Παρασκευή 27 Ιουλίου 2012

The Lord Weird SLOUGH FEG - Interview with Mike Scalzi

                                                              Sky Chariots over Greece

The Lord Weird SLOUGH FEG will be back in Greece after many years for live shows. I’ve seen them recently in Germany’s Keep It True Festival and the band is in great shape as always. Been also one of the most original bands out there for 20 years of true and unique Heavy Metal after 8 albums, gave me the opportunity to have a few words with Professor Mike Scalzi… 

You started the band in order to create an original metal band and you succeed it through the years. Your attitude and music is just “Slough Feg”. Do you think that this originality kept you outside the halls of fame?
Perhaps. I’m not sure. It may be that I don’t promote myself very much. It may be that we refuse to sound like other bands, or that we don’t kiss the ass of the media, or that we are old and ugly (well, actually that’s not keeping a lot of bands out of the halls of fame)

After all these years though, Slough Feg is a very respectful name in the underground metal. Most of fans, when they talk about “underground metal”, they consider this as the purest form of metal music, true metal and stuff like that. What’s your opinion on underground metal?

I don’t know. I don’t know if I have an opinion on such a broad subject. I don’t think underground metal is necessarily free of trends, that’s for sure. But there are many good underground bands, and thank god there is an underground where you can make the kind of music you want to. I never really wanted to be “underground” necessarily, I just wanted to do things my way and that seems to be the only way to do it - to be underground. But the word “underground seems to be losing its meaning lately, because there’s so much music out there that its hard for anything to become mainstream - so almost everything is underground now, good or bad, right or wrong.

So, what will happen when all the huge bands will quit? What will happen when metal will be cast out from the stadiums and arenas? What will happen when there will be no more Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Saxon and all these bands?

This is an interesting question. Because newer bands are not attaining the kind of fame the old ones did. Will they be replaced?  It’s hard to say. I would like to think that younger, good bands will replace them. I always wanted to be one of those bands. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen. To be honest I almost wish some of the bands would stop playing, because they are not all ageing very gracefully. Even Maiden, who is physically ageing gracefully, is a musical embarrassment, at least on their latest albums. And live they’re really not what they used to be either. Of course this is coming from someone who thinks that Maiden was the greatest live band on the planet for years, and has made some of the greatest records ever as well. I don’t know what’s going to happen. If Heavy Metal becomes unfashionable and all the bands break up again like they did in the nineties, well, it’s not going to change what I do. It didn’t then and it won’t now.

Which one is your favorite Slough Feg album and which one do you think is not as you wanted it to be?

I think “Down Among the Dead Men” is our best album, but my favorite might be “Twilight of the Idols”. “Traveller did not turn out the way I wanted it to completely. And for that matter “The Animal Spirits didn’t really either. “Traveller was never really finished. I didn’t have the budget (time) to finish all the parts I wanted to and re-do a lot of stuff. So to me it sounds incomplete. “The Animal Spirits sounds slightly tame to me. I really like Atavism though. That came out almost exactly the way I wanted it to.

Which are your favorite albums and bands in general?

That’s an insane question. Killers. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Hell Bent for Leather… Beatles’ White Album… Black Flag’s My War. Blablabla... This list could go on forever. 

There is Slough Feg, but you also have your job, as an academic professor. When and what was the point that made you realize that life moves on beyond music?

When I could not make a steady living at it. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing something I hated everyday and living just for the month or two out of the year I spent touring. That’s not a good life, working in a warehouse or something all year around so you can do what you really want for a couple months. It’s a life of drudgery, and I did it for years. Teaching gives me an exciting life every day, and that’s what one needs to live a full life. Sure, I would love to be a rock star. But I’m not one. And I think even if I was I would want that other dimension of my life, an intellectual pursuit as well as music. But really, music is my main passion in life. I never stop doing it, and nothing else gives me the same feeling. We still practice at least once or twice a week and perform almost every month. I cannot live without it.

It seems that as time goes by, philosophy has a stronger appearance in the lyrical content of Slough Feg, especially in The Animal Spirits. What the future holds for Slough Feg?

I don’t know about that. There have been philosophy lyrics from the first album onwards. I don’t know what the future holds. I guess whatever feels right at the time. I don’t write many lyrics in a pre-mediated way, like “this song is going to be about this”. I just sort off see what words come out of the music. Really the music says what I want to say, and the lyrics just help express that. 

In philosophical terms, how would you describe your music?

Heavy Metal.

You know, here in Greece the economical crisis caused a lot of problems in our society and lives. The whole world is walking to a dead end and things must change. According to you, which are some of the things that brought us here and how this situation could change?

