Interview and Pics by Arto Lehtinen / Marko Syrjälä
Transcripted by W Mallon
It would be more than unexpected if some serious metalhead asked, “who is Dan Lilker,” cos the man has been involved in the metal scene and the catacombs of underground metal for several decades. Above all, Nuclear Assault is still remembered as pioneers of the NY thrash metal scene, with several killer albums from the ’80s. Dan has also carved a reputation as the long-time bass player and founder of the extreme grindcore act Brutal Truth which terrorized the underground extreme metal genre in the ’90s until they went on a long hiatus. After being on hold for years, Brutal Truth has returned to bring their extreme music to extreme people again. The band visited Helsinki some time ago. We got the great opportunity to chat with Dan about his various bands, but above all about Brutal Truth, Nuclear Assault, and even going back to the very early days of Anthrax.
BRUTAL TRUTH – REBIRTH OF IGNORANCE
How are you doing?
It was a little difficult yesterday because there was no sleep after the show in London.
Well, are you kind of tired?
Just a little bit, then you try to sleep on the plane, then you know, you hear like WAAAAAH, fucking children. So, now it’s ok, 6, 2 hours in London, 2 hours backstage, and 2 hours at the hotel, so that’s enough. Time to grind.
But welcome to Finland; some time has passed by since the last time you played here in Helsinki 19…
..94. Yes, Lepakko and with Macabre and Pungent Stench
I remember your immortal shirt got stolen…
And somebody stole it off the drum riser. Bastard.
But you got it back anyway.
Yeah, I got it back.
You are doing quite a long European tour as you played at the Hole In The Sky Festival. How is everything so far? Do you have such a tight schedule?
It was a little hectic because of how they routed the tour was, and the first show was Hole-In-The Sky in Bergen. And then we had to go to Magdeburg, Germany, close to Berlin. But we had to wait 7 hours at the Copenhagen Airport between the two flights. One went to Bergen to Copenhagen, and then Copenhagen to Hamburg. But we started VERY early in the morning after the Hole-In-The-Sky fest, so we had almost no sleep. After the show in Germany, we had to drive overnight, all the way to Nottingham, England. Then we had Nottingham, Bristol, London, so that was like normal drives or something. After the show last night, we relaxed at our friend’s house for a couple of hours then we had to be at the airport to come here. So, yes. You know, we’re not young guys anymore. So, it was a little tiring, but I’ve had plenty of sleep now, so I’m ready for beer, weed, and grind.
How many dates do you still have left to do?
Four – Four in Italy.
Then you go home?
Yeah, go home on Monday.
Brutal Truth was on hold for about 10 to ten years, as far as I can remember. Was one of the reasons for getting back together because of the EyeHateGod tribute album?
Yes, that was the original reason. We were asked to participate in that, and we found all the members, and we said sure, why not. And then, but our guitar player, the original guitar player, Gurn, couldn’t continue, he couldn’t go start going out on tour again, you know, he had more family by now and everything. Eric is playing guitar for us now, but you’ll see, he’s quite good.
Do you think this is a permanent reunion?
I would like to think so. After all, we will record next month for our new record and play some of that shit. But we don’t know.
So you are going to make a new album, who is going to release it? Relapse?
It’s probably going to be RELAPSE. I think we are just going to pick up with them. They have heard the new material, and they are quite excited.
Some Eps and split Eps have been released like the one with Narcosis, Total Fucking Destruction, and the stuff like that?
Well, that’s just stuff where it was either live stuff, or you know, just doing really noisy experiments or something, and that was just to keep the name out there. Once we are back, show people we are here, you know?
The older albums were re-released as remastered ones last year, right?
It SOUNDS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM and KILL TREND SUICIDE; Relapse did not have any more original pressings. So they decided it might be an interesting idea to combine them and put some extra stuff on it. So that’s completely coincidental to the fact that we returned. They would have done that anyway. But, since they did, it was cool though because we got to be involved in it, and you know, say, “You should put this video track on it,” and shit like that, ya know?
As for the new album mentioned earlier, how many songs have you done so far? What kind of stuff can be expected to hear, the same kind of brutality as before?
