Guitarist Doug Grandon & Vocalist Tom May
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
The ´Psychotic Death Metal tornado´ Mass Psychosis has been re-animated back from the dead! The band is already heading towards you to mangle and crush you. Scared to death already? Good…
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Mass Psychosis started under the Psychosis moniker as long ago as 1987. So when you are counting carefully, the band has reached its 20-year birthday this year, being in a sort of ´on/off´ -mode within their respectable long existence for the last few years. During two decades Mass Psychosis have managed to record one demo, a 7” EP and a couple of albums – and according to the words of one of founding members of the band, Doug Grandon, they have new material ready for at least 5-6 albums.
Find more about Mass Psychosis´ current situation (amongst other things naturally, too) via this interview that I recently conducted with both the band´s guitarist Doug Grandon and vocalist Tom May.
GETTING RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD
So, Doug, would you tell to the readers of Metal-Rules.com, when exactly was Mass Psychosis resurrected from the dead and what were the primary reasons to pump life back into the band again?
Doug: Well… Tom?
Tom: It was in ’04 that we started back with Vic, then we ran into John and he was into it, too.
Doug: Tom and I were always jammin´ since the band broke up. But, when we all put our shit aside, it happened a lot faster. We played John and Vic our new music and they loved it! So that’s how it got started again.
What kind of things actually put Mass Psychosis on ice when the band disappeared from the metal scene for an unknown period of time? Did the band feel uninspired and uncreative at that time when you eventually decided to call it quits?
Tom: Fuckin’ was Vic at the time had personal problems and had to leave. So we tried to get another drummer and it didn’t work out, so we decided to take a break.
Doug: John also moved away with his ex-girlfriend and that left Tom and I to keep writing songs but, not so serious.
Tom: No just member problems.
Doug: It’s hard to find good help at all so we went way underground.
NEW MASS PSYCHOSIS MATERIAL:
ENOUGH FOR 5-6 FULL ALBUMS!
You told me that life after Mass Psychosis has been keeping you somewhat busy, too. You are running your own screen printing company, have a tattoo shop (www.tabootattoos.com) and then you´ve signed to MTV, VH1 and Viacom, and you write music for their TV shows. Now that sounds like a busy life, huh! That makes me to ask from you how do also you find enough time for writing music for Mass Psychosis as it seems lime you are involved with so many things at the very same time? I guess you need a good calendar to schedule your days during one week for certain things, correct?
Doug: Yeah! I’m a busy fuckin´ guy!! I like it that way, I have so many ideas all the time. I think my A.D.D. is kicking always! Screen printing… yeah, tabootattoos.com… yeah! Wife, daughter, motorcycle and music most every night! Some nights MTV, some Mass Psychosis, I just have to write all the time, it’s like my own personal crack.
Anyway, you guys are back now with the line-up that you had when you recorded NECROPORNO. Was it easy for you to make the rest of the band members convinced that Mass Psychosis would be worth a second try?
Doug: Yeah, they heard the new material & wanted in.
You have already told me that you guys have new material ready for 5-6 full-length albums. Within what period have you written all this material, and how would you say this new stuff differs from all that stuff you did with Mass Psychosis up to your previous album that was NECROPORNO (on the Polish label Still Dead Productions, released in 1997)?
Tom: We have so much new material, we don’t know if we´re coming or going! The new stuff is Mass Psychosis ten years later with a lot of good equipment & technology behind them.
Could you reveal some of your new song titles, or even working titles for these songs?
Doug: Well… “Deadman”, “Eaten from the Inside out”, “Raised by Demons”, “I’m ready”, “Feel the Hate”, “Friend of Pain, “To the Grave, “In Rapture” and “Helpless” to name a few.
When do you actually plan to enter a studio again to record your next release and what songs will it contain at least?
Doug: Ha-ha-ha…!! That’s a good one!
Tom: Well, we have our own recording studio. We write, record and produce every night.
Are you going to produce your next release by yourself, have you discussed about using some known producer for it who could have some understanding for your type of Death Metal?
Tom: No, we haven’t talked to any producers lately. At the moment we think we can handle it on our own.
PAYING ATTENTION TO AN EXTREME PRODUCTION
Talking overall about the production on metal albums these days, do you think the main concern nowadays is that some metal albums tend to be way too over-produced and over-polished, and therefore ending up sounding very sterile, clinical – and simply loosing lots of power because of all this?
Doug: Yes and no! I think some songs need to be raw & fuckin´ brutal and others need more feness but, all our new material is much sicker than all our older stuff & some more simple but, also some are crazy and complex! Too much speed is no good; too much brutality is no good, too much of any one thing is no good! That’s why we like to break it up with every thing we can: A much more extreme style of music.
Is there any ideal production on some certain album that you think would also be an ideal production for Mass Psychosis? And what album might that be in question, by the way?
Doug: Well, Tom and I like a Collin Richardson type sound, so that’s what we’ll shoot for but you never know! It’s like this? Would you like to piss like a racehorse or fuck like a stallion? I know I like fuckin´ better then pissing! Mass Psychosis used to be a racehorse, after we went out to pasture we found out the real meaning of music.
