POSSESSED´s Jeff Becerra & SADISTIC INTENT´s Rick Cortez
Interviews + Sadistic Intent live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
What happened to Sadistic Intent, some of you may wonder silently in your minds. The band was working with their THE SECOND COMING OF DARKNESS debut full-lenght album in 2002, but when things really start to go badly wrong, they do – and nothing can stop them going wrong. That was Sadistic Intent´s unfortunate faith with their 1st attempts to get the album recorded back in the day; everything ended up for a real mess.
However, as long as there´s some hope left, almost anything can be expected, even the second coming of Sadistic Intent. And talking about these so-called ´2nd comings´, Possessed´s sort of ´second coming´ has been going on for a while already. Namely the band members of Sadistic Intent have been currently been doing one-off shows with Jeff Benjamin Becerra, playing classic Possessed songs in Europe, in the States, and in Mexico with a huge enthusiasm. It all started with a special reunion show of Possessed that took place at Wacken festival in August 2007. At the same time, Sadistic Intent played one-off gig in Hamburg, Germany – actually the day after the Wacken weekend, together with the Dutch old school Death Metal masters Pentacle.
Since Possessed´s special Wacken performance and Sadistic Intent´s show at Ballroom in Hamburg last year, lots of things have happened. Read all about these things – amongst other very interesting plans both Sadistic Intent and Possessed have in their sleeves about a number of things. Both Jeff Becerra of Possessed and Rick Cortez of Sadistic Intent, opened slightly their private boxes of secrets for Metal-Rules.com… ENJOY! ;o)
WACKEN – THE WOODSTOCK OF HEAVY METAL
Let´s talk about Wacken first. It´s been a while since you guys played with Possessed at Wacken, which obviously was a tremendous success for Possessed. Now when you have some distance from the show, and can remember that particular event from a whole different perspective, what are some of your innermost thoughts about the Possessed show at Wacken on August 3rd last year?
Rick: It was huge, there were literally thousands and thousands of enthusiastic metal heads there! It was our first show with Jeff doing a full set and it went really well! Looking back, it was an adrenaline rush! Speaking of Wacken, the organizers were all very professional, it was a pleasure working with them.
Jeff: It was an honor, it’s like the Woodstock of Heavy Metal!
How easy, or difficult was it to nail down the final set of the songs that you played at Wacken? I guess so-called ´mandatory´ Possessed songs like “The Exorcist”, “Tribulation”, “Holy Hell”, “March to Die”, “Pentagram”, etc. needed to get included for the set; the songs both Jeff and obviously the fans of Possessed wanted to hear, and to get played at Wacken, correct?
Rick: I found it to be a challenge, although some parts came easier than others, to get the whole set down for Wacken wasn’t that easy. When we first got invited to play Wacken, we only had a couple songs ready, so we only had a few months to nail down the whole set. Naturally, the more we rehearse, the tighter we’ll get but I would say we pulled it off at Wacken!
Jeff: That’s what we do, it was challenging but not difficult.
What kinds of you pre-expectations did you personally have from this Wacken show anyway? I bet playing in front of massive sea of thousands of fists raised high in the air, simply had to send cold shivers down your spine. So there´s no single doubt that each of you were really looking forward to playing there, didn´t you?
Rick: For me, I certainly looked forward to it but I don’t recall having any pre-expectations, I was just very honored to be on the same stage as Saxon, Destruction, Immortal, Sodom, Dimmu Borgir, and so on! When we first walked out on stage, I still remember the massive roar from the crowd, I was like fuck, it was kind of surreal for me. I heard from one of the organizers that there were more than 70,000 in attendance, that’s amazing! And this was a real Metal festival, unfortunately for fans in the USA, we don’t have anything like Wacken, at least not for the time being.
Jeff: I have a great band, I knew we would do well! It was bigger than I thought, it went beyond my expectations! It was a real honor to share the stage with those bands.
POSSESSED´S WACKEN SHOW COMING UP AS A DVD?
Wasn´t Possessed´s whole performance also filmed fully at Wacken? If so, is there any further plans for that live footage? All I can remember is that at least 3 songs from that performance will be included to Wacken´s own compliation video which they always do out of all the footages that their own film crew shoot there.
