|Hello Kyle! We haven't heard anything for a while about you, so tell us please, how are you nowadays? Everything all right? You told me, you have had a very strong period behind you.
Yeah, I've had a lot thrown at me in the last few years, but I'm alive and lucky enough to have 2 incredible sons and a very strong support group of family and friends. In the end that's what really counts.
Did the Catrina hurricane cause you a lot of damage/harm? How could you survive this catastrophy? Did the hurricane destroy your home?
My house had about a foot of water in it due to pumping stations losing power. Everything was ruined, but thankfully I had left town with my children to stay with friends in Texas. The worst was not knowing how my house fared out until they allowed people back in the city several weeks later. When I got there my neighbors were pulling everything out of their houses, so I knew it was bad. I was brought to my knees upon the sight of it.
My dreams came true, because I have the opportunity to do an EXHORDER interview. I consider EXHORDER a cult band, but the fans don't so much know about the band. Please tell us detailed the whole EXHORDER story, all right?
Wow. Okay... I met the guys back in late '85 and they had begun writing the material, and it was insane from the first jam. It was in Chris Nail's bedroom and I was a young 16. I look back on how young we all were and how much this music has affected people, and it is pretty amazing. We quickly became the top draw around New Orleans and eventually started branching out in the region. After breaking up due to a fight between Vinnie and Chris, we reformed and got signed and the rest is what you guys know. There's a LOT more than that but you get the idea!
How did you get in touch with the metal music and with the other EXHORDER members? Did you know each other earlier? Did you perhaps play in several bands before EXHORDER was formed?
Mostly we would see each other at punk rock shows. Eventually we all got to talking and figured it all out. At the time metal in New Orleans was weak, glam and nobody was really banging out their own songs. The punk shows were GREAT. Eventually we fused the two together and it was a lethal mix for the city. People went insane over it.
As I know, you sang in the school choir, haven't you? Did you also take sing lessons from music teacher?
Yeah, I am a trained singer. I sang for about 2 years before I actually went to sign up for the chorus class at my school. It was truly the smartest musical choice of my career. My teacher was not into the rock that I did, but saw a lot of potential in me and worked at getting me secure in all of the fundamentals and eventually my classmates voted me "Outstanding Singer". It was a very bittersweet award for me because I had just lost my grandfather that was very close to me, and he actually died while I was on a road trip with the chorus, so I had to leave immediately to fly home for a funeral. Then we lost the competition, so I felt even worse about that. That was a rough time for sure. It seems like I've had a lot of those.
When were EXHORDER formed? Who were the original members? When did become the line up permanent? Was it hard to find the suitable members for the band?
The full original line-up was completed in spring of 1986. Chris and Vinnie and me are the only original members from the final line-up. Andy Villafarra was our bassist- he is the infamous Andy from our fuck you list. David Main was the other original guitarist. Jay Ceravolo was part of the reforming since David and the band kind of grew apart. He went on to put a band together with my brother Kevin from FLOODGATE. They were called the MOONCRIKITS, which was heavy funk type rock with a lot of loose jam. After we were done with Andy was when Frankie came into the picture. That was the final lineup, although we had lots of people come in and out whenever there were arguments and somebody was angry and trying to replace whoever they were mad at the time. We were dicks to each other.
Which bands were your influences? Did you like both the classic metal bands, like MAIDEN, PRIEST, KISS etc. and the brutal ones, like SLAYER, VENOM, DARK ANGEL, POSSESSED etc.?
As a kid I loved KISS, QUEEN, LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE. Then my brother came home with Ozzy's "Diary Of A Madman" and it was on. I then worshipped BLACK SABBATH which is my ultimate favorite, then AC/DC, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN. Some friends loaned me METALLICA "Ride the Lightning" and SLAYER "Show No Mercy" and I went nuts. Then I heard COC, DEAD KENNEDYS, AGNOSTIC FRONT, BAD BRAINS and I think I blew my top for good then. I did like a lot of different things, but I did not get into everything of one genre. I'm pretty picky about what I'll dive into.
