Just like POSSESSED, DEATH, early DESTRUCTION, early SLAYER, early SODOM, early MASTER, early SLAUGHTER and HELLHAMMER / early CELTIC FROST, these Michigan guys delivered some of the hottest, most brilliant Thrash / Death Metal around during their short career, because they were die hard Metal / Hardcore fans and knew their shit better than most of the so called Metal musicians or fans around at the time. Also to those who still think that this band was Grindcore or whatever crappy label they got called and not pure Metal the way they understand it, then get "Horrified" or any of their demos right away, listen to that carefully and get a life! I'm talking here about extremely intense yet talented songs and nothing else. As I already stated before, there's no justice in this scene and while totally untalented / noisy bands such as CANNIBAL CORPSE, SIX FEET UNDER and the likes get praised, those who should have got the recognition in that musical area remains largely ignored. But it's still not too late to learn about the entire legacy of that cult underground act as those gentlemen, Scott Carlson and Matt Olivo agreed to reveal everything about GENOCIDE / REPULSION for the very first time...
Do you remember exactly when and how GENOCIDE was formed in '84? Besides you Scott on bass / vocals and Matt on guitar, who was on drums in '84 as I don't think it was Dave "Grave" Hollingshead yet and did you have other members like a second guitarist at the time or whatever?
Scott: “We did have a bass player by the name of Sean McDonald and I was just singing at the time.”
Scott: “Well you know…(laughs) I was on vocals and a guy named Phil Hines played drums for us, he was in a Flint Punk / Rock band called DISSONANCE who were very popular at the time and we were very happy to have him playing with us.”
The first semi official recording that made its way in the underground was the November '84 rehearsal featuring 'Armies Of The Dead', 'Satan's Whore' and 'Crack Of Doom', a quite amateurish recording but still showed some promise at times...
Scott: “Well it was recorded in... Phil and Tanya, the bass player of DISSONANCE who were a couple at time, it was recorded in their basement and it was just done on a boom box and the reason why we recorded it was to send it to several people who had magazines like Vadim Rubin from Brain Damage and Bob from a magazine called Sledgehammer Press which was in Michigan, we made it for people like that.”
Matt: “We did a photo shoot right after that, the recording of that demo didn't we?!”
Scott: “Yes we did.”
Matt: "We did that photo shoot and took some pictures of that line up. Oh also, we got a drawing of Away from VOIVOD, we got a drawing of that line up that he did, cartoon caricatures of all of us, it’s pretty cool.”
Scott: “If we’re lucky, we might see that in the re-release of “Horrified” that’s coming up. Yeah, that was just a basement recording done for friends in the scene, and we just wanted people hear us and we didn't have enough money to go in a studio. Looking back on it? It’s kinda cool.”
Matt: “I love that demo because we had a really tight band. The drummer we had was Phil at the time, it was so easy to communicate and he was a solid drummer, he was a Thrash drummer but he wasn’t like doing blast beats or that kind of shit, he wasn’t doing like double bass shit and stuff like that and he’s lot of fun. Sean was a really really good friend of ours and I just remember one thing, we had all this equipment plugged into like one plug and it looked like Christmas time when you get one plug with like five millions strings of light plugged in (laughs).”
Scott: “One thing I can say about the drummer Phil, he was from a Punk background and we were violently opposed to Heavy Metal drums, we weren’t into double bass drumming at all, we were totally…. You know Dave had two kick drums and the other one sat in the corner, we sat drinks on it, we did not want any double bass in our music at all because we were trying not to be… we were conscious we were trying not to be too Metal I think, we were definitely heavily influenced by Punk.”
I remember that your main influences back then were coming from the likes of CELTIC FROST, DEATH, POSSESSED, SLAUGHTER, AGNOSTIC FRONT, MISFITS and others such as NYC MAYHEM, so considering that most of those acts were underground, were you big underground fans?
Scott: “Yes we were into the underground scene, heavily into tape trading. I would say that the band SLAUGHTER was the band… they were the geniuses that we were trying to keep up with them all the time, it was friendly but we loved what they were doing, the way that they incorporated the heaviness of CELTIC FROST and DISCHARGE with a speed that hadn’t been heard previously and that’s the difference between I think like us and SLAUGHTER as opposed to let’s say CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER and NYC MAYHEM. We were also as heavily influenced by the speed bands like LÄRM and early AGNOSTIC FRONT as we were by CELTIC FROST and stuff like that, real heavy you know, we grew up on SABBATH so…”
Matt: “You know when I think about it, I wasn’t really… I didn’t feel I was prompted by the bands like CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER and NYC MAYHEM to play faster, for some reason our speed just sort of came with the evolution of our music. I’m sure it was influenced by those guys at the same time we came up and our Heavy Metal concept was based on like the early recordings of VENOM, MOTÖRHEAD, you know METALLICA when they came on the scene, they changed a lot of shit but I mean, the Punk stuff and the really really hard Metal, early Metal stuff, Speed Metal stuff were my main influences and then I think, we were just like those other guys CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER and those guys, we were just evolving, I think we just kept getting faster and faster but as far as contemporaries go, I can’t think of anyone that just made go “Okay I just want to sound like these guys.”
Scott: “Except for SLAUGHTER of course.”
Matt: “Except for SLAUGHTER yeah!”
Scott: “I mean the direct influences had to be VOIVOD, DISCHARGE, CELTIC FROST, SLAYER, those are the obvious ones. GBH also when Matt found out about we were really into the Metal when we heard stuff like GBH and DISCHARGE, we started getting more loose and thrashy with our playing, not in a bad way. I mean those guys I didn’t think were great musicians but it changed our approach of playing Heavy Metal.”
By the way, was GENOCIDE the first band you played with for you guys?
Scott: “Well it was, but it was always Matt and I and… the first band was called TEMPTER and also featured Sean who was in the earliest GENOCIDE line up on bass, and we had a second guitar player named Matt Diphin and a drummer named James Otin. That was more of a heavily SLAYER, METALLICA influenced band, that’s when we wrote the song 'Armies Of The Dead'.”
Matt: “Yeah we did. Our first gig was all cover songs except for 'Armies…'. That was the first song Scott and I wrote together.”
Scott: “And we were doing MAIDEN and GBH in the same set, that was kind of ridiculous but that’s where we were at the time, we were experimenting with all kinds of heavy music. That band TEMPTER, we lost the second guitar player and we continued, we changed the name to ULTRAVIOLENCE and GENOCIDE which you know, they were all those names we just threw on ourselves because we didn’t really have become creative enough yet to think of a really cool name… Anyway just kept evolving, Matt and I kept the concept going more and more extreme and people fell by the wayside as they got girlfriends or you know lost interest playing music and Matt and I were just obsessed with it so we were the ones that carried the concept from the beginning to the end.”
How much interest from people and fanzines did you get for that first recording? Was it enough to keep the band alive in the first part of 1985?
Scott: “As far as keeping the band alive, no, because we lost… the drummers came and went because… you know Phil who was with us played in another band that was doing really good at the time so we only had him in part time and we wanted somebody who was fully committed to what we were doing. Bass players came and went, like I said girlfriends popped up… when you’re young, your focus doesn’t stay with you for very long unless you’re totally obsessed the way Matt and I were.”
Matt: “I don’t know why! I mean it was plain to see back then that we were extreme geniuses (laughs).”
Scott: ”So we got a little bit of interest, thanks to magazines like Brain Damage and Sledgehammer Press who were the first like fanzines that people knew worldwide in the underground that wrote about us and had positive things to say about what we were doing and really introduced us to a lot of other people in the scene like Katon from HIRAX and Chuck Schuldiner from DEATH, these were people that we met that really made us see how big the scene was getting over here in America cos we’d seen DESTRUCTION and BATHORY and SODOM and all these bands - I‘m forgetting CELTIC FROST - coming up in Europe and really making a dent after the initial METALLICA, SLAYER thing and we were really blown away to see that it was coming up in America too so that was great.”
The next step for you guys was to join Chuck Schuldiner and Kam Lee in DEATH in Florida around June '85 as the band had just fired Rick Rozz and had no bass player, so how did it happen exactly?
Scott: “I had ordered a magazine called Guillotine, it was just another underground magazine I’d probably read an ad for in the back of Brain Damage (me too, but they never sent it to me those Florida assholes! - Laurent) or something, I ordered it for two or three bucks and when I got it the editors Mark Edwards and John Gross, they sent me both of their two or three different issues they had at the time - they were very kind to send me all the magazines, and one of ‘em had an article about that band called MANTAS who had recently changed their name to DEATH and when I read the article about the band, it just struck me that they had to be… a lot of what I read sounded exactly like what we did. Obviously it was a little different, I think it was probably a little more like SLAYER, POSSESSED influenced than us but definitely along the same lines and the concept was close enough that Matt and I were intrigued to hook up with this guy Chuck and try to start a band.”
Considering the fact that DEATH was only a demo band at the time and you were based in Flint, Michigan which is quite far from Florida, wasn't it a bit risky for you guys to do such a move to join a small underground band?
Scott: “If you’ve never been to Flint, MI, it’s kind of a burn out…”
Matt: “It was as risky to stay in Flint (laughs).”
Scott: ”It’s an old industrial town similar to like Birmingham, in fact more like Coventry if you have ever been to England, like a small town that used to be very industrial, when the automobile industry was booming there but as times have changed the automobile industry as moved away from Flint into other places and Flint is kind of a dying out town, it’s kind of a burning out star so to speaking. Leaving there? We had absolutely nothing to lose living there, even nowadays we still have a lot of loved ones and friends back there but Flint was definitively not a place for us and were happy to not live out there.”
Matt: “We were young and like very very adventurous anyway. I mean it was kind of a long shot but at the same time when you’re caught up in a movement that's so young and fresh like what the Death Metal movement was back then and you’re into it, devoted to it as much as we did, doing something like this we didn’t think twice, it was like “We’re going!”. Once Chuck said “That’s cool”, we just packed our shit and left.”
The only recording I've ever heard from that new DEATH line up was a rehearsal from July '85 where you played mostly covers from DESTRUCTION, SLAYER and the likes, was it easy to get along with Charlie and Kam?
