Interview by Keith McDonald
Nuclear Assault has been on the road since 2002 with the reformed band. They released a live record to hold the fans down until a new studio album is ready. While the band was in the New York area I had an opportunity to speak with Danny Lilker who gave me the lowdown on the band and it?s future plans.
What made NA reunite in 2002?
To give you some background, I’d been steadily busy since leaving the
band in the summer of ’92. Brutal Truth was active until ’98, then S.O.D. reformed temporarily ’til 2000. The next year, I got married. All this time, I’d received phone calls now and then from a dude named Eric Paone, the world’s biggest Nuke fan. He would call and say “Hey Danny, whaddaya think about doing some shows with the guys again?? I’d have to decline, since I was really busy. By the time he called up in early 2002, I was relatively unoccupied enough to agree to play the New Jersey Metalfest coming up that March. Also, having originally left in ’92 due to my declining interest in thrash metal, I found that 10 years later, having dabbled in thrash again with S.O.D. and The Ravenous, that it would be fun to play again. So I agreed, the other guys were down, and we did the show. We were immediately swamped by tour offers and questions about recording new material, so there
you have it.
How was it playing that first show together after so long?
Really cool! We just booked a 4-hour rehearsal block a few days before, went over the songs we chose to play, and went for it. It was quite nostalgic, and at the same time fresh and current, if that makes any sense. And the crowd reaction convinced us to continue.
How did you hook up with Screaming Ferret Records? How have they handled a band like NA?
Tim the label head is a friend of Eric, the dude I mentioned previously.
When we played a small club show in Massachusetts in May 2002, Tim showed up with all this recording gear and offered to record the show, adding that hopefully we’d agree to release it on his label. We thought about, and figured “why not?? When it was time to do a studio album, we elected to go with Tim rather than hook up with a larger label that would try to tie us down for 5 records. He seems to be handling us fine, we are a big priority for the label, and he is a fierce Nuke fan, which helps a lot.
How well has the live album done so far? Was this something to hold the fans down until a new studio album was ready?
That is exactly why we released a live album, it was a way to show people that we were really back and not just doing a few one-offs, until we were ready to write, record and release a new studio album. I couldn’t tell you how the live album did; its main purpose was a stopgap anyway…
What are the current tour plans? How long will you be on the road?
As of the end of August, we’re in the midst of a few weekend minitours here in the States, but we will not being doing a full-scale continuos US tour at any point in the near future. We are confirmed for next spring’s No Mercy tour in Europe, but until then we will just do some more US weekends.
How important was touring in getting a band like NA out to the fans?
Touring is a major part of keeping your band afloat, and it always has
been. Metal music is meant to be experienced in a live format in my opinion. Nice and loud, up close and personal, all that shit. Sometimes it can get a little tiresome and draining, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. I’ve seen lots of the planet without buying a plane ticket, so I can’t complain!
How much harder is it for a band to tour compared to the mid to late 80’s?
Well, there are reasons unique to a bunch of guys in their early 40s!
Some financial responsibilities, for instance, and for some of us, kids to raise. But in general, there’s no big difference; in fact it’s easier in
some aspects thanks to the Internet.
With the new studio album, what type of sound can fans expect? Will there be an experimenting?
I think it’s a pretty typical Nuke record, although apparently some think it’s not intense enough or don’t like the production. No big experimenting, we have a known style and we tried to stick with it.
Are you surprised there are still many thrash/metal fans out there so many years after the genre was replaced by other, newer ‘metal’ bands?
I think it shows that the thrash metal genre is strong and powerful,
which it would’ve had to have been to still be popular these days. It proves that thrash metal deserves a dedicated chapter in the glorious history of metal, or even rock and roll for that matter.
What do you think of today’s newer metal acts? Things have changed quite a bit since NA made its debut?
There’s so many different sub-genres now it’s hard to keep up. The Black Dahlia Murder seems pretty good! And I’m glad all that Limp Bizkit crap died out!
What do you think separated bands like NA from the Overkills and Anthrax?s of the metal community?
I think we were more approachable as people than those bands, I’ve often heard from fans that those bands snubbed their requests for a quick picture or whatever. Musically, we were a little more hardcore influenced than those bands as well.
Why didn’t NA ever consider making music that was more ‘commercially acceptable’ the way bands like Metallica did?
Well, we started out a lot more intense than Metallica did in the first
place. If we attempted to “go commercial”, we’d be accused of selling out, plus I doubt we’d compete with all the other more popular bands playing lighter metal.
How much did playing with Anthrax on ‘Fistfull.’ come into play in
forming NA? How was that experience?
I never really thought about how my time with Anthrax affected Nuke, but I suppose that it drove me to want to keep up the intense side of things musically. When they got Joey, they kinda went more melodic. In general, my time in Anthrax was a great learning experience, being the first professional band I ever played in.
What’s the future for NA?
We’re taking it day by day, but we intend to tour a bunch to support
this album, and then we’ll see about another one.