INTERVIEW WITH JOHN COCHRAN
Bio from band’s MySpace:
Vermin was founded in 1982 by original members John Cochran, guitar, Dean Coffey, bass, Craig Hall, drums, Greg Cekalovich, guitar, and Vince Sollami, vocals. This lineup played at Southern California’s most legendary clubs, including The Troubadour, Madame Wongs, The Waters, Cathay de Grand, and Radio City. They also played the inaugural Metal Monday at the Troubadour with another bunch of aspiring young upstarts called Slayer. That gig was like a nuclear explosion – the Thrash scene in SoCal was running full throttle! Vermin also had the honor of being thanked in the liner notes of Slayer’s "Haunting the Chapel" EP, as both bands often gigged and partied relentlessly together.
Craig Hall left the band and was replaced by Mike Chacon, one of the local scene’s most explosive double-bass drummers. Vince Sollami was released from vocal duties, to be replaced by none other than John Cyriis, formerly of Abbattoir, and later to lead the progressive speed metal outfit Agent Steel. This powerhouse lineup with Chacon on drums and Cyriis on vocals continued to headline gigs in both SoCal and San Francisco. A four track demo was recorded in 1984, with interest from Metal Blade and Roadrunner records. Unfortunately, with personality conflicts causing tension within the band, Cyriis left, followed by Cochran. A new vocalist, Mike Torres joined, and the band soldiered on for a few more months fulfilling prior gig commitments in both SoCal and San Francisco.
Wanting to take his musical vision in a new, more hardcore direction, Greg Cekalovich, along with Mike Chacon, created L.S.N., which stands for Loud Senseless Noise. George Robb was recruited for bass duties, along with Tony Vargas on vocals. Later, Angelo Espino joined as a second bass player (that’s right, mofo’s, 2 bass players!). L.S.N. headlined shows at all the major clubs in SoCal, and recorded a four track demo. One song, Deadly Kiss, was submitted to Metal Blade records for inclusion on the Metal Massacre 8 album.
A few years have passed by since the glory days of West Coast Thrash…. and now the core players from both Vermin and L.S.N. have re-connected and are ready to create music again. Plans for a studio release someday before we are all dead and gone is in the works – we’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, keep it real – keep it metal – thrash forever!
So John, do you still recall, how did you get in touch with metal music and what was so amazing in this music for you?
When I was 12 years old a friend of mine had a few tapes his older brother had given him, one was the first Black Sabbath album. We listened to that tape over and over, we’d never heard anything else like it before. That was in 1973. After that, I really got into Deep Purple after seeing them on TV for the California Jam concert, which was in 1974. When I saw Ritchie Blackmore with that Strat, I knew that was what I wanted to do! After that I got into UFO, Thin Lizzy and the old Scorpions stuff with Uli Roth.
Would you call yourself a metal freak or rather a hard rock one?
I would say that first and foremost I am a hard rock guy; I didn’t discover real metal until I went to see Judas Priest in 1979. Shortly after that I saw Iron Maiden open for UFO, and I was hooked on metal. My favorite bands of all time are Deep Purple and UFO.
At which point did you start playing guitar and how did your choice fall on this instrument? Do you perhaps play other instruments as well?
I wanted to play guitar after seeing Blackmore on TV in 1974. I got my first guitar the next year in 1975, it was a cheap $30 Japanese guitar my mom bought me at a swap meet. I play bass and a bit of keyboards now, as well.
What were your influences to become a musician?
My mom played guitar, she was a folk singer in the 1960’s, she played at little coffee houses and small clubs in Los Angeles when I was a kid. She also played bass in a country band, so there were guitars around the house all the time when I was little. My biggest influence was seeing Blackmore on TV.
Were self taught or did you take lessons as well?
My dad bought me a small Fender amp when I was 14. The condition was that I had to learn properly and take some lessons, which he paid for. I took lessons once a week for about 1 year. My teacher taught me to play Led Zeppelin and UFO songs, no real music theory to speak of.
Before being involved with Vermin, what were the acts that you’ve played with or was Vermin your very first group?
