REPULSION were formed in 1985 under the name GENOCIDE in Flint / Michigan, USA. They were influenced by a wide variety of bands like DISCHARGE, CELTIC FROST / HELLHAMMER and NWOBHM music. The classic line up of Scott Carlson (vocals, bass), Aaron Freeman (guitar), Matt Olivo (guitar) and Dave Grave (drums) recorded the legendary "Stench Of Burning Death" demo in January, 1986. It was released to a tremendous response throughout the underground and helped gain them a static following of fans of intense music with horror-inspired lyrics, a sub-genre of underground music still in its infancy. It was this foundation that ultimately became the basis of what is reknowned today as "Grindcore". In every respect, GENOCIDE were among the first wave of true pioneers of this style of music, if not the innovators. Shortly after release of the demo, it became apparent that many other bands with the name GENOCIDE existed in the world (at the time, the cult band from Massachussets with Bobby Ebz as frontman and the classic Heavy Metal band from Japan were the most well-known). The band changed their name to REPULSION to avert any confusion and not to be mistaken for these other bands. It was also in 1986 that "Evil" Chuck Schuldiner of Florida Death Metal pioneers DEATH (who himself had just returned from a very brief and disatrous association with Canada’s SLAUGHTER) asked Scott and Matt to move to Florida to become members of DEATH. They agreed and REPULSION was put on hold for a short time. This arrangement did not work out and in 1986 Scott and Matt returned to Michigan (while Chuck went to San Francisco, California… another story in itself) and REPULSION was reborn after a brief hiatus. Upon their return the band recorded their classic LP entitled "Slaughter Of The Innocent" with Doug Earp in Flint, Michigan. The LP was originally intended to be released on Earp’s own label, Wyatt Earp Records, but this never occured and the album was nearly fated to never see a vinyl release. The band continued to spread mayhem and extreme Thrash on a small scale during 1987 until Matt Olivo joined the armed forces and REPULSION played their final show in January 1988. It wasn’t until 1989 when CARCASS members Bill Steer and Jeff Walker (who at the time were starting their own label Necrosis Records) obtained permission to release the "Slaughter Of The Innocent" LP on their own label. Changing the name of the LP to "Horrified", the long-awaited release of the LP more than sealed REPULSION’s fate as the undisputed masters of Death / Grind with 18 classic tracks, fierce and raw production (including the advent of the often imitated, but never duplicated, "Scott Carlson double-track bass sound" and the well-abused "blast-beat"), and their inimitable style, refreshlingly original even to this day. Due to the extreme popularity of the LP release (bolstered by distribution and licensing from Earache Records), REPULSION finally reunited as a three-piece band (Matt was still in the Army) and in January of 1991 recorded their demo intitled "Rebirth". Some months later, Relapse Records released two of the demo tracks as a 7" entitled "Excruciation". This well-received release of the band led to a renew in interest and Relapse soon obtained the rights to license and re-issue "Horrified" in 1992 with a track from the GENOCIDE demo (‘Black Nightmare’) as a bonus track. The band continued to play occasional shows around the States and in that same year, Matt returned from the army and re-joined the band for a while. In 1993, the band finally called it a day. As it is with band of such legendary statue, REPULSION will live forever as the true godfathers of Grinding Death Thrash, with several imitators and no equal. Hail to REPULSION!
Here’s an interview with former member Scott Carlson…
Can you tell me more about the pre-REPULSION band GENOCIDE, when the first idea grew to form this band and who played in it?
"The whole thing sort of evolved unconsciously, Matt and I had been playing together since about age 14, playing JUDAS PRIEST covers in the bedroom and stuff. When we got into high school we met his guy Sean MacDonald and together we discovered IRON MAIDEN, MOTÖRHEAD, METALLICA, GBH, DISCHARGE, CRUCIFIX, CELTIC FROST etc. Looking at those influences you can see how it quickly became more and more extreme. In those days (around 1984) I sang, Matt on guitar, Sean on bass and James Auten on drums. Phil Hines of DISSONANCE replaced James briefly in late ’84."
Was the “Stench Of Burning Death” tape the only official release from GENOCIDE, because I have some rather good rehearsal tapes called “Armies Of The Dead” and “Violent Death”?
"Those tapes were sent out as demos to various fanzines and key tape traders in an effort to raise the profile of the band on the underground scene. We were very aware of the success of METALLICA, EXODUS and a few others achieved by circulating demos through the underground. So basically yeah, we considered them demos even though they were crudely recorded."
Why the change in name from GENOCIDE into REPULSION? I guess there were many bands around with that name?
"Firstly, it’s a bad name. I don’t like what it stands for and never would have chosen it if I weren’t so young and naive. Secondly, when ten other bands from around the globe started writing with claims to the name I figured it was the perfect excuse for us to change our name. REPULSION was a name that I always liked from the Roman Polanski film. I had just written a song called ‘Repulsion’ and it just seemed like the right name. It was a fairly painless transition as word travelled quickly through the underground network. And this was way before the internet explosion! The name GENOCIDE stuck around four months."
Did Chuck of DEATH contact you and Matt personally to join DEATH after the “Infernal Death” tape or was it the other way?
"Chuck and I had been writing back and forth and the situation came up that they needed a bass player. I first suggested Sean MacDonald for the job but after Chuck fired Rick Rozz he asked Matt and me to join. We felt bad for Sean at the time because he was very disappointed and probably quite mad at us. After going down there to Florida and having Kam Lee quit shortly thereafter, Sean was probably glad he didn’t go!"
Why the short stay in DEATH and did you record anything with them?
"The short stay was due to two things. The previously mentioned departure of Kam and the differences in direction that quickly arose between Chuck and us. Matt and I wanted to get faster, more raw and punked out with short songs and even shorter guitar solos. If you listen to GENOCIDE and DEATH demos the material is similar. Then listen to “Scream Bloody Gore” and “Horrified”. It’s apparent that we headed in different directions. Having said that, I have tons of respect for Chuck’s accomplishment and we remained friendly after the split. A good friend of mine just gave me a rehearsal tape from May ’85 that features the Chuck / Kam / Matt / Scott line-up. In late ’85 we returned to Michigan and reformed the band with a new drummer and me playing bass as well as singing."
If I’m not mistaken wasn’t the “Horrified” album originally a demo called “Slaughter Of The Innocent”?
"That is correct. We were going to call the album “Slaughter Of The Innocent” but when no label showed interest in releasing it we decided to sell it through the underground as a demo."
Did other labels show interest in REPULSION before you were approached by Necrosis Records to release the “Horrified” album in 1989?
"Not one. We sent an unmixed demo of the album to every known Metal label of the day. We received several rejection letters from labels saying it was not what they were looking for. I can’t really blame them. I think the most extreme Metal record at the time was probably SODOM “In The Sign Of Evil” and even they were starting to refine their sound."
In 1991 there was a sudden reunion of REPULSION, which resulted in the re-release of the “Horrified” album and the “Rebirth” tape. Although Matt didn’t join in this short venture, why?
"He was in the military at that time. Still, he wrote one of the songs on the “Rebirth” tape and re-joined after the discharge from the military."
Why the change in label?
"Because the Earache / Necrosis contract had expired and they showed no interest in re-releasing the record. Relapse was a new and hungry label that moved fast. They released a new REPULSION single and quickly re-issued the “Horrified” CD."
Wasn’t there a 1992 demo tape recorded but never released? Why did you never release this? I guess REPULSION split after this
"Yeah, the band broke up during the recording of this demo, which resulted in it remaining unfinished. I had lost interest and was itching to move out of Flint, Michigan. It was somewhat a return to form with blast beats mixed in with thrashy stuff but it was too late for me. I just couldn’t maintain my enthusiasm for the band and I moved to Chicago."
Relapse Records is releasing a double album with old GENOCIDE and REPULSION material, can you tell me more about this and what will be on it?
"It will be like getting an old compilation cassette from a band member. Every demo is there as well as a few live and rehearsal tracks. It will even include songs from the aborted 1992 demo. The booklet will have tons of old photos and thorough liner notes. You will never need another version of this record again."
Are there maybe some gigs planned to promote his double album? It would be cool to see REPULSION in Europe!
"Highly unlikely! It would be possible but I don’t think it would have the same conviction or intensity that it had back in ’86. We regret that the band never got the chance to play for the European fans."
What are you and the other members of REPULSION doing nowadays? Are you still in contact with each other and are they still involved with music?
"Matt and I are both in Los Angeles working in audio editing for television. Aaron is a computer draftsman for the auto industry in Michigan and Dave is in Detroit working for his father-in-law’s business. He’s doing quite well. We all stay in touch a bit, it gets harder and harder as we live far apart. We all still play music but I think I’m the only one still in a band. I’m playing guitar for a heavy rock band called THE SUPERBEES."
Do you still personally follow the scene today?
"I don’t know anything about the Death Metal scene today. I’m sure there are still bands out there that are pushing the boundaries and finding new ways of playing extreme Metal. I’m impressed with the staying power that Death Metal has displayed."
Well Scott, many thanks for this interview, any final words to say?
"Hey, thank you for still keeping the flame alive after all these years. It’s kind of weird to realise but GENOCIDE / REPULSION existed as a working unit for only 10 months. There were numerous attempts to re-form but the energy and commitment just never equalled that extremely productive period from September ’85 to June ’86. I think it is great that people like you still dig it. I’m just happy that people are still enjoying REPULSION and hope that new fans discover “Horrified” and all the others early practitioners of extreme Metal from SIR LORD BALTIMORE to EXODUS (“Bonded By Blood”) to HELLHAMMER to Toronto’s SLAUGHTER! Know your history, it will serve you well! Cheers!"
Here’s a couple of bands that already payed tribute to REPULSION by covering the band’s material on of their own releases: Napalm Death (‘Maggots In Your Coffin’), Entombed (‘Black Breath’), Mortician (‘Horrified’) and Goatkiller (‘The Stench Of Burning Death’).
In the near future there’s gonna be a tribute to REPULSION supposed to come out on Incise To Excise Productions. Here’s the list of bands that will appear on it: IMPALED, EXHUMED, DISGORGE, HAEMORRHAGE, WTN, ENGORGED, GHOUL, LORD GORE, BILEPUSCESS, TRANSGRESSOR, BIRDFLESH, PSYCHO, NAUSEA (L.A.), DISASTROUS MURMUR and ANARCHUS.
(the interview originally appeared in SLAYER MAG # 17 and was used with kind permission – intro / history and updates were taken from www.geocities.com/repulsion_band/)