In the entire history of VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE no other interview than the one with former MASSACRE vocalist Kam Lee caused so much feedback among all you readers, labels and bands alike! Partly certainly because of its rather controversial nature, but without a doubt also because of the musical impact that the classic MASSACRE stuff had (and still HAS!) on the whole Death Metal genre. Unfortunately Kam disappeared into nothingness shortly after the interview was published, so that we never ever managed to give you any further info on his planned activities at the time…. But hey, that doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to start our time machine once more in order to let you know even more little bits and pieces about MASSACRE’s early days. Captain on board of the ship this time was original MASSACRE bass player Michael Borders, who answered all our questions faster than we could type them down (thanx again buddy!)… So hopefully you will enjoy this additional trip in a silimlar way as we did… Just read on what Michael had to tell us!
Greetings Michael, how are you? Hope you’re in the right mood to do an interview about the early days of MASSACRE…?!
"Good morning, I’m doing well, thanks!"
Please introduce yourself to our readers and let us know a bit more details about your musical past, ok?
"Musical past? I’m just some guy who twenty or so years ago bought a copy of IRON MAIDEN “Killers” and “Mob Rules” by SABBATH, and decided he wanted to be the bass player in a Metal band. Practiced for a few years and ended up in MASSACRE."
Was MASSACRE the first and last band you’ve been involved in or have you also been active previously (and afterwards)?
"MASSACRE was the second or third band I played in, but the first that ever did much. Prior to, I was in a garage band with Alan West and Greg Gall (six feet under) called CYANIDE. Greg and I never really clicked as a rhythm section so it didn’t work out. He plays with a bit of “swing” I guess you would call it, a bit funkier than some, while I have a stiffer style of playing. After my time in MASSACRE, I relocated to Ft. Lauderdale and hooked up with the drummer from Jeordie Whites old band (amboog a lard), George Kokkoris, and Todd Harrington who was winning all kinds of guitar contests at the time, but had never played in a band before. We played together for quite a while, recorded hours of original songs, but could never find the right singer. We auditioned people constantly, even Brett Hoffman, who was out of MALEVOLENT CREATION at the time, he tried out. But he had some issues at the time that kept that from working. Another guy showed up, exclaimed “Paul Stanley is my biggest influence”. I still laugh about that one. There wasn’t much of a Metal scene in south Florida so we had little to choose from."
Tell us a bit more about the origin of MASSACRE… As far as I know it was Bill Andrews (drums), Alan West (guitar) and yourself (on bass) who formed the band in 1984… Is that correct? How did you guys actually get together? Did you already know each other before MASSACRE?
"The ORIGINAL line up was Bill Andrews, Alan West, Scott Blackwood (bass) JP Shartier (guitar – he played with Obituary for a while) and Mark Brents (vocals) This was all covers, playing ANTHRAX, EXCITER, METAL CHURCH, etc. That was the kind of voice Mark thought he had. Bill split the band up as a nice way of kicking out Scott and Mark. Alan and I met at a party one night I was having, and started playing with Greg Gall. One night Alan brought Bill over, I remember playing the riff to ‘Chemical Warfare’ for him on a whim. A week later we were practicing. Four months later we played two shows, one with EXECUTIONER (Obituary) opening for us, and the next night opening for MORBID ANGEL who was still playing SLAYER covers and some originals. Richard Brunelle was singing for them at that point. Our singer Mark showed up completely wasted, screaming into the mic like he was Don Dokken and he was out. Somehow we heard Kam was living with his uncle in town, and we went over to pick him up to check us out. No one else showed up for practice. Just me and Bill in our practice space and this little Hawaiian named Kam. It’s freezing cold, shivering, but Bill and myself just look at each other, I plug in and we tore into ‘Piranha’ by EXODUS. Bass, drums and vocals. Next we played ‘Aggressor’ by HELLHAMMER. Looked at each other and laughed knowing it was good. Within 3 months we recorded the first demo with ‘Aggressive Tyrant’, ‘Mutilated’ and ‘Death In Hell’. Alan and JP both had problems coming to practice, Kam suggest we go to Orlando and meet Rick. We took tapes of our practices and a few weeks later he showed up with his Ibanez Iceman with “CRUE” spray painted on the case and hair dyed black."
