No no, TELEphone.
He was really supernice and I had a great time talking to him. Then he left me and broke my heart forever. My questions are in bold; his answers are in plain text.
So you've been doing interviews all day, I guess?
No, actually I just started at 2 PM.
Oh! Well that's good! So what's the deal here - you got signed to Metal Blade by winning an mp3 contest?
Yeah! It was the "Metal Search" contest put on by Metal Blade and MP3.com.
How many bands took part in that? Could ANYBODY submit mp3s for it?
Well, every metal band that has a page on mp3.com was eligible to register and enter. They narrowed it down to, I think, eight finalists and from there it went on a voting basis. They had voting for 4 weeks, where people could go in and vote for which one they liked the best. We happened to be one of the finalists, and we were pretty pleased with that! When we ended up winning, it was like - I mean, we weren't expecting that at all! We couldn't really believe it when we won.
But were you aware that you had a really big following on mp3.com? Do you have a big following in Orange County?
We've been slowly building up for the last 10 years in Orange County. As for MP3.com, we knew our music was getting downloaded because they have the site stats. So we knew before the contest that there was some interest there. And when you compare us to other metal bands on there, even ones that have a little higher profile in the underground, we're probably getting more page hits. But it was still surprising - I didn't think we were one of the bigger fish in that pond.
Yeah! I mean, when you compare the stats to other bands, the fact that we - see, they have charts on mp3.com, like metal charts for the most popular bands. We would land up there every once in a while, but we would never stay up too long. I don't know how much play that has in the overall picture. I just know that Metal Blade picked the bands they thought were most original, and
Oh! Metal Blade picked the bands?
Yeah, they picked the eight finalists, then the rest was through fan votes.
Oh wow! That's great! I was actually going to ask you why you felt you won, but - see, when I requested this interview, Metal Blade sent me a copy of the new CD but because we're on opposite coasts, it will probably get here tomorrow. So instead I went onto mp3.com and listened to some of your songs from the list album. And I gotta tell you - and I'm not saying this just to be polite or whatever - I really really liked it a lot.
I'm serious - it has a great driving sound. It's fast, it's heavy, it repeats enough to let you really get into the riff instead of changing 400 times every song like a lot of the moreextreme metal bands do. It reminded me of Motorhead or early Slayer, but without really SOUNDING like either of those bands. It just has that same great intensity.
Well, if you like the last one, I think you'll really be into the new one. It's a complete step forward for us. We got to work with Bill Metoyer, so the production is better than the last one. I mean, the last one was produced well, plus the studio in-house help were really good people. But this new one with Bill producing it is really the best work we've done to date. I would love for you to hear it because if you liked the last one, the new one is a lot better. The songs are all new songs - I'm not just trying to hype it up! We couldn't be happier with the way it came out. It's exactly what we wanted to do and capture with the budget they gave us. And we're looking forward to going out on the road to support it.
Are you coming to NYC, do you know?
Probably yeah! We actually played New York earlier this year. We played at the Jersey Metalfest at Asbury. We didn't play any gigs in New York City, but one member of the band was originally from New Jersey and we really wanted to go into the city - I'd never been to New York! So we spent a few days in the city with him as our guide, going to bars, Times Square, Ground Zero.. We're looking forward to coming back for some gigs, and that should hopefully happen within this year.
That'll be excellent. Hey - This is completely off the topic, but I was reading your bio on the site and I was thrilled to see that The Wall is your favorite album.
It's one of my favorite albums ever since I was a kid! I mean, so many Pink Floyd fans are like "The Wall is just goofy, it's just Roger Waters, the best Pink Floyd stuff was earlier," but I think The Wall is amazing.
Me too. It is a Roger Waters album, but I tend to think Pink Floyd died when he left the band! I've gone to see them since he left -
Yeah, me too.
And they put on a good show. You know, they had lots of lights and lasers and they play all the hits. But I went to see Roger Waters two years ago on a solo tour and HE puts on a show.
