The year is 1986… late 1986 exactly, I’m involved with my first own ‘zine known as Decibel Of Death (D.O.D.) - the French answer to legendary Thrash / Death ‘zines such as Death And Destruction, Speed Attack, Brain Damage or Phoenix Militia… While I prepare a feature on the revamped SYRANAX, bassist Steve Holland mentions a newly formed Texas act to me and describes it as very promising so I immediately get in touch with this outfit known as NECROVORE. The band can’t believe their eyes as they have no material available yet but I could see right away that a huge potential was lying within this act and I decide to interview those guys no matter what, the first NECROVORE feature find its place during early 1987 via D.O.D. Within a couple of months a strong friendship gets built between us and when their first demo is finally released around March 1987, I can see that a new step is passed in the Metal realms… savagery, brutality, speed, aggression, power, talent… those are the most adequate qualitatives to describe NECROVORE’s own world. Now it’s 2005 and following a four years fight with former member / mainman / guitarist / vocalist Jon De Plachett to get him agreeing to do a huge in depth interview, here it finally comes… Jon being joined for the exercise by former bass player, Ross Stone and later guitarist, Bjorn Haga. As you’ll see there’s still hope to see those black souls coming back with much more intense / demented material right from the Abyss!
How and when did you get into Metal and music as a whole in the beginning? Did you opt for playing your respective instrument right away and in which circumstances have you started?
Jon: "Music made me insane when I was a kid - I used to put the speakers of our stereo in the windows of our house facing outward into the neighbourhood and blast it on the highest volume setting it would go with the heaviest shit I could find (hahaha, that's great - I did EXACTLY the same when I was still living with my parents - Frank) - the neighbours hated me, I thought I was doing them a favour, freeing them from their dreary existence. I later found that the heavier the music was, the more I liked it. I used to search imports all the time and talk with demo traders trying to find the ultimate heavy bands. Actually, I started on piano as a small child. My mother was a concert style pianist and I would later learn Rachmaninoff and stuff like that. However, things were not too normal in my household (I will elaborate later). I had three older brothers and one of them gave me a Fender Strat after he got back from war - I was 6 or 7. So, I started on guitar as a kid. I never really took it serious until my fixation with heavy music made me really get into it. One of my friends was really good on guitar and showed me all sorts of cool shit (first song I learned on guitar was BLACK SABBATH’s 'Paranoid'), he had his own band and one day asked me to be their vocalist. I did not think I was up to it, but found out I was pretty good. Later I took it really serious and studied under an Alto-Soprano opera singer and became very good at it. I sang for about six bands, all the time I was still into the heaviest shit and I was still improving on guitar. Soon I got better than many of my friends on guitar, and decided to start launching my own bands. The experience of being a lead vocalist for a bunch of bands and basically the leader made me take off on my own. The last so-called Metal band I was in won a battle of the bands competition in Texas (we were especially commended for the vocals and were awarded professional studio recording sessions, money etc.), but I told these guys that I had to have the heaviest and would not stay for long. Most of the bands I was in up to this point were a sort of heavy commercial Metal shit. I was one of those vocalist fuckers with all those piercing screams tearing out your ears. I had the perfect technique with the diaphragm breathing etc... Later, as you read on I decided to commit the ultimate vocal blasphemy and destroy my vocal chords in ritualistic murder - it was a beautiful sacrifice and it dismayed many.”
Bjorn: “I initially got into Metal around age of 9-10. My cousin, who is a couple of years older than I would play bands such as LED ZEPPELIN, KISS, BLACK SABBATH, AC/DC and such on his record player when I would go over to visit. I liked the hard driving beat that this music had at the time. At this time I believe Metal was called “Acid Rock”. This is at least what he called it. It wasn’t until I was exposed to IRON MAIDEN and other bands of the N.W.O.B.H.M. where I understood really what Metal was. I was about 13 or so when I really started getting into music and collecting records. I mainly collected the Heavy Metal that was played on the radio as well as some heavier stuff. I never started playing bass until I did some session work for a local band a few years back. I have always played guitar and will continue to do so until I die or an appendage gets cut off.”
How did you get more and more interested by extreme Deathly acts as I suppose that you were into bands like early SLAYER, early KREATOR, DESTRUCTION… to start with, so how did it develop from that point?
Jon: “Well you got the early influences fairly right, although there was much more to this. As I said before, I was searching for that heavy band always that stirred the soul (so to speak). BLACK SABBATH really hit me when I was very young. My family was very Christian and BLACK SABBATH took me away from that shit with their ”Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and ”Masters Of Reality”. It progressed from there. Later I got hold of SLAYER demos and I saw them come through San Antonio on their ”Show No Mercy” tour - that’s when SLAYER was in full nail bands and definitely bad ass. They later lost my interest and I found DESTRUCTION, KREATOR, SODOM, VENOM, etc... and the one that KILLED me, POSSESSED ”Seven Churches”. I vowed from that point to destroy the world and go beyond them all (if possible). But, there is much more to this progression into darkness that gives NECROVORE meaning then playing in a bunch of bands or having dark intentions etc... As I mentioned earlier, there was this odd Christian family background that I was apart of. You see, for reasons to complex to mention, I truly felt as a child that ‘EVIL’, or whatever you call it, was calling me to be a part of it and that I had NO choice in this matter. Now that sounds quite interesting and all but, what you don’t know is that there REALLY was all this bizarre supernatural shit going on around our house that I rarely mention to anyone. In truth it scared the holy shit out of me as a child, as well as my family, and friends. Then NECROVORE emerged.”
Were you into underground small type of acts during those early years and did you have interest into trading tapes and stuff or were you more into the somewhat already established bands?
Jon: “Yes I was into tape trading and the severe underground. I had mostly anything that was worth getting a hold of. I talked with several underground zines around the world and would get all sorts of shit from them as well. Too many bands and zines to mention.”
Bjorn: “Until I was into extreme Metal for a couple of years, I knew nothing about tape trading or the underground scene. If I can blame anyone for getting me hooked on underground Metal, I look at Jon and Ross. These two guys really did it for me. I met Ross at a local music shop and he, Scott Humphrey, and I tried to do some sort of a jam thing. We were at the time all very inexperienced with our instruments so I guess it helped us learn to feel at ease playing guitars around others. One time I was over at Ross’ house watching movies and Jon came over and had a copy of the “Ultimate Revenge” video. Once SLAYER came on I was instantly hooked. SLAYER at the time had everything. They had the look, sound, presence. Shortly after that Jon and Ross picked me up one day (more like an abduction) and took me to my first underground show. This sealed my fate right then and there. After that it was all I could do to get to every show every weekend, buy all the new albums that came out as well as starting to get into demo trading / collecting. As far as being into established acts or underground stuff, It was a good 50/50. As long as it was fast and heavy I was listening to it.”
I recently discovered that before getting involved with Death Metal, you were singing in an underground Texas band called MATRIX, so was it your first band? If not who were the others?
Jon: “That was the last Metal band I was in before I left to form NECROVORE. As stated above, I played in many bands before MATRIX. My first: EXCALIBUR, then DESMOTUS, WOLF, TEMPEST, KRYPTON. KRYPTON was the first Speed Metal band I formed and was definitely a step towards total darkness, in fact the members were at odds with the format and the direction I was taking. I ended up fighting everyone in the band including the parents in a massive brawl in their fucking house - stupid fucks! I later came back again to seek further enjoyment with one of my friends - Ross Stone - future bassist of NECROVORE - with an iron pipe and he had a ball bat. I made sure I left my mark, because I felt I did not leave a clear message the first time. I just love revenge. If you piss me off once and I kick your ass, rest assure I will probably return again and mutilate your fucking ass just for annoying me the first time. Anyway, I was later approached by the singer of MILITIA, after I ended KRYPTON, and was asked as a favour to temporarily sing for this band that wanted to enter the battle of the bands competition in Texas. This band had one of those boy wonder guitarists that had been playing since he was 4 and now was 15 and Mike Soliz (singer of MILITIA) knew I could pull it off with my Geoff Tate type vocals at the time. As mentioned earlier, I was trained properly to be one of those ultra high pitched Y & T / Rob Halford vocalist with those powerful lows by my Alto-Soprano opera teacher (a big fat lady that was highly respected and could sing her ass off). Later I committed the ultimate blasphemy by brutalizing my vocals and applying this Operatic training to Black Death vocals. My black vocals were a curse and that is why I have these long haunty type screams that are 100% real from the... Actually, it came to me when I was driving between New Braunfels and Austin Texas late at night. I was thinking ‘How the fuck is Cronos of VENOM doing those fucking vocals?’ I figured it out that night on the highway and took it in my own direction. I remember I wanted to hurry my ass to where I was going so I would not forget how to do it. The next day I practiced until I had it down using my former vocal training and shit. It is definitely a technique and a trade secret. There are no effects on my voice. I do not whisper the shit into the microphone. In fact, when I would practice the shit it would be so fucking loud (no microphone) that I could rarely do it when others were around. It’s a lot of fucking power (pure Abyss).”
So MATRIX never released anything as far as records goes but it looks like this band was gigging quite a lot in Texas with the likes of newer bands such as MILITIA, WATCHTOWER etc, what can you tell about that basic Heavy Metal act?