Was the band named MASSACRE right from the start or did you use any different monikers before? What inspired the band’s name?
"That was always the name. Billy Andrews used to scrawl it on his notebooks in school. He would joke about visualizing an audience laying there defeated, bloody and exhausted, like they had been “massacred”."
What about the other members of the band? Who else were in the band in its early stages… There was talk about another guitar player and a vocalist before Kam Lee finally joined you… Tell us more about them, their names and how you hooked up with them!
"Sorry for answering this already somewhat – too much coffee already. The other guitar player was JP Shartier. Great guy, I actually went to his house and jammed with him for old times sake a few years ago. He did not care for the heavier direction we were going, afraid it would scare off the girls. Alan was let loose because of his problems at the time. He actually was out 1 week before we recorded the 6 song live tape we sent out everywhere. We had also auditioned Trevor Peres from OBITUARY who was a solid player, I can’t remember why that didn’t work out. I think he was more into the slower ,sludge style he was playing. We later did add a second guitarist Robby Goodwin who played a few shows with us but that was it."
What kind of musical influences did you all have at the time? I mean, it’s no secret that Bill Andrews has always been a big fan of the NWoBHM, so was it musically also in that vein when you started out?
"My influences at the time were bands like MOTÖRHEAD, SABBATH, etc. Later when “Morbid Tales” was released, it changed everything. Then “Seven Churches” came out, which I think was the album that started the constant double picking guitar riff thing. We would practice just getting that sound down for hours. I don’t think influences have as much weight on how a band sounds as some might think. Back then every guitarist was totally into Al DiMeola, and rightfully so, the guy to this day is awesome. But no one tried to sound like that. Most bands start out young, and without a lot of personal practice under their belts. Limiting your musical vein to your abilities. You play what you can play. We never planned on sounding like anything in particular, as long as it was heavy. We would write riffs, tape them, then throw them away if they sounded too “happy”."
Kam mentioned in our interview, that ANTHRAX definitely used to be a big influence and that you started out as a cover band originally. Is that true? Which cover songs did you play back then?
"Kam hated Anthrax. The line up pre-Kam played one ANTHRAX song. ‘Deathrider’, if I recall. Of course we played ‘Black Magic’ ( the “’Paranoid’ of our generation” ), ‘Piranha’ by EXODUS, standard early Metal fare. Eventually we would only play a cover if we had played the songs too fast and had stage time left. One night we opened for D.R.I. in Tampa, our set was done and we had time for one more song, we looked across the stage at each other, said what the hell, and we played a 2 minute version of ‘Black Magic’ for laughs."
Did you play any shows in your early, five-piece line-up?
"Just the two shows previously mentioned."
Do you still recall anything about the Florida underground scene from back then? Did you have a healthy club scene going on, with lots of bands to check out live? Which bands actually started to get bigger around the time?
"There really wasn’t a scene. What was there evolved from a record store called “Melodie Music” in Brandon which at the time was our only source for these new bands like VENOM and MERCYFUL FATE. The local bar bands were still playing what was called Poser Rock. Around 1985 NASTY SAVAGE started breaking out, and all these fanzines were flying around. Early stuff like “Guillotine News” and “Sledgehammer Press”. Nasty Ronnie was swearing they were the heaviest band in the world, and every issue had METALLICA, ANTHRAX, RAVEN, etc. Other bands like MEDIEVAL and HIRAX were in those early zines too. Also SAVATAGE was playing a lot of shows in Tampa, and every Metal slut in town had their bumper sticker on their car. NASTY SAVAGE was playing a lot of shows at a place called Ruby’s Pub and was packing them in. They had the stage show factor and were so different than anything else at the time they created a massive buzz. We were all getting this taste of the new and heavier music and they jumped on it quick to fill the local demand. The rest of us (MASSACRE, MORBID ANGEL, EXECUTIONER) were about a year behind them and we started playing “all ages” type clubs. Some shows went really well while others bombed. We would get together and play shows to try and attract a big enough audience to break even. Not a lot of out of town Metal bands made it to Florida then. But the Punk / Hardcore thing was strong with a band in town every other weekend like Black Flag or Pagan Saints. We tried to tap into that a bit playing shows with D.R.I. and Kam’s Punk friends. We were simple enough that they didn’t hate us for being long haired Metal guys."
