CARCASS’s BILL STEER Says 1996’s ‘Swansong’ Was ‘Roundly Despised’ Upon Its Release
Andrew McKaysmith of the “Scars And Guitars” podcast recently interviewed guitarist Bill Steer of British extreme metal pioneers CARCASS. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether he is aware that CARCASS has such a tremendous influence on extreme metal:
Bill: “To a degree, I guess we do. I don’t think it’s healthy to get too hung up on things about that. Every personal band member who claims you’ve been an influence, there’s always someone else who is not aware of your stuff. Metal is more diverse than it’s ever been and there are countless subgenres. In our little corner, yes, we’ve had an impact and that’s fantastic.”
On looking back on CARCASS‘s career:
Bill: “You start to make peace with all the things that bothered you from the past. There’s enough distance — if it’s a thing that used to bother you, it becomes harmless. That’s one of the good things about getting older, I guess. I remember with each one of those records from that initial run of albums we did from the late ’80s through to the mid-’90s, with each record, there were elements that we weren’t particularly happy with. Sometimes you get quite bent out of shape about that stuff. You can’t really feel that way now. You kind of look fondly on all of them after a period of time.”
On whether he feels “vindicated” by the fact their 1993 album “Heartwork” has emerged as a classic in melodic death metal circles:
Bill: “I guess so. I mean, I think, I wouldn’t want to use the word ‘controversial’ because that’s maybe too strong, but if you’re looking at say, ‘Heartwork’, which I think is album number four and that’s from around ’93, then the next one, the album that became ‘Swansong’, which we did in ’95, then I think that actually surfaced after we broke up in ’96, those are the two albums that get the most hotly debated. Obviously, ‘Heartwork’ is the most lauded, I suppose. I guess it’s sold the best out of all those records, but around the time we did it, it was very divisive because I think maybe people felt the production was too good and we’d slowed down a little bit too much for their liking. We’re still playing fast, but there was a variation going on and there were some tunes that were in the medium tempo zone and I think that was too much for some folk. We were aware that was going to happen. It just felt good for us to play that music. Yeah, down the line it was great when that album started to achieve some kind of following and become rated by people. That was lovely. It just took a while. It wasn’t a particularly popular record at the time it was released.”
On whether he thinks it was a good thing metal endured some hard times in the mid-to-late 1990s so it could emerge all the better the following decade:
Bill: “It’s very hard to analyze something like that. I wouldn’t be best placed to do so. I would say that something like ‘Heartwork’ was definitely not the right record for its time judging by the response it got. As I said, later on, it became fairly popular and that was really nice for us. The next record [‘Swansong’], the band was history by the time it came out, but I gather that was pretty much roundly despised. It had an even longer incubation period where eventually some people came to grips with it. I have met people who favor that one out of all of our records. In the broader sense, I don’t know. Once we had broken up, metal just seemed to become bigger than ever. By the time we reformed, for want a better term, the ‘scene’ was so different. I just didn’t recognize many elements in it. There was just a huge business framework around the whole thing that hadn’t been there before. You could say all things must past; change is inevitable. There were some really good sides to it, too. It just took a while for me to get used to it because I had been out of the loop. I had been playing different music in different places. I wasn’t used to doing huge festivals to massive metal audiences at that stage.”
CARCASS’s new studio album, “Torn Arteries”, is due August 7 via Nuclear Blast. This past December, the band released the digital single “Under The Scalpel Blade”, which will also appear on the new LP.
CARCASS’s 2013 comeback album, “Surgical Steel”, sold around 8,500 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 41 on the Billboard 200 chart.
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L.A. grunge pioneers L7 stage their comeback with a snarl and a wink
As she prepared to go onstage one night in Australia in the early 1990s, L7 frontwoman Donita Sparks heard a concert promoter introduce her band by describing their bodies in belittling language that can’t be printed here.
“Look, the #MeToo thing — for me it’s like #WhoHasn’t?” Sparks, 56, said recently of the sexist harassment she and her bandmates endured for years as one of the very few all-female bands in the male-dominated grunge scene. But because there were four of them, Sparks quickly pointed out, “I don’t think any of us ever felt in danger” of the type of physical assault that movement has brought to light.
“Men were kind of scared of us,” she said proudly.
With its sludgy riffs and singsong melodies, L7 found big alternative-era success — opening for Nirvana, scoring an MTV hit with 1992’s “Pretend We’re Dead,” even starting the abortion-rights advocacy group Rock for Choice, which staged high-profile benefit concerts by the likes of Rage Against the Machine and Pearl Jam.
By 2001, though, the band had splintered, driven apart by personality conflicts and diminishing record sales.
So when Sparks called band co-founder Suzi Gardner, 58, in 2014 — she wanted to make a documentary about L7 and needed help gathering archival materials — she didn’t know what to expect.
“Then Suzi picks up and goes, ‘Good eee-vening,’ ” Sparks recalled, laughing as she offered her version of the guitarist’s goofy Dracula impression. “I knew right away everything was cool.”
Five years later, L7 has more than a movie to prove it.
The quartet whose rise and fall was documented in 2017’s “L7: Pretend We’re Dead” is hoping to rise again with “Scatter the Rats,” its first album since 1999, released this month through Joan Jett’s label, Blackheart Records. On Friday, the band — which also features bassist Jennifer Finch, 52, and drummer Dee Plakas, 58 — is set to kick off a North American tour at the Glass House in Pomona.
It’s easy to see why L7 picked this moment to come back. Like Bikini Kill, the influential riot grrrl band that recently launched its own reunion, L7 made its name with bruising yet catchy songs about the appallingly casual predation faced by women.
“Some guy just pinched my ass,” goes the group’s snarling debut single, “Shove,” from 1990. “Drunken bums ain’t got no class.”
Remind you of anyone’s boast about grabbing women by a different body part?