Oh, fuck yes. I think it’s going to be 15 or 16 new songs. It’s maybe in the style of SOUNDS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM but faster, and some of the riffs are maybe more, of the older riffs, are a little more evil or whatever but at stupid speed.
How would you compare the sounds now as Eric is doing the guitars?
He has definitely brought a new element to songwriting. He’s a very strong player. And, I know this isn’t helping the people on the Internet, but you’re going to see it tonight. Also, there is a compilation that Scott Hull from Pig Destroyer did for a compilation for Relapse, called THIS COMP KILLS FASCISTS. We have four songs on that. Those are out now. But, they were just recorded in our rehearsal place. It sounds good, but you know, it’s not professionally studio-recorded.
When you formed Brutal Truth back in 1990, was it more like a side project for you at that time?
Originally, it was just a side project because Nuclear Assault had some time with nothing to do where they had to straighten out some legal bullshit. Everybody did different things, and I chose to do something because I was really into shit like Napalm Death and Carcass and whatever, so I wanted to play something more intense. Eventually, it turns out that this is where my heart was, and people started liking it, so I said, ok, well fuck it, I was in both bands for two years, man, that was too busy.
NUCLEAR ASSAULT – GAME OVER?
As for Nuclear Assault, you were supposed to play at Hole In The Sky but canceled?!
It was supposed to be canceled months before that. But the booking agent didn’t fucking really tell the Norwegian promoter. Nuclear Assault and Brutal Truth were going to do some shit together, and that was going to be one of them because Eric also plays in Nuclear Assault, so then that way you have 6 guys but 2 bands or something, so it’s easy for flying. But Glen, the drummer for Nuclear Assault fucked up his arm a year ago when we played in Japan, and his arm has to heal properly. And John, the singer, is very busy now, he is a high school history teacher in America. And I know the joke, American history is very short, so it shouldn’t take so long to teach. But 240 years or something.
The comeback album THIRD WORLD GENOCIDE came out in 2005
That wasn’t very good. It wasn’t very inspired. I wanted to put more intense stuff on it, but maybe those guys are getting old, I don’t know. I wish it was better. I don’t know; it’s hard to describe.
Will there be a possibility to have another NA album?
No, no, that’s it. It’s gonna be over.
OUT OF ORDER came out.
…92, yeah. Also, not so good.
As for SOMETHING WICKED, you were not involved, well. How do you like it anyway?
Well, I don’t know. I should be diplomatic here and say that it’s not really the typical Nuclear Assault people knew. And I guess a lot of people didn’t like it. They would ask me, and I would say, don’t ask me, I didn’t play on it.
Were you asked to be a part of the album?
No, they didn’t. They knew I was busy.
As there won’t be a new Nuclear Assault album, but how about releasing the old stuff on a DVD and the stuff like that?
I suppose that’s possible, but it’s not something we’re thinking about. Generally, it’s just we don’t really think about doing any more releases or anything like that because then we would have to find a label and all this shit. I’m pretty busy with Brutal. I mean, if somebody else wants to figure it out in the band, Glen’s very smart with that shit. But nothing’s planned.
Your lyrics usually dealt with political and environmental issues, as you were not interested in penning about zombies, instead of acid rain and other topics which are still relevant?
We were influenced by hardcore. First, we were influenced by hardcore just for the speed of the bands; we’d go here and see Agnostic Front and DRI and go wow, this is fucking great. And then eventually it sinks into the brain, you know, the message too. And we said it would be really cool to bring this message to metalheads. You know, I mean., there is nothing wrong with singing about zombies and graveyards. It’s like a horror movie. That’s cool. But we said, fuck it, we’ll say something. And people liked it. People came up said, you know, I would have killed myself if it wasn’t for you. I’m like, ok, wow, great.
Oh yeah, Nuclear Assault visited Helsinki back in 1989
With Prestige, yeah.
Actually, they are back. They did a reunion gig last summer in the North.
Are they? Wow.
S.O.D – NO TURNING BACK?
S.O.D have visited Finland only once, around 2000
S.O.D was in the headlines because of the release of RISING OF THE INFILEDS, including four unreleased songs and a live concert from Seattle?
