I’ve been waiting patiently for Act of Defiance’s sophomore release, Old Scars, New Wounds. As soon as you hit play, this record rocks from the first beat to the last.
When the Dave Mustaine regime was calling up his musicians to start recording what would eventually be “Dystopia,” Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick knew that it was time to move on. They wanted to express their creativity and write their music instead of being told what to play by King Mustaine. When Act of Defiance was formed, they went from inception, having no record deal, to recording Birth and the Burial and handing in the master to Metal Blade Records in six months. This time around, they didn’t have those issues to deal with.
Producer Dave Otero (Cattle Decapitation, Allegaeon) guided Act of Defiance to a near-perfect sophomore effort. The album opens up with “M.I.A.” where Broderick’s blazing riffs take you through this song taking issue with fake news. “Molten Core” is a Slayer-ish mosh pit song. We have acoustic guitar parts in “The Talisman.” Old Scars, New Wounds gets heavier with each song.
Henry Derek’s vocals fit this album perfectly. Shawn Drover’s drumming is incredible. Matt Bachand’s bass is mixed elegantly as Chris Broderick’s outstanding guitar playing, tapping, and riffs make this one kick ass album! This was a total band effort, and you can hear it in the music. Mark my words, Act of Defiance will be picked up for a tour with a huge band (Slayer comes to mind). This record is a near masterpiece! Broderick kicks some major ass!
Rating 9.5/10 A must-have for every metalhead and guitar junky!
Lullaby Of Vengeance
Circle Of Ashes
Conspiracy Of The Gods
Another Killing Spree
Rise Of Rebellion
An influential vocalist, composer, guitarist and more, Mille Petrozza is a reflection of what today’s unique European thrash metal consists of. Being of Italian and Calabria descent and born in Germany – Petrozza’s music is globally appreciated across diverse cultures.
As the lead vocalist, founder and guitarist of the band Kreator (previously known as Tyrant in 1982 and Tormentor in 1984), Mille Petrozza has been an influential figure in the musical industry since the past 32 years when Kreator debuted their first album titled Endless Pain.
His experience as a musician has been diverse, ranging from thrash metal to goth to industrial and back to thrash metal. His love for experimenting with new styles has led Kreator to become one of the most skilled bands in European history.
Apart from Kreator, Petrozza also played the guitar for the all-star band Voodoocult along with other band members such as Dave Lombardo of Slayer and Chuck Schuldiner of Death. He also made appearances as a lead vocalist in Edguy’s album Hellfire Club, Caliban’s album The Undying Album, Volbeat’s 2010 album Beyond Hell/Above Heaven and has composed albums for Demonical, Pessimist, Cannibal Corpose, Vader, Abigor and others.
In terms of lyrical style, Petrozza is deeply inspired by contemporary relevant themes such as religion. Metaphorical by nature, his songs are not an explicit take on the theme but more of a the relevance of the theme in today’s world. For example, he is quoted to have said that “Satan Is Real” is me wondering why it’s still relevant in 2017.” His aim is to drive change through his music, by appreciating that the world has come a long way from what it used to and that reevaluating our beliefs is the aim of his music. For example, he believes that “people take it (religion) so seriously that they seem to be OK with doing all this bizarre stuff or even dying for religion, because they believe this stuff.”
What makes Mille Petrozza truly unique is his deep-vested interest in changing society through his music. He believes that the themes of Kreator’s music will always be relevant, an internal struggle of good versus evil. Good is subjective and the music aims to lead attitude towards acceptance of all kinds of people, views and beliefs. This belief runs into his personal life, where despite being a vegan, he is close friends with a hunter.
In terms of equipment and skill, Petrozza prefers to experiment with a varieties of instruments. From playing a B.C. Rich Mockingbird in the mid 1980’s – a guitar very similar to the one played by Kerry King of Slayer at the same time – he now uses Jackson Live models.
Kreator has the talent and skill to become one of the “Big Four.” Petrozza’s lyrics, skillful playing, excellent musicianship could easily replace and of the “Big Four.”
Despite his violent playing style and threatening vocals, Petrozza uses music as nothing if not a tool for social change. His style reflects the anger an ideal teenager would feel when faced with the injustices in the world. Perhaps this is why the lyrics of Kreator are what draws people to dissect every piece ever produced – an almost magical remedy to the pain in this world.
Kerry King, also known as KFK (Kerry Fuckin’ King) is as unconventional as a thrash metal guitarist as his self-abbreviated nickname. Although he was extremely intelligent in school with an affinity for numbers, he witnessed his grades plummet when he became more fascinated with girls instead.
As he deviated away from the college route for a more adventurous life, he realized that the ideal career for him would be one in music where he can have the best of all world’s – the music, the parties, the women and the alcohol. In 1981, when he was merely 15, he auditioned to be a part of a band as a guitarist. Instead, Jeff Hanneman approached him after his audition and the two of them began to practice the classic tunes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
Little did they know that their little band which they named Slayer back in 1981 would lead to their band one day being recognized as one of the most famous thrash metal bands across the world.