Well, I’m surprised that we are coming to Greece at this time. I’m happy about it, but it surprises me  that promoters are able to pay for all of this at this time in Greece. I wish I could give you an educated opinion on this current state of affairs, but to be honest I really haven’t kept up on the news and have only a vague idea of what brought on this crises.

How are things in the States?

Um, well, that’s a big question. A lot of people are out of work and there are huge economic problems. But I’d be lying if I told you I had a good understanding of what’s really going on economically speaking, or what the possible solution would be. It doesn’t look like there’s a realistic solution in sight though, unfortunately. Thank god I still have a job.

It has been a long time, so what should we expect from your upcoming live shows in Greece?

I feel like I should be asking you that question! I think you can expect a long set full of songs from all of the Slough Feg albums. Maybe a few more grey hairs than last time as well. A good show though for sure.

                                   Live photos by Taylor Keahey - Band photo by Maureen Shields

Slough Feg will play live in Greece for two dates:

September 1, 2012 - Thessaloniki (Eightball Club)
Support band: Remember Lizzy
Tickets available at: Steel Gallery, Eightball

September 2, 2012 – Athens (Kyttaro Club)
Support bands: Wrathblade, Demolition Train, Ruthless Steel
Tickets available at: No Remorse, Sirens, Shiva, Monsterville

Ticket prices will be only 10 euro and there will be free entrance for children below 17 and unemployed people (both should have identity and unemployment card with them)

For the show in Athens, there will be also a special price in the bar.
Beers (big cup): 2 euro
Drinks: 4 euro

                                                 Support the Heavy Metal Faith 

Παρασκευή 20 Ιουλίου 2012

DAWNBRINGER Interview with Chris Black - Metal for Independents…

DAWNBRINGER is a unique genuine Heavy Metal band located in Chicago, Illinois. A mysterious aura covers the band that stays loyal and true to the path charted years before. Their latest effort is called “Into the Lair of the Sun God” and Crystal Logic took the opportunity to talk with Chris Black

Professor, give us the date of creation, where and how the Dawn was brought to us.

I started writing this music in 1995, but the first release was in 1996. Many, many years ago, in any case. I simply wanted to record and release my own music, so I created these opportunities for myself.

From your first album to the latest opus, your musical style has schizophrenic forms. Where do you place Dawnbringer, how would you describe your music and which are the influences of the band?
I am influenced by heavy metal in all of its forms. Your friend is the same man whether he is dressed in rags or in an expensive suit. Likewise his surroundings do not matter, be it a crowded street or an empty house. He is still the same man, heavy metal is still heavy metal. You still recognize a friend.

Where this music evolution will lead and what really is the essence of Dawnbringer?
Again I can refer only to heavy metal. I am not trying to be flippant or dramatic, it's really that simple to me. Where this will lead, I do not know. The essence of Dawnbringer is to make albums. There aren't boundaries or plans beyond that.

From your past releases, what each one means for you?
Sacrament (1996) - This is essentially Dawnbringer's demo and easily the most experimental in terms of the different things we attempted. It does not have a lot of personal significance to me now, although of course it did at the time, although that didn't last long as the Unbleed writing and recording came up very quickly. It took me nearly 15 years to sell 500 copies of this one.

Unbleed (1997) - A very significant album in my personal history. Here we accomplished what I set out to do, which was make a thrilling, fast, melodic heavy metal album. It's very rough around the edges, but at the same time it has a vibrant energy that is authentic. The kind of album that can only be made by teenagers - indeed I was 18 when I wrote it and barely 19 when it was recorded. It was never mastered, and that will make a huge difference if we get around to doing it for a reissue or something.

Catharsis Instinct (2000) - Written in 1998 but not completed until 2000, this is Unbleed's somewhat malformed brother. Many people prefer it, but by comparison I think it is awkward and a bit underwhelming. It sounds to me like I wasn't sure where to go with the songwriting, and there is too much repetition of the lyrical themes as well. The acoustic guitars are this album's strongest element in my opinion, and I love the closing track "DNA".

In Sickness and In Dreams (2006) - This was actually written during a two-week period in 2003, then recorded gradually from December 2004 through 2005. The album form (14 songs in 24 minutes) was very much influenced by the band Zeke. In the long run this may be my favourite Dawnbringer album. It is our "thin green line in darkness". I also stopped using my pseudonym at this time, and the album cover is part of that step.

