Rob Urbinati: Ex-Sacrifice / Interzone

August 23rd, 2005
by EvilG

Sacrifice
Rob Urbinati: Ex-Sacrifice frontman returns with new band INTERZONE!

Interviewed by EvilG

When I was “growing up” there was always a small number of bands from Canada that I respected both for the fact that they were (like myself) Canadian, and for the fact that they were one of the best bands we had to offer the metal world. One such band is Sacrifice. Sadly, the band is no more, but fortunately Sacrifice’s frontman (guitarist and vocalist) Rob Urbinati has put together a new band that is sure to turn many heads as well as please fans of his former band. Even though Sacrifice was well known and respected, after they broke up there was very little press on the subject so hooking up with Rob was was a great opportunity! 


Metal Rules!!
Rob, the burning question I have for you is one that I’m sure your very tired of hearing but unfortunately I have read next to nothing about…I’m hoping you can explain what happened to your former band, Sacrifice?? After perhaps your best CD (Apocalypse Inside) I was shocked to find out that you were broke up….I was thinking “man how could this happen?”

Rob:
After “Apocalypse Inside” was recorded, we were very excited about the result, the most satisfied we had ever been about a recording. Aware that the scene had changed a great deal toward a more grind/death sound, we still felt that the material was strong enough to compete with the newer bands. Getting Mike in the band on drums also helped define our sound even more. Unfortunately our label and the CD buying public thought otherwise…Sacrifice fans from before seemed split either towards accepting it as our best album or hating it. A few months after the release, our new label Metal Blade dropped us. Joe and I talked and decided it best to break up the band. After almost 10 years in the same band we had stopped making progress and did not want to go back. We always stayed true to ourselves, not modifying our sound to cash in on new sounds or trends. I think we realized our sound wasn’t being accepted anymore.

 

Metal Rules!!
Was the parting on bad terms?

Rob:
Not at all. It just seemed like we couldn’t modify our sound to become more acceptable, and still keep our integrity. We all still keep in touch, except for our old drummer Gus who we haven’t heard from in about 10 years. I think we all wanted to try playing in other bands too.

 

Metal Rules!!
Would you say that the break-up had anything to do with the fact that you are a Canadian band? Would things of been different if you were based out of another country?

Rob:
Hell no. Canada has been extremely great to Sacrifice. Every part of the country was always receptive to us. Maybe we wouldn’t have got as far as we did if we weren’t Canadians. I love this country…I couldn’t exist in a country where hockey isn’t the #1 sport.

 

Metal Rules!!
Some people lump bands like Sacrifice into the thrash metal genre…to me I think that’s fairly accurate but not the full picture…for example I remember when I head Death’s “Symbolic” in 1995 thinking “this sounds like it was influenced by Sacrifice.” (weird huh?) What styles or bands would you compare to Sacrifice?

Rob:
I think when we started, we fit into the Possessed, Dark Angel type of genre which I would describe as somewhere between thrash and death metal. I’ve heard people say they’ve had the same reaction to the “Symbolic” CD, but I think it might be because Death were a similar style to us, from the same old school roots. I think a band like At The Gates or The Haunted could be described in the same way. There are some bands like Entombed or Sepultura where I can hear a Sacrifice influence occasionally, but played a different style.

 

Metal Rules!!
To me Sacrifice was/is one of Canada’s best metal acts along with Annihilator and VoiVod…It seems (to me at least) that I would still say these bands are about the best Canada has to offer the metal community…Why (in your opinion) has there been little to no metal bands emerging from Canada?

Rob:
First of all, until recently, metal has been turned really underground again for the last few years. People seemed almost embarrassed to admit they like metal with all the latest alternative trends or whatever. This made for poor turnouts at shows, and bands not being able to play live. Unless you’re playing some Korn shite and looking like some bad hip hop fashion idiot, people don’t seem to care.

 

Metal Rules!!
What newer bands have you seen or heard from Canada that has caught your ear?

Rob:
I like Jaww, Solus, Strapping Young Lad, Soulstorm, Endless…there really aren’t as many metal bands coming out of Canada now that I really like. I heard a couple of bands from Newfoundland that I liked…I think one was called Sheavy? Seems to be a cool Sabbath type sound coming from up there.

 

Metal Rules!!
The first taste I had of Sacrifice (no surprise here) was the song “Re-animation” from the CD “Forward To Termination.” the reason I heard it was thanks to the now defunct MuchMusic metal video show “The Power Hour.” I can even remember that they used a large clip of the song “Re-animation” for the show’s opening intro….I remember thinking “who in the hell is that band, I love it!”…Then I finally saw the video….So tell me how did the song end up being used for the Power Hour?