I had a little band in High School. We didn’t have a name, just me and my friends Ralph Oshiro on drums and Chuck Greene on bass. We played at a lot of parties, things like that. If someone’s parents were going to be out of town and they had the house to themselves, we’d have a jam party. We played lots of UFO, Van Halen, Rush, stuff like that. The year before I formed Vermin, I played with a band called Hanz Krypt, who later turned into a doom rock band more like Black Sabbath or St. Vitus. We never did any gigs when I was playing with them.
Vermin was founded in 1982 by original members you guitar, Dean Coffey, bass, Craig Hall, drums, Greg Cekalovich, guitar, and Vince Sollami, vocals. How did you hook up together and what about the musical background of the other guys? Did you know them earlier or…?
I met Craig Hall and Dean Coffey when I replied to an ad in a local paper called The Recycler. That paper had a large section for musicians seeking bands, etc. Craig had run an ad looking for a guitar player who was into NWOBHM, or New Wave of British Heavy Metal. I knew what that meant, since I was already into Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. I gave him a call and we had a jam. We played Maiden and Priest stuff the first time. We all got along very well and decided to get to work writing some original music. Dean and Craig had been jamming together for a couple of years already, they both lived on the same street and went to school together. The last guitar player to jam with them before me was Gilby Clarke, who later went on to play with Guns n’ Roses. He wasn’t metal enough for them!
What about the L. A. scene at this point? How about the first generation of the US thrash, such as Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Shellshock, Abattoir, etc.?
The scene at that time was dominated by bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, stuff like that. Thrash was just starting. Metallica was still playing weeknights at small clubs. Mustaine was still with them, so Megadeth did not exist yet. Slayer was basically a Judas Priest cover band at that point. Abbatoir was around then, I think. The scene really took off when Brian Slagel, president of Metal Blade Records, started pushing the clubs to have more real metal bands.
Were you famliar with those acts? Did you build up a strong friendship with them?
There were very few true thrash metal bands around at that time, so we all knew each other. Our first vocalist, Vince Sollami, was good friends with Lars Ulrich. We met Slayer when we played with them at the Troubadour in Hollywood, so we used to hang out and party together a lot with Tom and Jeff. We were friends with Overkill. When we didn’t have gig to play, we would go to all the shows in LA to see what was happening.
As far as the LA scene, in my opinion, there existed two different ones: there were the speed/thrash acts and the glam/hair ones, such as W.A.S.P., Dokken, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, do you agree with me? Were these commercial acts more popular and known than the speed/thrash ones?
You are correct, there were two very different scenes. On one side, you had Motley Crue, Ratt, Dokken, W.A.S.P., and Quet Riot, and about 100 other bands who all looked and sounded like those bands. Then you had bands like Vermin, Metallica, Slayer, Savage Grace, Abbatoir, Overkill, Bloodlust, etc. The commercial acts were much more popular with the clubs because they would draw a much more diverse audience than the thrash bands. The thrash metal audience was mostly young guys; the glam/hair bands audience was mostly girls. Guys like to hook up with girls, so lots of guys (us included) would go to the glam/hair band’s shows to pick up girls. Guys buy girls drinks, so the clubs made a lot more money selling liquor when they had the glam/hair bands play. Thrash fans were young, too young to drink, so the clubs didn’t make as much profit when thrash bands played. Plus, thrash was a real crossover for hardcore punk rockers, so we attracted those people as well. The big clubs were afraid of punks.
Which clubs did start opening their doors at this point?
The first clubs to start having thrash bands were in Orange County. Radio City and The Woodstock were the first clubs to have thrash bands. Then the Troubadour in Hollywood started a thing called ’Metal Mondays’. The very first one was Witch, Vermin and Slayer. When the thrash bands started packing the clubs, we all began doing headline gigs on the weekends.
Would you say that in L.A. there was a great underground buzz and a healthy club scene?