“We like to think that women have come really far, but in many ways, so little has changed from the ’90s — or even from the ’70s,” said Jett, who recruited L7 to back her in 1992 for a Rock the Choice gig at the Hollywood Palladium. “People still hold girls to a completely different standard. And L7 has got something to say about it.”
Yet as timely as the band’s old tunes can feel — not to mention newer ones such as “Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago” — there’s something about how L7 delivers its message that sets this band apart right now.
In an era of intersectional feminism and woke #MeToo activism, Sparks and her bandmates strike a coarser, more freewheeling tone in songs including “I Came Back to Bitch” (“I’m the big dog / You’re simply the bone”) and “Burn Baby,” with its repeated chant of “Lock us up! / Lock us up!”
The women definitely have institutional misogyny on their minds. But they also want to make you laugh, and they’re willing to risk a bit of political incorrectness to do it.
“I think we’re a menace with a wink and a nod,” Sparks said as she sat next to Gardner at a Cuban restaurant in Atwater Village. Her prominent gold tooth glinting in the sun, the singer — who famously threw a used tampon into the audience at England’s Reading Festival in ’92 — added, “We were always slightly threatening, and I think we’ve still got that.”
“We’re not afraid to call things out,” Gardner said.
“But,” Sparks clarified, “without a case of the sinceres.”
Asked what she thinks of today’s liberal youth movement — members of which are sometimes derided as “snowflakes” — Sparks said, “I think they’re in for a world of hurt. You have to pick your battles or you’re going to exhaust yourself.”
“Throwing a conniption because you can’t get the banana-mango vape oil?” Gardner chimed in. “Spare me.”
“The night is long and filled with terrors,” Sparks went on. “And they’re coming for you, snowflake.”
That L7 is contending with these shifts at all comes as a surprise to the band’s members. Sparks, who anticipates each question she’s asked as though it’s sure to be dumber than the last, said she grew up dead-set against rock reunions, at least until she caught the Sex Pistols in 1996.
“They were fabulous,” she said. “Then again, I was wasted.”
More to the point, L7’s breakup wasn’t friendly. Sparks felt abandoned; Gardner spiraled into depression and stashed her guitars beneath her bed, where they sat unplayed while she cared for her ailing mother. The estranged friends lived just blocks from each other in Silver Lake, but they say they never saw each other.
“Actually, I saw you a couple times in your car,” Gardner said as she sipped an iced tea. “One time I even honked.”
“You did?” Sparks asked. “Was I in the Cougar?”
“No, the other car.”
“Oh, wow,” Sparks said. “And you honked at me? Interesting. I probably thought it was one of my exes.”
After patching things up through work on the documentary, L7 started playing live again, albeit without any new songs.
“Writing and recording again — that just seemed impossible at the time,” said Gardner, who described a lengthy effort to regain her confidence as a guitarist.
“But a reunion only has a lifespan of a few years,” Sparks said. “So after we exhausted that, it was like, ‘OK, if we want to keep doing this, we need to make a record.’ ” The L7 movie premiered just days after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, which provided plenty to write about.
“We obviously weren’t going to do the super-earnest thing,” Sparks said. “But we were cool with sticking our necks out. ‘Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago’ is like our ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ ”
That irreverent sense of humor — and L7’s defiantly primal sound — may have kept the band’s comeback at a lower boil than, say, Bikini Kill’s (which opened with four sold-out shows at the Palladium). With some exasperation, Sparks pointed out that L7 has never been invited to play Coachella.
“We thought we were friendly with Goldenvoice,” she said of the company that puts on that cool-hunting mega-festival. “We play other shows for those guys. I don’t know why we haven’t been asked.”
Yet Sparks and Gardner say they’re unwilling to play by the rules of modern pop stardom, in which an artist’s entire life serves as fodder for social media.
“You don’t need to see me weed-whacking, OK?” Gardner said.
“Privacy is cool,” added Sparks. “Years ago, people were curious about our sexual orientation, and I never wanted to reveal that because I felt like I wanted to be a role model for whoever wanted me to be a role model.” With a laugh — and with far saltier words — she said she wanted everyone in L7’s audience to think they could have sex with her.
“I’m an open field,” she said. “Anybody’s got a chance at this.”
L7: Reunited Alt-Rock Icons on New Album, #MeToo, Getting Pranked by Mike Patton
“We’re not the spokespeople for pussies,” declares L7 frontwoman Donita Sparks one sweltering afternoon in Brooklyn. “We’re a rock band.” Given how they were among the first grunge-rock bands to achieve widespread success, you’d think the Los Angeles group wouldn’t have to make this clarification — certainly not over 20 years in, amid a high-profile, long-anticipated reunion tour. But so it goes with the glass ceiling and the first ones in line to smash it. Between their pro-choice benefits, anti-rape anthems and infamous festival tampon tosses (take THAT, heckling dudebros!), L7 have made plenty of cracks. (For further proof of their monumental impact, check out the 2016’s crowdfunded documentary L7: Pretend We’re Dead, released by the band themselves.)
Following an extensive hiatus, the four-piece — currently comprising Sparks, guitarist/vocalist Suzi Gardner, bassist Jennifer Finch and drummer Dee Plakas — recently wrapped the latest run of their ongoing reunion tour, which kicked off in 2015. For the trek, the quartet have been performing incendiary hits like “Pretend We’re Dead,” “Fuel My Fire” and “Shitlist,” as well as their recent comeback cuts, “Dispatch From Mar-A-Lago” and “I Came Back to Bitch.” We caught up with the band to discuss their historic past, raucous present, their next moves — and that one time Mike Patton may have taken a shit in their orange juice.
YOU RECENTLY ANNOUNCED THAT YOU’RE WORKING ON YOUR FIRST NEW ALBUM SINCE 1999. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THESE NEW SONGS?
DONITA SPARKS Well, we had done the reunion, but we didn’t really want the pressure of new material at the time, so it was just like, “Oh, let’s do the meat-and-potatoes L7 set, without that pressure.” And so, as time went on, we kind of accomplished that: we were starting to jam on new stuff, and just decided to put out a couple singles, “Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago” and “I Came Back to Bitch” — and now we’re doing a full length.