Rick: Yes, the Wacken crew did tape the performance and yes, it looks like we will release it.
Jeff: That’s the plan.
Brazilian Mutilation Productions also released a Possessed DVD called POSSESSED BY EVIL HELL in 2006, this DVD featuring 2 Possessed early shows fom 1987. How did the idea to get these two old shows come together in the first place? As far as I know, this was a limited release (2000 copies only) and the DVD should be sold-out by now…?
Jeff: They approached me and made an offer. It’s a neat collector´s item for the fans and I think it’s sold out already.
I also came across this another Possessed DVD titled SATAN´S ANGELS in eBay (how surprising!), and that one also features two shows from Long Beach, California – the first one being filmed in 1986 and the other one 1987. Were you aware of this Possessed DVD? Obviously you have nothing to do with it, and it´s just a bootleg, right?
Jeff: I have not heard of it, it’s a bootleg and this person needs to kick me down! Ha-hah!!
I bet it was some sort of challenge for Sadistic Intent to learn all of those Possessed songs for the Wacken show, even if I´m sure it also had to be a very pleasing challenge for each of you to learn and play the songs with Jeff Becerra, wasn´t it? Besides working with him isn´t anything new to you since you already did a cover version of Possessed´s “The Exorcist” for the MORBID FAITH 2-song EP in 2002 (released on German Iron Pegasus Records), featuring Jeff exclusively on vocals. Assumable the chemistry between him and Sadistic Intent couldn´t hardly be any better than it is nowadays…
Rick: I’ve been a huge Possessed fan since 1985 and if somebody would have told me back then that one day we would be doing Possessed with Jeff Becerra, I don’t think I would have believed it. I am totally honored to do this with Jeff! It’s like you said, a pleasing challenge!
I honestly gotta believe since your terrific performance at Wacken last year, the overwhelming response from the fans just keeps flowing in – and people make these overly curious questions when you´ll hit the European soil next time. Just correct me if I´m completely wrong by claiming this…
Rick: We have received a very positive response and yes, we’ve certainly had people ask us when are we going back to Europe.
Jeff: Hopefully they will ask us back to Wacken!
RE-OPENING POSSESSED´S COFFIN
When did you actually decide to re-open this once-sealed coffin of Possessed and bring Possessed back to life for some shows that you have been doing with Possessed thus far, including that Wacken show?
Jeff: When I got together with Sadistic Intent and did “The Exorcist” for the Possessed tribute album, we really got along well and became friends. A few years after we recorded that song, Rick asked me to do the song live in Hollywood, CA, and it was my first time back on stage in like 17 years. In my mind I never planned on reforming Possessed, but between the studio and the Hollywood show, the crowd response and the quality musicianship of Sadistic Intent, it was just too good of a thing to pass up. Eventually we decided to do more Possessed songs and it just was an organic thing to bring Possessed back.
Possessed have also performed a couple of other shows since Wacken. The band played at this indoor festival called "The Gathering of Bestial Legion III" festival at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood on August 19th, which undoubtedly was something for the US fans of Possessed that they had been looking for a long time. How was the crowd´s response from that Possessed show, and how you overall liked the festival? How many people showed up to that festival anyway?
Jeff: The response was totally insane, we were overwhelmed with the reaction! There was a thousand metal maniacs there pitting, crowd-surfing, headbanging and singing along! It was like a Satanic teleprompter – ha-hah!!
NEW POSSESSED SONGS IN THE WORKS
Both Possessed and Sadistic Intent played at this "Black Swadows" festival last October, and the festival was arranged in Chile. Also, you did at least two other shows with Possessed already; one in West Springfield on November 24th 2007 – and the other day after that in New York, on November 25th. All this looks like people truly want to get Possessed back and make you guys to record Possessed´s comeback album some day. Seriously guys, have you guys even been talking about making new songs under the mighty Possessed -moniker with Jeff? I know this is a very wild as a thought, but I´m positive this idea has crossed your mind more than just once or twice before. Besides that, it´s difficult for me to think of any label that wouldn´t want to fight over Possessed, to get the band signed for their roster at any cost.