Slayer is today recognized as one of the “big four” thrash metal bands along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Apart from being dedicated to Slayer since it was co-founded by King, King has also been associated as a guest guitar player for legendary thrash metal and heavy metal artists and bands such as Megadeth, Marilyn Manson, Sum 41, Beastie Boys and Rob Zombie.
The key to Slayer’s success was its release of the album Reign in Blood in 1986, just 3 years after Slayer debuted as a band. In a span of one decade, Slayer sold almost 5 million copies in the United States itself. The music has been deeply inspired by King’s opinions on life itself. The band dictates issues of murder, serial killers, terrorism and anti –religion, the last which is deeply close to King’s heart himself. Extremely anti-establishment, King resonates the belief of living and let live and believes that organized religion goes against basic freedom of living life on one’s terms.
This connection with victims of establishment, criminals, terrorism, religion etc. is probably why Slayer’s music has been described as one following a “wailing style” by Steve Huey of AllMusic. Post Hanneman’s death in 2013, Kerry King became the sole leader of Slayer.
He is now keeping the voice of the band on point with the vision King and Hanneman had initially planned for Slayer and is now also the writer for all the music along with being the lead guitarist for the band. His music continues to evolve and remains dedicated to all the underdogs and outcasts that King believes are victims of establishments and more evolved than those who follow conventional beliefs. Till date, King’s style remains anything but conventional.
One thing‘s for sure: There aren‘t many bands with a history as long and eventful as
KREATOR‘s, who fascinatingly succeed in exploring new horizons while challenging and reinventing themselves time and again, resulting in high impact results – as is perfectly illustrated by their new record »Gods Of Violence« (out on January 27, 2017). With this 14th studio album of their impressive career, the thrashers from Essen, Germany have crafted a work of art of utmost vigor, drawing its unfailing power from the pounding heart of one of the greatest, most versatile metal bands of all time. »Gods Of Violence« lives and breathes!
As is often the case, it all started with a good idea. KREATOR mastermind MillePetrozza had followed the latest news with growing concern. Especially the November 2015 Paris attacks made him realize that there had to be a continuum of human malevolence, running like a thread through the ages, from ancient times up to the present day. These thoughts led Petrozza to interlocking current events with tales from Greek mythology, eventuating in the song »Gods Of Violence« that was consequently chosen as the album‘s name giver. “Currently, religion has regained a level of importance that I would have never considered possible 20 years ago,”Mille states. “An extremely dangerous polarization is taking place, giving rise to growing hate among us all. That‘s what I wanted to write about.”
Like this, a key note of the album was found that is also reflected in the sheer brutality of ‘World War Now’, among others. The song‘s deriving from the observation that we‘re in the middle of a World War III of sorts, but not in the way we‘ve always feared: A-bomb dropped, humanity wiped out. “These days, our weapons of mass destruction are called hatred and religious delusion,” says Petrozza. It‘s a vertical war, being fought by the media as well as by fanatics of all shades.
The intro leading to the opening track ‘Apocalypticon’ is already setting the proper bombastic pace for the album‘s basic idea: Marching drums and a Wagnerian choir are opening an extraordinary metal masterpiece that‘s contrasting brutality with fragility, excelling in an exemplary handling of momentum and dynamics. Even ‘Death Becomes My Light’, the final eight-minute-epic dealing with a near death experience, is not a single second too long: »Gods Of Violence« flashes by like greased lightning.
The ability to form universally comprehensible messages out of such sophisticated trains of thought as found on »Gods Of Violence« has always been one of the traits of a man whose pop-cultural universe ranges from HannahArendt, PINK FLOYD and TOCOTRONIC to SLAYER. Mille Petrozza was born and bred in the metal scene. Nevertheless, he is and always has been open to inspiration from various sources, which is why his lyrics on this album are by no means merely based on corny genre templates but offer trenchant observations of our time combined with a witty advance towards inflated cliches: One of the best songs on »Gods Of Violence« is really called ‘Satan Is Real’.
Finishing »Gods Of Violence« took the band – featuring Petrozza, SamiYli–Sirniö (guitars), Christian “Speesy” Giesler (bass) and Jürgen “Ventor” Reil (drums) – about three years. After Petrozza had pre-produced all of the eleven tracks in winter of 2015, KREATOR went to Sweden in order to team up with legendary metal producer Jens Bogren in his Fascination Street Studios once again. What emerged from the recording sessions was bound to fundamentally redefine what KREATOR is all about. An opus that surprises with some lines in German and an unexpected guest in the form of indie pop artist DAGOBERT. Moreover, Italian death metallers FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE lent a hand with the orchestral parts of four songs and 12-year-old Tekla–Li Wadensten played the harp for »Gods Of Violence«.
Although it‘s breaking new ground in many respects, »Gods Of Violence« can still be considered characteristic for a career shaped by ambitious ventures and artistic risk: discontinuity is KREATOR‘s one true continuum. Gotten together in 1982, Petrozza and Jürgen“Ventor”Reil – the only two remaining founding members – have come a long way from playing in a small-scale student band. “In my history book, KREATOR didn‘t really exist until 1985,” says Petrozza, laughing. “Although we had already started jamming together in ‘82, we only entered the stage two or three times up until ‘85. Back then, our set list consisted of five original tracks and five heavy metal cover songs, we went through several line-up changes and didn‘t really find ourselves until »Endless Pain«.”
