Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Bludgeon
Interview By Luxi Lahtinen and Arto Lehtinen
Transcription by Waspman
Live pictures by Luxi

Bludgeon was, or could it be said, still is, quite an unknown technical Thrash/Death combo hailing from Chicago. Bludgeon received a record deal like a godsend with Joey DeMaio’s label Magic Music. The band got an unbelievable chance to get on the tour with the uncrowned Kings of Metal, Manowar, on their most extensive European tour so far. The whole band was at present when the brave yet crazy Finnish metal warriors Luxi and Arto from Metal-Rules.com went to ask a few more-or-less important questions from these cool fellows in Bludgeon right after the band had done their sound-check.


bludgeonSo, how were your gigs in Sweden?

Great… awesome. We had good response; the crowd liked it a lot. That’s always a plus. We sold a lot of shirts and CDs there, too.




Did the crowd really know you guys?

Eric: Pretty much no. I think a few times people yelled out “Bludgeon” or something, and we even might have seen one Bludgeon shirt on someone. I was walking around in Sweden and I saw a bunch of people wearing Bludgeon shirts. Not before the show.

Eric: Yeah, after the show. We’re pretty new. People are kind of shocked to see us, ‘cause when you play with Manowar, they expected something more like Manowar. It was good though.



Well did you have a chance to go to the cities and check things out there?

A little bit in Oslo.



What about Helsinki?

Helsinki? I only got to a couple of McDonalds there. Everything was closed. We got here at 11:00pm last night. I went to eat, came back and watched some movie, and then I slept until just a couple of hours ago.




As you are kind of an unknown name here in Finland, would you tell us how you guys got started?

I’d say it was about ten years ago. I was in another band with Eric, and we had some disagreements, so I went one way and he went another. Then I hooked up with Matt, and another guitarist Chewie, we hooked up with Eric later ‘cause he came back into the scene and we started jamming together. The music we created was awesome, so that’s pretty much how we got together.



You’re musical backgrounds are kind of the same, into the same type of bands like Slayer and stuff?

Oh yeah. Testament, Exodus, etc. all of the old school stuff.



Do you think that’s one of the reasons why you guys mesh together so well?

Yeah, ‘cause we all kind of like the same thing. 

Eric: As far as metal is concerned we all have the same tastes but we all listen to other things besides metal.




Like Punk and Hardcore like Agnostic Front and things like that?

Eric: Exactly. I haven’t listened to that in a while though.



So you guys are like pals then? You even live together?

Yeah, we’ve lived together for like the last five, six years. First we were, y’know, renting a studio, and one person lived somewhere and we decided it would be cheaper, with everybody renting an apartment, why don’t we just rent a house? So that’s what we did for about six years. It’s made us even closer ya’know? Almost like a bond.



You guys have a background in several bands, I guess you must have done the old school tape trading like the old days?

Oh yeah…!!!




Sindrome, Master, Deathstrike, Broken Hope, etc. - they are from Chicago.

Of course!!!



Sindrome used to be one of my very favorite bands back in the day.

We know Shawn Glass real well; he’s a friend of ours.



What about Troy Dixler (the Sindrome vocalist) - is he still around?

I’m sure. He still lives in Chicago, but he’s not really a part of the scene right now. He’s not in a band that I’m aware of.



Did you ever see them live or share the stage with them?

No, I don’t think we ever played with them. Eric: Maybe. At the Gateway, who was that with? That was Experiment. Two of them. There was Macabre too.




So how was the current scene in Chicago right now?

Pretty heavy, hard.



Can you name some bands from there that we should watch out for?

Disinter, God Help Us, Red River.

Eric: Yeah, but Red River is more like an alternative kind of sound, they’re not really metal. Pretty heavy and stuff, but maybe a more extreme version of Korn or something.



Like Nu-Metal or something alike maybe…?

Eric: Definitely. They’re not like Slayer or anything that we’re playing, but they’re friends of ours.



They’re more like a mainstream kind of thing then?

Yeah, you could say so.



How did you guys hook up with Manowar?

Joey called and Eric spoke with him on the phone.

Eric: He was in Chicago and he listened to the local radio station there and they played our CD. He talked to the DJ there that he’s good friends with and got our CD from him. The Harley tech for Manowar is from Chicago and is a friend of ours and he gave Joey our demo tape also. He got it from two directions. He heard our stuff and called me up and said “I think you guys are fuckin’ righteous and I like what you’re doing, and I’d like you guys to be the first band signed to my record label.”



bludgeon-pic8.jpg (37987 bytes)I bet you must have been surprised when you got that first phone call!