How often did you rehearse? How were your rehearsals? Did you play cover tunes as well or did you strive to write so many own ones, as many as possible?
We used to practice several times a week, but towards the end we couldn't get together hardly ever. Every once in a while we whipped out a cover song, mostly just for us to have a little fun with and to fuck with our fans.
You came from New Orleans, Louisiana. How was the metal scene in New Orleans at that time? Were you the first extreme metal band from New Orleans?
I don't necessarily think I can say that we were THE first, but we WERE the first that really blew up and packed every show. There were some punk bands really doing well like GRAVEYARD RODEO and SHELL SHOCK, but they were punk with a metal edge whereas we were metal with a punk edge. We had a lot of fun together.
Does metal have a serious tradition in New Orleans? I mean, how popular was metal in New Orleans?
Yeah, at first the heaviest bands from here were LILIAN AXE and ZEBRA, but we were the first truly heavy band to make it out of New Orleans. Metal is very strong here, but unfortunately there has never been a lot of support from the local music community. New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz and the Blues is very prevalent here as well. Most places and journalists here don't acknowledge you unless you play these types of music and that's a shame, because even rap has a strong core here and they get ignored by the press as well.
In New Orleans lived at that time a young man, certain Phil Anselmo. Did you meet him? Did you often hang out together? Was he at that time a crazy metal maniac? Do you have perhaps some stories from that period what you can tell our readers?
Yeah, I know him. A long time ago we hung out a few times, had a few laughs, but I haven't seen or spoken with him in several years. When EXHORDER first started, he had not yet joined PANTERA. He had been in a heavy metal band here called RAZOR WHITE that did mostly covers, but he got the offer at some point to go to Texas and try out for PANTERA. It seems to have worked out for him.
Phil moved later to Texas to join PANTERA. Did you know the early PANTERA? What kind of music did they play?
When I first met those guys they were pushing a self released album called "Power Metal", which was a lot like old JUDAS PRIEST - high vocals and lots of guitar wizardry. I liked it... a lot of people around here hated it at first, because Thrash was so big at the time, but there were still a lot of people that liked the style they played, but it wasn't until they did the "Cowboys..." thing that they crossed over to the Thrash crowd in New Orleans. They were a hard working band, though. We should have hit the road as hard as they did.
In my opinion, PANTERA became more brutal and aggressive, because Phil joined them, do you agree with me?
I guess. He was really into heavier stuff than he was playing back then, and he spread our demos around Texas like the plague, and for that I am always grateful. There was a time when we had broken up an I refused to come back that EXHORDER was speaking with him about replacing me, and when I heard that I decided maybe I should take my job back. I think maybe he told them what he'd like to do as opposed to what they had been doing and they evolved their sound from pure metal to a more thrash oriented metal. For those that never heard "Power Metal", I guess a good analogy would be that "Cowboys From Hell" was half Power Metal and half "Vulgar Display Of Power". Somewhere in the middle, you know?
Unfortunately Dimebag Darrel was killed two years back. I think, he was a talented guitarist, his death is a big loss for the scene. What do you think about it? Was he your friend?
I really liked Darrell a lot. I was very hurt by what happened to him. He used to come out to our shows in Texas and bring a group of people and he was always nothing but really nice. I saw him for the last time in Houston Texas at a JUDAS PRIEST show and we talked for a good while. There had been some bullshit between our bands, because of some things that got said in interviews and forever some people will argue about which band came first or who influenced who, and we spoke a lot about that. Basically we both agreed that he and I had not been the problem, and he gave me a lot of praise, respect and love in front of the entire backstage area. I really appreciated that- that was just the kind of guy he was with me always. When I heard what had been done to him while he played I was crushed, and the first thing I thought about was that last conversation we had. It was very cryptic in hindsight. Metal lost a great talent that day, and the world lost a goo! d man. It still baffles me that this fucking jerk-off got up there and did this to these people.
You recorded your first demo "Get Rude" in 1986. How was the line-up on this tape? What can you say about the songs? Did the demo draw the fans attention to the band?