Jon: “Yeah, we played all over Texas. We were really popular and all the chicks loved me, blah, blah, blah... In fact, Electra Records were going to sign us and the deals were set. So of course, I said fuck this shit, pissed everyone off, and told the band I belong to Blackness and I am apart of the Abyss and left. They did not understand and hated me for dashing their dreams upon the rocks. But really I had to take a hard look at it and think ‘Do I want to do this Y&T shit all my early life and be branded for it?' I feel a sense of honour knowing I turned my back on it all and walked over to the Dark Side where there was nothing to offer. Remember when we formed NECROVORE there was nothing going on in the scene, Death and Black Death Metal was completely written off as gone and dead. I said fuck that, we are going to bring in the second wave of Blackness, everyone is going to die!!”
For how long did you stay with this band? What were your influences as singer back then? Your vocals were just like usual Heavy Metal singing back then
Jon: “No, I was still an insane vocalist. Remember I was trained to be fucking good at what I did. My screams could break your fucking ear drums and I put on a massive show. I did no guitar, just straight vocals. I was 100% front man and got into it. The cool thing is I was wearing all this nail band shit and looking like the executioner (blasting SLAYER’s “Show No Mercy” backstage at shows), the chicks loved it. I just found the music boring. I still talked about all this supernatural shit in the lyrics, you just couldn’t tell with all the screaming going on. I practiced to QUEENSRYCHE “Queen Of The Reich” and JUDAS PRIEST “Screaming For Vengeance” and anything else that was high screaming shit (remember that was a long time ago when I first started out). I could hit every fucking note with no problem. But, I really never looked up to anyone. I always had an attitude of competition: ‘If those fuckers can do it, I can do it better - They’re not my fucking gods - Why should I look up to anyone?!' Anyway, I worked with that band for a little over a year.”
Have you recorded any demos with this band? And how did the band end up which led you to join MESODAMEN?
Jon: “Yeah, we did a demo which was made only to be sent to record labels. Like I said Electra picked it up and promised a major record deal with touring all over the country. I bet you or anyone who knows me or NECROVORE did not know that. When I realized I could have it, I realized I did not want it. I told this band from the start I was not staying, I’m just helping you out because I like the Heavy Darkness, but our successes and my feeling of commitment was prolonging the inevitable, my departure. When they hit me with the record deal, I thought ‘Oh fuck, this has gone too far’ and made my exit. I had already been talking with SYRANAX, and friends from D.R.I. In fact I was already putting together MESODAMEN. MESODAMEN was actually first called DEATH CORP and had a picture of this machine gun toting skeleton with a pair of binoculars in a sniper position hunting down prey.”
So MESODAMEN was a band that also featured a future NECROVORE member, Ross Stone on bass as well along with future SYRANAX member, Steve Holland on guitar, what can you tell us about that act?
Jon: “Yeah, that’s right. It was a top secret project of destruction. Ross Stone was my good friend, fiend in terror and the bassist. Ross was always hanging around with me through my band years - he was the guy with the baseball bat. He was playing for NASGOUL at the time. Steve Holland was the other guitarist and the singer for TREACHEROUS VIOLENCE at the time. We were getting Felix (Griffin) from D.R.I. to do drums of course. I was vocals and the lead guitar.”
What sort of Metal did you play at that point? I mean did you opt for something heavier / deathlier with this band comparing to MATRIX which maybe led to a different singing style? Have you recorded / gigged with that outfit?
Jon: “It was Grind Speed Death. Fast as it could fucking go with insanity. We did not gig or record. The vocals were heavy and dark.”
For how long did the band go on? It seems MASODAMEN broke up because you couldn’t find a permanent drummer and you lived too far from each other, correct?
Jon: “Well, the permanent drummer thing is correct. Felix from D.R.I. was not going to leave D.R.I. for an insane Grindcore Death band that is not fully up and running yet. There was also a problem with Ross living in New Braunfels, I had recently moved up to Austin from New Braunfels because of MATRIX. What eventually broke was me leaving MATRIX and getting together with Ross and saying ‘Hey, lets just go all the fucking way and destroy the world!’ so, he met with me and we worked things out. I gravitated back to New Braunfels and meditated at night in darkness at the lake working out my diabolic plan and the music of NECROVORE. Finally I called Ross over my house and said, ‘I want to show you these songs I have put together’. I think the first was 'Divus De Mortuus' - the whole thing came to me one late night when I was wondering deep in the woods by the lake, I hauled ass home trying to remember it in my head and put it on guitar and record it – I have never had a song come to me like that before. I also had most of 'Slaughtered Remains' worked out. Ross was knocked out speechless and said ‘We got to fucking do it!’. He later brought over the other guitarist of NASGOUL, Scott Humphrey and we worked it out. Ross found the drummer in San Antonio through an ad or something like that at an underground record shop. I called up the dude, Scott Staffney, and said ‘Hey I heard you’re into heavy shit?’, he said ‘Yeah like METALLICA and stuff?’ and I said ‘Fuck No! A lot more than that, I’ll just have to show you’. I went to his house with Ross Stone and we learned and recorded a raw version of 'Slaughtered Remains' that night. I told him I want you to learn the “Darkness Descends” drumming from Gene Hoglan of DARK ANGEL with that triple kick he uses on the double bass. Scott perfected it while wearing combat boots all the time during NECROVORE practices and all recordings. The dude was hard fucking core! He was this sort of evil redneck with a fucking old Ford pickup truck who worshiped Black Death after he was turned on to it. Since then, Scott Staffney went to prison for several years and finally got out - I was waiting. No one has heard what that dude can do on fucking drums. He was not happy when the demo got out with the recording of him barely noticeable - not properly micked.”
Had you start with that band to pen up originals that would become future NECROVORE numbers?
Jon: “Not really, there may have been a riff here and there that I used later. MESODAMEN was really something that got me going and proved to me I could put it together. After I figured that out, it went extreme with NECROVORE.”
By the way, have you toyed with MATRIX and with this band with covers? If so which ones?
Jon: “No, MATRIX was all original. We never did covers, they were going for record deals. Cover bands go for the quick money. Original bands of that type go for recognition and hopefully bigger money.”
Following the MESODAMEN break, SYRANAX tried to recruit Ross and you Jon as well to join their revamped line up, a band that Steve Holland had joined in the meantime but it didn’t work out, what happened exactly? I mean would you say that the SYRANAX material despite being fast and Thrashy with some Hardcore relents wasn’t at all the type of stuff that you wanted to develop?
Jon: “Yes, that’s right. Ross and I figured it out really quick. Steve Holland is way into Punk and still is. SYRANAX new material had that Punky-Thrash thing going on, due to Steve Holland, and the new direction he wanted. SYRANAX became Steve’s baby, because the other two guitarists left the band and joined the military. So it went from a four to a three piece band. It would have been five piece if Ross and I joined.”
Ross: “The biggest problem was that Jon and I already knew what we wanted and we didn’t want to be a part of anything already established. We wanted to start something new, with new members, no ‘used to be another band’ types. We wanted to be totally original.”
So by late 1986 to early 1987 you and Ross hooked up with ex - OBSESSED DEATH guitarist, Scott Humphrey, do you recall how you got him in the band and what do you recall from OBSESSED DEATH?
Jon: “OBSESSED DEATH was the early name of NASGUL (or the other way around, I can’t remember, Ross knows). Like I said earlier, Ross brought Scott Humphrey over to meet me and see what I was working on. I think it was more of a meeting between me and Scott Humphrey to see if we clicked on the same material - and we did. Humphrey was fucking insane and him added with Ross were out of control. The aggression was definitely there and was something that I knew we had to have. You need that type of energy to fuel this type of project, especially from the ground up.”
Ross: “In the beginning NECROVORE was really only Jon and myself. We worked on the philosophy of NECROVORE, the music, the appearance, and everything else before we started looking for members for the band. NECROVORE was an entity we created, far more than just a band. It took a long time to find individuals we were content to work with, and this slowed things down. The line up for the demo started playing together in early 87. To tell you the truth I don’t remember OBSESSED DEATH. Scott never played with anyone before NECROVORE. I mean he did a couple of garage band type things, nothing that mattered.”
What about NASGUL, Ross, what can you tell us about that band?
Ross: “Well, NASGUL was a garage band out of New Braunfels, Texas I played with. In fact, Scott Humphrey, Zack (Bjorn) and I all played in NASGUL. It was only a garage band, never played any shows or released any material. The history of NASGUL goes like this. I was just starting to play the bass and was looking for someone to jam with when I was told about a couple of local guys looking to start a Speed Metal band. I checked them out, turned out to be Scott H, original NECROVORE member and Zack, played with NECROVORE a bit later. We hit it off and started playing together. I can't remember the drummers name at all. He was out of Austin and had one hell of a drum set. He had a double bass Tama with a complete cage set up. It was top of the line, no expense spared. Anyway, we practiced and got pretty good. Scott and Zack wrote all the original songs and didn't do a bad job at all. One day Jon, already a friend of mine, who was living in Austin at the time, stopped by to listen to a practice session. We started talking and decided that he and I should start something together and that was of course NECROVORE. As I mentioned Jon and I were friends before we started playing together. Both Jon and I are drag racers and muscle car freaks. Jon had a 1967 GTO, a completely bad ass car, 400 large block, six pack, Hurst equipped, posi rear end, everything. My car was as 1955 Chevy, 396 BB, dual 4’s, posi rear end, in short, another badass car. Naturally we hit it off. Soon we were hitting the gym together, hanging out and even working together. When the music bug bit Jon, he moved to Austin, to find some musicians. Well, he found musicians, but none with the right attitude to play in a Black / Death band. Most of the Austin scene was full of guys who were good at playing their instruments, but lame at understanding what being Black was about. I had the understanding and attitude but lacked any musical talent. After I started playing with NASGUL, I developed a few meager skills. When you put Jon and I together we really had something. Jon had enough talent of both of us and together we had more than enough attitude. We really put ourselves into the band. We believed in what we did. The primal anger and raw aggression, the intrinsic NECROVORE, transferred right into the music. It wasn’t the fact that we were great musicians; it was the fact that we understood what the music was and what it should be.”