What actually lead to the line-up changes within the band, when and why did you end up as a four piece and when and how did you hook up with Kam?
"Once again I have to apologize for answering questions early. The reason behind the early line up changes sadly were drug related. Bill and I were deadly serious about this band early on. And when other members couldn’t practice or showed up to play a show high on something, they were keeping us from reaching our goal."
Was he the driving force in become heavier or would you have changed in that direction without him as well?
"Yes and No. Bill and I wanted to sound heavier then we did with the initial line up, otherwise we would not have entertained the idea of auditioning Kam, but I have to admit we would not have had that sound without his voice. For a while we had no PA to practice with, and Kam would stand in the corner screaming his lyrics out, just trying to be heard. He wanted it as badly as we did."
At which point of time did you start writing original tunes? Did you already have some of the songs written that ended up on your debut demo before Kam joined the band? If so, how different were they originally, compared to the versions we finally got to hear?
"The 3 songs on the initial demo were written by Alan, myself and Bill before Kam came on board. Kam just re-wrote the lyrics. Alan and I were writing stuff in CYANIDE and some of those riffs bled over to these songs. The second demo was a result of the 6 months after Rick moved in. Once we were all four together, sounding solid and seemed stable we made a strong effort to write more songs."
Tell us as much as you can still recall about the origin of your two demos, like when and where you recorded them, who produced them, who was in the recording line-up at the time, how much time you spent on the writing / recordings, how many copies you spread around of them and why it took you two years since the band’s origin until you finally released some stuff officially etc. etc.
"The first demo was recorded at a studio in Tampa. We were clueless 18 year olds. Bill, myself, Alan and Kam. The geeky engineer looked at us like we were nuts when he realized we were so down tuned. Then Kam did his vocals and the engineer really looked confused. There was limited production, limited cash. The songs were already written and for the week or so prior to recording we practiced the same 3 songs over and over again, we knew we could only afford like three hours tops in the studio. That first tape I probably sent out between 300 –400 copies. We made them on a dual cassette boom box, and I made covers on my fathers copy machine. The second demo was the same line up except Rick had taken Alan Wests place by now. ‘Chamber Of Ages’, ‘From Beyond’, ‘Clangor Of War’ and ‘Symbolic Immortality’ were recorded in two trips to this studio in some mans home in north Tampa. He was in some 60’s band called The Rubberband band. Me and Bill set up in the back bedroom, Rick plugged in thru a Boss Distortion pedal direct into the board, and Kam added his vocals in the dining room the next day. Once again, we had no cash so the routine was the same. One take, hit the record button. I think there was one song we had to redo because the beginning was off. Most of these songs were written in a day and I liked it that way. So many bands went off in the overly technical –overly produced direction. I really think it took the edge off the sound. It wasn’t dangerous anymore. It didn’t kick your ass like it should."
Is it true that none of your tapes really had a cover? I’ve seen several different ones already, so are they all bootleg versions? What about that winged demon on a pile of skulls artwork…? What was that used for?
"Not true. I’ll send you the copies of the covers. Like I said, I’m kind of a pack rat. They were cheap and cheesy, but served the purpose. The winged demon /gargoyle design for our t-shirts back then was by a guy named Kevin Bodo who printed shirts for a lot of local bands. Kam later redid the art."
You also mentioned a live demo to me… What was that all about? Tell us more about that and why you decided to release that? Was that the 6 track tape of a show you played at the Streets Club in Florida on April 20 in 1986?
"I’m glad you can remember these dates. Yes, that was the show you mentioned. MORBID ANGEL opened for us that night. We recorded every show and most practices. The tape sounded ok, it had some new songs on it, and it was free so we mailed it off to everyone. Like I said before, to say we were broke is an understatement. I had a job at a construction co, and Bill worked at a plant nursery. Kam and Rick did not work but lived off their girlfriends who worked at the 7-11 on night shifts. Every cent that came in from the tapes and t-shirts went to making more copies of tapes and t-shirts and mailing them out. Live shows broke even or lost money because we would rent these monster PA systems so a free tape was a good idea at the time."
How many shows did you play with MASSACRE and with which other bands did you guys share the stage in those times?
