Bringers Of The Storm Before The Calm
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
For the devoted community of Thrash Metal, California-based Dekapitator surely offers some thrills in this on-going year. The band is about to start playing gigs again, and what´s even more pleasing for fans is the 2nd album. Obviously very fittingly titled THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM, it will be released during this summer via Relapse Records. As we should already know, a frighteningly heavy & ripping old school Thrash Metal is Dekapitator´s own playing area, and undoubtedly many of us want to share the same box with them when the new album is out.
The 4-string torturer, Dan Bulldoze from Dekapitator reveals many interesting details about their forthcoming Thrash-tornado THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM. He also gives his personal views about both the past, and current, state of the metal scene – not to mention how much he rightfully lov… (er…!), loathes some of those certain hyped bands that MTV wants to consider saviors of today´s metal scene.
Now let´s unleash our beloved beast and hear what Dan has to say about the common things surrounding us in this cruel world. We´d better fall silent and listen to him carefully as words of wisdom have hardly sounded any more convincing and stronger than those spit from Dan´s mouth…
What´s going on in the sunny Bay Area, California these days? Chilling out under a burning sun with a bottle of whiskey in your hands, or what?
It´s that aweful time of year right now in Northern California. It goes from pouring rain to 105 blistering heat in one 24 hour period. The best place for anyone is inside with your headsplitting vinyl spinning and a bottle of Wild Turkey at the ready.
DEKAPITATOR WILL DESTROY… WE WILL OBEY
Dekapitator introduced themselves to the world by a storm commonly known as your debut album titled WE WILL DESTROY… YOU WILL OBEY that was a total onslaught of ripping old school Thrash Metal at its finest form – and very well received by the metalfans all over the world. Now when you have got some more distance to that album, what do you think of the songs on it? Still like them as much as you did when the album came out in 1999?
I still enjoy the album very much. I think it never gets old when you rip into “Release the Dogs” live and the crowd roars when they hear the first riff play. When it kicks in the place goes wild. Though some of the songs we feel we can play a lot better now that we have progressed over the years, we try to change things up live. We have a whole new awesome harmony part to “Thundering Legions” that kills. People still say to me “you have to play “Haunted”, we demand you play it!”. So we still totally enjoy them just as much as the new songs.
THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM – THRASH INVASION CONTINUES…
THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM is the title of your forthcoming 2nd album, and musically you basically continue thrashing the same way like you did on your debut album already, the old school way just like those two sample songs (“Toxic Sanctuary” and “Run with the Pack” that are) on your Myspace -site prove it so loud and clearly. However, would you tell your own words what are the biggest changes or differences between the songs on your debut record and this new album of yours, THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM?
The whole dynamic has changed for us. We have grown so much over the years as friends and musicians that it plays out on the way we write songs as well. Before it was let´s make that quickest Thrash song we can muster. Now we actually put quite a bit of thought and time in when we build songs. Most of the songs on then new album are quite longer than tracks on WE WILL DESTROY… YOU WILL OBEY. Also a lot more with the harmonies and solos with still keeping that break neck speed people love about us.
James Murphy produced your last album, and undoubtedly he did an excellent job on it. Did you use him to produce your new album, too – or did you find some other guy to take care of the production on this record? In which studio was THE STORM… recorded anyway?
We used James back when he was still in Testament and his studio was located in Oakland. We recorded THE STORM at our friend Matt Widners studio. Matt is also the bass player of Cretin, County Medical Examiners and Citizen. We did it on our own dime and used it to shop for labels last year. After Relapse picked us up we flew out to Arizona and re-did some things at Arcane Studios with our good friend Ryan Butler (Landmine Marathon, Northside Kings).
It´s been 8 years since Dekapitator´s debut album, WE WILL DESTROY… YOU WILL OBEY, was released by Black Metal.com Records. Why did it take so many years from you guys to record your 2nd album? Let´s face it, 8 years is a damn long time…
You got that right. As you know the other members had other bands with bigger tour demands. Dekapitator never had a chance to really get off the ground. Now with Exhumed on the shelf we really decided to give Dekapitator a full push instead of just a side project with a few shows a year. A lot has changed over the last 8 years including the scene. It´s a great time for the Bay Area Thrash once again.
There nothing more old school than to release your music on vinyl these days. That´s exactly what happened with your debut album, WE WILL DESTROY…, so can we expect a vinyl release for THE STORM… as well – and will it also be Relapse Records that prepares to get a vinyl version out for it?
The Storm will have a limited vinyl release of 1000 on July 24. Make sure you pre-order at Relapse.com. I´m sure it won´t last very long.
