INTERVIEW WITH PAUL RAY OF FALSE PROPHET
Looking for the brutal death/thrash metal with the vicious and fast riffs and brutal thrashing vocals? False Prophet hailing from North Carolina released two killer demos in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The band gained tremendous buzz in the catacombs of the underground. Above all the second demo titled “The Second Death” received a huge amount of praising reviews and feedback. The band’s name and demos got spread out thru the underground and tape traders. The band was forced to change the name to Infernal Heirarhy and released a two-track ep. False Prophet disbanded for a few decades til the return in 2013. Metal-Rules.Com talked to the frontman of False Prophet, Paul Ray about the past, present and the future.
Interview by Arto Lehtinen
What’s up in the world of False Prophet, how’s it going on there at the moment ?!
Really not much at this time. Like everyone and everywhere else things are on lockdown so no shows to play. We are just in writing and rehearsal mode.
THE RISE OF FALSE PROPHET
False Prophet started in 1988, right – Could you recall how everything started out and what bands influenced you to form a band ?!
Yes we started around 88. Myself and bassist Chris Lyndon got together and started looking for a drummer to jam with us we didn’t have a lot of luck at the beginning. So we just started writing songs just us two while still looking for a drummer. We had talked to our future drummer Tim Haisman before but he wasn’t really interested in playing that type of music. But word got back to him about us writing some songs and he reached out to us and we started jamming together. Before False Prophet we were using the name Abattoir. We played a few shows under that name when we found out there was already a band using that name. We were interested in adding a second guitar so we were introduced to Mike Morrison by a mutual friend and he had seen us play and wanted to try out. He fit in with us musically and personally so when he joined we changed the name to False Prophet.
The first demo titled “Sign of the cross” came out in 1989. What kind of memories do you still have and treasure from that era when recording the first demo ?!
I remember a few and treasure them all. That was an amazing time for music and especially metal. There were so many awesome bands coming out with brutal music. I guess the one moment that stands out the most directly related to Sign Of The Cross is meeting Mr. Gene Hoglan. We had been playing around the local scene doing opening spots for local bands and national acts. At the time we hadn’t recorded any music and while opening for Dark Angel on the Leave Scars tour Gene heard us playing and after the show asked if we had a demo. Of course we said no and his response was we need to get in a studio and record some songs. Before talking to him we really didn’t think anyone would be interested in our original material. So thanks to Gene and his advice “Sign Of The Cross” was done.
“The Second Death “ release was traded as a demo release as well as a full-length album. Was it ever released as an album?
I think for the band it was a demo we just took a handful of the new songs we had written and went into the studio. The newer songs were so much different than what we had previously done we wanted to get it out. I think a lot of people that got the “Second Death” tape might have considered it a full length because of the length of the songs in time it probably is an album.
Do you still have some leftover songs in your can from the era, did you release everything you had ?!
Yes, we still have songs from that era that we never recorded. I think some of them were released on the Second Death double album Blood Harvest released as live tracks. I think there were two songs we never released on that album. I most likely couldn’t remember the music part of the songs the lyrics I probably have laying around somewhere. Prayers of Emptiness on the new ep is actually a song we started writing before we broke up in the ’90s. I really liked the lyrics so we rewrote the songs and used them.
False Prophet got a lot of support and attention in the catacombs of the underground, as members of other bands used to wear FP shirts like Max Cavalera. I assume this definitely brought a lot of attention toward False Prophet?
Yeah man we definitely got a lot of attention from that exposure for sure. It was just cool that bands like that supported smaller bands like us. I meet Max in New Jersey at a club called G Wilikers ( I think that’s how it was spelled) we were playing with Demolition Hammer and I think Corpse Grinder. We hung out with Max for a while and he was trying to talk us into going to Brazil to play some shows. We gave him some shirts and later saw Igor wearing it in a video while recording their next album. Super cool guys.
For which bands did False Prophet open for and what kind of response did you receive from the more mainstream crowd ?!
We opened for a lot of nationals. I’ll try to remember as many as I can. Wrathchild America, Danzig, Dark Angel, Forbidden, Death Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Demolition Hammer, Nile to name a few. We also played a lot with our good friends in Confessor who went on to sign with Earache. They also played with us at our reunion show. Such an awesome band and really great guys. We always seemed to get a good response when we played these shows.
IN SATAN’S NAME
When the “Sign of the Cross” demo came out in 1989, how many fanzines do you think you sent it to and how many did you initially print up?
Man I know we sent out as many as we could to fanzines trying to get our name out. I have no idea how many but it was a lot. We only produced 500 copies so that’s all that’s out there.
It was quite rare for a thrash or death Metal band to record a 10-minute long song, but you did it with “In Satan’s Name.” Did it happen on purpose that you had killer riffs that the song just became such an epic thrash hymn?
Yeah I guess it was kinda accidental. While Chris and myself mainly wrote the lyrics. At the beginning, we would both kinda collaborate on songs. As time went by we both started writing lyrics by ourselves and my songs tended to be longer trying to get the story across. I’m not sure how other bands do it but we write the lyrics first then put music to it. And that’s how we have always done it so the length of the lyrics determined the length of the songs. I also wrote Second Death which comes in over 12 minutes. The newer songs I try to keep them to around 5 minutes which is a challenge getting the story across with less lyrics.
Frankly, were you interested in the darker side of life and deal with occultism and a bit of Satanism in lyrics ?!