"We didn’t play a lot of shows then because the scene wouldn’t support it. Over 2 + years with the band I think we only played 9 – 10 shows. We were playing shows with the other locals NASTY SAVAGE, MORBID ANGEL, OBITUARY, HELLWITCH and bands like D.R.I., IMPALER, and some other bands that opened for us that I can’t remember."
Do you still recall how many rehearsal tapes you officially spread around? Do you somehow regret the fact that you didn’t keep them for yourselves?
"Between Kam and myself we probably mailed 500 practice tapes / songs from different practices spliced in. I don’t regret sending them out to the fanzines and friends at the time because it kept people interested. Let them know we were working. There was a certain roar to those tapes. May have been the heat in Bills garage that made us edgy and mean, but people would come to our practices and really get into it."
Tell us a bit more about the songs you had finished in those days… I seriously doubt that you only had ‘Aggressive Tyrant’, ‘Mutilated’, ‘Death In Hell’, ‘From Beyond’, ‘Chamber Of Ages’, ‘Symbolic Immortality’ and ‘Clangor Of War’ available… Any other tunes that remained unreleased for one reason or another that you can still think of?
"Of course we were playing ‘Corpsegrinder’, let me think ‘Perpetual Domination’, ‘Plains Of Insanity’, ‘The Traitor’, ‘Dawn Of Eternity’, ‘Biohazard’. There were a few more that came and went."
There’s a bootleg circulating, which features the songs ‘The Second Coming’, ‘Bleed To Death’, ‘Devouring Hour’, ‘By Reason Of Insanity’, ‘Mangled’ and ‘Psychopain Trip’… Accodring to its liner notes those songs were supposed to be on a MASSACRE debut album, which never came out… Do you know more about this? Have you still been involved in the band at the time?
"I heard about this. I think these are the songs Rick did with Butch and Joey. I never heard it or these songs. I heard it didn’t sound like the band at all so it was never released."
How long have you actually been part of the band and what made you quit in the end? Or were you kicked out?
"I was in the band just under 3 years, and I was kicked out. It started going downhill when Rick kissed and made up with Chuck Shuldiner. All of a sudden this was “Rick’s Band” and he was going to make certain decisions, he was wanting to write songs with 24 bar guitar solos, more complex, etc. blah blah blah. We had just taken 3 months off, Bill had been sick with mononucleosis, and Rick had scheduled a show with ATHEIST / RAVAGE and not told anyone until a couple days before the show. We were sounding awful after the break, I didn’t want to go play a show and us sound like crap, we got in a fight and it was over. Terry Butler took my place. He had been Bill’s friend for years, and had been to almost every practice just hanging out."
What do you think of the material that MASSACRE released after you had been out of the band?
"The “From Beyond” release was with one exception all our old material. The keyboard parts that they replaced some of my bass lines with cracked me up. I’m not sure how much new material they did after that. Except of course for “Promise” which I think Rick did to make sure no one ever tries to use the band name again."
What have you been doing ever since? Do you sometimes miss those great old times?
"I do miss those times. Remember this was before internet and email. The excitement of getting a letter from some kid in Japan or Brazil wanting your tape was worth it. It was amazing going to the P.O. Box and finding out all these people from all parts of the world were into what you were doing, and you were just a gang of 18 –19 year old guys wailing away, making noise in a garage in the swaps of central Fl. Since then? The last few years have been concentrated on getting my wife thru Med School. Now that she’s done and I can call her Dr. Kelley I can relax a bit. Have more time to get together and play music with some of my friends."
Alright Michael, that’s about it. I’m running out of questions… Thanks for taking the time to answer all this… If there’s anything else you’d like to add here, feel free to do it now. All the best!
"Think I’ve covered everything. If any of my old pals want to reach me my address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again, MB"
As soon as I told Laurent about the interview you just read, he decided to add a few additional questions to this feature to make it even more in-depth… And Michael Borders once again answered them at the same unbelievable speed as he did with the first part. So, sit back, relax and enjoy some more classic MASSACRE!
To which extent were you familiar with DEATH when you’ve recruited Kam during late ’85 and later on Rick Rozz? Would you say that DEATH was the band that really introduced Florida musicians to heavier / deathlier sounds?