It was the original line-up of myself, Nail, LaBella, Main and Villafarra. It was done on an 8-track if I remember correctly, and it's just the loudest, nastiest cheap recording that we could have come up with. Only one of us was over 18 and I was only 16. "Wake The Dead" is actually "Incontinence" from "The Law". I really have no idea why we changed the name. "Unforgiven" is also on there, although we reworked it a bit for "The Law". It actually was our second demo; our first one was recorded at a friend's house and sounded really cool, but somehow it has been lost and I don't know ANYBODY that has that one. It was "Legions Of Death", "Ripping Flesh" and "Anal Lust", I think. "Ripping Flesh" was an okay song for the time, but we were getting into "Death In Vain", "Desecrator" and "Slaughter..." at this point so we nixed it. There was actually a song called "The Poser Song" that we never recorded that was a fun thrash tune, but it was so asinine lyrically even for us. It was about, well...killing posers.
At that time thrash metal was very popular in the underground. The most famous thrash scene was in the Bay Area, but very good thrash bands have came from Los Angeles (DARK ANGEL, SLAYER), New York/New Jersey (WHIPLASH, OVERKILL, NUCLEAR ASSAULT) and Texas (DEVASTATION, ROTTING CORPSE, GAMMACIDE). How do you remember about that period? Were there similarities, differences between the thrash scenes? Were you in conncetion with other thrash bands?
For me thrash started with SLAYER and METALLICA. The first 2 MEGADETH albums, mostly "Killing is My Business", DARK ANGEL, DESTRUCTION. I liked early ANTHRAX, but it kind of got too silly for a while. EXODUS "Bonded By Blood" is a masterpiece - in fact, I auditioned for EXHORDER to "Deliver Us To Evil". There are lots of bands not mentioned, CELTIC FROST, Vinnie really dug KREATOR, VENOM, I mean shit. I could really go on. MERCYFUL FATE was not Thrash, but FUCK did we go nuts on that. It was totally that groove that we were into. And wicked as hell. We got to be good friends with DEAD HORSE out of Houston and also GAMMACIDE were cool guys.
Why was thrash metal so popular at that time?
I guess it's the quintessential angry young man syndrome. Before that the angriest shit was like PRIEST, MAIDEN and others but not really in the way thrash took it to the next level. It's that punk rock thing. Whether or not they'd like to admit it all thrash bands should at least acknowledge that punk is the bastard father of thrash in a way. Most of them were no holds barred, fast, and angry. It definitely affected metal and thrash was born. It's just like CORROSION OF CONFORMITY was punk and then all of a sudden it was like they heard "Ride The Lightning" and came out with "Animosity". Hands down perhaps the best punk/metal album ever. They're totally not the same band anymore, for those that don't know "Animosity".
Your next demo was "Slaughter In The Vatican" which had a very brutal cover. Whose idea was to use this cover and by whom was it done?
This girl here named Karen Barranco was into punk rock down here and somehow one of the guys told her about the song, and she not only hanged the pope from our logo - she hanged Pope John Paul II!!! It was the ultimate shocker. Vinnie came up with the song title, and I was in catholic school all of my life, so I was ready to lash out. I wrote the words, and some of it is tongue-in-cheek, but I really was fed up with the hypocrisy. I think Vinnie was just looking to piss everybody off.
This demo became later your debut album, plus you recorded the song "The Tragic Period" which wasn't on the demo, was it?
No, it was the first song we composed after the first breakup. It is an insane piece of music written by people that need to stay away from drugs.
Why did Andy Villafara leave the band before the recordings of the album and why did he come back? Who played the bassparts on the album?
Andy is an intersting creature. One of the best funk/slap blues bassists ever, but the dude was like an animal. Chicken bones in his van, half eaten burgers all over his apartment, and nice as could be but fuckin' WEIRD. Vinnie and Jay recorded the bass lines on both albums. He came back because at the time nobody could hang with it so Vinnie sweet talked him back in I think.
I would say, you played a little bit complex, technical, but very extreme and fast thrash metal. Your songs were mostly about 5-6 minutes. Did technic and complexity play an important role in your music?
