Interviewed by EvilG, February 2001

Annihilator...a band that Canada can be VERY proud of and a band that I've been a fan of since I first saw the video for "Alice In Hell" way back in the 80's. Annihilator are back with a diverse CD of pure metal. The CD has been getting rave reviews everywhere. I was given the opportunity to chat with Jeff Waters, the mastermind behind Annihilator, just days prior to the release of CARNIVAL DIABLOS.

  Listen to the interview in MP3 format 
(40mins long, 9meg download)


So, new album, new singer and recently a new baby. Congratulations!

Thanks! (laughing)

How's it feel?

Another one bites the dust. Album and baby. That's it for the kids but not, hopefully not it for the album, albums (laughing) CDs or whatever they are.

 

Yeah, Ok, I'm going to start out with a question that I'm sure everybody has been asking you today and probably will for another few weeks and that is..

Uh oh, there's a whole bunch of them so I can only guess what you're going to say.

I want to start out with the events that led to the vocalist spot in ANNIHILATOR being open again.

Sure, basically we did a, of course last year or two years ago we did a record called "Criteria For A Black Widow" on Roadrunner which is the original label that signed us and they wanted us to go back to as well to the sort of early style of ANNIHILATOR. They thought that sold pretty good and thought that maybe do it again in their perspective. I initially got Randy back in the band a couple of years ago, the old singer, to just try it out and see what happens. It actually worked good that the CD was pretty good and it was quite a different change of pace from the CDs I had been doing for a few years previous to that. It sounded more like a band CD than it was more of a solo thing in the previous ones but yeah; Randy's a great guy. He's got a real... he can't really sing but he's got a great punk metal attitude. You know a sort of hardcore attitude. That basically comes from his lifestyle. That was the downside of it is that he had been battling the booze problem since way before I even met him 10 years ago or 12 years. And he just couldn't.. I thought, a couple of us were hoping that we could, ten years later he could change but it just got too crazy. It got to the point where people other than just our band were getting the brunt of the disease I guess you could say. It got violent, one particular episode got a little violent on the tour bus from him. We weren't really worried about what he could do to us because he was in no condition to do anything but he was trying to pull the bus over at 60 miles and hour so that would have done something. (laughing) So anyway to make a long story short he's a super nice guy and we wish him all the best. Too bad about the booze thing. Some people can handle it or kick it or whatever but he just hasn't been able to yet.

So have you had any dealings with him since then? Are you still on friendly speaking terms?

No, I mean after that tour I was just, as well as a few of the other guys were really angry because we had a good shot to comeback and do a lot more touring and maybe even get some tours in the States I was looking into and that kind of thing. Everything was looking really good but you know that's…I guess, we were really angry afterwards but now we're just, now it's completely different after time's passed and of course things are going well. If things had gone horrible after that up until this point I probably would have blamed him for everything in my life. (laughing) But no, things are going really good and we hope everything works out for him someday.

 

So when the vocalist position did open did you consider at all picking up vocals and doing them yourself again, I know you did on the tour but did you.... ?

"This guy's a really nice guy to tour with, he didn't do any drugs, didn't drink and no smoking either. Just a really easy guy to get along with."

