Categories

Subscribe to Podcast

Mike Schleibaum of Darkest Hour

With their new album, ‘The Eternal Return’ and a handful of tours across North America and Europe, 2009 has been a busy year for Darkest Hour. LarryMac recently got a chance to talk with founding member Mike Schleibaum about the new album, touring, partying, the music business and everything that goes with fifteen years on the extreme metal scene.

LarryMac: First off, thanks for giving me some time.

Mike Schleibaum: No problem, man. We just gotta rock. Anytime we’re not rockin’, we are free to do interviews.

 

LM: You guys seem to have broken onto the scene all of a sudden but a lot of people probably don’t know that, specifically, you and (vocalist) John (Henry) have been at this for like fifteen years. What is that suddenly turned you guys into a household name and blew you up over the last year or two?

MS: I would say that the band felt biggest in America right before Deliver Us came out and I think a lot of it had to do with Victory. Victory was really pushing the band hard and the band still gets great opportunities due to the fact that, like you said, we’ve been around for a long time. A lot of bands are familiar with the band. So I think that the appearance of us blowing up is due to us continually getting the right opportunities. I think when you’re on a record label they push you for a while and then when they draw back a little bit because it’s close…you’re nearing the end of your contract, it’s kind of weird because you’re kind of on roller skates, you’re just on coasters. But we’re on this tour – it’s great and we’re working…we started working on a new record, which just means guitar riffing – right now me and Mike (Carrigan) are riffing it out and we’ll probably work on another record really soon. We have a couple more tours in the U.S.

 

LM: Hidden Hands… was kind of a departure from the thrash/punk sound you guys had earlier.

MS: More metal.

 

LM: Yeah, it was more European. Was that an intentional move on your part, a natural progression with the band or a byproduct of working with (producer) Fredrik Nordstrom?

MS: Well, I think it’s a combination of a few. I mean, if you listen to The Mark of the Judas and you listen to So Sedated they’re kind of, like, confused. I think it’s because we wrote So Sedated kind of fast. And basically, Hidden Hands is what we wanted to do: it’s more metal, it’s faster, it’s heavier. It’s just that Fredrik knew kind of how to bring that out and, also, we added the other guitar player – we added our second second guitar player, this guy Kris (Norris), who was the first guy that was actually as good – like, I’m not saying that I’m amazing on guitar or anything – but the other two guys, who were really good, they just kind of showed up and played and we rocked in concert, but Kris was into guitar playing so we could take it to a different level. I think that combined with Fredrik paying attention and making it sound more metal really took it there and then I think you can see what happened was Devin Townsend took it to the next level on the Devin Townsend records. Then it got into being really more orchestrated on the guitar and a little bit less about specific riffs but, you know, it’s all a cool translation of the band. You know, some people love Hidden Hands and some people love the Devin stuff so it’s kind of cool to have a couple different sounds in there.

 

LM: With the evolution that your sound has undergone since your first EP, what should people who haven’t picked up The Eternal Return expect?

MS: I, personally, feel like it’s far from the first EP but I’m sure people that aren’t as familiar with the genre probably wouldn’t see all the…you know, they’ll be, like, “Oh, the guy is still screamin’ his ass off”…I don’t know. The thing is, The Eternal Return, to me, sounds like the band of old with a little bit of a couple different eras sprinkled in the middle but more importantly, to me, it just sounds like, the sound of it, is kind of a more grown up band in the sense where we wanted the drums to sound a little liver, the music is a little bit less orchestrated in certain places and more driving and with The Eternal Return we made, on purpose, a really dark, pissed off, twisted, metal, fast as fuck record. That’s what we wanted to do. That’s where we were at creatively, that’s where we felt we were at in our lives. The older you get, the more pissed off you get. So, it’s just like we could have gone and said “Let’s do Deliver Us Part 2″, blow it out and make this prog epic fuckin’ cerebral masterpiece. But, instead, we were more like “Dude, let’s fuckin’ pound it out and do just a sick riffer, the whole record” and, you know, those songs are fun live and they’re fun to play and I think it’s because they came from that place.

 

LM: I can tell you some shit about getting old and pissed off (haha). Is there one track on there that you can point people to and say “THAT is the sound that Darkest Hour is all about”?

MS: (Laughs) I think that on every Darkest Hour record you can always get a hint of where the band is going to go with the next record with the last song of the predecessor. Like, with Hidden Hands we had this epic instrumental and Undoing Ruin was pretty out there, musically – it ends with “Tranquil”, which is this long-ass fuckin’ song that jams and is pretty epic and then Deliver Us was really more about being epic, but ends with “Deliver Us” which has kind of the heaviest mosh riffs. And so I think that this record – if you look at the last song, “Into the Grey”, it’s a little bit more linear, it’s a little bit more complex than the other songs and it’s a little bit out there structurally but I think…you know, I think that the future of the band is we’re gonna take a lot of the speed and aggression and everything that’s happening on this but you’ll see a little bit more of some of the orchestrated stuff of the past blended a little bit. I think we made the statement we wanted to and the real question is now “what’s the next statement?”. Because people, fans, always want you to make the SAME statement so that you can just be like “Damn, I like that; damn, I like that” but even AC/DC, who I’m a super big fan of, they didn’t make the same statement on every record. Fly on the Wall is a lot dirtier than For Those About to Rock, which came out before it, but they just changed every time along the way.