What… That “Rise of the Infidels” thing? Yeah, it’s not so new. It’s just re-packaged stuff. Yeah.
It says “new tracks” on the booklet. What is the history of those tracks anyway?
You know, I’m not sure what’s on that. (Checking the list). I think “Stand Up And Fight” and “Java Amigo” was like, new songs, but I don’t remember what they sound like. Those are recordings done at the beginning of the demo session…they’re just extra stuff.
Megaforce put out that album. How much were you or other guys involved with this release?
I think Billy was involved with this record. I just don’t pay attention to that stuff. I just play music and fuckin’ smoke weed.
Well, is there any future for S.O.D as it pops up every time?
You know, see, I’d say “no,” but I have been wrong before. I’d probably say “no.” It hasn’t happened now for eight years. It was supposed to be every six years. So it’s not looking good. But I’ve said “no” before, and then I’ve been wrong, and I’ve looked stupid. So I will just say, “I don’t know,” we’ll see.
Are you still in touch with the other S.O.D guys like Billy Milano and Scott?
Yeah yeah, here and there. I saw Billy at the Central Illinois Metal Fest a couple of months ago, where Brutal Truth played. In March, my father died, so then people are sending texts. If there is anything you need, let me know. I guess your father has to die for everyone to talk.
ANTHRAX – METAL THRASHING MAD
Going back to the very old days, the Anthrax days. Is it ok to talk about those days?
Ok, that’s alright.
It was you and Scott who actually formed Anthrax around 1981. How did it get started in the very beginning?
It was just a high school band. Just your mates from high school. Scott was the only high school guy I knew who liked bands like AC/DC, and I liked Judas Priest. I mean, this is how old it was. So you end up being friends, comparing record collections, and then somebody turned us on to Iron Maiden and Motorhead and shit like that, and we were like wow. So, it just started with your friends, then eventually it got more and more professional. Until, of course, Neil Turbin said Danny has to go. And that was that.
Who actually played in the very first line-up of Anthrax?
Just me and Scott, John Connolly was in the very, very original incarnation. Then it was just guys, who were just neighborhood guys, who just went on and got regular jobs and didn’t play music anymore.
How did you find Neil back then?
He was another guy in high school, he used to walk around with his tight black pants and his leather jacket, and we were like, well, he looks metal.
There were still several line-up changes before your first release, SOLDIERS OF METAL was released in 1992, but what happened to Greg D’Angelo cos he was later in White Lion?
Yeah, interesting. It’s really difficult to remember specifics about what happened with Greg D’Angelo. I don’t remember if it was us or him or whatever. He was kind of like a rich kid. He had like two different 1967 Ford Mustangs, and his drum set was beautiful, you know. But he was a cool guy, and we used to smoke weed all the time. But yeah, when we got Charlie, it was more; ok, Charlie wanted to play faster, which was good.
I think that stylistically he wasn’t really into that stuff. When still just into Iron Maiden, we heard Metallica, and then we wanted to play faster.
How did you find Dan Spitz ?
That’s a good fucking question; where did we find that guy?
He is a short guy
Yeah, I know; I don’t remember the exact situation. You have to remember this is like 25 years ago or something. So umm, he just knew somebody, we knew somebody, we needed a guitar player, we tried him out, and he was good. I guess.
FISTFUL OF METAL is definitely a classic metal album
Oh, thank you.
Well, how do you like that album afterward?
That’s a good record. Actually, we just played in Bristol, England, and they were playing that over the fucking PA, and I was like hmm, god, listen to this. Yeah, I’m proud of that record; after all, I wrote most of it. But I think after that, when they got me out and Neil out, they tried to pursue a more melodic direction with Joey’s vocals. But it’s a good record. I was proud of it at the time, still proud of it. But it’s over.
FISTFUL OF METAL along with HANDLE WITH CARE, GAME OVER, SURVIVE are all the classic thrash/speed metal albums of the ’80s
Those are good records. It’s difficult to talk about, and I don’t want to sound like some rock star, you know. Oh yes, they are very good, yes, I’m fucking great, ain’t I? No, no, they are great records; they have their place along with Slayer and everything else, and I’m proud to say I have participated in that.