Well, we did tour with OVERKILL then OVERKILL did like a co-headlining tour through Europe for a couple of months and that was last February/March a year ago to about now. I guess to a few people it was pretty obvious at the beginning of the tour that Randy may not even last the tour. I don't necessarily even mean being in the band, I mean living and that's how bad it was. It was pretty touch and go every single night of that tour. But when Joe Comaeu was the guitar player for 7 years in OVERKILL like a hired side guy.. I guess he was quietly in the background watching this happening realizing that ANNIHILATOR was going to need another vocalist pretty soon. He was basically right there when Randy left and stuff he came right up to me and said "hey, I sing and I used to sing in a band over a decade ago called LIEGE LORD and you know, I obviously look like a guitar player to you and you haven't heard me sing but can I send you a tape?" I wasn't in any mood at the end of that tour to say "oh yeah, sure no problem" it was more like "thanks, appreciate it, here's the address." (both laughing) I got back off that tour I was bummed out and angry along with the rest of us. But after a month off tour my wife had said to me "Listen, this guy Joe keeps calling. Why don't you give him a listen and try him?" She said to me "you told me this guy's a really nice guy to tour with, he didn't do any drugs, didn't drink and no smoking either." Just a really easy guy to get along with and it's kind of tough to get along with people on a bus when you're living in such a tight space for five weeks. Most of us have learned to do it. I'm really rambling! (both laughing) but bottom line is Joe had persisted and finally when I woke up from being bummed out from this thing collapsing and got my act together after a few weeks I said "Ok, let's try this guy out and see what happens". Immediately it clicked with the guy...I could go on forever…(both laughing) but you probably want to ask me questions. (laughing)

 

So he was the only option? You didn't think about trying anyone else?

Well, I didn't put lots of ads anywhere but this Canadian Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles internet site and magazine were nice enough to put an ad up there saying we were looking for someone, that I was looking for a guy. So did a couple other small places. I got a lot of tapes over the month. There were some really good singers that sent me tapes and stuff. I didn't realize how many good metal singers are still around here that are looking for bands or that are younger guys coming up that are still influenced by eighties stuff. But my question at the end of listening to a tape was "geez if I go with a guy and bring him up here what if he's into drugs or got a seriously huge attitude" and it always came back to Joe. So at the end it's almost like "ah, ok I'll get this guy up here". I got Joe up here and as soon as he got up here I was like "whoah, did I make a good call on that one!" (laughing)

 

So were you a fan of his vocal work with LIEGE LORD prior to... ?

No, not really. I heard, he sent me a tape of three different projects that he had sang on. It was one of those things where I wasn't really impressed by what I was hearing musically or the vocals or anything. What I was listening for is does he have the talent that if I work with him from a producer point of view can this guy do physically do the things that I'm thinking in my head. Second of all is his personality going to be the kind that can actually put up with me in the studio basically for the vocal parts? You know on the records it's mostly just myself, a drummer and a vocalist. But those two guys really have to go through a bit of work to get the job done because I'm a little too overly picky and demanding as far as that end goes. I've mellowed out over the years. The guys now are thinking, "ah, this guy's not as bad as his reputation preceded him." That's because they didn't know me ten years ago! (both laughing). But anyway, so Joe was both, he just sat there and contributed as not only just took what I said as a producer and did his vocal tracks. He just came out with the most brilliant lyrics and melody lines himself, which is new for me. Usually I end up having to do most of the work on that because the singers either don't know how to write or they don't care to be bothered or they just don't want to or they're not that good at it. This guy's great. I found a good co-writing partner now.

 

Excellent. So do you think Joe will be playing any guitar for ANNIHILATOR live or in the studio in the future or will he just be sticking to vocals?

Well, I think, my guitar player Dave Davidson has been (except for two years '91-'92 that he left the band for a brief while)…he's been with me since '88 up until now. He's always going to be our live guitar player as long as I can hold onto him. You know, it might be kind of neat for one or two of the ANNIHILATOR songs that have a lot of guitar parts on them which is acoustic pieces, one called 'Crystal Ann.' That would be kind of neat to come out and do with three guitars. Joe's a good guitar player but no, I think Joe sort of wanted to sing only and I only wanted him to sing as well. You never know, it might be kind of something to do for a song or two.

 

So for the next album you'll actually get to co-write the music not just lyrics with Joe probably or do you have it all written already?

No, I'm not going to, I still have my vision when I sit down here and write. I mean by the time it comes to the next record I'll probably have... by the time I call Joe up and say "ok, here I got the songs, let's go start writing some lyrics and let's co-write some and I've got some lyrics written and Joe you go write some of yours" because his actually seem better than the ones I've been writing on this new record. But musically I probably have it all done before we even start talking about lyrics. Just stuff I do in between tours and the spare time I just go over in my studio and start writing riffs. Fortunately I'm lucky enough to have my own recording studio so when I actually, instead of like the old early days when you have a little four track and maybe a drum machine if you're lucky and you put riffs on four track and then later you have to take it into a studio and spend lots of money to make a record. I'm kind of fortunate that when I actually sit down and write riffs my writing stuff is actually going through top of the line studio equipment. Most of the time all the things I do in writing end up being tracks on the record. It's kind of handy. A lot of people say, "how come the bass player didn't play bass?" There are lots of reasons. Sometimes guys are really good players live but when you get them under a microscope in the studio they're just not, basically don't cut it in that aspect of it. Sometimes they live out of the country or live far away from me. Sometimes they're just not into it, they're just like "give me the tunes when they are done" and go out on the road and have fun you know. Other times it's convenience. I'm sitting here with a couple nice bass guitars and lots of years of producing, playing bass, guitars, a bit of drums and singing. It's convenience I've got two guitar tracks I just wrote so I'll pick my bass and do a bass line to it that I have in my head. A lot of it has to do with convenience.

 

So is anyone else in your area in the band? Do they live close to you now?

My drummer Ray lives very close. He's like maybe fifteen to twenty minutes driving from me which is great because he and I will probably end up getting a little rehearsal space and jamming some riffs and songs before the next record. He's got a job at this point he's been working at and I've been doing my own thing. Other than that I think if we were ten years younger we'd probably be jamming every night over a case of beer. (laughing)

 

(Laughing, Yeah!) So does it feel like a band or a solo project now because I know you mentioned it had?

Right from day one when it comes to live it feels like a band but the other side of it's also a solo project. It's certainly my baby in the business end, the producing, engineering, mixing, playing bass and guitars. Sometimes for three records singing and writing almost all the music and a good chunk of the lyrics. So obviously in that end of it, it's more of an "I get the last word" sort of thing if you want to put it that way! (laughing) It's definitely a band when we're touring and rehearsing. Here, this is what we do. We're all, you know, I think maybe ten years ago or so, I was completely driven by this band. There was nothing else in life except ANNIHILATOR and If you weren't doing the right thing from my point of view for this band then you weren't part of it or weren't doing your job. There's a, I think there's a reason why I've been around so long because I started out with this incredibly ridiculous attitude that ANNIHILATOR was the only thing in life. (both laughing) It's still going because of the way it started. I think that's how I broke this band through at the beginning and got a record deal and started out. Things change over time, we're all just good buddies, going out on tour and having fun. It definitely feels more like a band, especially when you've got the singer who's really contributing to the studio end of things and the writing end. Usually it's been Ray and I lately. Ray and I in the studio and now it's Ray, Joe and I basically.

'Carnival Diablos' is a much more varied album than 'Criteria..' which was obviously more focused, I guess, but this one seems to be more…you have brought in the elements of all different albums. You've got the heavy; you've got the rocking kind of songs. (Definitely) Was this something deliberate that you set down and said "I want to make this more varied"?

The last record that was a couple years ago the writing had been done for that 6 months before it was released. We're looking at a good two or three years ago. That was after a really crappy divorce and court thing for my kids, which in the end I persevered and it worked out great for everybody. But back then it was a lot of personal problems and my music for that record, the music end of it ended up being really aggressive and pretty straight forward. Fast, aggressive back sort of almost to the roots sort of style and Randy Rampage singing on it has really only one style or sound to his voice and it's just one style through every song. That works great for bands like SLAYER or AC/DC or whoever sings formula. For the new record, I mean, of course Randy did a great job on that record, no slamming him on that, I like that record a lot. I like his voice. Both the music and the vocals on that last record were pretty straightforward all the way through, one style basically right through whereas the new one of course, the music is a lot, totally more like a tribute album. Basically the vocalist came in and did the same job on the vocals as I did with the music. He changed his voice depending on the song and the style. Therefore you got like five/six different voices on the record instead of one common one throughout each song. The music, one minute you got an AC/DC tributish influenced song. The next minute you've got an early METALLICA/SLAYER type tune. The next thing you've got a SHANKERish, MAIDENish, PRIESTish... There's just too many influences. Ooohh! I'm talking fast!! I had a lot of coffee. (both laughing) I had about four today that's my problem. (Four pots or cups?.. laughing) I quit smoking New Years Eve so since then I've been a basket case.