 

LM: So fans like to hear the same shit, but you get tired of playing the same shit…

MS: It’s just more like you’re always trying to find that sound that makes you say “Yeah…THAT”. The funny thing is that the band has been around long enough now that I think people know what…like…we tour with with other bands and they’re like “This is our Darkest Hour riff” and you’re, like, “Really?”. But that’s the riff, that’s what kids hear.

 

LM: You guys went out on the Thrash & Burn shortly after you starting recording, right?

MS: We went out on Thrash & Burn right after we finished the record in May – with Bleeding Through, in Europe.

 

LM: Because it looked like you guys came back and cranked that out quick.

MS: Oh, we didn’t. We got off Thrash & Burn in the U.S. and (Mike) “Lonestar” (Carrigan), the other guitar player, and I were in my house for like two months straight. You think it sounds like fun, because all you want to do as a kid is write music, but it’s hard when you have pressure and you want it to be good and you’re fuckin’ thirty-two years old and you’re like “this fuckin’ defines who I am”. It was rough and then we started to jam with the band for a couple months, we did a short Canadian tour, and then we started recording in March. It took like seven months; we really did take our time. But it’s good that the appearance was that we didn’t disappear – that’s really what we wanted. Plus we hadn’t been back to Europe in awhile so we really needed to do that.

 

LM: So you guys just got back from Europe. How was the touring over there?

MS: It was sick. Eastern Europe is always super friendly. Actually, our merch person today – his name is Thomas – we met him, he’s from the Czech Republic, in Prague. He’s been our driver, he’s driven the van the last few times we did van tours. We haven’t done that many van tours recently because they’ve been bigger, full package tours. But Thomas is a great guy, he’s our little import from eastern Europe. He’s just a little snapshot of what it’s like. People are super respectful, they’re super excited you’re there. There’s a lot of things that aren’t really that great over there so music is something that provides them a lot of joy.

 

LM: Is it good to be back or did you come back and suddenly remember why you were in a big hurry to get over there?

MS: No. Without sounding ridiculous and super crazy patriotic, I love America. I like touring, I like Chipotle, I like staying in American-style hotels, I like American-style showers, I like things in the U.S.

 

LM: Cold beer?

MS: Oh yes. But they have some great beer in Europe. And they have some really crazy hotels with fucked up architecture that are sweet and nice places to walk around, so it’s all cool. The thing is, you have to be able to know what to expect – which after you’ve toured enough, you do. And then just have fun and just meld – you have to meld to each touring situation.

 

LM: Does the fact that you guys are from Washington, D.C. mean that every time you go anywhere everybody wants to talk politics?

MS: It is with me. People in America are so bent out of shape about Washington, D.C. There’s always, like, “That’s right, that’s how they do it in Washington, D.C. but not here!” Whenever I see people who say that, I’m like “Fuck you! Let me tell you how it’s done in D.C.” If you get rid of the government, there’s a city there that’s pretty cool. But yeah, people do want to talk politics and it’s cool because when you live in D.C. you’re flooded with it, you’re inundated with it all the time and I’m a junkie for it, I love politics. I like being near it all, so it’s cool. I’ll talk to people about politics but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m gonna say what they like.

 

LM: You guys were on Summer Slaughter with Suffocation and Dying Fetus. Was there a culture shock in playing with grind-styled acts?

MS: Death metal is a hard sell, man. They’re just a judgmental as hardcore punk kids, but in a different way. It was interesting at first, but Darkest Hour fit right in and got along with every band. We loved Suffocation, we loved Origin, we loved Dying Fetus. All the most brutal death metal bands partied all the time and it’s cool. It’s funny to be on tour with people that make such pissed off, wretched music and they’re really great guys.

 

LM: How about the adjustment of playing with bands like that to playing with Trivium?

MS: This is more melodic and their fans are here to be entertained in a different way. So it’s interesting because you just have to change your mindset. When you play with Suffocation you have to come out with your middle fingers up, drinking a couple beers, like “Fuck you! You don’t think I’m badass?! I just slept in that van every night for a month and a half!”. When you come out with Trivium, the people want to be entertained, they WILL respond to what’s happening, they’re not as judgmental but they also tend to be a little younger. But, I mean, both audiences are cool. You just have to know what you’re up against before you get up there.

 

LM: So what’s up next for you guys?

MS: We’re doing this tour, finishing it, and then we’re gonna write a little bit and then we’re gonna do a co-headlining European tour with Kataklysm which will be fun because it’s metal. Then we’re gonna take a couple weeks off, write for a week or two and then do a U.S. headlining tour, which I’m really stoked about. And I’m sure we’ll come to Cleveland, ’cause Cleveland rocks. Then after that we’ll probably start working on the new record; we’ll have to find a new record deal. We’re gonna work on that because we’re off of Victory Records, so it’s a little bit of a rebirth – we’re unsigned in 2009 after a decade, but it’s not necessarily a bad place to be.


LM: Here are a couple of quickies for you before we wrap it. Favorite place to play OTHER than a Capitals Stanley Cup game:

MS: A Capitals Stanley Cup game? That’s a fucking sick place to play! I would have to say the only thing sicker than that would be to be able to play at a Cliff Burton tribute concert with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, where they only play records from like the first three. And everybody just parties; Hetfield’s off the wagon and is a rager. The only thing I haven’t really done after fifteen years is play a concert with Metallica. I played with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, Slayer too. Anthrax in Japan. Megadeth I love but it’s not the same as Metallica. And I never got to play with Pantera…I did play a concert or two with Pantera, but it was like we played twenty stages away, so that doesn’t count. You don’t always reach all the goals but sometimes it’s good to have dreams ’cause sometimes when you get to the end they’re not as good as you think when you’re trying to get there/

 

LM: Better live crowds here or overseas?

