Warbringer Guitarist John Laux
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
What was the hotbed for some of the most talented and successful Thrash Metal bands back in the ´80s? California, USA. What about these days? California, USA could be the right answer for that again if such new leagues of ferocious Thrash Metal acts as Merciless Death, Fueled by Fire, HeXeN, Dekapitator – amongst others, were anything to go by.
From California, USA, comes Warbringer, whose strong potential was also noticed by Century Media Records who recently signed the band. The band´s latest 5-song EP, titled ONE BY ONE THE WICKED FALL, is what everyone of us expects from old school Thrash Metal: Irresistibly powerful, catchier-than-your-grandma´s-ancient-sun-hat, menacing and aggressive in-yer-face Thrash Metal that is rooted deep in the ´80s era of Thrash Metal. What more could you possibly ask for?
I was contacted by the band´s wild 6-string torturer John Laux about telling what´s going on in the Warbringer camp these days, and John was kind enough to reveal about their deal with Century Media to Metal-Rules.com how it happened indeed, local bands raising from their cellars into the fame (Merciless Death, Fueled by Fire, etc.) – and just about much more…
Good day John! What´s going on in your side of the world these days? Obviously Warbringer is keeping you guys somewhat busy for one particular reason of which you probably would like to reveal something about to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?
Hey! Thanks for your time – Yes, I hope many people have heard by now, we’ve inked a deal with Century Media. We’ve been working all summer in the studio have just finished tracking the record. By the way, I would like to introduce myself as John Laux, I play guitar for Warbringer.
What kind of feedback did Century Media give you about your stuff exactly? Were they totally blown away by your stuff right away, or were they more or less like “You guys are good, so please give us some time to think whether we have some use for a band like Warbringer in the Century Media family. Ok?”?
Marco came and saw us when we opened for Toxic Holocaust almost a year ago. The band has really improved since then. After the show he came right up to some other members and let them know he thought we had a lot of potential, but we defiantly weren’t up to snuff back then. This was back when we just had our BORN OF THE RUINS EP out. We had to show them that we could make a leap by improving our live act and the quality of the music. This was displayed by our second EP and a few good gigs!
Were there any other labels out there that became interested in signing Warbringer right after they had got to hear some of your stuff, or was it actually only Century Media Records that showed some serious interest toward the band?
Heavy Artillery really was the first label to show us and a few other bands from our scene any interest. We were offered a chance to submit 2 songs for the SPEED KILLS… AGAIN compilation. We were so excited about that back then, and now the record deal blew us away! Metal Blade showed a lot of interest after we released ONE BY ONE THE WICKED FALL. Once the buzz about the singing picked up we got offers from Nuclear Blast and 1 or 2 other independents to sign.
Before you guys will enter the studio to record your first ever full-length album for Century Media, naturally you need to have all the songs ready for the album. So, what´s gonna be new on it – and how much you think you´ll use your old songs for it?
Honestly, half of its new material and we couldn’t be more excited about them. We worked really hard to finish a bunch as many new songs to help keep the album interesting as it twists and turns. The previously unrecorded tracks are, “At the Crack of Doom”, “Combat Shock” and “Systematic Genocide”. I think most of our fan base is familiar with “Dread Command” and “Instruments or Torture,” they will be included as well. Older material includes; “Total War”, “Shoot to Kill”, “Beneath The Waves”, “Born of the Ruins”, “Hell on Earth” and “Onslaught.” For the bonus tracks we recorded 2 Zombie songs, “Night Slasher” and “Humans to Kill”.
How are these new songs musically compared to songs on your latest EP, ONE BY ONE THE WICKED FALL? I guess what´s certain you won´t give an inch as far as intensity and aggressiveness of your new songs are concerned, correct?
Hell ya!! The new songs show stronger influences from carefully selected elements of Black- and Death Metal bands we love. We always try to make the next song heavier, darker and more dynamic than the last. So far the crowd gets into every new number as much as the last so we believe were on the right track. If we use a blast beat we make sure not the next part doesn’t stray to far from the true trashing backbone of our music.