 

I bet (laughing). I know a lot of bands from the eighties, like you were saying, influenced your new album. I was wondering, was this kind of a rediscovery for you or has this influence always been there?

It's always been there. I'm sure most people would never like to say they're influenced by bands or really…I don't know. Sometimes bands in a situation or different times in the career, it's not cool to put a ballad on the record or it's not cool to have a PANTERA style song because everyone else is doing it or don't give credit to too many other bands or don't, you know what I mean, or don't put that riff on there because it sounds MUCH to MUCH like an IRON MAIDEN riff. That kind of stuff. I think basically I've got to the point in my life where I couldn't give a damn. If I like PANTERA, MAIDEN, PRIEST or whatever and I write a riff and it just happens to be influenced by that but it's not an actual rip-off but influenced by it, what the heck. If you like it, put it on. I think that's basically how Joe and I did this record. We dropped any kind of, I don't know how to say this... Sometimes I'll write a riff, for example, for 'Criteria For A Black Widow' or for the previous record or the one before. I might write a riff and it'll sound like... Woah!! That one sounds like 'Master Of Puppets' or that's a killer riff! Then I'll realize a day later you know why it sounds killer because it sounds very similar to 'Master Of Puppets' riff, you know what I mean? (both laughing) I think I was a little leaning towards let's just let this slide in here, let's let this little influence slide in here. When you just start letting a little bit of your quote fan eighties metal influences in but when you finish the damn thing you realize you let in fifty blatantly obvious influences, not just slight but quite obvious influences where these things came from. A lot of guys will say "nah, I'm original, this is original... we didn't get it from them" or "they got it from someone else". I'm like the opposite. There it is, there's a PRIEST riff. (laughing) You know what I mean? (Yeah) That's early style PRIEST. It's like a freakin' tribute at this point in my life I think.

 

Yeah, I can definitely hear the PRIEST and the AC/DC and the old METALLICA kind of feel. (for sure) And on the vocals too which was kind of freaky like 'Shallow Grave' sounds a little like Bon Scott, Halford on 'Timebomb'... (laughing)

Dickinson in the middle of 'Epic Of War', that's one I remember pretty well. (Yeah) These things are like... Joe and I discussed this at the beginning when he started the vocals. He said "Jeff, some of these riffs are pretty obvious and they're not..." I said "Well Joe, do you think maybe I should scrap it for a month and come back in a month and maybe I can write a few different riffs?" I never really thought about that. Then I said "Why?, this is great this is what I love to do". When I practice guitar and there's no pressure of writing songs or doing anything and I'm sitting down here practicing I'm not practicing Jeff Waters Riffs. I'm sitting here jamming to... what did I just jam to a couple hours ago... I've got it right in my CD player (starts looking around for the last CD he listened to) Sorry, here it is. The 'Dressed To Kill' album by KISS. I just put that on and pick up a guitar and jam to it. I don't sit here and come up with my riffs all the time. I'm a fan basically.

 

Regarding eighties metal, what eighties metal band would you like to see reform and what eighties metal band that's still kicking it today would you like to see "call it a day"? (laughing)

Oh you know I'm not going to answer that... (laughing)...Uh... whew..

Tough question? (laughing)

Give me the first one again...

What eighties metal band that is now broke up would you like see get back together?