Rick: As a matter of fact, Jeff and I just spoke about this recently, I’ll just say don’t be surprised if we come out with new songs for Possessed.
Jeff: Yeah, I already wrote a song so I don’t see why we wouldn’t.
What other shows have you already got booked for either Possessed or Sadistic Intent? Are you planning to get new gigs for the band(-s) as long as there´s demand for other shows – and as long as people are willing to pay you for all these shows you may do?
Rick: Some people thought that Wacken was only a one time show for us but no, we do plan on doing more shows like we’ve been doing lately. At the moment, on Friday, February 29th, we have Possessed headlining in Seattle, Washington, the following day we have Sadistic Intent headlining at a different venue in Seattle. Then the very next night on March 2nd both bands will hit the stage at The House Of Blues in Hollywood, California. It appears both Possessed & Sadistic Intent also have four shows coming up in Brazil, that’s now scheduled for April. At the moment we are trying to work out some dates in Mexico with both bands and it looks like that should be confirmed soon. Back in the USA, Possessed is scheduled to appear in Mokena, Illinois on April 11th. Plus we literally just found out that in August both Possessed & Sadistic Intent are confirmed to appear at The Hole In The Sky festival in Norway, we look forward to all of these shows! We’re also in the middle of talks with the organizer of the Jalometalli festival in Finland, hopefully that will work out, too!
Jeff: If there is a demand for Possessed, we’ll bring Hell to their town!
POST-POSSESSED WITHOUT JEFF
What´s your personal opinion about those two ´Possessed demos´ that the original Possessed -member, Mike Tarrao, recorded between the years 1991-93 with two different line-ups – without your own input for those songs at all? A watery coffee served without any milk and sugar… Uh, no thank you…
Jeff: I had no input but I found the demos enjoyable. I have respect for Mike and wish him well.
Are you Jeff still in touch with some original members of Possessed? Do you know at all what they are up to?
How do you feel the fact Possessed has been so strong source of inspiration for so many black/death metal bands for almost two decades?
Jeff: I feel it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to have an influence on the Extreme Metal scene and knowing that someone cares about me has helped me get through some rough times.
Monumentum Records will re-release Possessed´s classic "Seven Churches" album as a gatefold album, limited to 500 copies only. How did deal happen between you and Monumentum Records? Did you own the rights for "Seven Churches"?
Jeff: Monumentum Records leased the rights from Century Media Records.
What happened with the Polish Agonia Records that released some Possessed / Side Effect vinyls in 2003?
Jeff: The vinyls are sold out. Also, unfortunately Kenny the guitar player from Side Effect passed away a few years ago.
What are some of your highlights in Possessed as far as your whole career with the band is concerned?
Jeff: The Wacken Open Air festival in Germany 2007!
THE BALLROOM EXPERIENCE IN HAMBURG ON AUGUST 5TH 2007
After the Wacken show, you also played a show at Ballroom, Hamburg next day with Sadistic Intent. Even if the place was a very small, it was full of crazy and fanatic Sadistic Intent -fans that truly showed their support toward te band. Needless to say, but I think the concert was also a very successful gig from you guys after all, wasn´t it?
Rick: The show was sold out, the crowd was very supportive, I would call it a successful gig, he-heh! Especially considering the fact that the show was confirmed only a few days before it took place, it turned out great! By the way, I really would like to thank our friends in Pentacle for all of their help. Pentacle had a big role in making the show possible, and by the way, they were killer that night!! Like Pentacle puts it, don’t forget the ancient feeling, it still rules!
You also played one new song, "Unholy Revelations", as the final encore, which sounded as devastating and ripping as the rest of your material you have done thus far. Would you tell us how many songs you have ready for the next Sadistic Intent album – and do you believe all this new material of the band still represent well what Sadistic Intent is all about musically, i.e. heavy, dark and wicked old school Death Metal – the way Death Metal should be in the first place?
Rick: I think we have about six songs and I would say yes, they are heavy, dark old school Death Metal the Sadistic Intent way!
When we talked to each other at the backstage of Ballroom on 5th of August, you told me that Sadistic Intent are actually looking for stepping into the studio sometime around 2008, to record THE SECOND COMING OF DARKNESS. Is that goal still valid for the band?
