There might have been several interviews with Canada’s Thrash legend SACRIFICE in the past, but I seriously doubt that any one of them ever came any close to the following with guitarist / vocalist Rob Urbinati and bassplayer Scott Watts, which originally got published in Snakepit Magazine # 10 and covers the band’s entire career in the most detailed way. Thanx to Laurent Ramadier you’ll get a chance to read it here now as well – enjoy!
Do you remember how and when you exposed / discovered Metal music to start with?
Rob: “My older brothers listened to 70’s Rock so I was always exposed to it. My mother still tells me about I would jump around in my brother’s room when I was about five listening to ALICE COOPER or something… I remember liking “Welcome To My Nightmare” because of all the bugs on the cover. I can’t stand it now though! I think the first Metal I really listened to over and over was from a compilation album my brother had called “Fantastic”. This record had songs by Elton John, etc… hits of the early 70’s, but one song from that which always stuck with me that I loved was ‘Hocus Pocus’ by a band called FOCUS. Something about the heavy guitars and the faster rhythms got me even as a child. I still love that song today. When I was a little older, I remember hearing the song ‘Black Sabbath’ on the radio. As a kid that song actually scared me! I think those were definitely two songs that shaped my musical tastes. KISS was another band I was really into.”
Scott: “My first Metal experience from what I can remember was BLACK SABBATH’s “Master Of Reality”. I used to hang out at my friend’s house and his older brothers would bring this stuff home and my friend would put it on for me. From there I moved on to like RUSH, DEEP PURPLE etc… they weren’t Metal but it was the heaviest stuff around in the mid to late 70’s that I was exposed too. Then one day I was at my aunt’s house for a relatives birthday and we were watching New Music (the show) and I discovered “Eddie”. It was the ‘Woman In Uniform’ video by IRON MAIDEN and I was hooked. From that day I wanted to have long hair and play in a Metal band and I did.”
Was it easy to be a Metaller in Toronto in the early 80’s or did people look at you as if you came from another planet?
Rob: “Sure, sometimes people would look at the leather and pentagrams and think something might be wrong with you. In high school people weren’t too bad other than looking at our VENOM patches and asking if we worship Satan. I think we liked being hated, because we hated the high school environment. In our last year of school we were already playing clubs and recording so people that maybe looked down on us before were now being looked down upon. That felt great to have people want to talk to you that wouldn’t have given you the time two years ago, and just turn your back to them or tell them to go fuck themselves.”
Scott: “I guess it was easy, I really didn’t care what people thought of me or how I looked. I liked my music heavy and so did my friends and that’s all that mattered.”
In the early 80’s, before you were involved with SACRIFICE, were you already friends with Toronto musicians like Dave Read (DEATH MILITIA), Terry Sadler, Ron Summers (both from SLAUGHTER), Paul Garvey (BEYOND), Mark Faria (DEATH MILITIA) etc… who were not involved in bands yet either? I mean did you go in the same clubs, record stores etc?
Rob: “I think we met the SLAUGHTER guys at a store called the Record Peddler. This was one of the only stores in Toronto that had underground Metal on the shelves, the employees would play all the new stuff for us, a lot of us would meet up there. Although most of us were underage, a legendary bar called Larry’s Hideaway let most of us in. That club was our Metal scene along with the Record Peddler. SACRIFICE and SLAUGHTER were really the only two Thrash bands back then so most of the musicians we met later when their bands started up.”
Scott: “I was friends with one of Terry Saddlers brothers before I met him. I didn’t meet Dave Read until about ’85 I guess and I met him through Joe Rico. Ron Summers, Paul Garvey I didn’t meet till years later. Mark Faria was just a little kid back then who hung out with my brother. He really wasn’t a person who was part of the beginning of the Toronto Metal scene – no offense to Mark but he really was just a kid at that point. I used to see all those guys at the Record Peddler, hanging out on Yonge Street and hangin’ at Larry’s Hideaway. We, plus a bunch of other people were probably the first people to be around when the Metal underground scene started in Toronto.”
At which point did you start getting more into underground Metal bands exactly and not only into big bands such as MAIDEN, PRIEST etc…? I mean I’m sure you got into EXODUS for example way before their album came out like tons of others Metallers…
Rob: “We were lucky to have a show on a big radio station here called “Midnite Metal Hour” which came on Saturdays and played all the new stuff from SCORPIONS to MERCYFUL FATE. That show turned me on to a lot of stuff. I can’t really say at what point because it was so gradual. TYGERS OF PAN TANG, MOTÖRHEAD, MAIDEN were all on major labels and easy to find, when I started to realize there was more bands like that I just hunted the records down. Joe and I were actually given the EXODUS tape by SLAYER way before it came out but I’ll get into that later. When I met Terry Sadler from SLAUGHTER, he introduced us to the tape trading that was happening back then and that turned me on to even more bands. I can’t describe how exciting it was for me the first time I heard songs like ‘666’ by ANVIL, ‘Stand Up And Fight’ by EXCITER, ‘Fast As A Shark’ by ACCEPT, I could go on and on.”
Scott: “The first time I got into the underground bands was one night (1983) driving home from a buddies place and I was listening to the Metal hour on Q107 in Toronto, it was about 1am or something. They played METALLICA ‘Anesthesia – Pulling Teeth / Whiplash’ – first time I ever heard it – into EXCITER’s ‘Stand Up And Fight’ into ANVIL’s ‘Motormount’ and FUCK it totally raged. I was hooked. Those were the three heaviest tunes I ever heard at the time back to back to back.”
Actually what did you find so exciting with that new Metal stuff that appeared first with VENOM, TANK, RAVEN, ACID, SATAN and later with EXCITER, METALLICA, TROUBLE etc…?
Rob: “Speed, rawness, heaviness, and just the fact that these bands were unknown to everyone but us. I always wanted something heavier. When I first heard VENOM I almost shit myself! I thought that “Black Metal” would always be the heaviest album ever, and in some ways I still think that. All the bands you mentioned I loved… the N.W.O.B.H.M. stuff I think is where the whole underground started. It’s such a shame that most of it has been forgotten. It makes me sick when these newer Metal bands have no idea where the stuff they play comes from none other than SABBATH, and SLAYER. SATAN’s “Court In The Act”, TANK “ Filth Hounds Of Hades”, ACID “Maniac”, SAVAGE “Loose And Lethal”… these are all classics. SAVAGE and SATAN had guitar tones that almost stand up to today’s computerized preamps and mesa boogies, and they were probably just playing straight into Marshalls. EXCITER on the “Heavy Metal Maniac” album still has the rawest guitar tone I’ve ever heard. TROUBLE totally influenced my riffing style. I also hear many put down METALLICA, but if they had any idea how much “Kill ‘Em All” means to what they listen to today… I can’t describe how fast ‘Whiplash’ sounded back then, or how they changed the way Metal guitar is played. Every Black, Speed, Death, Thrash, Grindcore, whatever Metal band owes them. They’re all almost 40… if they want to play Rock‘n’Roll now let them… even if it is shit.”
Scott: “It was so fuckin’ heavy and aggressive and posers couldn’t handle it, and still can’t.”
Were you influenced somewhat by what local Canadian Hard Rock / Heavy Metal bands such as RAPID TEARS, ANVIL or even SANTERS, TRIUMPH, MOXY and RUSH were doing?
Rob: “ANVIL definitely influenced me a lot, especially since they were local. I remember Jeff Becerra from POSSESSED was in Toronto once and at one of our shows I introduced him to Lips from ANVIL. It looked like Jeff met god!! I think all bands from our era really respected them. They were a little ahead of their time maybe and didn’t get the breaks to make it big unfortunately. RAPID TEARS had a couple of songs I liked, but nothing special. RUSH were a band that my brothers got me into that influenced me after our first album. The other bands were ones that my brothers liked, and I did too somewhat but not as an influence.”
Scott: “No none of those bands had any influence on me at all. But I really loved RUSH – still do, and I thought ANVIL was great.”
How did the idea to form a Speed Metal band with Joe come up exactly? I mean it’s not because you both liked Metal that you had to form a band, know what I mean?
Rob: “There were no bands here playing the new style of Metal which wasn’t even called Thrash yet back then… we called it Speed Metal. Joe lived down the street from me and we both liked the same kinds of bands so we decided to find a bassist and drummer. We weren’t really thinking about being rock stars or anything, we were still just learning how to play back in 82 / 83 or so. It was a simple idea to begin with.”
You were joined by Scott Watts, a singer named John Baldy and a drummer, do you remember who those first drummers were? I mean I know you had a drummer named Craig Boyle back around late ’84 but you had many others before correct?!
Rob: “The first drummer Joe and I ever rehearsed with was named Andrew Banks, we were just learning to play like I said and we just played JUDAS PRIEST and SABBATH songs. We didn’t even have real amps or anything… just small practice amps. Eventually we got in touch with Joe’s old school friend Scott Watts to play bass and he introduced us to our first drummer Craig Boyle. He was a great drummer but at the time he was more into playing a MAIDEN style and the rest of us wanted to play more like VENOM. Our second drummer was more of a fill in for a couple of shows. His name was Ernst Flach and while a good drummer, he didn’t really have the skills to play fast. That was our problem really… no drummers had heard of this new fast style we wanted to play. That was our drummer history up until Gus.”
So when you started late ’83, what kind of material did you play exactly? Did you start to play covers of fast stuff immediately or did you start playing maybe PRIEST, MAIDEN or whatever covers? Tell us more about those very early days!
Rob: “We started out with songs like ‘Violence And Force’, ‘The Four Horsemen’, ‘Show No Mercy’ and writing our own material as well. When we first got together to fuck around we were playing MAIDEN, PRIEST, SCORPIONS, SABBATH when we were still learning to play. Joe was always a better player than me and taught me a lot back then. We really didn’t know what to do at first, but we came along quickly. It took a while before I was at a level where I could play tight with Joe.”