Rob:
The guy who directed our first two videos, John Zytaruk, worked as a soundman at MuchMusic at the time. Everyone there really seemed to like the raw look of the videos and we had a great following in Canada. I didn’t even know they were going to use “Re-animation” as an intro, I just saw it for the first time watching the power hour just like everyone else. They actually nominated us for a video award in 1994 for our last video, “Flesh”.

 

Metal Rules!!
I think that the replacement show for “The Power Hour” called “Loud” is quite the pale imitation of what we once had…Do you think the general climate towards metal in Canada is changing, or will it remain underground??

Rob:
I think metal is becoming a little more accepted now, but the more extreme metal will always remain underground. The thing that killed thrash was that bands saw Metallica getting huge, started writing ballads, and going against everything that made the music raw and powerful when it first started. If that is going to happen, I’d just rather see metal remain underground.

 

Metal Rules!!
Did you ever feel that as a Canadian artist that cracking into the US market was next to impossible while Europe was more receptive?

Rob:
I found both equally receptive, although we never got an opportunity to play in Europe. Our main problem in the beginning was that our music was so new and aggressive, booking agents were too timid to book large scale tours. We didn’t get a national tour of the U.S. until “Soldiers Of Misfortune”. If we could have got one for “Forward To Termination” in 1987, who knows what would have happened.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you still have contact with the ex-Sacrifice members?

Rob:
Joe Rico lives in Detroit now and plays in a hardcore band called “Walls Of Jericho”. We always keep in touch. Scott Watts lives in Vancouver and we talk occasionally or email. Mike Rosenthal lives here in T.O., we see each other at shows and shit. Kevin Wimberley who did the last Sacrifice tour with Death is in Interzone, and as I mentioned before…haven’t heard from Gus for a while.

 

Metal Rules!!
After the band had broken up, how much downtime did you have before you decided to be a part of another band?

Rob:
I just continued writing. “Still Breathing” probably would have been a Sacrifice song. On my 4 track at home I got a bunch of songs together and just gave it out to a few friends, a few fanzines (just a drum machine and me demo) and the band just kind of formed from a few phone calls with friends. I really didn’t have any downtime because I was still writing but the actual band didn’t come together until about 1997.

 

Metal Rules!!
Was it ever taken into consideration that the new band could go by the name Sacrifice?

Rob:
Never. I wanted to start fresh and have everything be fun again. I would never use the name Sacrifice on something that Joe Rico is not a part of.

 

Metal Rules!!
I’ve heard your new “Interzone” CD many times and to me it’s (thankfully) not a hell of a lot removed from Sacrifice…the tempo on a few songs might be a little more relaxed, but the guitar tones and your vocals can still rip off heads with ease….

Rob:
Thank you. People have told me that my vocals would always bring comparisons to Sacrifice because they are unique. All I really have a desire to write is metal.

 

Metal Rules!!
How would you say that Interzone differs from Sacrifice?

Rob:
We use a dropped C tuning on most songs which allows me to show my influence of King’s X guitarist Ty Tabor more. I think the songs are maybe less complex but at the same time still well written. We’ve developed a more choppy, staccato rhythm style than Sacrifice and the chemistry with Drew on Drums works well.

 

Metal Rules!!
You know that most of us will compare Interzone to your previous band….does this bother you? Would you prefer to have Interzone rated on it’s own, or does it more than stand up to your past works?

Rob:
The comparisons don’t bother me…they’re inevitable. To me, Interzone is a completely different entity and I think more people will see it that way after hearing us more. I’m very pleased with what we’ve done with Interzone and don’t really compare it to my past.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you hope to take Interzone to the levels of success achieved by Sacrifice?

Rob:
To be honest, I don’t really think about it. I just do this because I love and need to play music.

 

Metal Rules!!
How did the members of Interzone meet and then decide to start this band?

Rob:
We all knew each other. Drew Gauley I had actually toured with before when he was opening for Sacrifice with Monster Voodoo Machine. Jr. was from the same neighborhood in Scarborough as me and Kevin was in Sacrifice. My demo got around a bit and we just decided to try jamming the songs maybe play a show or two.

 

Metal Rules!!
Are the current members only involved in Interzone, or are they also in other bands?

Rob:
Jr. plays in Soulstorm, a hardcore band called Legion and jams with a lot of bands. Drew and Kevin do kind of session things with a lot of bands.

 

Metal Rules!!
I noticed that you produced the CD, what other CD’s or bands have you worked with in this capacity?

Rob:
None, other than offering pre-production advice to bands writing at rehearsals. It’s something I’d like to try.

 

Metal Rules!!
Is this the only band that you’ve played with since the demise of Sacrifice?