Eric: Yeah! At first I didn’t believe it. He was like “Motherfucker! This is goddamned Joey!” (laughs) “Look in the Guinness fuckin’ world’s records!” (laughs) It was him man! From the time that the phone call was done he was at our house, and saw us play. Before he got to our house we prepared a long set, how many songs?

Chewie: Like 17.

Eric: Yeah, like 17 songs. He goes, “Let’s see what the fuck you guys got here”. We played one song, and half of another one and goes “Stop, stop. OK, let’s start talking.”

Chewie: We didn’t even have to play the rest of the songs man!

Eric: Then about two weeks later he brought Brian Slagel from Metal Blade down and we did the same thing for him, and that’s pretty much when the ball started rolling. We were in the studio, actually we recorded the album in our house!




Yes, I remember I read about that.

Eric: The album was done a long time ago, but it got released about a year late. That’s with Joey being our producer with Magic Circle and everything. They were our main record company and we were already on to them, what we needed was distribution worldwide, and that’s where Brian Slagel came in. He got the deal for that. Someone like Metal Blade can get it in the right spots. That was Joey’s main plan. He wants to make sure that the band he signs and produces gets their records in the right spots where it will be heard. Basically, that’s what they’ve been doing. With these shows that we’re playing around here when we do get a little time to go out and check out record stores, every time we’re in there, we see our record. So they’re definitely doing what they need to. Joey really makes sure that he covers the business end and that it gets out to the right people.



Did you get surprise that Joey would be interested in Bludgeon, because most people had the impression when he created Magic Circle that he would sign every damned Power Metal band he could find.

Eric: I was surprised that he would sign us because of the style of music we’re playing but once he came to us, ‘cause that’s what we were sayin’, “Manowar? We’re really not playing what they are.”, but after him coming down and talking to us, he looks more for musicians who deserve it. That’s what his thing is. He heard the songs, he said “This is good music, and it needs to get out”. He doesn’t look for bands playing his style, he looks for good music. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next bands that they get are nothing like us. He looks for dedicated musicians who want it. “Oh, I’ll make a quick buck”, that’s not his style. He wants top of the line musicians and people who really deserve it. He came and saw that we were like a brotherhood. He believes in what we’re doing and here we are.

Chewie: He told us that we reminded him of Manowar when they were young. That was a big compliment.



Is he the manager for you? Because I know he’s the manager for the Italian Power Metal act Rhapsody as well.

He helps us out and everything like that, but as far as us having a full-time manager, we don’t. He probably will be soon though. Right now he’s got a lot of things to do with Manowar though.



How do you guys decide the song-writing process inside the band?

Eric: The songs that are on the record. 90% of them were written by us right here because he wasn’t in the band until two or three years ago. So those songs that are on that CD were written by us. But, the next album which is already written was done by all four of us. It’s a different style, the next record is going to have a new aspect brought into it. The songs are already a big improvement.



There is more emphasis on the anti-Christian themes…

Well, each song has it’s own meaning and everybody will get a different impression of the song. That’s what the intention is, for everyone to feel what they feel.



bludgeon-pic9.jpg (56220 bytes)What about “Crucify the Priest”?

Well, it’s not “Crucify the Priest” in general. But, there are some out there that need to be taught a lesson. They need to be taken away, revoked of it. There’s some that manipulate people, rip off old people. Some just use it as a way of escaping things.



How would you actually describe a typical Bludgeon practice session?

Eric: It starts out with me going to the bathroom. (laughs) Then I come out and we smoke two joints, then we practice.



Are they mostly very tense and professional or are they more relaxed events generally speaking?

It’s just a nice even flow, practicing.

Eric: It’s not like we’re at a show.

Chewie: Well, we have two different practices. Y’know, we have the new stuff, so our whole summer was like, y’know, him taking a shit, but there was the new stuff that we really worked on intensely, not just sitting back. We do what we have to. We have twelve new songs and we’d do that. Four days a week.