Scott: “Definitely. Chuck, you know, became like a brother to us at the time. Unfortunately we've completely lost touch with the guy but… Kam on the other hand was young, he had some things going on at home, it was just hard you know! We were all young…"
Matt: ”In fact we got along with them both when you think about it. He (Kam) was... like what Scott was saying because of whatever was going on in his personal life, his dedication in the band became really really flaky but in hindsight I mean we couldn’t possibly take that personally in you know?! But as far as the guy, he was super nice, he partied with us a couple of times and we had fun.”
Scott: “I never had any hard feelings towards Kam at all, just frustration because we moved all the way down to do this band, we had high hopes for it.”
Talking about Kam, as far as I know the band broke up in August '85 because Kam left the band and as you guys couldn't find a new drummer, Chuck moved to S.F. by September to reform DEATH and you came back to Michigan to reform GENOCIDE
Scott: “Well basically, it was Chuck, Matt and I sit around with no drummer and the other thing that was key was…I don’t want to sound like I’m kissing Terry Sadler’s ass (from SLAUGHTER) but we were around there and Mark from Guillotine was there too and he had just received SLAUGHTER’s “Surrender Or Die” demo, when we listened to it, we were like “These guys are breaking some ground, it’s heavy as CELTIC FROST but they’re faster than SLAYER” and I was completely blown away by their sound and I immediately wanted to be more like that than more like a technical Death Metal band which obviously… you’ve heard the REPULSION album and you’ve heard the progress that DEATH made which you know was brilliant in its own way… two different areas that we have made and we had no drummer so we just thought it was best we go back home and concentrate on this new idea that we had which was based around the first couple songs, I think it was 'Six Feet Under' and 'Lurking Fear', those were like the first couple and I remember that we played 'Lurking Fear' for Chuck and he just wasn’t interested in it at all so you know it was again no hard feelings, we loved Chuck and still do but at the time we just knew we had to go back home and start what became REPULSION.”
Matt: “Yeah it worked obviously best for both parties, no hard feelings.”
Then as you decided to reform GENOCIDE following that split, you hooked up with Dave Hollingshead as drummer who was a skinhead if I'm correct, how did that happen? Was he into Metal a bit also considering that he was coming from another angle musically / socially I'd say?
Scott: “Well first of all, I’d clear one thing but Dave Hollingshead is not a skinhead, he was like a skateboard Punk, and he was in a couple of bands you know who was sort of poppy Punk indie, Punk kind of thing.”
Matt: ”Party Punk”
Scott: “Yeah like slower bands you know and the reason that he got so fast…”
Matt: “What was the name of the bands he was in?”
Scott: “THE GUILTY BY STANDERS.”
Matt: “They’re still around right?!”
Scott: “I think he was in another band as well… but when we got Dave in the band he’d never played Metal, he’d never played our style of music.”
Matt: “Oh musically he was just like a whatever kind of guy, as long as it was Hardcore basically, he was like really into it.”
Scott: “Dave was like us, he was adventurous, he was adventurous enough to go from what he was playing to playing Speed Metal and it worked out great.”
Matt: “Yeah exactly, I think because of the fact that he wasn’t like us something new got introduced into the REPULSON sound and into the Thrash Metal sound because it would be like if you took a Jazz guy and threw it into a seventies Rock band, what would happen?! It could be pretty interesting, who knows…”
Scott: “Dave was not really coming from a musically / socially different angle than us, we came from a small town where everybody sort of knew each other and when Matt and I got back from Florida was when Dave had recently been busted for grave robbing and we just immediately thought that’s the guy, I mean he plays drums and he’s a grave robber, he’s perfect for our band you know?! (laughs).”
Matt: ”He was a little devious… I know it was kind of cool.”
Scott: “But we liked it you know, as much as we sort of never knew exactly what was going on inside of Dave, that was one of the things that was sort of like, maybe really cemented the chemistry between us all you know was… really interesting playing with Dave.”
Matt: “It was an undeniably Death Metal act to rob a grave so… (laughs)”
Did you try any other guys besides him or did you know immediately that he was the right guy for the job by the speed he could come with through his insane playing?
Scott: “We never tried anybody else, he came along and there was no other Speed Metal, Death Metal, Punk / Rock drummers in our town. He wanted to be in our band so he was in the band, that’s the way it was.”
He got his nick name Dave "Grave" as he was accused of robbing a grave in a cemetery with somebody else or something like that according to the collage on the album insert, what's the story behind all that stuff?
Scott: “Yes he got that from robbing a grave, if you can read the collage on the album, if you can put a microscope on that article and read it, him and a couple of his buddies when they were in high school robbed a tomb in a cemetery and stole the skull and by the way her name was Helga - if you’ve heard the song 'Helga (Lost Her Head)', that’s where the idea came from - and Helga happened to be the mother or grandmother of like one of the county prosecutor and it did not work out so well for Dave in his trial but since he was so young they did let him off the hook with a little slap on the wrist.”
So the next recording came out in the shape of "Violent Death" a ten song basement rehearsal / demo done on October 21st '85 and this time it was like a new band that people could hear since all the songs can be considered as Death / Thrash classics from opener 'Armies...' to the already classic 'Horrified' tune, any memories of that famous tape?
Scott: “Well that was recorded in Matt’s bedroom which was in his parents basement on again possibly the same recorder that was used to record the “Armies...” demo which belong to our friend Lee Williams and now belongs to Sean McDonald the guy who used to play bass for us…”
Matt: “He still has it, he still uses it (laughs).”
Scott: “Yeah that jam box recorded a lot of REPULSION rehearsals that you’ve heard, we carried that jam box with us everywhere, recorded those rehearsals in the basement that were later on like right before we did the album, everything was recorded on that jam box and other than the fact that we were trying to push the speed forward, we were trying to get Dave into shape because he’d never really played that kind of music before… I don’t think it was that good, what I do think is good about it is the seedlings of REPULSION which I’m very proud of so…”
Matt: “Oh I like it, I like that demo, I think its Scott explained it pretty good, I mean it wasn’t really quite what we wanted to be but it was definitely the beginning, a good beginning.”
Did you sell it or was it just a tape you were trading around? Did it come out with a cover if you sold it like the previous November '84 rehearsal which had a cover (Toxic Metal)? What kind of response did you receive for that second Metallic attack?
Matt: “Oh we didn’t sell it, did we?”
Scott: “No we didn’t sell that. As for the cover you mention for the November ’84 rehearsal tape, I don’t even know… I know that were a drawing of the zombie that’s on the front and that was mine and I know I wrote Toxic Metal on the flyer but I don’t know if I ever made that into a tape cover, somebody may have made that tape cover, maybe it was me but I don’t remember, if you have a copy of that I’d like to see it. But no we didn’t sell that tape or really trade it around, I’m sure we send it to like Borivoj (Krgin) and a few other people just to get some opinions from some underground kingpins as to if we were or we weren’t heading like the right direction even if we didn’t care, we knew we were doing it but… just to see what people thought.”
Was the addition of Dave in the band responsible for that massive dose of speed injected in the new stuff?
Scott: “I think we pretty much answered to that. We were just… all of us at the same time were sort of going in that direction.”
Matt: “(laughs) Poor Dave, I just remember, he had some problems of low blood sugar so we were playing like two or three songs and his arms and his whole body, his face would just turn white and we had to gave him Coke, Snickers and stuff. (laughs)”
How long did it take you to come up with that new material considering that two months earlier you were still in DEATH?
Scott: “Well the material on that tape, some of it was written in Florida, songs that we would have liked to see used in DEATH but obviously like we said before Chuck was moving in one direction, we were moving in another so in fact we were writing in a pretty frantic pace. If you consider the fact that GENOCIDE / REPULSION was formed in September 1985 and broke up in June of 1986 right after the album was recorded, that’s only like seven or eight months that the band was even in existence so we wrote an abundance of material, you know there’s a few songs that no one has ever heard because they never got recorded on a rehearsal tape but you know that 18 bunch of songs that is on the album, 18 songs and more in a very short period of time, it was just a very creative spurt and obviously if we could have been able to duplicate that later, that would have been another REPULSION album so…”
Also at that point why did you not record that demo in a proper studio instead of coming up with a somewhat poor - but KILLER - sounding tape which obviously was a handicap to get an eventual deal with a label? Did you try to approach labels by the way at that point?
Scott: “We had no money, that’s the bottom line, no money. That’s all we can say, no money and no connections, we were completely on the outside in Flint because most of the bands in town were like hair Metal, Heavy Metal was like ’84, ’85 you know MÖTLEY CRÜE, RATT… I don’t even know who else was popular, APRIL WINE, bands like that were really popular, it was right before MÖTLEY CRÜE exploded even if I don’t think they were that huge - maybe they were but the bottom line is NOBODY in our town were doing what we did and…”
Matt: “Scott and I were always the kids that never had the gear, you know like in every scene there’s one or two bands where the kids just have incredible gear, great guitars, great amps, great drum kit. Scott and I come from very very middleclass background, we never had… in fact we had no financial support from our parents to do this kind of crap so if we wanted to do something like go in the studio, we had to save money and you know…”
Scott: “My parents were supportive of me playing music earlier but at that point, we had just came back from Florida and I had no job and I was just bummed around the house and in fact around that time my parents said “Get a job or get out.” and I knew that we were onto something with the REPULSION thing so I just moved out and moved with a bunch of Punk Rock guys in a house that we rehearsed in and became totally obsessed with making the REPULSION album.”
Matt: “No money that’s the bottom line. We never had shit.”
Next thing I remember is that you were recording your rehearsals quite often, making sure that some of those rehearsals would be traded in the tape trading scene, how important was that tape trading circuit for the whole GENOCIDE / REPULSION story by the way?
Scott: “I have to say it was everything, it was everything to us. I mean it was like we were in Flint but we knew there was a whole world of people out there that would love us if they could hear us so the tape trading scene, that was all because in our town when we played gigs, we played to all Punk Rockers who appreciated us because they were friends of ours and they heard us rehearse so much, you know our rehearsals were almost like shows in themselves and people loved this because we were all good friends and it was a very tight knit scene but to really get the love of the Death Metal people out there in the world, we knew that we had to have tapes circulating in the underground so…”
Matt: “Even then, there were still… there was only few reactions, luckily it was key reactions, positive reactions to the demo from some key people but for the most part people were still way way into the SLAYER sound you know which was for us on its way out when it was still very much in its prime for the rest of the underground you know what I mean Scott?”
