A lot of people are quick to name bands like S.O.D. , D.R.I., AGNOSTIC FRONT as grandfathers of the whole Crossover movement but shame on them because there was tons of other bands which helped to define that new style, such as NYC MAYHEM, CRO MAGS, NEOS, NEGATIVE APPROACH, SUDDEN IMPACT and of course the mighty CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER. This California based four piece managed to issue a killer demo and four albums in their relatively short career, the earliest being, as far as I’m concerned, the most impressive as they delivered a mixture of high speed Deathcore material with a Punk approach. Now that Relapse have just re-released their two first albums in a totally brilliant way and knowing that the band was reformed, I contacted guitarist Les Evans to conduct an interview that covers the band’s career in depth – something which never really happened before considering how short Les’ answers were in the past. Enjoy and pick up "Convicted" right away!
Do you remember exactly how the band was formed late ’84 in the first place? How did you hook up with Bill (Crooks) and Scott (Peterson) back then?
"I used to teach guitar lessons to a kid named Adam who I knew through soccer. Our fathers were both commissioners in the local youth soccer league. Adam played on the same soccer team as Scott (Scott’s Dad was the coach). So at first, it was just the three of us during the summer of ’84 playing SLAYER, MOTÖRHEAD, VENOM, and GBH covers. We didn’t meet Bill until school started later that fall. And once again, it was because Adam and Bill were both on the high school soccer team. Adam brought Bill to one of our rehearsals because we needed a bassist / vocalist and that’s how it started. At the time, I’d say we were better soccer players than musicians! We parted ways with Adam because his parents really didn’t want him playing in a band, but he was the one who really got everybody together. It was too bad because he was a good kid and we had a lot of fun with him."
Was CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER your first band experience for the three of you? If not give us details about your previous acts and Scott / Bill ones?
"The other guys were only 14 and 15 years old, so this was their first band. I had played with a couple of bands early on in that did mostly covers (Hendrix, CREAM, BEATLES, STONES, ZEPPELIN, SABBATH). We played some frat parties and once at our junior high school. You know, the big time!"
The first recording was released in a relatively short time as it only took five months for you to come up with that legendary five tracker "Life In Grave"
""Life In Grave" was recorded in May ’85. When Bill joined up in late ’84, we were expanding our list of covers to include bands like RKL, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, and DRI. Shortly after, we started to concentrate mainly on originals."
As you maybe remember, CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER got right away labelled as a Death Metal band or a Deathcore act back in ’85, how did you feel about that considering that it seems you didn’t really want to have much to do with the image Metal portrays as a whole especially through the lyrics?
"When we recorded the demo we were still more of a Metal band, but the Punk influence was already there in a big way. What appealed to me at the time about Punk was that it seemed more concerned with music than image and was much less pretentious than Metal. The Crossover movement really resulted from the fact that a lot of people, us included, loved both forms of music and were trying to blend them together to create something new. The best of both worlds."
But wasn’t it a bit contradictory because your demo was titled "Life In Grave", there was early titles like ‘Rest In Pain’ etc etc?
"I don’t think you can judge a song by its title. If you read the lyrics to ‘Rest In Pain’, it’s about the horrors of war which I don’t think is an exclusively Death Metal topic. Another demo track, ‘War To The Knife’, was written after I had learned from my uncle what he had gone through when he served in Vietnam."
The band had included quite a few covers in their set notably during rehearsals, mainly from VENOM, SLAYER from what I remember, but live those weren’t included that much…
"Like most bands, we got tired of playing the same covers over and over so we moved on through lots of them. We almost always played one or two cover songs in our set throughout our history, but especially in the early days because we didn’t have that many originals!"
Shortly after that demo was recorded you weren’t satisfied with it and a bit reluctant to promote the band with it to the labels, shortly after you approached Metal Blade with this effort to receive not only a contract for a compilation track but also an album deal, quite surprising considering that Brian Slagel always released his Metal Massacre compilations to check out the response to the featured bands before taking a chance with them, how would you like to comment that?