We are of course curious to know how the final artwork for THE STORM… looks like, so would you mind describing it by a couple of well-chosen sentences?
You can view part of the artwork at the Relapse site. The whole cover opens up to a hellish scene with utter chaos going on. The artwork blew us away. We told Orion what the concept was and he just painted a masterpiece.
WORKING WITH RELAPSE RECORDS
Like it´s already a commonly known fact, it´s going to be Relapse Records that will release this new Dekapitator album around in July/August this year. What kinds of things actually made you to choose Relapse to release it eventually? I guess it has partly to do with the fact since Exhumed, Matt´s other band, has been on Relapse for years already, so the connection was already there for Relapse´s direction? Does this correct?
This is correct. We sent the album out to several labels and had contact with many others including Relapse. But after we thought about it we just pushed for Relapse because Matt and Andy are so use to dealing with all the staff there. It´s easy to talk them into your vision. The artwork on this album is a great example. I think we make the correct choice.
Did you sign this deal for just this one album, or is it a multi-album deal with them?
We have a multi-album deal. We are actually ready to begin writing the next album. THE STORM is almost two years old now to us as far as recorded. Even though no one has yet to hear it, HA HA!
ABOUT RALLYING THE TROOPS AGAIN
D. Attacker almost just recently parted ways with the band. What made him to do such a decision? He anyway contributed your forth-coming album with some killer leads and stuff, so I guess there must be a very good reason behind this unfortunate setback why he´s out of the band nowadays. Could you go on and enlighten us about this a little bit more…
Parting ways with Attacker was very hard. There is a huge void there that is almost impossible to fill. Trust me we do not have many takers right now. Attacker for the 40 minutes on stage was awesome, the Attacker off the stage was another story. It was just becoming too large of a problem for all of us. The whole situation just sucks.
What about his replacement then? Have you already found a suitable and motivated enough guy to fill up his worn-out tennis shoes?
Right now all we have is possibly Jason from Splatterhouse (ex Manacer). But there is a milage issue due to the fact he live all way up Portland. Also talks about former Exhumed member Mike Beems entering the slot. Like I said it a very hard slot to fill.
You have also told that if you won´t find a replacement for him within a reasonable time, you have some backup plans ready to move on and hire some sort of fill-in guitarist so that you could hit on the road with Dekapitator as soon as possible. So, being a curious fuck that I am, who´s this temporary ´fill-in guitarist´ of Dekapitator?
We have some local guys from Fog of War and Hatchet who are willing to fill in a few shows but no final takers yet.
DEKAPITATOR INVADES TO YOUR TOWN
Talking about playing live a little bit next, Dekapitator is going to perform at Goregon Massacre Fest II on June 22nd, together with many other bands like Nunslaughter, Ghoul, Menacer, Funerot, Exhausted, etc. I´m sure you guys are really looking forward to playing there and are really eager to perform your new songs off THE STORM… there already. My honest guess is that your set there will actually contain mostly songs off your new album as I strongly believe you want to get as much promotional work done for it as possible during this summer – and playing these shows is one of those bets ways to do it, right?
Our set is usually about half new and half old; about 5 songs from each album. The Goregon fest is going to be amazing. I´m just bummed Menacer is not playing now. Depending on the Attacker vacancy we will figure out what set to play. People wanna hear the old stuff. A lot of folks have not seen us because we rarely played outside of The Bay.
What other shows do you already have booked for Dekapitator for this summer? Any realistic possibilities to witness Dekapitator´s raging thrash storm here on the European ground during the coming months?
We have a few plans this summer for some west coast mini stops like Vegas, LA, San Diego, Seattle, etc. We still need to get over there and make up that tour with Toxic Holocaust we had to cancel. There are talks about us heading over there sometime in the fall. We need to get over there very soon.
Are there some festivals here in Europe that you could hopefully do with Dekapitator some day? Like Wacken? With Full Force? Bang Your Head!!! Tuska? The best thing here in Europe are absolutely many, well-organized open air metal festivals that are arranged every summer, and it´s a real pity that Americans aren´t that enthusiastic about arranging these all-metal festivals the same way like we Europeans are for some strange reason. You really have something to learn from us… ;o)
Trust me we are very enthusiastic about playing those festivals. I hope next year we can get on those bills. I have all the Wacken DVD’s and I just crave on how rad that would be to attend these ragers let alone play on one of the stages. Exhumed got to play a few years ago and I was very pissed it wasn’t us. We had the Murderfest over here a few months ago and it was no Europe fest let me tell you. I think America has a whole has a lot to learn from Europe about metal period. Kaos is playing one of those festivals this summer. Their NEW CREATION demo from 1990 is amazing classic Thrash. Check them out if can. But yes please! Festival organizers, book us next year!!
