Municipal Waste guitarist Ryan Waste
Interview and pics by Luxi Lahtinen and Arto Lehtinen
Transcripted by Fucking Hostile
The crossover thrashers from Richmond (VA), USA, have achieved a reputation of an outstandingly tight live band. In their concerts, surfboards tend to flip around, tremendous circle pits burn floors up, insane stage diving is seen, etc. All those kinds of things can be witnessed at the gig of Municipal Waste. The band´s latest album THE ART OF PARTYING is undoubtedly one hell of a package of raging crossover thrash – bringing several old school classic crossover/thrash names to the lips of anyone who dig bands from Crumbsuckers to Slayer.
Before this hot 4-piece crossover act ripped headbangers´ faces off at the Finnish Metal Expo, we had a small chat with the band’s guitarist Ryan Waste. Oh yeah, gotta admit Municipal Waste did indeed rule heavily that night for sure…
How important do you see to play in events like FME where people from record companies, festival organizers, bands and so on, all meet each other at the very same time?
I think it’s very important, I think just reaching as many people as possible is the key. And being our first show in Finland, I think it’s the best way to come out and reach a lot of folk at once. I think it’s excellent.
PARTYING OLD SCHOOL CROSSOVER THRU EUROPE
You are on the tour with Toxik Holocaust. Are they taking a day off somewhere waiting for the last gig in Denmark?
They’re at the Hanoi Rocks show right now! (laughs) I don’t even know what happened. I don’t know why they’re not up there with us. We just went and played The Boat last night in Stockholm. We had to split up with them. We’re just meeting up with them in a couple nights. We just split for 2 shows. That’s the only reason they couldn’t play The Boat. Every other show is with them. It’s been a blast.
So, you are playing with them throughout Europe?
Yes, every other show is with them in the U.K. and Europe, it’s been a blast.
Municipal Waste is considered as a crossover band that is influenced both by hardcore bands and thrash bands. What are some of those bands that you could consider as the strongest influences to you personally? How much have you been influenced by the 80’s crossover bands like Ludichrist, D.R.I., Crumbsuckers, etc.?
I would say Poison Idea for hardcore, I like Bad Brains. For crossover stuff I like early Cryptic Slaughter´s stuff, D.R.I., Crumbsuckers, Excel, etc. - bands like that. The bands that bridge the gap between metal and hardcore punk, so Excel is a top one for me.
What about thrash bands?
A lot of Canadian bands like Razor and Sacrifice and stuff like that. There really is too many bands to name. Of course, you have the Bay Area stuff.
Municipal Waste has got some kind of party image, beer drinking contents etc. Obviously that party image fits to you more than perfectly?
Well, we’ve been doing it a long time now and it’s starting to wear on us, partying too much. So we are trying to focus on the musical side of it more now. We obviously party, and we can’t deny that, but I think it’s more about the music now. I drank all night last night, but I don’t think it really needs to be the main focal point anymore. A lot of people see us as that; I want them to see us as a band.
The running time of your album is quite, app. 30 minute and 15 songs. Do you basically wanna keep that short to have intensive atmosphere on the albums?
I think less (laughs). We play fast, man. To keep the intensity of the songs, they are shorter. So we just get in, kick your ass and get out.
Two minutes or less, one minute or less, and kickin’ ass…
I think that’s where the hardcore comes in, the structure of the songs. There is no fillers in the songs, there’s not going to be a long one minute guitar solo. We are just going to play balls out fast, and then we are done. We feel no need to drag it out, you know?
Where do you usually get your inspiration for your lyrics and stuff, like having fun?
Yeah, we’ve always been inspired by our everyday lives, and it includes drinking, so that accounts for about 10 songs. But we also like concepts like fantasy and horror.
FROM INDEPENDENT TO MAJOR
You used to be on an underground based label like Amendment Records / Six Weeks that released a couple of EPs and split albums wit you. You were more into this "do-it-yourself" attitude back then to handle the business with the band?
It’s still that way, we don’t have a manager, we book our own tours. Outside of the label we still play basements and we still play houses. We will do a big show like this and then we will go play a warehouse. We still try to keep that part of us true, we’ll play a festival and then a small club; we like mixing the two. That’s the attitude, which hasn’t left us.
Earache has a pretty strong reputation as a long running metal label and they are still considered as a very big and remarkable metal label even nowadays. As you obviously have noticed yourself, the whole business with Earache is on a more professional level. Have they still given you free hands whatever may come to this artistic freedom, so you can basically do whatever you want to with the band?
They know where we were, what we were when we started and we haven’t changed. They definitely liked what they saw in us, and they have given us that. Because we have done it for so long and it was working, so why change that? I wouldn’t be on the label if they manipulated our artistic ability.
What about all of the promotional aspects of the label, are you happy about how they have been treating you so far?
Our process has been great, they are getting the records out there like they are supposed to do. So yeah, it’s been great.
Is there anything which they could have done even better for you from your point of view?
I would love to do like a big budget video where we get our heads chopped off and stuff (laughs). We’ve tried to do that. But that would be the thing that we want, because our band is very visual and artistic and we have a lot of ideas, but it’s hard to just put that on screen. We would like to do like a full length horror movie based around the band or something. But yeah, they are probably not going to fund that.
What Earache has done lately, they have signed some other thrash/hardcore influenced bands lately like SSS and Bonded By Blood. Does this sort of give you more of credit that Earache believes this kind of music style, i.e. hardcore and thrash, I mean?