Chewie: Exactly. We wouldn’t just do one song, we’d do all twelve. Maybe sometimes, if we had time and no one had to work, hey, OK, we’ll do it all twice. Just about a month before we came out here on tour, we’d cut that practice and go back to getting the set down and figuring that out. We’ve got an eleven song set that we’ll do tonight and not all of the songs are from the CD, so we’ll actually do two of our newer songs.

Eric: It’s just to play and keep us going on.



Will you play any cover tunes?

Eric: No, no.



Well, I mean, just in rehearsals?

Only when warming up, definitely. Eric: A long time ago we used to play “Reign in Blood” but we’re not doing that anymore, just in our hometown.



Everybody’s playing Slayer stuff, I don’t get it. (laughs)

(laughs) Yeah, but that was a great song man!



I’d rather hear cover tunes from, like, Dark Angelīs DARKNESS DECENDS.

Chewie: I’ve got to admit, I was... Disinter toured with them.




They were supposed to do a tour from L.A. to Seattle or something, but they canceled the whole tour.




Yeah, but quite a few things happened to them then and they had to cancel that particular tour in question. So can you tell us the direction that you guys are going in? Faster; more brutal; heavier?

Faster, definitely some faster songs. There’s some slower metal.

Eric: Not necessarily jump metal, but it’s got that feeling to it. You get people jumping and then throw in some million mile an hour double bass in there and people go “Where the fuck did that come from?” That style. A little bit of something for everybody so we don’t get categorized. People won’t be able to say that we’re a black metal band, or a death metal band, or a speed metal band, we’re just a band. We love what we’re playing. It’s different styles of music to the point where basically everybody can hear something that they like. That’s what we’re aiming for.



You did a big festival in the States, the Metal Meltdown. How was that?

Eric: Good. We’ve actually done it I think two years in a row. The second year was much, much better, but we also had a better slot.



So how have you guys liked being on this tour with Manowar?

Chewie: It’s fuckin’ great. It’s like... The time of our lives!



Are they like brothers to you?


Eric: There’s no separation. Right now, they always tell us that they’re dressing room door is open if we have any questions or just want to talk. The same thing for us. There’s no walls or barriers at all. We sit at the same dinner tables with them, talking and stuff. Very close. We really get along with them. They’re real good guys. At first we were like “Wow, this is really big”, and then to see how down to earth they are. It’s weird to hear. You talk to Eric Adams and he’s talking about being out hunting and stuff, it’s real weird.



So you guys aren’t afraid of getting in front of 1,000 or more people? Do you think youīd feel comfortable to play for that many people at the same time?


Eric: We’re half way through the tour already. We’ve been playing in front of a lot of crowds.

Chewie: Joey would let us know too. He’d be like, “You guys know what you’re doing, so just do what you do”. That’s what we did. Basically, you walk out there and you see everybody, but they’ve all got a positive attitude and start screamin’ when you get to your spot. It’s like “OK, there’s nothing to worry about, these people want to hear what I’ve got”. We know how to play our songs, so let’s do it. The next thing you know everybody is screaming and it’s great.



Last time when Manowar played here, three years ago, there was a lot more people...

Chewie: Basically it’s just Manowar, ‘cause people don’t know who we are.



How would you guys define your music? Would you say it’s like Thrash Metal with some hints of Death Metal?

Sure. Technical Thrash Metal would do.




Because your roots are very deep in Thrash - and Death Metal anyway…

Eric: Yeah, that’s what I was raised on, Slayer and Sepultura, Cannibal, Grave, Suicidal, Exodus. Thrash and death metal mainly.

Chewie: And Testament!

Eric: I wouldn’t hear anything else. Straight forward on that style of music. Whereas now, being a musician, I’m a lot more open and I listen to a whole variety of music, where before it was just thrash and death. If it wasn’t that it was garbage. I wouldn’t give it a chance. Plus as you get older you start opening your horizons a little bit more. When you’re a teenager you’re like, “Ah fuckin’ Slayer! Slayer!”, but as you get older you get a more wide view of music. It’s like going back and listening to more of the old school stuff like Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and stuff like that.



Did you guys know that a Finnish band called Finntroll was supposed to open for you guys?




Yeah, but they had to cancel it because, this may only be a rumor, but Manowar’s manager asked them to $2000 in advance to play here tonight, but because they couldn’t so they had to cancel their gig here.

Woah, I don’t know anything about that.