Have you already discussed who might be the ideal producer to work with you guys for your debut album that could have enough ear and understanding for your kind of old school Thrash Metal?
We already found him, his name is Bill Metoyer. I couldn’t imagine a producer more perfect for the job. He is more than qualified to work with a thrash band. Under his belt are Slayer’s first 3 records, Helstar´s classic, NOSFERATU, Fates Warning – and a ton of other bands that have had an enormous impact on our music. He´s an easy going in the studio and is working on the record as hard as we are. We’ve caught a few quirks we never noticed in our practices/jams and may never have identified and polished with out his input.
All the feedback about your latest EP, titled ONE BY ONE THE WICKED FALL, has basically been overwhelming and very damn flattering indeed… Are you any surprised how much there still is old school thrashers out there, digging your type of stuff what you guys are doing?
Absolutely, when we were writing that material the crowd was still very local, we weren’t expecting any the attention the EP received. It´s very fortunate and I am very grateful. I think the effort we put into its production out of the little time we had in the studio really shows.
There seems to be a huge passion for metalheads in the California area to grab their instruments and start playing old school Thrash Metal to bring it back to the scene again as strong as possible. This proves people wrong – old school Thrash Metal isn´t dead. On the contrary, it´s alive and doing really well as far as all these new bands coming from your area are concerned! Bands like Fueled by Fire, Merciless Death, HeXeN, Execution, Dekapitator, Exmortus, Sacrificer, Grim Death, Malicious Assault, D.D.T. and the likes, speak great volumes that Thrash Metal is here to stay. Do you somehow feel a strong urgent need to agree with my statement?
Yes, the sound hangs around for a reason. Thrash Metal has this amazing live quality to it live that you can never forget. All the bands you mentioned have all have the same passion for the music that we do. It´s great that it´s gathered momentum and created a considerable demand.
How much do your friends in some other bands try to spread the name of Warbringer around for you and support the band the best they can? Have you found this ´free promotion´ helpful for the band? How much has all this promotion made the band known all around the world in general?
Honestly at the heart of the scene there’s a small hint of competition and it´s really a good thing, it drives every band to push themselves further. We tried to get our name out buy opening for as many local acts as we could, and were never afraid to play on a bill that lacked any support for a Thrash band. It´s been really motivating to see that we have some fans who go out of there way to support us.
When Warbringer was started, was each of your main intention to make Warbringer to sound like you could be easily mistaken to any bands from the ´80s period of Thrash Metal?
We have a strong stance on this regard. Its funny but true, our first song is very reminiscent of Manowar! As our tastes in underground metal grew the sound took root in our music as we developed.. We want to use all the tactics an honest traditional metal metal band would employ while trying to push forward and broaden the sound in the directions many death and speed thrash bands in the late 80’s and early 90’s were experimenting with before thrash really caved in and died out.
How important and vital is it for you personally that when people get to hear Warbringer´s music, they kind of automatically spit these three words out: “Old school Thrash!!”?
Fuck ya! But we also realize the bar has really been pushed up since the 80’s. We hope anyone could turn on our CD and say: “Wow, this is fucking intense / brutal / or aggressive” because that’s the only way we can really try and make ourselves stand out. The strict and true 80’s sound has already been fully realized and perfected on a number of classic records.
Could you tell what bands were the true influences for Warbringer in the beginning that have influenced the band one way or the other – either musically or lyrically?
We have real passion for the spirit of Heavy Metal, our vocals try to capture the spirit of Judas Priest combined with the darker attitudes with a band like Possessed. Personally my inspiration for riffs comes from the Thrash bands that were more technical or willing to blend with Death Metal. Bands like Demolition Hammer, Sacrifice, Pestilence and whatever else we think sounds interesting.
Before you baptized the band as Warbringer, you were called Onslaught. Did the name change come in question because the British thrashers made their reunion? Why didn´t you keep the name and change it to ´Onlaught LA´? That wouldn´t have sounded THAT bad in my opinion, would it?