SSS was actually friends of ours before they went on the label, the singer ‘Foxy’ actually booked shows and gigs for us, they are definitely good friends of ours. I am not too familiar with the other bands, I know they are signing a lot of thrash bands. It could be worse, they used to sign industrial bands.
SURFBOARDS, MOSHING AND CIRCLE PITS
You have done lots of touring with the band – touring in the States, Europe and Australia with Destruction, Gwar, Sick Of It All and so on. How important do you believe all this touring is for Municipal Waste regarding getting the band´s name on people lips?
All we do is tour, I mean this is our life. Energy is the key, maybe you don’t have it in you because you partied too much the night before. But you still need to get up there and get into it.
Municipal Waste´s shows are always very energetic, full-on thrashing events – and whenever you do a show, there´s always a huge moshpit going on in your concert. Do these pits sort of work as en extra fuel for the band when you see one going around like a madly raging tornado amongst the crowd?
Yeah, that’s how our shows are. You really can’t control what the crowd is going to do, we want them to jump off of the PA if they want to. It’s the crowd involvement that drives us, bottom line is that it’s going to get crazy when we play.
Can you remember where you have seen the hugest moshpit so far when you have played live?
Everyone keeps outdoing themselves night after night. I think we had 200 people ‘circle pitting’ in Redding, UK. The more people you get together the cooler it looks, I think we have had crazier shows with 100 people in a smaller room in our hometown, people just flying and piling on each other. Our hometown would probably take the cake. Have you seen our DVD? Then there is a clip on youtube from Daytona Beach, Florida where there is like 20 people at a time jumping on stage.
Where the heck these surfing boards came from? I have seen some videos where these boards are flying all around – and the same thing happened at Wacken last year?
Back when we started we would just bring anything that you could jump off of we would bring to the show, then people started bringing their own stuff. It seems that a safer stage dive would be something that you could have under you. We just like to have ridiculous things.
I suppose a sense of humour seems to be in a big role when MC throw a gig?
We like to make the audience feel welcome, to kind of break the ice, you know? We like to play fast and intense, but we like to stop and joke with the audience because it’s a show, we are here to entertain. I’ll even do some stand-up comedy up there.
Last summer when you played at Wacken, you did S.O.D’s cover “United Forces” and the whole place went beserk…
You want us to play it tonight?
Yeah… Please do!
Ok, we will play it. It’s just that easy.
FROM THE BASEMENT TO BIG ARENAS
You used to be more of an underground band in the beginning of the decade – and nowadays you are playing in front of huge audiences. Do you find it somehow scary to notice how you have achieved so much attention since you started out in the beginning of this decade?
We never thought it would ever get to this point. We are very happy with what has happened to us, we can only just be thankful that more people are catching on.
How often do you play in home town and what kind of respond do you usually get there?
We haven’t played in Richmond, VA (hometown) in almost a year because we’ve been on tour so much. It really means a lot when we play our hometown, because it’s just friends; we’ll even play for free. The last show we played was even a benefit show for a friend of ours who passed away, it was for his family. There is nothing like our hometown, it’s just an amazing place. Very small, like I said the shows there are crazier than anywhere. We make the people wait, and only play like twice a year.
Well, probably Richmond must have a full of nothing but MC fans and copycats of the band these days, heh…
Yeah, not really so much in our hometown, Richmond is so diverse. Any band that you can imagine is there, from Metal to Punk to Experimental. I think Richmond is different, everyone is friends but not everyone is trying to copy each other and do the same thing. I’ve seen bands that have taken our concepts and totally went with it; I feel it’s just a way in honoring us. I mean, look at what I am copying, I am not playing a new style or anything, I am bringing back something that was done 20-25 years ago. Maybe with us doing this, the kids well realize the old bands that originally did this as well.
You have also done this video called "Headbanger Face Rip" which indeed looks quite funny and cool all around. Anyway, there are some borrowed parts in that video from the Toxik Avenger movie. Did you get some problems with any censorship issues because of that?
Yeah, it was there for a little bit, and then it was taken down. We would love to get more gory than that, but then no one would ever see us.
Your bass player Land Phil has a side project called Cannabis Corpse. Where did he get the idea to form that side band?
Yeah, that’s our bass player’s project, more like death metal stuff. I think he just finished recording a new record.
What did Cannibal Corpse think about this tribute band?
They liked it, they’re into it.
Your drummer Dave Witte is a long time drummer in other bands like Burnt By The Sun and Human Remains. Was it an easy job to ask him to join the band?
Well, he moved to Richmond and we just became friends with him, we needed a drummer at the time and he actually was into our band, he liked the music. So we gave it a shot one day, and he was just sold after the first show. He saw the reaction from the crowd, and we just get along very well.
Dave´s still playing with Burnt By The Sun?
I think they did get back together and are putting out a new record.
Well, do you have any side project band?
I used to have a heavy metal band, like Judas Priest style. We were called Immortal Avenger, there’s still one member just holding on trying do the band still. One day I would just like to do a ‘NWOBHM’ band, because that is one of my other passions, just traditional heavy metal. I would like to do that and play the bass.
Did you get any releases out, demos or anything?
Yeah, we did an album, it’s pretty much a demo. I am still trying to work on something in the future.
What does Municipal Waste have in store for 2008?
Hopefully to come back and play the festivals in Europe, about June we should be back over.
The official MUNICIPAL WASTE sites: