Ron Jarzombek of Spastic Ink / WatchTower
Interviewed in February 2000 by Noel
Spastic Ink is a solo project of former Watchtower guitarist Ron Jarzombek. Watchtower dissolved due to physical aliments and certain members other commitments. Ink Complete specializes in super-complex instrumental fusion metal. Jarzombek’s distinctive style is in top form here. There are few other bands that possess such technical and musical prowess. Completely brilliant in it’s complexity and unique original thought. Currently the line-up seems to be Sean Malone (ex-Cynic), Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus/Testament), and and none other than former Watchtower vocalist Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys), and drummer Richard Christy (Death/Control Denied) but that is yet too be determined. So be prepared too dive into a glimpse within the Watchtower Past and Spastic Ink Future.
Starting off what is happening with Spastic Ink?
I’ve been working on the new “Ink Compatible” tunes for almost 2 years and am anxious to get real musicians on tape. I’ve been listening to my
work recordings for way too long. As of now, the musicians will be:
Vocals – Jason McMaster, Guitars – Ron Jarzombek, Bass – Steve DiGiorgio and Sean Malone, Drums – Bobby Jarzombek. There will probably be more musicians, but I’m still working on it.
How did the Solo Project originate, and will it be on a label?
No, Phhhp! is a collection of old songs that I put together on 4 track during the time when I was with WatchTower. I doubt I’ll shop it to any labels.
Will WatchTower ever be reborn?
No, I doubt it. We tried to finish up the last record that we were working on, but I gave up after it was obvious that a few of the members had moved on with their lives. I’d be totally into finished it up, but I refuse to force people to do something if they don’t want to.
Death, Cynic, Atheist cite WATCHTOWER as being a major influence. What do you have to say about that, and do you know those guys?
I know a few of the guys that were in those bands. Just about all of them are killer musicians. I just wish Watchtower had contributed more music to the progressive world.
During the Watchtower era, few bands played that style except for a few like: Mekong Delta, Seige Even and Helstar – am I missing any?
We used to do shows with Helstar, and they were more straight ahead metal. I haven’t heard much from the other bands.
I heard that either Seige Even or Mekong Delta ripped off your style is this true?
Probably, but that’s up to the listener.
Do Retarded Elf have any albums released? If so on what label and are they still together?
I think they split up a few years ago, not sure. They had one album released in Japan. Don’t know of the title or label.
Aside from music what job do you have?
I support myself by teaching, but am looking for work in the multimedia field.
So what do you think of your former vocalist Alan Techico’s band HADES?
There’s pretty much metal with a little bit of “progressive” in there. I’m not a HADES “fan”, but I think they’re pretty good players.
Can you tell us briefly about the WATCHTOWER breakup and your hand injury?
Tower started falling apart when I had the hand problems in ’90. When I fixed my hand nearly 3 years later, things changed. The musical direction was lost and the drive and motivation was nowhere to be found.
So where are all the Watchtower members and in what bands?
Rick and Doug are living in Austin, both have a wife, kids, and a good job. Jason and I are still farting around in the music business. Jason’s main band is Godzilla Motor Company. He’ll be singing on the next Ink CD “Ink Compatible”. I haven’t talked to Billy (White) in over 5 years, don’t know what he’s up to.
Will you guys ever repress any WATCHTOWER albums?
Noise is printing up more copies. They’re really cheesy looking though. The cover looks like a copy made of a copy machine. There is no lyric sheet, photos, etc. It’s just a cheap copy so Noise can make more money.
Tell us about SLAYER – the one from San Antonio (not the more well know Slayer).
Five guys from San Antonio formed a Satanic heavy metal. Do some recordings and shows, then split up. Singer then joins Juggernaut for an album. One guitarist joins WatchTower then forms Spastic Ink. The other guitarist forms Juggernaut then works at a music store. Bassist and drummer join Mark Reale’s (also in RIOT) new band Narita, then the bassist forms Pittbull Day Care, drummer joins Sacred Reich then Machine Head.
What are your feelings on Dave Mcclain now that he’s playing in my opinion Hip Hop sell out crap with MACHINE HEAD?
Anybody who plays or listens to rap should be shot or tortured.
What was it like to play a show with the INFAMOUS SLAYER (LA)?
Very cool. Kerry King cut his face backstage with his nails wristband. Dave Lombardo told us that our lightman didn’t know our songs. The crowd was awesome for both bands. It was killer a show.
Are you disappointed you never joined FATES WARNING after the offer?