During 1984 bands like METALLICA and SLAYER played for the first time in Toronto, did you catch those gigs and did they somewhat influence your band direction… I mean the way they used speed on stage especially SLAYER, not necessarily the music but the savage factor they had at that time…
Rob: “Seeing METALLICA with Cliff Burton was exceptional. That was a great show I will never forget. When we heard SLAYER was coming we were really excited about it so the night before they played, Joe and I went down to Larry’s Hideaway which was a bar / hotel to see if they were in town. We went in and Jeff, Tom and Dave were at a table drinking… they were pretty much unknown back then. We were about 16 years old and we ended up having Hanneman buying us beers and talking about music at their table that night. Kerry seemed to keep to himself, but the other three were just how any kid would want to be treated by their idols. They told us about a great band called EXODUS and gave us a tape, invited us back for soundcheck the next day where they played stuff off “Hell Awaits” that wasn’t even out yet. I still remember Jeff telling me about this new song he just wrote about this demented Nazi doctor and we all know what that turned out to be. I think how cool they were to two kids and how numbing their show was definitely influenced our initial direction.”
Scott: “Oh yeah seeing SLAYER for the first time at Larry’s Hideaway was unbelievable. They opened up a whole new door to the scene in Toronto – especially for SACRIFICE. What SLAYER was doing was exactly what I had in mind for what I wanted to play. I think that was a great motivational boost for me to get into a Thrash band and get the Toronto scene on the map. Also seeing METALLICA with Cliff Burton at the Concert Hall was a show come true even though that night was fuckin’ cold as hell outside. They showed us why they were the Gods of Metal of that time.”
Late ’84 a demo / rehearsal featuring ‘The Four Horsemen’, ‘Turn In Your Grave’ and ‘Warriors Of Death’ (live) was offered to the underground and traded, do you remember that recording as its never cited in your interviews?
Rob: “Sorry, I can’t remember the one you are talking about, we sent a few rehearsal tapes around back then and called them demos.”
If that’s correct you played your first show in Toronto at Larry’s Hideaway on January 12th 1985 opening for a Glam band which had Sebastian Bach (later seen in SKID ROW) in its ranks and your short set consisted of EXCITER, SLAYER and METALLICA covers including one of your first originals ‘Turn In Your Grave’, do you remember how that first show ever went? I mean was it hard to be accepted by a crowd which I suppose was mainly composed of Glam rockers?
Rob: “The band we opened for was called HERRENVOLK and were a Glam band… there wasn’t really any other bands to play with then. We weren’t even a remotely polished band back then but people here were hungry for something heavier and we went over really well. We had friends in the scene who told their friends we were playing and after that show I knew that this was definitely what I wanted to do. We did play covers because we didn’t really have original songs yet, but I guess that’s how every band gets their start. I only sang one song at that show which was ‘Turn In Your Grave’. Remembering back now, SACRIFICE had many headbangers at the front of the stage and HERRENVOLK had people sitting and watching them.”
Another demo (rehearsal I should say) was issued in January ’85 featuring ‘The Four Horsemen’, ‘Violence And Force’, ‘Creeping death’, ‘Turn In Your Grave’ and ‘Crionics’, what can you tell us about that tape as you also never talk about it? What was the purpose with those tapes which mainly featured covers by the way?
Rob: “Honestly I can’t remember those old tapes. Maybe we just really wanted people to trade our tapes and maybe get noticed by fanzines at the time. Seeing SACRIFICE on someone’s tape list was a huge reward for us back then. We were maybe a little too eager to get our start perhaps. I remember getting old VOIVOD demos / rehearsals back then, and I thought it was kind of fun listening to a band covering such underground material as MERCYFUL FATE and VENOM.”
John Baldy was fired after that first show in early 1985, correct? What happened with him? How did that come that you became the singer from that point?
Rob: “John Baldy was a friend of Craig our first drummer and he threatened to quit if we got another singer. Joe, Scott and I felt he wasn’t the right man for the band right from the start. In rehearsal one day I just stepped up to the mic when he wasn’t there and Joe and Scott encouraged me to keep going. I think my vocal style was maybe too heavy for Craig at the time. After our first show we told Craig and John that SACRIFICE would be going in a heavier direction with me as vocalist. The three of us were worried about finding another drummer as good as him but everything worked out in the end.”
So let’s talk about Craig now, he was replaced by Gus Pynn, how did that happen exactly?
Rob: “Craig was into the fast double bass thing, but we wanted to play faster like METALLICA and SLAYER. He wasn’t really into going any further than the speed of EXCITER or ACCEPT. It’s ironic that much later on he joined a local band here called LETHAL PRESENCE for a while and as I remember it was probably faster than SACRIFICE!! He just wasn’t into taking a chance at the time when it was so new I guess. We put some ads on a musicians wanted thing on a local radio station describing what direction we wanted to go and our influences. Almost no one who responded had any idea what we were all about. Just when we almost felt like giving up, we got a phone call from a guy named Gus Pynn who actually knew the bands we liked.”
When you started rehearsing with Gus, did you immediately feel that he was the right guy for SACRIFICE?
Rob: “Immediately. He was enthusiastic – maybe too much, knew the material, needed a bit more practice on the drums but we felt his style was what SACRIFICE needed. His personality was a bit loud but musically he fit. The three of us felt very relieved when he joined that day, knowing that we finally had a drummer.“
Scott: “Oh yeah the first jam with Gus, me, Rob and Joe looked at each other and knew this was the right guy for the band. It’s just too bad we parted on a bad note because we ended up losing a good bandmate and a friend – enough said.”
So armed with what would become in my eyes the classic SACRIFICE line up, you did more shows in Toronto mainly with local acts such as SLAUGHTER and wrote new material to the point that Brian Taylor who owned the Record Peddler offered to record a seven song demo tape, "The Exorcism" in June ’85, two months after the classic SLAUGHTER "Surrender Or Die" demo was recorded. What kind of memories do you have from that recording?
Rob: “Brian didn’t own the Peddler, he was an employee who we all got to know really well. He asked us and the guys from SLAUGHTER to come down and talk and he offered to pay for our recordings and he would sell them at the store to make back the money. He was in a local hardcore band called YOUTH YOUTH YOUTH and sold Punk bands demos previously. We all agreed and got ready to fulfill our dreams of recording. When “Surrender Or Die” was done we were really excited about the sound quality and thought ours would be similar. Our “The Exorcism” demo didn’t come close to the sound of theirs, but we were glad to have a real demo finally. Gus had a problem we would harass him about a lot which was that he wouldn’t pound his snare drum. You can only hear hi hats on the fast parts of that demo. He did correct the problem for our first album, and we did learn from that small recording. The small studio we used was called Accusonic and was on the top floor of what is now the building which houses Canada’s music video network Much Music. It was fairly decrepit back then in ’85 but the building has been renovated since and I can’t believe it’s the same place.”
Scott: “The memory I have the most is that I called myself Scott “the fuckin’ bass” Watts. That’s pretty funny (laughs). Recording for the first time was so cool, a real learning experience that’s for sure. I didn’t realize at the time – due to lack of experience, that it took so long to record a demo. The outcome ended up being great especially because it helped starting the underground Metal scene in Toronto. That summer I took it down to Florida and I met Chuck from DEATH and a bunch of his friends who had a magazine that was pretty big in the underground Metal scene – I forget the name of the mag (It was Guillotine – Laurent). They loved the demo which in turn helped us get into the U.S scene.”
Talking about SLAUGHTER and SACRIFICE, the two bands were like "brothers", since you were on the same label, had started at around the same time etc… how did it happen that you developed such a great friendship with them because there was lots of complicity between you and no rivalry at all? Did you share the same rehearsal room or was it because you both came from Scarborough?
Rob: “I can’t remember exactly how we all became friends but we all had music in common and used to get together at Terry’s or Dave’s house and listen to Metal. As I remember Joe and I encouraged them to start a band and showed them a few things on guitar, as we had been playing a bit longer than them. Terry was older than the rest of us and had been a singer in a PRIEST style band so we all kind of looked up to him a bit. He was the one who always had the new demos and traded tapes all over the world. Terry was also kind of insane and he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He was like a Speed Metal GG Allin or something. We both liked each others band’s and I’m sure there was a little rivalry or jealousy back then, but we were really good friends who just liked Metal.”
Let’s talk a bit more about SLAUGHTER, did you check out some of their rehearsals when Chuck Schuldiner had joined the band in early January ’86? If so what do you remember from that brief stint of him in that band?
Rob: “I thought they were joking when they said Chuck was coming up to play in SLAUGHTER, but Joe and I went to Terry’s one night and there was Chuck sitting on his couch. We had all followed his stuff ever since his band was called MANTAS but at the time I think SLAUGHTER might have been bigger in the underground than DEATH. I never got to actually see them rehearse but I heard the tapes… I think they even did the DEATH song ‘Evil Dead’. Anyway, Chuck didn’t stay very long but he was totally cool with everybody and easy to get along with. I never did find out why he went home to Florida but I think he had a disagreement with Dave Hewson maybe… I’m not sure.”
Well that “Exorcist” demo was traded heavily in the underground Metal scene, just like your live and rehearsal tapes, would you say that tape trading helped lots of bands gain exposure at that time to the point that alot of bands wouldn’t have maybe gone very far without that underground scene?
Rob: “Tape trading was all we had back then along with fanzines. Those were the only two methods of getting exposure!! DEATH in particular I think wouldn’t have got so big if it wasn’t for this type of underground exposure… Chuck was so controversial in the underground back then, people would always start rumors about him, it was crazy. The rivalry between DEATH and his former band mates in MASSACRE was incredible. I think that is why Chuck is so respected in Metal today because he came from that era where all we cared about was getting our demos out to people and fuck all the mainstream music. Being in Canada, and getting mail from at the time Eastern Bloc countries like Poland, Czechslovakia, U.S.S.R., or Asia, or South America, we couldn’t believe the response from all these places from just a demo.”