The next and last member to join the newer band, NECROVORE was drummer Scott Staffney who came down from Michigan, tell us more about this
Jon: “As I explained earlier, he was in San Antonio when we first met through an ad he had posted at an underground record shop. Later his whole family moved to Michigan. He decided to stay for NECROVORE and he lived out of his truck or at some chick’s house from time to time. He was a real whore dog from hell and proud of. One time he fucked his best friends mom while her fucking husband watched - Scott didn’t care, he was a sick fuck! He later moved to Michigan after I put the project on hold. He spent several years in prison, got out and contacted me about playing drums for NECROVORE.”
Ross: “Staffney was the craziest damn drummer in San Antonio, naturally he fit in with us.”
NECROVORE means “to feed upon the dead”, give us more details about that moniker as it was totally effective yet unusual back then - and still is to this day
Jon: “Well, the story goes: I was at a huge bash in Austin and someone threw on the NECROVORE rehearsal demo for the first time. Some guys from D.R.I. knew how we were (Metal mayhem with pure aggression) and happened to be there and said ‘What the fuck is that? Those guys are like a bunch of fucking NECROVOREs!’ Well, it stuck. People were calling us that due to the content, our personalities and our stage shows. However, I called it NECROVORE specifically because of the ‘feed upon the dead’ meaning. It feeds upon the withering death and decay, and is the larval stagnated host writhing from the Abyss. To feed upon the dead stagnation of ignorance one has to travel to the very darkest recesses of the human psyche’ and beyond. For me it is a confrontation with the ultimate darkness and a rebirth - baptism by fire and blood. ‘The Whore of Babylon extracts tribute from the fool!’ The connotation is to allow oneself to be consumed in darkness, challenging or summoning the most horrific, and emerging reborn in Blackness – powerful and indestructible. It seems a lot of people who got into NECROVORE understood this meaning and did not view the project as a bunch of dudes forming a band, but as their own project and a challenge to go beyond it all and emerge mighty.”
At that same time, there was tons of newer Texas Speed / Thrash outfits but no Deathly acts such as NECROVORE like ROTTING CORPSE (which seems to have reformed not so long ago), VALKYRIE, MORBID TERMINATION, TORTURE, HELL PREACHER, DEATH TRIPPER, DEVASTATION… were you familiar with those acts and what were your views about that explosion which led to the fact that all those bands went nowhere?
Jon: “I was familiar with these bands and you are right, they really did not go anywhere. I’ll tell you why, because they all sort of had this Texas style Death Metal sound. These guys all grew up in Texas and went to the same shows and liked many of the same bands locally. This local style has a sort of melodic edge to it and is purely home grown. I hated that shit, even though I played with several bands locally I was not born in Texas. You see I was way into the tape trading and the underground scene all over the world. I was into DESTRUCTION and SODOM and KREATOR and European Death Metal. I viewed NECROVORE as hailing from New Braunfels, Texas as a German heritage Eastern block European linked Psychotic Black Death project. I did not want to associate with ANY Texas bands or their influences. In fact, Ross and I could not stand most of them. New Braunfels Texas is this sleepy little hardcore German town with a bunch of old Germans straight out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre - bizarre fucks. So that worked in our favour.”
Bjorn: “I had seen all of those bands live around the time leading up to and after I was in NECROVORE. Some were pretty good. The bands you mentioned had a different feel to them that NECROVORE had. It was something more like watching garage bands playing out and having a good time, where NECROVORE was something that was no bullshit had to have a professional mindset the entire time. It was like having a job that was the fucking coolest best job in the world. I loved it. We knew that we were better than any of the other regional bands.”
What about the older Texas acts such as S.A. SLAYER, MILITIA, D.R.I. (before they relocated to California), WYZARD, WATCHTOWER…? Were you fan of those acts and were you somewhat influenced by ‘em not musically speaking but the way they were handling things and stuff?
Jon: “Not really influenced by them even though I dealt with them. I was pretty much the alien person in their home towns. For example, I moved to Austin to work with MATRIX. I moved in with the singer of WATCHTOWER and some other dudes in a huge house. Felix from D.R.I. was from Austin with the rest of those dudes (it was a whole other mentality - which I sort of clashed with). Because Texas is such a huge fucking state, moving to Austin from New Braunfels, is similar to someone in France moving to England. The San Antonio scene is way different than Austin with its own mind set. If you were here you would know what I am talking about. San Antonio music use to be very melodic. Austin had that melodic thing going on, but due to WATCHTOWER, all these bands from there had this sort of technical sound. MATRIX had similarities to WATCHTOWER’s sound due to the fact the guitarist and song writer and everyone else in that band, but I was from Austin. By the way, I am originally from the Washington D.C. area and moved to San Antonio as a kid. Later, I moved all over the country and came to live in New Braunfels. When I was in San Antonio I played with three melodic sounding Thrashy bands. I don’t like melodic and I don’t like that technical sound. Technical is that fucking style were the dudes are all trying to impress one another and fellow musicians on their instruments, its like the whole band is in competition with itself (and it is fucking gay). Melodic has this diminished weird chording depressing sombre sound (it’s like your whining on the fucking guitar - now put that in a Metal Thrash band and it sucks - you may do it well and it is somewhat technical, but it still sounds like a whining little gay fuck trying to impress you). Both styles lack balls. Oh yeah, I failed to mention the Dallas scene which was Hardcore to the max Glam Rock. If I was to say the Texas scene influenced me, I would have to say it influenced me to kill them. Because I hated it!”
Bjorn: ”Actually no, I was not influenced by any of these bands. I listen to S.A. SLAYER to this day and they are probably the only ones out of those you mentioned I like still. D.R.I. was cool but grew out of them somewhere around 18-19. The others I didn’t pay attention to at all. They were from an era a few years earlier than NECROVORE and were essentially defunct by the time we came around. Aside from WATCHTOWER and D.R.I., the rest were like a sad imitation of Power Metal. WATCHTOWER was like listing to a monkey on speed play RUSH - I don’t mean this in a negative way at all. It was too technical for me to enjoy. D.R.I. was plain old Hardcore different scene, different mindset.”
Ross: “I always watched other bands to see what they were doing, see what I liked and what I didn’t. It was interesting to watch the audience’s reaction to other bands. NECROVORE was in competition with everyone so I can truthfully state that we never used anything that another band used first. As far as the business side of the business, Jon and I had our own ideas and didn’t notice how other band’s handled stuff.”
Would you say that at this point the Texas scene was stronger than ever with tons of bands around, places to play and fans into it comparing to what can be seen since the late ‘80s where it seems that everything is dead or so?
Jon: “I have to admit that there were a shit load of bands and plenty of places for those dudes to play. The Metal scene was fucking huge in Texas.”
Bjorn: “At this point I wasn’t concerned with anything dealing with the Texas scene. NECROVORE collectively was not concerned with small regional scenes. You have to understand that the local scene was and is very clique-ish, if you are not in with all the people and friends with them you are outcast, which is fine with me as that shit sucks. NECROVORE had its sights set on larger goals. I still do not concern myself with the local Texas scene. Its small, who cares, the world is larger and more important things to expend energy on.”
Ross: “The Texas scene was the best in the nation. The underground scene had tons of bands and quite a few of them were good. We had Punk bands like the DIRTY ROTTEN IMBECILES (D.R.I.) and the FEARLESS IRANIAN’S FROM HELL (F.I.F.H.), Metal bands like WATCHTOWER and MILITIA. And of course you had Thrash bands like SYRANAX, HELL DOGS, ROTTING CORPSE and Black Metal bands like us. Just take a look at the web and you can still find many sites that document the scene we had in the 80s. The great thing about the scene in the 80s was that the competition between the bands made everyone better. With a large variety of acts to choose from, you had to prove you were worth the price of admission. We hung out with all kinds of different people, there was a real understanding of what it meant to be part of a counterculture. I can still remember a show we did at the Cameo in San Antonio. We were playing with F.I.F.H. and C.B.S.. We were wondering how a mainly Punk audience would react to us. We didn’t have to wait long to find out. During the introduction it got silent and when we started to play everyone just stood there and watched for a few moments until one guy yelled out “Sons of Satan”! And the whole damn place broke out into one massive Thrash pit. It was chaos, the audience went wild. After we finished playing a fight broke out and the headline act had to get off stage. We spent hours after the show talking to Punks and Thrashers alike, it was the very first time I signed an autograph. I felt like a God! It wasn’t until later that one of the other band members girlfriend told me that the fight broke out because the guys in the Thrash pit wouldn’t stop calling for NECROVORE. When the headline band, notice I am not naming any names here, heard the calls, they got pissed and climbed into the pit to confront the hecklers. I guess the guys in the pit didn’t take to that. That was a fairly average night for us. I loved it.”