The buzz was above-ground, not underground at that time. There was a magazine called BAM (Bay Area Music), which was published in San Francisco and Los Angeles. That is where all the bands ran ads for their shows. That was the place to learn about who was doing what. I remember the first big ad Metallica ran, it was in the center fold of the magazine, two pages wide, very impressive. It said they were the loudest, fastest, heaviest band in America. Seeing that ad is what made me curious about them, and I went to their next show at the Troubadour. We had a lot of great clubs, with live music 7 nights a week, so, yes, it was very healthy indeed.
Though heavy metal did of course exist in the seventies, it really came of age in the eighties, both as a popular form of music in the mainstream as well as a booming underground movement, what’s your opinion about it?
I think that MTV had a lot to do with the metal popularity in the 80’s. Kids who lived in places without good record stores (the ones with great import sections) were not exposed to this type of music until they saw these bands on MTV, like on Headbanger’s Ball. We were lucky in big cities where we had great indpendent record stores, with very good import sections, so we were exposed to all the new metal that was coming out of the UK and Europe at that time. Plus, Kerrang magazine. When metal became less popular in the late ’80’s, it was forced underground. I’d say that 1982 to 1989 were the best years for metal.
Do you think that some of metal’s genres didn’t really come into being until the mid-late eighties or later, but a basic style of metal (sometimes referred to in the press as Priest/Maiden, named obviously for two of 80’s metal’s biggest influences) began to take hold during this period?
Again, I think it goes back to exposure. With the advent of MTV, metal was exposed to many more people. Not to mention the concerts. I can remember seeing Priest and Maiden 2 or 3 times in a row, because they would play several nights at a time in LA. The big Preist and Maiden tours of the 80’s surely contributed to the popularity of the music. They were great shows. During that time, bands like Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica and Anthrax were touring as opening acts for Ozzy, stuff like that. So, the exposure that the big 4 thrash bands got as opening acts on big tours helped them gain popularity. Some kid in Kansas who buys a ticket to see Ozzy suddenly gets exposed to Anthrax, and now he’s an Anthrax fan. Thrash was not getting played on the radio, that is for sure. It was MTV and the tours that did it.
Did you take the band seriously right from the start?
Yes, very seriously. We were determined to play gigs and do all original music.
What about your rehearsals? How often did you rehearse?
We would rehearse 2 or 3 times a week. We rented professional rehearsal studios.
Did you start writing originals or were you jamming on covers?
At first we jammed on covers, then started writing originals. We’d always jam on covers even when we had a good set list. Playing metal is like lifting weights, you have to keep in shape! The more you jam, the better you get. We never played any covers live, only originals.
How about the songcomposing? Did everybody have a great hand into it or was therer a main songwriter?
I was the main music writer at first, then when Greg Cekalovich came on he started writing both music and lyrics. Whoever was the vocalist at the time wrote most of the lyrics. When Cyriis was in the band, we’d all try to write together when we were in the studio rehearsing.
This lineup played at Southern California’s most legendary clubs, including The Troubadour, Madame Wongs, The Waters, Cathay de Grand, and Radio City, what do you recall from these gigs?
All the clubs were very different. The Troubadour is a very classy place, I mean, everyone from Elton John to Miles Davis has played there. They were not very tolerant of wild behaviour. We were eventually banned from playing there because our crowd was considered too rowdy. Radio City pulled the plug on us once for playing too loud; I told the crowd to show the club how they felt and they tore the shit out of the place. We were banned from Radio City after that. Madame Wongs and Cathay de Grande were both hardcore punk clubs, so they welcomed thrash bands with open arms. The Waters Club used to be a latin music place, like salsa music with dancing, so they were experimenting with rock music. It was a huge club. We had a lot of fun gigs at The Waters Club.
You also played the inaugural Metal Monday at the Troubadour with another bunch of aspiring young upstarts called Slayer and that gig was like a nuclear explosion – the thrash scene in SoCal was running full throttle, any memories from that particular show?