Btw, what are some of the best venues in your area for metal bands to play gigs that you could recommend to any band if they stop by near by your location where you live?
Well, after The Pound closed it´s been somewhat hit and miss. The best place was the Balazo Gallery in SF. An all ages venue that survived booze and had thrash gigs all the time. Ya, that was not gonna last long. Not much else. I hear The Pound is to reopen out by Slims but who knows. If you are in Sacramento there is still The Boarwalk. Gilman is still around, no fucking beer in that dump. Man, it´s just depressing around here. Wish it was Germany, HA!
THE 2ND COMING OF THE BAY AREA THRASH
What should also be mentioned, it´s simply great to see this 2nd wave of Speed/Thrash Metal bands coming from the California area – bands like Dekapitator, Merciless Death, HeXeN, Warbringer, Exmortus, Fueled by Fire, Imperious Rex, etc., leading all this 2nd invasion of Speed/Thrash Metal bands from California, USA. Can you explain from your own point of view why playing old school Speed/Thrash Metal has become a popular thing there amongst kids again? What is so great about this many of these young bands have truly managed to capture this ´80s vibe into their own sound, just like Merciless Death and Fueled by Fire, for example. I guess you can pretty much subscribe all this what I just said in these couple of lines above…?
It´s been the most bizzare thing ever. I went to a Kreator show about four years ago and saw this little band called Devastator from a small town in bum fuck northern California town called Colfax. These kids all under the age of 18 were playing true and classic Thrash. I wondered how the fuck kids at such an age would find out about thrash let alone play it and resemble bands I loved so long ago. After we got out of playing bars and started with the all ages venues we noticed that it was not just one band but an army of bands and fans that love true Thrash Metal. I have no idea where it started or why it is as big as it is especially in the Bay and LA. All I can think is that it´s a backlash from the poser metalcore shit MTV2 has forced down our grills for the last few years. Also Municipal Waste kicked the door wide open for all of us with relentless touring. We have had the pleasure of playing with such fine acts from our area as Devastator, Hatchet, Fog of War, Warbringer, Merciless Death, Fueled by Fire and Whitch Haven. All shows have been epic and our best so far.
What is also great some of these bands that split up in the end of ´80s in the first half of ´90s, have made their comebacks (Onslaught, Death Angel, Sacrifice, Exodus, Heathen, Holy Terror – just to name a few), so it could be claimed Thrash Metal as its own genre, is doing really well these days. Do you feel like we still should see more comebacks of some certain Speed/Thrash Metal acts that ruled on the face of the earth during the ´80s? I´m actually referring to bands like Forbidden, Dark Angel, Artillery, Slaughter Lord, Vio-lence, Deathrow, and the likes here…
We had a last great old Bay Area Thrash resurgence when “Thrash of the Titans” took place. It was great to see once again Forbidden, Vio-lence, Heathen, Legacy. Then it was gone. Vio-lence did a few shows after that and Forbidden was once again done. I don´t know if reforming from this side of the globe is a good thing. I really wish someone would repress the old underground Thrash demos from here like Epidemic, Horde of Torment, Prophecy, Laughing Dead, Wrecking Machine, etc. They are still epic to this day and a lot of new people would love these bands. I think Artillery, Deathrow, Atrophy and Cranium would be awesome to hear from again. But like you I can always look back to the time when I was actually at these shows.
AH, THOSE TRULY WERE THE TIMES – THE ´80S…
How much do you miss the ´80s metal scene in general? I think that both of us think somewhat equally by stating the 80´s was simply the best and most superior era for metal generally compared to any other decade of Heavy Metal. No other decade can beat the golden era of ´80s metal… simply nothing – never ever!! There´s not a slightest question about that the best Heavy Metal albums were created in the ´80s, the best Speed/Thrash Metal albums were churned out in the 80´s – and even some of the best Doom Metal (Candlemass, Trouble, etc.) as well as some of the best Death Metal albums (Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, Pestilence, etc.) were released in the ´80s period of metal. Uh, do you still feel like adding something to this conversation…?
That says it all. My first club gig at 14 was at the Stone in ´88 to see Voivod and Vio-lence. Every show at the Omni and the Stone I went to are still there locked in my memory. I could go on and on about how great it was to be around at that time. To be a metalhead in the 80′s and for me living in The Bay… The best!!