So with that line up, NECROVORE recorded the first demo around March / April 1987, a four track affair which received immediate praise from the Death / Thrash Metal fans from all over the world but also acclaim from most of the fanzines around at the time, Violent Noise being the only one to not show up much enthusiasm, what do you recall from this?
Jon: “Well, you stumped me there, because I do not recall Violent Noize ‘zine. We dealt with so many ‘zines I can’t remember. NECROVORE was not ready for the praise we received, it hit us out of nowhere from all over the fucking world. I felt it would be well received, but the guys working with me were not totally ready for it. We were slammed with mail and interviews right off the bat. It went well at first and the guys in the band were blown away, but later try answering all that fucking mail and write interview after interview. You feel like you're some sort of fucking clerical secretary. Shit, I would spend all day answering letters. When I went home it was hard to get into playing the guitar. So, it appears we jumped right over the local crap and hit the international scene right off the bat. That is what we wanted to do. It definitely did not bother us if some ‘zine said we did not have this polished sound or the recording was not perfect. Fuck, it was an accidentally released rehearsal demo, not a professional studio recording - and that fucker kicked severe fucking ass due to the raw realism of the moment.”
Ross: “It was more than a rehearsal tape and a bit less than professional. We recorded the demo ourselves. A friend of the band, Walter Carter, ran the soundboard and mixed it. We used an old 4 track machine, an assortment of microphones, and our own effects to capture the essence of NECROVORE. We did the entire thing in our practice area. Really, it didn’t come out all that bad. Walter knew what we were shooting or and did a great job letting the raw edge of the performance come through. Walter went on to man the soundboard at most of our shows. The quality of the recording suffered each time it was reproduced. We didn’t own professional duplicating equipment and used a home stereo to make copies. We only released a very few copies and as they were copied the quality dropped. The original copy is fine and give a good representation of the band.”
By the way Borivoj’s (Violent Noize ‘zine) biggest critic regarding the material was the total all ‘n’ out speed that surrounded the four tunes, would you agree that it maybe lacked some more slower parts at times or…?
Jon: “Yes, it was full all out speed with a few minor breaks that I intentionally put in to break things up. That means I was well aware of the fact of that sort of criticism before it was received. In fact, I put special emphasis on breaking things up and mixing up the rhythm in the newer material. I wanted to create a dark roller coaster effect that tore you up from the inside out, but at the same time was hypnotic in effect due to the churning blackness. Although I liked the all out speed thing, it did somewhat annoy me after a while, especially since we were doing a lot more stuff in those riffs than what the average listener could hear. I wanted to break things up by creating more hard driving grinding riffs, mixed in with bizarre single note picking and occasional blasts of adrenaline hopefully underscored by something strangely atmospheric, but hypnotic (i.e. our newer material). To do something like that requires intense work - something we did a lot of and are still doing. My goal was and is to harness or express pure darkness for the sake of madness.”
What can you tell us about the recording sessions of that demo? Also two versions of that tape exist, the second version only features a different mix comparing to the first or…?
Jon: “The first demo was not supposed to be a demo release. It was essentially a recording of one of our rehearsals and got out to a few friends and took off from there to the local radio underground and the next thing we knew it was overseas. The rest is history. However, I do feel it was one of those nights were it just comes out powerful and real. I think that is why a lot of people like it. It is raw and balls out. You can identify with it. It hits you right in the face. You can just tell this shit is 100% real. What I think you are calling the second tape is something I attempted at a local studio due to the criticism of the lack of drums on the mix and I wanted to get something off to New Renaissance Records for the “Satan’s Revenge” compilation etc... but that studio sucked and you could tell the guy who owned it had no idea what we were up to, nor was he familiar with that style of music. I became very much aware of this during the session and ended up not overly enthused to do this recording. It is reflected in the lead work on that recording, where I am basically saying: ‘I don’t fucking care I just want to burn this place down!’ After the recording, I took the reels out to the country side and in a ritualistic sacrifice burned the reels and mixed in a pint of my own blood just for the fun of it. I don’t know how some of those recordings got out, I only sent one track off to New Renaissance. I’m just a hardcore critic.”
Ross: “There was a cleaner version. We decided to re-record the demo at a professional studio in order to give fans a better copy of our old material; however, Walter didn’t oversee the recording and the studio technician who did, had no idea of how a Black / Death Metal band sounded. He cleaned up the recording so much that it lost its soul. Try as we might, we couldn’t seem to make it right. I don’t know if a copy still exists. I really don’t care. I don’t like the soulless recording. If you want to get an idea of NECROVORE, stick with the original demo.”
The song 'Divus De Mortuus' was based on the Latin language, and in several occasions you did use that language, would you say that it added an even more deathly aspect to the NECROVORE material? For how long did you study Latin?
Jon: “I got into Latin because I got into ritualistic magic. I was into researching old grimores and that sort of thing and I was highly interested in what these guys were saying they could do in these grimores. I took on Latin so I could decipher text or manuscripts. I don’t necessarily trust what one guy’s interpretation is or his bias. So, I felt it was a necessity to know or that it was part of my training if I wanted to delve deeper into those sorts of studies. However, I felt it (Latin) was quite appropriate for NECROVORE. I liked the fact that it was a dead language. When I was writing and releasing the NECROVORE material not much was happening in the underground Black Death scene, so I did not give a fuck if you could not understand what I was saying. I did it for myself. It added something to the music that left you wondering what the fuck was going on here at the moment. If you wanted to know, go interpret it yourself or leave it up to yourself to allow the blackness to just flow. The Latin material I wrote was done with the help of an actual Catholic clergyman on the East coast. He is fairly influential in that religious circle and corrected my Latin grammar on several occasions. It was a pretty interesting relationship, sending the most blasphemous Latin shit off to this guy and him casually correcting my grammar or offering some changes here or there. I would send him the English translation and my Latin translation and he who say ‘No, if want to have a stronger emphasis on this statement or that then change this here... or... you did not necessarily use the right version of the word you wanted so use this to capture the evil intent etc...’ So, I studied Latin for some time, but I am definitely not what I call proficient, that is why someone was helping me out. The grammar is complex. Little mistakes can drastically change the meaning, but it is definitely a dark language. The language of the dead. I also studied some Greek, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite, and Hebrew.”
As a whole, NECROVORE lyrics didn’t feature the usual Satanic topics that were overused back then (and still are these days), what made you go for something much more philosophic and involved? I remember that you’ve told me that you were into things that a lot of people would not like to deal with
Jon: “I personally consider NECROVORE as something I call: ‘Psychotic Black Death’. It is twisted, contorted, disturbing, and fucking Black as the charnel Abyss itself. Now why do I have to mention something as silly as Satan?! For one thing, I don’t have a high opinion of Christianity. For that one simple reason I am not going to talk about Satan, due to the fact that he is a part of that ideology (I might as well talk about Jesus - same thing). Now what is true darkness or the state of Blackness? This is something I could write forever about, but I’ll just leave it to the reader to ponder the connotation. The journey into the Blackness of the Abyss is the ultimate confrontation of oneself. You meet all the demons (so to speak). It is a journey for ultimate power at the risk of insanity. You essentially have to tear down everything that you feel defines you, a fragile thing for most people and many times their sanity. Music is the medium of this journey. It is the most advanced and unaltered form of communication. It unravels states, opens doors, and creates pathways. You could destroy or create the universe through sound waves and the multiple dimensions there of. I have often defined the music of NECROVORE as ‘Psychotic Black Death’ to refer to the twisted contorted dark decent into the blacken void. This form of music is a sophisticated art form reserved, in my opinion for the elite of mind and so forth. And we hold on to that definition for the upcoming Black Death movement and expression of this art form. To give you an example of the type of person who takes on this decent: just suppose there was this simpleton concept of Satan, this type of person would be the type that ventures forth into hell to usurp Satan and his throne claiming it for them self, afterwards destroying everything, including them self and emerging recreated.”
Ross: “NECROVORE was much more than just a band. NECROVORE was an entity of its own, and as such, demanded respect. Both Jon and I are deep and complex individuals who don’t exactly see eye to eye with others, even if they happen to be musicians. NECROVORE is an extension of us, an expression of who and what we are. I think most of the bands in the Death Metal scene don’t get it. They try to show how ‘black’ they are by using satanic stuff. We tried to express our inner thoughts and feelings. It’s hard to try and explain yourself in a few lines but I believe the difference is that we were true to ourselves and the music.”
With NECROVORE, you had opted for a total Deathly singing style, what were your influences from that point? Guess people like Cronos, Kam Lee, and Scott Carlson had an influence on your style.