Scott: “Oh yeah!”
Early January '86 you approached Aaron Freeman to play guitar to fill out the sound on the "The Stench Of Burning Death" 1/26/86, an absolutely cult and majestic demo, how did you hook up with him first - I think you Scott had played with him previously and you knew him from school?
Scott: “That was recorded at WFEE studios. Aaron was a childhood acquaintance of Matt and I… Matt, Aaron and myself all lived within a quarter mile of each other, I mean Aaron lived in between the two of us and I lived a quarter of mile from Matt so it was a very short walk from one house to the other. We just knew Aaron, he hung around with friends of ours, he sold pot in the parking lot of our high school…”
Matt: “(laughs) He was the neighborhood thug! He had that big old fat loud black car with the big stereo and everything…”
Scott: “So you know Aaron started to come around to our mutually friend Lee Williams house and we all sort of hanging out over Lee’s house and everybody was listening to this music and you know Aaron owned an amp and a guitar and he was into the same music we were and we really wanted that demo to sound fatter so it just made sense, he was right there and… you know every decision that we made like that was sort of like impulsive and like…. Aaron was there and we knew he could do it so we just said “Come on” you know, “Jump on board”. Because I was singing and playing bass, I always wanted a second guitar player because it covered up more of what I was doing, made me a little more comfortable on stage to have that much extra noise going on in the background you know?! I agree with you that this demo was very… that was the first thing that we did that we were really felt like it was a real accomplishment as far as the band’s short career.”
Talking about musicians, it seems it was really hard back then to find Metal musicians in the Flint / Detroit area and even the Metal / Hardcore scene there was really weak back then as there were only a few bands around like you, GORE, JIM JONES, HALLOWEEN and a few others compared to the big Chicago or Cleveland Metal scenes, would you say that the fact of Detroit being mainly an industrial city had a lot to do with that?
Scott: “I don’t think the fact that Detroit or Flint were industrial cities had anything to do with it, I think for one thing, a lot of those early tours that came around by bands like METALLICA and VENOM because they were small, just shoestring budget tours, in fact they didn’t make it to Detroit, they were playing Cleveland, and then blow right past Detroit going to Chicago because Detroit is a little bit out of the way.”
Matt: “There is no really small to medium sized venues in Detroit, there was one, there was that place called Harpo’s?”
Scott: “Blondies, Harpo’s…”
Matt: “Blondies was a really really small club.”
Scott: “But we didn’t get to see METALLICA in Detroit until 1984, they didn’t come through on their two previous tours, the one with RAVEN and the other headlining one they did so people just weren’t really exposed to the music in a big way, the way they were in cities like New York, Chicago and L.A. where there were scenes going on like in San Francisco…”
Matt: “You know like Cleveland was a better place…”
Scott: “Yeah Cleveland was definitely better at the time. So there were a few bands around and we were all very dedicated, I think that made us even more hardcore to the fact we didn’t have anybody there to tell us what was cool and not, we just figured it out on our own.”
Matt: “I just remember loving to come to practice and just to jam. I mean it was a time in your life for, you know you don’t have to really care of the world and the reason we continued doing it wasn’t so much for me like, “Oh I’m got to take care of this, I’m gonna make it for my children…”… NO it was just like I fuckin’ love to jam you know?”
So how did the recording go of that first studio demo? Who came up with the idea to have the drums quite up front and making them sound like a machine gun? Did Dave use double bass on this or was it done with a single bass drum?
Scott: “Dave never used double bass in REPULSION, that’s all single bass. I think I had this discussion with NAPALM DEATH when I first met ‘em and they found it extremely hard to believe that Dave was doing the blast beats with the single kit but it’s true. Dave is the best blast beat drummer from that era you know?! He was the best (and still fuckin’ is along with Pete Sandoval! - Laurent) and he was just using a single bass drum kit and a lot of that… you know his technique, he just came up on his own from playing really fast.”
Matt: “If you watched him doing it, it’s really unorthodox, it’s really strange.”
Scott: “And then to have the drums upfront, I suppose that was the engineer, Kenny Roberts, at the radio station, we recorded that at the radio station. All we knew is that it sounded loud and upfront which… before that the only time we’d ever heard our music was through our jam box so to us it sounded like a LED ZEPPELIN album so we were totally stocked on the production and we just let him do what he wanted to do.”
Matt: “Still to this day, I think it’s our best recording.”
Scott: “Yeah. So Kenny Roberts from Flint, MI was the man who made our sound happen.”
At which point did you decide that Aaron would join the band on a permanent basis? Was it after the recording or before?
Scott: “I guess it was probably right around the time that we made the recording, we listened to it, we were like “Cool” and like I said I always wanted to flesh out the sound just because I always had little confidence issues probably back then cos we were so new, and I was playing and singing at the same time, just made me feel a bit better to have two guitar players and Aaron was our buddy, and just made it one more person that much more fun, Aaron was a really funny guy, still is in fact and… so it was a lot of fun, just made it more fun because we all had the same sense of humor which was heavily inspired by a local guy called Brian Lourin, so we were all just having a blast.”
Did you get an even bigger and maybe better response with that new effort? Were you getting some letters from overseas despite a lack of articles in fanzines at that point?
Scott: “Of course we did! We got a lot of letters from all over the place, we got a few articles in fanzines, Borivoj of course who had the Violent Noize magazine going on at the time gave us a pretty positive write up on that demo and he was pretty influential so for him to give us his endorsement definitely… we got a lot of letters and a lot of response for that demo and I think that was probably around the time that we began to have an influence on NAPALM DEATH and those bands so… yeah I’d say it worked out really good."
From what I remember, you tried to approach a few labels back then at a time there were only a few Death Metal bands around and one of them - Pentagram Records - was stupid enough to reply to the band: "Amusing, very amusing"...
Scott: “I remember them responding, I don’t remember exactly their response but Combat, Metal Blade, New Renaissance, there were several labels back then that all politely turned us down and said “You know send us your next demo” or whatever, I mean you can imagine… The demo still sounded pretty crude and the music was totally over the top and nobody was interesting in that. The people who run the labels were still trying to find the next SLAYER and we were like, way way beyond that.”
You did a show in Flint on February 28th '86, was it the first show you ever played or...? What kind of crowd did you have at your shows? I mean was it like a crossover crowd?
Scott: “We played one other show before that, in fact we played a few shows before that. In September right after we got together, we played the University of Michigan and did a DESTRUCTION cover and several of our early GENOCIDE rockers like 'Armies...', 'Six Feet Under', 'Crack Of Doom'…”
Matt: “I had forgot about all of that damn!”
Scott: “And then about a month and a half later, we had the opportunity, the honor to open for D.R.I. and CORROSION OF CONFORMITY at a party in Flint.”
Matt: “When those guys were in their prime!”
Scott: “It was C.O.C.’s “Animosity”, D.R.I. “Dealing With it” tour, we felt like we had made it big or something opening for those bands. By the way in November ’84 with the line up that recorded the “Satan’s Whore” demo, we opened up for SLAYER one time on the name of ULTRAVIOLENCE (it happened exactly at the Ukranian Hall in Flint, MI on 11/20/84 when SLAYER were at their prime! - Laurent). At the time I don’t think there was an album that was anymore influential on earth by D.R.I. and C.O.C., I remember standing and playing, Reed Mullin and Woody from C.O.C. were standing there watching us like ten feet from the front of the stage, Dave messed up and I like freaked out like threw the cymbals on him. I think he showed up at the gig on acid or something like that…”
Matt: “I remember that right before that gig, we were so freaking nervous that in fact we rehearsed our full set right before we left to the gig and everybody was really nervous at the time but we still managed to have a good time.”
Scott: “So that February show, I can remember this cos I have an insane memory. We’re opening for a band called FALSE PROPHETS I think they were on Alternative Tentacles or something like that, they were from New York, that was the first show we did with Aaron on guitar. The crowd at our shows was completely Punk? You say crossover? No! There was no Metalheads there at all except for five or six of our friends, it was a pure Punk Rock audience that luckily for us kind of welcomed us with open arms.”
Matt: “Well you know Scott, if you think about it, we used to rehearse at Phil and Tanya’s and we ended up rehearsing at Frank’s, both of those places in Flint were like hubs of the Punk scene so no matter where we were at, and after we’d had rehearsed, we all got drunk together, we go and try to ride skateboards and walk up to the stores, I mean we’re always just completely fully integrated into their scene so when we played live it was natural that the crowd would be all Punks.”
After another show in April '86 with GORE and UGLY BUT PROUD, the name was changed for REPULSION as there were some other GENOCIDE's around including the one in NJ who got signed by New Renaissance, so who came up with that new name and that famous decomposed head that came along with the name? Would you say REPULSION fit the band better than GENOCIDE?
Scott: “The New Jersey GENOCIDE, the Japanese GENOCIDE, the French GENOCIDE, the English GENOCIDE and the fifty million bands named GENOCIDE from all over the world that wrote us letters saying “We’re the real GENOCIDE” after we started to get known outside of Michigan was why we changed the name and secondly GENOCIDE is a horrible name, we were kids, we had no idea of the full connotations of a name like that. If I started the band today, I would never even consider calling it GENOCIDE.”
Matt: “I remember knowing what it meant but…”
Scott: "That’s what I mean, I really like taking it all into consideration you know?!”
Matt: “We didn’t realize the impact you can have when you call your band like that. We were just thinking of concepts like genocide and nuclear war and you think about the awesome unimaginable events as they were and as they happened in the 20th century and you just go “Wah! ”, I just remember being floored by thinking about some of the things that happened during World War II and of course the cold war was still in effect in the early days of REPULSION so… it’s like we thought about those concepts, not necessarily in a way where we’re like condoning ‘em or we thought they were cool, we were just like blown away by some of those things in a total 15 year old kid kind of way.”
Scott: “So in fact we relived when 20 million bands wrote us letters saying “We’re GENOCIDE, change your name” and I thought “Okay this is it. This is the time to change the name.” and we were kicking around a song called 'Repulsion' where I got the name after I was looking though a horror film book at the library and I saw that classic shot called Repulsion, that’s where I got the name REPULSION, I saw the word, looked up in a dictionary, saw what it meant and I was like, that’s the band name.”
