Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
We just released our re-imagined version of the Lennon classic “Give Peace a Chance” a few weeks ago. We decided to record this song as a follow up and more positive message than one that was on our latest album. We released our concept album “There is Something Wrong” last year and the subject matter was about all the shit that is wrong with the world. It was meant to be a wakeup call. “Give Peace a Chance” was intended to be a call for peace with traditional wars in mind. Now we are asking for peace among each other as the potential for this crisis to get a lot fucking worse as the media and politicians lie to us. We need to stay united and not divided.
We are currently working on new material.
How long has the band been together?
The band formed in 1985 and ended the first phase in 1996. We reformed in 2014/5 and have been active since.
What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
I hate to admit this now but I would have to say Kiss. Like many of us that joined or formed bands it all started with Kiss. They were bigger than life when you were a kid. I saw them and said I want to be in a band. So, it’s all their fault. It’s funny because I can’t stand Gene now.
Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
That’s a hard choice. Writing new music and playing it in rehearsal as it goes from an idea to an actual song is like a great high. Playing live is completely different. The entire time waiting to get on stage really blows. The time on stage is also like a high but different. I really can’t pick because they are both amazing experiences.
Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
We were driving from Chicago to Minneapolis in the middle of winter years ago. It was like a caravan. The weather was horrible – cold, snow and ice. We literally couldn’t drive more than 5 miles an hour for most of the trip without jackknifing. We had never been so scared and close to death. We finally get there and it was freezing. The coldest day I have ever experienced and I’m from Chicago. We almost died to play to like 20 people. That obviously sticks out.
We were playing this small club in a college town. The venue was next to a sports bar. They didn’t seem to like long hair metal dudes. Steve the guitarist was making out with this girl and these stupid jocks start yelling check out those two girls. It pissed me off so I go off on them. Me and my brother actually walk into their bar and it breaks out into a bar brawl like you see in the movies. It was the two of us against 10 of these big no-neck idiots. Our cousin who was with us eventually comes in and breaks it up. He sticks around after we leave and tells these dudes: are you guys crazy those two are insane they live in Chicago and may come back and kill you. They have no fear (and we really didn’t). They end up buying him shots and thanking him. We had a lot of those types of stories also.
What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Actually I can’t recall anything really strange. Mostly the usual things fans ask for.
Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
No not at all. They wanted me to get a real job.
What are your favorite tracks to play live?
The really fast and aggressive one usually. Some of the slower songs are really great to play – the ones with the cool groove and atmospheric parts.
Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Like I said earlier it was Kiss that started me out wanting to be in a band. By the time I actually formed Aftermath with Steve and Ray, it was the thrash scene that made me wanted to be in a band.
If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
The original lineup of Slayer and VoiVod and us.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
We have often been credited with being pioneers in two thrash sub-genres. Early on we were a crossover thrash band, even before the term existed. Then, we became a progressive/technical thrash band at the outset of the genre in 1987. I am proud that we were there at the beginning.
If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
I never wanted another career. Maybe an A&R guy – maybe. All the rest would be just jobs not a career.
What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
I use the club mic.
What do you think of the current music scene?
I don’t listen to a lot of new music. I have an enormous cd and vinyl collection and I will listen to that.
For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
That I listen to all types of music.
If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Aggressive, moody, energetic. Angry, heavy, complex, dark and original.
Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
I would tell them question everything and don’t believe the media or the official story. Stay united and don’t let the elite divide us.
Thanks again for taking the time to talk with XS Rock!