Oh yeah. He plays the NON-hits that you want to hear that Pink Floyd won't play anymore. But yeah, The Wall is fuckin incredible. I can identify with that album so much. That's definitely one of those desert island classics.
How old were you when you got into it? Have you loved it since you were a kid or -
Oh yeah! I mean, my earliest memory is being on the school bus and the driver was playing the radio, and that song came on - "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2" and all the kids started singing it! And this was a field trip and there were teachers on there, and we're all just screaming, "HEY! TEACHER! LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE!" And I just knew I had to buy this album.
So if your favorite band is Pink Floyd, why do you play death metal?
Well, I went metal!
Oh okay. How old were you when that happened? And who was the band that first got you into metal?
Kiss. My parents took me to my first concert when I was 10 and it was Kiss. Because they were like the only band I listened to. All my records were Kiss, my whole bedroom was Kiss! And then finally one buddy of mine said, "Dude, you gotta get some other albums. There's a lot more great bands out there besides Kiss." And I was like, "What do you mean? Like who?" Then he showed me - I still remember - he showed me his AC/DC album. Back in Black. And so I said okay and I went out and bought that and listened to it and was like, "Wow, he's right! There are other cool bands out there other than Kiss!" So then I kept buying stuff and I got into Maiden and Priest, then it just sort of took off from there. Metallica. Metallica really set me on the course -those guys were gods at the time, regardless of what they are now.
When did they lose you - the Black Album or later than that?
Actually for me it was when Cliff died.
Oh wow! That's pretty early!
Yeah, I mean I've always respected Newsted and And Justice For All is good for what it is, but there's no bass tone on that album. There's just nothing for a bass player to get into! And then when they did the black album, it was like yeah they're sellouts. They got Motley Crue's producer! I even saw them on that tour too. My girlfriend was crazy about those guys at the time.
And Justice for All was okay, I guess. The production makes it sound like a pretty stale album, but the songs are there. It had lots of lengthy epic jams and stuff, but fuck! Compared to their first three albums.. You take Kill `Em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets - every song on each of those albums was killer. You couldn't miss. There was not a filler song on any of them. But then after that, it's not like they were losing it but I don't know.. They just got bigger and bigger after he died, and now they don't even live up to the first five letters of their name anymore. But they got famous, you know. I guess I can't hold that against them.
I saw on your site that you have a college degree, which, I know a lot of people in metal bands, young people, they'll skip college thinking they're gonna hit it big and then it ends up not working out and then they can't get a decent job. But it seems like you're in okay shape as far as that goes. Do you work a day job right now?
Yeah I do. I work for a buddy of mine that used to play in a band. It's this home business he started - literally! Working out of his house! I work part-time. He's real cool and lets me do band business out of there and everything. I get health benefits through there and stuff.
Oh wow! That's like a perfect situation! He understands when you have to go on tour and -
Yeah, it's really worked out for me. It's like having your best friend as your boss. They understand what I'm doing in the band, so if I need time off, they know it's my first priority. It's a really cool situation.
So The Fallen was around for ten years before you got the record contract. So it sounds like you're definitely in it for the music! How have you guys stayed together for so long? It's pretty rare, especially among bands that aren't signed yet!
It's a long story - I could get into it but it would take a while. Even though everyone in the current lineup was in the original lineup - see, the three of them met at Berklee College of Music in Boston, then graduated and relocated out here, which is when I hooked up with them. That was in 1992. Since then, Max had to quit for a little while for personal reasons, so we went through a couple drummers at that point. Our last album actually had a different drummer than Max. But now he's back and he plays on the new one. I think we've had Spinal Tap luck with drummers! But finally we got Max back into the fold. Mark's only been in since '96. He was part of the original band in Boston, but he didn't originally make it out when they did in `92. He stayed in Boston to finish up his degree. It took some convincing to get him out here four years later, but finally he did - in 96. So we've had basically the same lineup for the last 5-6 years, I'd say. With some minor exceptions. Like the different drummer.
