INTERVIEW WITH HARALD OIMOEN
Harald Oimoen is the photographer, bass player, and a real walking metal encyclopedia of the Bay Area metal scene. Since 1999 he has been the part of the legendary crossover giant D.R.I. and been gigging all around, even though the band has been on hiatus because of the health issues within the band. Besides that, Oimoen has been the main architect creating the amazing book MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW which has a lot of never-seen-before pics from the early days of Bay Area thrash metal. Metal-Rules.com had the great pleasure to sit down with Oimoen and talk about D.R.I., the book, and above all, metal in general.
Interview and pics by Arto Lehtinen
D.R.I . – A-FIVE-YEAR- PLAN
We were supposed to do the interview in Finland, but it got cancelled because of Spikey’s health issues. So what’s up with Spikey’s hand right now?
Well he got this thing called trigger finger, like a gun trigger. He jammed his hand into a door knob by accident, and it ended up and got his middle finger on his guitar neck hand – it ended up. So he couldn’t even bend it. He’d wake up and his middle finger would be stuck like in this position. So it’s pretty wild. He went to therapy, and they were going to do surgery, and then he decided not to do the surgery then he can go into therapy and he’s been doing exercises. Then little by little, he built up his strength again in the finger, but it’s almost like a freak accident kind of thing. This is after the colon cancer – it almost killed him before. So he’s like, what’s next? But he’s a total trooper about it. I mean you couldn’t even tell if there’s anything wrong with him, even when he had cancer. He never ever complained in everything. I mean he’s pretty much the leader of the band. Without him, it’s like, we’re like lost sheep, you know. But he’s doing great now. He hasn’t had any problems with his fingers. We had another gentleman fill in for a couple of shows in South America, Ed Loco from Purple Abused. But Spike’s back in full power now, so everything is great. His colon cancer is all good, so hopefully, he’ll have a clean bill of health and won’t have to cancel any more stuff. We wanted to play with Slayer so bad in Finland. That was going to be a highlight of my life.
Do you think that this kind of setback has put D.R.I. into some kind of jeopardy because you have to be careful if something is going to happen again that you have to make it ?
Yes, well, you can only cancel so many times and then people won’t even come see you anymore. It’s like Venom – I guess it was coming to The States a couple of times, and we were supposed to play a big festival with them called November to Dismember and they called right before that and then they cancelled that one again. It was only about them having – Well somebody forgot their passport or something like that. But when Venom finally came to San Francisco, a bunch of people didn’t go, because they didn’t think they were going to show up. So I mean it’s tough for promoters too, because they advertise this stuff. It’s like it’s like that Slayer Show in Finland. I saw these killer ads and stuff and you were on the bill, and then nowadays people come from miles and miles away just to go see that one band or whatever, and then all of a sudden they travel hundreds of miles and then the band doesn’t play – It’s very disappointing for the band. Hopefully that’s not going to happen again. Spike’s doing a lot of the booking now. So I mean he knows that’s going on. But we apologize to anybody that traveled long way to see us and then we ended up not playing. But Spike is doing the booking now. So it’ll be a lot more right on the money, you know?
You have been in DRI since 1999, 15 years now. You are basically a “new” member, but do you think DRI is a nostalgia thing, because the band hasn’t released a new album since 1995 and keeps touring and playing the old material?
It’s kind of weird with DRI. I’m not on any of the albums which is kind of weird. One website said I have the distinction of being in a band the longest, and not having recorded anything with them. I mean I’m kind of bummed because I want to make my mark, I want to just. We recorded a couple new songs in Germany about seven or eight years ago and nothing really became of it. But unfortunately, when we play the newer songs, the crowd doesn’t get into it that much. When you play the old songs, they go totally ape shit, they go ballistic, you know? So we might re-record some of the old stuff, the better production stuff. That seems to have a backlash a lot of the times. People like it the way they remember it. So I don’t know, it’s kind of up in the air. But as far as being a nostalgia act, people want to – Me, personally, I mean I love music, I go to party like that. 15 concerts a month easily – And I want to hear the songs I want to hear and so many times, you go see a band and then it’s like, we’re going to play the whole new album for you, you know.