SO WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE ALBUM?
SPARKS Nothing, except for …
SUZI GARDNER … We’re writing like crazy.
SPARKS We’re writing like crazy, and we do have a PledgeMusic campaign up now that’s doing very well. We will either put [the album] out ourselves, or partner up with a label who’s got some fabulous distribution. We’re unclear about that aspect at this time.
THE PLEDGEMUSIC CAMPAIGN AWARDS PLEDGES WITH TONS OF SPECIAL GIFTS, INCLUDING DONITA’S RECORDING MIC, RARE VINYL, SIGNED SET LISTS AND MORE. WAS IT HARD TO PUT ANY OF THESE ITEMS UP FOR BID? THEY’RE PIECES OF YOUR HISTORY.
JENNIFER FINCH Yes, but sometimes you have to clear out the old to bring in the new.
SPARKS We’ve been holding onto this stuff [for such] a long time in our closets, and at some point, it’s good to just kind of …
GARDNER … let it go.
SPARKS Let it go.
GARDNER Real estate is not cheap in Los Angeles, and so, we have to be realistic with all this crapola.
DONITA, IN A 1997 ROLLING STONE INTERVIEW, YOU STATED THAT YOU COLLECT JIM CARREY MEMORABILIA. WILL ANY OF THAT BE UP FOR GRABS?
SPARKS Well, now, I can take my 8 x 10s that are signed by Jim Carrey, and photoshop my face next to his to make it look like we were a couple, and maybe get it on one of those “Who dated who?” type of celebrity websites. Maybe then we’ll start spreading that rumor that me and Tom Cruise actually used to date. But no, I do not collect Jim Carey memorabilia anymore, because I had to dismantle my Jim Carrey breakfast nook. So I just have a couple of signed 8 x 10s.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TOURING WITH FAITH NO MORE IN 1992?
FINCH Oh my god. Dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty. That’s my comment.
SPARKS I believe Mike Patton defecated in our orange juice.
FINCH Because he thought it was funny. Like, really, he thought it was cool to do that. So we’d have like [Faith No More members] Roddy [Bottum] and Billy [Gould] walk in and go, “Don’t drink the orange juice. Don’t drink the orange juice.” And I’m like, “Why?” And they go, “It’s cryptic.”
GARDNER Roddy and I got attacked by a hippopotamus in Germany.
WOW, WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR THAT STORY. CAN WE HEAR THAT STORY?
GARDNER Well, we were playing in a circus tent place and we snuck out to where they had this hippopotamus in a tank, and we walked towards it and it lunged at us, and we [makes wiggle moves]. It was really scary.
FINCH I wonder if that hippopotamus is doing a reunion tour.
SPARKS I wonder if that hippopotamus is a pair of shoes right now.
FINCH Take it to the dark place!
POLITICALLY, LYRICALLY AND MUSICALLY, YOU PAVED THE ROAD FOR LOT OF BANDS. ARE THERE ANY BANDS THAT YOU’VE SEEN OVER THE YEARS THAT YOU WERE LIKE, “I REALLY LOVE WHAT THEY’RE DOING. I REALLY THINK THAT THEY’VE CAPTURED KIND OF WHAT WE STARTED?”
SPARKS No. I don’t know, man — there’s not a lot of meat-and-potatoes bands out there. Since our reunion, we’ve been getting lumped in with a lot of bands who we are blown away to be mentioned alongside: The Stooges, and Motörhead, and you know, these, like … great rock bands. Our name being thrown into those circles, I think, is our proudest achievement, because that’s what we started out to do.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS MOTÖRHEAD TO YOU GUYS WHEN YOU WERE COMING UP?
GARDNER They were very influential. We rocked out to them a lot. I still rock out to them, serial-listening in my car, so I’ll be listening to them until I’m killed by death.
SPARKS And Motörhead were an island. Their music classified as metal and hard rock, but the band didn’t belong to any specific scene.
FINCH And they crossed [into] DIY and punk and all different genres .
SPARKS Yeah. And I think, you know, the Ramones are a lot catchier than Motörhead tunesmith-wise. I think we’ve got a lot of that, too, ’cause we like the Ramones, as well, and the B-52s.
L7 WERE AMONG THE FIRST BANDS TO DEAL WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT, EQUAL PAY AND OTHER FEMINIST ISSUES THAT HADN’T YET PROLIFERATED THROUGH THE MAINSTREAM. WHEN YOU REFLECT ON THE SCENE IN 2018, IN THE WAKE OF THE #METOO MOVEMENT, IN PARTICULAR, DO YOU THINK FEMALE PERFORMERS ARE BETTER OR WORSE OFF THAN WHEN YOU WERE ON THE COME-UP?
FINCH I think certain people are more aware about safety, and, in general, that’s a good thing.
SPARKS Maybe now, they’re more aware about sharing their abuse stories with each other and getting empowered that way. See, I think that there was possibly a lot more shame attached to some women’s issues back in the day, so I think that that’s a cool thing about the youth, that there’s more sharing.
However, these changing attitudes can sometimes come with a little hypersensitivity that I think, in a hyper-reactive sense, can be a little boring and unnecessary. It sucks the fun out of some things, you know what I mean?
In some aspects, you have to get over it. If you don’t like a certain word or something, then combat that with some humor, as opposed to getting up in arms about every misstep somebody takes. People say stupid things all the time. I said something stupid on stage last night. We can’t nail everybody to a cross, because then you don’t know who your friends and enemies are.
FINCH It’s a big learning experience, I think, for society right now, and there’s gonna be missteps. And you just flow with it. You just go with it and support people the best you can.
