INFAMY is another great Death Metal band from California who some of you already might know because of their excellent debut full length "The Blood Shall Flow". Well, ever since its releases a lot of time has passed, but now the band is finally back in action. They have a new killer 2 song promo available and are currently looking for the right label to release their next album. We hooked up with them to present you the whole story of INFAMY. Answers were given by all of the guys, but as you will find out yourself, guitarist Mark was the most talkative…
INFAMY was formed way back in 1995 and there’s talk that the original members used to be in other bands previously already. So, please tell us more about the original INFAMY line-up and those former bands. What finally lead to the origin of INFAMY and why did the members actually leave their old bands in order to start up something new?
Daryl: "The original INFAMY line-up consisted of Memo and James from ENTITY, Joshua / Jagger from BRAINSTORM and Eddie from PREACHER."
James: "A lot of L.A. bands were breaking up in and around 1993 and 1994. ENTITY split in half around this time. Too much shit for one article to mention, but it was for the best. It was a sort of natural progression of things then. Memo and I stayed loyal!!"
Mark: "The Death Scene in L.A. interconnects because of progressive evolution. There was definitely a lot a motion between musicians in ’93 and ’94, I myself was jumping from project to project to find the right match and set of goals and ideals. Age-wise, I think we started to mature and that’s the time when you really need more out of your musical efforts and time."
Memo: "James and myself recruited Joshua and Eddie from other bands that had recently split at around the same time. There were many candidates, but we went with what we felt was truly strongest then."
Which bands were the main source of inspiration back in those days for you guys and have those influences changed ever since?
Daryl: "CARCASS, MORBID ANGEL, ENTOMBED, BOLT THROWER, SUFFOCATION, old PARADISE LOST, UNLEASHED, MORGOTH, CANNIBAL CORPSE, MALEVOLENT CREATION, DEICIDE, etc. All the O.G. death bands. They really haven’t changed, just added some new ones and deleted the bands that went soft (you know who they are!!!)."
In June of 1995 you already recorded your 5 song demo "Count The Dead", which seems pretty quick to me. So, were those five songs the first that you had written or was there even more material to choose from? Did you use any material / ideas from your previous bands?
Memo: "Those first five songs were my creations. We felt we had to come out strong and as quickly as possible. The material was all new. There was no left over material from anywhere."
James: "Although you might hear a tiny influence from past ENTITY material."
Tell us more about "Count The Dead", like where it was recorded, how people got ahold of it, how many copies were sold / sent out and if you promoted its release with shows and stuff.
James: "Count the Dead" was recorded at Simmon’s Ghose Studios in Los Angeles, in the mighty year of 1995 A.D."
Mark: "Joshua used to handle all the distro / promo duties then. I used to help him to do some fan-mail shit as soon as I joined in 1997. On a very good estimate, 5.000 copies were easily distributed as we had a huge overflow of mail then. We were mailing it out by the box full because a lot of good zines were carrying out ads and giving us great reviews, therefore, the back-up orders were to the roof!!! In 1997 I myself sold over 100 units and that was two years after the demo was released!!!"
Was "Count The Dead" the only demo recording that INFAMY ever did?
Daryl: "This one’s a bit difficult to answer because we’ve just recorded a two-song Promo CD to get our new album / CD signed. This is not meant to be a demo by those standards, because we will undoubtedly do updated versions when we do make the final recording for the new album. This two song sampler is just titled "Rape, Grind & Pillage". It is part of our promo-pack to get us signed as soon as possible to start recording it."
There used to be a CD version of "Count The Dead"… did you release the demo on CD straight away, or was it originally a cassette version? How many copies were made of the CD and how many cassettes?
Daryl: "CD’s for "Count The Dead" were not introduced until about 1999!!!! A "Gold" "Count The Dead" CD was a prize to be had even as early as 1998!! "The Blood Shall Flow" CD had all of our attention to distribute when we finally got it released in 1998, so considerations for a "Count The Dead" CD came at the suggestion and realization of Brutal Sound Productions. As mentioned earlier, "Count The Dead" tapes were sold in excess of 5.000 copies, which ran out in mid 1998. Collectors items now. The CD "Count The Dead" was limited to about 1.000 copies, also, all gone and a collector’s listing now." (I’m still looking for a copy of that, so if anyone is willing to sell it or knows a source where to get it, please contact me! – Frank)
At which point of time and for what reasons did you have to face the difficulties in the guitar department (I guess his name was Eddie, wasn’t it?)? And how did you hook up with Mark Casillas of INSIDIOUS then? Any info on INSIDIOUS you could share with us?