"Honestly, not that familiar. DEATH was in Orlando which was a couple hours away from Tampa. Early on we were all "local bands" trying to establish an audience in our home base. You had to kick ass at home before venturing out, and none of us had the draw at that point. The only time I had seen / heard DEATH was when they opened for NASTY SAVAGE one night, David Austin was making fun of them bad, joking about hanging some tires and tools around like they were in a garage to make them feel more comfortable. David was a funny guy. The crowd was not ready for them at this show. They sounded rough, and remember this was when IRON MAIDEN was still called heavy. Don’t get me wrong, some people in the audience got into it. But most were like "What the hell is this? " They wanted to hear the more "accessible" sounds of NASTY SAVAGE. I don’t consider DEATH the introduction to heaviness you suggested. The early "Florida Death Metal Scene" was mostly a bunch of guys in bands, no audience. DEATH played very few shows back then, and had little impact where we were. You knew they were there, but nothing much else. The bands that really introduced all of us to heavier sounds were the international acts like VENOM, BATHORY, CELTIC FROST, etc. We all heard these bands, and there was all these bands who went "THAT is what I want to do !!" The Florida bands did have a different take on it then other areas though. We all instantly ran with the idea, yet tried to make it even heavier. Tuning our guitars down to C and below, really trying to sound "dark" no major scales, etc. But Florida was, even during that second wave of bands, a haven for Hair Metal bands. These guys way outnumbered us, even though they were cover bands for the most part, this was the predominant music style for the area. They hated us all too. All of us had more of an impact overseas than locally."
Do you recall those two following shows which definitively increased MASSACRE’s popularity at the time in the sense that they had been recorded at the soundboard (and video taped as well) and as a result were heavily traded in the tape trading network, Side Streets 4/20/86 gig (from where the 6 track live tape was taken from) and the Rock City 5/25/86 + 5/26/86 shows (beach shows)?
"Definitely. Like I told Frank earlier, I kept journals, flyers, tons of pix, etc. The Side Streets show was our second with MORBID ANGEL. It was also our first show with Rick and Kam. Just one week prior Alan West had been kicked out and we were worried about Rick remembering the parts. We had rented this huge P.A. system. Way too big for the club. The sound man had never heard us before and on the tape you can hear him screwing with some effects on Kams voice. The place was packed. Later that night the club owner swore we didn’t bring in enough people to cover the expenses and they took one of my basses which I never got back. The response from the locals was mixed though. Either you loved what we did, or completly hated us. I can still see all the guys with JUDAS PRIEST shirts standing in the back with their arms crossed, Kam calling out to "the posers in the back" to aggravate them. The Rock City shows were much better for us. We sounded tighter. It was us, MORBID ANGEL, EXECUTIONER, HELLWITCH, and a band called HAVOC. I remember them because the singer grabbed a flash pot during his set and his hand blew off. Instant bloody stump. Bill started puking everywhere. The heat was miserable and both he and I were sick from it. The show was kind of a showcase for David Vincent to come see us and MOR ANGEL. The show was supposed to start later in the day, but the inside club (we played outside) had booked THE GREG KIHN BAND to play and he was pissed about all the Metal guys hanging around. When MORBID ANGEL came on after us, this massive wind starting blowing and almost knocked the main support for the tent down on Trey Azagthoth. The tape for the first day we sent out like crazy the next week."
Did you get along well with MORBID ANGEL who were at the time (along with DEATH) next to MASSACRE the heaviest Florida band around (XECUTIONER were still in their early stages and HELLWITCH weren’t as heavy by any means)?
"It’s not like we were hanging out on the weekend grilling burgers together, but we definetly worked well together. We attracted a different crowd than each other, so when we played shows together we got a good response. By the Side Streets show, we were starting to draw skinheads and such while they had a freakier crowd following them. I remember Trey sitting in our sweltering practice garage, twitching while we played. We had just written some new stuff that he when asked how he liked it responded "it was damnation". During the first few years of the scene, yes there were disagreement with other bands about this and that, but for the most part we all got along, not like in the later years when bands would do anything to sabotage one another."
Talking about relationship, it seems the hatchet was far to be buried between parts of MASSACRE and Chuck Schuldiner as I remember that ‘The Traitor’ was written about Chuck and dedicated to him, what were your views on that stuff?