Matt: “Yes, that’s perfect.”
Scott: “And the head, the decomposed head, that came from… I stole that drawing from a comic book basically, I re-arranged and changed it a little bit but I’m not gonna say what comic book cos it’s probably still copyrighted…”
Matt: “And incriminate yourself.”
One thing I noticed back then is that you often recorded rehearsals before you were playing shows, does that mean that you were only practicing a few days before the shows?
Scott: “No, but we were recording our rehearsals almost every night. The ones that have leaked out to the public were mainly recorded for people like, I had fans who had wrote me a letter and send me a blank tape and say “Would you record one of your rehearsals for me?” and I obliged them, I’d take the blank cassette down to the rehearsal space, record the rehearsal and mail it out, that’s why we don’t have a lot of those. They were just recorded for the fans and the reason you’re hearing a lot of ‘em right before the shows is cos we were just starting clicking really good, you know that was the time I wanted to record the rehearsal and listen back to it and see how tight we sound because when we were in the basement rehearsing, it was just a wall of sonic noise.”
Matt: “Oh yeah!”
Scott: “So we’d record the rehearsals before the shows to see where we were going…”
Matt: “In fact some of those rehearsals did have performances of our songs in a way better than anything we’ve ever recorded, faster and we’re more relaxed, having more fun. When you’re on stage, you are on a clock and you are doing a job performing.”
After having written a couple of newer songs such as 'Maggots...', 'Repulsion' etc, you entered the studio to record what should have been your first album back then, "Slaughter of ..." and ended up being sold as a demo, so what happened exactly as it was recorded as an album without being signed by any label which was quite strange?
Scott: “Laurent, you were probably around back in those days and know that in ’86 we were definitely more extreme than CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER or WEHRMACHT or any of those other bands that did get signed as they had more of a accessible, maybe something at the label people can grasp onto and ours was just morbid, poorly recorded… just morbid, heavy and out of control.”
Matt: “You’ve just described early SODOM (laughs).”
Scott: "Yeah, that’s the same you know?! But the labels just weren’t into it, it’s that simple. We sent it to every label we could possibly think of...”
Matt: “But it wasn’t supposed to be an album either, we were trying for once to record a good demo…”
Scott: “But we were intending to release it as an album.”
Matt: “We were?!”
Scott: “Yeah definitely, he’s right about that. The intend as to release that on a label then if not put it out ourselves. In fact we were pretty displeased with that recording, we left the studio cos the engineer (Larry Hennessee) that recorded it was a completely hack who had no idea what we were all about and he was high on marijuana the whole time we recorded it…”
Matt: “The being high thing is not such a big deal and if the guy know what he was doing for one and if he was into us but he was there and his favorite band was probably like STEELY DAN or something and to him we were just like a joke you know?!”
Scott: “Put it this way, the master recordings for that record, some of the songs are recorded over used tape that was used a car dealer ship, a radio commercial you know so the guy just kinda screw us around like didn’t take us seriously and we ended up with something… at the time we thought was subpar but looking back on it now… the impact it had on the underground scene and stuff, we’re pretty proud of it at this point.”
Matt: “Yeah you know I remember Scott that we were thinking earlier on that even though this recording basically sucks, at least it didn’t have that super clean kind of Megaforce recording act sound so…”
That demo got a tremendous response in the underground - even if Borivoj’s review wasn't really good, how did you feel at that point? I mean you were getting excellent response from the people and zines but little response from labels, how do you explain that? Would you say REPULSION came out too early in a scene that wasn't prepared yet for such insanity?
Scott: “His review in Violent Noize magazine was still fairly positive, I think he commented something like maybe we should brush up in the songwriting department a little bit but see Borivoj was into that technical Metal with lots of time changes like MERCYFUL FATE and the stuff DEATH was doing at the time, Power Metal, double bass (when you think that this guy now worships so hard the likes of MACHINE HEAD, SKINLAB, PANTERA and such garbage while at the same time ‘80s Metal to him sounds dated, what a waste if you ask me - Laurent). I think his idea of songwriting was throwing as many different tempo changes and parts into it as you want.”
Matt: “Was he into Punk at all? Hardcore?”
Scott: “No. And what we were doing if you listen to the songs, the structure of our songs, it’s basically the same as an Elvis or Chuck Berry song, we have a little intro piece to get you in there and then we have a verse / chorus, first chorus, solo and / or bridge, first chorus and it’s out, that’s the way that Pop music has been written since the ‘40s you know?! And obviously our approach was very…"
Matt: Twisted (laughs).”
Scott: “Twisted or modern, I mean we were just doing… but basically I don’t think that the REPULSION songs, their structures is that much different than a Chuck Berry song and that’s something that we were definitely consciously attempting. We weren’t trying to write any five minute opus with fifty million chord changes, we wanted the album to sound like a song and we were meticulous about the order of the songs when we put that demo together so that you have the ups and downs in there because we knew that our songs… some of them just blast from the beginning to the end but when you listen to the whole record in one piece, it has some dips, some highs and lows and that’s what we were going for, the individual song was intended to destroy your face not to make you impressed with our musical virtuosity."
Matt: “We were also thinking of the future too at that point, we were thinking that if we arrange this nicely, this will go better when we’ll record with the San Francisco Symphonic Orchestra (laughs).”
Scott: “Yeah! Guitar solos and double bass kick drums were definitely not something… Because I was always so impressed with Matt’s guitar playing, I encouraged him to play more guitar solos but… he was just like, he had nothing to prove as far as guitar playing went, we just wanted to destroy people faces with our sound.”
Would you admit that speed was the main concept in the band?
Scott: “It wasn’t speed alone, it was extremity. We wanted extreme lyrics, extreme vocals, extreme guitar and bass tones an extreme speed and heaviness. It wasn’t just the speed, we wanted every aspect of the music to be completely over the top and to push the boundaries of traditional guitar, drums and bass band as far as we possibly could.”
Matt: “Well said.”
To this day I still wonder if the Toronto gig with SLAUGHTER and DARK LEGION on July 6th 1986 really happened as I've never seen the REPULSION live tape of it...
Scott: “Well, no that gig didn’t happen because we got stopped at the border going to Canada and one of our roadies had drugs on him so we spent the entire day which was the 4th of July which is the Independence Day in America, a big national holiday, we spent it in the custody at the Canadian customs department.”
Matt: “We got strip searched.”
Scott: “Needless to say we didn’t make it to that show (well the real date was July 6th since the show happened but without REPULSION on the bill and on the 4th of July SLAUGHTER were opening for CELTIC FROST / VOIVOD in Toronto - Laurent) but we did turn the car around, drive back to Detroit and go to see CELTIC FROST and VOIVOD at Blondies so I can’t really say it was a total loss but the fact that it robbed us one of our only chance to have ever played with SLAUGHTER is something that I regret to this day.”
Matt: “Oh yeah.”
Also around this time problems arose with Dave so he left and he was replaced in July by Tom Perro
Scott: “I think Dave got sick of Matt and I bossing him around musically, I just thought he wasn't that into the style and we were constantly pushing him to be faster, faster, faster and that’s not tight enough…”
Matt: “I think one thing that was key with him becoming disillusioned, we worked so hard for so long, I mean like a year or so, basically we pushed him for so long and there really wasn’t a pay off in sight.”
Scott: “We kept promising the other guys in the band, “Don’t worry there’s gonna be a record deal, we’re gonna get a deal, we’re gonna go on tour, this is gonna work” and we never saw any of that happened for us so they became disillusioned.”
Matt: “ Think about it Scott, we were both certainly becoming disillusioned slowly too you know…”
Scott: “The one thing that happened around that time is that we pretty much blew our wad creatively as far as that style of music, we pretty much said everything needs to be set by REPULSION on that “Horrified” / “Slaughter...” demo and by the time we got Tom in the band, we were starting to write songs that did not have the blast beat in ‘em anymore, we were just kind of burned out to blast beat ourselves, I think we used it quite a bit as you’ve heard and by the time Tom came in, things weren’t the same anymore, everybody was heading in a different direction and it just fall apart later on that year.”
The band rehearsed with Tom as a rehearsal late July '86 was recorded and a show with SACRIFICE at Blondies was even scheduled in August but didn't happen and it seems the band was gone by September after a last show, is that correct? So what happened that led to the demise of the band?
Scott: “I believe but I’m not sure if we broke up or maybe SACRIFICE didn’t come, we maybe had broke up already don’t remember honestly, can not tell you what happened.”
Matt: “If we had broke up, we at least went to the show, didn't we?”
Scott: “I don’t remember, I mean that’s the hazy area. Honestly at that time we were also unfocused on the band, I don’t think anybody could tell you exactly how it fell apart but I do remember that Matt and I were rehearsing with Tom and Aaron wasn’t around either but I can’t remember if Aaron had quit or was not asked to come back or…”
Matt: “He had his own thing going on too, he just had a kid and he’s doing all that…”
Scott: “So it’s hard, I really don’t remember, I just remember rehearsals, that were Matt, Tom Perro and myself and I remember that distinctly we were working on a song called 'Infected' that had lyrics and everything, it was along the lines of 'Radiation Sickness', no blast beats or anything.”
Did you have at that time other songs that were written but which never made it on those early tapes?
Scott: “I think 'Infected' was the only one we were working on.”
Scott, were you the person who was writing the lyrics to those raging tunes? What were your influences to come up with those kind of sick lyrics?
Scott: “Yes. I mean some of them like 'Crematorium', I think Aaron and Lee wrote part of those lyrics because it was like a joke song that they had come up with. I think Lee Williams was the main songwriter for this one. I took some of his lyrics and added some of my own, the song 'Festering Boils', the title and part of the lyrics came from my friend Jim Mark who was my next door neighbour and practically like a brother to me and there’s one other song, the title 'Maggots In Your Coffin' came from Tom Perro and it was like a joke, he just came up to us one day and Tom was a total spaz kid and said “Man you ever thought about a song called 'Maggots...'!” so for Tom I wrote a song called 'Maggots…' and it became like a big sing along at our shows, one of our more popular tunes so… Lyrical influences? It was splatter films like Dawn Of The Dead, Re-animator, and Evil Dead, horror comics like Tales From The Crypt, Twisted Tales as well as the lyrics of CRUCIFIX (S.F.) and DISCHARGE. Titles like 'Slaughter Of The Innocent', 'Pestilent Decay' and 'The Stench Of Burning Death' were directly influenced by DISCHARGE. Two titles, 'Crack Of Doom' and 'Black Breath' were lyrically inspired by my youthful obsession with J.R.R. Tolkin's Lord Of The Rings!"