By the way, why do you think so many Metal or crossover bands were popping up from everywhere in the Ontario area and mainly in Toronto during 1984 / 1985 with acts such as MASSACRE (with a member later seen in DEATH MILITIA), GUERILLA WARFARE, D.O.G., HOLOCAUST, BEYOND, DARK LEGION, TERMINAL RAGE, SUDDEN IMPACT, MAL HAVOC (before they turned to being an Industrial sounding band), LETHAL PRESENCE etc…
Rob: “I think people saw the success SACRIFICE and SLAUGHTER were having locally and in the underground and thought they could do it too. Some Hardcore bands like SUDDEN IMPACT and DIRECT ACTION were around longer than us and our scenes kind of merged together. The first time Joe and I went to see a Punk show we were the only ones there with long hair, but soon after both Punk and Metal scenes realized our music was so aggressive and similar back then there was a total crossover happening. We had a strong scene here, everyone was totally supportive of each other. The Bay Area scene got a lot of exposure but we had a lot of great bands here too and awesome turn outs for shows. Everyone knew each other.”
Scott: “I think having all the great underground bands come to town like SLAYER, EXODUS, D.R.I. and people seeing the likes of local bands like SLAUGHTER, SACRIFICE, RAZOR helped motivate people to expand the scene which was slowly growing in Toronto.”
In mid ’85 you started to play some bigger shows, like opening for EXODUS in August on their first U.S. / Canadian tour, did it help you get more known in your area since you had already played quite alot in the Toronto area with other outfits…
Rob: “I think that that show with EXODUS really helped us, after that any time we headlined a show the turnout was incredible. Playing with our heroes from EXODUS, we felt like the luckiest band in the world back then being so young. It seemed every band then was so down to earth and easy to talk to, no one really had a rock star attitude. Seeing Gary (Holt) and Rick (Hunolt) play on their first tour with the original band was awesome.”
Scott: “Oh yeah people who really didn’t know the Toronto underground scene were introduced to all the Toronto underground bands who were in the same Thrash genre as EXODUS and SLAYER which in turn help expand the Toronto scene.”
Did you record the "Torment In Fire" album first and then shop it around to get a record deal – which was with Diabolic Force / Fringe in the end or was the album recorded only when you got the deal? Did you get the same kind of contract as SLAUGHTER? Did you get a lot of companies interested also?
Rob: “There wasn’t much interest then, at all. This kind of music was still just starting out and there wasn’t a lot of labels willing to take a chance on such a heavy band. Dave Carlo and RAZOR warned us about the money machine of Attic Records. They were interested in us but they wanted their bands to release two albums per year, release as much product as possible to capitalize on this new music before it died out. Fringe / Diabolic Force was comfortable to us, they had worldwide distribution, we knew them, in the same city if we had a problem… it just seemed right. I think SLAUGHTER got about the same kind of deal as us.”
Talking about Attic Records – who had ANVIL, LEE AARON… on their roster, they were interested in the band to the point that they wanted to buy out the contract so what happened with them exactly?
Rob: “Like I said, Attic / Viper didn’t seem trustworthy to us at all… people at our label actually knew what was going on in our Metal scene and people at Attic seemed to just see dollar sign$. People that dealt with LEE AARON hardly had any idea what we were about. I believe that ANVIL were going though their Glam phase at the time as well unfortunately.”
It would be ridiculous to ask you if you were happy with that first album considering the poor production, but even if you put that point aside, looking back what’s your opinion of the songs themselves? Are there any tracks that you would have put aside if you had got more stuff to choose from at the time ?
Rob: “Although I can’t bear listening to that album at all now, I know a lot of bands were influenced by it and many consider that our best album. Knowing this, I would not change a thing from that record. At the time we recorded we thought it was great, but as we progressed as musicians and songwriters it became less and less what we were all about. Maybe that’s what some like about it… just the fact that the musicianship and production were so unpolished. I can’t believe its us playing on it sometimes.”
Scott: “Looking back to our first LP, of course we’re gonna think what shitty production but for the age we were at and the time that we recorded it we all thought it was a fuckin’ masterpiece. But hey of course we’re gonna think it was a masterpiece because it was our first recorded LP and we were only 18 years old. I liked all the songs on the LP so I don’t think we would have replaced any songs. I especially liked ‘Homicidal Breath’ and ‘Possession’. If we had extra songs we probably would have just added them to the LP.”
You often answered in interviews that you never were really influenced by SLAYER despite what people said, saying that METALLICA and VENOM were your major influences instead, but still during two years you played SLAYER covers, not only one or two songs but a bunch of SLAYER songs…
Rob: “When we first started, obviously SLAYER was a big influence on our first album material. We would get reviews saying that we ripped off SLAYER or we were a second rate “Show No Mercy”. When we began writing our second album, we decided to move away from that and try to develop a sound which was more our own, we always loved the off time MERCYFUL FATE stuff, but if you listen to SLAYER they also borrow heavily from that. When “Reign In Blood” came out just before “Forward To Termination”, we were horrified to hear the song ‘Jesus Saves’ because it had almost the same chorus as our song ‘Afterlife’. Even the song ‘Raining Blood’ had a riff almost identical to a song off our first album ‘Infernal Visions’. So when we did interviews we would just deny SLAYER as an influence to get away from comparisons. Actually after our first ever show, the bar manager offered us a show during a covers week, where bands would just play covers. This was our only show with drummer Ernst Flach and we did all SLAYER songs!! After our first album we tried to concentrate more on FATE, METALLICA, EXODUS, MAIDEN, TROUBLE and SABBATH as influences and build on the sound we had already established. There wasn’t much for a new band like us to go by back then, there were hardly any bands around playing really fast stuff. And if Yngwie can deny a Ritchie Blackmore influence…”
"Torment In Fire" was released mid ’86 worldwide, you did more shows in the Ontario area during the first part of 1986 and you entered the studio again in June ’86 to record a six song pre-production demo which featured brand new stuff and also a DISCHARGE cover ‘The Possibility Of Life’s Destruction’. What was the real purpose of that pre production demo as you were still a small band and most of the time only the bigger bands take the time to do that sort of thing…
Rob: “We would just go into a small basement studio and record for about $200, quickly just to hear the songs on tape and figure out what we needed to tighten up in the songs. We would also put the tapes out to traders to create a buzz for our next album. We were a small band but we felt our popularity growing and we received a lot of very positive feedback from that demo. I actually had some old friends over a few weeks ago and they were asking me if I could find that one so they could dub it off me! I heard a MACHINE HEAD version of the DISCHARGE song and it sounded pretty much identical to how we did it, but they did over 10 years later.”
The newer material (and that was even more evident with the DISCHARGE cover) contained even more Hardcore Punk inspired parts as it’s the case with ‘Pyrokinesis’, or with the unreleased song, ‘Kill’, don’t you think that this material was maybe too Punk sounding compared to the rest of material?
Rob: “Maybe, but it wasn’t too strong of a contrast. We always had that influence ever since Joe and I started going to Hardcore shows. We were always a Metal band obviously, but we enjoyed the crazy Hardcore riff style. Even our first album had songs like ‘Possession’ which was inspired by that stuff. ‘Pyrokinesis’ is very Metal in my opinion, with the exception of the verse riff. DISCHARGE is a bad band to cover because no one will ever be able to capture that wall of sound guitar. I believe that’s why we left it off the album.”
Scott: “No I don’t think ‘Pyrokinesis’ was too Punk sounding – I thought it was the perfect Thrash tune. It had some Punk overtones of course but so did other speed tunes of that time. I guess listening to a lot of Punk at that time had some influence on us, as it showed. You know I don’t remember a song called ‘Kill’ so I can’t comment on that.”
How did that happen that this demo got into tape trading lists as it was a pre production tape to begin with?
Rob: “At first I think we wanted to keep it to ourselves, but the response from everyone was great so we sent it out a little. Our producer Brian had a local radio show on a college station – that was very important to our Toronto scene, he couldn’t resist playing it too. I think it created a lot of hype and anticipation for the actual album.”
In late July ’86 you opened along with MEGADETH for KING DIAMOND in Ontario and at the time it was probably your biggest show ever as the two other bands were popular, anything to say about those shows? Were you treated well in general?
Rob: “The turnout for this show was surprisingly poor. For some reason it didn’t come to Toronto, instead it was held in Kitchener, a small town an hour outside of Toronto. MEGADETH were on the “Peace Sells” tour, and I think they were all pretty much junkies. Chris Poland was quite a retard, our driver almost punched him out. Excellent guitarist though. This was our first show where we experienced bands being rock stars. As I’m sure many other bands can attest, MEGADETH are, or at least were, fuck faces. KING DIAMOND was much easier to get along with. The King keeps to himself a lot but wasn’t rude at all and it was great meeting Michael Denner. I enjoyed watching both bands, and I thought we played well even though the small town crowd didn’t really understand what we were doing.”
September ’86 saw the first SACRIFICE trip to Quebec which included a four night row in Quebec City, how was that first trip there? Were you impressed or surprised by the Quebec Metal scene which was as strong as the Toronto one as they had tons of new Speed / Thrash Metal bands around like AGGRESSION, VOOR, SOOTHSAYER, YOG SOTHOTH, CREMAINS…
Rob: “We didn’t know what to expect in Quebec City. The club was very small and the first couple of shows weren’t that great. A few people came every night and said it would be packed on the weekend. Sure enough the club was absolutely jammed and it was crazy. We made a lot of friends that week, we actually got to see SOOTHSAYER rehearse which was great and we took their demo home with us and passed it around. That demo cooked. The thing that impressed us always about Quebec was that no matter how small or big the city, there was always Metal fans, and lots of them. VOIVOD had toured quite a bit through the province and I think they turned a lot of people on to Metal. Bands were always good too.”
The next big step for the band was certainly playing at the No Speed Limit Festival which took place in Montreal in October ’86 during two nights where you played along with bands such as D.R.I., AGGRESSION, POSSESSED, AGNOSTIC FRONT… and that event was followed one month later by the opening slot for SLAYER in Toronto on their “Reign In Blood” tour, what can you tell us about those two impressive shows?