WE’RE ALSO SEEING CHANGES TO DIY COMMUNITIES, ON AN INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL — PEOPLE SPEAKING UP ABOUT SYSTEMIC ABUSE AND ABOUT THE POWER STRUCTURES THAT SOMETIMES LEAD TO SITUATIONS WHERE WOMEN FEEL UNSAFE, AND THEN CREATING REAL CHANGE. WERE THESE TYPES OF POWER STRUGGLES DISCUSSED AMONG ARTISTS IN THE L.A. SCENE, TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE?
FINCH I think there’s always been this joke of a “casting couch” — the understanding that there are players, and there’s a dynamic of sexuality in the entertainment industry that has always been talked about. But the talk about definite structure and who controls the power is a new conversation.
SPARKS And I’ll say something: You know, there are also plenty of people who would be happy to give a blowjob to get a part in a movie, also! So there’s that side of it, too! There are some people who would go very low to get a part in a film, so, you know …
FINCH Or get high.
GARDNER I’m really bummed. I can’t sleep my way to the top.
SPARKS I wonder if I’d have ever blown somebody to be like a No. 1 artist, or on the cover of Rolling Stone. [Turns to her bandmates] What do you think? Would you have blown someone?
FINCH Yeah, it’s interesting, you know. I didn’t know it was actually an option in our particular genre, but now, we’re actually experiencing power. We have employees, so we make sure those employees understand and sign off that they’re gonna get sexually harassed on a day to day basis. Men, women, trans — it doesn’t matter. We’re equal opportunity harassers.
SPARKS And offenders.
FINCH Oh yeah, offenders.
SPARKS Contact our attorney, Larry Parker.
GARDNER But seriously: It is good that the environment now is that you don’t have to suffer in silence if you don’t want to. Like, there’s people who are speaking up. The pendulum is swinging and whacking us all, and I see that as a good thing.
WHO ARE SOME MORE RECENT BANDS THAT YOU’VE BEEN DIGGING LATELY?
FINCH You mean besides Imagine Dragons? [Laughs] No, which actually, secretly, I really like.
SPARKS I like FIDLAR, Tijuana Panthers, Bleached — and oh, there’s a lot. There’s a lot of music.
FINCH: We’re big Peaches fans. There’s a lot of stuff out there.
YOU’VE BEEN PLAYING TONS OF SHOWS RECENTLY, MANY OF THEM SOLD-OUT. HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED AT ALL BY THE TURNOUT AND RECEPTION?
SPARKS It’s been very heartwarming. There are older fans and then younger fans, and the older fans are nice and thick and they can support the light ones very easily. Young kids are just flying around, and the older ones are just kind of sturdily holding them and catching them. So that’s kind of cool.
FINCH: Most of our fans do do Crossfit, so … [Laughs]
AND DOES L7 DO CROSSFIT?
FINCH [Raising hand] I have!
This interview has been slightly edited for flow and clarity.
L7’s Donita Sparks Talks Trump, Music Industry Sexism and the Band’s Enduring Legacy
As the burgeoning Seattle grunge scene of the early ‘90s exploded into a global phenomenon, fans and record executives alike scrambled to find the next denim-and-flannel-clad savior of rock’s new movement, which favored anguished power chords and stripped-down aesthetics over the glam metal bombast of the ‘80s.
But as Nirvana and Pearl Jam led the crusade with their brooding agro-anthems, the all-female punk foursome L7 flexed irreverent with furious, tongue-in-cheek ragers like “Wargasm” and “Fast and Frightening” (which boasts the iconic lyric, “Got so much clit she don’t need no balls”).
The Los Angeles quartet — Donita Sparks (vocals/guitar), Suzi Gardner (guitar/vocals), Jennifer Finch (bass/vocals) and Demetra Plakas (drums/vocals) — often got lumped in with their grunge contemporaries, but their music bore more similarities to the unhinged punk-metal of Motörhead and the satirical, gory stage production of GWAR. L7 enjoyed minor commercial success with 1992’s Bricks Are Heavy, featuring the hit single “Pretend We’re Dead,” and founded Rock for Choice, a series of pro-choice benefit concerts that featured Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine. But they also gained notoriety for their onstage antics — particularly for their performance at the 1992 Reading Festival, where Sparks tossed her used tampon into the mud-slinging crowd and yelled, “Eat my used tampon, fuckers!”
The ensuing years were not as kind to L7, as lineup changes and dwindling label support led them go to on an “indefinite hiatus” in 2001. But in late 2014, Sparks began assembling archival footage for a documentary that eventually culminated in the crowd-funded L7: Pretend We’re Dead, which is out on DVD on Friday (Oct. 13). The band hit the road for a well-received reunion tour in 2015, and last month they released their first single in 18 years, the sardonic, Trump-skewering “Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago.” They currently have a new single in the works as well.
As she prepared to fly to Brooklyn for a film screening and Q&A, Sparks talked to Billboard about the new documentary, sexism in the music industry and L7’s enduring legacy.
When did you start doing interviews for this project?
God, it’s such a blur now. Probably three years ago or so. I think the footage and a lot of the photographs had been handed over the year before that, so the director, Sarah Price, had the visual content, but then the audio stuff was coming in about three years ago.
Did you all take part in the interview process separately?
Yes. At the time we hadn’t even spoken yet or seen each other in 17 years or whatever. It was just via email and stuff like that, arranging the interviews.
You said previously that working through all the archival footage originally prompted you to consider if it was the right time for a reunion.
There were friendly salutations and things in the email, so that was a good sign that nobody seems to hate each other here. But the initial thing was me posting stuff to a Facebook page that I had created, and I wanted to archive my photographs and band photographs that I thought were great that I wasn’t seeing on the Web. So I started posting those, and we were getting all these likes, and it was an unusually enthusiastic Facebook crowd. Every time I’d post something, it was like, “Reunion!” So then it was just kind of like, “Wow, I guess there is a demand.”
Do you feel that with the documentary and reunion tour, there’s been a reappraisal of L7’s legacy?
I think so, because we were sort of forgotten about, a bit swept under the rug. We didn’t have a big digital footprint on the Web. We had no press agent, so we were not contactable to do pieces on the ‘90s or whatever, like maybe some other people were who had still press agents or things. So we were kind of forgotten about. This has definitely sort of reminded people that we were kind of an interesting band.