Yes, it was very exciting. It was our first club gig; prior to that, we had only played a couple of shows at local parks. We didn’t know Slayer at that time; Greg Cekalovich had seen them before when they were playing Priest covers. Nobody knew who Witch was. The club was packed, Brian Slagel from Metal Blade Records was there taping everything. Witch opened the show, then Vermin, and then Slayer. I remember watching Slayer and being completely blown away. After the show I was talking to Brian Slagel, and I described them as being like standing behind the engine of a jumbo jet when it was taking off – they were the heaviest, most kick ass thrash band in LA that I had ever seen. He told me that he was trying to get them recorded, he really liked them. Evidently, they really liked us, too. That’s why they thanked us on the liner notes of HAUNTING THE CHAPEL. Good lads, those Slayer boys.
A new genre came into being which rooted in the NWOBHM, how do you view it?
I assume you are talking about stuff like Def Leppard? Not hair metal, but not thrash? My view of it is that it sucked.
Thrash metal is generally characterized by a fast pace, a staccato, chunky guitar riffing style, and aggressive vocals, is that correct?
Yes, thrash is based on that fast picked, chugging/machine gun type rhythm, with a double-time beat, and lots of double-bass drumming. It is a cross between hardcore punk rock and hard rock/metal. It has the brutal energy of hardcore punk, and the musicianship of hard rock/metal. Lots of anger and agression.
How do you view that Metallica’s KILL ’EM ALL, released in 1983, is arguably the first true thrash album, with healthy thrash scenes sprouting in the USA (particularly the San Francisco area), Germany, and elsewhere by the late eighties?
I may be going out on a limb here, but I think that Metallica may have invented thrash metal. They were certainly the first band I had ever seen who played music like that. Seeing them inspired me (and scores of other people) to start writing fast paced, heavy riffs. The did play a lot of covers at first; the first time I saw them, about half of their set was covers. The scene in San Franciso was much more pure in terms of being all thrash and no big hair crap. They were the best crowds to play to. The first German thrash band I had heard was a band called Destruction. I would say that Metallica started it all, and everyone else was inspired by them. However, at that time Anthrax was in New York doing their thing, which sounded nothing like Metallica.
Talking about the L.A. scene, there was a lot of “musician crossed their paths.” I mean Kerry King was playing in Megadeth; Dave Mustaine was the member of Metallica. I mean a lot of musicians were auditioning for several bands. Can you tell us more about it? How did it happen exactly?
Everyone met through The Recycler, or at gigs. Or, a lot of people shared rehearsal studios and met that way. The thrash scene was pretty small back then, and everyone knew each other, or knew someone who knew someone, etc. When you would go to see a show at the Troubadour, everyone who didn’t have a gig that night would be there. You’d see Mustaine, the guys from W.A.S.P. (Chris Holmes used to come to our shows), the guys from Ratt, Jeff and Tom from Slayer, Felice and Ron from Overkill, it goes on and on. Then, a lot of times, we would all party after the shows with the bands that had just played. It was a tight community of musicians. We’d loan each other gear if someone needed an amp or something. We were all cool with each other.
At which point did Craig Hall leave the band and how did Mike Chacon, one of the local scene’s most explosive double-bass drummers enter the picture exactly? What about his musical past?
Craig left the band after about 9 months or so. We auditioned a few drummers, but none of them could play double-bass. Greg Cekalovich had played with Mike Chacon at some point and remembered that he always played way too fast. I said, ‘get this guy over here, now!’. Mike was a perfect fit. I don’t think that Mike had played in any gigging bands before that, just party bands in high school. A funny story is that after Jeff and Tom from Slayer heard us play with Mike the first time, they told Dave Lombardo that he needed to learn to play double-bass drums like Mike Chacon, or he was going to be fired… or so the story goes! Mike is Costa Rican, so that Latin rhythm thing is in his blood.
Was he the first choice of the band or…?
Yes. Mike was the only drummer we auditioned who was up to the task.
Vince Sollami was released from vocal duties, to be replaced by none other than John Cyriis, formerly of Abbattoir, and later to lead the progressive speed metal outfit Agent Steel. What went wrong with Vince?