Some years ago, Anthrax re-recorded a new version of these songs of FISTFUL OF METAL like “Deathrider,” etc. How do you like those versions?
I see what you think…Sometimes, those guys don’t always have the best ideas. You know, the classic lineup and telling John Bush to sit down for a while. Let’s just say the originals are better. That’s the best thing to say.
RAVENOUS – A CORPSE IS FOREVER
What’s up with Ravenous?
Not really much. You know, the next Marilyn Death Fest: Brutal Truth is going to be there, Abscess is going to be there. So I called up Chris and said, “Well, I’m going to be there, you guys are going to be there. What do you think? Want to call Killjoy ?” And he goes; it sounds like a cool idea, but let me ask the other guys first. And he went to Abscess rehearsal and said do you guys want to play with The Ravenous too? And they went, Nah, it’s kind of a pain in the ass; let’s just play one show. So you have to blame the Abscess guys; they’re very lazy.
Is Ravenous more like having fun together with other guys?
Yeah, it’s pretty much just a bunch of people who wanted to have some fun together.
That’s why I have these fucking cuts on my arm. You can’t see them so much, that one and that one. It’s my train tracks. When we recorded the record, we had to do the old evil Morbid Angel style, you know, you have to bleed for the devil a little bit.
Like Trey Azagthoth ?!
Yeah, but not a big pentagram.
Are you going to make a new album with Ravenous?
Maybe. I just wait for phone calls. You know, Chris writes all that stuff anyway. I just have to learn it.
OTHER PROJECTS AND BANDS
Venous Concept’s new album, POISONED APPLE, came out; you weren’t involved in the first one?
Here’s a secret, I’m not on that record either. They just put my name on it.
Well, you have to get your royalties.
Yeah, that’s a good question. Yeah, we will see. Ask Kevin right now.
And what about Crucifist?
Crucifist only usually plays in Rochester, where I live. We’ve played with a bunch of bands. Like we opened up Celtic Frost a couple of years ago and stuff like that. We’ve played out of town, like in Toronto and other places. The big news for Crucifist is that we are finally going to have our album out on Shane Embury’s label Feto Records. I saw the artwork at Shane’s house the other day. When I go home, all I have to do is say, “Dan would like to thank blah blah blah,” and then it gonna be ready for production. It just a good old 80’s black death with some doom and some traditional metal.
Is that record label owned by Shane?
Yeah, Shane and Mick from Anaal Nahkrath
Tell me something about the “soon-to-be” released Venom tribute album by Sigh. Could you tell me more about it?
We’ve been friends with the Sigh guys for a while. He just said, hey, we are gonna do this thing, status tribute to Venom. Would you like to play on the track “Countess Bathory”? I’ll send you the MP3 and at the Crucifist rehearsal, our singer, who is very smart with that stuff, he said here, record this, record this bass track, and he sent it to Marai. There is also another connection between Crucifist and Sigh, which is that we, Shane said we need an extra track for Japan, and we said fuck, we don’t have an extra track. So we said wait a minute, wait a minute, so we have one of our songs, we asked Marai if he would change the lyrics and translate them into Japanese and sing on it, and he said, yes, of course. So he and Mika, the crazy girl, are singing a Japanese version of the song “Skull Smashing Face Ripping Death.” Which is fucking interesting.
You were involved on the Agnostic Front album WARRIOR, right ??
I was in the video, that’s all. No, no, just in the video. Doing the horns. They are cool guys.
Do you still have an interest in checking out new bands?
Yes, somewhat. I live in Rochester now, and it’s not the center of the world.
Brutal Truth Live In Helsinki Rock Town on the 3rd of September 2008
Brutal Truth returned to the soil of Finland after app 15-year break. The four-piece grindcore mongers unleashed the pure chaotic noise level in a rock club where app more than 100 maniacs had crawled to witness the gig. Even though the area in front of the stage was extremely small, people were raging and pushing the band members like at some punk gig. Kevin appeared to be an extremely relentless wild man screaming his lungs out with utter rage and anger. Especially the drummer deserves to have extra kudos for handling the blasting parts out even though he looked like he would have dropped off from a chair. However, the gig was intensive and literally ground the Finnish rock bar down. Here are a few pics were taken from the show :