Journalists often connected you to the burgeoning riot grrrl movement of the ‘90s. Did the band actually identify with or feel connected to that movement?
Well, we were all punk rockers, but riot grrrl was formed on college campuses, and we were urban. And we were kind of from the nitty-gritty, impoverished city artist scene. We weren’t college kids. We were more from the underground in that way.
I think that riot grrrl was more of a political movement using rock as their delivery mechanism, where we were a rock band who happened to be feminist. So it’s a little bit different. We were not on a political platform. We formed Rock for Choice, but we were not riot grrrls. We were grown-ass women, not college kids. And riot grrrl was very serious, and we had a lot of fun.
It’s refreshing to see you were willing to straddle that line and have fun with your music.
For some people, we weren’t political enough. And I would read stuff over the years saying that we were not feminists. And it’s just like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” I’ve gotten so much shit my whole life for being a feminist, and to be called not a feminist is just so outrageous. So we either weren’t political enough or too political. We gave a shit but we wanted to have fun, too.
It’s kind of ironic how you’re sometimes perceived, and then you’ve got to try and set the record straight, which I think this documentary does. And actually, I think our new track also supports that sort of approach as well.
When did you start writing “Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago”?
We wrote it a couple months ago, but we felt it was very urgent to get it out. We thought, “He’s either gonna get impeached…” — and then we thought Mar-a-Lago was gonna get wiped out by the hurricane. So it was just this urgency, like, “We gotta get this song out! Because it may be irrelevant in a very short amount of time.” We’ve never felt such urgency to get a track out.
You’ve had so many crazy, buzz-worthy moments in your career—in particular, the Reading incident in 1992. How do you think those antics would be perceived differently in a quicker, Internet-based news cycle?
I don’t really know the answer to that question. I know that it is a shocking thing that I did, and it is still very shocking, but I find it funny that young gals are really embracing that, and they’re throwing tampons at us onstage. Not used tampons, but they’re homaging us by writing messages on tampons that say, “We love you L7!” and they’re throwing them at us.
You go through phases of, “Oh yeah, that was really cool that I did that!” and then, “Oh God, I hope my mother never finds out about that,” or, “Oh God, why did I do that?” And then, years later, it becomes this moment that the young gals are really digging. So as far as the Internet cycle, I really don’t know, but it certainly has lasted because I’m asked about it in every interview I do.
That must be a head-trip for you, that the incident has been co-opted as a gesture of empowerment by your fans.
Which it is, but it was also an absurdist moment, because I am an absurdist at times. So it wasn’t like this big, “I am woman, hear me roar” thing. It was kind of like, “Fuck you! You think you can throw mud at us? Well, we’re throwing blood at you.”
How have your reunion shows been different than your first go-round in L7?
Well, I think we’re all better musicians, even though we got really good. We started out as just having a cool thing going on, and then we got better as songwriters and better as musicians as time went on.
Is it more financially viable for L7 to tour now?
At our peak, I really don’t know where the money went. But right now it’s good. We’re not making huge bank, but we’re not [just] breaking even either. I don’t think we’re getting Misfits reunion money, but it’s just kind of interesting: We’ll play a festival and we’ll be fifth down the line on the bill, but we’ll get the article in the Chicago Tribune or whatever. It’s this weird thing where we’re not getting placed in a certain place on the bill, but we’ll get the press.
So I don’t know. What is that? I’m not sure. Is that sexism? It’s like, once again, here we are in the Tribune and we’re seventh on the bill. But whatever, we’ll take it. We’ve always been the underdogs of rock. That this has not changed much doesn’t really surprise us. As our manager says, “You’re getting skirted.” Isn’t that ironic? Skirted.
Do you still experience that sexism on a regular basis in the music industry?
We’re not dealing with that from our peers. We never have. We’re not dealing with that from the media. We used to, but we don’t anymore. Media are seeing us more as sort of legacy territory. They’re less gender-obsessed now than they used to be with us. But the people holding the power strings, you’re still at their mercy. And those suits, whether they be record label suits or concert promoter suits, they hold the power. Whether [sexism] is a factor, I am not sure. I don’t know. I’ve never known what goes on in the back rooms.
It seems like being in L7 could be kind of a thankless job when you were in the thick of it. Have the reunion shows and documentary changed your perception of L7’s career at all?
I can look back and see some mistakes that were made, but I would say for the most part, we were just a band of those times, in a way. For a band to last a long time and sustain a certain level is an incredibly difficult thing to do.
We lived the full experience of a rock band, I feel, which is: you climb, and then you plateau, and then you decline. That’s a very interesting life experience that not many people have experienced. So it’s all good. The fact that we did suffer those horrible, shitty times, it’s like, wow, that’s some character building stuff. That’s some humble lessons. So we’re very thankful for everything that we have right now.
In a new audio interview Alex Hellid from Swedish Death Metal band Entombed will be releasing a new album, also check out their new live album “Entombed – Clandestine Live” which features a full live version of their classic “Clandestine” album.
Interview with In Flames from www.overdrive.ie : LINK: https://www.overdrive.ie/feature-interview-this-new-album-is-the-best-that-in-flames-can-offer-right-now-bjorn-gelotte/ FEATURE INTERVIEW – “This new album is the best that In Flames can offer right now.” Björn Gelotte Speaking from the Nuclear Blast offices in London, guitarist Björn Gelotte tells us about the approach to ‘I, The Mask‘ and how the experience was one that has somewhat…
Venom’s Cronos on Touring with Metallica, Working with Dave Grohl, Modern Metal, and More
The metal veteran also tells stories about the Beastie Boys, Brian Johnson and more
Although Venom are 15 studio albums deep into their career, the band’s longtime singer-bassist Cronos surprisingly admits that he still doesn’t feel like he’s “made it” — despite influencing countless metal acts over the years.