We were advised by our most trusted advisers, Brain Slagel of Metal Blade Records, and Ron Cordy of Overkill, that if we wanted a record deal, we needed a different singer. Vince was raised on Black Sabbath, and he idolized Ozzy, so his style was more like that. He was no Halford or Dickinson, not much range. So, we took the advice and fired Vince after a gig at The Waters club. So, we proceeded to run an ad in The Recycler for a new lead vocalist. Cyriis was the first one to respond. He had just been fired from Abbatoir.
I have to tell you, that John Cyriis is one of my favourite singers and I read a lot of about him, that he is a difficult person. How was he back then? How would you characterize him personally?
To be honest, John Cyriis is one of my favorite singers of all time, too. I have a lot of respect for his talent, he is a very special person with regard to his vocal abilities and songwriting. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but yes, he is very hard to get along with, let alone be in a band with. He caused a lot of unnecessary tension within the band.
Was it hard to work with him?
Very easy at first, then more and more difficult as time went on. That amazing voice of his forced you to put up with his diffucult personality. He is a great talent. Like a girlfriend who is a great piece of ass but a real bitch – the ass wins you over for a while….. until you can’t take the bitch part any more.
Do you think that he has/had a unique vocal style, which can’t be compared to anybody?
I think that he can be put into the same category as the great metal vocalists, such as Geoff Tate, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, and Ronnie James Dio. He had incredible range and control of his voice. His tonality was very musical, too. When you hear John Cyriis sing, you immediately know that it’s him, and not one of the other four guys I mentioned. They all have their own signature tone. He was unique.
With this line up you recorded a one track demo DEMO 84. What can you tell us about this tape? Was it your first recording experience by the way?
We went into the studio to record four songs. That’s what is know as the ’84 Demo. Our goal was to put one track on the next Metal Massacre album, then put out all four tracks on an EP on Metal Blade. If the EP did well, then we’d do a full LP. Yes, it was my first time in the studio. We recorded at a local college recording studio on the weekends when the students were not there.
How did it happen that you recorded only one tune?
We recorded four songs, but Cyriis only did the vocals on one song, “Satan’s Reign.” He left the band before he could finish singing on the other three tracks. Since that’s the only song with vocals on it, a lot of tape traders have a copy of it.
Did you heavily promote the demo in the underground scene? Did it start developing a great buzz surrounding the band or…?
Like I said before, the scene was not underground at that time. Cyriis sent a copy of the tape to a radio guy in New York, who played it on his show. He also sent it (without our permission) to Roadrunner and Combat records. We already had plenty of buzz in LA and San Francisco.
This powerhouse lineup with Mike Chacon on drums and John Cyriis on vocals continued to headline gigs in both SoCal and San Francisco, how did these shows go? Did the shows help the band getting new fans?
The shows went very well. We had a cool stage setup, with a huge drum riser and black screens in front of the amps, it looked very clean. Exodus came to see us in San Francisco. They were very cool guys. I’m sure the exposure by playing more gigs helped us expand our fanbase.
A four track demo was recorded in 1984 with interest from Metal Blade and Roadrunner Records. What about this tape compared to the first one? How was it recorded at all?
This is the same tape as the first one; there was only one tape.
Was it a better representation of the band?
We scrapped it after Cyriis left. The live bootlegs are the best representation of the band at that time.
Do you still remember at which point did the aformentioned label start showing interest in the band? Did they also offer you a deal or…?
Metal Blade was interested from the first time that Brian Slagel saw us play. All we had to do was supply him with a tape, and he was ready to put us on vinyl.
I don’t understand. While almost all of the underground L.A. bands, such as Omen, Armored Saint, Abattoir, Savage Grace, Metallica, Slayer etc. were performed on the legendary METAL MASSACRE compilations, Vermin never was on it. how did it happen?
We didn’t want to submit a song to Metal Blade with Cyriis on it as he had quit the band. After the band changed to L.S.N., they submitted a Vermin song, “Deadly Kiss,” which was on Metal Massacre 8. They re-recorded the song; I did not play on that version, although I wrote the music.