Can we say that you can be considered as the precursors of gore / sick lyrics as you came up with that stuff way before CANNIBAL CORPSE and the likes?
Scott: “Well I don’t really know those guys, but from what I can tell there was a lot more sense of humor and also I mean DEATH they had some gore type of lyrics, I wouldn’t say we were the first but maybe to just solely concentrate on those kind of concepts, we definitely were… you know, I guess sort of breaking new ground, I guess a lot of Death Metal bands after that started doing that…”
Matt: “SLAYER had some pretty gory lyrics. But I think one thing that's important to know about REPULSION is that SLAYER and lot of the other image conscious bands were just trying to create that ambiance of evil and if you knew Scott and I and since we basically played, almost every time we played out, we played for Punks, they don’t care about that shit man! So I mean we just were sort of ourselves, we got into horror movies and comic books and all kinds of stuff and those kind of lyrics and that type of image were not necessarily priority number one, we just had fun with it really.”
Scott: “I wouldn’t say that we took the style of our music as a joke but the lyrics were definitely like a sort of a wink of the eye or a tongue in cheek type of humor to me. But we were trying to offend people, that was definitely the key.”
Matt: “Cos it’s fun!”
Scott: “Especially when you’re a kid, offending people is a lot of fun.”
As you know Chuck from DEATH had relocated to Florida by mid '87, "Scream Bloody Gore" was released and he was looking for a full line up, so did he contact you to join him again since DEATH was much bigger by that time? If he had asked you to do it, would you have joined him as DEATH's material was quite different from REPULSION?
Scott: "Chuck and Chris Reifert (DEATH drummer at the time) both called me separately and asked me to join DEATH but Chuck wanted to be based in Florida and Chris wanted to be in San Francisco. This is the main reason that those two parted ways I think... It was a very short lived idea."
While REPULSION had broken up, the interest in your material from that point was growing even bigger with more and more people getting into your music, musicians such as Shane Embury, Mitch Dickinson, Mick Harris, Bill Steer naming REPULSION as an influence to the point that you had to play a reunion show on November 7th '87 as you were asked by REPULSION mentor Doug Earp to play it. How did you feel about that rise of interest on one side and how was that reunion gig that a lot of European people like me would have loved to attend?
Scott: “If you have ever seen the video tape of that show, you could see it’s a little bit different but it’s almost similar to all the shows that we have ever played, people are throwing like donuts around the room, we’re all acting silly, that’s kind of how we were live, I mean we never like introduced songs like (adopting a gruff voice) “This one is 'Maggots In Your Coffiiiiinnnnnnn'…”
Matt: “Again our crowd wasn’t into that.”
Scott: “And we weren’t into that either, I would have feel like a complete ass doing that. I’ve seen a lot of Death Metal bands do that and it’s silly.”
Matt: “But when you do that in a context of a completely Death Metal crowd, they love it, things might have been different if we’re in a town where it would have been full of guys who were just like (screaming with a gruffy voice), you know?!”
Scott: “I’m glad we weren’t”
Matt: “Yeah exactly (laughs).”
Scott: “Yeah that show was fun, it was a lot of fun. I think it might have been urged by Doug Earp or maybe that guy Joel Rash who was a big promotor in Flint of shows like Punk shows. We had fun doing it, everybody was around, we decided to do it.”
Matt: “Was that the one where we played all those GUNS ‘N’ ROSES and all that?”
Scott: “No that was the next one. This is the one where our friend Elvis is playing tambourine on his head the whole show. He woke up the next morning with big nuts on his head.”
Surprisingly another reunion show happened at the same place on January 1st '88, so what was the reason for doing another show so soon?
Scott: “That’s the one where we do those GUNS covers…”
Matt: "Oh man! We were real stoned all of us, Dave was on acid, I was stoned on pot!”
Scott: “We were dropped on pills and drinking and smoking weed, all kind of stuff we did on that one. The reason that we did those GUNS ‘N’ ROSES songs and no offence to the Death Metallers out there but the whole time that our band was together, we knew in our minds that we were the most killer Death Metal band on the face of the earth (HELL YES! - Laurent) but no Death Metallers in our city or in our area acknowledged that, like I said before our entire loyal audience was Punk Rockers so at that show you know the GUNS’N’ ROSES album was out and I think we all totally digging on that record at the time so when we were rehearsing, we all hadn’t seen each other together in a long time so we were like, hey yeah we’re bashing out like GUNS’N’ROSES version of 'Knocking On Heaven’s Door' it’s so easy at the rehearsals just for fun, just goofing around. We got to the show and there were all these Death Metal people there and they had video cameras and I knew what they were gonna do. They were gonna video tape it, sell it, trade it whatever and like be the cool guy on the block with the REPULSION video tape so we’re like you know what man? Let’s just totally rain on their parade and all the Punk kids thought it was funny, and the Death Metal guys were like “Dude what’s up with the 'Knocking On…'? The band was always kind of fun, and we weren’t image conscious at all so when we did that, it was just like, just to rip those guys, not really to piss them off or flip them off in the face or tell ‘em to fuck off cos we were happy that they were there, that people were acknowledging our existence but it was a sort of little in-joke on the Death Metal guys to make them scratch their heads and wonder why the hell we were doing that.”
Matt: “And also we’re totally self indulgent, I mean when we booked the show, it was just like “Guys do whatever, play as long as you want, do whatever you want”, it was basically a rehearsal, a big drunken rehearsal that a bunch of people showed at.”
By the way Matt you had started a new band DOOM SAYER after REPULSION broke up during September ‘86, tell us more about that band as I've never heard any recording from that band
Matt: “I honestly don’t remember when I did that DOOM SAYER thing but all it was, was me, Sean who was in an early line up of GENOCIDE and our friend, Jimmy Otin who was in Scott and I first band TEMPTER, just goofing around with some stuff that probably sounded like somewhere between the first SABBATH album and like maybe MEGADETH or something, I don’t know. We got a little more Progressive and just tried some stuff. We didn’t record any demos, there might have been some rehearsal tapes, that’s about it really. Oh I did write a couple of songs that ended up being used in DEJECTA years years later so that’s about it. It was just a little project and basically nobody knew anything about it.”
At that point, did you think about reforming the band especially since the Death Metal scene was developing at a fast pace and started getting interest from labels (XECUTIONER, NECROVORE, MORBID ANGEL, TERRORIZER...)?
Scott: “At that time, absolutely not. None of us would have considered reforming the band at that point. I’d say Matt and I had no interest at that point into reforming REPULSION, the whole experience was still pretty fresh in our minds and there was no reason to reform the band at that time.”
From that point, nothing was heard from the band anymore - Aaron had started PAIN and released a demo "Into The Bloodbath" and did a few shows, you were working in a record store, Matt was in the U.S. army in Germany, Dave also was in the army until '88 when you were contacted by Bill and Jeff from CARCASS who had started Necrosis Records - a subsidiary from Earache - as they officially wanted to release the "Slaughter..." demo, so do you remember how you were approached by 'em?
Scott: “Those guys wrote a letter to Aaron because at that point I was so sick of the band that I had turned all the mail answering things to Aaron so he was handling all that stuff and somebody I believe it was Jeff Walker dropped us a line asking if we wanted to release the record on Earache and a lot of boring details and blah blah blah and it came out.”
The result was issued in '89 as an album called "Horrified" featuring that demo remixed and cover artwork that wasn't so good considering what it should have been like in my opinion, so first who came up with the idea to remix it the way it was done with an incredible bass fuzzing sound and were you happy with the full thing once it was completed?
Scott: “The reason the cover art sucks is because we sent them a really cool album cover like a sort of psychedelic blur of a photo of a guy getting his head blown off that my friend Michael Grossklaus had made and Earache didn’t want that, they wanted that zombie, burned kid face on the album cover which originally that’s what it was supposed to be, a burned little kid. Unfortunately when the guy from CARCASS painted it, he made it look like an army green zombie or something. I never liked the cover but…"
Matt: “Who painted it?”
Scott: “A guy from CARCASS.”
Scott: “I’m not sure which one… but anyway horrible. It is terrible and we’re stuck with it cos that’s what people have seen. As for the incredible bass fuzz for the remix, that was only done because there was some scratched bass tracks and some of the original bass tracks were recorded over by the stoned out engineer when we were laying down the guitar solos and vocals, he was tracking right over top of the bass tracks so…”
Matt: “That fuzzing bass sound is the sound of Scott’s bass going through distortion pedal directly into a mixing console instead of going through an amplifier, right Scott?”
Scott: “I mean it’s kind of a blessing it turned out amazing, the way it sounds.”
Matt: “Happy accident!”
Were you happy once it was completed?
Scott: “Well like I said I think the front cover leaves a lot to be desired.”
Matt: “I like the inner sleeve a lot, it’s really cool.”
Scott: “The rest of the cover was designed by Michael Grossklaus, Aaron, myself and a guy named Phil Skarich who did the art you can see super imposed behind the lyrics on the inner sleeve. And Phil was playing bass in a band that I was in at the time called FROM BEYOND so I was a fan of his art.”
Do you have an idea of how many copies of that cult album were sold considering that the relations between you and Necrosis soon turned out to be quite bad?
Scott: “Of course not. It came out on two indie labels, there’s no way to ever find out exactly how many records got sold on those labels.”
Matt: “How many do you estimate.”
Scott: “An estimation? I know it sold at least 6.000, that’s what Earache accounted to us and then Relapse, I have no idea how many they sold, maybe 3, 4, 5.000?”
Matt: “I think they did an initial pressing of 5.000 and there were some returns…”
Scott: “Yeah cassettes, a lot of cutouts, so we’re not sure how many it sold.”