Eric: I had only found out when I was walking through and I say a flyer that said Manowar, Bludgeon, and then the other name and I was like “Oh, cool”. By the time I went to the production office and asked them if there was another band, and they said no.



Have you ever heard them?




What ībout any other Finnish bands then? Impaled Nazarene?

I don’t think so.



Sentenced, Amorphis...

Chewie: Sentenced and Amorphis yeah! Are those the guys from that and that was supposed to play tonight?



No, those are just the guys from Finntroll. Anyway, how would you say that playing in Scandinavia differs from playing in the States, as far as the venues and people and those things?

They’re a lot more open out here. There were some shows we played in the States...Manowar fans are hardcore everywhere, but out here it seems like they’re more accepting to us. I mean the States was accepting to us to, but we just, y’know it’s Manowar and they don’t play in America as much as they do here probably. It’s cool, we’ll just have to see.



That’s cool. Can you say what’s your typical Scandinavian fan and what he looks like or talks like?

Eric: (laughs) Yesterday what I was seeing, the guys were definitely Manowar fans! They were standing there with the long leather bracelets with the spikes and stuff but, by the end of the show, I walked back out there and the same guys were wearing Bludgeon shirts. I mean, they were still loving the Manowar, singing every Manowar lyric, but it’s like y’know, we got across to them, they not only picked up the shirt but the CD too. Basically the Scandinavian fans appreciate good metal. If it’s good they’ll listen to it!



Have you seen any black metal fans so far?

Yeah, they’re the same guys, but they just wear different T-shirts. Honestly! ‘Cause I see a lot of people that look like they’d listen to Black Metal, but they’re wearing a Manowar shirt.



I think it would be quite bizarre and absurd if they wore both a Manowar shirt and a corpsepaint at the very same time (laughs).

(laughs) I don’t think we’ve seen anybody corpse-painted. We’ve seen some Viking soldiers dressed up in the armor and fucking hatchet and mallets. It’s pretty cool.



Yeah, it’s weird.

I liked it! I think it’s cool.



What are you guys listening to?

Right now what are we listening to, in general? Ah shit.

Chewie: Slipknot’s very good, Slayer’s very good, um, Manowar is very good! The new GWAR!

Chewie: Yeah, the new GWAR. I don’t know if you guys have heard that, but I highly recommend it. One of their best albums in a long time!


Wasn’t it called LET THE VIOLENCE BEGIN or something like that?

Chewie: THE VIOLENCE HAS ARRIVED, it’s amazing! Two thumbs up on that, definitely!

Eric: Stone Sour. Corey from Slipknot’s new band, that’s pretty good. Then again, I listen to a lot of different stuff, a whole lot of different styles too.

Chewie: The new Cannibal, GORE OBSESSED.

Eric: Y’know I brought a hundred CDs with me, I listen to something different all the time. Y’know a nice variety of CDs, so whenever I’m in the mood for it I can throw it on.

Chewie: The new Testament, listening to that a lot. FIRST STRIKE STILL DEADLY where they remixed all of the old songs.



From the first two albums…

Chewie: Yeah, it’s fuckin’ great.



By the way, do you ever miss the 80s metal scene?

Chewie: It’ll come back. You can’t keep a good thing down.

Eric: Hey, y’know, Dark Angel are an 80s band and they’re comin’ back. Back in the early days y’know, the first Sabbath, the first Zeppelin, they still kick ass. It’s still here and it ain’t ever going.



Yeah, the 80īs Thrash Metal scene actually never died. Now even Phil Demmel is working with a new Vio-lence album.

Eric: Oh really? I like Violence. The guy from Machine Head was in that band originally, Rob Flynn.



So, what are you expecting for tonight’s gig?

Eric: They’re going to fuckin’ love it like they do every night! Except now there’s a bigger crowd, so hopefully more people are going to get into it. It’s been going really, really well. I have a blast on stage every fuckin’ night, so y’know. It looks like everyone else is likin’ it too. I mean, occasionally you get one or two people who are just there to see Manowar, but that’s cool ‘cause we like Manowar too! Pretty much everybody has been open-minded towards us. If they don’t like us, they can at least say that we’re good at what we do. They don’t like the music but they know we’re tight or whatever.



Our time is running out now, so we wanna thank you guys for a cool chat with us. And best of luck for your gig, too!!

Thanks guys! It was really nice talking to you! See you guys at our gig!!


Band Website: www.bludgeon.tv