After INCUBUS broke up, you founded NOCTURNUS with guitarists Vincent Crowley, Gino Moreno and bassist Richard Bateman, how did you hook up with them? Were they also "veteran" Florida metallers? What about their musical past?
Well I was in INCUBUS with Gino and Bateman had just quit AGENT STEEL and Vince had just broke up his first band Entity! But I knew Bateman and Bateman knew Vince, so we all sort of just got together and started jamming.
you say that the reasons of their departue was, that they wanted to go on their own way or didn't you get on well with each other?
||You recorded very soon a four track demo featuring "BC/AD", "Nocturnus", "Unholy Fury" and "The Entity", what can you say about the recording of the demo?
It was recorded on an old 8 track reel to reel in a friend of mines house with some really cheap microphones, so the demo wasn't really a very good one, especially with the sound quality.
After the releasing of the demo happened some line up changes: Vince left the band to found ACHERON and Richard Bateman got an offer from NASTY SAVAGE, so he also decided to leave the band, would
Vince really hated Florida and him and Gino didn't get along so he quit first and moved then Richard got the offer to join NASTY SAVAGE and it was pretty much a full time thing, so he left too and Gino and I got new people and kept going.
Then Vincent moved to Colombus, did he move to Columbus, because he founded ACHERON?
He moved to Pittsburgh first I believe that is where he formed ACHERON.
Did you part ways with them in a friendly term at the end?
Yes I did, they both quit mainly because they hated Gino!
As far as NASTY SAVAGE, they were an excellent band, but with the bassplayers they always had bad luck, what do you think about it?
They had Fred Dregischan, Dezsö István Barta, Chris Moorhouse and then Richard. It did seem to be a cursed thing with their bass players!
Have you heard at that time of Chris' death? What happened with him?
No I didn't know him, wasn't it a car accident I think?
Were you always a NASTY SAVAGE fan? What's your opinion about their albums and crazy gigs?
I really liked the old NASTY SAVAGE stuff best, their shows were always totally crazy!
The new members became Mike Davis on guitars from LIZZY BORDEN and Jeff Estes on bass, in which groups did earlier Jeff play? How did they get in the picture? Mike was Gino's cousin, right?
Davis never played in LIZZY BORDEN!!! But since he and Gino were related Gino told me about Mike and Jeff was a friend of Mike Davis'
Keyboardist Louis Panzer joined in 1988 the band, did you admit him, because he was the friend of Mike Davis, like Jeff? Did Louis have "metal roots"? Were there perhaps other musicians auditioned?
No, Lou never listened to Metal he liked stuff like THE POLICE and STING and crap like that!!! But yes he was friends with Jeff and Davis.
quite a few other bands back then, we just were probably heavier than most of the bands that did have keyboards back then.
||Louis added another dimension and completed the NOCTURNUS sound, whose idea was to use keyboard in this brutal music? Did you have the goal to use the keyboard as a musical background or did you want to intend it as an important element of your music?
I really wanted it for intros and background stuff but once he started rehearsing with us we added more and more until the keyboards became a full time instrument.
I have to say, it was an brilliant, unique and original idea, because nobody used keys before, is that correct?
I wouldn't say that ANGELWITCH used keys along with
NOCTURNUS was the first band who used keyboard for the first time in extreme (death metal) music, I think so, you bet/dared to make experiences with the using of keys, do you agree with me?
I never really care about what people think or want me to do with my musick I just do what I do and if people like it than that's cool and if they don't then there are thousands of other bands that they can listen to instead!
Did you surprise the fans as far as the using of the keys?
Yes I think so, people weren't sure what to think at first.
Would you say that the using of keys came into fashion within the death/black metal scene?
A lot of bands started later mixing their music with keys. Yes definitely, now keyboards are a very common thing.
I would say, you have had a very great impact on the extreme music scene.
It would seem so!!!!