"In September ’85, we played our biggest show to date with DRI, DESCENDENTS and EXCEL (9/13/85 in Sun Valley at the Sportmen Hall – Laurent). The next morning, I had a package in the mail from Brian Slagel’s lawyer that included contracts for Metal Massacre and a full length LP. To be honest, the details surrounding our signing to Metal Blade are hazy. I think I mailed them a demo but they get a million demos that go into a big pile that no one ever listens to. Scott remembers Katon (W De Pena) from HIRAX getting involved and giving the demo to Brian directly and that’s probably what happened. Katon carried a lot of influence in the scene and he was always a great friend to us."
Your first vinyl appearance came in the shape of the track ‘Reich Of Torture’ appearing on Metal Massacre 7, did you have to go in a studio to record that particular number?
"Well we re-recorded it for "Convicted" and I like the second version a lot better than the Metal Massacre track. When we recorded the first version, we didn’t know anything about studio production and the engineer we were working with didn’t know us and had never heard that type of music before."
By late ’85 you recruited a bass player, Rob Nicholson, so Bill only concentrated on singing from that point, what motivated that choice? I mean was it hard at times for Bill to play bass and sing or was it like to allow him more room in a live situation?
"We knew that it would be easier for Bill to concentrate on singing alone. Plus it’s better for live performances to have your front man free to go nuts. Bill was a competent bass player, but he was really just doing it to fill the void. The only reason we didn’t get a bass player sooner is that we didn’t know anyone. As we all know, Rob added a whole new dimension to our sound and I don’t think we would have gotten where we did without him."
When the band signed its deal with Metal Blade in ’85, you were all young, even very young with Rob being only 15 at the time, would you admit somehow that you were maybe too young and not enough experienced at the time for that deal and the legal side of it somehow?
"Of course we were too young! We had no fucking idea what we were doing! Bill’s dad was a lawyer, but he wasn’t an entertainment lawyer. Whenever you sign a record contract with anyone you’re going to get fucked, that’s rule #1. Rule #2 is there’s nothing you can do about rule #1!"
"Convicted" was released mid ’86 and you were totally pleased by that first album as you always said that this one killed the demo, but somehow even if I think the album was (is) great on its own, it did lack that raw / crude delivery that the demo tracks had, what’s your views on that?
"It all comes down to personal taste. I listen to "Convicted" now and there are so many things I would have done differently. Same goes for all of our records. But I still think it sounds better than the demo, especially the drums. I honestly don’t know how "Convicted" could have been any more raw or crude, Laurent! To me that entire record sounds like an open wound."
Why didn’t you use most of the tunes from the demo on "Convicted" by the way? I mean ‘Necessity Supreme’ for example remains one of the best CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER tracks ever with some totally crushing / ripping stamped riffing all over it…
"I think we were trying to move on at that point. ‘Necessity’ was one of the first songs I ever wrote and we didn’t think it was right for the direction we were going on "Convicted"."
So by late ’84 / ’85 the L.A. scene was definitively growing, I mean at first there was mainly not what I call real heavy acts such as MÖTLEY CRÜE, WASP… but still there was ARMORED SAINT, SLAYER, CIRITH UNGOL who were all making a name for themselves at that point, so first did you care for what was going on in the "traditional " Metal scene?
"I came of age as a Metalhead so I was going to see bands like MÖTLEY CRÜE, WASP and ARMORED SAINT in Hollywood when they were still local bands in 1981 and ’82. In fact, the first time I ever saw SLAYER, they were closing the show for WASP at the Troubadour (back then, the headliners played second on the bill of three bands). This is when SLAYER still had all of their make up, spikes and inverted crosses in 1983. As a result, I saw every SLAYER show in L.A. for the next two years and most of the time they were playing to empty houses or having to open for sissies like LIZZIE BOREDOM (LIZZY BORDEN for those who haven’t understood hehe – Laurent). SLAYER changed my whole perception of what Metal could be and their intensity was my main influence early on."