Having been around for ten years, I'd imagine that you guys have written a ton of songs. I mean, rather than just playing the same 10 or 20 for a full decade! So I'm just curious if, now that the new album is out, you ever think, "Aw man! We have so many great songs on our other albums, but nobody knows about them! We gotta get `em out there!" Or have you grown tired of them?
Well, each time we released our demos, we were proud of it at the time, I wouldn't be ashamed of it if people heard it. It's just that there's no demand for it right now. Maybe down the road, people will hear the new album and get into it, and then tune into the fact that we've had past releases. So maybe there will be demand down the road, at which point we might see a necessity to release them. We have all the past masters! We have our "vault." And there's nothing we'd be ashamed of. Like, there was never a point when we had our hair metal, Pantera phase - although one early incarnation had a lead singer that was more Hollywoody. But he only lasted about a year and a half.
He was more what?
He came from Hollywood bands. You know, the glam stuff.
He was looking to go into a heavier direction, and we were having auditions so he came by and said, "Oh I love you guys! Let me sing for you!" So we started working with him, but he couldn't shake his glam background. Like it got to the point where we'd be doing a show and we'd just be wondering, "Okay, in which song will he take his shirt off tonight?" And he did all this pounding his chest stuff, and dropping to his knees. And we were just like, "Look, that's what we're about." So we got rid of him. I was like fuck it we don't need a lead singer!
When you play concerts on this upcoming tour, will you only be playing songs off of the new CD?
No, we're not just playing songs from this album. Because we go back to -- there are old songs we like to play. We didn't really ever do a proper release for the last CD. We shopped it around but no one wanted to pick it up. So we made it available on mp3.com, but we never printed up our own copies and sold them at shows; we would just refer people to web page. But I'm hoping that at some point down the road, Metal Blade will put it out or somebody else will. Because I think it's a good album that people would be interested in hearing if they like the current release.
Did you guys pick Bill Metoyer?
Metal Blade told us that he was interested in working with us. We've always been big fans of his and the bands he's produced, going back to.. DRI -
Yeah, that's who I associate him with! I love DRI.
He also did the first couple of Slayer records.
Seriously? I didn't know that.
Yeah! He produced I think Show No Mercy and - see, I'm a big Slayer fan, so I was really excited about working with him. And he was really cool - he actually expressed interest in producing us! He knew what we were working with - he knew the contest, and the fact that we were working with a $10,000 budget. That was the prize - a $10,000 budget. But when we first got in touch with him, he said, "I don't record albums with less than a $25,000 budget, but I like you guys and I want to work with you. So I'll take the $10,000, but I wanna do it on my rig." He had his own rig set up with ProTools, a mobile rig. So we were like, "Cool! No problem, as long as it's recorded in a studio." So he brought his ProTools into the studio and we did it. We actually recorded at the same place that Engine did their album! We got there and he was already set up - "Okay, you gotta be out by this time, cuz Engine's coming in." And we're like, "OK! No problem!"
I know this is a stupid question, but I'm gonna ask it anyway. I play guitar. Not in a band, but I play guitar. And the way I'm influenced by other guitarists is that I notice some really unique, cool way of playing and think to myself, "Wow! I need to come up with something neat like that!" And then I fiddle around and completely fail to create anything like what I was trying to do. But still, that's the way I'm influenced! So I'm curious - how is a bass player "influenced" to play in a certain way? Like, what sorts of things did you pick up from Roger Waters and Lemmy and Steve Harris....