Then the most unreal thing that nobody ever thought about happened in October '90 when the band finally reformed, did a show in a medium sized theatre as headliners which was captured on video by a local tv channel, so what motivated that reformation four years after you had split and how did you get the possibility to do that somewhat big gig taped by a TV channel?
Scott: “The motivation to reform at that time? I guess I was hanging around with Aaron a lot and Matt was in the service, he came home and we decided to do that show, we just thought it was something that everyone wanted to do. I don’t remember exactly why we got back together but it just seemed like a good idea at the time which…”
Matt: “And if anyone out there has seen the show and you think of where we played the Capitol Theatre, you see us on this big stage with lights and everything, you think “Waouh! They had a really cool home coming reunion gig.” or whatever but the Capitol Theatre was just a really really nice killer venue that existed in Flint but it was never got used for anything and this guy sort of used it for Punk shows, first in the basement and then finally on the big stage, it was a lot of fun but in reality there was only like 30 people there or something…”
Scott: “No. There were a couple, 250 or so. The reason it got taped was because a couple of our local fans of the band worked in the public access cable company, and they filmed it professionally and showed it on TV in the Flint area.”
At one time around May '90 ex CARNIVORE bassist / singer Pete Steele had started a short lived new band called REPULSION and was on the verge to do an album until he changed it to TYPE O NEGATIVE a short while later, so did you own the name?
Scott: “Yes we did own the name. Their label contacted us, Roadrunner contacted me and asked me if we wanted to sell the name or something like that but at the time we were getting ready to re-release the record on Relapse and I just felt that we needed to keep the name because… you know it wouldn’t have been financially feasible for them to pay us the amount of money that the name was worth to us because if we sold more REPULSION records, we’re gonna make more money than we are…”
Matt: “It’s kind of strange when you think about it, I have no idea why they even bother with, trying to…”
Scott: “They liked the name. Personally the guy from the label, I think his name is Monte Conner, he didn’t like the name anyway, he wanted ‘em to change it anyway and it worked out better for them cos TYPE O NEGATIVE became a huge band and sold millions of records so… we’re still REPULSION.”
Following that reformation show, you started doing more shows including one in Buffalo at a Death Metal fest where Jeff Walker was - the first ever out of state gig - and you were playing new stuff which finally ended up on a demo recorded in January '91 ('Excruciation', 'Rebirth', 'Helga' & 'House Of Freaks') but the material was mid paced and generally not as intense and brutal as the old stuff, what's your view ten years later on that comeback material? Would you say those songs were up to the REPULSION standard? Who was responsible for the songwriting at that point?
Scott: “I think it’s like you said, mid paced, and generally not as intense and brutal as the old stuff and that was the reason why later on I didn’t want to do it anymore, I always held everything that we did up against “Horrified” and there wasn’t one song that I thought was as strong as anything on the “Horrified” record so I just didn’t see make sense to keep going on. The songwriting at that point was still spread around because Matt would come home and jam with us when he could. So like 'Rebirth', if you listen closely there’s a couple of riffs out of 'Satan’s Whore' and 'Armies…' that got recycled in there cos I always liked those riffs but didn’t necessarily want them used in entire songs, not that 'Rebirth' is any good either so… 'Excruciation' is a so-so Death Metal song mid paced, 'Helga' is a real good song, Aaron wrote the music for that and I wrote the lyrics based on Dave’s grave robbing experiences. The song 'House Of Freaks', lyrically and musically is utterly forgettable."
A few months later two songs out of that demo ('Excruciation' & 'Helga') were issued as a 7" on Relapse Records, who came up with the idea to come up with that sick cover?
Scott: “The sick cover was done by an artist named Alfred Columbia from the east coast who was doing a comic book at the time called From Beyond and later worked on some bigger comics but I just remember that I told him what I wanted, something bizarre and offensive, something kind of disturbing but not like necessarily gory or zombie related and that’s what he came up with and I loved him for it, I thought it was the best thing about the record was the cover, the illustration on the front is great.”
Around that time more shows were done in the Midwest, something you had never been able to do in the past
Scott: “We played in Indiana with RADIATION SICKNESS and the genius band IMPETIGO, that was really great to meet those guys and in fact I’ve remained in touch with Mark from IMPETIGO ever since and Stevo, another great guy who is still out there writing stuff about us on the internet and stuff which is great.”
The band was a three piece act - as Matt had only played the reformation gig and he was still in the army, did you try to get a second guitarist at that time to get a bigger sound especially live?
Scott: “We never did try to get a second guitarist for that line up because we always expected Matt would return sooner or later, so that was that. Matt was our guitar player, he wasn’t going to be replaced even if we were doing shows out there and there was never any intention to replace Matt, he was always considered part of the band even during his stay in the service.”
Relapse Records re-issued the "Horrified" album in the U.S. late '91 with 'Black Nightmare' from "The Stench..." demo added as bonus, featuring an entire new layout, would you say that this release looked superior to the Necrosis one?
Scott: “I would say absolutely not, it was a mistake. We didn’t spend enough time on the artwork.”
The artwork featured by the way a band shot where Dave looked like Hitler, sick huh? Also why was the track 'Crypt Of Terror' not included just like 'Black...'?
Scott: “The picture of Dave with Hitler moustache, that is something that was like… you know a couple of people were irritated with us about that but we just said that Dave was never and none of the band members were ever racist, if you listen to our music, there’s no political agenda to our music whatsoever. Dave was only a Punk Rocker you know?! I mean that’s all he was and he liked to get a reaction out of the people and he did you know?! I would compare that Dave’s picture with the Hitler moustache to like a G.G. Allin type of thing, he was just trying to get a rise out of people and… I can see why people can take it the wrong way but what it was, was a sick joke on Dave’s part and something that we thought about censoring you know and then we just went, you know it’s Dave “Grave” people expect controversy from Dave “Grave”, just ask the guys in NAPALM DEATH who have seen him do some pretty bizarre things on their tour bus.”
Matt: “I mean he just showed up to the photo shoot like that and we had absolutely no time to talk or think about it and we were just like “Okay this is really weird” and we just took the pictures and that was that really.”
Scott: “ A lot of people thought it was funny, I’ve had a couple of people asked me about it, I had one person asked me about it who was in a band who made a record called “Speak English Or Die” so I didn’t really take that too much… I just didn’t really think about too much of that, I mean people do sick jokes that’s just the way the world is, some people are offended, we’re not nazis, and people who think we are… we’re just normal guys, we love everyone (laughs). Why was 'Crypt Of Terror' left of?”
Matt: “We never really thought it was that great of a song.”
Scott: “Yeah it’s a little weak you know?! But you’ll probably hear it on the upcoming release of “Horrified” cos we’re gonna put everything on there, put a bunch of sick on there, but I don’t think 'House Of Freaks' will be on it or 'Rebirth', but you know we’re gonna put I think 'Crypt…' you know historically has more significance than 'Rebirth' or 'House Of Freaks', it deserves to be included, I think the whole demo will be.”
Matt: “You know what I’m pushing for is? That we have everything that we have ever recorded that we can get our hands on available cos I know there some people out there that want to hear even the music that we hate cos people like to have complete collections of stuff.”
It seems to me that for this Relapse release, the original "Slaughter..." demo mix was used as the sound sounded different as the bass fuzz wasn't as upfront, am I right and if so, why?
Scott: “I think you’ve been smoking too much hash over there Laurent (laughs). That’s the same exact recording. So I just don’t know, clean your ears and listen to it again dude, I’m just kidding. That’s the same exact version, I think the Earache one sounds more fuzzy to you because the cover is dirty looking.”
Matt: “And if you’re listening to the CD, I mean the mastering techniques for CDs could have been sub standard back then and it could have gotten better by the time Relapse did theirs.”
During mid '92 you managed to enter the studio and record a couple of new tunes ('Deranged', 'Something Dead', 'Face Of Decay') to shop 'em around hoping to get a record deal and the material was a lot stronger than the '91 demo as it was much faster, closer to the original GENOCIDE / REPULSION material but still not as catchy which was one of the main trademarks of the old REPULSION material, catchy yet ultra brutal / intense raging fast tunes. How did you decide on a common basis to come back to your original songwriting? Was it also because Matt was back in the band at that point and he had a big influence on the band to play fast as hell?
Matt: “We didn’t shop it around did we?"
Scott: “When Matt came back into the band, he definitely pushed to get the blast beats back in there and at that point it was needed, we needed to get that back in there. What we were trying to do is re-create the original vibe of REPULSION but without those blast beats we didn’t have it, Matt knew that, he was right, we had to get back the blast beats in there but even after we did, we didn’t have the innocence or the vibe we had before, you know trying to write REPULSION songs where before, we just fuckin’ fell asleep and woke up and they were right in there under our pillow you know or we sit down and looking at a piece of paper and ten minutes later there will be lyrics to a song, we were struggling to write these REPULSION like songs but they weren’t coming from the same place than the songs on “Horrified” came from.”
Matt: “We were older and had different experiences, Scott had really… Scott tell me if I’m wrong but you like for a while was getting really into more classic forms of Rock, stuff like that for a while, just take it on easy on the Hardcore stuff for a while…”
Scott: “I mean I think I still listened to… you know I was expanding my horizons definitely? I still was listening to Death Metal back then, I was really into ENTOMBED, I liked MORBID ANGEL's first couple of records a lot but the songwriting part wasn’t happening the same way, just wasn’t coming from the same place and I never felt those songs lived up to…”
Matt: “This is where I disagree, just in one aspect to what you’re saying and thinking because I felt we were breaking through the first layer if you will of the REPULSION concept and I think that if we had kept trying, kept digging within probably a short amount of time, we would have been into some gold I think but you know…”
So what happened after that demo was done exactly as nothing could be heard from the new songs written and Death Metal was still the big thing around?
Scott: “I think part of it had to do with and I'll stand by the fact that you know the other guys in the band disagree with me, I thought the songs were very sub-par compared to the stuff on “Horrified” and I left Michigan at that point, I didn’t wanna be in REPULSION anymore and I didn’t want to be in Flint, Michigan anymore so I moved to Chicago and for a while we tried to keep things going on whenever I came back to Michigan from Chicago, I would go over Matt’s and work on the demo, record some vocals and… my heart just wasn’t into it anymore and you know…”
Matt: “In fact that’s where I think the truth really is Scott, just like your heart wasn’t into it anymore, I mean cos I certainly was getting to it and Aaron I think was getting into it too but I think you just felt out of it that’s the bottom line.”