Have you already had some talk going on with some labels that you have come back and are ready to kick some serious ass again?
As you have been away from the metal scene for a relatively long time (a sort of reference point, your 2nd album, NECROPORNO, came out 10 years ago, in 1997). Aren´t you afraid at all that people may have forgotten Mass Psychosis completely, or new generation of metalheads may not be even interested in checking out a band like Mass Psychosis? It´s of course a big cliché to state, but times have changed…
Doug: A bit of both. But, with this new thing called the Internet, it’s a lot easier to get yourself out there then tape trading. Like back in the day…
How closely have you been following the scene for all these years ever since Mass Psychosis went underground for some years? What are – in your opinion, some of the biggest changes of the metal scene in the 90´s and this century, 2007 Anno Bastardi?
Doug: Ah-ha!!! The Internet is a real big help! Back in the day 50 snail mails a day slowed things down a lot! Now new bands just get a web page or Myspace and their off and running!! They will never know what we and other underground bands at the time had to go through… and ´zines!! It was hard for us all!!
What´s been going on for Mass Psychosis on the gig front? When was the last time when you played a gig with this band and where that happened?
Tom: Not since 10/31/97. I’d say it’s bin a few years! Not that we don’t want to but, the club scene around here “in NJ” is not the same anymore!
AN ACT OF HUMILIATING AT BACKSTAGE
You were doing quite a lot of gigs during the ´90s. Could you kindly reveal something about those ´wild days´ to our readers a bit more detailed way? Did any ´bizarre´ and ´weird´ things happen in your gigs that have stuck in your mind better than in some other gigs, for some reason or the other?
Doug: Wow! I hope your ready for this one! We were playing in NYC with a local band friends of ours from the day, our roadies got all fucked up drunk and hammered! One of them passed out backstage on a couch and everyone was fuckin´ with him, some one stuck a potato chip in his mouth, next a coffee creamer – and then some one was farting in his face. We were all cracking up and laughing our asses off, then one of our other roadies jumped in pulled his cock out and shoved it into his mouth!! … Gay!? Yes but, it was very funny at the time. No one was harmed just humiliated. Needless to say the one who was violated never knew and the other quit drinking!! Can’t imagine why!? I thought my wife was going to kill me when she saw that!! Was that bizarre enough for you!! Was for me anyway…!!
L E T´S ´F A C E´ I T
You recorded your 1st demo titled FACE in 1990 under Psychosis. Your music was described as ´psychotic technical Death Metal´ at that time. How much do you think that description held water back then – and how much you believe it does nowadays as far as your new stuff is concerned?
Tom: It’s not as technical as the old Mass Psychosis, but more technical in other ways. You’ll have to be the judge of it! We didn’t think we were technical at all. We were labelled that… So if that’s what you call us – that’s what you call us!
Your guitar playing on that particular demo was, to put it simple, just amazing! You used a lot of weird time changes, churned out twisted melodies and basically proved to everyone that your guitar technique was phenomenal! What kind of things inspired you to come up with such technical approach back then? Did you try to imitate, or learn the same techniques that some known guitar players have used on their albums in order to achieve a bit different sound for a Death Metal band that Psychosis obviously was back in those days?
Doug: Thanks!! Well, I didn’t try to do it! It just comes out of me, it’s hard to say I like a lot of different styles of guitar, I just absorb it all & run with it what ever pops in my head at the time is what I go with, it’s as if I hear voices but, music! Even as a kid before I could play guitar I knew I could do it!! Weird but true!
Didn´t you find it somehow strange and even partly unjustified or wrong that you didn´t get signed any earlier, but as late as in 1995; 5 years later when FACE demo was released?
Doug: Both yes and no again!! It was a hard time we were different when all the bands wanted to sound like other bands!! We had our own thing and all the labels relay wanted was what they knew was selling at the time! I can’t blame them now that I have a few business of my own and a family, house, cars and etc. Get the money that’s what it all boils down to really!!
MY INFESTED PRIVATE HELL
A year later, in 1991, French Infest Records released you’re MY PRIVITE HELL 7” EP that contained 2 songs, “My Private Hell” and “Terminators” with the intros and outros. Did you basically want that thing out for making Psychosis more known especially on the European ground, and overall trying to get the band´s name promoted better in the metal scene at that time?
Doug: No. Infest Records was a cool label and we liked what they had to offer, so we went with them. I think they helped us out a lot! We jumped up with the European crowds; a big thanks to them! But, they also did their job with promotion and such that helped us out 100%!!!
FROM PSYCHOSIS TO MASS PSYCHOSIS
As some of us still surely remember, Mass Psychosis started originally under the Psychosis -moniker in 1987. I cannot quite remember what made you to change the band name back in those days, so would you kindly enlighten me?
Doug: Wow… When you put it that way… man, I’m old 20 years already and question #20: How ironic is that!! There was a band from New Hampshire (US) that also slowed us down back in the day. We were getting steam then they pooped up out of nowhere and had a trade marked the name! I could have fought them on it… But fuckin´ where are they now? Dead… Gone!!!