Then as I said the scene grew up with bands like FCDN TORMENTOR, BLOODCUM, RESISTANT MILITIA, DARK ANGEL (SHELLSHOCK), SANCTUM, DECAPITATOR, NECRONOMICON, HIRAX (L.A. CHAOS) etc etc and there was a few places to play like the Balboa Theatre, Radio City, how did you feel about seeing that scene developing and starting to get interest from worldwide tape traders?
"DARK ANGEL and HIRAX were there from the beginning but TORMENTOR and BLOODCUM came much later (well it is certain that they were around by 1985 – Laurent). My involvement in the tape trading scene came about one month after we recorded the demo. The day I graduated high school in 1985, I got a phone call from some guy in Florida who I didn’t know who was telling me how much he loved "Life In Grave". First of all, I couldn’t believe he had a copy of the demo all the way across the country. Turns out the guy on the other end of the phone was the legendary Chuck Schuldiner of DEATH. But at the time I hadn’t even heard of them and I didn’t know how extensive tape trading had become. Chuck helped introduce me to this huge scene that really got us some notice in the underground. Back then, there weren’t that many bands and because the scene was so small, we really stuck together and helped each other out. That same summer, a group of us formed a nation-wide network called the Phone Pirates. Bill Ford (DECAPITATION) was able to make free conference calls using a computer and stolen calling card numbers. So at one time, we would have 8-10 people on the line all talking about their bands and what was going on in their local scene. We would talk all day everyday for the whole summer. We all met so many people that way by networking and it was so exciting to have this connection with everyone. We just kept getting a hold of phone numbers and calling people we didn’t even know just to let them know we liked their bands. Imagine getting a phone call and asking who it is, and our answer would be; Katon from HIRAX, Les from CRYPTIC, Dan (Clements) from EXCEL, Chuck from DEATH, Spike (Cassidy) from DRI, Andy (Anderson) from ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT and many more. And the next day, they’d be doing it with us!"
Did you understand right from the start how important it was to get the band name spread around and to have rehearsals, live tapes recorded and traded all over the place?
"It didn’t take us long to figure out how important the tape traders were. That was really what sustained and nurtured the underground scene in the beginning. There was no internet and only a few record labels interested in what we were doing. It was the hardcore fans that really made it all possible."
I have mentioned DECAPITATOR and NECRONOMICON before, those acts did break up and as a result DECAPITATION was formed and released a demo mid ‘85, considering that this outfit (and even the two previous ones) remains mysterious, what can you tell us about that act if you remember something about them (all I know is that Bill Ford was involved into that act and later formed NECROPOLIS)?
"We played our first real show with DECAPITATION (well it was DECAPITATOR in fact at that show – WARGOD being also on the bill – Laurent) and NECRONOMICON at Radio City in July ’85. Bill Ford was a good friend and a really nice guy. Without him, the Phone Pirates would never have existed. But I don’t really know much about the bands he was in."
Was it a good thing to be on Metal Blade’s sister label, Death Records (who had also UGLY AMERICANS, D.R.I. etc. on its roster) for this first album?
"It was good for us because Metal Blade had a lot of prestige and it helped to be on a well known label. But they never had much respect for us as a band and never really promoted us like they should have."
Seems like you were close to D.R.I. even if they were based in S.F. at that point as I think Bill did one show with them back in ’85 or ’86 since Kurt Brecht wasn’t around or something, do you remember that? Also EXCEL seemed to be a very close band to CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER right as you often played with ’em during those early years?
"We played lots of shows with EXCEL and their singer Dan was my best friend back then. We helped each other out as much as possible and those guys were always one of my favorite local bands. We always got along great with D.R.I. too and their manager Ron Peterson always treated us really well. D.R.I. were musical heroes to us. They were the first band to play super fast. I do remember the show you’re talking about where Bill sang for D.R.I.. I never got the real story about what was going on with Kurt so he may just have needed some time off. Bill knew all of their songs so he did a good job as a temporary replacement. In fact, Spike called me the next night and asked if Bill would do a bunch of gigs with them so they wouldn’t have to cancel. But Bill turned them down probably because their touring schedule was really hectic."