Yeah, there are crazier, more technical bands out there, but it was pretty complex in its own right. I think "I Am The Cross" has like 27 parts or some shit - unbelievable. No wonder we couldn't sell a million records... there's no chorus to come back to!
How was the process of the songcomposing within the band? Who wrote the lyrics and the music?
Mostly Vinnie and Chris would get together and put the music in place, then they'd turn it over to me and be done with it. The first album has some of Vinnie's lyrics, but as soon as I was in the band he washed his hands of lyrics. That might be a good thing, because there may have been a sequel to "Anal Lust" or some weird crap. Actually, he wrote some killer words. About half of "Desecrator", and most of "Homicide" was him. He definitely paved the way for me to just go off and have the courage to do it. I'm a pretty laid back person and he's just balls out always, so it's a bit contagious.
Could you speak detailed about the "Slaughter In The Vatican" album?
It was truly the most miserable recording experience of my life. We signed with label called 3 Cherries that was branching into metal with a subsidiary label called Mean Machine. We signed the deal, started recording and the label folded before it was done. Plus the sessions sucked pretty bad. Horrible tones and way too fast in my opinion. To this day I prefer the demo to the album. Lots of people around here do. It got weird at times, like when I tried to do a spoken word thing that is probably my most embarrassing moment in my entire career. Eventually Roadrunner bought our deal and gave us enough money to polish up the album and I hope I never have to go through anything like that again in the studio.
To what did the title of the record refer? What kind of effects did the title and the cover elicit at that time? Wasn't the cover censored?
It was, like I said earlier, shock value with a little vengeance. It was pretty crazy, my dad found my brother's shirt and cut it down the middle with a pair of scissors. It was banned from a lot of vendors here. The funny thing was CHRISTIAN DEATH had an album at the time depicting Jesus on the cover as a heroin addict with hypodermic needles hanging out all over the place, but that cover wasn't banned. That tells me that you can pick on Jesus all day long- why not, they've been doing it for centuries - but for the love of GOD, don't you dare attack the pope. That's moronic.
As far as the cover, for me is the best one of all time.
I don't think much of it. I thought the artist did a fairly sloppy job on some parts. Look at the stands for the gallows post. The "X" beams holding it up could have been done better by my 7 year old son. I grew up in an artistic household, and some parts of that cover are nice, and some look like caricature scribble- scratch. The artist even misspelled his name on it. That says a lot right there. He didn't like being involved in it, apparently. Made like $5,000 or some shit. Hell, I wish I could go back and do it for 5 grand.
The lyrics were very dark and brutal. Was your goal to provoke and to shock the people with the lyrics? Did you take them seriously?
We meant a lot of what was said, but a lot of it was half serious. Kind of like horror films. Obviously being a father I have no interest in seeing the infant, taking it's life and licking the blood up from the fucking knife. But the thought is horrendous, and that was where we got off. Forcing people to face their worst fears is the goal of every horror movie, and we went right up that alley. It's great to hear about people hating what you have to say, because that just means the plan worked. Bad publicity is way better than no publicity at all.
What can you say e.g. about "Anal Lust"? Was this song the glorification of the perversion?
I think Vinnie was just horny when he wrote it. It's a pretty awful bunch of words, for sure. Again, I was raised in a house with 3 women, so I cannot and will not promote rape or mysoginy of any kind. However, whatever 2 adults do behind closed doors willingly is none of my fucking business as long as no innocents get hurt. Shock value wins again!
I think, "Slaughter In The Vatican" was written against religion and christianity? Is Louisiana a religious state? Does religion play an important role in the life of the American people?
Boy, is that a loaded question. We were against all religions then I guess. Against anything organized that stuck it to everyone, against anything that did not benefit us, mostly. This is a religious area for sure, and although religion is important to a lot of Americans, the stupid asses are working it out of everyday life. Trying to neutralze everything so that no one gets "offended". Don't say Happy Hannukah, you might piss of a Christian celebrating Christmas. Or take the "one nation under God" line out of the Pledge of Allegiance, because hindu citizens might take offense. You know, just think about YOUR god when that part comes up. I'm sure they'll all figure that shit out later when they're deciding what to do with your eternal fate since you were fucking your sister's husband or stealing from somebody who already hasn't got shit. People really need to get a grip and focus on the important things.