Scott: “So yeah that was the last time we ever attempted to ever do anything musically as the band REPULSION, it was just over.”
To my surprise, I heard in late '93 / early '94 that you had joined U.K.'s CATHEDRAL, so first how did you end up joining CATHEDRAL considering that Dorrian was saying around that he hated fast material even if he had been in NAPALM DEATH in earlier times for two years?
Scott: “Well first of all I don’t think you can quote Lee… I mean maybe you can quote him but I know Lee likes fast material, I know that he’s proud of the stuff that he did with NAPALM DEATH and he was a big fan of REPULSION and DISCHARGE and lots of other stuff. I’m sure at that point if he did say that, he was probably just sick of people constantly ask him why he left NAPALM DEATH considering that this band had a huge fan base and the extreme turn around in the speed of this music at that point but I became friends sort of with Lee and Gaz the first time CATHEDRAL toured the States, I went to see them and after the show we went to a disco, they got blazingly drunk and were dancing to disco until five o’clock in the morning in a club in Chicago…”
Matt: “Are you sure you want to tell people that?! (laughs)”
Scott: “It was insane, I think all the guys in NAPALM, CARCASS and stuff were there (it all happened on August 15th 1992 during that Earache / Columbia package tour - Laurent)… and BRUTAL TRUTH, those guys were there too. So we ended up just like having a good time that night and a year later they were looking for a bass player and I phoned, I went over there and auditioned and I played with them for a couple of years after that, it was a lot of fun.”
What about Aaron and Dave? What have they done after REPULSION broke up?
Scott: “Well for a while I guess just working and stuff…”
Matt, what can you tell us about the DEJECTA story as a demo was released late '94 ? How long did that band exist? Did you get good feedback for that demo which was reviewed in different mags such as S.O.D. or Terrorizer back then with reviews saying that some of the material sounded a lot like REPULSION?
Matt: “That was me, Sean from the early GENOCIDE line up, a guy named Bill Bradley on the drums, excellent drummer and Lee Williams - Scott mentioned him as the guy who’s place we’ve always converged at in the very very early days and the guy who always had his box to record our rehearsals, we had this Death Metal act, that was like a full time at the university studying and after Scott fell out of doing REPULSION again, I was still into Death Metal, I mean I determined to get together with these guys and since we are these old great friends we just wrote some tunes and they were pretty tight you know, the music I thought was very REPULSION like but it had some more elements of, I’m not gonna say classic Metal but maybe more like SLAYER or METALLICA style elements thrown in with some, we had blast beats and stuff like that, I liked it. We took some chances with it, we weren’t always like pure like the way REPULSION was so musically that was DEJECTA but as far as like getting favorable reviews and stuff, I seemed to remember one magazine saying that was okay but for the most part, it was very… nobody really reacted to it (laughs). We sold it on the Relapse catalog for a little while and they probably sold out of there ten, twenty tapes, or whatever we had gave them and in fact when I started the band, I told the guys that when I had finished college in two or three years, then I would move to Los Angeles cos I always to live there and working in the motion picture industry which is what I’m doing now so they knew that and once I had finished, within a month or so I’d moved here and that was the end of DEJECTA. I recently remixed the demo and I would like to get it out there, some material that I don’t think a lot of people have heard for DEJECTA but if you’re interested by all means I’ll send it to you, I guess that's about it on DEJECTA.”
Scott, what was it like to play in CATHEDRAL which is a Doom Metal band after having spent numerous years in one of the fastest bands on earth?
Scott: “Like I said earlier, REPULSION honestly only together for less than a year, the actual initial band was together for less than a year so it’s kind of interesting how long the legacy has lived on for a band that started in September one year, broke up in June or July of the next year but playing with CATHEDRAL was great, I got a lot of touring experience out of it, I loved all the guys in the band and I loved their music, I had a blast if it weren’t for financial difficulties that arose in keeping me in the band since I was from the States and they were all based in England. I would have stayed with the band for a long time but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Did you join the band at the same time Barry Stern (ex - ZOETROPE / TROUBLE) did for a short time?
Scott: “No. In fact Barry only did a couple shows with us, I was living in Chicago and so was Barry and at one point, we were having drummer problems in CATHEDRAL for a while and we had some commitments to fulfill and we needed a drummer so we called up Barry since we knew he was a great Rock’n’Roll drummer and he came in to play.”
CATHEDRAL had just issued an EP "Stattik Magic", did you have something to do with it or was it entirely recorded and completed when you joined 'em?
Scott: “I didn’t play on it but I was around, I just had joined the band, I was hanging around in the studio with them when they did it but I hadn’t decided yet whether or not if I wanted to fully join so I didn’t want to play on it and have them regret it, somebody played on it that wasn’t really into it.”
Then the band was joined by Victor Griffin / Joe Hasselvander from PENTAGRAM / DEATHROW to fill up the line up as you were getting ready to open for BLACK SABBATH on their European tour, but problems arose while the band had already played a couple of dates with Victor, do you remember that tour and what happened really?
Scott: “Well we did that tour, we probably had done about 2/3 of that tour when Victor just was stressed out… first I have to say Victor is a great guy, he got stressed out… I mean it was the first time he’d been on tour, it was a long tour, far far away from home and he wasn’t dealing with it that well so we just sent him back to the States and finished the tour as a four piece with Gaz handling all the guitar duties but Joe stayed around till the end of the tour.”
How did you feel opening for SABBATH even if it was more or less a pale shadow of that once godly band?
Scott: “Well Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi were both still in the band and I have an incredible amount of respect for those guys, I mean I think that BLACK SABBATH is one of the greatest Rock’n’Roll bands of all time so I was honored to be that tour and it was amazing to have the opportunity to interact with Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi from BLACK SABBATH.”
What happened after that tour, why did you quit CATHEDRAL so soon since it seems things were working out well with the other guys and also considering that CATHEDRAL were FINALLY evolving into a great inspired Doom Metal band from that point?
Scott: “I think I’ve explained that when I said that… we had lost the deal with Columbia Records which prohibited me from staying in United States and still playing with the band, before I was able to sort of jet set around and make all the band's commitments but at that point it was time to buckle down start writing an album, well the album was mostly written in fact but we thought it was time for me to move in England and really join in the band and I had a girlfriend in Chicago at the time that didn’t want to leave and I wasn’t really thrilled about the idea of living out in like Coventry, England or anything so… I just didn’t want to go, I just didn’t want to leave the States basically and I would've had to… just basically it was a logistic thing, I couldn’t move over to England.”
While you stayed in the U.K., did you meet a lot of people, fans or musicians telling you how much they enjoyed REPULSION?
Scott: “Yeah I think everywhere I went, whether it was, anywhere in the USA or Europe or anywhere I was definitely meeting people that were into REPULSION and to this day I still meet people who are into REPULSION.”
So once you left 'em, I guess you came back in the States, what have you done from that point until now?
Scott: “Well I hung around in Chicago for a couple of years and I played in sort of like a power Pop band that was along the lines of CHEAP TRICK, I enjoyed that quite a bit and in the last couple years I moved down here where Matt lives, we’re both in Los Angeles and Matt was already out here during the time that I was living in Chicago working in the television entertainment industry out here in L.A. and Matt got me a job working in the industry as well and now that’s what we’re both doing, working on sound for television shows.”
What can you tell us about the new band you're working with now as you have just recorded an album?
Scott: “The new band that I have is called THE SUPERBEES, we’ve just recorded an album, it’s kind of… I guess it’s not really up to me to describe but it’s a Hard Rock band with some sixties and seventies influences and… you know like THE STOOGES, MC5, HUMBLE PIE, ALICE COOPER type of stuff.”
Matt: “It’s not considered as Garage Rock?”
Scott: “No I wouldn’t say that we’re a Garage band necessarily but… anyway the album is coming out in February and I’ll make sure you’ll get a copy Laurent so you can check it out.”
NAPALM DEATH have covered last year on an EP, "Leaders Not Followers" the song 'Maggots In...' stating clearly how much of an influence REPULSION have been for NAPALM DEATH over the years, how do you feel about that?
Scott: “Well of course NAPALM DEATH has accomplished a lot during their career and influenced the underground music pretty heavily, not just in their own genre but in several other areas of underground music so we’re pretty honored that a band as influential as NAPALM DEATH has been inspired by REPULSION and ENTOMBED has spawn as THE HELLACOPTERS, and ENTOMBED is still a brilliant band without Nicke Andersson and now you have two brilliant bands that have both spawn from ENTOMBED, and they were heavily influenced by REPULSION as well and I’m proud of the entire legacy that we have left behind.”
Matt: “Nothing but pride for that whole thing for me too. Both of those bands, I would say their versions of our songs just blow ours away man especially 'Black Breath' from ENTOMBED man! Oh it’s so fuckin’ heavy!”
Besides NAPALM DEATH, ENTOMBED were the first band to cover one of your numbers with 'Black Breath' on one of their EPs when they were still playing Death Metal a long time ago but other than those two bands, I've never heard any other band covering your material or even thinking doing a tribute to REPULSION which is surprising...
Scott: “If I’m not mistaken the band MORTICIAN, I believe they’re from Yonkers, N.Y., they’ve done a couple, I think they did 'Horrified' on their record and 'Bodily Dismemberment' they also did. As far as REPULSION tribute album, it doesn’t surprise me that one does not exist because the band is pretty underground, there’s a lot of bands around today that are full of 17/18 year old kids who were not even born when we recorded that demo so I can’t really expect them to know who we are considering how obscure and underground the band was in the first place.”
Matt: “I’d love to hear one now (laughs).”
Scott: “You can do one Laurent, feel free to put out the album and send all the royalties directly to us (laughs).”
So you said that Relapse are going to issue in 2002 a DCD featuring the "Horrified" album, some live tracks from '86 and the GENOCIDE demos, can you give us more details about that? Do you think there's still enough interest in REPULSION nowadays considering that a majority of Death Metal fans nowadays are just too young to know what REPULSION were back then to justify this release?