MS: That’s a toss up. The crowds in America, it just depends on what type of crowd it is. In Europe, you could be in East Germany and have a terrible show where everybody just stares at you or you could be in Hungary, Budapest or in Russia and people could be insane. It’s cultural, but it’s also about the concert. It’s awful to say, but it’s nice to play in front of people where English is the first language because they get what you’re saying faster. But it’s also fun to play in front of people of other cultures because they sometimes take it a little more seriously: “These guys are from America! They must know what they’re doing!”

 

LM: One band that everybody should know, but doesn’t?

MS: It sucks that I’m gonna play this card out, but I love the band Disfear. They’re the singer from At The Gates’ crust punk band with a dude from Entombed – not necessarily Darkest Hour, it’s actually more over-the-top. I listen to that record, it’s a sleeper metal record. I also think Dimension Zero is highly overlooked. That’s like two dudes from In Flames. I think those records are sick, just sick Swedish metal. I also think the last few Dark Tranquility records have been really good – HIGHLY overlooked, sick melodic death metal band.

 

LM: If there’s one bit of wisdom that you could beat into the heads of young bands that are starting out, what would it be?

MS: I get this one all the time.

 

LM: That’s because you’ve “made it”!

MS: I did not make it, my friend! You never really make it. The answer is “keep your priorities straight”. Because if you want to make a lot of money, get a different job. If you want a lot of fame, you might get that but you’re probably going to wind up being more infamous than famous and more hated. If you look at Limp Bizkit – perfect example of how all of a sudden you’re the coolest band in the world and the next minute you’re the dartboard of the world. The priorities are: write good records that you enjoy and then go on tour, play shows and interact with people and be respectful. That’s the goal. If you lose sight, you may find a little more monetary success and you might sell a few more records but there are plenty of bands that sold thousands of records who became laughing stocks, who are not respected and it was worth nothing because in the end, their legacy is they were part of a fad – they were 90s or they were 80s. If you can make a band that might be timeless…granted, maybe it’s not timeless to a lot of people but At the Gates, when they broke up, were not a very popular band. And they changed my life when I heard that record, they changed a lot of kids’ lives and then they came back and did a reunion tour and people cared, but they’re still not Metallica. But they touched people’s lives and that is what I think IS the goal. So good luck, ’cause you’ll get twisted every step of the way.

 

LM: You DO have some old guy anger about you…

MS: I have some rightly-directed anger but I do not feel jaded because of my age. I feel young. Everybody always freaks out when I tell them that I’m thirty-two. So I’ve still got that going for me, maybe for ten more years. Then I’ll be really haggard looking.

Max Dixon of DoHM

One Friday Douglas found himself rolling down I-90 westbound with his co-pilot being DoHM guitarist Max Dixon. He realized he had his digital recorder thus he threw a few questions Max’s way, and he was kind enough to answer them with no time to prepare. In the near future, look for a full interview with the band, but for now here is a quick peek into the mad tent known as the DoHM Circus! Douglas strongly recommends checking the band’s new disc out (http://www.myspace.com/dohmsound).

 

Douglas Esper: Ok, rapid fire Max, here we go. DoHM is just about to release their next disc titled The Circus so what can you tell us about the album?

Max Dixon: The Circus was created and kind of based off the everyday man’s trials and tribulations throughout life. The album starts with darker tones and has a nice progression throughout the album to lighter tones. Some songs are about dealing with relationships, dealing with yourself, and just dealing with the world.

D.E.: I have had a chance to preview some of the tracks on the album, and I couldn’t help but notice a few so-called “happy metal” songs. Was there a conscious effort made to go in that direction?

M.D.: Well, yeah, like I was saying before there is kind of a progression on the album and near the end of the disc is a song called “Thrilled To Be Alive” which kind of, yeah, is one of those upbeat songs and the title is kind of self explanatory. I guess we do do the happy metal thing, but actually, we are a very loud band with aggressive tones. It is a pretty happy song. As far as it being a conscious thing, I don’t know. Our drummer, Brian Pritchard, has always written a lot of the music, but also on this album our singer, Brian Noll, has added his ideas more. And when we all play together our sound just kind of happens, and I guess it is who we are.

D.E.: I know you guys have really taken your time with this album, and it has been a long journey. Tell us a bit about the recording process.
(At this point Doug who is driving almost veers off the highway, and the audio is muffled by the rumble strips. As the crisis is avoided, we continue the interview.)

M.D.: We recorded over at Ante Up Audio. It is a very fun, very chill studio. We started laying down a lot of the music and made great progress, but then the vocals took awhile and we had to break. We would play a group of shows to generate money to continue recording and it became a long process. We had originally thought it might come out about a year ago, but here we are now finished.

D.E.: You can’t rush the Circus man.

M.D.: True, It comes when it wants to.

D.E.: What is one reason everyone reading should check out the disc and your live shows?

M.D.: At some point, I think, in everyone’s lives they can relate to these songs, and plus it’s awesome. I think we all stepped it up a notch on this one from the insane rhythm section, the guitar work, and we also have face-melting vocals now. As far as our shows, we have always tried to entertain and keep it interesting for everybody. We don’t play with a set setlist from show to show because we want each show to stand on its own and be unique. Come check us out.


Dohm will release their second cd The Circus at the House Of Blues in the Cambridge room Saturday June 27th with Purse Snatcher and Theory In Perfect.

The Great Kat

For two decades, the name of The Great Kat has been synonymous with blistering guitar shredding. Ever the performer, The Great Kat discusses her new DVD, guitar and violin virtuosity and more with LarryMac. Bow down and worship!