What do you think about the Church? Is it important to believe in something? In your opinion does God exist? Are there heaven, hell and purgatory?
I have a WAY different view than I did back then. I believe that God exists if you want God to exist. Something definitely is out there, and I don't know if it's God or Allah or Zeus, but I'm willing to bet it goes by all of those names and has us all in one category. What we do to each other and our surroundings is what matters most. If I am good to people and help them when I can, but can't get into Heaven because I won't join an elite worship group, then count me out because I don't want to hang out with a bunch of ass-kissers and a pompous ass that likes being told how great he or she is. If that sends me to Hell, then great... at least all of my friends will be there. I don't go to church, but I believe that there is a good presence watching over us. I also believe there is a lot of evil just waiting for a chance to nudge us a bit in that direction if we're not doing it blatantly enough on our own. I have my oldest son in Catholic school because the education is excellent and it is way different than when I was in the system. I want them to make the choice for themselves; I believe it is important to have a structure of religion to base who you eventually become as a person on. The church is in danger of dying, so they are more open to newer ideas and lightening up a bit on things that would have gotten you on the chopping block of excommunication not too long ago. Money talks and bullshit walks indeed.
Beside the Church are there several religious sects. What do you think of them?
As long as no assholes are benefiting from someone trying to advance spiritually, and innocent people are not dying or being molested or whatever, then church is good. Unfortunately there's always gonna be some dick to ruin everything.
Instead of Andy Villafarra, Franky Sparcello joined the band. In which groups did he play earlier? How did he get in the band?
Frank is a fantastic bassist. Really good at Thrash for sure. I know he had a band called ZION and I think he was in OSIRIS as well, but I never saw either band. He was someone we knew from around town and eventually was the only one that could pull it off so that was a big help for sure.
Your second album "The Law" was recorded with him. Did he also take part in the songcomposing? Did he write the bassparts?
Naah, I don't think he wrote any of that. In fact, he only played the slap-bass on "Un-born Again", and Vinnie and Jay did the rest.
Which are the differences between the both records? Did you develope compared to "Slaughter In The Vatican"?
"Slaughter..." was written way before it was released, and "The Law" was written under pressure of a deadline. Some of it, anyway. That's a big reason why the 2 songs from "Get Rude" made it and also the BLACK SABBATH cover. As much as I worship SABBATH, I would rather have had another of our songs on there.
Whose idea was to cover the classic BLACK SABBATH song "Into The Void"? Why didn't you cover a more known song from them?
It was agreed by all of us that it should be the one song that was not ours to record. We played it a lot live and it's one of the heaviest songs ever with that slow groove that we incorporated into our stuff anyway, so I thought it made sense. In fact, I had heard not long after the album came out that Tony Iommi had said he liked our version of it in an interview. If that's true, I'll die happy. They are truly my favorite band.
Would you say, that at point turned EXHORDER into a groovy direction? After the releasing of "The Law" started many American metal bands your sound, one of the most famous from them was PANTERA.
We were always putting that groove down since 1986. Just listen to "Legions Of Death" or "Desecrator". Fuck, listen to them all. We were grooving like James Brown doing a soft shoe with Satan himself. Sexy metal that punches you in the nuts.
Your singing was also similar to Phil Anselmo. Have you had an effect on him or was it on the contrary?
If I had a dollar for every time I hear this, I'd be as rich as him. He still to this day from what I hear makes everyone that comes to his house listen to the "Slaughter..." demo. I think he's a hell of a singer and a damn good frontman. He's been in the front row for EXHORDER and I've been in the front row for PANTERA. Period.
In 1994 the "Live Death" compilation was released . Why didn't you release rather an whole live album? What kind of purposes did this compilation serve?