I never was offered the gig. I was talking to Jim Matheos for while but they got Frank to fill in for Victor. Would have been cool to join, but it didn’t happen. Who knows if it would have worked out.
Regarding your former vocalist’s band DANGEROUS TOYS – why did he join those guys, and do you know what kind of change he must of went thru playing with them considering the music is completely different?
They offered him lots of bucks and the opportunity to tour and live out his dream. He learned a lot by going through all of that. Big time managers, booking agents, tours, etc…
What influences your writing, song titles, guitar riffs, programming drums etc?
Mostly filmscore composers. I don’t listen to a lot of guitarists. I did when I was a kid, but I don’t really want to sound like anybody else now. I’m doing my own thing, and get influenced by other forms of music.
Since you are a guitar instructor, what is your advice to someone who wants too play like you? Do you every get any WATCHTOWER fans or METALHEADS I should say?
I get a few students who are into some progressive music, but most of them just want Metallica and Nirvana songs. Once in a while I’ll get somebody who wants to learn theory. If somebody wants to play like me, I tell them to do their own thing. I can suggest things to listen to, or what to think about when writing.
What are the top METAL albums you are listening too now?
My favorite metal album is probably “Master Of Puppets.” Fredrik Thordendal’s solo CD is really cool. I don’t have many metal CDs. Dream Theater’s latest CD is brilliant.
Are you into DEATH METAL/BLACK METAL?
I don’t care at all for the cookie monster vocals.
What about DARK ANGEL from LA, the GENE HOGLAN led band, are you a fan of those guitarists? Eric Meyer of DA was asked to join MEGADETH years ago but didn’t? Any comments?
Tower did a few shows with Dark Angel. Gene Hoglan was a really cool guy. I remember talking to him backstage in Dallas. I’m not familiar with Eric Meyer. So I guess Marty Friedman left Megadeth huh??
So what band did RIP OFF WATCHTOWER?
I know that Sieges Even listened to Tower a bit too much. Their titles are a bit too similar. But really it’s up to the listener.
Where you ever featured in any guitar zines?
Yeah, I was in Guitar Player, Guitar For the Practicing Musician, Guitar World, Guitar Japan, etc… But that was years ago. Tower was in lots of European mags way back when. Ink is in quite a few. The guys at Metal Maniacs are total Ink fans. Really cool guys over there.
Is SA SLAYER album still available, if not where can you get it?
I don’t know about that one. We were going to put it out on CD about a year ago, but couldn’t find the masters.
Tell us about your work with SEAN MALONE of CYNIC?
We started emailing a few years ago. We agreed to play on each other’s next release so I did a few solos on Gordian Knot, and he’s going to play on a few songs on “Ink Compatible”.
How important is Jazz/Fusion music too your playing?
I used to listen to a lot of Holdsworth and Al Di Meola, but I don’t have too many “fusion” records. Most of what I listen to is what I’d label progressive rock. Rush, UK, Yes, etc…
Tell us about your work on David Bagsby’s upcoming Raymond Scott tribute CD?
Dave and I go way back to the Tower days. He and I have been emailing for several years. He asked me to contribute a track to his Ryamons Scott tribute CD, and I chose “Celebration On The Planet Mars”. I’m pretty happy with the outcome, but the track sounds a bit too digital.
Any other projects your working on now?
Just working on “Ink Compatible” and the videos. And I’m trying to get a real job in multimedia so I can quit teaching dumbshits. I’m keeping in contact with a few more musicians on the net, so some other things could happen.
What is your opinion on Control Denied?
It sucks what is happening with Chuck. Dude was kicking ass, then this shit happens. He’ll get through it though. I’m glad Chuck dropped the cookie monster vocals.
What drummers would you like to work with and why? WHAT ABOUT CHRIS WILLIAMS formerly of CONTROL DENIED him and some other members didn’t get along, but he did write all the drums on the CD demo that was released and they appeared on the new CD but were copied by Richard Christy, anyhow CHRIS plays in TALONZFURY….
Actually, I’m so tired of sending shit out to drummers. I’ve packaged up so many CD-Rs and sheet music. I’m praying that my brother can get everything done. I’ve wasted way too much time farting around with drummers. There are some great players out there, but actually getting them on your recording is another story.
What are you or your label trying to do to promote you in NORTH AMERICA – anything at all?
We’ll probably try Nuclear Blast or Laser’s Edge. We have a while until we get there, but that’s what I’m looking at right now.
Any Final closing comments for METAL RULES. Thanks and keep us updated!
Just look for the next Ink CD “Ink Compatible” in 2000. That’s about it.