Rick: Yeah, but our goal is ultimately to set up our own studio so we can record it ourselves. We’ve already purchased a lot of the recording gear but we still need some more to go, recording equipment is not cheap. Once we have the studio done, it will definitely help us come out with new recordings in the future.
Do you have an intention to handle the whole recording process, from start to finish, by yourselves – knowing how unlucky you were with your 1st attempt to get the whole thing done in 2002?
Rick: At the moment we have a friend who is willing to help us out. But eventually, I would really like to learn how to record from start to finish. Especially because of all the bad luck we’ve encountered with recording this album. I really do not want to rely on anyone anymore, hopefully I’ll be able to learn how to record sooner than later.
ABOUT NEW SADISTIC INTENT STUFF
Ever since I have a good reason to believe that Sadistic Intent have been writing new songs through these past 4-5 years, kind of preparing yourselves for ´this 2nd coming of Sadistic Intent´?
Rick: I kind of hate to admit this but being as busy as we are nowadays, Bay and I don’t have as much time to create music as I’d like to. Sure, in the last few years I’ve certainly come out with riffs and some songs are nearly completed, but I haven’t really concentrated on writing that much. I think we have about six songs worth of riffs. By the way, I’m also quite picky about stuff, I want the music to be something that I will always enjoy. Sometimes I’ll come out with a riff and then I need another riff to connect it, and that sometimes can happen relatively quickly or it can take from months to over a year for the right one to appear. I know I could write a whole album really quick but a lot of it would be “filler” material and I do not want that. For me it’s quality over quantity.
Now let´s move on talking a bit closer about Sadistic Intent… and your somewhat cursed ´second coming of darkness´. So, simple question for you for starters, when will that happen in terms of a new album from Sadistic Intent? You had incredibly much of setbacks (surely way too many for just one band) when you tried to record THE SECOND COMING OF DARKNESS back in 2002 – and unfortunately everything ended up for a real mess due to a number of different things.
Rick: You’re right, these setbacks actually inspired us to set up our own recording studio. We’ve already started to get our own equipment but we still need to purchase some more gear and get it connected. Then we’ll need to learn how to actually run the whole recording operation. I don’t want to promise a date but we do anticipate to at least getting back to work on it later this year.
You also were to re-start the recordings for this album together with Bernie Versailles of Agent Steel, but since he seemed to be very busy with his own bands Agent Steel and Engine at that time, I guess all those plans started to go downhill since then as well, didn´t they?
Rick: To make a long story short, Bernie definitely was busy and unfortunately he did not have a lot of time to finish recording us. Eventually he ended up moving out of state and it went really went downhill from there.
I don´t think I have never seen any mention about some of the song titles you had back in those days (except "Unholy Revelations"; the song that you performed at Ballroom, Hamburg on August 5th), so could you possibly reveal some of them for the readers of Metal-Rules.com now because I´m 110% positive there are not only the readers of this web magazine that are curious about them, but also every Sadistic Intent -fan on the face of the earth should be eager to get their thirst killed for knowing more about them…
Rick: Besides "Unholy Revelations", we also have "Numbered With The Dead", "Beyond The Grave", "Invocation Of Blasphemy", "The Second Coming", "Eternal Darkness", plus we also had started to re-record "Untimely End" and "Ancient Black Earth".
Has your song writing responsibilities in the band changed somehow over these past 3-4 years or so? I mean, how much does your ´new´ guitarist Ernesto contribute the song writing of Sadistic Intent? Has Ernesto´s contribution to Sadistic Intent brought some useful ideas for the whole song writing process of the band – still keeping in mind Sadistic Intent´s roots are deeply and obviously proudly growing in the dark, old school Death Metal sound? So, in a sense of expanding the band´s horizon towards some new territories musically, obviously that wasn´t something you expected him to do when he joined the band, right?
Rick: To be honest, lately we’ve had our hands full learning Possessed songs so for the time being, he still needs to learn some more Sadistic Intent songs as well. Once he catches up, then we’ll see what happens with future song writing for Sadistic Intent.