"Rick would come to practice badmouthing the guy, then next thing you know he was begging for his job back. I’m not going to slag a dead man. Kam called him the ”traitor" because he seemed to really hate Death Metal sometimes. There was a time he was bad mouthing us in the fanzines ,which pissed us off of course, but that was it. At the Side Street show Kam had the Evil Chuck Doll, a ventriloquist dummy, that he butched on stage after acting like the doll sucked his dick. People would send me stuff in the mail then after that. Homemade pins that read "Death to Evil Chuck"."
Talking about Chuck leads me to ask you why the band weren’t covering any other DEATH tune (from the point Rick had joined) other than ‘Corpse Grinder’? I mean, I’m pretty certain that Rick had collaborated on some other old DEATH tunes back then or maybe it was a deliberate choice to distant yourselves from DEATH?
"We played ‘Possesed By Darkness’ as well but only at practice. We wanted little to do with the connection to DEATH. Back then it didn’t mean that much to anyone that some of us played in DEATH. When we were starting out, DEATH was just another demo band. It wasn’t like Kam sang for METALLICA or something. ‘Corpsegrinder’ was a request at practice one night from these two local skinhead brothers, Matt and Mark. It sounded good, we played it."
If so, how did you feel to see articles or even tape trading lists where MASSACRE was always associated with the tag "ex-DEATH members" which was more predominant than say ex-CYANIDE?
"Since CYANIDE never released a thing it means nothing. I don’t see Greg Gall or Allen West adding it their resume either. Never had a singer, never put out anything. The "ex-DEATH" thing never bothered me. We didn’t add it."
If I remember correctly from the photos and videos I’ve seen it seems you at least had opted for a "gladiator" look on stage wearing stuff close to what Nasty Ronnie was wearing too at the time. Tell us more about the looking aspect adopted at the time.
"The original line up, we definetly looked more like "the road warrior" then later. Just for the first two, three shows. Got silly quick though. The first show with the original 5 piece line up looked like an advertisement for spiked leather clothing. We were idiot 18 year olds and didn’t know better. Funny thing was a few years later, Glen Benton of DEICIDE was wearing the same thing I was, just with more spikes and such added."
There was talks in mid 1986 that you were getting signed by Goreque Records (which was owned by David "Vincent" Stuppnig – later seen in MORBID ANGEL) but it didn’t happen at the end as it seems a few problems arose at the time… What did happen? Did you have other labels interested in the band?
"David Vincent was all over us and MORBID ANGEL. Telling everyone he had all this cash backing him, he wanted to sign us, etc. We talked to label guys constantly, driving to wherever we heard an AR rep might be, sending tapes out, you name it. Looking back I realize we should have just pressed the stuff ourselves and sold it like we did our demos. I still believe Vincent came in with the intention of joining a band, not signing one. I saw / heard what some of these early record companies did to the bands, produced the life right out of the music. The raw power of some of those great demo bands was translated to shit by engineers who didn’t understand what they were listening to. Some bands sound better in the studio. MORBID ANGEL sounded better than they did live, they needed that clean studio quality to really hear some of what Trey was playing. Live they could sound "brittle" at times. Like you couldn’t make out the more complex stuff. NASTY SAVAGE sounded better live. Dave Austin had a frantic energy / enthusiasm that came thru on stage, and Curtis’ drumming was always on live. So many bands later came out, trying to be heavy, but just plugging into a good distortion pedal and having some guy scream into a mic doesn’t make you heavy. Some of these bands played their guitars like they were afraid their tampon strings would fall out if the played too hard. Heaviness was in the "attack" of the instrument. The translation of your hostility and anger to the strings and thru your amp. If you were afraid of breaking a string you probably weren’t playing hard enough. The NUMBER ONE rule of Metal recording – the song must sound heavy and tight BEFORE you hit the studio. You can’t polish a turd."
Same story goes with Cobra Records as Rick claimed by the winter of 1986 that you had signed with ’em and an album called "From Beyond" was supposed to be issued by late ’87? Would you say that it was nothing but cheap talking?