But with the arrival of the group’s latest offering, Storm the Gates, few veteran metal bands have remained as ferocious sounding as Venom this far into their career.
We recently ran Part 1 of our interview with Cronos, where Venom’s long-time leader discussed his band’s influence on other bands, silly record label advice from back in the day, and refusing to embrace the mainstream, among other subjects.
In Part 2 of our interview, Cronos talks about how Venom gave Metallica one of their first big breaks, befriending Brian Johnson before he was even in AC/DC, getting sampled by the Beastie Boys, and why he considers most modern metal bands to be “Crap! Fuckin’ crap!”
ON TAKING METALLICA OUT ON THEIR FIRST-EVER EUROPEAN TOUR
It was a great time. And it was a good time for those guys to actually be able to hit the European shows. We were looking for bands like us, because as we always said, “We have a different crowd. We’re not pulling the same kind of crowd that would go and see… Mötley Crüe or whatever.” A friend of mine used to have a bootleg stall, and he came to me one day with a VHS tape, and said, “I’ve seen this band in San Francisco, and they are just like you guys.” And it was a Metallica show, with Dave Mustaine wearing his Welcome to Hell shirt.
So, when we got the opportunity to get in touch with Jon Zazula and go over there, we said, “There’s a band on the other side of the country…” Now, we traveled 3,000 miles from England to New York, and those guys traveled 3,000 miles from the West Coast to New York, so that’s fair — we’d meet in the middle. And then after that, I remember I told James [Hetfield] that story, and he said, “Oh no, no, no. There is a band that’s really, really like you guys.” And that’s when he told us about Slayer. He said, “There is a band in LA just like you guys.” And then from there on, it went from Exodus and everybody started coming out — it was amazing.
But the Metallica boys, they’re hardworking guys. Fuckin’ hell, I couldn’t take that away from them. We were getting to the end of the 7 Dates of Hell Tour in Europe [in February of 1984], and we were all getting ready to go home and put our feet up and start working on the next record. And I said, “What plans have you guys got?” And I remember Lars said, “We’ve lined up our own tour.” And I was like, “Wow, you guys never stop!” I don’t give a shit if people say, “This album is terrible or that album is terrible.” Every band that has a long career is going to have good and bad releases. And I don’t give a shit about what people say about Metallica’s career as a whole — they were hardworking guys in the early days, and nobody can take that away from them.
ON BEING LONGTIME FRIENDS WITH AC/DC’S BRIAN JOHNSON
He’s a very good friend of mine — he lives up the road from me. He just lives around the corner, really. I remember when I first went to his house with my first single, and he was saying, “Yeah! The apprentice rock star!” [Laughs] Yeah, Brian’s been a good friend. He was in a local band in Newcastle, called Geordie, and they used to do covers by Nazareth. He’s got that kind of a voice, like Dan McCafferty. So, he was perfect for AC/DC. I heard the stories straight away — when he went for the audition, he met the guys in the pool room, had a couple of games of pool and a couple of beers, then went in, went through “Whole Lotta Rosie” and a couple of other tracks, and Angus and the boys looked at each other and said, “We’ve got our man.” That’s so understandable, because Bri is such a down-to-earth guy. He’s a very private guy — he keeps to himself. I haven’t seen him since he’s left the band, unfortunately. He’s off spending time with his family. But I’ll bump into the guy soon, I know I will.
ON WHEN THE BEASTIE BOYS SAMPLED PART OF A VENOM STAGE RAP FOR THEIR SONG “MARK ON THE BUS”
That was great. The Beastie Boys are the Beastie Boys — they’re just trying to have fun. A lot of people get offended by them, but I don’t see how you can get offended by those guys. They came and did some shows here in England, and when they got to Newcastle, they couldn’t stop talking about Newcastle Brown Ale — the beer. And all night onstage, “Cronos lives in Newcastle! Yeah!” Those guys don’t mean any harm. If people take them wrong… then get a sense of humor guys, come on.
ON WHY HE THINKS CERTAIN GROUPS LIKE THE PMRC MADE SUCH A BIG DEAL OUT OF THE CONTENT OF ROCK LYRICS, INCLUDING VENOM’S “POSSESSED”, IN THE 1980s
Bored politicians’ housewives with nothing better to do. Trying to please their friends in their communities. It was all based on nothing — it’s ridiculous. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Look, the only the way trends can develop and change is with freedom of speech, and trying out new ideas. And as we know, many bands come and go and they never make it. And for all the bands out there, it’s a small percentage that really do make it at the end of the day. But when you start curbing what you can and can’t say, well, for fuck’s sake.
Yes, people do cross the line, but that’s in the name of freedom of speech. There was some American comedian that wanted to come here to the UK, and he had a really sexist show, and he got stopped and they wouldn’t give him the visa. And everybody in England was ticked off, because we were like, “No, no, no. Let him come. Let him face his critics. Because if he is up on stage saying racist and anti-feminist things and all the rest of it, well then, let’s hear it — it’s his point of view.” But I don’t think you should ever stop this sort of thing — unless somebody is breaking the law, well then, you should let people have freedom of speech. It’s the same thing, really.
ON APPEARING ON THE SONG “CENTURIES OF SIN” ON DAVE GROHL’S PROBOT PROJECT
Come on, Dave is such a fuckin’ nice guy. He’s such a professional. And there’s just no ego or airs and graces about the guy — he’s just so flat down-to-earth and straightforward. And also, an absolutely amazing musician. Working with him was such a great thing, that there were no industry people involved. Me and Dave spoke to each other — we did the deal together. We didn’t have to have big lawyers fighting over paperwork. When Dave actually sent me the music, he sent me the music for the whole album, and said, “Track #7 or whatever it was is what I was thinking of for you. But to get a feel of the album, here is the rest of the music.”