Yes, exactly, exactly. And it’s hard to please everybody. But so many times, I go see a band, I’m not going to mention any names, but certain bands, and they play the songs that they think the crowd want to hear, or what they want to hear, and then at the end of the show, it’s like, this is one of my favourite bands ever, and they played all their shittiest songs, you know. And it’s so disappointing. So one thing I think is great is when the bands take a poll from the fans, what song do you want to hear? And then that’s the best way, I mean you can’t lose with that. I mean you got to give the people what they want. I wish every band did that because most people agree, I like, let’s say Y&T, they used to be like, one of my favourite bands, and they come like glammy, and sort of making more commercial and stuff. And they play for like, two, two and half hours and on a two and half hour set, maybe five songs are good. It’s just so disappointing because they can be so great, still – I don’t know, it’s really weird. It’s tough being in that position because you want to keep the people happy but I think some musicians get bored playing the same stuff over and over again. One thing about DRI is that the people that are into it are so into it. They’re with tattoos and everything. And I get this artwork from Brazil with the Brazilian flag and “happy birthday” and all that stuff, but we have some of the most dedicated fans ever. And another cool thing is that as we’re getting older, a lot of people bring their kids to the shows now. So it’s like second generation, you know. So that’s really cool. We’re seeing that a lot more now too.
But do the kids listen to metal after all if you think of this audience, which is older “a bit” more ?.
Yes, exactly. It’s definitely older crowd nowadays. But it’s great to see kids at the show too. In Los Angeles, we’ve been doing really good lately. There’s this whole group of Spanish or Hispanic people that come see us. We call them the satanic Hispanics and it’s just amazing. We play like the House of Blues sold out, 2,500 seats, totally sold out. It’s great to see this younger crowd getting into it too. And I talk to the kids and I say, ”How did you even hear about us? You know, we’re like a band from a long time ago”. And they said, “Like their older brother, or their dad got them into it”. So it’s great. It’s crossing over the generations, you know.
You are an old metal veteran basically, but have you ever thought about what’s going to happen to metal as those old bands like Deep Purple and Scorpions getting to the 70s and sooner or later, they have to quit and Iron Maiden and Judas Priest have slowed down, Slayer is on overtime right now. But do you think that the state of metal is a little bit in crisis because old bands are getting old leaving the market, but there’s no replacement and the young kids at the age of 15-20 are not going to concerts and like us, near 40, near 50 still sticking to metal, but it’s not rebellious anymore.
Yes. That’s a tough one. I mean the only thing what that does – we can’t quite tour as long – for as long moments at a time, you know. I mean before I joined the band, I was a bass roadie for the Four Of Kind tour in 1988, we toured for four months in the States, straight and no breaks. And that was just like brutal, you know. Even when I was younger. So that definitely affects a lot of touring and stuff, but I mean there’s still some this sort of thing coming up. I mean a lot of – There were thrash bands like SkeletonWitch and Warbringer and even like Municipal Waste who everybody compares DRI to so much. But it’s just pretty healthy I think. I mean it’s the healthiest it’s been in a while as far as the singing goes. But you know, like I said about this whole touring and stuff, it’s kind of in a weird point right now. It’s kind of like in a cross road. And there’s something to give it a little kick in the ass again. But as far as the Bay Area goes, like the thrash in the Bay Area, I think it’s like some of the healthiest it’s ever been. I mean Rob Flynn of Machine had, and Craig from Forbidden, they organized this thing a couple of weeks ago, it’s a black Sabbath tribute. And it was just amazing. Everybody came out for that. And I mean Testament. I went to the rehearsal for that because I had to play with DRI so I wasn’t able to go to the show, I was so bummed out I was going to miss it, so I went down to the practice, Testament’s studio in Oakland, and I’ve never seen such a great family, kind of good vibe atmosphere. They brought food, and the Metallica guys were there, and Testament, Forbidden, the Machine Head guys, Death Angel, and… Death Angel, I have to say something about them. Their new album is incredible and I can’t remember the last time a band had been around as long as they have. Came out with something so killer at this late, kind of late point in their career. It’s totally inspiring and I can’t say enough about the new Death Angel, it’s just amazing, I think.
Their new album is absolutely killer.
Yes. And it’s great. And like Machine Head, they still go it. I think they still got a lot of life left. Their stuff is just amazing. It’s great to see like Testament, Death Angel, Machine Head, and a few other bands, they’re putting out some of the best albums in their careers, I think, so far. And who would have thought at this point, when you are getting up to 40s and 50s that we’d be putting out some of the – I mean I wish I can say we – but they’re putting out some of the best stuff in their career, I think that’s great.