Rob:
I did one show in 1998 with my friend Merque Watts (Scott’s brother) band Serial Crooner. It was really different for me playing a more blues based rock but a lot of fun. He is a musician that I totally respect and an awesome blues player/vocalist. Actually Drew and Kevin did the show as well!!

 

Metal Rules!!
Why has it taken so long for us to hear from you again? I wondered for few years what had become of the members of Sacrifice and why they hadn’t turned up in other bands….Was giving up on the music scene ever considered?

Rob:
Being a part of the music scene means absolutely nothing to me, but I could never give up playing. I really don’t miss the politics and diplomacy you have to endure as a member of a larger scale act. As long as we can rehearse, play live occasionally and continue to enjoy doing Interzone I’ll be happy.

 

Metal Rules!!
If you weren’t in a band, would your life be any different?

Rob:
If I had never started a band at all, I would have continued my education and be making a lot of money today, but its hard to turn down a record deal when you’re 17. Even if I could go back I would still choose music though. My memories are worth more than money.

 

Metal Rules!!
Tell me how the Interzone CD “Cydonia” was released on the “Utopian Vision Music” label. Is this a record deal, or a distribution deal? Will they be releasing more CD’s by Interzone?

Rob:
Ed Balog, who I’ve known for years, left his job at Black Mark, and began his own label Utopian Vision. The business side of music where artists get ripped off and stomped on by greedy labels makes him sick as well as me. He approached us about doing an EP, presented us with a small contract in plain english and that was it. Our deal is only for 1 CD so it’s too early to tell if there will be another.

 

Metal Rules!!
How long were you shopping Interzone’s music before Utopian picked you up?

Rob:
We weren’t shopping it at all. A few small labels contacted me but I just felt more comfortable with Ed who has always been up front and honest with me.

 

Metal Rules!!
Have you shopped the CD to other labels? Was your former label (MetalBlade) interested?

Rob:
If they were, I wasn’t.

 

Metal Rules!!
I know you recorded a tape demo prior to the release of “Cydonia”, are any of these songs on the new CD?

Rob:
I think 6 of them are on the bands demo, and maybe 4 songs from my old 4 trk demo.

 

Metal Rules!!
Have you been playing out live much in support of this CD? If so where have you been playing and with whom?

Rob:
We’ve just done one show here in Toronto this year and that was with Solus and Endless.

 

Metal Rules!!
Are you trying to or hoping to tour outside of Canada?

Rob:
That would be very unlikely. Our financial situations restrict our touring opportunities. It’s too hard to leave a job and family for $200 a show.

 

Metal Rules!!
Will you be making any videos for “Cydonia”?

Rob:
Hopefully if all goes as planned our video for “Away You Fade” should air in late May or June.

 

Metal Rules!!
Over the years what bands or musicians have you respected the most and have contributed greatly to your style both vocally or guitar?

Rob:
On guitar, Tony Iommi, Ty Tabor, Scott Gorham or any Thin Lizzy guitarist, Maiden, Priest, Trouble, Mercyful Fate… I always liked players with more feel than flash who played memorable riffs and solos. For vocals I guess I was inspired by Cronos, Paul Di’anno, Hetfield, Don Doty from Dark Angel, but vocals were always 2nd to me to guitar.

 

Metal Rules!!
What advise would you give a metal band starting out in Canada?

Rob:
Just play what YOU want to play, and don’t worry about what the trends are. I see bands trying to copy the latest thing all the time, but I don’t care how good you are at it, if you’re a follower by the time you get your shit together, the trend you were following is passe. Just do it because you love music, if you do it for any other reason than that you’ll go nowhere. Playing is a need to a real musician like food or sleep.

 

Metal Rules!!
Would you of done anything differently with your musical career looking back over it?

Rob:
Yes, but I don’t dwell on it. I try to look at it from the perspective of getting to a lot of things that most bands don’t get a chance to.

 

Metal Rules!!
What are the future plans for Interzone?

Rob:
Well…we are rehearsing on Sunday…past that…hmm…not a whole lot.

 

Metal Rules!!
Is there any other Interzone news that you’d like to pass along to either potential fans or to those that remember you from Sacrifice?

Rob:
No news, but check out the CD. It might be a bit hard to find but it won’t disappoint. I’d like to say thank you to everyone that has supported me with Sacrifice over the years…CHECK OUT INTERZONE.

Thank you for the interview.
 

Share

Tags: , ,
Posted in 1999 | Comments (0)




Home | About Metal-Rules.com | Staff | Advertise With Us | Staff Openings | Donations

Content is © 2009 Metal-Rules.com. All Rights Reserved.
Graphics by Hammerblaze studio.