Nucleus (2010) - Our "breakthrough" album (at least so far), written very quickly and recorded even more quickly. Originally it was supposed to be a palindrome, and the first three tracks were written with this concept in mind. That approach soon became untenable, so instead we have 8 songs in various styles and the closing piece "Pendulum", which is in fact a palindrome. In some ways this album felt too easy, like it just came out of me without much thought or effort. There was a concept behind it, but I didn't press hard enough, so in the end, it's mostly about my alcohol problem which was really out of control at the time. I got sober about a month after the recording, so it was in some ways a cleansing experience for me. I don't think that's apparent from listening to it, but it's very much part of my connection (or lack of connection) with the album.

There is also an album from 1999 called "Snake" which has yet to be recorded. It is very progressive and bombastic, a bit like an opera. I still hope to record it sometime in the future.

You recently release your fifth full-length album “Into the Lair of the Sun God” from Profound Lore Records, an original recording with personality and uniqueness. Which was the writing and recording process of this material?

Ah, technically it is the sixth album as I do count "Snake" in the progression. But of course you had no way to know. I started writing last summer (2011) and then stopped to work on some other projects. Once those were out of the way, I picked up the writing again around December and January, and recorded in February of this year.


Which is the concept behind “Into the Lair of the Sun God”?

It's a story about a young warrior who cannot find a quest, so he invents
one for himself, yet still fails!

Do your lyrics affect your musical direction? Do you write separate from
the music?
For this album the story and the music were written simultaneously. The actual lyrics came later, but I was thinking in terms of a comic book or graphic novel. Each change in the music represents a new frame or image in the story. With each riff I knew what would be happening in the narrative.

I know that you write music from the heart and probably you don’t care about trends, but what do you expect from the music industry? Or, what would you want to succeed?

I want myself and my friends to succeed and that is what I am working for. More broadly I want to see music and sports change places in our culture.

How easy or difficult are things nowadays in the States regarding Heavy
Generally speaking, making art is a difficult profession.

Do you have any plans about live shows? For many years you didn’t play gigs, right?
We have played twice in the late 1990s, then once in 2010, then once again this past Saturday! So now we have a total of 4 shows in our history. We would be happy to play more often. We feel the line-up and songs are working very well.

You sing and play everything except guitars in Dawnbringer. You also play drums in Pharaoh, you play bass and sing in High Spirits, same for Superchrist, and you were also member of Nachtmystium for some time. Plus, you also run an independent record label. How do you manage to deal with all these?
I don't know! If I stop to think about it, I get overwhelmed! It helps that I don't drink, don't watch TV, and don't have a "normal" job. Still, I need a break sometimes, and it can be hard to do that. There is always a new project on the horizon. Right now I am writing new songs and trying to rest.

So, what Metal stands for you?
Almost everything, right?

Thanks Chris. Keep up the great job!
Thank you as well, and you too keep up the great work! I wanted to release Randy on my label, seems like you guys were working a bit faster! Hahaha!


"Into the Lair of the Sun God" lyrics concept HERE

For Dawnbringer news visit the official FB page HERE

Visit Planet Metal label & mailorder HERE  

Πέμπτη 12 Ιουλίου 2012

PRAYING MANTIS... This journey never ends! - Interview with Chris Troy

Praying Mantis is among the best and most unique bands that ever came out of England. The band is about to give some gigs during summer, while working on new material and I took the chance to have a couple of words with Chris Troy...

So here we are again. This is the third interview in the last years, this time for my personal blog/site. I’ve told you that Mantis' music always meant a lot for me. These melodies and lyrics made me wanted to be a better person, so thank you for that.

That is such a kind thing to say and it is very much appreciated.

“A chance we had, to cry for the new world”. So, do you think there is hope in the next years and what do you believe we, the people, should cry out?

Yes I do think that we will emerge and everything will return to a better level. Sometimes I look at the thousands of people as they disappear out of the cars, trains, buses, etc and head towards their jobs or things that they need to do. It all seems so such an intricate finely balanced economic model but in reality it only takes a very slight shift and everything can suddenly go off-balance which it has and it seems to have rippled everywhere. Some countries more affected than others! Cry out for more good music! :-)

“Time has no meaning, time tells no lies. Man has evolved as a predator in disguise”. So, is it all in man’s nature? 

I think it is. I wrote those lyrics in 1976!!! …And the theme seemed so very pertinent even back then. Around that time the population was under 4 billion and now it has gone over 7 billion in what is actually a very short interval in terms of the life of the planet. Yet we carry on unabated and if we continue down this incredibly blind and utterly ignorant path. Who knows what the future will hold. Man of course is the predator, maybe now, no longer in disguise..!