Mark: "Sometime in 1996 Joshua and Eddie got into a car wreck after a KISS concert. Eddie got the bad part of it and broke one of his arms in two places! OUCH!!! His absence from the band due to medical reasons was the down-turn point in his membership to INFAMY, as they kept on gigging as a three-piece. That’s when I was making a brand new band, INSIDIOUS. They were mainly revolving-door musicians that were helping me make a demo so I could join a more established outfit or establish INSIDIOUS as a long term project. Memo and Eddie had some personal conflicts, personal problems on the road and also Eddie’s absence due to injury were definitely factors. Eddie played a couple of times after he recovered from the injury but the chemistry was no longer there and I remember that day like if it was yesterday. The decision came in January 1997 for a new and permanent lead guitarist. I was called to duty on February 11, 1997 and the rest of the members of INSIDIOUS unfortunately decided to do nothing. I had written, produced, and arranged all the material, so I guess they felt it was best to leave it alone. INFAMY felt then that they needed two vicious and out-of-hand guitarists to fit the true image of the band."
Compared to the quick origin of your demo, it took you quite some time until you entered the studio again for your debut full length "The Blood Shall Flow" in May / June of 1997. So, what have you done in between those two years?
Mark: "INFAMY did extensive gigging, touring, and supporting for the demo. I guess it does take a while to write another whole new 10 songs after you’ve done 5 already. Like mentioned earlier, that 1996 accident was definitely a delay in production. Although by 1996 INFAMY was actively searching for its first recording contract and correspondences between Europe and the US take a while. So I guess combining the accident of 1996 and the hassling of three record labels is what led to the long delay in recording the full length album."
What made you record all brand-new material instead of going for some old demo songs as well?
Mark: "Why record demo material when it was doing so damn well on its own? Also economic considerations led to this decision. The demo was recorded first class, approximately $500.00 US dollars per song!! We could not duplicate demo songs on a cheaper class studio because it would not have sounded the same. Plus, by the time we actually got signed by Qabalah Records, we had 10 songs already!!!!"
As far as I know, you first of all financed the recordings of the album on your own… So, was there no independent record label interested in INFAMY at that point of time, did you turn any offers down or what made you work this way?
Mark: "According to the European offers we were getting, all of them required us to front the monies to record. It makes no sound financial interest as an investor if you’re looking for a sound return. We had such a limited budget for "The Blood Shall Flow" that the Spanish label should have really actualized the investment and invested monies to make this album sound even close to the demo. The demo cost three times more to make, therefore the quality. We also had two other French offers, but looking back now I guess it makes sense for those labels to operate that way since they come from socialist systems, which are oblivious to the true workings of profit based capitalism. We had no other independent offers then for which to consider."
"The Blood Shall Flow" was released on Burning Vengeance Records in the US – I suppose that was your own founded company, wasn’t it? Have there been other releases on that label as well or just INFAMY? Did you put out CD’s or just cassettes?
Mark: "Burning Vengeance Productions is just our production company. That is how we merchandise and distribute our products to the planet. We have released both cassettes and CD’s for the demo since it is 100% under our licensing control. The Spanish label allowed only to make promo cassette versions while the CD was being made in 1997. We have not put out "The Blood Shall Flow" cassettes since 1997."
When exactly did you get together with Qabalah Productions for the European license of the album and how much did that co-operation help the band to get more known?
Mark: "This is a really difficult question because Joshua / Jagger died in between the recording and the actual release of the CD. Take it that it took over a year since recording and the actual receipt of the CD itself!!! We are certain to include a release date clause on our next contract and not to sign overseas as we got ZERO support of any kind from the label. We kind of signed up to a do-it-yourself type of label. Of course the union with Qabalah was successful in getting us known overseas as the orders were flying in due to European Market exposure. Actually enough bashing of the Spanish label, as they helped us get more exposure overseas and everything but it doesn’t matter a thing if a tour following a release does not happen. Jagger having died a couple of months before the actual release did not help either."