Photos Courtesy of The Great Kat

LarryMac: First, just let me say thanks for taking some time out for us today. I, personally, have been following you since the glory days of metal back in the 80’s so this is definitely an honor.

The Great Kat: Thanks! Now The Great Kat (www.greatkat.com) is the “Top 10 Fastest Shredders Of All Time” (Guitar One Magazine)/“50 Fastest Guitarists Of All Time” (Guitar World Magazine)/Juilliard Graduate Violin Virtuoso-turned Guitar Shred Virtuoso/REINCARNATION OF BEETHOVEN!!

The Great Kat is NOW Bringing BACK THE GLORY DAYS of METAL AND CLASSICAL music with The Great Kat’s NEW VICIOUS, SHREDDING, RIPPING, BLISTERING BEETHOVEN’S GUITAR SHRED DVD!!!!!!!!!

BEETHOVEN’S GUITAR SHRED DVD Features:
7 Outrageous Shred/Classical Guitar Music Videos, including:
-“The Flight Of The Bumble-Bee”– The Great Kat shreds this famous work at the finger-blistering speed of 300 BPM on guitar and violin!
-Beethoven’s “5th Symphony” – Listen to The Great Kat’s Metal version of the world’s most famous symphony!
-Paganini’s “Caprice #24” – Kat dazzles on this technical virtuoso showpiece on guitar and violin!
-Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #3”– The Great Kat shreds on Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #3” on 6 guitars & 3 violins!
-“Torture Techniques” – Watch Kat’s arsenal of Torture devices and abused victims! -Plus MORE Theatrical Speed Metal Madness!
4 Shred BONUS Features:
-Hot Kat Shred Photos! Shred Geniuses!
Kat Kartoon – A crazy cartoon of The High Priestess of Guitar Shred!
AND MUCH MORE!!!

Watch the trailer at: http://www.greatkat.com/BeethovensGuitarShredVideosMenuMED.wmv

Watch more DVD Video Clips at Music Videos Clips at: http://www.greatkat.com/dvd/dvd.html

L.M.: Obviously, your claim to fame is your speed. Did you set out to make that your calling card or did it just sort of evolve that way?

G.K.: The High Priestess of Guitar Shred is a Classically trained violin virtuoso. My goal in recording and performing EVERY Virtuoso piece of music on the VIOLIN and GUITAR is to play as FAST as POSSIBLE, with technical precision and impeccable technique and bravura, PLUS WAKING YOU UP with VICIOUS SPEED, ENERGY and EXCITEMENT!!

Check out music clips from The Great Kat’s HIGH SPEED GUITAR SHRED on the Kat web site at http://www.greatkat.com/music/music.html

L.M.: Most people who know of you know that you graduated from Julliard with a background in classical violin. Perhaps fewer people know that you actually toured as a violinist for a while afterward. What sparked the move from that to heavy metal?

G.K.: After touring as a violin soloist, I realized that CLASSICAL MUSIC was DEAD and DESPARATELY needed to be UPDATED. That’s when I discovered Speed Metal, which fitted perfectly with the speed, POWER and virtuosity of Classical Music. I started taking my violin solos from Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, etc. and mixed it with Speed Metal and SHRED/CLASSICAL MUSIC WAS BORN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

L.M.: You’ve obviously maintained your love of the classical music, is there any other part of that life that you miss?

G.K.: NO!!! The Great Kat’s MISSION is to UPDATE this genius ART FORM for the future!

L.M.: Apart from the occasional appearances of the violin in some of your Great Kat material, is there any part of that style of play that you carry over? Does the violin playing influence the guitar playing, or is it completely set aside once you start the serious shredding?

G.K.: The Great Kat’s violin virtuosity totally influences my guitar shred virtuosity. I take all my Left Hand and Right Hand Techniques from the violin (fingerings, shiftings, positions, bowings, and other technical aspects) and place them directly on the guitar.

L.M.: Back in the ’80s, you had artists like yourself and Yngwie Malmsteen, who borrowed heavily from the classical masters, and bands like Savatage reprising the likes of Mozart and Grieg but we haven’t seen that lately. Is there still a place for those influences in metal? Has it evolved past that or does the new stuff just suck?

G.K.: The Great Kat IS TAKING NOTE-FOR-NOTE CLASSICAL MUSIC SCORES and RE-ENERGIZING this POWERFUL MUSIC for the MASSES, WITH METAL and SHRED GUITAR BLAZING INFLUENCES!!!!!!!!!!!

L.M.: What guitarist, other than yourself, should all metalheads know and respect?

G.K.: Rhoads. Hendrix. The Great Kat.

L.M.: Are there any new artists that you’d recommend or that you think can take up the torch?

G.K.: NO! The Great Kat carries THE TORCH for the ENTIRE MUSIC WORLD!!!! This job is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT and NEEDS EXTREME TRAINING!!!!!!!!!!

L.M.: Ever since Beethoven on Speed, you’ve released short EPs. Why haven’t we seen a full-length in so long?

G.K.: WAKE UP! THIS IS THE INTERNET GENERATION!!! FULL LENGTH ALBUMS ARE DEAD!!!!!!! EVERYTHING IS FAST, MULTIMEDIA-Music Videos mixed with crazy imagery, virtuosity and outrageous shows!! Go check out You-Tube to see what I’m talking about!!!!!!!!!!!!!

L.M.: After Bloody Vivaldi, we started seeing a couple of years pass between releases. It’s been three or four years since Extreme Guitar Shred – what’s been keeping you busy in between?