Well, I would of course like to see Halford get back with PRIEST. (Oh yeah?) Definitely. Just to see if they could do one more spectacular, cool PRIEST tour because I've always loved PRIEST, I've probably seen about... Well, forget about the fact that we toured with them for three months in Europe. Besides that I've probably seen PRIEST shows maybe 7 or 8 concerts in my life. Then of course you add on the 40 shows we did with PRIEST so I got to see them 47 times. (both laughing) Probably them. I don't know if it'll ever happen but that'd be kind of neat to see them back together and do it again.

How 'bout any defunct bands that don't exist in any form right now. Is there any band you'd like to see come back or that you miss?

Darn it, that's a good question. I'm looking through my CD collection. If I was sitting, for example in a club in Germany (I mention Germany because the band I'm about to mention is from there), I could picture myself sitting in a club in Germany watching ACCEPT. And, you know, I don't know if they are still around, I don't think they are. (Udo has a solo project now) Ozzy with Roads of course but that's not a possibility. KISS, well I already saw that ok. That could possibly be the number two question you had there. (Laughing... no comment?) No, I can't slight them. I've got every single one of their CDs sitting right in front of me. I'd buy the next one they put out even if it wasn't any good. Oh I don't know... yeah, I'll stop at that one. (Laughing, Ok) Good question though, you caught me on that one.

Yeah. I always like to think about bands I really liked back in the eighties that I wish were still doing something but unfortunately...

You know what, as soon as I get off the phone with you I'll think of ten!

As you mentioned Joe can do quite a mean Halford as demonstrated on 'Timebomb'. When he first belted out a godly Halford-like scream what was your reaction? Did you know he could do it first?

We were in studio for that part. That's sort of more if you heard the ending scream to 'Screaming For Vengeance' or the intro scream to 'Ram It Down'. Those two there. That really high eeiiiiii (quietly imitates a Halford scream) I can't do it of course. That really high scream. I specifically said "can you do like one of those high 'Screaming For Vengeance' Halford screams?" I was looking at him thinking no freakin' way I just gotta ask anyway, you know? He goes "Uh, I don't know, I'll try." And I'm thinking oh great, ok… so I hit the record button and we come along in that pass and he goes to sing those three words on that song 'Timebomb' in the middle and just ripped my ear drums apart. It was just ridiculous. I don't mean like "wow, what a cool scream oh it ripped my ear drums apart". I mean literally he was in the same room as me when it was happening so it was like I had to plug my ears because it was just deafening. The guy's got huge lungs or something. (Laughs) Yeah, it's great. He's got a really loud voice. I was talking to him because we saw Halford warming up on the tour we did and I saw how he did his warm-ups and sang on stage. And Halford, the way he can sing as good as he can and for as many... doing the same incredible vocal every night on the tour is because he sings quietly. The quieter you go the less it is on your throat and system. I said, "Joe, maybe you should try just maybe doing it quietly because then you'll last longer". And he goes "Uh, I can't" (both laughing) He's just got this voice that's just monstrous, he probably doesn't even need a microphone live I bet. I haven't played with him live yet but we're going to find out pretty soon.

 

With regards to writing the CD, what songs on there (when you were writing) were very difficult to write or took a long time or you found overly technical?

(Digs around for CD) Let me look at the CD I don't know if this is going to directly answer but the hardest thing to do for the vocals was a very simple or couple of words or lines in the chorus of the song called 'The Rush'. That was the hardest one, the one that we spent the most time on. It was one of those things where it seems like on every CD I've ever done there's always one thing on the CD that is so either ridiculously easy or can't be done. You spend a certain amount of time on each song on each part and on each vocal but there's one that stands out that ends up taking three or four days and you still can't do it. When you do that, and get into such a rut like that, it's so hard to get out of it. It sounds kind of weird but the only way to usually get out of the rut is by re-writing it and doing something different. So we finally changed that little part and got it within about 15minutes. The chorus in "The Rush" was the hardest thing I had to do from that point of view.