Jon: “I was interested in Cronos, but I was already doing something like that before I was able to perfect the style. I knew I wanted to use a dark disturbing voice. I purposely put in the long screams because I felt they were descending from chaos. I wanted people to feel they were eternal and would permeate the fibre of your essence. However, when I was first developing the technique, I knew I wanted to use my old vocal training in a bastardized version to create pure black fucking vocals, but I could not get the screams down like I wanted. Then I saw Cronos doing something when he was singing that made me go that’s what I need to do to perfect the style... and I tried it and it worked. Actually, Lemmy from MÖTÖRHEAD does something similar to Cronos or vise versa. So, what does he fucking do? If you have ever seen me sing then you could tell immediately, and remember I play the fucking guitar also. My microphone is over my head or eye level, I lean back with my face towards the ceiling and fucking die! Other than what I mentioned above, I honestly do not have any other vocal influences except the drive to have pure black fucking screams that flow through the listener. I want whoever is listening to it to think: ‘This dude is fucking real and dying - the shit is flowing through me and making me nauseated and is empowering me at the same time’.”
Following that first effort, did you start to play live from that point and can you tell us how many shows you have played in your relatively short lived career? Was it easy for you to be booked?
Jon: “I will not forget the first time we played. We played in San Antonio at the Cameo, which is where METALLICA played when they were releasing “Ride The Lightning”. So, it was a pretty decent sized club with a five band bill. No one really had heard of us before, but there were a few rumours. We went on next to the head lining band, a Punk Hardcore band called CBS. We went on in full nail bands, spikes, evil leather, bones, blood and the works to a fairly large crowd. We opened with the demo intro track and I let out one of the longest fucking screams I have ever done for ‘Mutilated Death' on the opening and when we finished the first song the crowd stood there kind of dumbstruck like they just got their fucking asses ran the fuck over by a dump truck or something and then started howling and rushing the stage. By the end of the second song the place was completely packed and fucking going insane. We played the whole second demo that was never released during that show. So, many of these people never heard the first demo and we mixed it up with four new songs (which I consider superior: 'Chaotic Malevolence', 'Treacherous Abomination', 'Demented Evil', and 'Defilation Of Souls' - we may have also did 'Eminent Possession'). Anyway, after that show was over the headlining band, which were friends of ours, said we killed the place. So, we made a name for ourselves I suppose. We did some shows after that and planned out some tours, but that never became fully developed and we went back in our Abyss waiting for our return and the death of the world. We had made a fairly controversial name for ourselves in San Antonio. There was this abandoned insane asylum that had the whole front of it done up with our logo all over it, with all sorts of occult shit done all over the place. This place is huge by the way. There was an active police occult squad in San Antonio and working with federal agencies in Texas investigating all sorts of big occult sacrifices and missing people and animal mutilation, much of this was associated with Drug Curtails out of Mexico (I mean the police would cruise up on a place and these drug dudes would jump into a private plane and take off - so there was big money involved etc...). So, we got associated with all this. I just happened to get arrested at the abandon insane asylum one night and kept in jail for over two weeks being questioned by this squad. The local news channel media had our name NECROVORE plastered on the TV and such. So, we were fairly well known in the area. So, now you can guess what a NECROVORE show was like. It was fucking madness, me singing in flaming pentacles, drowning in blood etc... and the crowd loosing it. No video out on any of that shit. There is video out of shows, but the shows were toned down so we could play the place. We did not have any trouble getting booked, they just did not want use to burn the place fucking down.”
Talking about shows, from the short video I’ve seen from a late ’87 gig I believe, it seems the whole thing looked extremely deathly and dark, give us details about your live performances… were you part of that show by the way?
Jon: “Of course I pretty much answered this question above, but I will elaborate some more. Yes, they were fucking severely dark. Like I said, you probably never seen the ones talked about with me dying in a pool of blood in front of a seething crowd of madness. We would open with the whole atmospheric thing going: a dark ambience with low red lighting mingled with blues and green textures, barely visible our forms in the distance. The crowd showered in little pellets of blood trickling from the ceiling. An unearthly drone of bass at floor level, pulsing strange catatonic rhythm. The whole place would turn into a hypnotic trance of ambience and dark soft music pulling you inward... then... you would be hit in the fucking face with a wall of black fucking guitars drowning your ass in torment, shaking you to the core... then... a maniacal burst of horrific darkness tears your flesh with the longest, deepest scream you ever heard. Yes, it is a good day to die. Welcome to NECROVORE’s world and the long decent into the black fucking void!”
Bjorn: ”Yes I am on the far side of the stage. That show was really cool. It was a San Antonio band showcase show put on by a couple of Punk bands that Ross was friends with. We were the headlining Metal band. Most of the bands that played before us were mediocre at best. MILITIA played right before us and came up into the dressing room and mentioned that the crowd was dead and on heroin. We went down to the stage in total darkness, just like in pro shows where you are lead across the stage by roadie flashlight. Jon had gone to Walter Carter’s house (he was the engineer for the demo) and made an extended version of the intro that is on the demo tape. The tape was not played into the monitors so we heard it off slap back from the back of the theatre. There was like a 2-3 second delay (it felt like at least 10 seconds) and NECROVORE unleashed its assault from the Abyss upon the poor denizens of San Antonio, Texas. We played six songs with literally only 15-20 seconds pause between each song if even that. I would say the pace was like a 24 minute Tyson fight from when Tyson was in his prime. The so called dead crowd that MILITIA told us about was non existent. We had a huge crowd. NECROVORE were gods of Death Metal to these people. I think we shocked the audience more than anything because there was a deathlike silence after our opener, 'Mutilated Death'. We followed that with a crushing version of 'Slaughtered Remains'. Sometime in the middle of 'Slaughtered…' we got the stage rush of headbangers and people slamming behind them. We played the rest of our set, walked off the stage, came back a few minutes afterwards, tore our gear down and left the show. We accomplished our mission and that was to lay waste to a town that thought it claimed Heavy Metal Capital Of The World as its own.”
So at which point did you exactly replace both Scotts with Bjorn Haga (guitar) and Javier Vileagas (drums)? How did that major line up change happen? What was the musical background for those newer recruits?
Jon: “Actually, Bjorn and Javier were in for the first show we did. So, it was not as drastic as people have thought, it was an early on change. Javier was the first person in. He had been playing in a band called HELL PREACHER and I had my eye on him for NECROVORE. So, I had to get him in from those guys. Scott Staffney (the original drummer on the demo) had his family move off to Michigan and he stuck around basically living out of his truck and off girlfriends to do NECROVORE. That shit only lasted so long and he finally decided to take off. Bjorn Haga replaced Scott Humphrey (original guitarist on demo). Bjorn was Scott’s best friend and was with him in NASGOUL and OBSESSED DEATH. So, Bjorn was always around the NECROVORE camp. Bjorn just showed up one day with his Marshall’s and all his gear and said ‘I am the new guitarist of NECROVORE’. So, I thought that was fucking cool - that ended his long time friendship with Scott… Oh well. The other NECROVRE guitarist Bjorn Haga is Norwegian whose family moved to New Braunfels. They were sick fuckers that lived off in the woods toward this place called ‘Devil’s Backbone’ (supposedly the most haunted area per square mile in the USA). He is a pretty disturbed dude, and a sick guitarist. His influences are nothing but old school Black Death or Death Metal. We clicked right away when we met, he liked the fact that I was going to kill Scott due to a misshaped practice session (please don’t fuck with me at practice and not know your part, I become agitated). So, Bjorn took over. Bjorn is a sort of large quiet guy that your not sure if he will stab you in your fucking head when you turn you’re not paying attention, which makes things really fun for us. After I had put NECROVORE on hold, he took off and was in the Marine special forces killing fuckers in Columbia (DEA drug wars), Somalia (black hawk down shit), and Yugoslavia. I guess he had to get some shit out of his system.”
Would you agree with me and say that Staffney’s performance was really limited judging on the demo recording?
Jon: “Judging on the demo recording, yes I would agree. The fact of the matter is the guy was phenomenal! There is probably no other person so fucking pissed and left feeling miss represented than Scott Staffney. Remember that recording was just a rehearsal that was later accepted as a demo. The micking was poor on the drums, you could not hear all the insane shit he was doing with rolls and double kicks. Scott has been out of prison and talks to me, he wants to redo the demo and much more... and he could do it! I stirred this guy in the direction of Gene Hoglan from DARK ANGEL. Gene has a bizarre triple kick on his double bass that is not matched.”
Ross: “Not at all, Staffney is a great drummer. If you ever get a chance to listen to a good copy of the demo on a good system, listen for the drums. He double based almost all the time. Scott hit the drums harder than any drummer I have ever seen. He is the perfect Death Metal drummer.” Bjorn, what were the bands you were involved with until you joined NECROVORE in 1988 or maybe late 1987?