You say that those bands are putting the best album in their career, but doesn’t it make you to have a temptation to record a new D.R.I. album, but as you said you tried the new songs for the audience and didn’t get crazy about them - Do you think that problem those songs are completely unknown to the audience that they haven’t heard on the internet or… ?
That’s true. That’s a really good point. I mean they have to be able to – they want to hear the songs they know. And if it’s new, then they don’t got a chance to get into it yet. So that’s another problem. But then again, the internet thing is really helpful, but it’s kind of like — how long do you wait before you know, you can start playing songs that people like and stuff.I’d love to be on a DRI album. And hopefully at some point in the near future, I’ll be able to say I’m actually on an album finally. Because it’s strange, I mean don’t get me wrong, playing with DRI is like a dream come true for me. Here, I’m on a cruise ship playing, you know, who would have thought in a million years that I’d be doing this, you know. But as far as my creative musical influence, I really need to do something that has like my stamp on it instead of playing their songs all the time. So real quick about that is, I’ve been playing with — there’s a band from San Francisco that’s been around for like the 70s called Blind Illusion, and with Mark Bitterman, the singer, guitarist. And they did an album in the 80s called THE SANE ASYLUM. And I’ve been jamming with them on the side with this killer drummer. And we try to play all the same sound stuff. And we’re running some new material. And that’s just been incredible. I mean it’s great to actually play some songs that I actually had something to do with writing.
THE RETURN OF BLIND ILLUSION
Yes. Larry and Les from Primus and Larry from Possessed.
Primus started from the Blind Illusion, basically.
Exactly, exactly. Yes. Larry is just an amazing guitarist. One of the coolest guys ever too. I mean he was in Possessed, then he went into Blind Illusion, and then Primus is like – what a progression I mean from Death Metal to like this crazy weird funk stuff, you know. It’s great.
And Southpark (Laughter).
Yes, exactly. That’s another band that’s great too, man. They’re the coolest guys ever. I know all those guys for like years and it’s great to see they got so popular, you know.
They’re so original.
You can recognize them immediately.
Yes, exactly. But I mean who would have ever thought music that weird and interesting would ever become that popular, you know. That’s what’s fantastic about it. In the States, they’re really big, you know.
Yes. They were in the right place in the right time.
For sure, for sure.
MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW
As for the book MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW. I have seen some clips and photos of your book. It was really massive. How many pages?
It’s 300 I think.
Yes. It was a lot of work. It took like two years from start to finish basically. And Monte Conner from Road Runner. I was talking to him. I’ve always want to do a book my whole life, because I have so many photos ofthe scene back in the day. And I was talking to Monte Conner one day and I said do you know any good publishers I can put up something like this, you know. And he said to get a hold of this – Ian Christe. And Ian had this company called the Bazillion Points in New York and he had done a bunch of metal books, head-banging and cooking book and stuff. And we talked to him and he said it sounds like a great idea. And he suggested that an old friend of mine Brian Lu, another photographer from the Bay Area. Brian had like the earliest shots of Metallica than just about anybody had. So he figured get Brian in, on it too. And I have known Brian for years. We both grew up in the same city; Sunnyvale suburb outside of San Francisco. And so we had already known each other. He suggested we get Brian on it too. And then slowly but surely, all the photos from 35 million millimeter negatives, there’s like no digital photos in there at all. So, we had to scan all the negatives and ran this big 6,000 DPI machine and flew out to San Francisco. And then we started getting all the scans and then Ian, did a lot of art direction and stuff. So, we didn’t want to just a do a thing where it was like here’s a chapter on Slayer, here’s a chapter on Metallica. That was too like obvious. So, either Ian or Brian, come up with the idea to have it go by the clubs. We have a section on Ruthie’s in, and the Stone and everything, we did it like that. Ian organized everything and it came out, it’s just been amazing success since then. I couldn’t be happier with it.
Were all the negatives in good shapes ?
Yes, for the most part, I was smart enough to keep them in boxes and stuff you know, we organized them. But the quality, the books came out I mean it’s — I haven’t read like one bad review of the books. Everybody loves it. It’s done really, really well.