The writing came; musically…it was pretty easy (laughs). I am so used to that, I could probably write ten albums a year if I had the time.

So you're not stuck for inspiration eh?

No, well see it's funny because with me this (Carnival Diablos) is the eighth official studio release, and every CD since ALICE IN HELL (the first one we did) I go into a very, very mild state of depression and insecurity when it comes time to write a new CD. When it comes time to get in the studio or four track or whatever; to write. I always go through a week or two of nothing coming out of me. I can't get any riffs that are any good and I sink into this crazy little depression for a few weeks because I keep thinking there is no way…it's a thing hanging over me where I wonder if my time has come, if it's time to pack it in, I think the ideas are gone…that kind of thing. You take it seriously because this is the only thing I do in my life for a job or for a hobby or for fun (laughs) you know…other than my family. I always seem to wonder, maybe I'm dried up on this, maybe I need two or three years off, or maybe it's just time to pack it in and just produce bands, mix bands, engineer groups…doing my alternate career that I've sort of planned out. But then all of a sudden some riffs will come and you inch your way through the recording and writing process and when it's all finished you pat yourself on the back for a day and when it is released, which was two days ago for me, you go "YEAH, you did it again…whew!!" Then you just cross your fingers that the next two years will bring you the same ideas and the record deal and health and everything else. Just hope that it all continues.

 

Do you see a day coming when you will finally say "That's it for Annihilator, I'm hanging it up to produce bands"?? Or do you want to keep doing it for as long as you can?

This is a fantastic job. Some people say "You have like three kids now, so what's it like going on tour and missing the kids?" Well, I might go for five weeks on the tour coming up pretty soon over in Europe. But when I come back I've got a few weeks off to spend with the family then I go out on tour again. We're going to be off and on until at least August, if not until next Christmas. But I counter that by saying "You know, hey, if I was a father in the navy or army or something like that, I'd be gone a lot more than I am now. Also, I get to spend a hell of a lot of time at home with my family when the touring finishes. The last tour that I did finished at the end of March 2000. So April and May last year I was home writing music. June was vocals, July was drums and mixing and I was finished by August the 1st. So I basically had, I don't know how any months here, almost a year at home. It will be about 11 months at home so it's got it's advantages you know? You might go away for a while but most guys go to a 9 to 5 job and they take the bus or it takes them a while to get through traffic and they get home and their kids are almost ready for bed. They get to see them on the weekends if they are lucky right? So, I've got a hell of a job and get to do a lot of traveling, talk to a lot of people and learn a lot of things that's for sure.

 

With regards to the songs on the CD, any personal favorites?

I'd say the title track. Joe wrote the lyrics for that and I wrote the music for that one. I just love his vocals and his lyrics on that song. And my little AC/DC tribute, "Shallow Grave", is probably one of my favorite songs that I've been a part of writing out of all of them even though it's obviously not your typical Annihilator song and it's more of a typical wanna-be AC/DC song. I think as a song itself, it's one of the stand-outs too. Also "Battered", I really like that. It's like an early Metallica, violent…but umm…it throws me back to the type of song that I really, really would have liked to of listened to when I was 16, back in the 80's (laughs).

I'm still sorta stuck there sometimes too…

That's my problem, that's my whole CD collection right there.

And also the song "Hunter Killer" - I REALLY liked that one too.

Oh right on.

 

I know this is a tiring question but weren't you again asked to try out for Megadeth (Jeff is laughing in the background at this point) after Marty Friedman left?

You HAD to ask that didn't you? Everyone has to ask that (laughs).

You don't have to make it a long answer, just …

No, no problem. The full and complete one hundred percent reality or truth to this stuff is that there have been quite a few bands that have "A" asked me to produce their record or "B" join their bands or "C" just be a touring or studio guy. But with Megadeth…Dave Mustaine called me up in 1989 when I was on a tour with Testament to ask if I would AUDITION, join but audition. Diamond Daryl and Mary Friedman were also auditioning and of course the right guy got the job for that one and the other two guys had their own bands (laughs). So that was a true thing and then this time around there was no truth, nobody from Megadeth contacted me. I just heard through the grapevine, through some sources, that may or may not be true, but it possibly is, and that is if Al Pitrelli stayed with Megadeth (when they were making that choice)…if he decided to stay then he was in and if Pitrelli decided to go back to Savatage then I was going to get a call. Now, that may very well of been true but I didn't hear it directly from them so…there's your long answer.

Well I had to ask because I head heard the rumor and I wanted the CORRECT information.

Yeah. You know it's funny because obviously there is so many rumors that start. I've heard everything from I'm gay, which is funny because I've got three kids and a wife, to I went bankrupt which is close but not true, to umm…to wow I live in a castle, I have a mansion, I have two houses…which I don't. I have, I don't even have one (laughs). I live in this big huge town-home with three floors and my studio is on the bottom floor. But there are a zillion examples of rumors and stuff but you can also use them to your advantage too. When people start saying, "Did Halford ask you to join his touring band?" and… "Did Chris from Savatage, ask you to join Savatage?" and "Did Marty Friedman ask you to do the gig?" Well, some things in there are actually true but I just say "I don't know." Then everybody talks about it and probably Halford, Megadeth and Savatage get pissed off when they are asked these questions a million times. But what happens is I end up coming back from a tour and everybody talks about Annihilator and Jeff Waters for a couple of months then I'm just laughing at home rocking my baby, changing diapers (laughing). As long as they don't lie, as long as they are not just saying anything it's OK by me.

 

A question with regards to your guitar playing. Obviously, you've been playing for quite a few years. I'd like to know what area of your playing do you think you have improved the most since you've picked it up?

"I don't think technically I've improved. In fact I've probably went back a few steps as far as technical and physical playing. Hopefully as far as songwriting and producing…I hope I've stepped forward on that one."

I don't think technically I've improved. In fact I've probably went back a few steps as far as technical and physical playing. Hopefully as far as songwriting and producing…I hope I've stepped forward on that one. I used to practice; it used to be an eight-hour a day sort of guy from about 15 years old to about 25. Not even eight hours, maybe from 15 to 20 years old and from 20 to 25 I was more like three hours a day or two hours a day. I am kind of lucky because in my blood, both of my parents were really good musicians - a piano player and a guitar player. I inherited a lot of it in the sense that I can put down a guitar…when I finished guitar tracks for this new CD, CARNIVAL DIABLOUS, at the end of May last year, then there was vocals, drums mixing, mastering…all that baloney, and it's only last month that I started picking up my guitar again. So there was literally 5-6 months where I did not touch a guitar. I had the studio sitting down here empty, empty in the sense I wasn't working in it. All my guitars were laid out and hanging on the walls and under beds and all that and I had not touched a guitar. It's only in last month that I got back to writing and in the studio to start practicing songs for our tours. It literally only takes me two to three weeks to get the muscles in my arms back and back to where I was six months earlier (laughs). It sure pisses off my other guitar player, Dave, because he spends every day practicing the stuff and then I get together with him and go "Sorry Dave I haven't practiced in a few months" but I can actually play the stuff still.

 

Are there any aspects to your guitar playing, that you do on your own, that you cannot fit into the Annihilator sound?

Tons of stuff! I'm finding as time goes by that I can sneak quite a few things into Annihilator. I've got a lovely little kids song as a bonus track at the end of this called "Chicken And Corn." A big thing that attracted me into heavy metal when I was younger was in the first lace heavy metal could have like a Randy Rhodes classical guitar in it, it could have funk in it, it could have blues - Angus Young's soloing a B.B. King blues style stuff, and it could have orchestras, it could have almost anything in it. Almost any kind of music can be put into heavy metal in some way or another…but I don't know I forget what the hell the question was but there's a certain limit I don't constantly think about it but when I'm writing I've got a, in general, I've got two different piles of stuff - the stuff that is non-Annihilator and the stuff that is Annihilator. I've got all these crazy things…

So what do you plan to do with the non-Annihilator stuff?