Next effort was "Money Talks" which was released in ’87, another convincing album with some excellent songs for most of it, still at times there was some riffs which sounded "childish", very simple , how do you view this second effort compared to the first?
"AC/DC has always played simple riffs. Are they childish? How about GBH? Songwriting is about creating something memorable, something that sticks in your head. You can play the most complicated riffs ever but if you don’t walk away humming the tune to yourself you haven’t accomplished your goal. Look at Yngwie Malmsteen. He may have been the best guitar player ever but he couldn’t write a song to save his life. Most CRYPTIC fans call "Money Talks" their favorite album and I definitely think it’s better than "Convicted"."
How went that short tour from June / July ’87 with WEHRMACHT where you covered most of the west coast?
"We got along with WEHRMACHT better than anyone and had a great time on that tour. Both bands were crammed into the back of small truck with all of our equipment and we loved it. Every show on that tour was packed and two of the shows were with THE ACCUSED. It was great for us to get out of L.A. and play to people who had never seen us before."
During ’87 you also played a bunch of local shows with newcomers, mainly crossover acts such as CYCOTIC YOUTH, USELESS DEGENERATES or total Death like TERRORIZER etc etc… were you familiar with those acts and how do you view ’em comparing to the early ones such as FINAL CONFLICT etc…?
"By that point we were headlining and we always tried to help out younger bands. Some were good, some weren’t but everybody sucks at first so you just have to keep playing. Jason, the drummer for USELESS DEGENERATES was also our only real roadie and is still one of my best friends today."
I remember that you certainly played in my opinion your two biggest shows as CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER at Fenders on September 6th, 1986 with ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT, DR KNOW, DISCHARGE and on April 11th, 1987 with EVIL DEAD, POSSESSED and DARK ANGEL, am I right and if so what do you remember from those shows?
"Both of those shows were packed with about 1200 people and thankfully everyone was there early to see us. Definitely completely over the top energy and craziness from those crowds. I remember that we sold about 120 shirts at each of those shows. After we played, I was the one who always sold the CRYPTIC merchandise."
Talking about Fenders, can you tell us why all those places that gave a chance to underground bands to play like Radio City, Balboa Theatre, Fenders all closed down at the end?
"The club owner gets tired of it and either wants to sell the property or wants to try a different kind of music. There were never really many places for us to play in L.A. Radio City was around for a while early on. Fenders was where Goldenvoice (the big local promoter) started booking shows exclusively and for a while that was the only game in town. Then Ron Peterson (D.R.I. / HIRAX / HOLY TERROR / NASTY SAVAGE manager) and Mike Muir (SUICIDAL TENDENCIES singer) formed a partnership and started to book shows at the Balboa, which was in total gang territory in a really bad part of L.A. Our friend Pat Vergara started doing shows at the Hoover Hall which was also in gangland. There were bloods all over that neighbourhood, and in come a bunch of freaky looking white boys into THEIR hood. We’re lucky nobody got shot. But we didn’t have a choice, so we basically took any gigs we could get. "
"Stream Of Consciousness" was issued in ’88 and despite the fact that it at times was described as your more matured work (out of the first three albums), alot of fans weren’t convinced by it as it didn’t sound as catchy and furious as the previous efforts, how do you feel about this nowadays?
"I think that "Stream" has our best songs on it, although I really dislike the production. And you’re right, many fans didn’t like it because we had made quite a change from the earlier sound. Mainly we slowed down quite a bit and didn’t have as many fast parts. The truth is, you have to please yourself with your music first. On every song I’ve ever written, I’ve never once asked myself "Will the kids like this?" If I like it, and the other guys in the band like it, that’s what matters. After that, if other people enjoy it, well that’s terrific. But you can’t compromise your ideals because you’re afraid you might upset someone. That’s not what art is about. And what’s funny now is that all lot of people that have contacted me recently say that "Stream" is their favorite."