Rob: “We knew the No Speed Limit festival was going to be big, but we were totally overwhelmed by the size of the venue and the attendance. Playing with all these bands that we respected and in front of so many people made us realize that we were becoming one of them… a respected band. When the curtain rose after our introduction, looking out at all the insane fans was a moment I’ll never forget. The crowd response was much better than we had hoped for and was one of my top five most memorable shows. People were great to us in Montreal that night. Coming home to Toronto and opening for SLAYER on that tour… unbelievable. I remember we had just finished writing the song ‘Reanimation’ and decided to play it that night. What a feeling to get such a loud audience reaction from our hometown. To this day, people still tell me about how much they enjoyed that show, the kind of concert that stays with you the rest of your life. I had always wanted to play at that venue, The Concert Hall and my dream was fulfilled. My mother actually sang in the same venue years before so it was kind of special to me.”
Scott: “The show in Montreal to this date is still my most favorite. The thing I remember the most was we were on stage behind the curtain at the Spectrum in Montreal just before we were going on and when the curtain opened up it was “WOW!! Look at all the people!”, it was totally packed, all I could see was an endless sea of bodies in front of me. Most impressive that’s for sure. The SLAYER show was at the time a dream come true. Opening up for SLAYER on the “Reign In Blood” tour – my fave SLAYER album. Any band would have killed for that opening slot. That show definitely helped us to expand our Toronto audience.”
When you played with SLAYER, did you meet them again and had they heard of SACRIFICE before? I think Kerry King at least wasn’t too keen concerning new Thrash bands such as SACRIFICE and others from what he said in interviews…
Rob: “Our dressing rooms were on opposite floors, SLAYER had about 50 people in their huge dressing room… I think we just wanted to savor the moment as a band and watch them play after. We might have said hi or something but nothing like when they came on their “Haunting The Chapel” tour. I think we probably spent some time with their tour manager and roadie who we knew from before. By this time I think we also realized that big bands need a little space sometimes because even we were starting to feel that way. I’m sure they had probably heard of us, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Kerry didn’t like us.”
You spent the rest of the year rehearsing and completing what would become your second album and despite the fact that it was still not recorded, you played alot of the new stuff live, so why did you make that choice instead of keeping it maybe more secret?
Rob: “We never felt the need to keep any new material secret. With the demo we had reservations at first about sending it out, but playing live we were excited about the new stuff so why not play it?! The new stuff was so much better and maybe we just wanted to leave the first album behind. I know at the time we were really getting sick of playing the same songs over and over again.”
Early 1987 saw SACRIFICE venturing into the USA for the first time, in the Midwest to be exact, why did it take so long for the band to play there exactly? What kind of response did you get for those first U.S. shows?
Rob: “I think those shows were with C.O.C… our first trip to the U.S. has us very psyched. The crowd was more Punk than we were used to but there were a lot of Metal fans also and the response was great. C.O.C. and the other band STRAW DOGS both treated us like their little brothers and had absolutely no attitude at all. We played Chicago, Detroit and back here in Toronto. We had trouble getting shows or a tour in the U.S. because I think SACRIFICE was still relatively unknown down there. Even after we released “Forward To Termination” we still had trouble getting a national tour of the States because of a lack of good booking agents.”
After a new trip to Quebec in February ’87, where a live tape was recorded, you entered the studio to record "Forward To Termination" which can easily be put in the cult league along with releases such as "Hell Awaits", "Bonded By Blood", "Terror Squad" or "Darkness Descends" as the material on it just shreds from the beginning to the end. Give us your personal views about this legendary album…
Rob: “This was our first recording in a “real” studio, we knew the material we had written was way more advanced than our first recording. The engineer we had wasn’t really sure what we were trying to accomplish… like I keep repeating, back then no one had any exposure to this type of music. Brian our producer just had to explain that we didn’t want a slick sounding recording like a regular Metal band. The end result was pretty much what we were looking for soundwise, but people always told us that our recordings didn’t capture the power of our live performance. For such a young band, I feel that this one was a great Metal album. It’s flattering for "Forward To Termination" to be mentioned with those other classics, I love all those recordings. I think that album is the one most people regard as our best. We really did spend a lot of time writing that stuff, and had a lot of memorable riffs… even the simple ones stuck in your head.”
Scott: “Yeah that definitely blew away the first LP that’s for sure. The song writing improved immensely and we recorded at a high-end studio. I think that album showed that we could play just as good as any Thrash band out at the time. We were also fortunate enough to put a video out for ‘Re-animation’ which got lots of airplay on Much Music and even made it a couple times on MTV.”
This album featured the epic song ‘Flames Of Armageddon’ which shows a new aspect to SACRIFICE’s music, how did that come that you wrote such a different song similar somewhat to ‘Deliver Us To Evil’?
Rob: “SACRIFICE always loved the long MAIDEN songs like ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, that was our main influence to write more epic, long songs. MERCYFUL FATE had some great stuff too, I loved their stuff like ‘Satan’s Fall’ that had hundreds of riffs and was so dynamic. We tried to create some softer parts in the middle of the song like those bands as well. Now that I’m thinking back, RUSH was really influential in that song as well… we used to listen to them quite a bit back then. ‘Cygnus’, ‘The Necromancer’, ‘2112’, they were pretty much the masters of the long epic songs.”
The lyrics on this album were also much more mature than the Black Metal topics used on the previous album, did the fact that you became older change your way of writing lyrics and even the music as it was way more technical than before?
Rob: “On the first album, lyrically and musically we were just trying to be as offensive as possible. There were more than enough bands like that and to be honest, those songs got boring really fast. That style wasn’t holding our interest anymore. I’m sure you remember how much utter shit was circulating in the underground tape trading by this time. Lyrically, we were just getting tired of being silly. The lyrics on “F.T.T.” are not exactly literary poetic masterpieces, but they were a step away from the mundane topics on “T.I.F”. Some bands do Black Metal great… we weren’t one of them.”
With this album you did a video of ‘Re-animation’ which got broadcasted quite a lot considering the heaviness of the song, did it give the band a lot more exposure? I mean did it affect the record sales?
Rob: “That video made us almost stars in Canada. People started recognizing us on the street, restaurants, subway, stores… that part of it was fun at first, but after a while you wonder how movie and rock stars can handle it. I like dealing with fans, people who actually know the music, but when every fool with cable TV knows you it gets irritating. It really did get us a lot of exposure that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and did help us sell more in Canada. Everyone was surprised that they played such a heavy song so much… they even used the song for the intro to the Metal show. I got so sick of hearing that song, and I don’t care if I ever see that video again. I’ll never escape that song !!! It’s like our ‘Paranoid’.”
Did you try to get a new record deal for "Forward…" or were you pleased with Fringe at that point?
Rob: “We had a couple of offers I think but we were comfortable with Fringe. We had worldwide distribution with Metal Blade in the States and Roadrunner in Europe so we knew it would get into stores.”
The cover looked quite unprofessional, just like the cover from the first album. Despite the great idea behind this one, what’s your opinion on that?
Rob: “The actual cover was enormous, and when shrunk down to record size it was hard to see. What ended up happening was pieces of it were put together and just didn’t look as good. It sure stood out on the record rack though!!! Sure it could have been better, but it was just a cover and maybe we should have paid more attention to it. We were too involved in the music to really give a fuck I think.”
There was another new Thrash band from Toronto who were somewhat close to the SACRIFICE style, INFERNÄL MÄJESTY, formed by ex – LACED, PREDATOR and RAPID TEARS members, but it seems that band was alone in its corner while there was a lot of friendship between the other bands… what was wrong with them exactly? I know for instance that Rick Nemes didn’t like the look of the other Thrash musicians, he said that you didn’t look professional…
Rob: “I’m not sure but I think most of them came from bands outside of our scene. People here in Toronto never really accepted them because they didn’t come across as an honest band. The old scene was made up of bands who just wanted to create music because we loved it, not to become rock stars or get rich. We didn’t give a shit about being professional because we didn’t think of music as a profession, music is art. SACRIFICE and others like us got to where we were on our music alone… getting noticed for looks was something we left to bands like POISON or CINDERELLA. I like KISS, KING DIAMOND and live stage shows but I’ve never heard those bands saying AC/DC didn’t look professional.”
Scott: “I don’t mean to offend anybody with my comment here but they were posers. They saw that the Thrash scene was getting a lot of attention and they jumped on the bandwagon. Sure they were all good musicians but they were posers. Ask anybody from that time. That’s one of the reasons they were alone in their own corner, they thought they were great. No one cared what that Rick guy thought – “you didn’t look professional”… true poser attitude, except that Rick guy so I never thought much about it.”
The summer ’87 started with a show in Toronto with ANVIL – who had lost their momentum at the time, followed by a couple of dates in the States, including a set at the very first Milwaukee Metal Fest which was headlined by KING DIAMOND, then a local date opening for DEATH ANGEL on their first U.S. / Canadian tour before going back in Quebec for two weeks including a stint at a two night festival where you headlined the second night – SLAUGHTER headlined the day before, but it was still more or less still local playing… any memories of those shows I mentioned and of that period?
Rob: “I remember the frustration of not being able to hook a national U.S. tour up. We loved playing live though. The first Metal Fest was awesome, the best in my opinion. There were about 10-12 bands playing I think which was good because now they have about 50 and that’s a little overwhelming and silly if you ask me. KING DIAMOND, TROUBLE, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, DEATH, DEATH ANGEL, SACRIFICE, HALLOW’S EVE, and a few others… a fucking great show. All these bands in their prime, we watched almost the whole show. We met DEATH ANGEL there and it was great to play with them at home in Toronto as well right after “The Ultra Violence” was released. The Quebec shows were like a mini No Speed Limit weekend and I remember the crowd response was loud as we had grown to expect from the Metal fans Quebecois. We enjoyed playing no matter where it was, but we were becoming restless waiting for a tour to actually happen.”