Did you have to go thru like a lawyer and ask them if you are able to release the book or did you have to ask permission from bands ?
Yes, that’s the thing. At first, I was a little iffy about putting some of the shots, there’s a couple of pictures of certain people doing certain things that the people wouldn’t have been that proud you know. Certain people partying you know, partying with difference substances, you could say. And I was little effie about that. But then again at this point, I’m 50 years old now, so it’s kind of like what do I have to lose. We didn’t really – okay with any of the bands. I have the rights to all the negatives. And at that time I took all the pictures, it was all cool with the band and everything. But this one Lars with a pile of some light powdery substance, and there’s one of Slayer sieg hailing. But I figured at this point, what do I have to lose. And the bands have all just love the books I mean James Hetfield bought like 10 copies to give out to all of his friends. So, it’s great, the bands specially love it. They think it’s like a yearbook, it’s like a time capsule. And one thing we didn’t want to do was try to make a history book, because you can leave that with somebody else. But some people are particular for details. So, Brian and Ian, they’re both like these heavy metal historians. They went on the internet and they made sure every single date in there is where that photo was taken, and if we didn’t remember where it was taken or what the date was, then we didn’t put it in there. And the photo caption on it too, some books have captions like picture of Lars playing drums, Lars headbangs as you look at the crowd and stuff. It’s like we thought that was kind of lame. People don’t need to have that there. They can see Lars’s headbanging or whatever. So, we just kind put just a minimum detail, the date, and where, and who it is, and like where it was taken. I mean the picture says a thousand words.. So, no I couldn’t be happier. It came out so great and Ian was a enjoy to work with. He’s done a bunch of other books since then. And hopefully he’s going to be putting our part two soon.
Do you think that the metal has become as well such a nostalgia thing, because of DVD documents, books about a history of several bands – It’s like as you say, time capsule in the past. So, is it like – oh, well nostalgia?
Oh, for sure. I’m totally nostalgic. And one of the coolest things too is, people that like weren’t there, they can kind of get a sense of what it was like. That’s one of the great things about the book, is you see everybody is so happy, and all the bands are hugging each other, and everybody is drunk and it’s all great times. One thing about this cruise I’m on right now is the camaraderie and stuff, this is the best vibes I felt on the metal thing in a long time. That’s what I miss about the old days. Unfortunately it has become kind of big business a lot. There were shots like Slayer hugging each other and you know best buddies and stuff, and it’s like it’s – I don’t know its lacking a little bit in that department. But this cruise is definitely the best like brotherhood kind of metal fight I felt in a long time. It’s been amazing. Working on the second part of this Murder in the Front Row, so I guess you and Brian, you kind of select the picture or lift which are not released anywhere. Oh, yes. I got a ton of stuff. Brian is probably not going to be doing the second one. He stopped taking photos a long time ago.
You are still taking photos?
Oh, I’m still taking photos; still going to concerts all the time. But I found so many negatives that I didn’t even realize I had. And the second one is going to be called – it’s going to be called, Murder 2: More Murder in the Front Row. And this one is not going to be just Bay Area stuff. I got photos like Kreator when they were in Disney land and stuff like that like in King Diamond, Celtic Frost when Tom Warrior was wearing Spandex and Anthrax t-shirt stuff. But the second one is going to be more international I think. It’s not going to be just Bay Area stuff. And it’s not necessarily all going to be stuff from the ’80s, they’re going to have like some newer stuff in there too. There’s shots like Machine Head, more recent stuff and you know, just everybody. It’ll be interesting to see because everybody from the first book is going to be the second book; but they’re going to be a lot older.
Have the fans and bands tried to buy these negative from you with some amount of money?
