In the late 80s / early 90s San Francisco, California based Thrashers EPIDEMIC recorded and released a bunch of incredible demos and albums (most noteworthy are without a doubt the two demos "Demo ’89" and "Extremities", as well as the "Decameron" debut full length), supported by countless high energy shows in the US. It was pretty obvious that they lived the Thrash Metal lifestyle to the max and always delivered their music exactly the way it was meant to be: totally aggressive, full of killer riffs, a pounding rhythm section and really pissed off sounding vocals. Even though they had been signed to Metal Blade Records, the band unfortunately never made it to Europe and split up in 1994 already. So, all European fans sadly never got the opportunity to experience this amazing five piece on stage, where they definitely belonged. This is probably part of the reason why EPIDEMIC never got the same attention overhere as fellow Thrashers SLAYER, EXODUS, VIO-LENCE or SADUS, all bands that they musically have been pretty close to in one way or another. Since there’s not much coverage to be found about EPIDEMIC’s rather shortlived history, we contacted former members Erik Moggridge (guitars) and Mark Bodine (bass) for the following in-depth interview, which hopefully will put their music a little bit back into the spotlight again…
Hey Erik, hey Mark – hope you’re doing fine these days and you have enough time for an in-depth talk about your musical past with California’s Thrash masters EPIDEMIC?
Erik: "Hi Frank, thanks for the interest and glad to be reminiscing…"
In early 1987 you joined forces with Guy Higbey (guitars) and Ted Kamp (drums) to participate in a talent show at your high school… So, was that event basically to blame for the band’s origin? How long had you been playing your instruments at the time and have you all been friends already previously?
Mark: "Yes, that is how it all started." Erik: "I had been playing about 5 years but was not very good. It was forming the early band, that would eventually become EPIDEMIC, that started to get me to improve. The other guys had been playing a while I think. Guy Higbey originally played violin as a kid and was a lot better of a guitarist than me at that point."
Mark: "I knew Ted Kamp for several years, and knew Guy a little from a class that we had together, and Guy knew Erik. I had seen Erik around in school, but I had never spoken to him. I think Guy and I came up with the idea to play the talent show and mentioned that we bring in Erik as a second guitar player, and Ted to play drums. Please keep in mind that this is 30+ years ago, and my memory might not be as sharp as it once was."
According to Metal Archives some of you guys were already active from 1986 to 1987 in a band called DEATH… is that true? If so, how come you chose that name, considering that Chuck Schuldiner’s band was already an established name in the underground at that time…
Erik: "The line-up you mentioned was the very first line-up, starting in late 86 I think. At that time it was not a real band yet, we were just high school kids messing around. There was an annual school talent show show you mentioned where lots of kids did different artistic things that started off with live music. We used the name DEATH simply for that. At the time we had no further plans to continue after that. We were also unaware of Chuck Schuldiner’s iconic Death Metal band at the time. It was not until ’88 or ’89 when I bought a copy of "Leprosy" that I discovered DEATH at which point I instantly became a fan."
If my information is correct you performed METALLICA’s ‘Creeping Death’ and an original song entitled ‘No Man’s Land’ that you had written yourself… Who was in charge of the vocals at the time or was it an instrumental set that you played? What kind of reactions did you get and did you already use the name EPIDEMIC at that time?
Erik: "That is correct, ‘No Man’s Land’ was the very first song I ever wrote, but Guy did the vocals for both that and ‘Creeping Death’. It was just that aforementioned talent show where we temporarily called ourselves DEATH. The reaction was perhaps what you might expect from a high school audience – not expecting a Metal band and realizing we were pretty terrible haha."
Mark: "We opened our performance with ‘The March Of The SOD” and into ‘Creeping Death’ and ended with ‘No Man’s Land’, a song which Erik wrote. From what I remember the audience was not very impressed with our performance. The crowd was mostly family members of our classmates and probably didn’t share the same love of Metal as we did. This was the only time that we used the name DEATH, and Guy did all the singing."
The band’s name is based on the SLAYER song of the same name, so was SLAYER your number one fave band at the time? Did you have any other names in mind for the band as well?
Erik: "Yeah, I think SLAYER was the one band we all loved and yes their song on “Reign In Blood” inspired our band name. No other names were really considered as far as I remember."