What do you think about if you would have had the opportunity to be featured on one of the METAL MASSACRE compilations…?
It would have been cool, as all of the other bands in LA that we knew were on those compilations. We all really like Brian Slagel. He’s the Godfather of Metal, that guy. No one else has done more for metal than Brian.
Unfortunately, with personality conflicts causing tension within the band, John Cyriis left, followed by you, what were the reasons of these conflicts and did you part ways with each other on a friendly term at the end?
Yes, it was friendly. It was over money, unfortunately, that he owed us. He kept in touch with me for about a year after that, telling me about his Agent Steel project.
In 1984 Dean Coffey left the band as well, is that correct?
No, Dean stayed on for a while and played a few more shows with a new vocalist named Mike Torres. After Dean quit, Greg and Mike changed the name of the band to L.S.N.
Vermin also had the honor of being thanked in the liner notes of Slayer’s HAUNTING THE CHAPEL EP, as both bands often gigged and partied relentlessly together. Does it mean that you were very close to the Slayer guys and you were great friends?
We were pretty good party buddies. We would go to all of their gigs, and they (Jeff and Tom) would come to all of ours. We’d all hang out together back stage. They used to come over to our house and party with us, get drunk and sing Priest songs, etc. Good times. Great guys. We did a few more shows with them before they headed off into the big time.
How did you feel being on the thanks list of the EP?
We were the only band that they thanked, so it was pretty cool. They considered us the only other true thrashers in LA, not just because of the way we played music, but because of our attitudes and how we lived our lives – hard! We were hard drinking, womanizing, crazy fuckers. So, we had a lot in common with Slayer.
A new vocalist, Mike Torres joined, and the band soldiered on for a few more months fulfilling prior gig commitments in both SoCal and San Francisco respectively. They released a 4 track demo in 1985. Did you remain in touch with the members of Vermin after your departure? Have you ever heard that demo?
Yes, I heard that demo. They used the same four songs we had recorded when Cyriis was in the band, and had Mike Torres sing over them. I thought he sounded awful. From what I understand, he was very good live, but in the studio he could not stay in tune. Some people call it ‘red light syndrome’. That’s when the recording starts, they get nervous and it affects their performance. I did not keep in touch with the band after I left.
What have you done after you left the band? Can you tell us more about it?
I quit the band, sold all of my gear, cut my hair, got a good job, and got married and had two sons. I was burned out on the scene.
Do you agree with that at the mid ’80s the L.A. scene (and thrash metal as well) reached its peak, new bands were popping up, such as Viking, Recipients Of Death, Bloodlust, Bloodcum, Sadistic Intent, Majesty (later Nausea, then Terrorizer)? What were your views on this scene?
All those bands came about after I had gotten out of the scene, so I don’t know much about them. We did a show with Bloodlust at The Waters club in 1984. I just ran into their singer, Steve Gaines, who now fronts Anger As Art, at the Seattle Metal Fest last month. Small world!
Wanting to take the musical vision in a new, more hardcore direction, Greg Cekalovich, along with Mike Chacon, created L.S.N., which stands for Loud Senseless Noise; George Robb (ex-Agent Steel) was recruited for bass duties, along with Tony Vargas on vocals, then later, Angelo Espino joined as a second bass player. What’s your opinion about L.S.N. compared to Vermin?
A lot of the L.S.N. catalog were Vermin songs which I wrote. When I left Vermin I told Greg that he could keep playing the songs that I wrote, I didn’t have a problem with it. The stuff that Greg wrote after that was much more hardcore. He was really into GBH and Discharge at the time, so that influenced his writing style. The songs were fast, short, and agressive in L.S.N. His guitar sound was much more distorted. Vermin had more of a punchy sound, like Motorhead, L.S.N. had more grind to it.
By the early nineties the genre was a bit oversaturated, and in later years fewer bands played the style, but it’s still a viable style today, with veteran bands such as Overkill, Testament, and Destruction, among others, still producing quality thrash albums, while bands such as The Haunted have spurned a new generation of thrash in the new millennium. How do you explain this?