Even if it’s maybe hard for you to admit, would you agree if I say that CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER was another victim of that progression thing like many other bands (KREATOR, DESTRUCTION…) who started playing one style and after a few albums changed their style to the point that the fans couldn’t recognize anymore the original outfit?
"Musical integrity means not letting anyone dictate to you what you should sound like. Every band has to progress. Playing the same thing over and over gets boring for all musicians. If you don’t grow, you stagnate. And if you’re making music just to please a certain demographic so that they’ll be happy and buy your records, then you’re no better than Brittney Spears or NSYNC."
The band went on a U.S. tour in May ’88 for the first time, as you hit Texas and even the Midwest so first of all, how did you feel to be finally able to get out of the West coast? What were the touring conditions for you guys at the time? Guess it was certainly a bit rude…
"We toured with labelmates ANGKOR WAT and had a really good time (until the end). It wasn’t really rough at all because we rented a big cargo van and made enough money to stay in hotels wherever we played."
It appeared that conflicts happened between certain members during that tour which ended up at the end that the band did not complete the tour if I’m correct and breaking up, what happened exactly at that time? Would you say that tension was already in the air prior to this tour?
"The tension started long before the tour did. Like most bands we didn’t know how to properly communicate with each other so things kept getting worse and worse. The were also elements outside the band that helped to drive a wedge between us and we never really worked those things out. So when you go on tour, you’re together constantly and even stupid little things get magnified and blown out of proportion. We had some shows cancelled and Scott and Bill weren’t really happy being on the road and wanted to go home. I (and Rob too) wanted to stick it out and have fun. We were young and having an adventure and I thought they were acting like pussies. The whole point of being in a band is to play music and so what if a couple of gigs got cancelled. That happens to everyone. But after that argument, it was really over. We drove home for 24 hours straight and didn’t say a word to each other."
It didn’t take long before you and Rob started a new band, but what about the other ex members, Bill and Scott, what have they done after the split exactly? Were they still involved into music over the years?
"I didn’t speak to Scott or Bill for a long time after the break up, but they were both in bands after CRYPTIC. I had moved to Portland by May ‘89, so I wasn’t around to see what those guys were up to. Thankfully, we’re all friends again now and we keep in touch by email. Scott is still playing drums and just joined a new band. I think they’re called BLACK MONDAY."
Your new band was completed by Eli Nelson on second guitar and Eddie on drums (who was strangely found by your mother!), but besides that we never know how far that new outfit went and even if it really became something real, tell us more about that band (which wasn’t named at the time)….
"After we got back from the CRYPTIC tour, Rob and I started working on the music that we had begun writing before the band broke up. Eli was a good friend of Rob’s and they had a side project called DR. FISH, which was kind of like Frank Zappa meets RUSH. Eddie, by the way, was never really in the band. He didn’t jive with us. We never played any shows but we did record a pretty good demo. For lack of a better name, at the time we called ourselves BEER."
Was it envisaged right away between the two of you (Rob and you) to form something different radically from CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER with that new outfit musically and stuff since it seemed that you wanted to be back to your roots (AEROSMITH and stuff)?
"We got along well together musically and started writing material that was kind of like early AEROSMITH meets the ROLLINS BAND. This is just naturally what we grew into and we were playing music that excited us."
But surprisingly enough I thought your influences were more rooted in the early ’80s with acts some as GBH, SLAYER, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, VENOM, METALLICA and the likes?
"Before we’d ever heard VENOM or SLAYER, we were listening to ZEPPELIN, KISS, SABBATH and THE DOORS."
At the same time that you were breaking up, a whole new movement was starting in the U.K. with NAPALM DEATH, E.N.T. etc etc followed shortly after by some newer acts such as TERRORIZER, NAUSEA and the likes, an even more extreme mixture of Hardcore and Metal than what bands like NYC MAYHEM, CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER, ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT, D.R.I., NEOS, HIRAX and the likes had started, did you follow what was going on there which in fact got soon out of hand as billions of noisy acts popped up from everywhere which as a result ruined the whole thing again?