That was done at the "Milwaukee Metal Fest" in 1992, and that was our entire set. Every band had 20 minutes except for us for some reason. They gave us 15 minutes, so we went out there and spanked some serious ass. I just remember as we took the stage the entire arena that was half full scrambled down to the floor and it was like 5.000 people on the floor going insane. I don't remember who played after us, but I do remember the majority of the crowd going back up to the seats after we played. We were a live band... lots of people tell me that our pits were as or more intense that SLAYER's. I'll take that as a compliment.
You had from the demo era two songs "Bestial Noise/Wake The Dead" and "Ripping Flesh" which weren't released on the EXHORDER records. Why? Weren't you satisfied with them? Have you had better songs?
"Bestial Noises" were backwards grunts and moaning with special effects and "Wake The Dead" was "Incontinence". "Ripping Flesh" was just not necessarily right for "The Law" and not good enough for "Slaughter...".
Your records were released by Roadrunner. Do you still remember, how you were signed? Did you send them a demo?
Like I mentioned in an earlier question, Roadrunner bought out our contract from a folding label. I'm not so sure we sent press kits to anyone. We weren't concerned with much other than where the next beer came from.
At that time Roadrunner was still a little, independent underground label and they have supported the thrash and death metal scene, haven't they? They have/had great bands, like DEICIDE, SEPULTURA, OBITUARY, DEFIANCE etc. Did they do a good promotion for EXHORDER? Were you satisfied with them? Why did they turn into a trendy label?
I had two bad experiences with Roadrunner. They didn't do much more than we did for EXHORDER and as much as the sky was the limit with money for the FLOODGATE recording sessions, they did ZERO promotion in the United States for FLOODGATE. The press ate it up, but we went on tour with SEPULTURA and our booking agent wanted to bring us back over to Europe to do dates with TOOL and KORN and they basically said "We're not paying for that - go tour the States on your own dollar. Now they only put ads in European magazines and we just came off of a gigantic tour with SEPULTURA and had already lined up 6 more weeks of touring the spot where the fire was already started, but they wanted us to do THAT? Before long I heard that while we were out doing our own U.S. dates they redirected money that had been planned for us into COAL CHAMBER and soon afterward we were dropped. Because of this I almost did not participate in the 25th anniversary All-Star Sessions, but Joe! y Jordison of Slipknot invited me to do a song and it was way too good of an opportunity to pass up, so I accepted. I am now glad that I did because the song is cool and Joey seems like a good guy. I never met him in person but we spoke a few times on the phone and he's a tremendous EXHORDER fan, which is extremely flattering considering their success. I don't believe I would go back to Roadrunner again, and I doubt with 2 strikes they would want a third one with me anyway.
When and why did EXHORDER split up?
I knew the night of our last show on "The Law tour of Europe" as we played the last notes of "Anal Lust" that it would be the last time we were on stage together. I could feel it. We weren't getting along, there was no writing going on, and I was extremely unhappy with music at the time. When we got back home Vinnie lost interest and would not return phone calls, so Jay and Chris and I got together to try writing new stuff. It definitely was not up to snuff so I went to audition for CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. That didn't work out so then I went to Austin Texas to jam with my brother and his friends. His friends could not seem to get it going, so Kevin and I both moved home with our parents in 1993 and dove into writing and forming PENALTY, which later became FLOODGATE.
After EXHORDER you formed with your brother Kevin Thomas the excellent FLOODGATE. How did the band come into being? When joined Neil Montgomery and Steven Fisher the band?