Mark: "Erik and Guy came up with the name EPIDEMIC while listening to SLAYER’s “Reign In Blood”, probably over and over like we all did back then. I don’t remember if I ever heard any alternatives to the name, I think we were all just happy to have come up with something, and yes SLAYER ruled us all back then. I just saw them last week on their final tour, and they are still one of my favorites."
Ted was replaced shortly after by Geoff Bruce on drums and Carl Fulli completed your line-up on vocals… How did you get together with them and what happened to Ted?
Erik: "Don’t really remember why Ted quit, but Geoff was a friend of Marks and we got along and he seemed to be into our direction and listened to some of the same stuff. We had met Carl at parties, I remember talking about bands with him. I think it was Mark who suggested we ask him to do vocals. If I remember correctly we asked him and kinda convinced him to give it a try as opposed to it being his idea. So in a sense we got lucky cause he has a great voice and a love of music."
Mark: "Ted Kamp was our drummer for the high school competition only; we were not an official band yet. We were not an official band until Geoff and Carl came on board. In fact, I was with Ted when I met Geoff at a party in a cemetery. We met Carl at a party in a nearby city. He had a denim jacket with some KREATOR patches on it, so we had to talk to him. He got up and sang a song with a band that was playing. We invited him over to check our songs, and I think he came over the next day."
In September 1987 you participated in a "Battle Of The Bands" contest, which you even won… tell us a bit about that…
Erik: "That was our very first show, it was great fun. I was still in high school and we were all very young so it was a thrill to play a proper gig…"
Mark: "I don’t remember much from that “Battle Of The Bands” except that I was nervous, and that we won. I don’t even remember how many band even participated in it."
The price of that contest was an opening slot for DEATH ANGEL in the following month, so were you already ready for such an important show? I mean, how much live experience and how many original songs did you have at the time or did your set mainly consist of cover songs?
Erik: "…and yes we won the battle of the bands and one of the prizes was the DEATH ANGEL gig which was our second-ever show. We had all originals for both these shows but very few ever got recorded, they were soon thrown out in favor of newer songs. We were still very amatuerish but starting to take steps towards being a real band. We were also totally thrilled to open for DEATH ANGEL so perhaps our enthusiasm was somewhat contagious so we went over well."
Mark: "We were probably as ready as we were ever going to be. We must have had only a hand full of songs, and only a couple of live performances to speak of."
In December 1987 you recorded your debut demo, "Immortal Minority"… was that the first time for all of you to do a proper studio recording? What kind of memories do you have on writing and recording that material?
Erik: "Yes that was our first experience in a studio which was really interesting for me. I remember it going fairly smoothly, quickly and being fun. We were writing lots of songs and those were just the latest ones and our favorites."
Mark: "That was the first time being in a recording studio. Everything we had recorded in the past was with Guy’s 4 track recorder. Probably the best memory I have from recording the “Immortal Minority” demo was when Guy and Erik were recording their solos. It seemed like it took days for them to be happy with their tracks, they did them over and over again, and to me it was like torture. I learned never to be present while they recorded their solo tracks again."
The "Immortal Minority" front-cover was re-used two years later for the "Demo ’89", partly also for the "The Truth Of What Will Be" CD release and a couple of years ago once again for the "Pandemic – The Demo Anthology" compilation CD… what was the reason for that and is there any story connected to that picture?
Erik: "We all liked the image and wanted to use it again for “Demo 89” since that was our first proper demo and we only made a limited pressing of “Immortal Minority”. It then carried over to the other releases as they were just re-issues of “Demo 89” although with the other demos on “Pandemic”."
Mark: "The image is one of the illustrations found in “Dante’s Inferno”. I think Carl found it, and we all liked it, so we started using it. It doesn’t have any deep connection to the band other than we used it on everything, demos, shirts, and stickers."
I suppose your musical influences came from Metal as well as Hardcore bands alike back then… Would you say it was pretty much 50/50 or have you listened to one genre more than the other?
Erik: "I was way more into Metal as was Carl. Mark more into Punk. Guy liked a lot of classic Rock stuff like Michael Schenker and UFO etc."
