After you quit ACHERON you played in several bands, such as DEACON SCREECH, ASH, WOLF AND THE HAWK, DEVINE ESSENCE, could you tell us more about these outfits?
Yes, I actually stayed quite busy! I know a lot of musicians around the area and so I get asked to do a lot of projects and usually they end up even playing shows and recording CDs.
DEACON SCREECH was a really weird industrial project sort of similar to SKINNY PUPPY, we did a split CD with a band called VAMPIRE CIRCUS which was the old keyboard player from ACHERON's band. And we did some really cool shows with a lot of strange lighting and effects, I used a lot of electronic pads and weird sounds along with the drums, it was very experimental stuff, too bad we only recorded four songs.
ASH was a project with Bob White who also did PAINEATER, it was just basically him doing keyboards and me spoken vocals and we had a girl doing ghostly opera vocals in the background, the object was to take old stories like we did with Dante's Inferno and transform them into spoken word with music but not exactly word for word but more my interpertation of it! So that was really just a project. We recorded about 1/3 of Dantes Inferno in two pieces but never ended up finishing the whole book.
DEVINE ESSENCE and LISA THE WOLF was pretty much the same band we just changed the name and it was slow doom black metal with Lisa The Wolf on guitars and vocals, Tom Swain on bass and backing vocals, and me on drums and backing vocals.
And Wolf and Hawk was an acoustic project that Lisa and I also did where I got the chance to use all hand drums instead of a drum set.
AFTER DEATH was formed originally NOCTURNUS A. D. by you, guitarists Gino Moreno and Mike Walkowski and bassist Richard Bateman, how did they get in the picture again? What about the musical background of Mike Wilkowski?
I guess just timing, we all weren't doing much at the same time, so we thought we would give it a try again with all the original NOCTURNUS members only minus Vincent Crowley. And Walkowski was a friend of Bateman's, so we got him on rhythm guitar. I don't think he had ever even played in a band before ADTER DEATH.
and meaning, but After Death has several meanings, I would say it is the ultimate unanswered question, what is After Death??? It just also happens to tie in with the my old band too!
||Did Gino suddenly appear or were you stay in touch with him during the years?
It's always an on and off thing with Gino, he is in and out of jail a lot!!! And very hard to work with on top of that!
"BC/AD" is/was a classic NORTURNUS tune, was it unambiguous for you to choose a NOCTURNUS track as bandname? Did you want willfully to refer to your past?
Well I did write the lyrics to "BC/AD" it was my idea anyway and since I wasn't even able to use my own band name I figured I could at least use a part of one of my song titles! And even though the song "BC/AD" itself isn't about Egyptian themes, After Death does have an Egyptian sound
The purpose of AFTER DEATH is to convey occult teachings to the public via music, when did you start interesting in occultism? Did perhaps Vincent Crowley lead you into the empire of the occult teachings?
No, way before that. In fact when I met Trey I was only 17 and had already been into the occult and so had Trey, so that's how we met. I bought my first Aleister Crowley book at the age of 14 in 1978.
Are you also into black magic?
I am Magick!
Do you consider yourself satanist or occultist? Are there differences between these notions?
Both actually I have always had an interest in the occult and dark subjects. I would say Yes definitely there is a difference between Satanism and occultism, Satanism is just a small branch of the occult world, really the occult just means "hidden".
In your opinion, what do people think of satanism and occultism in general? Do they think, that satanism means to kill children, animals in the name of the satan?
Unfortunately I would have to say yes you are right, but most self proclaimed Satanists don't go around sacrificing people, they leave that up to the Christians!
As it can be read on the website, only opened minded people will be able to fathom a concept such this, the blinders and narrowmindedness must be removed to appreciate such a concept.
Yes, and that statement has proved itself over and over again, a lot of people just want me to do NOCTURNUS or the MORBID ANGEL stuff that I did all over again, but that's not what I want, because I write for me first, it's just what comes out of me at the time, sure I can force myself to sing like I used to, but I like to just open myself self up as a channel and see what comes through me, no forced sounds just an open channel!!! I record all kinds of stuff, it's been amazing all the different weird stuff that has come out of my head.
MORBID ANGEL had AMON opening for us!!!
||What do you think about the teachings of Anton Szandor LaVey and Aleister Crowley?
I could go on for long amounts of time about both of these people, but I respect both greatly, especially all the Magickal works Crowley has done for the occult world in general, he was no hoax.
Are you familiar with satanist bands, such as NECROMANTIA or DEICIDE?
Of course, I played shows with DEICIDE since they were AMON, the last show Sterling and I did with
Why did you change the name of the band from NOCTURNUS A. D. to AFTER DEATH in 2000?
Becuase Lou and Sean threatened to sue me for using the name NOCTURNUS.