We were really young, and honestly had just started listening digging up old metal records. As soon as that came to our attention we had to think up a new one because we had to be more original and taken more seriously than that..
How did you guys find each other? Are some of you old school mates that have shared the similar interest for metal music for many years already, or have you possibly met each other at some gigs?
Pure luck, chance, and sheer determination. We are spread out all over within a 50 mile radius off each other. Our drummer (Ryno) and new guitar/ex-drummer (Adam) had been playing Thrash and metal for years before we started. They were much more than experienced musicians than the rest of the band when we were starting. There expertise and precision gave our sound a huge jumpstart up the ladder. We would practice for hours, playing songs over and over shaped up as quick as we could.
How would you describe each band member by a few words? How are they in person?
Everyone is very unique and is allowed a very democratic position in any decision making process we are involved with. This allows the music to represent a very balanced range. Everyone is kicking and pushing as hard as the next to keep things working. John and I are extremely expressive on just about every issue. More often we tend to agree with each other. Ryan is the oldest, and honestly one of the most reliable members of the band. Adam is a real blessing because of his natural & unique knack for any instrument he touches, Andy and I are brothers and despite his age I have always found him to be very mature (in most cause more than I am) and dependable. Were all into the same badass video games, movies and music as the next metal head spawned on this earth.
Doing gigs is of course a very important part of promotion. What are some of the coolest shows you´ve done thus far that have stuck in your minds better for some reason or the other?
Safari Sams w/ Hirax was HUGE for the local acts. A lot of labels had some reps checking the bands out there. Then The Whisky with Exodus was absolutely amazing for us. We cant wait to tour with them.
Andre from HeXeN already told me that the club scene in LA to play gigs, is pretty darn good, even for metal bands over there (even if all-metal clubs are still missing from your area). Do you consider it fairly easy for Warbringer to get gigs as well? I guess such clubs as Troubadour, The Whisky and The Key Club are all very familiar to you already – and not only for playing gigs, he! ;o)
I haven’t seen many or any local shows on the strip anywhere else than The Whisky really. The Knitting Factory is one of our favorite places to play. There are a ton of smaller clubs in there area that we depend on to keep the scene going.
I guess once your album´s out, we Europeans can expect to see you guys playing at least some gigs here on the European soil, can´t we? ;o)
Yes, that is a prospect we are very excited to realize. And as mentioned before you guys can already expect a few bonus tracks from Adam & Ryans band Zombie.
What would be an ideal tour line-up for Warbringer if you got this great opportunity to hit on the road and start playing around the globe? Could Testament possibly be one of those bands… or Destruction even?
We are lucky enough to go a country wide tour with Exodus! I know our agent has Destruction and a whole host of great acts on his rooster, so yes, we most likely will be supporting a number of classic acts.
What´s your take on all these reunions of some certain Speed/Thrash Metal bands (Exodus, Destruction, Onslaught, Heathen, Holy Terror, etc.) that split up for many years, and were then resurrected from the dead? In my opinion as long as they can still deliver their goods in a decent enough way, then it´s all fine by me, but if some of them mistakenly try still to live up for their past, glory times, then just forget it…
Many of them are doing a really good job! I know it’s just a few years old now but Destructions THE ANTICHRIST was a pretty darn near perfect Thrash record for me. It´s even better because people get a chance to see and hear something we thought was gone forever a few years ago.
So, what do you hope to achieve with Warbringer within 2007-2008?
To write more sick material and to continue to bring our live act to as many audiences as humanly possible.
Thank you John for your time for answering to all these questions and all the best to you and Warbringer. If there´s still something you´d like to say to conclude this interview session somehow, feel free to do it now, John! ;o)
Thanks a lot for your time Luxi! I just want everyone who enjoyed the EP to know that the CD is going to blow EP out of the water in every respect and will be out very early next year. Thanks to all of our fans for all of your continued support and interest in Warbringer!