Mark: "My musical influences are pretty simple, 50% SLAYER and 50% DISCHARGE. Those two bands were always on my playing at my house or in my car."
Who was the main songwriter of the band or did you share those duties most of the time?
Erik: "We all contributed."
Mark: "We all did the songwriting, we all contributed riffs. During practices someone would have a riff, and we would build from there."
How did your drummer Bruce react when you told him that his skills weren’t good enough anymore for what you needed in 1988? Did he get a chance to improve his skills or was that never an option?
Mark: "Geoff’s skill set was more geared for playing Punk than Metal, and he knew that, so I think that he took the news pretty well. It was pretty awkward though. We all went over to his apartment and told him in the hallway. Also Geoff and I had a side project together, so it made that difficult to continue as well."
How did you get together with Bobby Cochran as his replacement then? Have you played shows together with his former band PUNISHER, so that you already knew he was the right choice?
Mark: "Bobby and Carl were good friends. I want to think that the band that Carl sang a song with at the party when we met him was Bobby’s band PUNISHER, but I’m not sure. I did see PUNISHER play a few shows, I don’t remember if we played any shows with him, but we all knew that he would be a good fit in EPIDEMIC."
On December 10 – 12, 1988 you recorded your "Demo ’89" at Telluride Studios in Palo Alto… Was this recording session really supposed to be a demo or was it more like a self-financed album that you shopped around in order to get signed? I mean, it’s pretty unusual to have 8 songs on a demo and the quality of the recordings was also extremely good for that time…
Mark: "Yes, the quality was pretty good. We were all very pleased with it, but it was always supposed to be just a demo, that we would shop around in hopes of landing a record deal. It was rewarding to have Metalcore put it out as an album on CD and vinyl a bit later."
Erik: "Yeah I think we were thinking of it as a demo but it had a certain magic to it and felt like an album when you listened to it. In a lot of ways it was better than the "Extremities" 91 demo and the "Decameron" album in my opinion, although "Decameron" had some of my favorites on it like ‘Factor Red’."
Which bands / musicians had the biggest influence on you guys in the early days? I mean, there’s a pretty big step forward from the first to the second demo, so I suppose your influences must have changed as well quite a bit…
Mark: "Bands like SEPULTURA and DEATH were influences. We were getting exposed to faster and heavier bands, and it showed up in our writing. I think, with each demo we wrote we got a lot more aggressive."
Erik: "SLAYER, METALLICA, KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, VIO-LENCE, DEATH ANGEL, EXODUS among many others. Later on I got into Death Metal too."
How did you manage to give out 300 free copies of that demo after a VIO-LENCE show at the Omni? How did you finance all that? Was it a different version than the one you sold, because from what I’ve read it’s supposed to be out with two different covers…
Erik: "Well we printed thousands of copies of that demo and sold most of them so we could afford to give some away. I only vaguely remember giving them out at a VIO-LENCE show but that does sound accurate. Same cover I think."
According to an info sheet you sold approximately 5000 – 7000 copies of "Demo ’89" in just two years… Is that true? Did you all sell them on your own or did you also have small underground mailorders or shops helping you out with that?
Erik: "I am not sure of exact numbers but that might be correct. That could be a combination of what we sold on cassette and what Metalcore Records sold when they re-released it as “The Truth Of What Will Be”. I think we printed and sold 3500 cassettes ourselves of just “Demo 89” alone before Metalcore took over. I had people I met through letter writing who would sell them for me. There was a guy in Sweden who I would send them to, he would sell them and send me back cash. Other people like that, just friends and fans more than official distros."
What does ‘AMX’ stand for?
Mark: "’AMX’ stands for “American Motors Experimental”. It was a car made by American Motors back in the late 60s – early 70s. I had one back in high school when we all first met. It was very loud, very fast and always had SLAYER on the radio, a very typical American Metalhead’s car."
After so many years I think it’s time that you finally reveal a bit more about the lyrics of ‘Thigh Rubbage’, ‘Finer Things In Life’ and ‘D.C.S.’, don’t you think?
Mark: "A lot of the lyrics for those songs were made up by Carl, as he went. I don’t think we had ever written any of them down. All I could say from what I remember about them is, they are not pretty."