Well see, they all have different styles. Like Steve Harris plays exclusively with his fingers; he never uses a pick. And he's pretty methodical. He's a really clean player - you can't get more precise than Steve Harris. Then on the other hand there's Lemmy. This isn't a cut on Lemmy, but he has a sloppier attack, you know what I mean? And he always plays with a pick. He has a really dirty sound - he's like bassy guitar player. Or then take someone like Cliff, who is a great combination of those two and Geezer all in one - dirty tone, wah, playing with his fingers, up there whipping his hair around - I've taken all that in, and that's what's shaped me playing bass. Those are the guys I like to watch and listen to. It wasn't a conscious decision. It's just that these guys are cool! They were like bass players in the band, but they WEREN'T just bass players in the band. They had their own thing, their own identity. I mean, people see them up there and they're like, "Hey, there's Geezer! There's Lemmy!" They weren't just like in the background. Like. they weren't like the bass player in Huey Lewis and the News - do you know his name?
Exactly! Because he just stood in the background. I never wanted to be that bass player. I wanted to be out there whipping my hair around and headbanging by the monitor. Cuz I see these guys out there not acting like bass players - they're acting like guitar players! i consider myself in that role. I've actually learned more from guitar players in my bands than from anyone else or from trying to learn bass lines on albums. I never wanted to consciously sound like anybody, cuz what's the fuckin' point in that?
I know how you feel about Metallica, but do you still like any of the other old thrash bands that are still around? Slayer? Anthrax? Megadeth?
Only Slayer. They're the only one of those that I really respect. Megadeth, after Rust In Peace, they just tried to be Metallica. You know, go mainstream, try to get that black album success. Anthrax I used to love. But Among the Living was probably their last great record. I do like the John Bush stuff - Sound of White Noise is probably their best with him - but what they're doing now, they've strayed so far from what they used to be. Megadeth broke up, and Metallica is such a household word now. Slayer's the only one still out there kicking ass. I went to see them last year and they're still Slayer! Kerry King still has upside down crosses on his boots;Jeff Hanneman's still whippin' his hair around; they got Dave Lombardo back on drums - they're just out there playing kickass metal. They may not be getting platinum records, but - well, like 10 years ago I saw Tom Araya getting interviewed on MTV - it was probably that Rikki Rachtman guy. And he says, "So your record's done 500,000 copies, and your last album did 500,000 copies. What does that tell you?" And Tom Araya says, "It tells me that the same 500,000 people keep buying our records!" I like that! They found their niche and they're out there satisfying people year after year after year, so they're still number one.
Their latest album was actually the first one they've done that I didn't like that much.
Really? I liked it better than the last one. They upped the creepy intensity; I think they realized they needed to get back to that. With Diabolus, it sounded like they were trying to get back to South of Heaven. That's a cool album, but after Reign In Blood, it was like (disappointed awww..). Because what I always loved about them was their intensity. I wanted to hear "Altar of Sacrifice"! I wanted to hear..umm..what's it called... you know, "Angel of Death"! That shit just pummels you! I thought the last album was a great record for them. Plus, they got to get out in front of the younger generation that's interested in this nu-metal shit. Kids who were too young to be into Slayer 10 years ago can hear this and go "Whoa! Who are these guys?" It's fuckin intense.
Well, I agree that it's really intense. I just don't think it's as melodic as their older stuff. Okay, I see I'm out of time, so let me just ask you one more question. What do you think of the more extreme metal? Black metal and death metal and the stuff with a billion changes -
Just like with any music, there are good bands and bad bands. In black metal, I like Cradle of Filth, Emperor, Dumu Borzhor -
Who was that last one?
Dummo Borzer or whatever (interviewer's note: I have no clue who he was talking about here. If you do, let me know!). The cream rises to the top with those genres. Unfortunately, like any genre it gets muddled. One or two good bands set the pace and then the labels sign up a bunch of lousy bands and flood the market, which kills it. Look at death metal - when it came out, there were great death metal bands but now it has such a bad name. Just because there are so many bad bands out there.
Okay I know you have to go. Thank you so much for talking to me! I can't wait to hear the new album.
Yeah, I think you'll like it.
Actually, I think so too. So long!
Anyway, I hope I could help!
PS: I LOVE YOU!
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