Bjorn: “The only band that I was semi in was one called OBSESSED DEATH, which was me on guitar / vocals, Scott Humphrey on guitar or bass - the dude could never decide what he wanted to play, and another guy named Carlos Maldanado on drums, Ross was at a very, very early part of this. We pretty much played everything Hard Rock / Metal from RATT to SLAYER. It was mainly a thing where we would learn songs and play while killing time between smoking pot and snorting speed. We played one Halloween party which consisted of a set of entire cover tunes from SLAYER to POSSESSED. We freaked everyone out seeing that we were the first band out of New Braunfels to play Death Metal live in New Braunfels, Texas. We hung out until Scott hooked up with NECROVORE and then it was Carlos and I. Less than a year later Scott was out of NECROVORE and I asked Jon if they needed a guitarist. He said to come over with my guitar and he would show me a few things to see if I could hack it. I brought over my whole half stack the next day after learning by ear all the demo songs. This was in late 87 I think. I didn’t know how to play the songs on guitar but knew them enough so when Jon showed them to me I learned them fast. From then on, every chance I got was memorizing NECROVORE songs until I could play them while asleep.”
So in which circumstances did you end up in NECROVORE exactly to replace Scott Humphrey?
Bjorn: “Without going into too much detail as Humphrey’s split from NECROVORE, it was not on the best of terms. He did a few things that Jon and Ross felt were blatant attacks against NECROVORE so they ejected him plain and simple. I wanted the job, so I called Jon and like I said above, learned the song structures and went over and learned how to play them. I spent the next few days memorizing the songs so that I was a shoe in. Plain and simple I wanted it and paid the dues necessary to get the slot.”
To which extent were you familiar with the NECROVORE related bands such as SYRANAX and MESODAMEN?
Bjorn: “SYRANAX was a band from Austin that Jon knew and he auditioned one of their guitarists, Steve Holland for MESODAMEN. MESODAMEN was, from the best Jon has told me is best described as one of the genes that eventually spawned NECROVORE. I don’t even think they formed a complete project. You would have to ask Jon more about the MESODAMON project.”
What was your opinion regarding their one and only demo recorded in March ’87? Would you say that you were shocked when you heard it back then being such a monster in extreme Metal?
Bjorn: “When Scott and Jon brought the demo over and put it on for me it was like listening to POSSESSED for the first time, but much more intense and way better. It was a thousand percent better than your first high, or the first time you had kick ass sex.”
There was plans to record a second demo later on but it never happened I think, still I’m not sure as I’ve heard that you did record it but you never spread this recording around, what’s the truth behind this?
Jon: “We did attempt the recording, but it was low budget and was thrown out. I never added the vocals to the mix nor did we do any final mixing. The material was more complex and demanded us to be almost flawless with a good recording. So, I definitely was not going to release anything substandard. In my opinion we were not ready to take it to the next level. It seems that many individuals that are into NECROVORE picked up on this. They got a taste of it with the demo, and could tell we had the power (you can just fucking feel it), and they knew it was the beginning of something and they want that ‘Something’ to happen. To date NECROVORE has been non-complete. But that will fucking change!!”
Bjorn: “The second demo never made it past laying down the main rhythm tracks. The guy we had on drums could not get the timing down on two of the songs that we had spent the past year working on so we shut the recording session down. We still have the tapes for this demo and they will never be worked on or released. That is not to say that the songs will never see the light of day. Just not in the format they are in on that tape.”
The last thing released by NECROVORE was a one song appearance on “Satan’s Revenge II” during 1988 with 'Slaughtered Remains', so did you re-record that song with the revamped line up for the compilation use?
Jon: “Almost. I did all the guitar work on that. Bjorn had to take off out of state for some reason I can’t remember, but the drummer Javier Villages was on it.”
Bjorn: ”Yes we did. I am not too pleased on the final outcome of the recording, as the drummer was not able to play the way that Staffney did. He just didn’t have the chops that Scott had. It was like having Dave Lombardo play NECROVORE. While that isn’t a bad thing, it just isn’t NECROVORE.”
Who choose that track to appear on that album? Would you say that it increased the band popularity back then considering that New Renaissance were losing credibility with each new release they were putting out?
Jon: “We made a group decision on the song release. There was another compilation at the time from Godly Records and I wanted to put 'Divus De Mortuus' on it. I did not think the “Satan’s Revenge” thing would increase our popularity. It was a poor recording I sent them and I did not care too much for Ann Boleyn, the owner. Nor did I think they had much creditability in the first place. She said they had just signed BATHORY for a five album deal and that interested me, but we would not do a five album deal with them. I told them two at the most and then we renegotiate. That includes touring with BATHORY. And we get the rights to everything. In fact, show me your tits you fucking whore! So, Ann did not like talking to me too much and refused to do so after a while. I did not expect anything to come about from New Renaissance, but from what I can tale it appears to have added to the NECROVORE following.”
Bjorn: “In retrospect, I don’t know how it was accepted or seen from the scene. Personally I don’t give a fuck how others felt about it. It was something that we did to further our exposure to the larger scene. Working with New Renaissance was like fucking a meat grinder. The owner was a bitch (Ann Boleyn) and we would not work her way, it was our way of the highway. I am actually glad that we never signed to that label since a week after she sent us a contract the label folded.“
Ross: “New Renaissance chose everything. I don’t like the track they selected at all. The recording was off the clean version I talked about earlier. Personally I don’t know much about New Renaissance now and I didn’t then either. If new people were exposed to NECROVORE due to the album, that’s all that mattered.”
Weren’t you supposed to appear on another New Renaissance compilation around the same time?
Jon: “Not that I recall. If there was supposed to be one then it was shot in the shitter because of the way I was with Ann Boleyn. In fact, I think the rest of the guys in the band were not too happy with me about that. For what I am told I am not too easy to deal with in these matters and I lack patience.”
Bjorn: “We had re-recorded 'Toxic Decay' for a second compilation N.R.R. was doing called “Speed Metal Hell 2” or something like that. I have no clue what happened to that at all.”
Ross: “We are pretty hard to work with.”
Beside the “interest” showed by New Renaissance, did you receive more than this from other companies such as Combat, Metal Blade, Noise...? If you shopped that tape around of course… Do you have an idea why you didn’t end up being signed at a time when Death Metal was starting to become bigger and bigger in the underground at least?
Jon: “No, we had a tremendous amount of label interest in NECROVORE. There is really no real good reason why NECROVORE did not end up signed. Just one of those freaky things. Part of it is that we were considered very extreme for the time and possibly too controversial for many labels. However, we were hearing from many of the labels you mentioned, but we were not necessarily giving them enough attention or feedback. I was really into this underground mentality. NECROVORE is complete dark underground and we will rule from below if that is to be. So, it was never a thing for us to get on a label and make t-shirts and sale a bunch of fucking shit. That’s McDonalds.”
Bjorn: “We shopped around for labels but at the time they weren’t really signing anyone. You have to remember that NECROVORE came out during the void that was caused by the first wave of heavy bands. SLAYER, METALLICA, DEATH, POSSESSED etc… and the second wave of heavy bands that hit in late 89-90. I mean MORBID ANGEL was our only true competition and at the time, they were not as intense as we were and they didn’t even get picked up until late 89 or so. We did not even look at them as real competition as we had set our sights on the “big” Death Metal bands that were out at the time such as KREATOR, CELTIC FROST, SLAYER, etc… I guess you could say that we were a bit before our time. The second Death Metal wave hit almost a year after we put NECROVORE on a hiatus.”
Ross: “We were our own worst enemy. We had our own ideas about our image and a lot of material ready to go. We didn’t want to be told how to package our material and how to present ourselves. We were waiting for one label to give us 100% control. We were perfectly ready to sponsor our own album.”
During the summer of ’87, there was talks about NECROVORE going on tour with MORBID ANGEL in some parts of the states as they had bought their own bus and were getting bigger as well with their recently released “Thy Kingdom Come” demo but it didn’t happen unfortunately, so honestly don’t you think that this project was just impossible to realise as none of the bands had label support?
Jon: “No, it was not unrealisable. Hardly any of these bands had label support that were playing around the country and abroad at the time. We just said fuck these guys (the labels - and is partly why we were not signed, because we did not care) and decided to arrange it on our own. I first called MORBID and told them WE are setting up a tour for the East Coast (I am sure you remember interviews back then) we wanted to get MORBID on part of the tour (when they released the first demo - not ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ with the new vocalist). (Sorry Jon but it was THIS demo as I was there when you were calling the MORBID dudes - Laurent) NECROVORE would then hook up with new underground band IMMOLATION (Well IMMOLATION weren’t existing yet, some guys were still in RIGOR MORTIS at that point – Laurent) and proceed to Canada with VOIVOD. I think some people were amazed that we would decide to do it the way we wanted. It was not hard calling up people and bands and setting up clubs. Getting people to be there really was not an issue, you were either into the underground and knew something about it or you did not. Part of the tour for us was to also gain new support. I wanted to do whatever was necessary to bring in the second wave of Black Death. Later I talked with the new MORBID and they decided to commit to a separate tour on their own, after I showed up in Florida to help out. They just recorded “Thy Kingdom Come, but were not really promoting it.” (No they had just relocated in Florida and had got Pete Sandoval joining them but they had no new demo out – Laurent)
Bjorn: “I think that this was something that Jon had spoken to Trey (Azagthoth) about but nothing more came out of it than talk.”
Ross: “You answered your own question. It was more of a money problem than anything else.”
How have you become friends with MORBID ANGEL in the first place back in 1987? What was your opinion towards their material? Have you checked out what they do nowadays?