Would you say that both NOCTRUNUS and ATHEIST renewed the death metal scene? While you used keyboard they mixed their music with jazz and progressive elements, which was also unusual at that time, right?
Yeah, you could say that and we used to do a lot of shows with ATHEIST back then, and in fact I was just talking to Kelly the other day about possibly do a show with them and AFTER DEATH.
Your next demo was "The Science Of Horror", what about this legendary demo? How much did you develope compared to the first demo?
It was a huge difference!!! We got Jon Oliva of Savatage to produce it and he even sang backups on it too! Jon is a very cool guy, we still talk to this day! But there is a huge difference between the two demos in just one year!
Did your music radically change because of the new members? I mean, did they take part in the songcomposing, did they pump fresh blood in the band? Were Mike and Jeff more talented musicians than Vincent and Richard?
Yes, it definitely changed because of the new members, it was a really different sound overall, especially with the keyboards added.
The demo was produced by SAVATAGE singer Jon Oliva, was he the perfect person for this job? Was he proficient in death metal?
He was definitely the perfect person, he plays keyboards too, so he really understood what we wanted and how to get the sound we were looking for!
This demo caught the eye of Digby Pearson at Earache Records in Nottingham, England and subsequently they were given a record deal for the band, didn't you get any offers from other labels? Do you still remember, which labels did you sent from the demo?
Well we really wanted to be on Earache and Trey was pushing Digby to sign us so we were waiting for that first and it happened so we never really shopped it to any other labels.
I remember, at that time I read a review about the demo in the Hungarian Metal Hammer magazine as well and under the band photo stood: reliable appearance - destroying death metal.
Hmm I don't know what that actually means??? (That meant, they looked like reliable, but they played death metal - ed.)
he formed EUPHORIA, the music was really good, but I didn't like the vocals.
||Then you went in the Morrisound studio to record "The Key" record, but Gino Marino left the band, he made it to Atlanta, Georgia, where he started a new band called EUPHORIA and they recorded one demo, started working on some new material then Gino disappeared, what happened with him?
Gino had went to jail so we had to replace him with Sean, so by the time he got out of jail we were already signed and ready to record, so Gino went to Georgia to join INCUBUS with Sterling, but it didn't work out and so
The new material that they were working on was supposely even better than that demo, but unfortunately none of it was recorded, Gino sent you copies of that demo, possibly with the idea of you working together again, but why wasn't the cooperation among you and Gino realize?
Gino is a very hard person to deal with and that's all I will say!!!!
Gino was replaced by Sean Mc Nennery, what have we to know about the musical background of Sean? Did he play earlier in local acts?
No, Sean never played in a band before NOCTURNUS, but he lived just a few houses down from Mike Davis on the same street, so they used to play together all the time, so Davis was the one who got Sean in the band after Gino went to jail.
Were the songs for "The Key" ready when Sean joined the band or did he also write some tunes?
Everything was pretty much written, Sean only wrote a few rhythms in NOCTURNUS, but nothing on the "The Key".
What about the recording sessions of the album? How much time did you spend in the studio? How was to work with Tom Morris?
We did the album in about a week with a 10.000 dollar budget, which isn't a lot for Morrissound! I really wanted to work with Scott or Jim Morris, but Earache insisted that we use Tom because he did MORBID ANGEL.
Why didn't you work Scott Burns with? Was he perhaps busy with other acts? Was Jim the perfect person for the position of the producer?
Actually I think Jim would have been my pick, but Earache was spending the money so we had to use Tom.
"Altars Of Madness".
||Would you say that "The Key" was the first melodic death metal album? Did the melodies play an important role in your music?
I don't think "The Key" was too melodic at all!!! But it was pretty technical for it's time.
Listening to the album I would say, you can't deny the influence of MORBID ANGEL, which can be thanked to your MORBID ANGEL past, do you agree with me? With other words, "The Key" can be compared to
Maybe a bit, but I think it's a lot different from MORBID ANGEL, too. But you can't help but to be influenced on your past works!