Oh, not the negatives. I will never part with the negatives. But I still have bunch of pictures. That’s another thing too. I could have probably done better as far as made a career out of photography, but I was more concerned with having a good time. That’s one thing that I think shows in the pictures. If I would have been a little more serious, I probably could have done more with it, but if it all ends tomorrow, if I get in a car wreck or if the boat sinks here or something, I would have been happy doing the book. That’s a great legacy to leave behind, I think. But nowadays, there is that kind of underground brotherhood melting death metal like in the 80s because the underground thing, you had to send a letter out the bands in order to — tape out, and you order to take more tapes and stuff like that what you’ve got to do and find new bands. But do you think the whole technology and the stuff like that has brought more new systems to discover bands or has it ruined the whole thing now somehow? Well, that’s the thing, it’s weird. I mean when I was growing and stuff you had to really search far and wide to find metal stuff. And that made it like a little bit more of a tight knit-brotherhood, you know. But as far as certain bands and stuff like now I mean the coolest thing ever is that, you can go on YouTube, you can put in the most obscure band you’ve ever seen. You’ll see band, they broke up 20 years ago, they did one album and disappeared. You go on the internet, you can find it. And that’s great I think, that part is great. But it’s almost too easy to get stuff now. Back in the day, people that were metal heads, there weren’t very many of us and when you found something like really cool like Iron Maiden in 45 or Kerrang Magazine or something then it was like, it was cooler because you had to work so hard to find it.
I remember when someone who got albums like Dark Angel. Everyone was bringing tapes, please tape it now.
Oh, yes. Sure, for sure. Yes, the whole tape trading thing too. Brian, the co-author there, he was one of the biggest tape traders ever. And he had the most amazing tape collection ever, and we heard about bands like Satan and the whole new wave of British metal stuff that came over. I don’t know. People are like – people don’t realize how lucky they have it today. If you get into a certain band, you can go to internet, get all these mp3s, download all stuff, watch these videos and stuff. And it’s such a different world now. It’s like if I knew then what I know now you know, it’s where the internet definitely changed things. I don’t think it made it any worse. If anything it kind of helped a lot of bands I think you know. It brought people together more, you know. This question I always wanted to ask you. One thing you commented on this Get Thrashed VD document. You said something like the whole thrash thing was kind of your old own thing in Bay Area at that time and you were surprised to see that were coming band from Australia, Canada coming Canada, even from European countries. Did you seriously think that the thrash was your own thing in Bay Area and you were not aware that those bands coming from other countries…It kind of in a way, but at the same time, a guy named Ron Quintana he put out a magazine called Metal Mania. And he was reporting stuff like King Diamond and Silver Mountain and Mercyful Fate, stuff like that. And we thought we had the best scene because I still think we have the best scene. But we were aware of all the stuff like that. People like Ron Quintana, he had a radio station. And from two until eight in the morning every Saturday we would play the most obscure stuff like from Spain and from you know, Sepultura when nobody heard of them and stuff.
HEAVY METAL IS THE LAW
The thrash thing was huge in the mid and late 80’s, when getting to the 90s the whole thing changed almost like overnight, death metal came from the underground – no one was interested in Testament etc and European thrash bands anymore and grunge also came strongly. Were you kind of worried as the old Bay Area metal maniac what happened ?
Yes, I just kind of got stuck in there you know, like Testament, they kept going. And it was definitely a rough time for metal, but it seems like metal kind of come and go, it goes in these phases, popularity. And I wasn’t so much worried. I’ve always played in bands, so it didn’t really affect me that much, but looking back on it, it’s like you know a lot of people say Grunge killed metal and stuff. I don’t know if that’s even the case, you know. It could have existed next to it.
Well Pantera came big.
Yes, Pantera, they filled a big gap there.
Yes, for sure.
Megadeth and Metallica. And those bands came really huge, but otherwise, these classic bands kind of disappeared from the map completely.
That’s true, that’s true. It’s weird. It’s almost like I can’t even explained it almost. A lot of people blame it on Grunge. I don’t think that’s really the case. I mean it kind of had its day at that time. People just wanted something different. But as far as I go, I mean I’ve still — I’m wearing ’70s stuff myself like UFO, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Aerosmith. That stuff is I think is timeless. And I’m more like stuck in the ’70s like Rush. Rush is my favourite band of all time. And look at them, I mean they put out — their last album is like one of the best things they’ve ever done.
Yes, exactly. Incredible. And it’s great to see that these people — one good example is Thin Lizzy, you know, when they’re around in ’70s, nobody really even gave a shit about them. They didn’t get enough credit I think. And now they’re like — they’re considered this you know, this classic band that everybody likes now, you know. It’s like where were those people in the ’70s, well a lot of them were bored I guess to say.
They changed their name to Black Star Riders.
Yes, and that was and I think was a really smart idea because Phil Lynott was the band you know. And without him – he was in Lizzy – It’s like Black Sabbath, if they ever went without with Tony Omi, it wouldn’t be Black Sabbath you know. Call it whatever you want but that was smart that they change the name. And I think that was a really good move on their part you know.