“Welcome to my childhood dream; reliving what I’ve missed before, time and time over again”. In July 27, Praying Mantis will play live in Cyprus at Power of the Night festival. How do you feel returning to the land of your father and which are your strongest memories from Cyprus?

I am hoping it will be a fantastic experience. My father unfortunately passed away around 16 years ago, and Tino and myself took him to Cyprus to see his family before he really became ill. So I have some very sad memories of the place but I also remember the fantastic people that we met… Everyone seemed so warm and friendly. We are so looking forward to it.

“Running for tomorrow, hiding from today. Running for tomorrow, can’t look back on yesterday”. But yesterdays define who we are, right? So, from all these past years of Praying Mantis, what do you believe you finally achieve? 

Well after all these years we are somehow still going as a band and this makes me incredibly proud. There is no doubt we have gone through some very difficult times but in addition there have also been some amazing moments. I feel so privileged to have been provided with a position to get our music and lyrics in a form that can be conveyed into people’s lives. And if they relate to the lyrics and interpret them how they feel the theme , then that is even better!!! There can always be more, but to the same degree we could always be richer! …i.e. I cannot complain, we have left our mark in history.
“Hide me from my memories, part me from my soul, but the pendulum of life will carry on”. You never quit music - thanks for us! – and that shows that this is something that you love doing. What music means for you?

No doubt it is a lifeblood. It is also a drug that sometimes you think you can live without, but then you realize you need it again and again, to have another fix! …Yes I am a music junkie!

“Hallowed and be thy name; seeking the road of redemption. Reach for the Gods in vain; guilty of love and temptation”. Which are the mistakes of your past that you would change if you knew the future?

Making mistakes is part of life. Some of those will inevitably be big and involve aspects that we may always regret. Yes there are certain stages at the beginning of our history where I think if we had ventured down that alternative road then we could have been where Iron Maiden are today! And in truth it was really that close! But you learn to be philosophical about these things and quite simply it wasn’t meant to be!

Back in Mantis, which are the songs that characterize your personality and your music?

That is a difficult one. Personally I love writing using minor chords as they conjure up darkness and a depth which consequently one can associate with equally dark and deep lyrics. That is me, I don’t think I have ever written a straightforward love song and I don’t think I am capable of doing that. :-)

After your last studio album, “Sanctuary”, you released “Metalmorphosis” with remakes of older classics. What’s the next step?

As you have stated “Sanctuary” was indeed the last studio album and any of the fans really did like it. “Metalmorphosis” offered us the chance to play some of the old classics with the current band line up. For the next stage, the cliche answer would be that we are working on a new studio album, and actually we are :-) … We will make every endeavor to make it the best album ever, but time will tell!

Give me a couple of words for each of the following names:

New Wave of British Heavy Metal – Great time. It was fantastic to be part of it.
Dennis Stratton – Fantastic guy and an amazing character. I will always fondly remember the time he was in Mantis.
Iron Maiden - Who? :-)

Diamond Head - Yes I think that they were a very good band; should have been bigger than they were.
Stratus – Sad in many ways. The key element of Stratus is that Clive Burr was in the band. I did actually really enjoy the rather brief period when that band existed.
Time Tells No Lies – It was the beginning for Mantis and people will always compare whatever we do to that album. Many fans/critics call it a classic now which is an honour.
Sanctuary – Most fans believe that album now stands up against Time Tells No Lies and hence hopefully we still have the formula to continue for the years we have ahead.

And close as you wish.

Thank you for putting together some of the most interestingly structured questions that I have ever been given to answer!!! :-)
Looking very much forward to playing Cyprus and playing to these amazing people. It will be an honour!

Praying Mantis will play live at 
Power Of The Night Metal Festival 
in Cyprus, along with other great bands, at 27/28 July 2012

7" Singles

Captured City - The Soundhouse Tapes pt.2 (1979) - also released as 12" single
Praying Mantis (1980)
All Day And All Of The Night (1980)
Cheated (1981)
Turn The Tables (1982)


Time Tells No Lies (1981)
Live At Last (1990 live album)
Predator In Disguise (1991)
A Cry For The New World (1993)
Only The Children Cry EP (1994)
To The Power Of Ten (1995)
Captured Alive In Tokyo City (1996 live album)
Forever In Time (1998)
Demorabilia (1999 compilation)
Nowhere To Hide (2000)
The Journey Goes On (2003)
The Best of Praying Mantis (2004 compilation)
Sanctuary (2009)
Metalmorphosis (2011 re-recordings)

Praying Mantis official site

with Praying Mantis in Athens 2010 
(Up The Hammers Festival)