In 2000 you recorded the "Vibrations" EP, what about the tracks of this release? Why wasn't this material released?
Because it happened during the changeover from Hammerheart to Karmegeddon and we got kicked out of the first studio because of my lyrics, the owner of the studio and his wife freaked out on my lyrics and told us to get out and finish the recording somewhere else, so the recording ended up being almost three grand and Karmageddon didn't want to spend 3000 on an EP, so we never officially released it.
As far as the song "Nocturnus", is it a cover of the legendary NOCTURNUS tune or did you simply rerecord it?
Sure is. And it's oddly enough a song we never recorded on an album when I was in NOCTURNUS, it only appeared on the first demo.
On the guitars played Scott Wallin, why did Gino leave the band?
Gino and Bateman actually got into a fistfight in my house where we rehearsed, I don't even know what happened exactly, but they started arguing and it turned into a fight, so Gino quit and we got Scott to play leads because Walkwoski was just a rhythm player, so we had no lead guitar.
As far as the position of the bassist, were the bassparts played by Richard Bateman or by Todd Williams?
The bass parts were played by Bateman, Todd never recorded anything with us, he only played live.
instead of them joined Lisa Lombardo on keys, Bryan Hipp on guitars and Tom Swain on the bass, why did the former members quit the band respectively how did you find the new musicians? What about their musical past?
||As far as Richard, NASTY SAVAGE played on the Bang Your Head festival in Germany in 1999, which was a reunion gig and Richard played with them, is that correct?
I think he did, but I am not sure about the status of NASTY SAVAGE now, it's always been an on and off thing for years.
Other line up changes happened: guitarists Scott Wallin and Mike Walkowski and bassist Richard Bateman have left the band and
When I met Lisa and we started playing together, we knew we needed a different bunch of musicians that were more into the atmospheric type stuff we wanted to do and Bryan had played in CRADLE OF FILTH so we thought he would be perfect for the part and Tom was a really steady heavy bass player. It was Tom's first real band, but Bryan has been in several bands like CRADLE OF FILTH, BRUTALITY, DISINCARNATE, ASTAROTH, DIABOLIC and several others!
Have you heard that Brian passed away on the 21th of October?
Yes, I heard the next day about it, he just got out of jail on Friday and died on Saturday, the real cause of death still hasn't been announced, but most people would say it was probably a drug overdose.
Jared Anderson also died for two weeks ago.
I didn't really know Jared and I still haven't heard what he died from yet either.
Your second demo was "Consumed By Fire/Sulphur, Mercury And Salt", which contained only a track plus its remixed version.
That was just a home demo that was actually two songs connected together and we did two different mixes of the two songs, I believe it was probably the last thing that Bryan Hipp ever recorded and it was probably his last live show he ever did was with AFTER DEATH as well.
After this release quit both Bryan and Tom the band and joined Ed Miller on guitars, what happened with them?
Bryan was really bad into drugs so we asked him to leave and we could only practice on the weekend with Ed, because he lived in Gainesville which is almost a three hour drive each way, so Ed would come Friday night and stay at my house and rehearse all weekend and unfortunately Tom was not able to do that, so we were going to find another bass player, but never did.
Your third demo was "Reviving The Gods", what about this recording?
Ed did all the guitars and bass, Lisa did the keys and backing vocals and I did the drums and vocals. It was recorded at Erik Rutans studio and then mixed by Jon Oliva and Greg Merchak (who also did the 2 ACHERON and DEACON SCREECH CDs).
Its producer was Jon Oliva, is he one of your longtime friends? Did he do such a good job like on the "Science Of Horror" demo back in 1988?
Yeah, Jon is really great I have known him for years, when I went to Audio Lab to remix the demo. Jon just hppened to be there and said he would be glad to do it, so it wasn't planned it was just being at the right place at the right time!
Were all of your demos shopped to attract label interests? Which ones did start interesting in the releasing of the demos?
No, usually something ends up happening, so I only really shopped that first homemade demo first it's really weird but usually right after we record something always seems to happen with one of the main members and it's usually not even my fault. Even just now we recorded and played one show and our keyboard player moved back to texas because of financial problems, so it didn't even have anything to do with the band at all. But we may have already found someone new.
How did you get in touch with MCB Entertainment LCC label? Didn’t you get any offers?
MCB did some of the BLOODSTORM stuff, so far they haven't done anything for us, just tons of empty promises! That release was just supposed to be all the old demos, it didn't have anything to do with the new material or band.
emailed me and sent me their new demo and asked if I would want to do a remixed version with me doing all the vocals. So I agreed and they sent me the music tracks and I added the vocals and Demian and I mixed one version and DISORDER mixed another version and we released it on CD with both remix versions. so it was a really cool thing to actually accomplish and it's great stuff too, very old school Slayerish, but with a really dark sound.
||What about this reelase? Are there only the demos on the CD or did you put some unreleased tracks on it?