As for album cover artworks, Ed Repka used to do many album covers during the 80´s for many metal bands (for Death, Atheist, Evil Dead, Megadeth, Possessed, Massacre and so on) – just like Dan Seagrave did the same for many (Death) metal bands (Entombed, Dismember, Suffocation, Pestilence, etc.) during the 90´s. Nowadays, at least in my opinion, many album covers look way too polished, clean and digitally made – looking unimpressive and not interesting at all. What I loved in both Repka´s and Seagrave´s artworks, they were at least taylor-made for bands, and looked like real metal album covers – unlike most of today´s metal album covers that are simply faceless, lifeless and without any of their own identity. What are your own thoughts about this matter anyway? Do you miss both ´80s and ´90s as far as the metal album covers from those times are concerned?
I do miss the killer artwork and the package you use to get. Now you just get some crap a dork on a computer put together. I think a lot of bands would actually move more albums if they actually gave a shit about what they are selling. Now with all the downloading and digital buying going on, I don´t even see many people in record stores anymore. We were actually looking for Phil Lawyere (PLEASURE TO KILL, ENDLESS PAIN) to do the album artwork. That never panned out so we asked Orion at Relapse if he painted at all. That was our only demand for this album that the artwork be painted. He jumped at the chance and did an awesome job. If I walked by in a store and saw that cover I would buy it.
Are there any new, potentially good metal album cover artists out there that you consider somewhat talented and good at what they do and would even like to recommend to someone if one is looking for an album cover artwork for his/her own metal band? Does such a name as Anthony Clarkson ring a bell; a cover artist behind f.ex. Legion of the Damned´s new album, SONS OF THE JACKAL?
Nobody. I mean we had a hell of a time trying to find someone. Like you said with all the computer graphic crap going around it´s very hard to find a good metal artist. Unless you have a lot of cash around you can get Seagrave.
What´s your own take on the current state of the global metal scene in general? Do you find it annoying when some certain media like MTV consider falsely bands like Korn, Limb Bizkit, System of a Down, Disturbed, etc. as the new messiahs, or saviors of the whole Heavy Metal genre? Even if I haven´t watched MTV for personally for many years anymore, these types of statements annoy the hell out of me simply because those aforementioned bands have nothing to do with metal in the first place at all. Well, feel free to throw some of your steam and anger into this topic, too…
Those shit bands you mentioned have seemed to fallen by the wayside compared to the crap they are trying to force down us now a days as the “new face” of Metal. You have these stupid names for bands that sound like a Readers Digest story like “Every time I die, I fall to the dead I kill when my girlfriend brings flowers to my grave…” – and other lame shit. These wimps should stick to what they know, lame orange county straight edge. They think because they know how to try and sound like SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL that we will be fooled. Think again. I heard Trivium had piss bombs thrown at them when they opened for Maiden. Good!
How much do you use The Internet in order to find new, worth checking metal bands for yourself? Do you consider The Internet as the most important tool for yourself for that aforementioned purpose, or do you have some other ways to find the most interesting bands for yourself – like going to a local record store and check out the latest arrivals from them?
The Internet has total made everything very easy. Remember when it was all word of mouth and how much money you wasted on albums that sucked. I know I bought a lot of crap just because it was on Noise or Century Media, etc. Now you can sample, see video and read about a band before you plunk down your beer funds. I check new bands out every day at Myspace. It´s amazing how easy it is.
DAN “BULLDOZE” BUYS, PLAYS AND THROWS AWAY… (OR NOT)
As the very last thing, I ask you to review the following 5 classic Speed/Thrash Metal albums from the ´80s by a few, well-selected words:
1) Deathrow – SATAN´S GIFT/RIDERS OF DOOM (Noise, 1986)
Deathrow Riders of Doom is a great neck breaker.
2) Sacrifice – FORWARD TO TERMINATION (Diabolic Force/Fringe, 1987)
Sacrifice´s FORWARD TO TERMINATION is awesome, saw them open for Bolt Thrower in the early 90′s.
3) Artillery – TERROR SQUAD (Neat, 1987)
Artillery Terror Squad is a classic but you are gonna hate me because I say BY INHERITANCE rules!
4) Hobbs Angel of Death – S/T (Steamhammer, 1988)
Hobbs Angel Death ST is good, not big in my book.
… and lastly, Razor – EVIL INVADERS (Attic, 1985)
Razor´s EVIL INVADERS? FUCK THAT – Gimme Exciter´s UNVEILING THE WICKED over that album any time!
Thank you very much Dan for your time and talking to Metal-Rules.com about your new, forthcoming album THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM – and overall many other interesting things as well. And finally, the famous last words… they could be yours! So, go ahead, Dan! ;o)
Thanks a lot Luxi, this was a blast. Hope to out your way very soon. Remember always when your out of school you have NO CLASS!!