What about death metal as it became huge in the 90’s and some thrash guys didn’t get it to that as they were thrash fans to the heart and someone got into those bands ?.
Yes, death metal stuff definitely crept in there, but like you mentioned in Sweden like in Entombed and like one seeing there in Sweden. It definitely filled in the gap I think for sure. And that’s like Obituary, death metal bands like that, Cannibal Corpse and stuff, they’re still going strong too. Me personally, I’m not that much in death metal. I prefer more melodic vocals, you know. But I saw Obituary last night, it was one of the heaviest shows I’ve ever seen in my life, they were incredible I thought, you know.
They were incredible, yes.
Amazing. It was just like to slow down doom type stuff, just like as good as ever. So, death metal is healthier than its ever been. There is one band, Watain, I had a little problem with one time – yes.
I have seen the video (laughter)
Yes, they’re cool and everything. I thought they were amazing too. But I got a little drunk once at the Maryland Deathfest and I did this kind of stupid thing where I danced on stage, I do like this Russian vodka dance I call, where I do like lord of the dance, it was like my legs were up and down. And I kind of picked the wrong band to do that with – Watain was playing and I didn’t realize there were so serious and so — just so serious. Serious is the one word I can think of. And I did my dance on stage, and the whole band stopped playing and beat the shit out of me, I’m saying. And it was really weird. The weirdest thing was calling Spike. I was saying, Spike, you’re not going to believe what just happened you know. I guess I picked the wrong band to do the dance to you know. (Videolink)
Have you talked to them after that ?
I saw this – like a festival like a few months after that. I kind of apologized for my behaviour and he said don’t worry about it, he said we laugh about it every day, he said. So, there’s no DRI-Watain feud you know. I just picked the wrong band to do that with. I want to personally thank Dan Lucker too for saving my ass. After Watain kind of beat the hell of me then the security guards thought that I was a crazed stage diver. And they grabbed me and started roughing me up too. And if it weren’t for Danny Lucker who said No, no it’s okay, he’s with DRI you know. I started to show my pass and everything, I probably gotten even more beat up. But if gone YouTube there’s a clip I posted on there of eight seconds of tumbling. It’s under Watain dancing fool. I’m the dancing fool.
Have you done those called dancing things in the hey day of the 80s?
Oh, I used to do it all the time. Testament, they have probably more songs, you can do that to, that has rhythm, so that kind of dancing rhythm too. Now, I’ve done it a few times since then, but I’m a little more careful, I’ll make sure that the band knows I’m going to do it ahead of time. I’m usually friends with them too, ahead of time.
On the GET THRASHED dvd you said you were surprised to see bands coming out from Brazil, or Kreator coming from Germany, Celtic Frost from Switzerland, Stone from Finland and stuff like that, right?
Yes, of course. Yes, I was a little bit surprised. I thought it was great, that it was reaching out so far you know. It’s one thing I’m kind of proud of – Bay Area was definitely the first place, I mean you say in New York, but that came a little bit afterwards you know I think. Bay Area is definitely the place where thrash metal was born. Gary Holt said there must be something in the water there or something you know. But I’m just proud – I consider myself lucky to have been born where I was and to be there at the right time.
How it got to Germany?
I think it’s great. That’s the good question. I think the whole tape trading thing helped, you know. And people in Germany like you read Tom Warrior’s book, I mean his book is just like me growing up. I mean, I didn’t live with a bunch of cats and had a problem he had, and I wasn’t kind of like damaged like he kind of became a little bit you know. I mean that’s got to leave a scar on you and stuff on there, but I had a totally normal upbringing. But it was great to read his book and hear about how he went to the store in England and he got this Venom single, and it was the greatest thing in the world to him. And it was the same kind of thing, it’s like he had to travel in England in order to get this stuff. And we really had a search tough. And when he found that item, it was like, it was like such a great thing. That’s one thing that’s missing a little bit today, people have it too easy I think. And one thing is too is kind of if you weren’t there, it’s hard to imagine what it was like because people are so in used to having the internet or YouTube and stuff. And a lot of the younger people, that’s all they’ve ever had. So, it’s really weird to see this. It changed a lot but it’s definitely for the better I think.
What is thing that you are missing from the hey day of the 80s?