Scott: “You’d have to ask Relapse Records why they re-release, you know I mean we asked them if they were interested, we went to them and they’re still interested so obviously they think they can sell it and they should know that they’re one of the top labels in extreme music today so if they think they can sell it, then I’m all for, for the older fans that are still into the music, it’s gonna be a chance to have a fairly clean copies of all the old rehearsal tracks, not all, the entire January ’86 “Stench Of…” demo will be included there, the full “Horrified” album, some rehearsal tracks, some tracks from that ’91 demo, the single will be on there, 'Black Nightmare', 'Crypt Of Terror' all that stuff…”
Matt: “It’s gonna be every demo that we did, a few rehearsal songs, a few live songs.”
Scott: “Every aspect of those old tape trading days will be represented with at least a couple of songs.”
Matt: “Completely with tape drop out…”
Scott: “Tape drop out, tape hiss, the click of tape recorders going on and off, dogs barking in the background, arguments…”
Matt: “We own a studio with a friend of mine, and he was like “Hey dude how can we master that? Notch out some of the noise and stuff?”, I’m like “Nah”, I want it to be just like these tapes that people had when they first threw it in, the low bias cassette tape over REPULSION rehearsals you know?!”
How do you feel being along with POSSESSED, MANTAS / DEATH, HELLHAMMER / CELTIC FROST, SLAYER, DEATH STRIKE and a few others the godfathers of Death Metal? How do you feel about the way this music has evolved also over the years as blast beats have become a common thing these days and most of the time people don't see the difference between a band like REPULSION, MORBID ANGEL or INSANITY who were playing fast all the way, and not just sudden bursts of speed (blast beats) and all those new acts who just - in my opinion - haven't understood what fast music really means?
Scott: “Well I don’t know, I mean if you consider us up there with the likes of POSSESSED and HELLHAMMER and SLAYER, I’m completely honored.”
Matt: “Man no kidding.”
Scott: “I can see us being in the realm of DEATH… I must say DEATH has probably a much broader influence on Death Metal than we did but…”
Matt: “We just kind of got a credit for creating this little splinter group of Thrash Metal called Grindcore. I don’t know about all of Death Metal, I mean our music since we played that blast beat throughout the whole thing I think turned a lot of guys who were just starting bands… it’s not the type of music you can play and stand in with long hair and look really cool because it’s so Thrash, and so crazy that it wasn’t really about having an image.”
Scott: “We’re happy that people still remember the band and for whatever reason, it’s just cool to know that something you did when you were that young has had an influence on other people you know?!"
Scott: “I know it’s not huge, it didn’t change the world but it’s just cool to know that somebody out there enjoyed it and remembers it.”
Matt: “I think that Scott and I have done a lot of stuff in our twenties, in our young lives or whatever, you know I went to college, completed college, did the service, now I'm working at a major motion picture studio, Scott does soundwork for a very very popular children’s television show, I think that out of all the things that we’ve done, REPULSION by far is I think the most special thing that we’ve ever done.”
Considering that REPULSION have always been an underground band, it would be stupid to ask you if you plan to reform the band but at least do you talk from time to time about doing a couple of shows just for the fun like to celebrate the upcoming Relapse re-release?
Scott: “Honestly I think that it would maybe be fun you know, we would probably have fun because Dave and Aaron are part of our history and always will be, you know the scene that we came from, a lot of people are just gonna be friends for life but as far as going up there and doing a show and playing with some other bands who are like out there today like taking what they’re doing really seriously, I just can’t imagine that it would come off that well you know?!”
Matt: “I don’t know, it would be great for the people that just want to see REPULSION get back together and make some noise, it would probably go pretty good!”
Scott: “I think I’d have to have throat surgery after singing about four songs at this point (laughs).”
What did you enjoy / hate the most in all the REPULSION history?
Scott: “Well the thing that we enjoyed obviously was the music, we had a blast making it and it’s a lot of great like memories of our youth for us and like we said before the influence that it had on other bands, we enjoyed that, I mean when somebody like Shane Embury or Barney Greenway or Nicke Andersson or Uffe Cederland from ENTOMBED tells me that how I was an influence on their music, and I can sit down and listen to that band’s music and say “This band is great at what they do” then of course that’s something to be proud of. And as far as what I hate about the whole REPULSION thing would probably the people who took what we said seriously, you know just people that I’ve met that seemed like they were way into Death Metal for the wrong reasons… like it was always kind of a release for us, like a joke and I’ve met people who are sort of obsessed and slightly demented who have found their way into the Death Metal scene, not that a majority of the people, I know a majority of the people are not like that but there’s always a few weirdos that you ended up meeting and you’re bummed out that this person likes your band you know?!”
Matt: “(laughs) Yeah it’s kind of a touchy area because you know this kind of extreme music is for anybody who also enjoy it obviously there’s no rules on any of this kind of stuff, that’s what we were about, that’s what we will hopefully always stand for you know but that was also one of the things that I really hated about it and one of the things that made me ever thinking about a career full time and for a long period of time. If there was one reservation I had, it was the fact that people were constantly taking us the wrong way, again we grew up around Punk music, we played for Punk Rockers, real fun loving people you know and we had a lot of fun doing it and it never once crossed our mind that we were four demons from hell here to spread the evil word on earth or something (laughs), I don’t say people out there are doing that but there are some Death Metal bands out there that take it very very seriously and there’s some Death Metal fans that take it a little too seriously too and to me that took the fun right out of it, it’s like if somebody pull on the carpet out on your feet cos we’re about having some fun. What I personally loved about it, is the fact like everyday that we practiced and wrote a new song, we were really touching on an area that nobody had ever gone onto in Rock’n’Roll before even if I know there was some bands at the same time doing some similar things but there was only a few, literally a few handful of people in the whole world that were doing music like that and that was so exciting and such a rush and something I’ll never never ever forget.”
Do you still follow what's going on in the Metal scene? What do you miss - if you miss something - from the old days?
Scott: “I think what I miss from the old days is being younger and skinny (laughs). I mean I don’t miss anything because I think my life is just as fullfilled today as it was back then but definitely… that was a fun time and I will always have those memories of back then so I just keep looking forward and as far as following today’s Metal scene, I can honestly say, no I’m clueless as to what’s going on in the Metal scene today, I still listen to Metal but when I do it’s usually JUDAS PRIEST, or like the first IRON MAIDEN record or something like U.F.O. I don’t listen to any new Metal at all and like new American Metal like all these rap hardcore bands, I don’t like any of them so… from what I’ve heard you know there’s maybe one that I haven’t heard but from what I’ve heard Metal today isn’t very good but I’m sure there are some bands out there that I don’t know about cos nobody knows everything about music.”
Matt: “It’s probably one of those classic situations where we just kind of outgrew… we live through a really really potent time of Heavy Metal music and now that it sort of tapered off and become mainstream, then we couldn’t possibly look at the same way that the young kids are looking at it today;”
Scott: “It’s true that when we were doing extreme extreme Metal it was so underground that you couldn’t even find it on underground record stores and today I can go into Tower Records and find CDs by the most Satanic Black Metal, heavy, over the top Metal bands ever, everybody has a record deal now you know?! So it takes some of the fun out of it just to know you can go down to a local record store and find this stuff, you don’t have to dig beneath the surface very far to find extreme music these days, in fact you can consider some of the stuff that gets played on top forty radio today to be a spawn of extreme, the extreme Metal scene.”
Matt: “Yeah you know in fact it makes me wonder, and I’m gonna go ahead for your benefit to wonder what would the next step be in extreme music other than just making some fuckin’ noise, I mean after REPULSION, NAPALM, LARM and MORBID ANGEL, what could anyone possibly do to make it heavier and faster and more aggressive, I don’t know but hopefully someone out there, some kids out there got something new and fresh on their mind…”
Scott: “Laurent, let me know when the next HELLHAMMER comes out. When you hear the next band that is as amazing as HELLHAMMER let me know (laughs).”
Can you name your ten fave releases ever and the five best shows you ever witnessed?
Scott: “I don’t think I could do that, I’ve been a music junkie since I was in grade school, and I’ve seen a million bands and I’ve bought a billion records and I just love music so much that’s there’s no way I can name, I can pinpoint that few releases you know?! I don’t think I could.”
Matt: “Same here, not to mention the way I like music and the way most music lovers like music cos it changes, one year you’re really into this artist or whatever and you think that’s absolutely the number one but then after a while you get this perspective that there’s so much great music out there that there’s no point in thinking “This is my favorite album ever” you know?!”
Scott: “Sorry to short change you on this Laurent but I just honestly can’t think of anything off the top of my head that I think is the best ever but I can say that I think that music and Rock music in general, all of its different forms is definitely the greatest music that youth has ever created or had and we always will have Rock’n’Roll cos there’s always gonna be young people that are pissed off and confused and questioning the authority.”
As an old Metal fan, how do you feel about the passing of two influential Metal musicians such as Chuck and Paul?
Scott: “I think it's sad to see any person die young. It just hurts more when it's someone you care for or admire a great deal. Chuck was a 100 % original who left us all with a lot of great music and I think young musicians can get inspiration from the fact that Chuck always stayed true to himself and his music. He always released exactly the music he meant. As for Paul Baloff, I didn't know him but I was heavily influenced by the "Bonded By Blood" LP and I was shocked when Matt told me last week about his passing.”
Anything to add if I forgot something to cover in your 17 year history?
Matt: “Phew you questioned on everything (laughs)!”
Scott: “Dude the way you lay out these questions, you didn’t need to interview us, you pretty much told the entire story minus the address we’re living at and what size shoes we were wearing at the time you know?! So you’ve definitely done your homework man.”
Matt: “I’m wondering if you got a list of my ex girlfriends…”
Scott: “And if you do, can I have their numbers? (laughs) So thanks a lot Laurent, you definitely know your shit about REPULSION more than anybody else that I’ve ever came across so…”
Matt: “Yeah dude we really appreciate this… this is like the first interview and one of the very very few interviews that we’ve ever done just because we never really thought excited about it but your questions were so good.”
This interview also appears in the print version of SNAKEPIT MAGAZINE # 11. For ordering details check out: www.truemetal.org/Snakepit
(with some transcription done by Matt Coe)
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