Yeah I’ve always seemed to be attracted to the darker things in life. That’s why I initially gravitated to bands like Possessed, Morbid Angel and so forth. And not just music also the books I read and the movies I watch. I enjoy the satanic topics and darker subjects for the songs I write. The darker the better.
Do you have any idea how much did your tapes and demos get spread thru underground tape traders ?!
I guess I have somewhat of an idea. I know we had a lot of interest overseas back in the day and we traded quite a bit in the USA also.
CHANGED TO INFERNAL HEIRARCHY
What was the point of changing the moniker from False Prophet to Infernal Heirarchy? Did you have to start the whole band from ground zero in terms of promotion etc ?!
Well back then there was another band The False Prophets and we were getting serious label interest so we decided to change the name to avoid any problems in the future. As far as starting over it really wasn’t a problem we had a lot of people supporting us the first one being Ed Farshtey with Rage Records. He was the first one to release a 7″ under the Infernal Hierarchy name. It included our newest song First Born and a rewritten False Prophecy
Infernal Heirarchy released only two songs, on Ed Farshtey’s Rage Records, on a self-titled 7-inch EP. The songs were “First Born” and “False Prophecy”. How did you end up signing to his label?
I think Ed reached out to us about doing the 7″ and at that time we needed to get some new material out. So we took Ed up on his offer and recorded First Born and re did False Prophecy. It was a cool release and gained us a lot of attention.
In my opinion, those songs sounded brutal and had a great balance of furious thrash riffs with the death metal elements. But What would you say is the biggest difference between these two bands?
I don’t think there was a very big difference but back then I was wanting to move into sounding more death metal and less thrash. I’m not sure everyone in the band wanted the same thing. I still love thrash bands as much as death metal bands and I just think that still naturally comes through in our music. And most people seem to like that part of our songs. The vocals were a lot different First Born was the first recording we did that I was happy with my vocals. I was kinda coming into my own style.
Infernal Heirarchy released only that one EP and called its quits. You reached the end of the road in 1993, frankly it happened quite soon, what led to the demise of the band ?!
I can’t speak for everyone else I can only tell my side. So there at the end we had a lot of labels interested and we had it narrowed down to Mausoleum Records. We were going back and forth with them on the contract. During that time our drummer Tim decided to quit the band we had found a replacement before we signed the contract but after the label found out our original drummer had quit they seem to lose interest in signing us. That really sucked we put a lot of time and effort into getting signed to a label and I was just done after that. I really didn’t have it in me to continue to push the band and I think we were all just burned out at the time.
THE RETURN OF FALSE PROPHET
The rebirth of False Prophet already happened in 2013, how did this come about after all?
It all started when we were approached by Jeremy with Heaven and Hell records. He was interested in releasing the old demos so we agreed to that. Then he started asking if we would be interested in doing a reunion show. At the time I wasn’t really interested in that but a few of the other members talked me into giving it a shot. My only demand was if we could not perform as good or better than we used to we would not perform. So that’s how it started
The band has undergone some line-up changes as most of the original members were unable to commit their time to False Prophet, was it kind of difficult to find suitable members to replace the original guys?
Yes, it has been very difficult finding members that can commit. We have had to replace several original members due to personal issues and some fill in members that would not commit. We have had the worst time finding a drummer that was dedicated. So we recently recruited Kyle Lane who has come in and is doing an amazing job and has a great attitude. He fits in great with myself, Scott Pivarnick ( guitars ) and Craig Gillespie (bass). We are all looking forward to getting some new material recorded and released with this lineup.
False Prophet did a tour with Obituary. What kind of response did you receive from the audience?
The response was amazing the crowd seemed to enjoy the music but it doesn’t hurt being direct support for a legendary metal band like Obituary. The fans treated us great and so did Obituary. All of us would love to go back out on the road with those guys again. We owe everyone in Obituary big time but I’m not sure how we could ever repay them. With that being said a special thanks to John, Donald, Trevor, Ken and Mr Terry Butler.
You have got a two-song ep out and it definitely sounds like False Prophet. How much do you have the new stuff ready for the next release ?!
We have about six songs ready and working on the next. We are shooting for 8 new songs and maybe a couple of older Prophet songs recorded with the new line-up. We are planning on releasing a full album next.
What kind of response have you received about the ep ?!
The response has been good. We didn’t really plan on releasing the ep but when the Obituary tour came about we knew we needed some new material to push. So we barely had a month to put this together. And it would not have happened without help from Jeremy with Heaven and Hell Records who helped with the Cd pressing and Chris Ferguson who did an amazing job with the layout and in a short period of time. They bailed us out. The first batch was only sold on the tour at the shows and the response was awesome we sold quit a bit of those eps. It’s pretty cool with two new songs and a new mix from Mr. Claudeous Creamer of Possessed. And a few live songs from the show we played with Massacre in Florida, it was recorded and mixed by Mr. Gregg Mandigo. He did an incredible job with the live recordings
What else is coming up for False Prophet ?! Writing more new stuff ?! Waiting for gigs ?!
We don’t have a lot going on at this time like everyone else. We are continuing to rehearse and write gearing up to record soon. We only have one show coming up. We will be playing John McEntee’s wedding and another show in Texas coming up. We never thought False Prophet would be a wedding band. Thanks to John we can cross that off our list.
I for one thank you for the interview. Looking forward to the more False Prophet stuff. However, the last words are yours …
Thanks for the interview and support. And for anyone wanting to check out False Prophet can hit us up on Facebook and check out Spotify for the new and old music.
The official False Prophet sites