"I already knew about NAPALM DEATH because they popped up around 1987, but I had no idea about the new crop of Speedcore bands. At the time, I was listening to JANE’S ADDICTION, FAITH NO MORE, FISHBONE, MR BUNGLE, THE CHILI PEPPERS, VOI VOD and SOUND GARDEN."
So while nothing was heard from your new attempt during ’89, strangely enough a new CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER album was issued mid ’90 with a brand new line up featuring Dave Hollingsworth (vocals), Bret Davis (bass) and Brian Lehfeldt (WEHRMACHT / SWEATY NIPPLES) (drums), so how did all that stuff come together exactly? How did you hook up with those guys?
"Brian, of course, was already one of my best friends from the time we had spent with WEHRMACHT. Dave and Bret were from a great Portland band called CRUD, who we met through WEHRMACHT."
Was Brian still involved with WERHMACHT at that point or did he concentrate only on CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER?
"Oh yeah, Brian was still in WEHRMACHT at the time. In fact, he was drumming for WEHRMACHT and CRYPTIC and singing for SWEATY NIPPLES. All three bands used to practice every day at the house we lived in. You can imagine how the neighbours loved that! One time all three bands played together on the same bill. It was a benefit show called Rock Against Racism."
Did you try to have some previous members involved in that second CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER incarnation or was it out of question for you? By the way how did the previous band that you had formed with Rob end up?
"Rob got really involved with the Hollywood Rock scene and joined a band called YESTERDAY’S TEAR. So the project with he, I, and Eli basically fell apart. And Rob and I were also living together at the time. Now in early ‘88, CRYPTIC as a band was going to move up to Portland and all live in the same house together. So after our new band called it quits, I went through with the original plan and moved to Portland by myself. I knew I had a lot of friends there that shared my musical vision. At that point, I had no desire to work with any of the guys from the original line-up. Although in Sept ‘90, Rob came up to Portland for a visit and joined CRYPTIC on stage for ‘Freedom Of Expression’, which was really cool."
Somehow surprisingly, this new album was again issued by Metal Blade, was it because you still owned them one album or simply because you thought they had done a good job with the previous albums despite the lacks of adverts and tour support?
"Right before we recorded "Stream", we signed another contract with Metal Blade for five more records so they owned me at that point. They never did anything to promote us, but we were happy with the advance we got for "Speak Your Peace"."
Honestly, being a CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER fan from the early days, I never enjoyed that newer album as it was totally different from what CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER was known for, the catchy riffs were gone and as a whole it sounded different, was it a good choice to issue that album as CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER looking back?
"I regret that we called that band CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER because you’re right, it really was a whole different band with a completely different sound. But you have to realize that up until that point, my entire identity revolved around being in CRYPTIC. It was who I was for a long time. So, you live and learn. But I don’t regret the music we made and I still love that record. Luckily, some of our old audience stuck by us and we made some new fans as well."
So strangely enough this album gave you the opportunity to tour Europe in September ’90 for the first time, how did that tour did go as a whole?
"It was great. On average we played to 100-200 people, with the occasional show pulling 300-400. And of course, we also had those nights where only 20 people showed up, but that’s how it goes. We had a blast and met a lot of great people. I couldn’t drink American beer anymore after I got home. Plus we just couldn’t get over the coffee shops in Holland. We must have set a new record for smoking pot."
So what happened after that tour exactly? Did the band go on for some time after that or…? What were the reasons to break up?
"We never really broke up. It’s just that Brian and I were in another Portland band called SWEATY NIPPLES who were getting really big at the time. We could sell out 1200 seats easily and at one point, we held the attendance record for four different local venues (also the alcohol consumption record). The bars actually used to sell out of beer when we played. So that really took up most of our time and we didn’t have any left over for CRYPTIC."
Did you quit music as a whole during those past 11 years or so?
"Yeah, I did quit playing music after I parted ways with SWEATY. However I still remained close to it. All of my friends are musicians, so I ended up working as a guitar tech for a while and always stayed involved."
So last year it was announced that you had decided to reform CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER with Bill Crooks on vocals, Brian on drums and Rob, if I’m correct, on bass, how did that happen? I mean it was one of the most unexpected things that could happen considering that CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER was really a small underground band? Tell us exactly how all it came together…
"We may have been an underground band, but each one of our records sold over 20,000 copies and not a lot of underground bands can say that. But the truth is, we re-united for fun and music. Not because we want to rule the world. The idea came together after Relapse contacted us."
Then it was announced that Relapse Records were preparing to reissue some of your albums which would include some extra stuff just like they recently did with REPULSION, how did all that come together?
"Relapse had been trying to get in touch with me for three years and finally got my email address from Katon (HIRAX). They are just huge fans of ours and presented us with the idea. Everyone there has been great. We never contacted anyone about these records. It was easy to get the rights because our contracts with Metal Blade have expired and the rights reverted back over to us!"
You’re also working on new material that you will be shopping to labels with a new singer since Bill couldn’t join CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER anymore, what can we expect from CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER after all those years? Are you gonna try to retain that unique ’80s songwriting or are you willing to take the risk to incorporate new actual elements in the music with the risk to turn old fans off?
"It’s going to be fast, angry, and aggressive but we aren’t going to try to sound like anyone else, including early CRYPTIC. You can’t repeat the past so there’s no point trying. We are going to try to recapture that early energy, because for me, energy and chemistry are the most important elements in writing music. But like I said, if we please ourselves with our music, I’ll be happy."
How far do you want to take this reformation considering that you’re older now, that you have a busy job, family and stuff? I mean do you take this more like a fun thing now or do you take it as a new chance to establish CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER on that overcrowded scene?
"It’s for the love of music and creating, but I still think we can have a unique voice in the way overcrowded scene today."
This announcement via internet gave me the opportunity to renew the contact with you, was it a chance for you to be back in touch with people you knew back then? How do you see the internet tool by the way for music in general?
"To quote Marilyn Manson, "The internet is the trailor park of the soul". Most of it is a complete waste of time, but the communication aspect is the most compelling. The fact you and I hadn’t been in touch in well over 10 years and now we can write each other whenever we want is amazing. The world has become a much smaller place now. It’s great for music too, but there are so many bands now that you could never listen to it all in 10 lifetimes!"
Have you found out what were the sales numbers for those four albums on Metal Blade during the years? Guess "Money Talks" was the biggest seller right?
"Well I haven’t gotten any sales figures from Metal Blade since 1990, but back then "Money Talks" had sold about 35,000, "Convicted" had sold over 25,000, and both "Stream" and "Speak" had sold over 20,000."
Are you still in touch with some of your close friends from that old time like Katon W De Pena, Dan Clements… or even people like John Fetters, Vadim Rubin…?
"I’ve been living in Seattle and Portland since 1989 so I haven’t really been in touch with any of the L.A. people since the 80’s. Katon started writing me a couple of years ago. I saw and hung out with FINAL CONFLICT when they played in Portland in 1993. I hung out with Mitch Harris (NAPALM DEATH / RIGHTEOUS PIGS) in 1995 and I gave him a big fat joint. And I still consider Brian to be my best friend. He and I have been through a lot together. And I couldn’t be happier that all of the original CRYPTIC members are friends again."
How do you feel about the comeback of some ’80s influential bands, some being potent and impressive like HIRAX, EXODUS (‘97 only)…. some aren’t like ABATTOIR, DARK ANGEL etc….?
"I think it’s great that everyone is playing again. More power to them all. And a lot of the younger bands are great too, showing us old-timers a lot of respect. I want it to be like the old days, everyone helps out everyone else."
Okay Les, guess we covered the whole story, if not it’s your turn to add whatever you want here to close up that first in depth CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER feature ever….
"What more could I possibly have to say Laurent? It took me over six fucking hours to do this interview! OK, thanks again for all the great emails I’ve gotten and all the support. Visit the website at www.CrypticSlaughter.com to re-live the old days and go to www.Relapse.com if you want to buy the re-issues. For our e-mail list, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org "