Kam Lee appeared as guest vocalist on the record, whose idea was to invite him in the studio? Is/Was he a fan of NOCTURNUS, was/is he your friend?
It wasn't really planned, he just happened to drop by the studio because Digby was there and they were talking about signing MASSACRE, too and we just happened to be doing the back up vocals, so Kam just jumped in there and did it with no planning at all!!!
At that time was it habit among the death metal bands that the bands invited musicians from other death metal ones, did it symbolize the friendship between the bands?
I think both, people always make guest appearances on other peoples recordings, but we were all friends too.
Why was "Undead Journey" a bonus track? Was it at that time released on the original version of the record or did the song get up on the re-released version?
That was because of time constraints, remeber CDs were brand new and an album is much shorter than a CD, so we left out "Undead Journey" on the actual album and so it became a bonus track for the CD.
The songs on the record are very atmospheric, technical ones, all of you were technical, talented musicians, but how could you sing and play the drums so technical at the same time? I think, it was a hard task for you, wasn't it?
Well it's not easy by any means, but I have gotten really used to it and now it is pretty natural for me to do both! But we toured Europe almost all of the US and Mexico and lots of people saw me do both with not too much of a problem!!!
As far as your lyrics, was a concept behind them? I mean, you didn't write about cliches, like bowel, blood, gore, but about other space, horror etc. which was new in the death metal, right?
It was just what was in my mind at the time, but also Davis had some of the ideas too when it came to the sci-fi stuff.
After the releasing of the "The Key" record you went on tour, but instead of Jeff Estes played Jim O' Sullivan on the tour, why did Jeff decide to leave the band? What about Jim's musical past?
Jeff had become and still is a major drunk, he showed up to record "The Key" drunk and couldn't play at all and just left the studio, so actually Mike Davis had to play most of the bass on "The Key" and he had to learn it and play it while we were in the studio, so the bass is not very loud on it. But we fired Jeff after that!!! And we got Jim from Fort Lauderdale, he was in a band called ELYSIUM before NOCTURNUS (ELYSIUM did a demo in 1989 called "Inspired Hatred" which was recorded in Morrisound studio - Leif).
organized and sponzored by Earache? How did the whole tour go?
||Was he a good replacement for Jeff?
As far as bass playing yes, but he was a really strange person and did really weird stuff, so we got rid of him before we recorded the next album!
You toured in Europe with BOLT THROWER, any memories of that tour?
That was the best tour I ever did, BOLT THROWER are awesome people and a great band too, we had lots of killer times with them.
What about the US Grindcrusher tour along with GODFELSH and NAPALM DEATH? Was this tour
That was a really awesome tour too, but I really liked the European audiences better! But yes, Earache did organize that tour along with Combat Records back then.
Was it hard for you to perform the songs live? You had to concentrate both on drumming and on singing!
By then I was doing really well with both I thought, just ask anyone who saw us live back then!
get an actual frontman and as you can see "The Key" sold over 70.000 and Thresholds sold less than 30,000 so you do the math! Every night on tour people were asking me why I wasn't singing anymore!
||After the tours you entered the studio to record "Thresholds", but a new member, former TORTURED SOUL vocalist Dan Izzo was in the ranks of the band, which was a great relief for you, because you could concentrate on drumming and it also brought a better stage presence to the band, right?
Well it wasn't a relief at all I still wanted to sing, the problem was that the band had no stage presence and I was behind a really big drumset, so you could never see me singing, so Earache thought it would be a better idea to
What about TORTURED SOUL? Was it a local band? Did they record demos?
They were a local band that did have a demo out back then. (they also did two demos in 1994 called "Deadly Realms" and "Undead Legions" - Leif)
As far as the studio sessions, you worked again Tom Morris with, how do you remember about it? Did you pause a little bit between the Grindcrusher tour and the recording sessions of "Thresholds"?