Scott: “Yeah I think that was one of the first times we met ANVIL and they were super cool guys. We especially got along with Lips and Robb. It was great opening up for them because they were one of my favorite Metal bands growing up in the early 80’s. Going to Milwaukee to play the first Metal Fest was great. We met so many cool bands whose music we loved. The one that stands out the most in my memory was TROUBLE. They fuckin’ kicked that night and that was the first time I ever saw them play live. It was great!!! We were the first band to go on who had a LP out which was about the tenth band in I guess and we received a great response. It was the first time that we played ‘Flames Of Armageddon’ live and the crowd loved it. We had guys come up to us after the show and say that it was one of the best epic Thrash tunes they had ever heard – no lie. So that was great for us to hear. The guys in DEATH ANGEL were so down to earth. We loved hanging out with them. They showed us a new way of smoking hash, it was pretty funny. Playing in Quebec was always an experience because you never knew how the French people would welcome you. Lucky for us everything was pretty cool. That show in particular was really good. Even though I don’t think the crowd could understand us they seemed to really enjoy it. It was held in some kind of big hall or arena or something because I remember the stage being made out of plywood floors and scaffolding I think. I remember that the floors weren’t too sturdy and I was always bouncing around. It was fun though. Another thing I really remember was that it was ‘87 Canada Cup for hockey and I was glued to the newspapers and TV to find out everything that was going on in that tournament. Man did I ever lose it when I saw Gretzky and Lemieux score the winning goal. Fuck it was pretty and it made my trip that much more enjoyable.”
But at that time there was talks about you doing a tour with BLOOD FEAST and then with DEATH ANGEL but both fell through because of manager’s problems correct?
Rob: “Basically it came down to us not being able to tour because of finances and I believe the other bands had the same problem. The booking agent was asking a ridiculously low fee and we would have starved to death, so the conclusion was “fuck it”.”
Luckily, late ’87 saw the band doing a couple of dates in the Midwest again supporting NUCLEAR ASSAULT followed by a three date tour in Ottawa, Quebec City, and Montreal where you played a brand new song ‘Existence Within Eternity’ instrumental, but the second album was still not issued, so why did it take so long exactly?
Rob: “We did take a long time to write songs, but after it was recorded, it did take a long time to actually get released and I’m not sure why now. Playing songs over and over again gets boring sometimes so occasionally we would play a brand new song as an instrumental and I think SACRIFICE fans liked the fact that they could hear songs in their early stages… something bands never really do but we didn’t give a fuck. Sometimes we used to open with the beginning riff of ‘Heaven And Hell’ and people still mention that to me today.”
Metal Blade flew you and Joe down to California in January ’88 to do some radio and in store promotion, but still it was minimal promotion since to this point you had no tour support yet…
Rob: “I remember them saying we would be doing in-stores and interviews, Joe and I were thinking that doing the in-stores would be pointless because no one would be there. When we got off the plane we were taken to a record store in L.A. and there was a huge lineup outside… both of us couldn’t believe it. We weren’t expecting so many people wanting to get records signed. Everything went well for us there, I just wish we could have played.”
While you were in California, did you think about relocating in the States where the Metal scene was much more powerful?
Rob: “I think we started feeling that things were happening for us… everyone was totally receptive to us, but we never even talked about relocating. It wasn’t an issue at all, SACRIFICE never really looked at music as a career or as a business, we just wanted to do it and whatever happened along the way was great. Toronto and Canada was always great to us and it was home.”
Before going further, what do you think Canadian Metal bands lacked to become as big as U.S. outfits? I mean it’s evident that most of the Canadian acts have LOTS of talent but most of them goes nowhere… what’s wrong with the Canadian music industry as far as Metal is concerned?
Rob: “Metal is just not considered a real form of music in the media here. It’s ridiculed… even now. There are a lot of musicians that would love to play Metal here I’m sure, but they choose to play Pop or Alternative instead because it’s more accepted. I’ve NEVER given a fuck about what’s acceptable, even within the Metal scene itself. Every review I get for my new band says that it’s “too old school”, or “stuck in 1990” but that is the music that is in me and I play for me, I don’t care at all about what the media thinks and I never have. Americans and Europeans can look forward to huge Metal festivals happening… in Canada? Never again I’m afraid.”
Scott: “In my opinion there’s not enough publicity, good clubs, and proper management to help all the Metal bands up here. The U.S has ten times more people then Canada and ten times more of the proper publicity, good clubs, and management which helps out all the up and coming bands. I hope that made sense.”
When you got back from California you did a one week U.S. tour – February ’88, in the Midwest again but you also hit the East Coast for the first time, what kind of reception did you get on those East Coast dates?
Rob: “My memory is a little foggy of those shows… I remember Washington D.C. being a good show. Corpse Grinder from CANNIBAL CORPSE told me he was at one.”
During 1987 / 1988, there was plans to tour the U.S. with HIRAX and AT WAR, the tour itinerary was even ready, so why didn’t it happen exactly?
Rob: “Same as the DEATH ANGEL tour… not financially feasible.”
1988 was mainly spent on writing new material and on a few occasions you even played the intro of ‘A Storm In The Silence’ which showed to the public that the new material was along the same lines as the previous stuff unlike many other Thrash bands who changed somewhat their musical direction on their later albums… what can you tell us about that?
Rob: “We felt our sound was Speed Metal, and not the Bay Area sound. Many bands were starting to do power ballads and that is what sunk the whole ship. We were into improving on the sound which we had an identity with, and not cashing in. I still like TESTAMENT to this day but I think they were the ones that killed Thrash. When they did a ballad, that just shit all over the rest of us that were bringing fast aggressive music to the masses that they were once part of (You’re totally right Rob about that vision of things! – Laurent). I’m sure they made some money off of doing that though. People just saw the leaders METALLICA do a ballad and followed. I really respected EXODUS for not doing one.”
Scott: “All that I can tell you is that other bands were doing whatever they wanted to do. If that meant a different musical direction then that’s what they did, it didn’t matter to me what they were doing either it being tasteful or crap. All I know is that when we were writing "Soldiers Of Misfortune" we wanted it to be as heavy as we could make it. In my opinion we did just that.”
When I met you and saw the band for the one and only time in my life in July ’88 as you opened for NUCLEAR ASSAULT on their short Canadian tour, I found that the band was excellent on stage, acted like you had played tons of shows in your career which wasn’t the case at all, the set was a perfect mix between old and more recent songs…
Rob: “Thanks, we loved playing live obviously. When we wrote songs, we did it for ourselves, but when we played live, that was for the people who came to see us. By that time we had done enough shows and road work to come off as a seasoned band. By this time we were really tired of “Torment In Fire”, but we would play a few songs for the paying fans who wanted it.”
Around early December ’88 you recorded a three track demo which featured a brand new version of ‘Sacrifice’ and two new tracks, was it considered a pre production tape or…?
Rob: “Yes, just a cheap demo to get a studio feel for the songs. We had a little tape left, so we redid ‘Sacrifice’, I think Scott played lead guitar on it.”
You did a handful of dates opening for MOTÖRHEAD a few days after that demo was recorded on the East Coast of the States, did it bring the band new fans as MOTÖRHEAD were not especially known to attract Thrash Metal fans – despite the fact that MOTÖRHEAD were the originators of that music, what do you remember from those shows? Did they give you enough soundcheck and stuff?
Rob: “MOTÖRHEAD were totally cool… when you imagine meeting one of your favorite bands, you hope they are like the originators MOTÖRHEAD. Soundcheck, everything was great. The GOO GOO DOLLS also played that show and actually went on before us which is funny because they are absolutely huge here in North America, I’m sure they’re multi-millionaires. The main thing I remember was in Buffalo we watched from the balcony which was closed off and we couldn’t believe how loud it was… like standing next to a Concorde taking off… and crashing. The crowd was great for us and I’m sure we made new fans.”
In early ’89 you did your first tour on the West Coast of Canada, playing in Vancouver BC and also in Winnipeg, what kind of response did you get from the audiences who had never seen SACRIFICE before? Were they familiar with your music?
Rob: “It was nice waking up in our Winnipeg hotel. I went to the lobby in the morning to get a newspaper and brought it back to my room. What a surprise to see a full color picture of us and a massive interview in the entertainment section. I went back down and got the other Winnipeg paper and another article was in that. We had become Metal gods in our home nation and that felt indescribable. Everywhere we played in Canada, we were treated like kings. Much Music played our videos so much that we were even getting recognized by waitresses in restaurants in the middle of nowhere.”
While you played around British Columbia, did you find the scene there as strong as the one from the Ontario / Quebec areas? Were you maybe familiar with some of their local bands such as WITCHES HAMMER, FRATRICIDE, MISSION OF CHRIST or ARMOROS already?
Rob: “The West Coast scene was cool but it definitely wasn’t as strong as Toronto or Quebec. I was familiar with some of the Hardcore bands like DAYGLO ABORTIONS or DEATH SENTENCE but we ended up becoming good friends with ARMOROS when we played together… MÖTLEY CRÜE was actually at that show. I don’t think they liked it much though.”
A demo featuring ‘As The World…’, ‘Existence…’, ‘Pawn Of Prophecy’, ‘Lost Through Time’ was recorded also in 1989, what can you tell us about this one? Did you shop it around for record companies?
Rob: “We might have shopped it a bit but nothing came of it. I consider that demo to be heavier than the actual LP sound.”
You spent most of 1989 finishing writing and recording the third album which was finally issued in 1990 on Diabolic Force again, did you try to find a new record deal during that period?
Rob: “I can’t really recall. Obviously nothing spectacular came our way.”
The material on "Soldiers Of Misfortune" was described by some magazine writers as somewhat a disappointment considering the time being spent on it, those writers said it wasn’t such a progression from "Forward…"
Rob: “I felt it was a definite progression, the problem was in the production. The final product came out thin sounding to our disappointment. Songs like ‘Truth’,’Soldiers Of Misfortune’ or ‘As The World Burns’ are some of my favorite SACRIFICE songs.”
Scott: “Obviously those writers weren’t musicians so I think they knew fuck all. Our musical abilities progressed immensely. Not only was the musicianship a huge improvement but so was the song writing and production of the album. I feel it was our best album. Mind you ”Apocalypse Inside “ was truly fuckin’ awesome but I still like the production better on "Soldiers…". That’s my own opinion.”