By the way, who was Aric Kerhoulas, who co-wrote the music of ‘D.C.S.’?
Mark: "Aric Kerhoulas was a friend of Bobby and Carl’s. He co-wrote ‘D.C.S.’ (Dirty Cock Sucker)."
Who’s responsible for the incredible laughter at the end of ‘Finer Things In Life’?
Mark: "Carl is solely responsible for that laughter, and I think that he still could do that today if someone would ask him."
Erik: "Carl Fulli."
You’ve played a shitload of shows back then and shared the stage with almost every well known extreme band at the time… Did you experience any differences in the crowd reactions on EPIDEMIC when you played with Hardcore acts like VERBAL ABUSE, D.R.I. or THE ACCÜSED, Thrash Metal acts like EXODUS, VIO-LENCE or SLAYER or Death Metal acts like CANNIBAL CORPSE, MORBID ANGEL or DEATH?
Mark: "The Bay Area has always had shows where Hardcore and Metal bands played together. So playing with bands like VERBAL ABUSE and D.R.I. was fine. Most of the people there were fans for styles of music. We were definitely more at home playing bands like EXODUS and VIO-LENCE, just for the fact that our music was closer in styles than any other. I don’t think that we had any differences playing in with Death Metal bands like CANNIBAL CORPSE, ENTOMBED or MORBID ANGEL. We had a pretty aggressive live show that I think crossed over. Our styles of Metal might have been different but our aggression was similar."
Erik: "Thankfully we were well received by all these crowds. In the later years when we were touring with Death Metal bands we were already heading in a more Death Metal direction ourselves and the songs from “Decameron” in their live form had a more Death Metal sound than their recorded versions. This pointed the direction we would take on our final album “Exit Paradise” which was essentially a Death Metal album. I am still very proud of “Exit Paradise”, I feel that that and “Demo 89” represent the best of the band."
You played the majority of your shows at the Mountain View Theater, the Stone in San Francisco and the Omni Oakland… Which location did you like the most and for what reasons?
Mark: "The Mountain View Theater was where we started, and was only open for a few years. The Stone and the Omni where iconic Bay Area venues. Even if we were not playing a show, we were probably there checking out other bands and hanging out. Those two clubs were the center of the Bay Area music scene for years. It was very disappointing to see them close down."
In December 1989 your second demo was also released on CD and vinyl through Metalcore Records in Europe under the title ”The Truth Of What Will Be…”. How did you hook up with them and what kind of experiences did you make while worked with them? Did you get treated fairly?
Mark: "I’m not sure how we got hooked up with Metalcore Records. I’m glad that “Demo 89” got released as “The Truth Of What Will Be”. We might have gotten ripped off by them, I really don’t know. We got copies of the vinyl and some CDs, but never got any money from them. Who knows, I have no idea how many records Metalcore sold, and if they made anything from it. It’s a rare record, and sought after from fans of EPIDEMIC."
According to Metal Archives there’s also an unofficial 1991 cassette edition out there… do you know more about that maybe?
Mark: "I have never heard that, and have no idea what that could be."
Erik: "That is probably just a reference to our third demo “Extremities 91”."
Are you aware of the fact that the Metalcore Records CD is being sold for ridiculous high prices on Discogs these days?
Mark: "I have seen it out there for some high prices; I have seen it on Ebay a few times anywhere from 40 to 100 dollars."
Erik: "Really? No, had no idea haha."
Your next demo, "Extremities ’91", was recorded in January 1991 and featured five new songs… What made you record another demo at that time? Were you still looking for the right label at the time and you wanted to showcase your new material or was it also planned to be sold right from the start as well?
Mark: "The "Extremities" demo was recorded so we could shop around more current material. At that point we had been exposed to much faster and heavier bands, and it showed up in our writing. We had gotten a lot more aggressive. "Demo ’89" had been out for some time, and we wanted to showcase some newer songs, in hopes of landing a deal. We still tried to get it out to fans as well."
That demo finally led to your contract with Metal Blade Records. How did this deal come about? Was Metal Blade the only company that offered you a deal or did you also get other interesting offers that you turned down? What exactly made you sign with Metal Blade then?
Mark: "I think that Metal Blade was only offer out there. There might have been some interest from other labels at some point, but Metal Blade was the only one to act."
Your debut album "Decameron" was recorded at HOS Studios in Palo Alto, California in January / February 1992, while you still recorded all your demos at Telluride Studios… What made you switch studios this time? Weren’t you satisfied with the sound on the demos and did you achieve the result which you had in mind for "Decameron"?
Mark: "If I remember things right it was the same guys. Different location and I guess a different name, but same guys. We were very pleased with all of our recordings that they had done for us up until “Decameron”. It fell a bit short of what we were expecting."
The artwork for the album was created by Dave McKean, who’s a pretty wellknown artist in the music and comic book business these days… Who came up with the idea to work with him? Did he create the cover exclusively for you guys or did you choose it from a collection of his works?
Mark: "It was an original piece from Dave McKean. He also did the illustrations throughout the CD booklet."
Erik: "He was less well known then so we could afford him, although certainly had his following already. Carl had an “Arkham Asylum” graphic novel and there was a picture in there that Carl really liked. So McKean I think took that and the music as inspiration. Carl dealt with that more than me so I am less certain the details but it’s a great cover."
Your band logo was changed a little bit for that album cover… was that Dave McKean’s idea? Did you like it that way?
Mark: "It had to have been Dave McKean’s idea to stretch the logo across the cover. I don’t remember any discussions with the members of the band regarding how the logo was going to be. I think it looks OK, but I would have rather seen our logo in original form on the cover."
Metal Blade released the album in the summer of 1992. What kind of response did you get on it from fans and media? And were you satisfied with Metal Blade’s marketing and distribution work?
Mark: "There was a small buzz around the release of “Decameron” not as much as we’d hoped. I think that Metal Blade’s marketing and distribution work was a little on the lighter side, we were a low priority for them. Looking back I’m sure that it was a difficult record to try to market, being a Thrash album in the time of Death Metal."
6 out of the 12 album tracks were re-recorded demo tracks… were those crowd favorites, your personal faves or did Metal Blade also had a say in that?
Mark: "The "Extremities" songs were always going to be re-recorded and put on “Decameron”. ‘Three Witches’ and ‘Live Your Death’ were off "Demo ’89", and were diffidently fan favorites."
Erik: "Some were crowd favorites. We wanted the album to represent the entire history of the band and figured a lot of people would not have heard the demos who would get the album."
In support of the album you got the opportunity to support MALEVOLENT CREATION and SUFFOCATION in December 1992 on a two week East Coast tour and CANNIBAL CORPSE and UNLEASHED on a nationwide tour in early 1993… Have those been your first full tours ever? What kind of memories do you have on them? Do you recall any good or bad experiences? How did you get along with the bands and their crews and how was the crowd response on EPIDEMIC, considering that it was mostly Death Metal fans?
Mark: "The MALEVOLENT CREATION / SUFFOCATION tour was our first tour; such great guys from both bands. It was good to get out of the Bay Area and play in front of a whole new group of fans. It was sad to hear of the recent passing of Brett Hoffman. The CANNIBAL CORPSE / UNLEASHED tour was a little bit of a larger tour. The shows were larger. It gave us more exposure to new fans. I can’t say if it translated to us gaining any new fans, we were still considered more of a Thrash band than a Death Metal band. Making it over to Europe was definitely the next step, but it never happened. I’m sure it was a money issue with Metal Blade."
What happened before the writing and recordings of your last album "Exit Paradise“ in 1994? I mean, your second guitarist Guy Higbey left the band, you changed your band logo and also the songwriting took a different turn… Please tell us a bit more about all this.
Mark: "Guy and the band parted ways for a number of reasons. Erik had lost a good friend around the time of writing and recording the album, and that seemed to have brought in a darker tone to some of the lyrics. I think it all worked well with the slower songs. I listen to a lot of slower and heavier Metal than I use to, and “Exit Paradise” seems to have a lot of the same ingredients. As far as the logo on the album, the artist took it upon himself to draw in his version of a logo, and for some reason we went along with it; a decision that has bothered me for years."