That’s the thing at the time we didn’t really know that it was that cool. I mean now in hindsight, it’s like wow, I’m really nostalgic about it. Some people don’t like to re-live that stuff. I think it’s great. I just miss the fact where you can go see Slayer like at Ruthie’s Inn, and they’ll be hanging out afterwards, we go to a party after the show, and the whole band would be there. Back then it was so much separation between the band and fans. That’s another thing about this cruise I think is so great is, there’s no distinction between the fans and the bands. You know you see Bobby Blitz in their having dinner and you know the fans are right there and everybody is cool about it. And that’s the thing back then it was so neat because everybody knew everybody else. It wasn’t like we’re taking pictures of these great bands, these are just our buddies that happen to play in bands. So, that’s one thing I missed a little bit, is the camaraderie. But I think the Bay Area seems probably like the healthiest it’s been a long time.
Why did you dislike the glamrock thing in LA ? Well Motley Crue looked quite brutal on the first two album before they turned.
Yes. The glamrock was kind of like the opposite of what we were like you know. I mean someone like Paul Baloff the singer from Exodus, he just like – I don’t know – it just seemed so fake and plastic to us. And you know the makeup and things like that it’s like I don’t know if I want to see a good looking girl, I’ll look at a magazine or go to a strip club or go to a concert, and then look for girls there. I don’t like to see guys wearing makeup, it’s almost like are you into transvestites and stuff like that, you know. They were kind of — the glam scene was like the exact opposite of what we were into. The music was way more commercial and it was like all glitzy and stuff, and that’s one of the reasons why Metallica left Los Angeles. And we just had this brotherhood and the brotherhood was just — the word Poser was just – David Ellefson had a t-shirt that had picture of Nikki Sixx on it with a circle and a line going through his face that said, “No posers.” And it was just — I don’t know, it was pretty much the exact opposite of what we thought we were at the time.
Oh, definitely. I think people are more open-minded these days you know. Back then I only listened to heavy metal and any other kind of music sucked. And I think as you getting older, you start to appreciate more different kinds of music and you start getting more of an open mind. That’s one thing great about this cruise is, there’s more commercial bands, there’s more progressive bands like Symphony X or whatever. And you see some of the same people into that and you see in front of DRI shows. That part is healthy I think it’s good. We needed something to hate and that was the perfect target.
I can’t help in asking about the punk / hardcore thing because you have punk and hardcore roots anyway.
Oh, for sure, for sure.
How much you were influenced by punk and hardcore in the older days? As in my opinion, thrash metal is influenced by the hardcore stuff anyway..
Yes, that was the thing. I was more of a metal head and then the fans had like Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion Conformity and of course DRI, they started hanging out at some of the metal shows and they started getting influenced by some of the metal bands. And then the metal bands started listening to a lot of the punk stuff like Slayer. Slayer just loved DRI. And then basically, they took like the new wave of British metal stuff and their influence is like Iron Maiden and then they combine that with the speed and the heaviness of link punk stuff and then next thing you know Thrash Metal was born. Definitely Suicidal, COC and DRI I think are the three main crossover bands. And even like SOD stuff you know. Look at the SOD album that was the most thrashing punk that was out there you know.
Did you ever come across Finnish punk bands like Terveet Kadet ?
No, no. Not really unfortunately. I was just more of a traditional metal head. And to this day I’m a metal head and a punk head, instead of the other way around you know so. But no, I think it’s great, I mean I love it. I just wasn’t exposed to that much music outside of the United States. But nowadays, it’s different. I mean now, you know like you said, the internet is just opening up wide. So, people — bands like in Finland and stuff have much better chance to get heard in foreign countries and stuff.
What has been the most dangerous, furious shows that you have ever been?
Wow. There was a DRI show in LA, and the line-up was No Mercy with Mike Muir, Possessed who I went down to LA when I was taking photos with, COC and Anthrax and it was at this big wrestling ring in Los Angeles and it was probably Olympic Auditorium. And when Possessed played, the entire barricade slipped forward and I got caught between the barricade and the stage I was almost killed, I was almost crushed to death. And I got up on stage and the barricade hit my leg so I was pinned between the barricade and the stage and I broke my leg and it was just awful. But there was a video of DRI from that show. You could see five different pits going at the same time and they were like five of the most violent pits you’ve ever seen in your fucking life. That had to be like the pinnacle of it. And Anthrax came out, it was just like – it was dangerous, man. I mean I broke my — I was almost killed you know. And that’s to this day, is probably the most radical show I’ve ever been to. Some of the Slayer shows – the early Slayer shows when – or even like around – like Raining Blood parts, those pits were like whirl winds, you know, it’s like putting your hand in a blender. I mean it was just crazy. But I went out a little bit since then, but we played coupled of shows in South America that were pretty crazy.