G.K.: PROMOTING, COMPOSING, PRACTICING AND RECORDING INSANELY TECHNICALLY DIFFICULT MUSIC FROM PAGANINI, BEETHOVEN, BACH, THE GREAT KAT and OTHER VIRTUOSO GENIUSES!!!!!!!!!

L.M.: So, tell us what makes Beethoven’s Guitar Shred different than your previous stuff. Why should people rush out to get a copy? Especially the people who have Beethoven on Speed, which also has “Flight of the Bumble-Bee”, “Beethoven’s 5th” and “Paganini’s Caprice 24”?

G.K.: The Great Kat’s new DVD BEETHOVEN’S GUITAR SHRED FEATURES THE UNBELIEVABLE ACTION of THE GREAT KAT GUITAR FINGERS UP CLOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WITNESS FOR YOURSELF!!!!!

Check out video clips from BEETHOVEN’S GUITAR SHRED DVD at http://www.greatkat.com/dvd/dvd.html

L.M.: In the “Shred Geniuses” extra, you put forth Beethoven as the greatest composer. What drew you to him, as opposed to composers like Mozart and Tchaikovsky, who were more known for faster paced compositions?

G.K.: BEETHOVEN = POWER and VIRTUOSITY!!!!!
Beethoven is the most POWERFUL and BRUTAL CLASSICAL COMPOSER in HISTORY, PLUS he incorporates HIGH-SPEED, COMPLEX TECHNICAL VIRTUOSITY!!!

L.M.: You’ve got a nice mix of people in “Shred Geniuses” as well as some interesting views on them. Were they all hand picked by you?

G.K.: YES! The Great Kat chose EVERY GENIUS on “Shred Geniuses” (Bonus Feature on BEETHOVEN’S GUITAR SHRED DVD). “SHRED GENIUSES” features some of civilization’s great geniuses, like Beethoven, Bosch, Madame Curie, Washington, Roosevelt, Wagner, Mozart, Bach and much more!!!! Check out these geniuses, so you SEE THE PERSONALITY of a REAL REVOLUTIONARY who DOES NOT FOLLOW THE PACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

L.M.: Is there anybody else you would have liked to have added to the list?

G.K.: Stay tuned to the NEXT Great Kat DVD for more Geniuses (Like Vivaldi, Paganini, Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Einstein, Shakespeare, Alexander The Great, Edison and more).

L.M.: Well, thanks again. Any last words from the Great Kat for the readers?

G.K.: SHRED ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GO TO THE GREAT KAT WEB SITE at http://www.greatkat.com
WATCH VIDEO CLIPS FROM THE NEW BEETHOVEN’S GUITAR SHRED DVD at http://www.greatkat.com/dvd/dvd.html

Mike Martini

Over the past few years, Douglas has set up various interviews up with Mike Martini, but something always comes up preventing the interview. Finally, they were able to get on the same page and sit down. Unfortunately, the night before, Douglas left his digital recorder in his pants pocket while he washed them. Thus, the recorder was less than reliable. However most of the interview audio was salvageable, and here it is:

 

Photos Courtesy of Douglas Esper

(This interview took place in early December and thus a chunk of the conversation revolved around the upcoming Alter Boys shows. Since they have obviously already happened, we cut out most of that portion of the conversation. Douglas may have another short sit down with Mike to catch up with current news in the near future).

 

Douglas Esper: First off, how many people do you think know it was you that made a certain prank phone call CD a few years back?

Mike Martini: Hmmm, well, not as many as there should be.

D.E.: Where did you come up with the various characters and voices for the calls?

M.M.: Mostly from people I have run across in my life. Not necessarily people I really know, but more from just people I interact with – like at work or out in public someone will say something and it ends up becoming part of the repertoire.

D.E.: How did you originally decide to do a prank phone call CD?

M.M.: Well, it sort of decided for me. I originally did the pranks and was circulating them around with my friends and that was the intent, it was definitely never intended to become a CD. It was something to do to have fun and waste time, really, but then enough people started bootlegging them and they started spreading out all over through the natural ripples of social circles. It started going further and further till I said to myself maybe I should put this out? I mean it was already out there, but this way at least people can know who did it.

D.E.: So, how many bands in the area have gone to put an ad in the paper looking for musicians and have feared hearing from Tracy Quick or someone into Black Metal?

M.M.: Heh, well I did see an ad for someone starting a black metal band and they were very specific about what they were looking for in terms of other musicians. They definitely seemed intent on avoiding any of those types of calls.

D.E.: You’re also a tattoo artist, so tell us about your experience as an artist and tell us about your shop.

M.M.: Well Square City Tattoo is my shop; we are up at Chardon Square. I personally started tattooing back in 1998. It was a way to get me out of the law office while I tried to do the music thing. Then I got to the point I wanted to run my own business.

D.E.: Has there ever been a tattoo that you were uncomfortable doing?

M.M.: Oh yeah! Sure, I was uncomfortable tattooing an almost seventy-year-old woman’s crotch.

D.E.: What?!

M.M.: Yeah, didn’t expect things to go that way did you? She was a very nice old lady. She came in one time with two canes. It looked like she had snapped them out of the trees. She had a cowboy hat, kind of looked like a plantation hat. She came in and said she wanted to get a little tattoo, but not that day. So, she picked out what she wanted and said she would be back for it. To be friendly I asked her where she was putting it, and she replied, “On my C*$t!” Then she walked out. Yeah that’s when I knew the trouble was starting.