"Cheap talk. If Rick got thru to someone at a record company (in between his calls to Dominoes Pizza) besides a receptionist, he would tell people we were getting signed. Rick and Kam both are well documented as being ultra lazy. I can’t recall either having a job during the entire time I was in the band. I ended up paying for all the studio time, laying out the cash for the first batches of t-shirts, etc. Rick would sit around all day in the apartment with Kam, then come to practice, after I went to pick them up since neither had a car, and tell us how he "talked to so and so at Combat who wants to talk to us" or "Brian Slagel’s assistant called to say he likes our demo but wants to hear more". At first we had no reason to doubt these statements, but it soon became obvious bullshit."
I remember that Rick had even given me a song list for that never released album and it had tracks that I’ve never heard anywhere such as ‘Triumph Of The Oppressed’ and ‘Unseen Force’, was it only working titles or do you remember having performed those songs live at least?
"Never heard of those titles, guarantee Kam didn’t come up with those too. You sure they aren’t STRYPER songs? Compare the older songs, even the ones that ended up on "From Beyond" which we played for years, to the later stuff. What happened?"
Still about that album, the three songs from the first demo weren’t part anymore of that never released album or from late ’86 performances. Why did you give up on those songs? Was it because they were partly writtenby Allen?
"Not really, they just didn’t fit anymore. We would play ‘Aggressive Tyrant’ occasionally but that’s it. We were still all 19-20 years old, and you get bored quick with things at that age. We also still played ‘Infestation Of Death’ which was based on a riff by JP Shartier, one of the original 5."
By the way, since 1986 or so, I own a studio recording of "Cryptic Realms"… Do you remember having been in the studio in 1986 and having maybe started doing some tracking for that aborted EP for Goreque or whatever? Tell us more about this recording… Does more studio session like this exist?
"It’s probably the tape we made with ‘Chamber Of Ages’, ‘Clangor Of War’ and ‘Symbolic Immortality’ as well. I sent Frank the version with no vocals. If it’s the same it’s our second studio demo I mentioned in the earlier interview. We made that tape to shop to record labels after the Goreque thing became a joke. This one was the last tape we made together besides all the practice tapes we kept sending out."
You’ve mentioned Robbie Goodwin, at which point did he join MASSACRE? I guess it was after the first demo (as he wasn’t on the 4/20/86 show) and why did you part ways with him? Did you try to have another guitarist after him to get a heavier sound?
"Robbie joined late in the game. He looked like a skinny Rick Rozz too. He was always hanging out and Rick wanted a second guitarist so he could solo more (haha). Plus I was always loud as hell so Rick probably wanted more guitar in the sound, since sometimes you could only hear him during his whammy bar masturbation. Robbie wrote the riffs to ‘Biohazard’. He was kicked out after I was. I spoke with Terry Butler a few years ago when I would still see him at the gym, and he told me it was because of drugs that he was removed. I spoke with Butler at lenghts about what happened later, he told me Rick was kicked out after he fell in love with a stripper and Billy had since met some girl in Japan and moved there to be with her."
I remember that you had newsletters coming out on a regular basis and with those you were not only promoting MASSACRE but also other deathly acts such as REPULSION, SEPULTURA and album releases… Who was doing those newsletters and why did you do it that way?
"I was doing those newsletters, and I am amazed anyone saw them outside of the Tampa area. Here we were, in all these fanzines around the world, yet no one locally knew us. It was a way to try and attract a bigger audience. We believed creating a big enough buzz at home would help attract the label interest. Why did I talk about other bands? I was trading tapes and t-shirts with guys like Max from SEPULTURA who was one of those people that sent me 3.50 for our demo way back when, and we just started writing. He sent me his tape (in Portugese). Some of these other bands became our friends, telling their local pals about us, and I did the same here in Tampa. Spreading the word any way you can I guess. The early bands had no problem helping each other out."
When you’ve left MASSACRE (around late November 1986 I guess, as they’ve performed a show in Brandon on 12/20/86 without a bassplayer) the Florida Death / Thrash Metal scene was becoming stronger everyday with the likes of EXECUTIONER (who had shortened their moniker to XECUTIONER), RAVAGE or SEAWEED etc. How did you view the Florida scene at the time and later on around 1990 when it reached its peak?
"I exited 3 days before the show you mentioned. That is the gig with ATHEIST I spoke of previously. The rumours on why I was out ranged from I was going to school to play football to I was "too tall" and made Rick feel short and fat. Later when Rick and Bill joined DEATH a lot of my friends were going "hmmmmmm?" The scene became ugly in Tampa. Very competitive and very negative. It came to the point right before I moved to Ft. Lauderdale that it became "interchangeable" where any guy from any other band could take someones place and you wouldn’t know the difference. Everyone recorded at Morrisound , everyone had a logo you couldn’t read, it became generic. Of course there were standouts, but most of it was nothing special. There were still few places to play, and it’s not like a thousand people came to your show, it was just overrun with bands. I went to see DEATH and DEVASTATION one night in Tampa on support for "Spiritual Healing". There was less than 100 people there. Tampa was never the mythical land of Eternal Metal some people made it out to be. A lot of bands started here, that’s all."
Have you bumped into some of your ex-partners in MASSACRE over the years? Would you have accepted to do a couple of bass lines on the "From Beyond" if you had been asked to?
"I ran into Bill before he moved to Japan a few years ago. He was still working at the nursery he worked at before. Covered in dirt and sweat and smelling like fertilizer. He told me he was fed up with it all, and that Roadrunner had ruined everything he had worked for all those years. I just recently moved back to the Tampa area, and when I go to the music store to get strings I always seem to run into someone from back then. Either someone from another band, or someone who still recognizes me. The old record store we all used to sell our stuff at is now a tattoo shop, but the black spraypainted graffiti MASSACRE still bleeds thru the paint on the back outside wall a bit. Yeah, I probably would have agreed to play on "From Beyond" especially ‘Chamber Of Ages’ and ‘Cryptic Realms’ . I remember sitting at the dining room table in my mothers house at 2:00am with Rick. We were unplugged and just dicking around when we came up with the riffs and progression for ‘Chamber…’. The next day at practice we put it all together. The opening thing I was playing for years, back when I thought Steve Harris was the man."
How do you view this album minus those keyboard parts that have replaced some of your bass parts? Would you say that this recording presents MASSACRE old material at its best or would you say that the demo stuff was superior?
"I don’t think they had a lot of say in the production. Parts of it were stiff sounding to me, once again trying too hard to make something "polished" sounding when it sounds better in the rough. This isn’t YO YO MA or Dave Bruebeck, this was METAL. Terry played the bass parts a bit differently than I did, more subdued I felt. I still want to know what idiot said "I think keyboards would sound good here" My favorite is still the rough mix to demo two I sent to Frank. Nothing captured the energy like that tape. Plus you can hear how sloppy Rick could be. If you listen to the tape, then the tape with vocals later, you can hear how Kam would cover up Ricks mistakes with screams."
How do you view the totally awful album titled "Promise" which was issued under the name MASSACRE and as a result ruined the name forever?
"Embarrasing to say the least. I don’t know what they were thinking. "Promise" to what? Suck balls? Once again, Rick had this idea to slowly change direction, he wanted to become a rock star. "Promise" may be the worst Death Metal release ever. I’m not saying that because of the circumstances but friends don’t let friends listen to bad Death Metal. Thankfully it’s the older songs that are popping up as cover songs on other bands CDs now. Some of those songs are 16 years old. I think it’s funny that people listen to them."
One aspect of MASSACRE’s material that wasn’t that strong (but wasn’t that obvious at the time – and certainly became much more apparent on the DEATH albums due to the much more technical side of the music) was Bill’s one dimensional drumming which was so damn boring to hear at least with DEATH, what’s your views on this?
"At the time it worked. At first all we cared about was being powerful and heavy, in that order. Bill had barely been playing for 1 year when we made the first demo. But I agree that he didn’t have a lot of tricks up his sleeve."
Over the years a few MASSACRE bootleg vinyls and CDs have been released, concerning recordings when you were still in the band. There’s one picture Lp called "Infestation Of Demos" and a CD called "Infestation Of Death" featuring the demos and that 6 track live recording. Are you aware of this and what do you think of this?
"I’m aware of these. I joke with my brother it’s probably Kam who released them. He might make some money off of MASSACRE after all !!"
Frank Stöver / Laurent Ramadier