Everything comes around in cycles, like 20 year cycles. Every genre of rock or metal has done this. Look at all the stoner rock type bands that are around. St. Vitus and Witchfinder General were doing that stuff 25 years ago, now it is fashionable again. It’s great that the new, younger bands are inspired by the stuff guys from the original thrash wave did, are making that style their own, and riffing like motherfuckers and having a great time making classic sounding music. There is a Mexican thrash band called Strikemaster, they are big Vermin/L.S.N. fans. They sent us an email and told us that one song on METAL MASSACRE 8 influenced them.
Did you have an eye what’s going on in the underground at all or did you turn a back on thrash and metal in general?
All I knew after 1985 is what I saw on MTV, just like everyone else. I was aware of bands like Biohazard, Prong, stuff like that. I continued to go to concerts. Then Grunge happened and everything changed. But, I loved Soundgarden and Alice in Chains – both great bands.
A few years have passed by since the glory days of West Coast Thrash…. and now the core players from both Vermin and L.S.N. have re-connected and are ready to create music again, how did it come in the picture exactly? What about the line up?
This is a long story. Here we go: Every once in a while, I would do an internet seach for Vermin, L.S.N., etc. One day, about 2 years ago, I did a search and some guy’s page came up who had a bunch of bootleg tapes. One of them was Vermin live at the Troubadour. He was in Budapest. I sent him an email and asked if he’d let me have a copy of the tape (I didn’t even know that it existed, and had never even heard it). He told me that he’d trade me for a CD that he could not get, Metal Massacre 4. He was a huge Cyriis fan. So, I sent him the CD, and he uploaded the bootleg of us at the Troubdour.
I also noticed when I did the search that we were listed on the Encyclopedia Metallum, but none of us had put the info on there. So, I wondered, who knows about us? I emailed the webmaster and told him who I was. It was a guy in Germany, again, who had a bunch of our bootlegs and was really into us. He sent me more songs, including the original demo with Cryiis on it. It was through him that I came into contact with Laurent from Snakepit Magazine in France, another Vermin/L.S.N. fan. All these people in Europe who had bootlegs and liked our music got me thinking about a reunion.
Next I contacted Angelo Espino, who played bass in L.S.N. Angelo was interested in getting together, so he contaced Greg Cekalovich and Mike Chacon. I had not seen any of these guys since about 1987 or so. We planned a jam. I flew down to LA in December of 2006 and we got together and jammed on the old songs. Greg, Angelo and I did the vocals since we could not find Cyriis or Tony Vargas. After we made our Myspace page, Tony Vargas found it during an interet search and he contacted us. The next time we got together Tony came and sang. We had a complete unit again, all original members of either Vermin, L.S.N., or both. Just recently Angelo was offered a full time slot as bassist for a band called Anger As Art, which he accepted. Original L.S.N. bassist George Robb is now on board with us.
Do you want to re-record all of your early materials or did you pen some new tunes as well?
We are only interested in re-recording all the old songs. We have not written anything new since we reunited. However, anything is possible.
How does Vermin/L.S.N. soud like these days?
People who have come by the studio to listen to us have told us that we sound better, tighter, and punchier than we did back in the ’80’s. Part of this is because we are all much older and have been playing for a long time, and are just better musicians now than we were back then.
Did you already start the recording sessions or…?
No, the plan is to start recording the drum and bass tracks as soon as possible. I am going to LA on June 20th 2008 for some practice and a band meeting.
Do you consider this record a kind of gift for the old thrashers and headbangers?
Yes, that is what it is. This is for all the people who have our bootlegs and demos from the ’80’s who like our music. They deserve to listen to something of better quality. Plus, we want to get the songs recorded for our own history. We all have kids and would like our kids to have a copy of what we did. We get email all the time from young kids who like the stuff they hear on our Myspace page, so who knows, mabye a few of the new, young thrash fans will like what we record. Then, maybe a tour with some of our old friends…….
John, thanks a lot for this interview, anything to add that I forgot to mention?
Feel free to list our page at www.myspace.com/verminlsn