Well, so far nothing has been released, I still haven't even seen one promo copy yet, I just keep getting more excuses.
In 2005 you did the guest vocals on DISORDER's demo, what about this guest appearance?
Their guitar player Adam and I have been emailing for a few years and he sent me a lot of his stuff which some was never finished, so I said maybe we could work on a project together, so one day he
The present line-up of the band consists of you, Demian Heftel and Josh on the guitars, Jesse on bass and Napalm on keyboards, did they earlier play in several local acts or are they -so to speak- "unknown", "nameless" musicians?
Demian has played in BRUTALITY and ASTAROTH and still plays in CONTORTED, too. Josh has never played in a band before. Jesse plays in several bands: DIABOLIC, CRIMSON MASSACRE, LULL ME TO LARVAE and Napalm just moved back to Texas!
Was your goal to continue the career of AFTER DEATH with unknown musicians?
Not all were unknown, I really only pick people, because of what I see in their playing or just them in general, I am not looking for metal rock stars, I want people that really like what the band is into and all about, but that's hard to find when you are really into what you sing about!
Why did Lisa and Ed leave the band?
Ed quit because he moved from Gainesville to Orlando to play in his own band that he already had called NEGATIVE PLANE, it's some really killer stuff actually. I can never blame people for wanting to have their own band with their own concepts and ideas, that's what I have here and that's why I don't mind working with different people, for me it's all about recording some really strange musick! Lisa left because we were in a relationship and it didn't work out, I really just didn't want to get married and do the family thing, it's just not for me.
In September you recorded a four track demo called "Secret Lords Of The Star Chamber Below", what about this material compared to the previous ones? How much did you develope both musically and lyricswise?
Well, each time I record, it seems to grow and change musickally and lyrically. Like I mention in the website, if you look at my lyrics all the way from the MORBID ANGEL days to now and actually read what lyrics I was writing, you can see where my occult studies were at at any particular time. MA had the Necronomicon and Satanism, early NOCTURNUS had satanism and blasphemy, the later NOCTURNUS had the same, but a bit more involved and some cool sci-fi and fiction thrown in. The ACHERON period was very satanic philosophy and AFTER DEATH started out with a lot of Crowley influence and just general occult topics and Egyptian magick, it's all sort of blending together now even more. And the musicians I am working with all just keep getting better too, this is probably the most talented band I have had since I started AFTER DEATH.
Did you write all of the songs or did the new guys contribute in the songcomposing as well?
As far as the music, everybody contributes as much as they want and I reallty think it should be this way, everybody is responsible for their own parts, we usually work on the songs together at practice, so everybody has a big part in the creation of the music. I write all the lyrics because I want AFTER DEATH to be my personal journal of Magick that has been put to Musick!
Would you say, that musically are a lot of similarities compared to NOCTURNUS? Is it important for you to keep alive the spirit, the legacy of your early/previous groups?
Just mainly by me I think, the other musicians don't really sound or write like the NOCTURNUS members, Demain and Josh are heavier but not as technical as Davis and Gino and Naplams keyboards are way different from what Lou did. So in a way it's a lot different, but it still contains that same feeling more than sound.
Have you ever given gigs with AFTER DEATH?
Yes, with just about all the different line-ups, except for Ed, we never did any live shows when we had Ed on guitar.
Do you plan to record a full length album? When do you plan to enter the studio to record the material? Are you currently working on new songs?
As I mentioned it happened again, we just recorded and our keyboard player moved, we are trying someone out right now, so only time will tell. But we may have to record again something new with the new keyboard player before we shop anything around.
What kind of response have you got from people who have followed your work over the years?
Mostly really good response, some people seem to just like what I do, because of the fact that it is real and they can tell that my soul is into it as well! And then some people just want me to be exactly what I was back in MORBID ANGEL or NOCTURNUS and then some people would just wish I would go away!!! HEEHEEHEE
How would you compare the actual/present scene to the golden 80ies when everything related to metal was so much more exciting and original and what about the present scene of Tampa?
All I can say is for the most part it really sucks now and you can't even try to compare it to the old days, sure the young kids these days are incredible musicians, but there doesn't seem to be much real behind their playing, it's all about competition and trying to sound or do what has already been done. All this emo metal is the best example I can give you of that! I mean bands like DEATH, SLAYER, CELTIC FROST and MERCYFUL FATE never even used a blastbeat or tried to sound like another band, these bands are what I call real metal bands!
Mike, thanks a lot for your patience and waste your time answering my questions, anything to add to this extreme long feature?
Just expect the unexpected!
Interview: David Laszlo