I guess the major problem which happened to this album was the total lack of distribution in Europe as it was only issued under license by Metal Blade in the States and released in Canada on Fringe – even if it was supposed to be released on Music For Nations here but it never happened. Do you know what went wrong with the European distribution for this album as only the die hard underground fans were aware of the existence of this album due to absence of distribution here…
Rob: “I can’t really remember what exactly happened, I just remember being very pissed off that it did happen and it was the last straw in our dealings with Fringe Product. They didn’t have the resources to handle a band growing bigger than the label. Very disappointing.”
A video of the title track was shot in Montreal also but this one (at least in Europe, just like the ‘Flesh’ one, didn’t get as much TV broadcast as ‘Re-animation’, even if it was nominated for the Canadian video awards, how do you explain that?
Rob: “’Soldiers…’ did receive a lot of video airplay, but not quite as much as ‘Re-animation’”, and I can’t explain why except for maybe the fact that ‘Re-animation’ was a raw looking video that was original for the time. I remember seeing METALLICA’s ‘One’ video and it reminded me of the simplistic approach of our first one.”
By that time the Metal scene had changed a lot since Thrash wasn’t the "in" thing anymore due to the profit of Death Metal and the Canadian scene was no exception as all the Speed / Thrash outfits from the mid ’80s – no matter if it was in Quebec or Ontario had almost all disappeared like TREBLINKA, SLAUGHTER – even if some of the members continued a bit under the STRAPPADO moniker, DEATH MILITIA, SOOTHSAYER, CREMAINS etc. and SACRIFICE, OBLIVEON, OVERTHROW, RAZOR and a few others remained the only Thrash acts around in Canada. What kind of views do you have about this subject?
Rob: “Times change, people’s tastes change and if you don’t keep up you get left behind. We were aware of the new musical trends and we just didn’t feel honest about incorporating the new sounds into our music. I guess we felt people would appreciate us sticking to our sound but it wasn’t the case. We came from an era where you just listened to Metal and that was it… all kinds of Metal. Things were changing where fans would only accept certain sounds and Metal was being splintered into Death, Grindcore, Black, Power, Thrash and whatever else. We were never a band to follow what everyone else was doing. When we started we could never have imagined our favorite bands getting really big, we just liked the music.”
Scott: “I really don’t know what happened I guess those bands that disappeared decided to call it quits or changed musical styles. I really didn’t think about that at that time. As long as SACRIFICE was still doing fine that’s all I really cared about.”
In August ’90 you played at the Michigan Metal Fest in Jackson, Michigan with MORBID ANGEL as headliners, the fest was mainly a Death Metal festival as you were the only Speed / Thrash Metal band but still it seems you received a good response for your show, any memories of that?
Rob: “I think we received the best response at that show even though we were a Speed Metal band. People forget that we had a big influence on a lot of Death Metal bands today and we got the respect we deserved from everyone there except the pussies of MORBID ANGEL. I never liked that band, I always thought their riffs sounded retarded and their fake image was just stupid. We blew them off the stage… they actually cut our power during our set. We kept playing without P.A. and finished our set anyway. I can handle a real Black Metal band but they are so fake it’s just retarded. That shit is more Glam than Black Metal.”
Scott: "Oh yeah that festival caused a huge stink in the area. It was all over the local papers and news. When we first arrived in Jackson I think it was early evening. We called the promoter just to let her know that we had arrived in town. She was freaking out when she heard from us because supposedly there was some pastor and a couple alterboys looking for us at the hotel we were booked at. Mind you we never saw him or anybody looking for us so who knows. We thought it was pretty funny. Fuckin’ hick towns eh!!! The actual day of the gig was very interesting, there was about 60 people outside the arena we were playing at protesting the show. They were literally carrying God Worship signs and singing gospel songs. They were really convinced that there was some kind of Satanic Mass going on inside. Like I said fuckin’ hick towns. Before the show I was walking around the main entrance area of the arena and some guy who introduced himself as some Christian follower of God asked me to do an interview for a local Christian TV show. I agreed to it because I wanted to let them know just were SACRIFICE stood on this whole Death Fest ordeal that was going on in Jackson. Well as I was just about to leave the arena and go do the interview the promoter came after me and told me not to go and then kicked the guy out of the arena. I thought that to be kind of odd at the time but thinking about it now you never know what could have happened. I mean all those people outside the arena were true crazed god fanatics so I’m thinking that maybe this guy could have been setting me up to harm me instead of just some interview. Also the promoter was just looking out for our best interests so I’m glad she told me not to go especially since the whole thing about some pastor going to our hotel looking for us freaked her out. The actual show turned out to be really good. We received a great response from the crowd. It was cool. There was some disabled guy in a wheelchair at the front of the stage going nuts and after the show he told us it was one of the best shows he had ever seen. That was really good to hear. At the end of the night there were a bunch of TV cameramen walking around backstage. I was stopped by some big black guy who turned out to be a newscaster for NBC Channel 7 Detroit 11 PM news. He asked me about violence with kids from listening to Heavy Metal music. I told him that it wasn’t the music that was making kids turn violent and hurt and some cases kill other kids but the way parents brought up their kids. I still believe that till this day. What was even cooler about that interview was that I actually did get on the 11 PM Detroit news. I had people from Detroit and as far north as ThunderBay tell me they saw the interview.”
Don’t you think that since around 1989 / 1990 Death Metal was becoming bigger and bigger to the detriment of Speed / Thrash and you still hadn’t entered the big four namely METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and TESTAMENT just like FORBIDDEN, DEATH ANGEL, EXODUS failed to also (just to name a few), it was already too late for SACRIFICE and you had lost all your chances at that point to become bigger?
Rob: “I think our time had passed at that point, but looking back, I didn’t know it at the time. A new generation was coming up to take the torch from bands like us, I wasn’t ready to give it up yet even though the flame had almost went out.”
Scott: “Yes due to lack of professional management we really never got the chance to get as big as we possibly could have.”
Don’t you think one of the biggest mistakes in your career was to have the first two albums licensed by companies such as Roadrunner for Europe and Metal Blade for the States instead of being fully signed to those labels which means that maybe they would have given you more support from the beginning?
Rob: “Probably. It’s hard to look back and say exactly why everything happened the way it did. Things were so much different back then. When you start out, and your goals are to be in fanzines and headline local clubs, sometimes it’s hard to focus past the goals you’ve already achieved.”
Scott: “I really don’t think it was a mistake at all. When you’re 18 years old and don’t know too much about the business, any kind of label notice is great. When Brian Taylor and Fringe Records offered what they did it was great. Also not being in the U.S. there might not even have been a chance for us to get Roadrunner or Metal Blade to even hear us because there was thousands of other bands trying to do the same thing. So I’m happy for what we did but of course it would have been nice to have more.”
In September / October ’90 you did a Canadian tour with labelmates RAZOR – who also encountered the same problems as SACRIFICE during their career, how did that go?
Rob: “RAZOR were good friends of ours and it was great to have the best of Canadian Speed Metal together on a tour of our country. We had a lot of fun times together drinking beer at hotel pools and playing Metal from coast to coast. Some of my best tour memories are the after show drinking with those guys.”
Scott: “All I really remember about that tour – which isn’t much, is that it was fun touring with them. It was always fun sharing the stage with RAZOR. They were a great bunch of guys.”
Following that tour Gus was replaced by ex-DARK LEGION drummer Mike Rosenthal, so what happened with Gus exactly who was as far as I’m concerned an excellent drummer… I remember that you said the first problems with him started to happen on the way back from the West Coast Canadian tour in early ’89
Rob: “Gus was an excellent drummer. We did have problems with him writing sometimes because he couldn’t get a grasp of some odd time signatures but he made up for it with pure emotion on drums. He just couldn’t handle the pressures of the road and being away from his girlfriend. Some people thrive on the road, some people die on the road. He just wasn’t cut out for touring. It got to a point where we couldn’t handle being around him, listening to the whining constantly.”
Did you try any other drummers besides Mike? At one time HERICK drummer, Darren Foster was mentioned… Also don’t you think it was a bit risky to have Mike in the band as he was relatively inexperienced since DARK LEGION always remained a demo band while you had three albums released?
Rob: “Yes we tried Darren but he wasn’t good enough. To be completely honest, we had wanted Mike in the band for a long time. The first time we rehearsed he knew almost everything better than perfect. He added his own things in which we encouraged and a drummer with his skill, we weren’t concerned with inexperience at all. He was a perfect fit and I wish we asked him to join a lot earlier. I know people get sentimental about original lineups but you would have to be deaf not to realize that Mike was by far the better of the two.”
With him in the band, you did another local tour in December ’90, why did you do another Ontario tour just two months after the first one?
Rob: “We always played locally a lot.”
On July 27th 1991, you played the Milwaukee Metal fest for the second time but this time the festival had become way bigger than the previous time along with acts such as DEICIDE, MASSACRE, CYCLONE TEMPLE, SEPULTURA, NAPALM DEATH… and it was certainly one of the biggest shows you ever played, tell us what you remember of this…
Rob: “The festival had gotten bigger maybe, but it didn’t have the same vibe as the first one. I had a beer with Igor and I know SEPULTURA are big fans. I never got to talk to NAPALM who I know are fans also, we were approached by a lot of bands who enjoyed our set. I just remember that festival being boring and we left early.”
Scott: “Yeah you’re right that was one of the biggest shows we ever played. We went on stage about 7:30 pm which was halfway through the show and also the point of the show when the place was most full. It turned out great cause we had our own soundman for that show and we were told we sounded really tight. That was the first time we met BELIEVER and they were super cool guys. Also Rob was approached by the singer of SEPULTURA. The singer told Rob how much he liked SACRIFICE since the beginning. I thought that was pretty cool.”
At the end of October ’91 you finally started your first U.S. tour ever supporting BOLT THROWER along with BELIEVER, so when you first heard that, did you believe it after so many tours were canceled?
Rob: “I think any band will tell you that you can’t look forward to things happening because half of them get cancelled. It was nice for us to go on tour but we would have preferred to open for a band who was more in our league as far as musical ability is concerned. BELIEVER were.”