When you will finally end up booking a new studio time for Sadistic Intent, I´m very sure you want to make everything right this – this including f.ex. a producer that has an understanding for your kind of old school Death Metal, plus having enough time to record the songs properly without any rush for anything. Pre-planning is the right keyword for a good final result, do you agree with me?
Rick: I agree. Hopefully we’ll be able to record it ourselves though, he-heh…
Last label Sadistic Intent worked with, was German Iron Pegasus Records that released this limited edition of 7” EP MORBID FAITH in three different pressings – and RESURRECTION OF THE ANCIENT BLACK EARTH, which was a sort of compilation-LP, in three different pressings, too. I sincerely have to admit that they did a really splendid job with those two releases, so do you think they might be a very ideal and potential label for Sadistic Intent to work with in the future as well?
Rick: Iron Pegasus did a great job, I guess we’ll see what the future has in-store for us.
I´m curious to know why is Sadistic Intent´s homepage still under construction? It´s been in that state for quite some time already, so when it will be up and running again?
Rick: Actually, we have not been able to log onto our site. We called up the company and we had access for a short period of time and then it went down again. Sometimes I think we are cursed, ha-hah!! For now, we have a friend running the official Sadistic Intent My Space site that can be found at www.myspace.com/666sadisticintent
What about Dark Realm Records? Do you have any plans to continue releasing new records from some certain bands in the coming months? As far as I can remember, the latest release on Dark Realm Records was Witchmaster´s VIOLENCE & BLASPHEMY even if it´s been as long time as 7 years when it was released.
Rick: At one point, there used to be four of us running the shop and label, but now it’s just Bay and I. The reality is, just running the shop itself keeps us very busy, it’s time consuming. Perhaps one day we’ll continue with the label but for now, we’d rather concentrate on the actual shop.
I suppose your store “Dark Realm Records” in Downey – CA, has been keeping you guys constantly busy over the years if I´m not mistaken? Anyway, have you still arranged some autograph sessions in your store whenever you get a realistic chance for that?
Rick: I don’t mean to belabor the point, but running the shop has certainly kept us busy on a constant basis throughout the years. There’s literally always something to do, work is really never ending. Regarding the autograph sessions, we’ve already had several bands such as Exodus (with Paul Ballof), Dimmu Borgir, Morbid Angel, Entombed, Mayhem, Dissection, Cannibal Corpse, Marduk, At The Gates, Enslaved, Incantation and I’m sure a couple more I don’t recall at the moment. In the last few years, we’ve had bands like Sodom, Destruction, Kreator, Dark Funeral, Unleashed, Cryptic Slaughter (in-store re-union),Jeff Becerra of Possessed and if we get the chance, we will continue to organize some more in the future. These autograph sessions bring back memories and when I think about the very early days of the shop (1993-94), I can’t help but remember when the general consensus was that extreme metal was dead or dying. We had a large percentage of people telling us things like “this scene is dying, why did you open up a shop like this” and yeah, the Los Angeles metal scene at the time was not in great shape but we refused to close the shop. Since 1987, Sadistic Intent had been involved with the international underground movement and we knew it was not dying. However in L.A., the majority of the scene was not very aware of the underground. When we first opened the shop, a lot of the original extreme metal bands like Possessed, Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, Sodom, Destruction, etc. were no longer known as they were in the mid 80’s, but we put up their cult classic albums and posters on our walls and pushed the essence of Death/Black Metal, that was just the tip of the iceberg. With that in mind, I’m proud to have done our part to keep the cult alive. Like we would say back then, this is not a trend for us. The autograph sessions have been a positive experience for the bands and fans, and it proves to me that things have come along way since we first started. I’m sure one day our time will come to an end, but for now we shall continue…
Knowing how busy you are these days due to so many things, I therefore wanna end this interview and thank both of you for your precious time with all these questions, Jeff and Rick. Best of luck for both Sadistic Intent and Possessed for everything that you may do in the future. May your paths be always successful and rewarding for you guys…
Rick: Luxi, on behalf of Jeff Becerra and myself, thank you very much for your support throughout the years, it is certainly appreciated. Last but not least, infernal hails to all of you who continue to embrace our efforts! Keep raising high the horns of Hell!!!