Kevin and I were doing some serious writing at all hours of the day and night. I wasn't used to just having so many songs and half songs and ideas and parts flying all around. We got together with an old friend Jim Bower and Jim was eager to play drums to prep up for the Down record, so basically it was like we were in high school again, except this time I was on guitar instead of bass and Kevin was jamming with us instead of with other guys that we knew. We recorded a demo in early 1994 and it was really hungry sounding, although pretty low budget. I sang some of those songs better there than on the album because especially then I had something big and new to say. When Jim left to go do the Down sessions, Ross Karpelman of Clearlight called to tell us about adrummer he knew from high school that was a good guy. Neil was perfect because he was big, hit like Mike Tyson and nobody really knew him musically besides the guys he played with before us. At first! I think everyone expected Chris Nail to be there, but I was dead set on being the only one from Exhorder in this band. I had known Fisher casually through the music scene and saw him play with his band Basil's Favorite Hat which was a lot like Jane's Addiction. He was the anti-me on guitar. Into being a guitar player, good on leads, and a very unorthodox style compared to everyone doing sludgy stoner/ doom shit in New Orleans. I play the guitar like I'm spanking some ass. Steve plays like he's going to massage gently it until he gets in there to spank it. My leads are simple and more like vocals, while he does some pretty weird shit that I'm still trying to understand how he pulled it out of that guitar.
In my opinion "Penalty" became an awesome record, which was released in 1996. Tell us please detailed about the album! I consider it a doom/stoner classic, the songs are full with emotions.
Lately I have seen a new appreciation for the "Penalty" album from a lot of people. I have always had a lot of mixed emotions about that entire period of my life, and at first a lot of my fanbase from the EXHORDER days did not quite get it or just flat out hated it. I think one guy called it "Floodpiss...BRING BACK EXHORDER!!!" I was done with Thrash at the time and some people never accepted that. I grew up listening to the type of music that I was now playing, so I was really free in a way. I wrote a lot of that stuff while EXHORDER was on tour and even offered some of it to the guys, but it was always "...it sounds really good, but it's just not us." And they were right. I only wrote one riff for EXHORDER and as good as I was at writing Thrash songs, my job was not to write the music. Now I could write my own music, so I attacked it with a new passion and explored more into my own life's experiences rather than horror and rage.
It wasn't typical, that all of you have sung on the album, was it? Or did the other member do only the vocals?
I did all of the vocals in every song except for "Black With Sin", which Kevin sings the verses on and the Neil and Steve did backups throughout the song.
Wasn't it heavy for you to sing in a different way? While in EXHORDER you had to scream, in FLOODGATE you had to sing.
It took 8 years from when I got out of school to finally mix the trained singing that I had done with my metal. I'm still getting better, which is both scary and a cruel joke that God has played on me. Thanks for making me hit my prime when I'm a 36 year old Dad. If I was singing like this when I was 20 I'd be a fucking millionaire.
At that time Jay Caravolo did FALL FROM GRACE and they released also a very good album. Have you ever listened to that record?
To be honest, no. Not from start to finish by myself. I have heard it and think it is a very good album. But I never had my own copy, and I guess I probably should. It is definitely a solid, powerful album.
Why did you turn from Thrash Metal into this doom/stoner direction? Did you want to do something different?
Ahhh, I was waiting for this question. FLOODGATE was not the musical departure in my life. EXHORDER was. Like I said, I grew up on Rock 'n Roll and then Heavy Metal. By the time I got to thrash, it was new and exciting and angry, and I guess at 16 I too was new, excited and angry. PERFECT. But when I was able to get back to writing for PENALTY, it was like putting on old shoes. Jimmy Bower and I played together in a band called ARMAGEDDON in his bedroom, and we wrote IRON MAIDEN/ BLACK SABBATH type songs back in like 1985. They were not bad, either! "Nightstalker" was my first song. It sounded like it was straight off of "Killers" by IRON MAIDEN! Just not as awesome.
You were also the member of Trouble. Why did Eric Wagner leave them? How did you get into the picture?
I never met Eric, so I can only go by what they told me, but it seemed like there were personal issues that could not be resolved at the time. I knew Ron Holzner a bit and FLOODGATE was booked to do a show in Chicago which was a combination Metal Fest/ Porn Fest. Ron called me to see if I would mind singing a couple of songs with them, and I was honored to do so. The way he put it, DOWN, CROWBAR, SHINE and other bands were going to also be there, so Anselmo, Kirk Windstein and Wino were going to be doing the same thing as well as others. In the end only Wino was going to be doing it besides me and I think they just figured if I could pull it all off, they would just have one person sing. It was truly one of the most fun times I have ever had musically and to this day am honored to have been able to not only play with a band I enjoyed growing up but to have been lucky enough to play with and get to know the late Barry Stern. He was a good guy and I miss him.!