I took the song that he had for me and basically wrote three separate sets of lyrics, and I sent him a rough mix of the three different ideas. One of the versions was a bit like, “Hanging out with the guys, going for a beer, rock n’ roll,” and another was a bit sleazy — prostitutes and bars. And then the third one was kind of the Satanic element. And Dave came back, and said, “I want the Satanic element!” So, I put the bass on and did the vocals. It never was really intended to use the bass, because he’d only asked us to do the vocal. But I put the bass on anyway, and said, “Look, use it if you think it adds to the track. If not, then I’m happy for you to just use the vocal.” But he also used the bass, which I was really proud of. But Dave is Dave — he’s fuckin’ great.
ON MODERN-DAY METAL
Crap! Fuckin’ crap! Honestly, I’ve been saying this for so long now. The thing is, you’ve got a lot of people who are now just taking other people’s music on the internet, instead of creating their own. The creative side of the world seems to have hit a brick wall. Now, we haven’t had any new music or fashion explosions at all now — for at least the last 20 years. When you think back to the rock n’ roll thing of the ‘50s, the peace and love thing and Hendrix in the ‘60s, the glam stuff that came out in the ‘70s, punk, and then hip-hop… but then it stopped.
But that came with the birth of the internet and all these people making these YouTube channels. I was sitting and watching this one guy, and he said, “I started a band. I tried to make it with the band for a couple of years, but I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I put a YouTube channel together, and just used other people’s music and other people’s ideas, and now, I’m able to get the YouTube royalty.” And I’m going, “Wow. Two years… that’s all you’ve spent? Two fuckin’ years? I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and I still don’t really feel like I’ve made it! Come on, two years?! You fuckin’ wimp!”
But I think it’s what’s affecting music is the lack of originality and the lack of purpose and the lack of conviction. I think people need to look at themselves and reevaluate. Because without new ideas, this whole scene is just going to get stale. But I don’t know, I’m looking at these magazines now, and looking at these young bands, and I’m thinking, “They all look the same. They all sound the same.” To me, the only bands worth going to see are all the established bands – the Metallicas, the Megadeths, the Slayers, the Venoms, the Dimmu Borgirs, the Immortals, the Behemoths. These are the bands that are still doing something up onstage that is exciting and good to watch and listen to. But these newer bands, you could swap members, and you wouldn’t even know there was any changes. Name the drummer — nobody knows. Name the guitarist — nobody knows. Which band is this? Who does he play drums for? Nobody knows. The whole thing appears to have been watered down.
Our thanks to Cronos for taking the time to speak with us. Pick up Venom’s latest album, Storm the Gates, via various outlets at this location.
New interview with Cronos from Venom. Link: Consequence Of Sound https://consequenceofsound.net/2018/12/venom-cronos-interview-part-1-storm-the-gates/ Venom’s Cronos on Storm the Gates, Songwriting, Influence, and Anti-Mainstream Approach It’s not often that you can credit a band for helping create not one, but two different metal sub-genres. Venom, however, with such classic albums as Welcome to Hell, Black Metal, and At War…
Interview with Nergal from www.ultimate-guitar.com Link: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/interviews/nergal_i_composed_all_the_material_for_new_behemoth_album_just_playing_an_unplugged_gretsch_guitar.html “I Loved You At Your Darkest,” Behemoth’s 11th album, is as brutal, savage and menacing as anything to ever come out of the dark and creative brain of the group’s singer and composer, Nergal. At the same time, there are uncharacteristically moody instrumental pieces, cleaner vocals and…
Stormy Daniels is saying in a new interview that she met Pantera while performing as a feature dancer in a strip club, and that she had brought Pantera’s guitar tech on stage with her and then this developed into a friendship with Pantera and she then says she went on tour with the band for…
The new Soulfly album “Ritual” will be out October 19 on Nuclear Blast Records. “Ritual” was recorded and mixed by Josh Wilber who has worked with Lamb of God and Gojoia and features guest appearances by Randy Blythe from Lamb of God and Ross Dolan from Immolation.
Artwork for “Ritual” was done by Eliran Kantor who has also done Iced Earth and Testament as well as Marcelo Vasco Arts who have previously worked with Slayer and Kreator who did additional art for the album booklet.
Generation Kill is the band fronted by former Exodus Vocalist Rob Dukes who appeared on albums like “Exhibit A- The Atrocity Exhibition” and “Exhibit B – The Human Condition” , “Shovel Headed Kill Machine” and “Let Their Be Blood” which is a re-recording of their classic album “Bonded by Blood”.
Dukes recently appeared on the Jim Norton & Sam Roberts New York based Radio show, which is a comedy based radio show on the Faction Talk Station on Sirius XM Radio which has featured guests like Nancy Grace.
You can listen to the audio interview below and Dukes discusses his hobby of Antique Car Restoration, premiers a new Generation Kill song during the interview, you can hear the new Generation KIll song by listening to the audio interview from Sirius XM Radio which they premiered on the show.
He also discussed his split with Exodus and claimed that they were all drunks that drank before playing shows and were ruining the opening songs when playing live, while he wasn’t drinking. They also said that being in a band some members can be like a “cancer” ruining the band by thinking they are the king and getting everyone to go along with them and lying.
He he also said that the truth always rises to the surface and when karma catches up it can be a “motherfucker” and you have to say they deserve it.
He also said he is still friends with Exodus and had played a concert with them last year.