D.E.: Did she give a reason for why she wanted it there and at her age?

M.M.: No, but when she finally came in for it she told me she had changed her mind, and I was like “oh that’s too bad”, you know, faking disappointment, but she told me she was still getting a tattoo there. She just changed her mind on what she would get. Of course we had been talking about this around the shop for over a week and everyone I knew seemed to have shown up to make fun of me, and give me a hard time about the tattoo. Originally, she had picked out a couple of cherries, but she changed it to an M and M character. The M and M, that wears the white gloves, and she wanted it flipping the bird. The whole time she was telling me about her website she has and all the nasty stuff she does to her boyfriend on it. I politely told her I had already seen enough and probably wouldn’t check it out.

D.E.: So your shop is the first tattoo shop in Chardon’s Square right?

M.M.: Yup.

D.E.: How tough was it to get approval, and how has the reaction been?

M.M.: It took a month and a half for them to have meetings that I wasn’t invited to to decide my fate after I had already signed my lease. Once I got that together, it went pretty smoothly. I guess at first, there was a little opposition, but that has been coming around. Now it’s got to the point where other merchants here on the Square that were opposed to us originally have come in and asked us to be a part of the Chardon Square Association. So, it seems like their view has changed about us since they have gotten to see what we are all about.

D.E.: Well there isn’t a military base near here so how do the sailors get here to get tattooed? And what about the bikers?

M.M.: (LAUGHS) Well, we are fortunate that there is a whole large group of hardworking people, and otherwise, I mean, now that we have become a popular spot all walks of life are around checking us out. All types of people are getting tattoos from the musician to little old ladies that want M and Ms on their vagina.

D.E.: I can’t get that out of my head.

M.M.: Tell me about it. I haven’t eaten an M and M since. I am sworn off of them.

D.E.: Tell me about the sleazy, dirty sounds of MUDFOOT.

M.M.: Ah yes. MUDFOOT is sort of an extension of the prank calls. I took a voice from the pranks and asked what would his band be like. So I gave him a band and it has sort of evolved from there to become a thing of its own. Its got a raw, swamp, porn funk kind of thing. You know, it’s all about the things that the character would be into like drinking, partying, and picking up chicks.

D.E.: What’s the best place to hear MUDFOOT?

M.M.: WWW.ORIGINALPRANKSTA.COM On that site you can actually hear both the prank stuff and the MUDFOOT stuff. We also have Myspace pages up, and I probably keep up more on the Myspace pages with updates and new songs.

D.E.: What tattoo artists do you respect and recommend?

M.M.: Well, there are a lot of artists I respect. As for recommendations I would, of course, say to come see me at the shop because we probably need the money more than the artists I respect! (Laughs)

D.E.: Do you have any plans to release any more prank material?

M.M.: The second disc is done, and we are looking for someone to pick it up and release it. Well, really mainly we are looking for someone to help distribute it. Unfortunately, a lot of people have gotten cold feet over the fear of getting sued. I may end up releasing it over the Internet. The first one will always be available for free out there.

D.E.: Your pranks have been used by many bands either on their CDs or at shows. Obviously, Mushroomhead opened the door for that, but how can a band or a person get permission to use them?

M.M.: Just get a hold of me on Myspace. Whoever wants to use stuff I am fine with. I usually just ask that they give me credit in the liner notes or whatever. I have a lot of unreleased stuff as well that they could use. I just don’t want everyone using like the same track. Do you know what I mean?

D.E.: What is one reason that people reading this should check out your tattoo shop and your music?

M.M.: Well I try to do things outside the mainstream so that it hasn’t been done over and over again. I try to push the envelope a bit. I try to come at you from left field, and be a little more creative with the way I approach things. If you are into that sort of stuff, a little more artsy than normal, a little off center than check it out.

D.E.: What is next for you? Is there anything else you would like to incorporate the pranks into, like movies?

M.M.: As a kid I always wanted to act. I never really pursued it, though there are a few embarrassing commercials out there that I did. I was in a Liberty Ford commercial dressed as an elf. Fortunately, it only ran for one season. Other than that, I’d love to do voice over work for cartoons or something.

D.E.: Have you had anyone figure out mid prank that it was you and not fall for the prank?

M.M.: No, I mean, usually if they feel they are being pranked they will just hang up. I am pretty good about keeping them on the phone until the end. Usually I just keep them going by thinking they are on the phone with the biggest idiot, and it is nothing that really makes them look stupid or bad. Maybe, though, they end up looking like an idiot for staying on the phone so long with me.

D.E.: Have you had anyone prank you in revenge?

M.M.: No, but my friends are constantly messing with me. I pick up the phone and I expect them to mess with me. Not many strangers though, not yet anyways.

D.E.: There is a rumor, and I guess you are the best person to ask about this, that MUDFOOT may tour with the band PRETTY BOY BLUE is there any truth to that?

M.M.: (laughs) Well, I heard the guitarist in that band is really stuck up. I think his name is Tracy Quick. I am not sure I am ready to confirm or deny that at this point, but we will have a lot of shows coming up so keep checking the Myspace page.

D.E.: What is your favorite kind of Rum?

M.M.: (LAUGHS) I think this is a loaded question. (Laughs) I think I am supposed to say Captain Morgan’s rum. If I don’t I might jeopardize my job. Yeah that’s one of the other things I do to keep myself out of trouble…or in trouble really.

D.E.: Do you have a favorite tattoo you have done?