Jon: “There was a sort of rivalry between NECROVORE and MORBID when they released the first demo. When David joined in, Ross our bassist told him and the MORBID group we were going to kidnap David when we play over there and shove a huge dildo up his ass and take a video of it and shop it around for the fun of it. They did not like that too much and felt we were a bit too aggressive. I liked the original demo and felt it was inspired. Although the newer material was technically good and driving and gained respect for that, I felt it lacked something that makes you feel like you should die when you hear it. I have difficulty explaining this concept. There is something to some music when you listen you feel inspired, torn apart, put back together, and fucking reborn into blackness. Their new music did not do that for me, thus I felt it lacked inspiration and drive. It is just not dark enough for me. I want pure fucking darkness from the Abyss and it better kill my fucking ass! I don’t know what they are doing now and really could care less. I am apart of the Psychotic Black Death movement with the sole purpose of emanating pure darkness. NECROVORE is pure power and strength!”
Ross: “I really liked their original material. I had a copy of the original MORBID ANGEL tape, before David Vincent. I thought that after they changed the line up, they lost some of the ‘soul’ of the band. The musicianship got better, the material didn’t.”
Were you familiar with other U.S. Death Metal bands who had also released some killer recordings back then such as INSANITY, INCUBUS, TERRORIZER, MASSACRE or REPULSION…?
Jon: “ I was more familiar with REPULSION and TERRORIZER. In fact, I was writing back and forth with TERRORIZER. I liked both of these bands. I ran into the guitarist of TERRORIZER (Jesse Pintado) not long ago after he moved to England and did the NAPALM DEATH thing. So, I stay in touch.”
Bjorn: “I was familiar with REPULSION as we had on-going mail correspondence with. I heard TERRORIZER a few years after they had broken up. The others I had never heard of until years later. We led a very secluded existence in NECROVORE. We did not listen to a lot of other bands because we wanted no outside influence entering what we were writing.”
So with the new NECROVORE line up, how many newer tunes did you have ready? Do you remember some of the titles and how they sounded like? I think 'Eminent Possession' was one of those
Jon: "'Eminent Possession' was never recorded or released. One of those lost tracks, along with 'A King For Fools'. Both of those songs were completely fucking sick and I can’t find any recording of the later, also I have forgotten how it was played (which is really sick). Anyway, I mentioned some of the newer tunes earlier. I also, had a shit load of material that was for new songs, but I did not get them perfected. So, the fact of the matter is that NECROVORE had probably two full CDs of some of the heaviest shit on the planet that could have been released. So, do you think we were frustrated by this? I mean we have a fairly respectful following off a four song demo rough mixed rehearsal that does not compare to what we did not release! I think that is why we do have a big following to date. That is because, the sort of individuals that are into NECROVORE are the type that are usually a bit more insightful, fairly fucking dark, and could pick up on the fact that this band has demonstrated a powerful potential, and that it is only the beginning and probably thinking: ’I can hardly wait to hear what is next because they have the power to fucking do it!’'"
Bjorn: “We have written almost three full length albums worth of material to date. As for titles I am not sure that Jon has titled many yet. 'Imminent Possession' is the new working title for 'Treacherous Abominations' that you might have heard on the video that you have seen of us. It would be the last song on the video. We have another churning crusher entitled 'Demented Evil'. 'Chaotic Malevolence', 'Desecration Of Souls', 'Adorations Of The Perverse', 'King For Fools' are a few more that I remember off the top of my head.”
Next thing I’ve heard from the band is that Jon had moved to New Port Beach, California around July 1988 following personal problems and also because of the lack of commitment from the other guys, what happened exactly that led to the split?
Jon: “I don’t remember anything about personal problems. I do know that NECROVORE had reached a point in our development that we had to make a serious decision. We were an underground band that had the potential of becoming HUGE if we committed to the effort. The underground scene for dark heavy shit was not doing all that great, but was coming back to a fresh new life. It meant you really had a tough decision to make if you’re a dude living on your own with limited funds and wondering if you’re spinning your wheels. You don’t want to be some dude living off the streets in ten years because your stupid ass would not focus your efforts on getting a solid job and shit like that. So, that was where we were. Either we commit all resources and see it through or take time off to stabilize ourselves (we were all pretty fucking insane and remember this is capitalism in the USA). Anyway, Ross was thinking about getting married and wanted to know what we were going to do. Scott Staffney had to leave to move to Michigan to live with his folks because we all were not going to support him along with ourselves in a group effort. Bjorn needed to know what to do with his life. We had just finished our last show, all this shit was on our minds. I felt the show went terrible because we were having sound problems and due to that I could not hear Bjorn’s fucking guitar during the show and noticed that our timing was slipping. I came off stage that night (although we looked fucking blasphemously sick and the stage show was there) totally fed up with shit. I knew we were lacking that commitment at that point. Instead of trying to see if it could be worked out, I said ‘fuck this shit, I have worked all my fucking life to get to this point - to find the ultimate heavy psychotic band that has the potential to bring the whole thing to life. If you fuckers can’t see that then fuck all of you! I am splitting to California’. So, I moved to New Port Beach and got a job and started talking to record labels. I felt I would just do the BATHORY thing pretty much and get who ever I needed to fill in the cracks.”
Bjorn: “That was so many years ago… I’m not really sure now exactly why everything happened the way it did. Just that it happened and we have moved forward.”
Next thing I’ve heard is that you had joined MORBID ANGEL - who had relocated in Florida - as soundman as they were on the eve to do a mini tour in NY / NJ during October 1988, how did that happen? Were you contacted by the MORBID dudes or...?
Jon: “No, I called Trey from MORBID ANGEL and asked him to be the second guitarist of NECROVORE and David to play bass. They would have to leave MORBID and move to California. They thought about it and said they were honoured I had asked for them, but said they were ready to make that commitment to their band and start by seeing through the short tour up to NY and start recording their first CD. Later I drove from California to Florida and just showed up one day in Daytona Beach to help them out.”
What do you remember from that tour? Did you also end up in jail with the MORBID guys in NJ following the sexual abuse scandal or whatever? What’s the true story by the way behind this as there was a lot of rumors spread around?
Jon: “Sexual Abuse? Where the fuck did you get that? No god damn, we were stuck up in New York playing Streets and CBGB’s on the weekend and trying to get enough money to get home. We had the bus raided a couple of times by the NYPD. They never cared about the fire arms we had on the bus, especially when the bus driver pulled out a double barrel 12 gauge shot gun right in front of the New York cop. The cop did not even flinch. He just said what is that for and we said to protect the equipment along with the pit bull we had riding along (which was also illegal in New York), but these cops did not give a fuck and left us alone. There was one time that the NYPD came over to our bus and asked if we had seen these two girls that had came by to see us a couple of days before and were now missing. And here I am this bizarre dude with all these occult books on the bus wearing a bone necklace. But, that still did not bother these New York cops. They just said we are looking for these girls so let us know if you see them. That is it! MORBID tried to make more about that to their fans. Now the story gets really interesting when we try to get home and I have been told by several individuals that this is the story that MORBID tried to capitalize on: we were heading through New Jersey when the state highway trooper pulled us over. When they searched the bus they found a shot gun, and MORBID’s singer (David “Vincent” Sputtnig) had a pellet gun in his bag (lame). New Jersey has some of the toughest gun laws in the country and these guys went ape shit over finding these babyish weapons, the same ones that the New York police department could care less about. Now these police were not too happy when they found a human skull in a container, which was confiscated to determine who’s it was, and finding out it belong to someone who died over a hundred years ago (they must of dug the bitch up from someone’s grave or perhaps ordered through some medical supply house). So they arrested all of us and impounded the tour bus and the dog (pit bull) purely because of the stupid little guns. Remember, I live in Texas where you can have guns out your ass. In fact, with a licence you can carry a concealed weapon in public. Anyway, what made the little town newspaper and the police totally freak the fuck out was the fact they found all of MY occult shit, rare books and occult paraphernalia. So of course I was thoroughly investigated and watched. It turned out that they found out the Occult Squad in San Antonio had taken me in for a couple of weeks and launched a similar investigation. NECROVORE was featured on the news several times in San Antonio concerning several interesting occult allegations (none I will validate at the moment). The police chief took me out and talked with me about it in a nice long ride through the country side (nothing happened, he just was trying to preach to me). You see, I belonged to a couple of organizations at the time. After we returned to Daytona Beach (home base), David from MORBID told me they would drop my name and NECROVORE from the whole incident, not wishing to allow NECROVORE’s name from becoming any more immortalized. They decided to use the incident to embellish themselves. But, those who were there and those who can put the logic together know what really happened.”
Why didn’t you stay with them after that stint as they were on the way to become simply the biggest worldwide Death Metal act?