Scott: “I thought it’s about fuckin’ time. Since we did have so many tours cancelled I was so glad to see that this was finally going through. We had a booking agency based out of Manhattan so I knew the tour was a for sure thing.”
For the first time you played in most of the States instead of the usual Illinois, Detroit states, what kind of memories do you have from that first real U.S. tour? Was it the perfect bill for SACRIFICE to be part of?
Rob: “As we had already discussed, Speed Metal was on the decline but BELIEVER and us did have good response at most shows, sometimes better than BOLT THROWER. Down south, people had been waiting to see us for years and that was awesome to meet people who had traveled from Mexico and elsewhere. At some points it was a difficult tour but we enjoyed most of it.”
Scott: “Our first U.S tour was totally fun. I wish we could have kept doing it. I think touring was great, traveling from city to city was a job I would have liked to have fulltime. I have too many memories of the tour to write but I’ll tell you pretty well every city had its own little story to go with it. I don’t think it was the perfect bill for us but definitely a good one to start us off. I think if we played with the likes of DEATH ANGEL and BELIEVER that would have been the perfect tour because we were all in the same vein of Metal. Mind you I have nothing against BOLT THROWER at all but their crowd were more into Death Metal than Thrash Metal which us and BELIEVER played.”
It seems tension was present between BOLT THROWER and SACRIFICE, as it seems BOLT THROWER thought they were the biggest band on earth or something, correct?
Rob: “There was a bit of tension but not too much, they tended to act like the better band and we had never really encountered musicians with that attitude before. At least MEGADETH had the chops to back up their attitude, BOLT THROWER were awful musicians. Carl was cool though, he got along with everyone. They were really heavy but for the most part I found them to be boring and redundant.”
Why do you think Metal Blade finally put you on a tour since you were still licensed to them for this third album as they never did anything as far as tour support is concerned in the past?
Rob: “I have no idea why but it was nice to get on tour finally.”
During 1992 you wrote new stuff for the fourth album, "Apocalypse Inside" which sounded exactly like a SACRIFICE album with those KILLER catchy heavy riffs all over the place and a great vocal delivery courtesy of you, along with a perfect production for the band and the whole product sounded so right in place that I’m sure if you had been given the right promotion, it could have been as huge as an old METALLICA record…
Rob: “I used to sleep all day and write all night for that album. Maybe it would have been done sooner if I hadn’t been drinking so much at the time but I guess art doesn’t come out of being happy and having no worries. We put so much into writing that album, the end result was the most satisfied we had ever been with a recording. Everything just came together on that one. Once in rehearsal Mike was just fucking around on his snare and hi-hats, doing fast rolls and we ended up writing ‘Salvation’ around that drum bit. Joe was coming up with incredible riffs like the beginning of ‘The Lost’ just off the top of his head. I felt our lead playing had really come together on all the songs as well… real 70’s influenced leads. “Apocalypse Inside” is really the only SACRIFICE album I put on and listen to once in a while and after I hear it, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. The sales weren’t great but I really like it and that’s what counts I guess. With what was going on in Metal at the time, it wasn’t the best era to put out a Speed Metal album.”
Scott: “Like I mentioned before if we had the proper management I’m sure our popularity could have been bigger. Since we were managed by someone who was not a management company and working out of Scarborough instead of Manhattan or L.A. that really held us back. Sorry Ray (Wallace) but its true.”
How did you get Dave Carlo as producer for "Apocalypse Inside" as it was his first experience as producer back then?
Rob: “We just wanted him there as an extra ear for the guitar sound primarily. Our guitars always sounded good on demos and at rehearsals but when it came around to the actual album recording, our live sound was never captured. “Apocalypse…” was the closest to our live sound, although at the time “Torment…” was fairly accurate as well.”
This album didn’t feature any epic songs a la ‘Flames…’ or ‘Rain’, why you didn’t come up with another scorcher epic one on this album?
Rob: “We just didn’t feel it. Songs like that are hard to fit into a live set as well… I love the long songs but when you play for only an hour and you have four albums worth of material, you don’t really have time to play a ten minute song.”
Just after the recording, Scott was asked to leave following musical differences, what really happened since he seemed to be big time into the SACRIFICE music since the beginning…
Rob: “He was always trying to sneak some slap bass into songs, or play some crazy bass fills high on the neck that didn’t really fit. I really hate that style of bass playing, I’m more into the low end sound of Geezer Butler. This isn’t to say that Scott wasn’t a great bassist, but the style he wanted to bring to the band just didn’t work. We were and still are good friends, so thankfully the split went well for both parties. When I talk to him now, we are discussing LYNYRD SKYNYRD and GOV’T MULE more than SLAYER.”
Scott, what really caused your departure since you seemed to be big time into SACRIFICE since the beginning, was it really due to musical differences?
Scott: “Well I’m sure there’s different versions to this especially if you ask Joe, Mike or Rob. But my version is that yes, musical differences were happening. I still liked Metal but I was getting bored of playing it. I mean I had been playing it for the last ten years and I felt I wanted to progress onto something else. I started to miss practices which really didn’t go over well – my fault totally, and the guys didn’t want to put up with it. So Joe called me up one day and we agreed I should leave the band. In the end it was probably best because they didn’t want to be held back and I wanted to play a different style of music.”
Did you catch the band later on with Kevin Kimberley who had replaced you ?
Scott: “No I never did see SACRIFICE live with the other bassist but I did meet him and he seemed like a really cool guy.”
So Scott was replaced by Kevin Wimberley, did you try other bassists besides him? What were the previous outfits he played with as I never heard about this guy before?
Rob: “We auditioned about 20 or so bassists and we ended up with Kevin and the INFERNÄL MÄJESTY player. Kevin was from Ottawa which is about four hours away from Toronto and was relatively inexperienced, but a very schooled player. Kevin fit in very well, but it did feel different without Scott in the band. Joe, Scott, Scott’s brother Merque – who came on the road with us most the time, and myself were like brothers. Kevin’s style was great though, and we had a great time on our last tour. It was a shame that he didn’t get to record with SACRIFICE but he is on the INTERZONE CD.”
So how did you get signed to Metal Blade directly for this album?
Rob: “It wasn’t difficult hooking up with Metal Blade who we had history with. It was a fairly long term deal and our first advance was only about $30.000. It sounds like a lot of money but if you consider all the expenses that a band has, it’s not much at all.”
By July ’93 you were on tour with GOREFEST and DEATH on their "Individual…" U.S. tour and it seems it went really well for you… but judging by the videos I have of that tour, it seems some of the dates were not that crowded, at least during your set…
Rob: “Like any tour, some cities have a huge Metal scene and some don’t, so not every show was packed, but every venue had a bigger turnout that our previous tour. It was great seeing Chuck and Gene again, and the GOREFEST guys were really cool as well. As everyone knows Chuck is a god in the underground scene and deserves all the respect he gets for speaking his mind about KORN and whoever else is polluting Metal, also for staying true to his roots in Metal for so long. I just hope he is recovering well from his illness. That tour was extremely hot, down in the southern states it was over 100 degrees everyday and sometimes got as high as 125, but was a memorable tour and we loved playing the “Apocalypse…” stuff live.”
Were you conscious at the time that along with FORBIDDEN and SLAYER, you were the last TRUE Thrash Metal band around?
Rob: “I knew we were a dying breed, but I hadn’t realized at the time that we were almost extinct. We had good response for the most part so I knew there were still lots of fans, and really there isn’t that much that separates SACRIFICE’s music from DEATH’s except for maybe DEATH is a little more jazz influenced and Chuck’s voice is a little lower.”
You obviously knew Gene Hoglan and Chuck for a long time, how was it to share the stage with those guys?
Rob: “It’s always good for me to see the old musicians that came out of the tape trading scene. Chuck has had a lot of bad press over the years, and I’m not sure how it all started because he is a totally laid back guy that doesn’t really have anything bad to say about anybody in the Metal scene, very easy to get along with. Gene is the best, totally cool guy. Joe and I met him in L.A. at a DARK ANGEL rehearsal years ago and I wrote back and forth with him before that. I wish him well with STRAPPING YOUNG LAD in Vancouver, Devin is really talented as well and it is working out amazing to my ears.”
By late ’93 you were dropped by Metal Blade, what was the reason exactly? Was it only because they didn’t like the last album so much from what I heard or was it maybe following poor sales?
Rob: “I know they weren’t too excited about it, and I can’t really blame them because Speed Metal was going the way of the dinosaur. The sales weren’t outstanding by any means… I guess they couldn’t see a future in us at the time so they let us go.”
Do you know any sales figures concerning your four albums by the way?
During all those years, what kind of real response in terms of mail, reviews and sales did you get from Europe even if you never toured here?
Rob: “We seemed to get an equal amount of mail from Canada, U.S.A., Europe, and Central / South America. It was exciting in the beginning to get mail from Eastern Bloc countries because it seemed so foreign then. Our reviews in Europe were usually mixed, and sales were a little weaker than in North America, but we had the most loyal fans in Europe such as yourself. People who stuck by us the whole way… I always say that Europeans aren’t as trendy when it comes to Metal as North Americans.”
So following the loss of the contract, you decided to break up. Were you tired of all that bullshit to the point that you didn’t even want to look anymore for another deal or are there any deeper reasons for that like maybe Joe wanted to retire from that whole thing since the split was decided by you and Joe as former members, correct?
Rob: “We knew the only way was down. We would never again be accepted on the level we once were and we were really sick of the business of music. We just set out initially to play because we liked it, I didn’t think everything else would have happened. Joe had been thinking of retiring for a while and I didn’t want to do SACRIFICE without him. It wouldn’t be SACRIFICE in my opinion. We didn’t have the energy or hunger to look for another deal.”