Erik: "We felt the production was too muddy on “Decameron” and that some of the fast parts were too fast and were getting lost in the blur so to speak. “Exit Paradise” is a much heavier more impactful album in my opinion with its emphasis on slower material and better executed fast parts. It was also a lot more personal and emotional for me song-writing wise, inspired in part by the death of a close friend. I felt the need to pay tribute to him in some way at that time of mourning. The album as a whole is about other things too of course as the other guys contributed lyrics as well."
For the recordings of "Exit Paradise" you also changed studio again… This time you recorded at Razor’s Edge in San Francisco… Why this change? Weren’t you satisfied with the result you had achieved for "Decameron"?
Mark: "I think it was time for a change. We were not happy with the results of “Decameron” so we moved on to Razor’s Edge in San Francisco. We also brought in Scott Sargeant to produce it. I feel the combination of a new studio and bring in Scott made a huge difference. We were all very pleased with the outcome of “Exit Paradise”. "
Erik: "The production on “Decameron” was far too muddy. Scott Sargeant did a great job producing and Joshua Tobias engineered it very well. I am glad we made the change."
What can you tell us about the "Lament" vinyl 7" that came out a little bit earlier than the album? Were ‘Lament’, ‘AMX’ and the OZZY OSBOURNE cover ‘Over The Mountain’ simply taken from the album sessions? Or was any of them re-recorded for that single? And what about the D.B.C. cover ‘Power And Corruption’? Was that exclusively recorded for "Lament" or did you use that for some other release as well?
Mark: "All of the songs for the “Lament” 7" were recorded during the same session as “Exit Paradise”. It was meant to be a pre-release of “Exit Paradise” to try to create a buzz for the record. We re-recorded ‘AMX’ from “Demo 89” and did the two cover songs. A few of us were big D.B.C. fans, and that song was a great song to cover. I think both songs D.B.C.’s ‘Power And Corruption’ and Ozzy’s ‘Over The Mountain’ came out well, it was a fun thing for us to do, and I’m glad we did it. I think “Lament” is a cool little 7" that is a rare find today."
Talking of the OZZY OSBOURNE cover… why was that included as a hidden track only on the "Exit Paradise" album?
Mark: "The album was pretty tight and a cover song somewhere in the body of the album would have taken away from the overall feeling of it, so the ‘Over The Mountain’ cover found its way as a hidden (bonus) track at the end."
What really happened after the release of the album? All I know is that you split up at some point… So, please tell us if you still played any shows, how the album was received from fans and media and what finally lead to the end of EPIDEMIC…
Mark: "After “Exit Paradise”, EPIDEMIC just split up. We didn’t tour to support the album; I think we only played a few shows. We did go and play the Milwaukee Metalfest. The scene in the Bay Area was on a down turn, and all the clubs that we had played at were closed. We didn’t have much label support, and I think some of the members were ready to move on. It definitely felt like EPIDEMIC had run its course."
"Decameron" was re-released in late 2016 via Dark Symphonies / The Crypt Records on CD and vinyl… how much input did you have in that and did you re-connect with your old band members again because of that?
Mark: "Having “Decameron” re-released was diffidently satisfying. The album was re-mastered, and sounds better now. We had some input on layout, and we supplied some pictures for the inner sleeves. When it was first released back in the early 90s, it was only available on CD and cassette, and now you can get it on vinyl. We all were on some group discussions via texts during the process of the re-release but that was about it."
In 2012 all your early recordings have been compiled on the "Pandemic – The Demo Anthology" CD… was that the first time that you had to deal with your musical past again after the band had split up? Were you surprised by the fact that someone wanted to release all your demos on one CD or did you like that idea?
Mark: "I was very surprised that someone was interested in compiling all of our demos together and put it out as an album. I think it came out great. We supplied the pictures and all the flyers. The cover is classic EPIDEMIC, with our logo and the artwork. “Pandemic – The Demo Anthology” is cool. I think Divebomb Records did a great job."
Erik, from all former EPIDEMIC members you seem to be the only one who’s still active in the music business these days, aren’t you? What are the other members up to? Are you still in contact? Are you still following the Metal scene? I’m just asking because your new band AERIAL RUIN is completely different from what you used to play with EPIDEMIC?