We rented a drumset for "Thresholds", because mine wasn't really a studio set it didn't have bottom heads on the toms, it was mainly for playing live and Tom didn't want to use it because he didn't like the sound of it on "The Key", but I did the drums on the first day and didn't have much involvement after that. After the Grindcrusher tour we really went straight to writing the "Thresholds" stuff, some of it was already written and we even played one song on tour with BOLT THROWER, so yes I was singing and playing the new material just fine, too.
Did you write new tracks during the tour or did you write them at your rehearsal place? Did you have the opportunity to write or to practice new tracks?
We had a few songs already written and like I mentioned even played one of them live on tour.
Instead of Jeff Estes were the bassparts played by Chris Anderson, was he only a session musician? Why didn't Jeff come back for the recordings of "Thresholds"?
Chris only did the session recording he didn't want to tour or play live, but Jeff was long gone from NOCTURNUS after what happened in the studio with his drinking problem!
What about the instrumental track "Nocturne In Bm"? Whose idea was to put it on the record?
That was Lou's idea mainly.
In my opinion, "Arctic Crypt" is one of the best NOCTURNUS songs, which contains classic heavy metal riffs and parts as well, do you agree with me?
I don't really like much off of "Thresholds" to tell you the truth.
This song was covered by a Polish band SCEPTIC on their "Pathetic Being" album (2001), have you ever heard their version? Did you like it? Do you consider SCEPTIC a talented band?
I have heard that version and yes it is pretty killer! They were a very talented band I think!
In your opinion, did Dan's voice fit in the band? I ask it, because in my opinion, while you growled deep, he had rather an hardcore influenced voice.
Well it was the best and closest thing we could find at the time!!! Lot's of people did try out but he was the first to come in and actually sing the songs right on time.
too much like a comic book, so Dan Seagrave actually redid it and we really liked it a lot and kept it and also used him for the second one too, but "The Key" was one of his best covers in my opinion!!! The actual idea of the cover was mine though.
||Were Louis' keyboards parts of the same kind determinant, like on the "The Key" album? I mean, did you again lay a serious stress on Louis' keyboard parts?
Yes and probably even moreso on "Thresholds".
The covers of both records were done by Dan Seagrave, was he at that time a known artist? Were the covers of "The Key" and "Thrasholds" his early works along with the cover of MORBID ANGEL's classic "Altars Of Madness"?
Yes, he was already very well known, but we actually had a version of the cover done by a local artist first but it came out
Was it unbiguous for you to have with Dan Seagrave the covers done? Were you satisfied with his work? In my opinion, both of them are great.
As I explained we already had the idea and a cover but the artwork wasn't very convincing, so we got Dan to redo it and it was amazing!!!
You toured in 1992 with CONFESSOR as well, but on this tour played instead of Jim O' Sullivan FALLEN IDOLS member Emo Mowery, what happened with Jim? Did Emo help you out only for the tour or did he join the band as a full time member?
We fired Jim right after the Grindcrusher tour, he was just really to weird even for us!!! Emo did join as a full time member back then.
How did get Emo in the picture?
I don't actually remeber, I think he had just moved to Tampa from Seattle and we tried him out.
How was this tour compared to the BOLT THROWER one or to Grindcrusher? Did you get on well with the CONFESSOR guys?
The tours for "The Key" were way better than the "Thresholds" shows, although we did have some good shows on that tour, but there was a lot of small crowds compared to what we had on "The Key" tours. We got along great with the CONFESSOR guys, they were really cool!
I consider their first full length record "Condemned" a classic metal one, did you like it?
I thought it was awesome, Steve's drumming was fantastic on it! They were a totally original band!
"Thresholds" was your last record for Earache, how much support did you get from them? Did they care a lot of the band, I mean, merchandising, promotion, support etc.
Hardly any, when the CD came out it wasn't selling very well and Earache didn't give us any tour support or merchandising at all, the tour and merchandise was all put up by the tour promoter Yohan of Metalysee and he lost money on that tour too, because of lack of people at the shows.