Despite the fact that you weren’t the fastest songwriters on earth, did you have material ready for a fifth album at that point? What did it sound like? I mean the project you started alone called INTERZONE (that also features former MONSTER VOODOO MACHINE / MUNDANE drummer Drew Gauley, ex-SACRIFICE bassist Kevin Kimberley and ex-MONSTER VOODOO MACHINE guitarist Chris Harris) was from the demo days really different from SACRIFICE, way more basic and more Hardcore sounding than the SACRIFICE material so it’s hard to imagine that this demo material came from unreleased SACRIFICE material…
Rob: “The song ‘Still Breathing’ and ‘Away You Fade’ would have been SACRIFICE songs, but when we broke up I just kept writing, came up with a few more and it just became INTERZONE. I think that the song ‘Still Breathing’ is very SACRIFICE sounding, but the rest I wanted to change the music a bit because with me singing on it I think that the voice is too recognizable to SACRIFICE.”
What kind of response did you get from that INTERZONE demo? How did you get Joe doing a lead on ‘Away You Fade’?
Rob: “Well, my first demo, I didn’t really send it out too much. It was just me and a drum machine… but most people seemed to like it. Some just want to hear SACRIFICE and it is a little different, it’s definitely not as complex, but I’m not trying to do anything ground-breaking here… just having fun playing music. That lead Joe did came about when he came over to my house one day and my recording equipment was still on and I just asked him to put down a quick lead before we went out, and that was it.”
It seems judging from the DISCHARGE cover included on this demo that you were a big fan of them since the June ’86 SACRIFICE demo featured also a cover of them…
Rob: “It was funny that with all the complexity in SACRIFICE’s music, that we enjoyed listening to something so simplistic as DISCHARGE. Two riffs, maybe three per song. We loved that band though… ”Hear Nothing” had such a huge wall of guitars pummeling you through the whole thing… awesome stuff.”
Following the demo, you recorded an album which was released last year, what’s your next project with INTERZONE?
Rob: “We are very slowly putting songs together in true SACRIFICE style for a new album we will hopefully record in the winter. We only play about two-three times in the Toronto area per year. Like I said before this is strictly for fun… no tours, not too serious. We are serious when writing though and obviously we want to do our best.”
From what I read recently, it seems you’re not so much into the traditional Metal anymore despite the fact that I can affirm there’s still good Power / Heavy Metal acts coming up these days just like SYRIS, SACRED STEEL, EIDOLON (Mississauga act), CAGE, IMAGIKA… and still old acts such as MERCYFUL FATE, ARTILLERY, AGENT STEEL, JAG PANZER or MORBID ANGEL putting out enjoyable material without having the need to search for what I call pseudo aggressive modern trendy stuff a la MACHINE HEAD, GRIP INC, new SLAYER, PANTERA or on the other side unimaginative / childish Black Metal full of keyboards…
Rob: “I love traditional Metal, that’s probably what I listen to most, but I find that newer bands that try to recapture a past sound usually fail. Even reformed bands fail most of the time. A few do succeed like THE HAUNTED, fuck I consider that to be one of the finest Speed Metal albums ever!!! I still like SLAYER and I don’t like to dump on PANTERA at all because they are keeping Metal alive and they always say they are a Heavy Metal band, not alterametal or hiphop Metal, so I do have respect for them regardless of what the underground thinks. It’s not very often now that a Metal album comes out these days that I’m really blown away by. I like bands that aren’t afraid of trying something new, but don’t go too far overboard. I like “Clandestine”, but when ENTOMBED fused that 70’s sound to Death Metal, that just created a whole new genre that I like a lot. I just hate to think that growing up we had SLAYER to hold up high and today all the big bands are like KORN and LIMP BIZKIT… it’s so sad. I don’t mean to sound like everything is shit today because there is a lot that I like but nothing grabs me by the throat anymore like the first time I heard “Show No Mercy” or “Morbid Tales”.”
Since lots of Thrash / Speed Metal bands from the ’80s – who were underrated back then or didn’t have the possibility to tour Europe, have received more attention now than before just like RAZOR for example who finally played one show in Europe, do you think the same can happen to you despite SACRIFICE doesn’t exist anymore and you can at least reform for one show and play here?
Rob: “I would love to play a festival or something like RAZOR did at Wacken, but Joe lives in Detroit, Scott lives in Vancouver and it would be extremely difficult to arrange everything. I can’t say never, but it is unlikely.”
How do you feel when you see that there’s still people- maybe not thousands and thousands, but still some who really understood how great SACRIFICE was and who still enjoy your music after all those years? Do you somewhat think that your music has passed the test of time through this?
Rob: “Everytime I get an email, letter, phone call from someone who still appreciates SACRIFICE, I feel like we are still a band and we never really broke up. It’s indescribable how much we appreciate all the support that we receive seven years after the death of our band. Thrash / Speed Metal will always be here and I believe it has passed the test of time.”
Scott: “I think it’s totally awesome that people still like SACRIFICE, it really makes me feel great in a way that I managed to accomplish something in the music scene whether it be big time or underground. Also that we created music that people like and will hopefully like for a long time to come.”
DEW-SCENTED and CANNIBAL CORPSE are the only bands that have covered SACRIFICE material, how do you feel about that? Does it happen that you meet musicians nowadays who admit that they liked or were inspired by SACRIFICE?
Rob: “All the time. Pretty much every Metal band I meet likes SACRIFICE which is a great compliment. Sometimes I don’t get to make it to shows and friends will say the bands mention that they were influenced by SACRIFICE. SEPULTURA, ENTOMBED, CANNIBAL CORPSE, just even having influenced those bands a bit is great.”
You told me recently that if you and Joe could make another album, you would do a cover of ‘Bombs Of Death’ from HIRAX, does that mean in those words that you more or less think more and more about the possibility to do a fifth album?
Rob: “We think about it all the time, but like I said before it is difficult because we live so far away from each other. Maybe a half covers / half new stuff album someday.”
If that would happen, would you try to get Scott and maybe Gus involved into that – or would it be more with Kevin and Mike, or would it be other members?
Rob: “The only for sure thing would be that Joe and I would be on it and Gus wouldn’t. I’m pretty sure that Gus hasn’t played drums at all since he was replaced in the band. I would like to get Scott on it but we haven’t seriously planned anything yet.”
Scott, even if you live far from Toronto now, would you be ready to play with SACRIFICE for a reunion show or something if that would happen in the future or is it completely out of question?
Scott: “No. I think a SACRIFICE reunion would be great as long as there was support bands to help us pack wherever we were playing.” Musicwise what could we expect from this album exactly? I mean could we expect those mind blowing riffs that made SACRIFICE so special and killer, each riff being very distinctive and each song having its own identity, something which has disappeared in the pseudo Metal MACHINE HEAD, PANTERA or even in the new SLAYER stuff, tell us…
Rob: “Oh yes. The songs would have to be perfect. We wouldn’t reunite just to put out some half-assed piece of shit like MAIDEN did. Their album could have been so special, but it just sounds like it was thrown together in a few weeks. I wish they would hire me to produce them and I guarantee that it would be “Number Of The Beast 2” (If only that could happen Rob! – Laurent). If we did it the riffs would have to be of only premium quality and definitely catchy and distinctive. If the songs didn’t come together perfectly I think we would leave it alone. Trust me, if it ever does happen, it will be worth it.”
What happened to the famous local Toronto clubs such as Larry’s Hideaway, The Bridge, El Mocambo, Gilmore’s… which had many great Metal bills in their walls in the Eighties?
Rob: “Most of them are now closed. Larry’s has been demolished, The Bridge is a pool hall, The El Mocambo is still open but not for Metal, Gilmour’s I’m sure is gone. Clubs come and go here so quickly, it’s a shame.”
Does it happen that you still see in the Toronto / Scarborough area musicians from the 80s like Terry Sadler, Dave Hewson, Dave Read, Dave Carlo, Rob Douglas… are they out of the whole Metal scene or…?
Rob: “Not specifically those people, but I do see people from back then occasionally. Most are out of the Metal scene, but having been around back then, that scene will always be in your blood. It still runs red in my veins.”
Scott, what are you doing nowadays and do you still keep an eye with what’s going on in the Metal scene?
Scott: “I still play bass all the time nowadays. I’m experimenting with Jazz – Fusion which is the musical direction I went to when I left SACRIFICE. Yes I still keep an eye on the Metal scene a little. Mind you I don’t know much of the underground scene anymore but I still like it. One band I think is pretty happening is SLIPKNOT. Those guys are truly demented it’s great.”
Tell us what are your 15 fave albums of all time, Metal or not…
Rob: “This is really hard to do… ”Mob Rules” – BLACK SABBATH, “Killers” – IRON MAIDEN, ”Black Rose” – THIN LIZZY, “Sad Wings Of Destiny” – JUDAS PRIEST, “Morbid Tales” – CELTIC FROST, “Ride The Lightning” – METALLICA, “Melissa” – MERCYFUL FATE, “Trouble” – TROUBLE, “Reign In Blood” – SLAYER, “Wolverine Blues” – ENTOMBED, “Dogman” – KING’S X, “Vol.4” – BLACK SABBATH, “Chaos A.D.” – SEPULTURA, “Psalm 9” – TROUBLE, “Apocalypse Inside“ – SACRIFICE.“
Scott: “Stanley Clarke – ”If This Bass Could Only Talk”, UZEB – “Noisy Nights ”, BLACK SABBATH – ”Master Of Reality”, RUSH – ”A Farewell To Kings”, VAN HALEN – ”Woman And Children First”, Dave Weckl – ”Rhythm Of The Soul”, METALLICA – “Master Of Puppets “, OZZY OSBOURNE – ”Diary Of A Madman”, THIN LIZZY – ”Thunder & Lightening”, Bob Marley – “Legend”, MAX WEBSTER – “Universal Juveniles”, BOSTON – “Boston”.”
Okay, anything you want to add to this questions which I hope covered the SACRIFICE history from A to Z?
Rob: “This is definitely the most in depth SACRIFICE history lesson I’ve ever done!! Thank you for this interview, it has brought back a lot of memories that I haven’t thought about for a very long time. I’d just like to say a special hello, and good luck to Katon and HIRAX, and thanks to them for getting back together!! Take care Laurent, you have been knighted official SACRIFICE and Toronto Metal scene historian.”
Scott: “Thanks a lot for keeping the thought of SACRIFICE alive.”