A lot of times I just don't have the time to think about doing anything with it. Maybe that's one of the things I will do when I..umm...if I retire Annihilator some day, besides producing and studio work, maybe I'll just try and put together some kind of… But I wouldn't want to do it unless it was really good you know?

 

With regards to videos, what is your opinion on them and are you planning on doing a video for anything from the new album?

There are no plans but I'd like to do one. We sort of got out of the video mode back in around 1993 when all the record companies and managers were jumping up and down saying nobody wants to play this and all the video shows are gone in Europe and gone in the States and Canada…nobody wants to play it. So we sort of fazed them out and just never got around to thinking about it but we've done about eight videos in our medium-length career. I get so many people in the last six months asking me to put together a home video maybe one or two shows in a box set or something of all the different home footage and videos that we have and all these different things. That would be a time-consuming job to dig that out and edit it all. But that's another thing that I could easily do later on. I think a lot of people might be interested in seeing what's really been going on with this band for so long especially North American fans who a lot of them had though that we had perished in the demise of the mainstream metal back in the early 90's.

Yeah, it would be cool to have a home video with videos and a bit of a documentary kind of story.

Yeah, it would be kind of neat to do. I've had a couple of record companies over the years say "Oh no, that doesn't sell, nobody buys that…"

Well I always buy that kind of thing.

Well I'm like "maybe you might not make a lot of money off it, but it would be kind of eat for fans to have." As long as they can cover their costs for it then we'd probably do it but I think I might be able to do it on my own this time.

 

You mentioned you are starting a tour. So when does the tour start and what countries will you be hitting up besides Europe? Will there be any North American dates this time?

Yeah, February and March is Europe and then after that…I'm scrambling to get a good management company in the States. That's the only thing holding me back form touring, is having it setup properly, I could do it myself but I don't have enough time and I don't have enough connections. I know a lilt bit about the business end but only what I have to. The touring stuff is best left to a management and tour agency. But we are scrambling to do that now. Our U.S. company, Sanctuary, says "you gotta get in there quick" and we are like "yeah, ok sure when!" (laughs). So they are talking April, August or September so we are going to try and shoot for April if we get a chance. Not for sure, but we will be in the States for sure.

Are you going to be doing any of the big festivals in Europe this summer?

Yeah, we are actually booked on a lot of them I think. Wacken in Germany and the Dynamo in Holland…all the big ones that our management companies got us on by now. They book those thing way in advance so form what I hear we are on quite a few of them.

 

The final question I wanted to ask, and I wanted to end on a humorous note, and that's "Chicken and Corn" (laughter). If I remember correctly, that's the second song you've written done about food, the other one being "Kraf Dinner." (You got it!) So first of all, where did this come from, were you just sitting down eating chicken and corn one day and thought "hey what a cool song idea."

I'm trying to think what my favorite food at that time when I was doing that was…hmmm I like chicken and I like corn…Chicken and Corn, there you go. So I just wrote a stupid song about it for my kids and they thought is was INSANE but they were singing it every day and I was saying "This is going to be a hit" and it's on an Annihilator record.

I love it actually.

It's just a good song.

I didn't know what was happening when I first heard the CD…beginning with the chicken clucking…I thought the CD was supposed to be over…

Yeah I know it's funny because bands will put on bonus tracks that are extra hits or hidden tracks that will be like some cool little thing. Of course I just blew that theory all to heck by putting a song about chicken and corn on (laughs). Any older metal dads who have kids, buy the CD just for that song because you will keep your kids amused for a long time.

Will you play it live?

Not a chance (laughter). Unless all our fan base becomes one of those all age gigs where they are all eight year olds and five year olds.

 

\m/


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