Full Audio Interview and Generation Kill Song Premier “The Rat King”:
Exodus – Bonded By Blood – Re-recorded Version with Rob Dukes:
Interview with Glen Benton from Deicide from www.deadrhetoric.com . Link: http://deadrhetoric.com/features/deicide-decades-of-blasphemy/ Deicide – Decades of Blasphemy By Kyle McGinn Few bands in death metal have a legacy that can match that of Deicide. From their early demos as Amon and then the classic self-titled release and beyond, they’ve left a legacy of the extreme.…
Interview With Deicide from the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper: https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/soundcheck/2018/09/10/deicides-glen-benton-talks-biking-in-tampa-writing-about-satan-aging-in-death-metal-and-more/ The Suncoast bike trail near Lutz is not the sort of place you’d think would inspire some of the most brutal Satanist death metal ever to come out of Florida. But if you pass a biker with an upside-down cross scar burned into his…
Judas Priest has announced their be a celebration next year in 2019 for their 50th Anniversary in an interview with Metal Kaoz www.metalkaoz.com . https://www.metalkaoz.com/interviews/21602-judas-priest-richie-faulkner.html Judas Priest recently released their well received by fans new album Firepower, which will appeal to fans of their Painkiller era record. Judas Priest – Firepower – Official Audio: Judas…
Interview with Deicide from http://www.whatculture.com Link: http://whatculture.com/music/deicide-interview-death-metal-satan-overtures-of-blasphemy Deicide Interview: Death Metal, Satan & Overtures Of Blasphemy “People go out into the dead of night to experience this music, drink, party, mingle and sin.” Deicide. Noun. The act of killing a god, or the perpetrator of such. This death metal quartet are a band that live…
On October 3rd, 1995, the face of extreme music was transformed forever. That was the day that, from the beating heart of the then-burgeoning Gothenburg metal scene, the anarchic aggressors At the Gates unveiled their lauded fourth disc, Slaughter of the Soul.
Packing eleven tightknit anthems into only 34 minutes, the magnum opus quickly became the new standard-bearer for contemporary heaviness with its succinct brutality, totally opposing the more pop- and punk-inclined angst of grunge and nu metal on the other side of the Atlantic. It also marked the first of many head-turning bullseyes for the Swedish melodic death metal movement, soon to be joined by Dark Tranquillity’s The Gallery and In Flames’ The Jester Race.
23 years later, the furious methodology that spawned Slaughter of the Soul is still bringing At the Gates to new heights. Despite a lengthy hiatus during the 2000s, the quintet are currently flying high off of consecutive successes with 2014’s At War with Reality and the brand new To Drink from the Night Itself.
To try and explore the Swedish mavens’ continuingly destructive yet hook-laden mastery, I sat down with frontman Tomas Lindberg before his band’s ferocious set at Derbyshire’s Bloodstock Festival.
Matt Mills: “I want to start with a really simple question: why are At the Gates so f—king good?”
Tomas Lindberg: “Ha! I don’t know if we are, we just try hard. What I believe is that we care a lot and everything means a lot to us. We really want people to feel that this is important to us: that’s just our attitude.”
“Obviously you’re playing the Ronnie James Dio stage of Bloodstock later on tonight. To those that haven’t seen an At the Gates show before, what should they expect?”
“Intensity and urgency. And there’s a lot of interaction with the crowd, a lot of closeness to the crowd, and today we’re focusing on probably the last three albums [Slaughter of the Soul, At War with Reality and To Drink from the Night Itself] more. But we’re only playing sixty minutes, so you’ll have to come back for some headline shows to see the full thing.”
“It feels like the modern At the Gates sound was very much refined on Slaughter of the Soul in 1995. Is that the quintessential At the Gates album?”
“For us, that album is actually the most one-dimensional we ever did. All the albums before and after that have a wider emotional palette, whereas Slaughter of the Soul is thirty minutes of just pure anguish and anger. We only did that once. A lot of the sound that we created on that one we went back to a little bit, but we incorporated the emotion of the earlier material. I think tha
t the last two records have the full range of At the Gates, but then all our albums sound different and that’s something we’re proud of.”
“And the new album, To Drink from the Night Itself, came out earlier this year. What does it mean to drink from the night itself?”
“It works on a lot of different levels, that title. The whole album is all about the importance of art in general. The easiest way to describe it is that ‘To Drink from the Night Itself’ is a metaphor for the creative process: channelling very dark and intense emotions through yourself and to the listener. But then it has a lot of sub-levels to it.”
“Would you call To Drink from the Night Itself a concept album?”
“Definitely. It’s based on a novel by Peter Weiss called The Aesthetics of Resistance. I just felt that I wanted to create the same kind of atmosphere and touch on the same kind of emotional subjects that he was in his book. Of course, it’s a thousand pages long and we only have ten songs, but it’s just trying to approach it from the same angle.”
“And this is the first At the Gates album without Anders Björler on guitar. How difficult was it to move on without him?”
“Anders, I don’t want to downplay his importance to the band. Everybody knows how integral a part he’s been. But, for us, after the last show we did with Anders on the At War with Reality tour, he basically said that he wanted to take a break and he asked if we can do that: ‘Can we have a break and then I will see how I feel.’ We were stuck in a vortex: we wanted to do stuff but couldn’t without him. So when he actually said ‘You guys can move on without me,’ that was almost like a relief. It’s not a relief to see Anders go, definitely not, but it’s better than not knowing, so we could actually write the album. Me and Jonas [Björler, bass] started writing the day after.”
“There was a four-year gap between At War with Reality and To Drink from the Night Itself. Will it take another four years for there to be a next album?”
“Hopefully not. We toured the album for almost two years and then we had that gap that we talked about where Anders left, so that’s two-and-a-half years there. The writing and the recording of the album was only one-and-a-half years, so we’re thinking of starting writing earlier for the next one and writing during tours. We already have some ideas of where we wanna take it.”
“So a new concept has been thrown around between the band members?”
“Definitely. Right now, we’re a very excited band.”
“I want to finish off by taking things a little wider and talking about the Swedish death metal scene as a whole. Obviously At the Gates are a cornerstone of that scene…”
“One of them.”
“So what was that scene like when At the Gates were starting out and is there still a scene there today?”
“It was very, very small. You can’t compare it at all as it was pre-internet and everything. Basically you were pen pals with all the other Swedish bands and you met in the summers when you had school holidays. It was very, very small and very intimate, but, nowadays, the possibility for bands is amazingly good. I think it’s a good thing, but they don’t really need that underground thing anymore. Of course people still have scenes in different cities and hang out, but the whole Swedish thing – there’s still an underground but the situation is not as desperate as it was for us.”