Jon: “Because they were not on their way to becoming the biggest worldwide Death Metal act! When we got back home, we found an eviction notice on the door and all the power off in the middle of the winter. So, we stayed there for a month with no hot water waiting to be evicted. They decided to move over to Tampa and I know people all over the country, so I called some of my buddies in Tampa thinking I would hang out for a bit longer to see what happens. You see when I ended up helping MORBID, that was all it was. They asked me to stay on and be their engineer and I said fuck that. The whole time they were on tour people kept coming up going ‘Are you Jon from NECROVORE?’ People were asking for T-shirts, stickers, auto grafts, and pictures all the time in front of MORBID. It totally pissed them off! I did not think anything about it much. However, I was living in MORBID’s basement writing some of the heaviest shit on the face of the fucking earth and I know they could hear my full stack of Marshalls with my 100 watt (Lee Jackson personally moded head) blasting their asses off the couch. Shit, fucking Pete (Sandoval) would come down there, asking me to show him 'Divus De Mortuus' and then he would start playing it with me and ask to record it, that’s when someone else from the band would show up. What is the best way to get rid of a band that you know could destroy your fucking ass in a heart beat? Ask the lead singer / songwriter to be your sound engineer. Anyway, I had some influential friends in Tampa. So, I was living in a huge estate with two Maserati in the drive and partying with the ladies, while poor MORBID were all stuck in a crack house trying to figure out their next move. I hung for a while and went back to Texas.”
So you came back to Texas after this, so from that point (late ’88) until now, what have you done musically speaking and stuff?
Jon: “A shit load, but I did not care to release anything. I do things when I know the time is right. Also, I went back to college and got my fucking Masters in Electrical / Computer Engineering after I was in school for a while in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas. So, I did not sit on my ass.”
I’m surprised that you never joined forces again with Bjorn and Javier as they had their own thing going on over the years
Jon: “Bjorn and I have always been working on stuff over the years and much to talk about I assure you.”
Bjorn, did you start your own band right after NECROVORE split back in mid ’88 with Javier involved as well?
Bjorn: “I tried getting something going with him but was unable to due to his personal commitments at the time, so I moved on and played for a Thrash band called ANKOU which was basically a cover band that had started getting into writing originals. It lasted about a year but I grew bored with that project and moved on.”
What have you achieved with that band whose name escapes me right now? I think you released a single or something
Bjorn: ”Not sure what band you are talking about. I helped out some local band by doing bass session work for them in the studio and live situations. They are not worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as NECROVORE so they will remain nameless.” (It was THORNSPAWN for an album - Laurent)
During this long period, NECROVORE has achieved the cult status with this one and only demo tape to the point that people have made their own shirts, several bootlegs were released, one being the “Harmony Dies Vol.I” CD which features the NECROVORE, MORBID ANGEL and INCUBUS ’87 demos, and the other being a split picture LP featuring also a SARCOFAGO demo... How do you feel about that never dying interest in a band that has released just one demo and there’s even younger people who wants to find out about NECROVORE?
Jon: “It’s fucking God! I am severely honored. You see it comes down to the fact that some people can tell if a band and the music emanating from it is real. It does not have to be this technical crap trying to impress, it has to be raw, powerful, and from the Abyss itself. When you hear those screams in NECROVORE and the riffing, you identify with it immediately, it becomes your own, and you know these dudes no what I have gone through. It is fucking real. I have never considered NECROVORE as my fucking own. It is a movement and an ideology. That is why people have respected it and have identified with it, defending it! I have heard dudes getting severely pissed if there is disrespect towards the music, often defending it as their music. It is a current we are taping into, it is apart of our very fiber. NECROVORE is a project for the strong warrior types, those individuals who take on the world and go against the grain leading it.”
Bjorn: “I think it is great. I am honoured that I am part of something that has become almost timeless. As for bootleggers, I used to get pissed at it because they are making money off our hard work, but at the same time it keeps the band alive so to speak. I no longer really care if people make shirts from old artwork though I wish they would at least contact us and get the ok from us. All we would ask is to hook us up with a shirt for ourselves, or CD for ourselves etc… So far we have had really no problems with that and most people are happy to hook us up with a few items. I look at it as they are honouring NECROVORE more than stealing from us.”
Ross: “It’s amazing. I still run into people who have heard about us and sometimes they even have old demos! Just the other day one of the guys I work with brought his teenage son in to work with him. When he introduced me the kid stops and says ‘Ross Stone, the NECROVORE guy?’, I was shocked to learn that a bunch of 15 year old kids would have ever heard of us, let alone still listened. I think what stands the test of time is our passion. We really put ourselves into the band. We believed in what we did. The primal anger and raw aggression, the intrinsic NECROVORE, transferred right into the music. It wasn’t the fact that we were great musicians, it was the fact that we understood what the music was and what it should be. Anytime you see belief and passion, it’s hard to overlook that.”
How do you feel about the actual Death Metal scene? Would you say that it’s great to have so many outfits around sounding more or less all the same instead of trying to come up with different / original ideas like it was back then when you could distinguish most of the bands?
Jon: “ Well, I think it is cool these guys are getting involved. You can tell they want to create something and want to praise that form. But, I feel several of these guys are frustrated, not totally taping into pure blackness. That is really hard to fucking do, because for most they are incapable or it is just too much to ask of them (it will tear your fucking shit up). So, originality can be difficult. I have heard several technically good bands that simply could not move you at all. You could give them an award for musicianship, but their music simply sucked shit and was devoid of any life. A simple riff can kill you if you express it as a living entity. So the Death Metal scene is just a scene. But Dark Black music is an elite art form understood by the few.”
Bjorn: “To be honest with you Laurent, I do not keep up with the actual scene any longer - not that I really ever did. I listen to the albums that I bought as a kid growing up in the scene and exciting new stuff, but that comes few and far between. There are a few exceptions such as VADER, MARDUK, VITAL REMAINS, DEICIDE, EXHUMED are a few bands that I enjoy now. I listen to more Black Metal than Death Metal and even then the bands are few and far between that are exciting. One has to listen to feel and atmosphere of the music more than anything. The French Black Metal bands are fucking great as well. DARKTHRONE and SATYRICON are excellent as well.”
Is there any chance to see you releasing that unrealised NECROVORE material in a not so distant future considering that I remember you mentioning it a couple years ago as a possibility?
Jon: “Of course, that is why I am talking to you now. I am not very nostalgic, I could care less about the past. NECROVORE is fucking alive. I plan on releasing one of the greatest Black / Death CD of all time. The shit is going to kill the masses. It is some of the heaviest shit on the face of the fucking earth and I assure you that those familiar (and those not) with NECROVORE will be very pleased with the results. It is coming straight out of the Abyss itself and destroys my fucking ass every time I play it. It is almost too much to bare. In fact, I am the one who is completely fucking amazed, this is NECROVORE times one million. I finally decided that this is a mission that must come to be, and no that I am close to realizing it, I have no choice in the matter any more. NECROVORE is emanating, the Black Death movement will become fully realized and invigorated I promise you this. So, yes it is happening and will happen mark my words. So, now the world must die.”
Bjorn: ”It remains a possibility. Like I said earlier, we are still writing and when we decide that it is time for us to release material we will.”
Ross: “Someday, you never know when, you may see some new NECROVORE. From time to time it does get very tempting to give the world a taste of what we are capable of. The biggest obstacle I see is the energy it takes to feed an entity like NECROVORE. It’s not just a band that you can do part time, it’s a life commitment. For my part, I haven’t changed. I am the same person I was. I still believe and hold the same ideas. NECROVORE was an expression of who and what I am. I know the other guys feel the same. If the time is right though, you never know.”
Are you considering more and more these days about reforming NECROVORE as you have stayed in touch with each other over the years? Would you hook up with Ross again or…?
Jon: “Well, for the record Bjorn and I have never considered NECROVORE as disbanded. We consider it as lying low in the firmament of the underworld. We have always been in touch and there has been a tremendous amount of work done. It will all make sense when I release the new material. It has taking a lot of fucking time at OUR own discretion (we do things when we want). We consider ourselves, and always will, as the dark underground and have been content lying in the pool of the Abyss. I can use ALL the original members of the band, they will do it, and we are in constant contact. But, what it comes down to is if they can take it to the next level. For NECROVORE’s might to be fully realized I have to determine if I have the right resources to do the job. The current of the black void fully emanates through me, I am a vehicle pure and simple, not that I am so fucking special, but that is just the way it is and I have accepted that and have cultivated the connection. The final line up will be the perfect line up if you hear one single riff coming from us.”
Bjorn: “I still write with Jon as I think we work well with each other. We write like two halves of one brain. It is a scary occult ritual when we get together and write music. When we write we actually know exactly what to do with each riff and how to progress each piece, etc. As for working with Ross and Scott Staffney again, I would love to work with Ross again and would be greatly honoured to work with Staffney. I have always used Scott as a benchmark for the drummers I have worked with. If a drummer can’t at least compete with the guy I get bored really fast. Ross and Scott are original members and to not offer them the ability to work with NECROVORE is not my place, that is Jon’s place to do. I would love to realize this and we will all see what comes of this.”
What do you want to add to end up that exclusive feature? If there’s something from the NECROVORE story that hasn’t been covered, make sure to mention it
Jon: “My NOT final word is that the whole Black Death art form is going to become fully realized. This dark art will be respected as pure brilliance and not just a musical style, but a whole movement. Those that want to be apart of it better master their capabilities and tear themselves apart, because they will die daily. This art is evolution. Music is pure expression of the current emanating out of the void. It is pure power and reserved for those who dare to enter that void space. Putrecete et Varagine. Blackest Regards, NECROVORE, Jon DePlachett.”
Bjorn: ”No I think we have pretty much summed everything up. Thanks for the interview. You all will hear from us soon.”
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