How did you feel in TROUBLE? Did you play shows with them? Didn't you think about to record an album with you?
The show we did in Chicago went so well that we did one in New Orleans for a Mardi Gras Metal Fest except Craig Nunenmacher of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY filled in for Barry. I also did a guest appearance with them later in Chicago and then we went to Baltimore to play a Stoner Festival with Barry back in the line-up. That was the last time we did a show together. We had talked about doing a record, but it never happened and now they're back with Eric and I'm looking forward to hearing it. I was a fan before I was in the band, so that is good news to me.
I would say, TROUBLE is a classic band, but they never got that acknowledgement, what they have would deserved. Do yo agree with me?
Yeah, that's fair. They took that field of rock to a different level and the musicianship in that band is excellent. They wrote damn good songs and somehow, like EXHORDER, never seemed to get to that next plateau. I think they were close for a while, but something kept it from really going over the hump. Maybe it was timing, I don't know.
Nowadays you are in ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY. When did you join them? Cause I don't know the band, can you speak about this group?
Well, you're not the only one. I don't own any of their albums and never heard them until I heard they were looking for a singer. I heard from a mutual friend named Karrie Hill that they were looking and that I would fit nicely. She gave me the drummer's number and we spoke and when they sent the new material I was blown away. I like the old stuff I've heard also. I've been looking for their CDs in the stores, but I guess I'll have to order them on the internet. Anyhow, I took one of the songs that they sent and tracked vocals to it and they liked it, so I got together and jammed with them and it was perfect. I cannot wait to do this album. It is very diverse, with heavy, crushing songs and melodic slower songs as well. It is not JUST metal..it is rock and at times it is going to cover almost every emotion. They are great guys though, and like me they like to make good music with an edge to it so I think people that like most of my work will like it.
As I know, some years ago you have done some EXHORDER gigs, haven't you? How were the shows? Why didn't you go on tour? Unfortunately, you never played in Hungary.
We finally missed each other enough about 5 years ago to do a couple of shows in New Orleans. We decided to make it affordable for the fans and back out to the street where we started, so we booked 2 nights at a tiny club in the suburbs called Zeppelin's. This place is only suited for about 300 people, but after 2 nights we had about 970 people pay at the door, so add the other bands, guest lists and bar employees and that's 1,000 and about 200 more than legally should have been in each night. It's a damn good thing the place didn't catch fire because we'd all be dead now. It was amazing. We finally were having fun again and the money was great, but unfortunately that was it. Believe me - it will NEVER happen again, and I wish that were not true. There are so many places that we never got to play that want us now.
Didn't you think about to reform EXHORDER? What do the other EXHORDER members nowadays do? Are you still in contact with each other?
I don't want to say exactly why, but let's just say 2 guys will, 2 guys can't and one guy won't. I have not spoken to everyone about it, but the one that won't told me about the one's that can't and believe me. They CAN'T. Not right now. The one that won't definitely WON'T. Maybe it is best that EXHORDER is best remembered for what it was. Young, angry, full of booze and trouble and not taking prisoners. If we recorded now it probably wouldn't be the EXHORDER you know, because it's a bit hard to have teen angst at thirtysomething. Let the sleeping dogs lie.
Kyle, I think we covered the whole EXHORDER story, I haven't more questions. Thanks for your answers and patience. What would you say at the end of our interview?
Thank you for your time and interest, be on the lookout for ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY and my other band PITTS VS. PREPS. Pitts vs. Preps has a CD called "Below And Beyond" which is a lot like old JUDAS PRIEST era metal with a bit of a hardcore edge. I'll send you a copy. To anyone out there interested enough to still be reading this I thank you especially for any support you may have given me in a career where maybe I have yet to see my best days. If not, then I'll just kick back with my sons and my family and happily watch the world go by. Enjoy your lives and thanks again.
Interview: David Laszlo (2006)