M.M.: Not really a favorite tattoo, but I really enjoy tattooing my brother. He has been letting me work on him since I got into this whole thing. So, he was there getting various tattoos from me before I really knew what I was doing, and he has been around for the whole evolution of the thing. It is always a fun time because it is kind of a catalyst to get us together. We rarely get to see each other anymore so it is nice to have a couple of hours that we are forced to stay close.

D.E.: Speaking of your brother what’s new with him?

M.M.: Craig is out in Vegas doing a number of things including a couple cover bands, and recently he was in an orchestra pit playing during a big production. He also went over to Europe for another tour.

D.E.: One final question. For years, I have seen you onstage with your brother (bassist Craig Martini) and Jason Popson. It seems whenever you three are onstage together you are all having an absolute blast. Talk about being onstage with those guys, and what it means to you.

M.M.: Well it is great. We seem to have a great chemistry up there. Craig and I got instruments on the same day. He has spent a whole hell of a lot more time on his than I have on mine, but we have always connected really well. We have an unspoken ability when we are writing to change parts and go in the same direction at the same moment when jamming and writing. There’s also a really good vibe with Jason. The fact is if it looks like we are having a good time it is because we are. That is what we live for.

Chuck Mosley

Recently, on one fine freezing day Douglas sat down with VUA vocalist/founder Chuck Mosley to discuss the new album, the long journey to record the album, his thoughts on the rumored Faith No More reunion, and more. Ever the open and honest guy Chuck stirred the pot a bit, and entertained as he informed. Here is what Chuck had to say:

Douglas Esper: Ok, so it has been about two years since we last sat down for an official interview Chuck. What the hell is new?

Chuck Mosley: Um, not much. I got the car last year, back in March, so it has been about a year. So, I have been taxiing my family around between work and school. I’ve got a seven-thirty, eight-thirty, and ten-thirty drop off each morning. Then my pickups are at two-thirty, four-twenty, and whatever time Pip gets off. Erica (Chuck’s daughter) is also working three nights a week so I drop her off and pick her up. In between, we have been going in the studio to finish this damn record.

D.E.: Chuck Mosley; singer, performer, chef, and taxi driver.

C.M.: Yeah, and I’m not much of a cook anymore even, I mean I cook for the family and everything, but that’s been about it.

D.E.: So you’re not cooking anywhere right now?

C.M.: Nope. Nowhere. I’ve just been at home and in the studio. It’s been that way for like a year. Since that time that we went down there. What was that two years ago?

D.E.: Yeah, just about.

C.M.: So I started working on this album in 1998 when I was working at the High N Dry. So, it’s going on eleven years.

D.E.: What is one thing chefs do that makes you mad?

C.M.: One thing? I would have to say the one thing that sums it all up, and is the result of many other things is to put out a bad plate. If, you know, (the plate) is sloppy, not sexy looking, old food, or anything coming out that I wouldn’t put out myself.

D.E.: Now, you’ve been recording for eleven years.

C.M.: Well, not consecutively.

D.E.: Heh, right. How has the whole process happened?

C.M.: Well, after getting a half done product through (another engineer) Mike (Seifert) made his own studio and became his own boss. That’s what it took, really. We took the half finished record and it’s been an on and off process of taking bits and pieces and adding new things. And when you came up to the studio, we really started to get serious about it. After that, we got Michael Cartellone (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Damn Yankees) to drum on the record, Roddy (Roddy Bottum of Faith No More) did his keyboard parts for “We Care A Lot” (a remade/rewritten version of the Faith No More song “We Care A Lot”) and we are talking with Korn’s Manager about him possibly singing on a couple of the tracks.

D.E.: See Chuck it took nine years to work on the recording, but then I stepped in as the muscle and now everything is working out and getting done.

C.M.: Yeah I know it worked out perfect.

D.E.: Will the album and band keep the same name as previously used?

C.M.: Well, (Mike Seifert) wants my name on the CD so it will be Chuck Mosley And The Vanduls Ugenst Alliderasy a.k.a VUA. The Album will still be Will Rap Over Hard Rock For Food. After this first album, we will drop it to just VUA.

D.E.: I can’t wait to see how many different ways this name will be butchered on billboards as you tour.

C.M.: The funniest thing I see is when someone spells it correctly. So, it kills the joke, and that’s why the title has to be the whole thing.

D.E.: Have you ever gotten to hear any of the material you recorded with Bad Brains?

C.M.: It never was finished, but I did maybe four or five songs with them. Then at that point they got the offer to tour and get H.R. back. Doc (Dr Know of Bad Brains) asked me what I thought of that and I told him what would happen. I told him you’ll get him back, you’ll make some money, then he’ll do the same thing and you’ll be out on your ass again. And what happened? I’ve talked to Darryl (Darryl Jenifer, bassist of Bad Brains) since I’ve been out here in Cleveland. Actually I need to get a hold of Darryl because I want him to play bass on “Come Around” ’cause he wrote that with me.

D.E.: Really?

C.M.: Yeah I wrote the song and he wrote the bass part, and we recorded it in his living room. It was the best version of the song, and it was different because it faded out during the solo. Then later we built the whole second part. His bass line was so awesome I can’t even describe it properly to anyone. No one in the rock world can come close to Darryl with a bass, nobody can come close, and they want to argue with me? Nobody in the whole world can come close. Not Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), not Norwood (John Norwood of Fishbone) they are bad asses, but he is like alien to where they are just human like us. He is that far onto the next level.

D.E.: So what is the best way to keep up with all things Chuck Mosley?