But nowadays these concert festivals are really controlled in the security-wise.
Oh, for sure, for sure. They have to be.
Not so much anymore but then I mean when we tour the States, we just played in like Miami about eight months ago or something like or a year ago or whatever. And it was like the most — one of the craziest, wildest show we’ve ever played. And it’s like Miami? Who would have thought that Miami is — it like totally surprised us. There was like people stage diving and like colliding in mid-air and stuff together you know. And every now and then there’ll be a show like that that will surprise the fuck out of us and we’re going to be like, my god that was just wild you know. And every now and then, I think a lot of it has to do with how drunk people get sometimes. I think it’s just amazing that we keep touring. We haven’t done an album in 15 years. And people still come and see us.
I guess the reason is DRI as well as other bands, already got albums out in the 80′s and they become more like a milestone of this kind of genre of music and that stuff and the reputation and of course the nostalgia things keep pushing them all forward.
Yes, for sure. Definitely.
Testament is still going strong and Overkill and Kreator and they still able to pull a lot of people to shows. I guess the younger bands have really tough to make a breakthrough and old bands are still conquering the world.
That’s true. Especially these days with the music industry the way it is, the whole things with CD’s, and everybody buys their music differently now. It’s good stat. I still go to record stores religiously all the time.That’s probably the one negative thing about the internet is that it killed music stores. And going to it, like I said earlier going to a store and finding something and you know there was just like — it was just like it was a conquest. I don’t know it’s weird. The music industry is in kind of a bad place right now.
If you’re checking out the European festivals and theirs headliners they have completely formed in the 70s or 80s.
There’s hardly new bands.
That’s true. That’s really true.
Maybe some are, but they have roots to the 80s.
That’s true. I can’t even explain that. It is weird because like you said there aren’t really that many other young bands that have like met — you know made that big of an impact. The only one I can think of that’s even close to being like that is like Municipal Waste. they’re one of the few exceptions you know.
But they are not a big headliner in bigger festivals.
That’s true. That’s true. Yes, I think there’s kind of big gap as far as that goes. And how many times can you go see the same bands over and over again?
Yes, that’s why Kreator, Testament, Slayer are headliners. They have got a status now and albums out in the 80s.
Already established, yes, for sure.
Yes, that’s true. That’s another thing I was talking about before, people want to hear stuff that they’re familiar with. And a lot of bands here I too where they’re playing entire albums from start to finish. Yes, it is weird. Music industry is definitely in a weird place right now. And hopefully it will resolve itself. As I said earlier I think metal in general is in a great state right now. And it’s probably in the best state it’s been in a long time. And people nowadays are like much more open-minded about stuff. But as far as going like you said, that’s really a good question is what are the new bands that can actually headline a big festival like that and there really aren’t any. I mean it’s weird and I don’t know. Hopefully there’ll be a band that will come out that will like blow everybody’s minds and they’ll get popular enough and they’ll able to fill in those gaps.
Do you mean that we need a new Nirvana?
Maybe not a new Nirvana but a new – I don’t even know if I – I can’t even answer that. I rather not have a new Nirvana, it was enough having one of them.
But they blew everything away and created something new.
Something like, something like a new Nirvana would be great. Just kind of shake things up again you know. And make people kind of look at stuff and make them appreciate how cool the scene is. You know one thing about metal heads and I think lot of them are like spoiled you know. But you’re still used to having these amazing shows and everything. If they don’t keep supporting, it’s going to go away.
Yeah. Alright. I thank you for the time
Awesome, thank you for the time — for your time and everything too. And hopefully will make it to Finland very soon like this summer you know. That’s a dream of mine to play there in Norway. And thanks to everybody for supporting DRI and for such great support on my book; The Murder in the Front Row. And keep an eye for Murder 2: More Murder in the Front Row. Hopefully it will be out within the next year or two.