, I pretty much got the songs like a week before we went into the studio so I didn't have the time to sit with the songs as much. We even demoed the new songs with the leads. Of course, I didn't play the same solos but I had a much better feel for what I had to do. One of the solos is actually written note-for-note using Guitar Pro [on "Conduits to Eternity"]. Usually, when you write solos using Guitar Pro, it will sound much different when you actually record it. However, it sounded exactly the same, which I thought was really weird how it worked that way. Obviously, there's going to be more feel and inflection when actually played…
What were some of the equipment that you used during the recording sessions?
QUIRION I used an EVH head and an ENGL head for the rhythms and a modified B.C. Rich that was in the studio. I rarely get to use my own gear on recordings because Mark has everything you can ever want. I also used a 5150 and Dual Rectifier blend.
LI I used my Les Paul for all the leads, a modified JCM800 and I think a Tubescreamer as well. All I need is a little overdrive.
Though the band members, aside from lead guitarist John Li, are veterans in the death metal scene, Order of Ennead is still relatively new. The band did some extensive tours in Europe and in the U.S.: how was that like? What was the reaction from the fans?
QUIRION Oh, the people liked it. The problem is getting people to listen to us. The first tour we did was a six-band tour and we were second on the bill, which meant we went on at like 7/7:30. It's a matter of having people getting there early enough to see us. John's new but Steve has been around for a while. I've been on a few records but it's mostly low-key stuff. Scott's been doing some stuff for a while too, like with Resurrection.
John, how was it like jumping straight into these tours?
LI [laughs] The first show I ever played with these guys was at the Mug in Tampa and the second show I did was in Amsterdam so that was a pretty vast difference. I didn't really have time to get my feet wet before these tours so I learned as I went along. It was definitely a learning experience. There wasn't anything that intense that I couldn't handle and I had a lot of mental preparation from Ralph [laughs].
QUIRION Just do the opposite of what Ralph tells you [laughs].
Was being on the road like what you have envisioned when you were still reading about it as a fan?
LI I don't think it ever is. You're always going to have that fantasy of what touring is but it got demystified pretty quickly. I was approaching it with a more grounded perspective.
QUIRION It's also a lot more boring than what you would think. There's a lot of downtime…
LI It's only boring if you make it boring. Kevin and I would go visit some of the sites on our downtime even if it wasn't a huge town. There would always be a mall or something to go to.
QUIRION We would go on second so we didn't have a soundcheck. We would just set up and leave for like five hours. We would check out Paris or Vienna and take advantage of it while we could. I mean, we're there. Why not take advantage of it?
LI I remember we had two days off at a beach in the south of France. That was awesome. We broke into a castle. Obviously, the castle isn't guarded at night so Jonka from Tribulation climbed over the gate and unlocked it. We ended up drinking wine in there. It was awesome.
QUIRION Also, get along with the bands you're on tour with. You're gonna be with them for a month and you're gonna run into them later so don't be a dick.
LI Yeah, and we all became really good friends. I don't think anyone had any conflicts with anybody.
How has the relationship with Earache Records been so far? How did you guys get together?
QUIRION The relationship's been really good. Obviously Steve is in Deicide so we got a deal through him. We only had a demo out at the time and they were willing to give us a shot. It wasn't going to be some random album since it's from Steve so they went with that.
John, you attend school full-time in New York City while the rest of your band is down in Tampa. Does this hinder any activity with the band?
LI Not really. When we got offered those tours, I took a semester off and I'm very glad I did. It was a huge eye opener. Right now, we're not playing shows so I thought it would be appropriate for me to go back to school. Even if I am in class, I still have time to write music so when we're not touring, we're always working on material.
What's next for Order of Ennead?
QUIRION We're trying to do some dates in June in Florida. Deicide's got a lot of stuff coming up in the summer but we're trying to get some things going in August. Whether John goes to school or not, we still want to tour. It's up to him if he wants to take off from school but he has a friend in mind in case he stays in school [at the time of this writing, the band has announced Shannon Hamm, formerly of Death, to fill in for John]. It's not like we don't want John for the tours, but we also don't want to be held back. Tours are expensive and I totally understand if he wants to stay in school.
LI Yeah, and I don't want to hold them back.
Twenty-one years ago, Sodom released a thrash-metal beast in Agent Orange. Recently reissued by SPV as a two-disc deluxe edition with bonus tracks galore, the record has become one of the genre's triumphs, becoming what's rumored to be Germany's best-selling thrash-metal album. The band wouldn't last, though. Guitarist Frank Blackfire would leave soon after to join Kreator, and drummer Chris Witchhunter, who passed away in 2008, would leave the band in 1992. Here, vocalist-bassist Tom Angelripper—the band's sole original member—looks back.
REVOLVER Why do you think Agent Orange was so successful?
TOM ANGELRIPPER I remember that we had been on tour at that time and we got phone call from our label. They informed us about the chart entry. We were surprised, because we entered the charts as the first metal band ever! That was awesome. Now we got the respect we deserved but we didn't do the music for any labels or the music industry; we did it for the fans. Agent Orange also changed my life in one important way. That was the right album at the right time and got a good-selling album. From that time I quit my job in the coalmine, where I had been since 1979. My dream came true to live just from the music and spent all my time for touring and rehearsing with the band.
What do you think of the album today?
It represents the spirit of the end '80s. But it's not my favorite Sodom album. Every album marks another step in our career and history. We also love to play a couple of these songs in the current set list. The title track is a real classic.
Coming out of Persecution Mania, what did you want to do differently on Agent Orange?
The songwriting was the same like it was on Persecution Mania, but the production was better and more powerful. We mixed the tracks in a different studio in Hannover, a state of the art recording in that times. But also SPV did a great job, and they started a big promotion campaign hat helped us to get more respect from the magazines and promoters.
Why were you so fascinated with the Vietnam War, which influenced many of the album's lyrics?
I`ve been always interested in history and I try to describe the bad things in this world without any political opinion or message. I know that we can`t change the world, but to be a singer in a thrash band gives me the opportunity to scream it out. Vietnam is just symbolic for all the wars in this world
Why did guitarist Frank Blackfire leave after this release?
I think he had a good friendship with Kreator, and they offered him to join the band for the upcoming U.S. tour. That was very sad, 'cause we also booked a sold-out European tour. Many years later he told me that he was unable to work with Chris [Witchhunter, drums] anymore, 'cause of massive problems during the recording session to Agent Orange. But nowadays I am still in contact with him. I've organized reunions over the years. I like it so much to talk about the good old times with all the ex-members.
You've said you're still friends with Frank. How has his opinion of the album changed over the years?
He always tell me that he is proud to be a strong part of the Sodom history and he will never forget the good old times.
What are your fondest memories of writing or recording Agent Orange?
I remember that there was a personal crisis brewing between the Frank and Chris. During the the last days they didn't had any conversation, 'cause Frank was pissed off about Witchhunter`s attitudes. It's possible that he got the offer to join Kreator at this time, but he wanted to finish the production. In this bad atmosphere, we got drunk every day to get the same level. Harris [Johns, producer] was very disappointed about the situation, but he always pushed us to bring it to the end, but the problems got so massive and our anger discharged by destroying the whole hotel equipment. But anyway, we did it, and finished the production as professional as possible.
Interview by Kory Grow
Silent Civilian, the band that singer-guitarist Jonny Santos started after the disbandment of SpineShank, just released its second album, Ghost Stories (Mediaskare). Other than Santos, the band consists of all new members—and to make the genesis of the album all the more complicated, Santos re-formed SpineShank in the years since Silent Civilian's debut. Nonetheless, as proven with their lead single "Atonement," the band hasn't missed a step. Here, Santos tells how the record was made and what lies ahead of both of his bands.
REVOLVER What did you want to do differently on this album from your last?
JONNY SANTOS I wanted to evolve. My mindset was much different from the last, and I knew I had to deliver a better piece of work. I challenged myself and let go of the reins a bit by sharing guitar work with Dave [Delacruz]. I wanted to create a record that would ultimately strike a nerve for better or worse, I wanted to piss people off as much as I was. I wanted to make a dangerous record. I feel we did so.
You have a whole new Silent Civilian lineup on this album. What happened to the Return of the Temple lineup?
Well, you are talking about a lineup that never had a chance. I think a lot of the guys joined the band thinking they were gonna be rich and be an instant rockstar because of my past success in SpineShank. That was not the case. I was starting all over with a new vision, a new band, and a label that nobody had ever heard of. There were a lot of fill-ins, but I will give most past credit to [drummer] Chris Mora and [bassist] Disco [Daylen]. They are still great friends of mine, and we keep in touch. Hell, Chris and I still hang out. They just had other things going on in their personal lives that prevented them from continuing on with Silent Civilian. The new lineup isn't so new. We have been solid for two years. We have just been writing, and everyone is in other projects as well. I support that kind of creative behavior.
You formed Silent Civilian when you thought you could do everything you could with SpineShank. What freedoms did you exercise on Ghost Stories?
I exercised all demons. This band has been such an outlet for me and what I always wanted to do. I have had total freedom to write what I wanted to. I was even allowed to produce Ghost Stories. The shoe fits differently in this band as opposed to SpineShank, in the sense that I have a bit more of a hold on things. Not to say that I am a control freak by any means, but Silent Civilian is my brainchild, so I watch over it closely. It has grown in the last four years, and I feel it has the right lineup now, the members of whom share the same vision, so I dont have to be as cautious. These guys know what the fuck is up, and I love it. It finally feels like a band.
In 2008, you re-formed SpineShank and toured on Music as a Weapon the following year. Why did you decide to revisit that band?
SpineShank will always be my firstborn. The reunion comes down to two things—friendship, and chemistry. [Drummer] Tommy Decker and I were children together and started something 14 years ago that will never die. Mike [Sarkisyan, guitar] and Rob [Garcia, bass] joined in our teenage years, so it's safe to say that we all grew up together. We have never changed members and never will. That is just the essence of the Shank. Wierd, but true. We were friends before a band, so in my mind that changes everything. After the last tour in 2004, we decided it was time for a break. A much needed one, I might add. What it really comes down to is that we buried the hatchet, like many bands do, and got back to doing what we do best. We just finished the record and I am very excited. Its been six years since the last release, and I think people are ready for it. Music as a Weapon proved that we still have a solid fanbase and it was great to be back onstage with them. SpineShank killed it like we never left.
How did having SpineShank active while writing this album affect the music you were writing with Silent Civilian?
It didnt affect it at all. Two different animals. The writing process for me as a vocalist-guitarist is so night and day when it comes to both bands. I understand the difference in the two, and I obey the guidelines. I actually wrote Silent Civilian material while touring with SpineShank, and vice-verca. I actually feel lucky and blessed as a musician to have the opportunity to be in two completely different bands with two completely different styles of music. It's like being married to two really awesome, beautiful, talented women. You just don't get a day off. [Laughs]
What are your plans to record new music with SpineShank?
No plans. Already done. We just finished the new record. It has been a long process, but we wanted to make sure it is all substance. Over the last two years, we have written well over 35 songs. Fifteen will make the record. We figured that if we were gonna put a new record out, we needed to make sure it was the best thing we had ever done. We are talking about SpineShank six years later. We are different people with different mindsets now, and we wanted that to be evident. I love the anticipation. I'm excited.
You let Revolvermag.com premiere "Atonement." What are your other favorite songs on Ghost Stories and why?
I love "Cast the First Stone" because it has an anthem feel to it. It is a song about unity and friendship when times are bad. It is a song about true colours and what a person is made of. It reminds me of being 16 years old with my best friend stuck in an alley in L.A. getting ready to fight seven guys and knowing that we might die fighting side by side. I love that feeling. It makes you appreciate who your true friends are. Even if one of you goes down, You will die trying to pick the other up. It is a song of loyalty, respect, and love for a friend. My other favorite is "The Phoenix," just because it is heavy as fuck, and has a very nostalgic thrash feel to me in a wierd way. I feel like the metal community needs a few songs like that these days.
You recorded 15 songs for the album, but only 11 made the album. What's going on with the other four?
Well, we had the same issue on the last record. To be honest, we are not sure what will come of them. What we are sure of is that they didnt have their place on this record. Maybe someday we will put out a record of all the songs that didn't make the record. But dont hold your breath. We are not in the habit of putting a bunch of filler on our records. If I thought for one second that they were good enough to be on the record, they would be there.
You titled the album Ghost Stories. What's your favorite ghost story?
The one where I come back from the dead and haunt you.
Interview by Kory Grow
Dååth guitarists Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler have just released an instrumental record called Avalanche of Worms (Magna Carta) from their side project Levi/Werstler. Playing alongside Cynic drummer Sean Reinert, bassist Kevin Scott, and keyboardist Eric Guenther, Levi and Werstler indulge unbridled shredding and prog-rock riffs on the disc. Dååth fans should take note of this tangent, though, because the guys have said that the music on this album foreshadows what they'll be doing on that band's new record, due in October. Here, Eyal Levi explains the connection.
REVOLVER Why did you and Emil decide to step out of Dååth to create this instrumental record?
EYAL LEVI We've always been involved in lots of different musical settings. In this situation, the label approached us wanting to do it, and it coincided with having a little bit of time off in the initial stages, which was a case of perfect timing… It's something that we have always wanted to do, so it was kind of a no brainer. It is very important to us as musicians to do something besides Dååth and have it be released and get some attention. While Dååth is what most people know us for, it's not the only thing that we do and it's never been.
When listening to this album, it feels like listening to an enormous piece of music rather than individual tracks, what inspired you to take that route?
I've always dreamt of having a long-form kind of album like that. It's just been a personal goal, where you can listen to it from start to finish and it takes you on a journey, it's not really about singles, it's more about a collective whole work… It just started to present itself that way after a little while of working and it became pretty obvious that this would be a really good way to put the music together and to construct it. It just felt right.
The cover artwork is very interesting on this album, did you guys draw it up, or was it based on a concept of some sort?
We wanted legit art on the visual side to represent our music. The same guy that does all of Dååth's artwork, Jordan Haley, did it for us. All we told him was that we wanted it to be psychedelic, trippy, dark, grotesque, and not traditional metal because that's what this album is. He always catches the vibe of what we're working on. … People get a vibe from the artwork that represents you. They're associating your music with that visual. When you put the amount of work that we put into this, you want it to be packaged in an appropriate way, if we didn't we'd be selling our music short.
How do you think the overall experience of making this album will inspire or influence the new and upcoming Dååth album?
Avalanche of Worms was the initial testing ground for some of the things we had talked about doing in Dååth, and the test was successful. So we're going to use some of those techniques again in a completely different way… We're really set on making each project we do have its own personality… We took things farther than they were before on this record. The rest of Dååth heard some things that they haven't heard us do, which shows that we have some new options to bring to the table. But the next Dååth record is not going to be a 45-minute long song. It's gonna be a Dååth record.
Interview by Roger Vai