In noticed that you guys, as well as COFFIN TEXTS use the slogan "Horns Up" regularly… who invented that and is there a deeper meaning behind that?
Mark: "I heard Jagger use it first. He told me that those who don’t know believe it is a sign of Satan. You know like in the 80’s people used to use the hand sign with the fingers pointing like horns for Metal bands and stuff. He mentioned that the true meaning was Nordic Viking Tradition of wearing horned helmets to battle. Thus Horns Up to signify rite of clan and the sign or battle."
In your old bio there’s also talk about another INFAMY release entitled "Mass Cremation", which was supposed to be a re-release of the songs off your debut demo "Count the Dead" (re-mastered) along with three new tracks. Whatever happened to that and which other three songs were supposed to be on there?
Mark: "That was a 1997 proposal to Metal Blade Records and Ralph Paz. Jagger was working out the CD release of all "Count The Dead" plus three new burners or a combo of one "The Blood Shall Flow" song along with two new ones. We started to write the next album on January 1, 1998 AD. Jagger unleashed parts to two songs, in 1999 after Jagger R.I.P., we mixed the two incomplete works into ‘Rape, Grind & Pillage’ titled by Jagger himself in 1998. Since one song was way, way too short, we merged it masterfully and well placed into ‘Rage, Grind, & Pillage’. This song is so brutal it could easily be two hot scorchers! Yet we decided that real men grind hard and we smash through this sick song first on our set as of lately."
On March 5, 1998 your original bass player / vocalist, Joshua "Jagger" Heatley, sadly passed away, which must’ve been a big shock not only for the band, but also for close friends and families… Would you mind telling us more about that and what really happened?
Mark: "This is the most difficult subject to talk about, but I will give you the short version. Simply, it was the saddest day for a lot of people. He left behind his girlfriend, their daughter, and his mother. INFAMY is a family based band, therefore everyone close felt a close family member pass away. The rigors of constant touring, partying, and no rest will take anyone to the grave. It just grinded him down to the point of severe exhaustion, then death. It was not supposed to happen, but you know how people just die when they go to the doctor. It was wrong and there is nothing though that anyone can do to turn back time, so we’ve had to live with this ultra-difficult situation ever since then. I believe his death changed everyone’s lives, and not all of them in a positive manner. We still get drunk some nights and talk about digging him up and having him party with us again, but we realize that his spirit is with us always so there is no need to exhume anything!!"
How long did INFAMY take a break until you seriously considered to start looking for a replacement and how did things continue from there? Did you audition many people or was it clear from the start that your guitar player Memo would take over this difficult job from now on?
Mark: "Everyone in the INFAMY family including close friends demanded that we keep Jagger’s works alive and going. So there really was no immediate question of whether we would continue. I personally could not play guitar for a good month following Jagger’s death because I felt selfish that I got to enjoy the pleasure of playing while my buddy could no longer have that same joy. It wasn’t until the shock went away that we knew we had to get back to work. Memo was not exactly thrilled with the huge responsibility of having to learn lyrics to over 15 songs all of a sudden and to be the front man to such a brutal band, but he understood the importance of continuity and there was no way in hell we’d find a bass player of that caliber with vocals. Those were huge shoes to fill and we’ve all taken on a little bit more to fulfill the necessities of this band."
How long did Richard from COFFIN TEXTS help you out on bass and why did the other bass players you auditioned not really work out?