Erik: "Guy Higbey and I both live in Portland, Oregon now and hang out regularly and always have through the years. Guy recorded all the albums of my second band OLD GRANDAD and ran his own full time recording studio for many years. He still plays and loves gear and and is still into recording but is not currently in a band. I am also in contact with Bobby Cochran who was playing bluegrass for a while among other things. He is also a photographer and was doing photos for a couple of festivals I played as AERIAL RUIN – "Fire In The Mountains 2018" and "Northwest Terror Fest 2017". I see Geoff Bruce occasionally too. I have not seen Mark or Carl recently but have been in touch a little via e-mail over the years. I am not sure if they are working on music these day, nothing they are releasing to the public I don’t think. I would love to hear it if they do. And yes AERIAL RUIN is clearly very different than EPIDEMIC but I am still into Metal and go to shows when I can. I tour a lot as AERIAL RUIN and like playing with Metal bands. I am not as good at keeping up with all the new releases as when I was young, these days it”s bands I see live that I get into more so my heavy tastes are perhaps even more underground than back in the day."
Would you agree that an EPIDEMIC re-union these days wouldn’t make any sense at all, since Thrash Metal needs the aggression and energy of the youth, and you can’t re-create that in the same way when you have become a lot older and have family and kids?
Mark: "Yes I agree; I don’t see EPIDEMIC getting together for any reunion any time soon. Back in 2001, EPIDEMIC got together to talk about the possibility of play a show or two. It was good to see everyone together again. It just wasn’t going to happen, no one could really commit to practicing since none of us lived near each other. I would think that it would be pretty fun to get together sometime and jam our old songs, have a few beers and re-connect with everyone."
Erik: "No, I think you can be old and play Thrash, look at all the reformed bands going strong now. For us it is just time and practical concerns not a lack of musical inspiration. At least that”s how I feel. I think it would be fun but a reformation is very unlikely. We would have to relearn how to play that style and put lots of time into it which I don’t see happening with everyone’s busy lives. Never say never though."
Erik, what can you tell us about OLD GRANDAD, BELL WITCH and DRIFT OF A CURSE? All bands that you have been involved in after EPIDEMIC was no more… Did you record / release anything with any of those bands?
Erik: "OLD GRANDAD is my band with Will Carroll (of DEATH ANGEL and many other bands) and Max Barnett (ex – HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE). We started in 1994 when EPIDEMIC was still together. It was always Metal but it was fun songs about drugs and alcohol, kind of a release from the seriousness of EPIDEMIC. OLD GRANDAD became more musically mature and exploratory on later albums and had Thrash and Death elements but also melodic vocals and a SABBATH influence but also incorporated Hardrock, Blues and Psychedelic sounds as well. We have recently started jamming together again after a nine year hiatus and are writing a new album and will be doing shows next year. We recorded and released four albums between 1995 and 2005, the new one will be our fifth. DRIFT OF A CURSE was a side project to OLD GRANDAD that featured Max Barnett and Chewy Marzolo (HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE) and later Chris Corona (FLOATING GOAT, HAZZARDS CURE). Some people called us Post-Rock. It is somewhat PINK FLOYD influenced but has some Metal passages as well. We recorded and released one album “The Wrong Witness” in 2008. BELL WITCH is a Funeral Doom duo from Seattle. I am an “honorary third member / vocalist”. I have sang / collaborated on all three of their albums but only on selected songs / parts. They have recorded and released three albums on Profound Lore Records. The newest is “Mirror Reaper” which is a single 83 minute song. My vocals are fairly prominent on the albums second half but absent on its first."
What are you up to these days, Mark? Are you still involved in music in one way or another?
Mark: "I just recently got back into writing and playing music again. I teamed up with Ryan Fisher from CARRION CATHEDRAL and we just finished recording an album for our experimental Dark Drone project END OF LIGHT. The album is entitled "We No Longer Wish To Be Free". Should be out by the end of the year."
Ok guys, that’s about it. Thanks a lot for taking the time. Hope you enjoyed this trip into the past a little bit. It was definitely great to re-connect with you again after so many years… The last words are yours…
Mark: "I really enjoyed this time going back through the years of EPIDEMIC. Thank you very much for the interest in EPIDEMIC. It means a lot. Cheers."
Erik: "Thanks so much for the interest, support and patience Frank. It is great that you continue to support the underground…"