C.M.: There are a few websites, but the official one is ChuckMosley.com. The thing with the Internet is I am trying to make sure what is written is actually correct. I saw recently on the urban dictionary it said some things and I spoke with them about changing it. The first thing actually that my daughter read about me was on there. It said that I used money that Faith No More gave me for vocal lessons on Quaaludes, which is a totally inaccurate. Because, well, first of all the only singing lessons I took with them was at Santa Monica City College and they were free. They never gave me money for lessons ever. The only time I had Quaaludes was on our last trip to Europe. I am afraid of flying so the last tour over there in ’88 I got four of them. Two of them for the ride there and two for the ride back. They found out I still had two for the trip back and they got mad. They told me to throw them out or take them before we start the last leg of our tour. I got really upset and plus I was high from the Quaaludes and they started teasing me. I ended up getting in a fight with Jim Martin. That was in the middle of the end. The beginning of the end was when our roadie and a friend of mine Joe got in a fight with Jim. That’s another story, but that’s the only time Quaaludes came into the picture. I mean I have done everything, all kinds of drugs, I’ve done it all, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. You know, I didn’t want to say it while my parents were alive, and now with my daughters here I don’t want to say too much. I’m not going to lie about it, but don’t print shit that didn’t happen.

DE: Well, speaking of your daughters, how long before they start asking you advice on starting bands and writing songs?

C.M.: Erica isn’t interested in music, but she is a heck of a writer. She’s a major piece of work, and I love her to death, but she cannot stand me. Erica is a mommy’s girl and Sophie is a total daddy’s girl. Sophie is into music and all these bands, and Erica is really into anime. Erica is even learning Japanese. Sophie has been getting into The Ramones, and also into the Twilight books.

D.E.: Oh-No! Good luck, Michele is obsessed with those books. So obviously, this week the big news is that Faith No More has announced they are doing some sort of reunion. It may just be a European tour, or from the sounds of the press release, it may be a fulltime thing. What are your thoughts, and have they been in touch with you at all about it?

C.M.: Well I talked to Roddy after someone mentioned it to me, and then I saw a post from some guy in England and I guess the guy turned out to be Jim Bowen who is the father of Mark Bowen. He was one of the original guitar players of Faith No More from back when I started.

D.E.: The Mark Bowen from the song “Mark Bowen”?

C.M.: Yeah, I love Mark Bowen. But anyways, Roddy said they had some feelers out to see what the reaction is. I don’t have any other details than that.

D.E.: Will you ever get onstage with Faith No More again?

C.M.: We are all fine now. Mike brought me to OZZFEST, went there, and met everyone. Billy came up to me at their last show here in town (September 23rd 1997 at the Agora. What a great set!) and he asked me to get up onstage, but I couldn’t (for a few reasons). He really caught me by surprise. I was caught off guard and didn’t want to mess up. Even though this girl offered…

D.E.: So if the band comes close to here I am going to personally drive you to the show so you can sing this time.

C.M.: Yeah Roddy said I could do a few songs.

D.E.: What songs would you want to do?

C.M.: “Mark Bowen” if I can reach those high notes still. “Why Do You Bother?” is one of my favorites. Billy wrote that one – the music, the lyrics everything. Also, the “Crab Song” is one of my favorites. I know Mike Patton doesn’t like when people compare him to me or when he is reminded of me. I read an email from a guy who said at a show he was screaming from the crowd at Mike saying “Chuck Mosley Chuck Mosley!” and Mike just turned around and gave him the finger.

D.E.: Actually I had a similar experience here in Cleveland at a show.

C.M.: Really what happened?

D.E.: Mike was asking what we Clevelanders do on a normal Tuesday night. I was right up front and said, “We go see Chuck Mosley and VUA!” and Mike just looked right at me and started to make a certain hand motion and he and Roddy ended up turning it into a joke about gambling and flipping waffles. It was pretty damn funny. A friend of mine has the show on DVD and we get a kick out of that part of the show. That night I realized Jason Popson, Jeffrey Hatrix, Mike Patton, and you were all in the same building. Basically my favorite four vocalists under one roof.

C.M.: A lot of people say Mike is a dick, but he has always been really cool to me. Hearing this though, I don’t know. What do you have to say for yourself Mike? I have nothing bad to say about him. He is a much better singer than I am. He has much better control over his notes and has a much better range. What I lack in skill and talent I make up for in character and originality.

D.E.: What is the timetable for the new VUA material?

C.M.: They are telling me it may be out by May or June and we may be on the road by June or July. That tells me that it should be out by June or July and I’d love to be on the road by August or September. Usually we would do Europe first, but I haven’t seen my family in a longtime, and I never got to officially say goodbye to my mom, so we will do the States first.

D.E.: How did you decide to redo two Cement songs for this album?

C.M.: I feel a lot of those songs got wasted because of my injury. When we had just started to tour for The Man With The Action Hair we got in an accident and I broke my back. That album basically got shelved six weeks before the record came out. It was a waste of good music. I love singing “Killing An Angel”. I love the looks on people faces when we sing it. I just love that song. If VUA ends up having a lifespan of at least three records I could see us putting a couple of those songs on each record ’cause I hate wasting food and I hate wasting music.

D.E.: So what is one reason everyone should check out the new VUA material?

C.M.: It’s not that we’re better than anyone out there. There are a lot of bands out that I like, Korn being one of them. But if you are a fan of my stuff, you will like it. Our live shows are fun ’cause you never know what to expect because I never know what to expect. We never plan ahead; we just throw it out there and have fun with it. I think that reflects off of us. I don’t know, why should everyone check us out? Well, it can’t be any worse than all the other shit that’s out there right now.

Skip to toolbar