Mark: "You’re not going to believe who’d we’d first considered to play bass after R.I.P.!!! Eddie Gomez (former guitarist) took the death of Jagger quite personally and in a bereaved state of mind and knowing that he was a former family member of INFAMY, everyone decided we’d give it a shot as no real audition was needed because he knew most of the material anyway. Unfortunately, Eddie could not adjust to the switch on bass and it was apparent he’d forgotten the level of dedication and effort in time everyone must put into a band like this. He did not even unpack his bags before it was well known of his dissatisfaction in the bass department. Richard is a guitar player and he’s ultra talented, so he volunteered to help us out for a while before we got someone permanent. He was with us since about May 1999 until the end of the year, when he was pushing and recording his COFFIN TEXTS side project. It’s difficult to consider fly by night outfits who don’t gig regularly as "bands", so I use the term side-project. We didn’t audition anyone per say and Richard was not in the 2000 line-up because his responsibilities with his side-band were hindering our writing process. We recorded a MORBID ANGEL tribute in January 2000 and when we found out COFFIN TEXTS had done one too, we knew it was time to move on because his time could not be evenly split between the two and we were starting to write new material and he was not focused in on what we were achieving then. Therefore, we set out on a search for a bass player who was happy to play the bass, not a guitarist looking for a side stint with the bass."
Daryl, about a year ago you finally joined INFAMY as their new permanent bass player… Tell us how you exactly hooked up with the guys and also a little bit more about your previous band DARK DAYS (did you release something with them, are they still around etc.).
Mark: "We played with DARK DAYS in the Fall of 1999. By that juncture we knew we needed a bass presence in our music since our sound sort of thinned when Richard was in the line-up. I guess his playing guitar lines instead of playing bass lines led to a quicker, but not as heavy sound. We were deeply conflicted about this situation. So I told Memo that one night how I wished we had a "real" bass player like Daryl up with DARK DAYS. Daryl was the only one from that outfit who actually shone!! He stuck out like quite prominently. So one day in March 2001 I heard that DARK DAYS was dropped from the roster of Brutal Sound Productions. I made mention to Laura of my designs for a new bass player and she mentioned that she did not want Daryl to sink with the rest of DARK DAYS, so an audition was set up and Daryl chose to sign up with INFAMY on a permanent basis."
Daryl: "Both bands had the same manager at the time. Laura Walker from Brutal Sound Productions. I was offered to try out for INFAMY. Once I met the band and heard the material I decided to make the change to INFAMY. DARK DAYS is a great band and long time friends, so it was a hard decision for me to make. INFAMY was just headed in the same direction I was. DARK DAYS is a Death Metal band from Long Beach Ca. I recorded their first demo w/ them. It was three songs ‘Never Stop The War’, ‘Killer Virus’, and ‘Start The Killing’. All three songs are fuckin’ brutal. DARK DAYS are still around thrashing the south lands of the U.S."
You mentioned to me that you’re working things out with a couple of labels right now, about a possible re-release of "Count The Dead" and "The Blood Shall Flow"… Does that mean your deal with Qabalah is finished?
Mark: "Yes, the dealings with Qabalah are over. Although there is nothing negative to mention, they just simply could not afford the requirements for a new record, guaranteed tour support. We were promised the world, including a European Tour. We got zero support, therefore we can no longer work with labels of that size. We are shipping out our promo packs to bigger domestic labels with the specific clause that there is no deal without a tour. Anyhow, basic economic sense would tell you that if someone wants to invest in your company / band, monies are the heart of all investments. What a label will put out for us is what they will gain in return, plus way more."
You certainly have played many shows already ever since the origin of INFAMY, so are there any particular ones that still stand out (or any worse you’d like to forget for one reason or another)?
Mark: "Of course, the memorable ones are the big ones with DEICIDE, CANNIBAL CORPSE, etc. Also Mexico gigs blow away the jaded and faded American public. America has grown so damn soft and conservative that Mexican shows remind me of the 1980’s in L.A. when Metal was at its highest point. The bad shows, well, the worst ones are when you travel 800 miles and play for 20 people. The best ones are at our studio when we play for over 150 of our closest friends."
Tell us a little bit about your new material – how many songs have you already finished, do they differ in any way from your debut album and when can we expect to see them released?
Mark: "You will get a copy of the new material, so you can judge for yourself (I heard it by now and it’s fuckin’ brutal and absolutely brilliant!!! – Frank). We put out the fastest material whereas our other new songs are more epic based, long and more written techniques and modes. The new album will be called "Requiem", which is of course an epic to Jagger and his insane works of doom. Hopefully Metal Blade or Century Media, Nuclear Blast will pick this up."
I hope so too.