For how many records did you sign them at that time?
It was supposed to be a 5 album deal from what I remeber.
Did they drop the band after the releasing of "Thresholds" or did you leave them? Did you contract perhaps expire and you didn't want it to extend, because you got a better deal from an other label?
Most people know about this, but I had never trademarked the name NOCTURNUS and knowing that we were a signed band with albums out I didn't think anybody else would ever try to use that name, but what I didn't think was that my own band would go behind my back a steal the name from me and that's exactly what happened. In 1992 Lou and Sean went behind my back and trademarked the name and once they owned the name legally they fired me! Then they told eveyone what they did including Earache, well Earache said they better record some new songs with the new drummer as a demo and so they did record those two songs that ended up on that 7" and sent them to Earache and Earache dropped them!!! That's when I joined ACHERON.
Would you say that Earache was at that time the home of the death metal bands?
Yes for sure!
Shortly after you left the band and you were replaced by ASTAROTH member James Marcinek, what kind of reasons did lead to your departure?
I explained it above in the other question, Lou wanted control of the band so he devised a plan to get me out and tried to take over the band which failed miserably!!!
Would you say, that your departure was the end of the evil NOCTURNUS?
Of course, none of those guys were into the occult at all, in fact they hated that type of stuff, that's why I hardly wrote anything as far as lyrics after "The Key".
||What do you think about the "Possess The Priest" 7"? Does it mean, that you didn't take part in the songcomposing for the 7", right?
"Possess The Priest" was actually an old NOCTURNUS song that Gino and Bateman and I wrote and played live back in 1987, so not only did they steal my name but they stole that song and tried to use it to keep their record contract with Earache, but as you can see it failed!!!
After the releasing of "Possess The Priest" NOCTURNUS broke up, was the demise of the band in
No they were done!!! I thought it was pretty funny myself that less than 6 months after they fired me they were dropped from Earache and broke up. Maybe it was My Curse against them!
After 7 years of silence NOCTURNUS came back and released "Ethreal Tomb", what do you think about this record? Can it be compared to "The Key" record?
It was a joke in my opinion! They never mentioned anyones names of who played on the album and the drummers face was covered, I think they wanted people to think I was in the band so they could sell more albums, but that CD really bombed!!!
Why didn't you respectively Jeff Estes take part in the songcomposing? Was it worth to reunite without you?
I was never asked! And I wouldn't have done it anyway, I don't care about money only principles!
How do you view the releasing of the NOCTURNUS demos and the "Farewell To Planet Earth" DVD? Did all of the NOCTURNUS members know about the releasing of the demos?
Mike Davis knew about the demos, but it was basically a bootleg, there was no contract involved with Hammerheart/Karmegeddon, but Sean didn't even play on either demo and Lou didn't play on the first one either, but they both owned the name!!! So they couldn't do much about it, I own the copyrights to both demos! As far as the DVD that was all Lou, Sean and Emo, they never asked permission from me or Davis or Izzo or Jim, they totally ripped us off on that one!!!
Didn't you think about to put some unreleased songs, live ones or covers on the demo collection? Did you play covers at that time at all or did you start writing own material right from the start?
No, the demos were just the demos, they weren't altered or changed or added to in any way, it was mainly for the fans so that they could see the real history of the band, when NOCTURNUS reformed in 2000 they did not even have one original member! We never played any covers in NOCTURNUS.
What about these days with the former NOCTURNUS members? Are you still in touch with them?
Only Mike Davis and Chris Anderson and I am actually working on a side project with them now. I hate all the other members, because of them stealing my band name NOCTURNUS and ruining it!!!
I have heard that Mike Davis does or will do a project with Trey Azagthoth, any informations about it?
That's not true at all, Mike and Trey don't talk at all anymore, but like I said Davis and I and the bass player that was on "Thresholds" have a small side project that we are working on.
Interview: David Laszlo
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