Tom: So I came up with ´mass´ meaning bigger and we ran with that so it stuck!
Doug: And we didn’t want to drop the whole name we had for all those years! We just added to it that was cool!
DEALING WITH KOCH INTERNATIONAL
What about Koch International that released your debut CD, titled FACE in 1995? How happy were you with the outcome, and can you tell how the CD was distributed around the globe (if anything at all?)? As far as I know, it actually wasn´t that easily available from many countries as the distribution of the label sucked pretty bad indeed. Just correct me if I have second-hand information about this issue…
Tom: Well, it started out great with Koch, then it became a cluster… Fuck! No, it was not distributed around the globe and the distribution for Europe blew big!!
What happened with them anyway? I mean, why didn’t you continue your cooperation with them in the first place?
Doug: Shortly after we signed with them our A&R guy was shit canned and he was the only one with a clue of what Mass Psychosis was about and when they fired him they dropped the ball on us! We were in the studio recording NECROPORNO and I would call those motherfuckers every day for months, never returning my calls! We finished the CD – still nothing, so we shopped it around!
On that album you still had Matt Kerwin in the line-up, beating the skins for the band. Why did your ways separate with him in the first place?
Tom: Matt just could not keep up with the new material we were doing and his live performance was getting real poor so we let him go.
Do you have any idea what he´s up to these days and do you still keep in touch with him, even occasionally?
Doug: No, we haven’t seen him or heard from him at all!
DEALING WITH STILL DEAD PRODUCTIONS… MORE TROUBLES
What happened with your deal with the Polish Still Dead Productions anyway that released NECROPORNO, your 2nd album? I remember there was a lot of talk that the label suffered from some financial troubles or something like that back in the day…?
Tom: Who the fuck knows! It was a real cool deal at first, but fell to shit also! A lot promises that were never kept! Yes and no, he did much of what he said he would! But, then he just vanished! But the good thing about that is we still own that recording and also the face recording, so we can do what we want with them.
Did you get ripped off by them then?
Doug: I don’t think ´ripped off´ would be the word. He did release NECROPORNO in a nice package, but we really didn’t see any money on the multi-pressings that he did. Back in ’04 we were in talks with him to put out something new and also he was the one to put us in contact with Vic but in the middle of talks that is when he fell off the face of the earth (we heard he had a drug problem or something like that).
The cover artwork on NECROPORNO was pretty gruesome and gory indeed; thanks to the drawing skill of this guy named Fitz. Do you think that type of artwork still fits well to the concept of Mass Psychosis, even nowadays – and do you have any plans to use his services again as far as finding a suitable artwork for your next release comes in question?
Tom: Fitz didn’t do the artwork for NECROPORNO [ooops… Sorry! My mistake ~ L u x i ~]; it was Jeff Gaither who did it! He was doing stuff for the Accused, Testament, Slayer and Guns & Roses back in the day! Fitz did the FACE CD and demo and also the MY PRIVATE HELL and GOREMACHINE 7-inches – and he is also working on some new stuff for us!
Can people still order both of the CDs (FACE and NECROPORNO that are) straight from you? How much do you still have available them both of them?
Doug: Yeah! We have a far amount of both and we are also working on new merchandise, shirts & such they can go to masspsychosis.net to hook up with us and get some cool shit!
… AND THE FUTURE OF MASS PSYCHOSIS?
What do you hope to achieve with Mass Psychosis within the next couple of years, besides the status back as one of the most twisted and disturbed Death Metal bands ever on the face of the earth, HA!
Tom: Well, I think Mass Psychosis ten years later with that much experience. We now are at a point that we can do what we want and at the speed we want. It’s now all about the fun of music and the fun we as a band have working together. Also I must mention at this point we are no longer working with bassist John Z. (things just didn’t work out between us); now on bass is a long time friend of ours Andrew! With the 4 of us Mass Psychosis is a hobby that we enjoy doing and not much of a business like back in the day. We are just focusing on writing new songs and just trying to get them out so all our fans out there can enjoy them, too. And if we could play out once in a while that would be cool too. Back in the day we were always breaking in new members so we just kept re-learning the old songs, but it did make those songs that much better!! But, now we just want to work on our new stuff plus it’s bin like that long (ten years) since we put out new material. And who knows maybe we could reclaim that title of “the most twisted and disturbed Death Metal band on the face the earth!!!” Ha-ha-ha!!!
Ok Doug and Tom, I think I have done all the questioning from you this time and would like to thank both of you for all of your efforts for making this interview possible. If there´s still something one of you would like to spit out in this interview, here´s your last chance for that purpose… ;o)
Doug: I’d like to thank Metal-Rules.com for this killer interview!! First off, we´re not looking to take over the world, just the universe, ha! But our music is so accessible now!! Still sick & tormented as ever but different it’s just hard to explain you’ll just have to hear it! Well, I’m out of here!! Tom and I have to get back to mixing our new songs for MTV tonight so we have our hand full at the moment!! Stay metal – stay sick!! Always your metal bros Doug & Tom!! …and Mass Psychosis!!!!