In fact, it wasn‘t until said debut album that the name KREATOR was established in the first place. Before, the combo had been known as TORMENTOR. The early years were defining ones all the same: “None of us knew how to play our instruments properly back then,”Petrozza remembers. “Though we were a pretty mediocre student band indeed, we taught each other how to play – it‘s stuff like that you bond over.” This early stage laid the foundation for an exceptional career that would see KREATOR rise to become part of what’s to be considered the German equivalent of the Californian Big Four (METALLICA, SLAYER, ANTHRAX, MEGADETH) of thrash metal – the Big Three of German thrash, alongside SODOM and DESTRUCTION.
It was on their third album »Terrible Certainty« that KREATOR would precisely define some of their most characteristic traits: Power riffing and aggressive shouting always meet a sure feeling for complex arrangements and highly memorable songwriting that is not to be taken for granted within this genre – KREATOR know their choruses better than most. An ability that makes them stand out in the international music scene as well: Over the years, KREATOR have sold more than two million albums worldwide and have played countless shows all around the globe.
Though rooted in thrash metal, they‘ve never been afraid to push the genre‘s boundaries both musically and lyrically. As mentioned earlier, Mille‘s stylistic and ideological open-mindedness evidently manifests itself in his lyrics: Common thrash topics such as Satanism or apocalyptic visions come naturally to KREATOR. Once more, the song titles on »Gods Of Violence« speak volumes.
However, lyricist MillePetrozza‘s unique feature lies in his playful approach to these tried and trusted themes: “Understanding the lyrics as an additional dimension is very important to me,” he states. This includes tackling issues of both personal and universal importance. “My wildest years are behind me and there are a couple of things I would have sung about back in the days that just aren‘t in line with my present life anymore. You can grow older and still live a metal musician‘s life for sure. But you have to make sure to preserve your dignity and to not become a parody of yourself – that‘s walking a fine line.”
KREATOR are aware of the risk a long career like theirs involves. Challenging and improving themselves, not living in the past – that‘s the main source of their unabated impact. Ensuring all this also bears testimony to the strong team spirit connecting all band members. Although Mille may act as KREATOR‘s figurehead, he affirms: “We only work as a band!” In fact, one with clear-cut functional division: Bassist “Speesy” Giesler is of great assistance when it comes to organizational matters, “Ventor” Reil brings the beat and all kinds of other stuff – and guitarist SamiYli–Sirniö is the “musical genius,” as Mille puts it. “While the rest of us are self-taught, Sami is a musician to the core, who has already played concerts in opera houses.”
It all comes down to this: Mille builds the base frame which his band mates fill with their ideas and visions. “A band works like a living organism,” he explains. “I‘m a big fan of consistent line-ups. You‘ve got to be honest with each other, should not avoid conflict and must be able to set your ego aside every now and then. We‘re a team.” This concept of friendship is reflected in ‘Hail To The Hordes’, featuring INEXTREMO‘s bagpiper BorisPeifer – Mille‘s very own ode to amity, so to speak. “It‘s a song against superficiality and for sticking together in hard times.”
According to Petrozza – a cosmopolitan at heart – his sticking to the West German Ruhr area should not be interpreted as localistic commitment though. Still, the city of Essen remains the center of KREATOR‘s universe, where Mille is taking care of all band business to this day. “I‘m a bit of a control freak,” he admits with a wink. “But seriously, I don‘t mind doing it. Why would I want to lead a stupid rock star life anyway, snoozing until noon every day and not doing much else? I‘m an active person who enjoys working. In fact, I don‘t even consider it work. I keep the show rolling, simple as that.”
Keeping the show rolling: That‘s all it‘s been about since 1985. And in this respect, German thrash metal icons KREATOR have succeeded big-time with »Gods Of Violence«!
Lyricist, composer, music producer and an expert par excellence when it comes to playing the whammy bars, Anders Allhage aka Andy LaRocque is known for his enduring affiliation with King Diamond and his soulful songs and harmonious melodies.
Having kick started his music métier with Swedish Beauty, the favorite Swedish hard rock band that later changed its name to Swedish Erotica, Andy LaRocque then paired up with the former members of Mercyful Fate, for ‘Individual Death Pattern’ by Death and ‘Evilution’ by IllWill.
Since then to date, he has been a part of many critically acclaimed albums and musical feats that bagged tremendous applause and numerous awards from music maestros across the globe.
Andy LaRocque possesses immense knowledge about the most fundamental and the most intricate music conventions. But, rather than following the cotemporary rigging trends of his era, he utilized the treasure trove of his knowledge to blend, complement and evolve his own signature style that speaks for the finest aesthetics and skillful improvisation.
Andy LaRocque’s style of playing the guitar is an exquisite amalgam of neoclassical elements, harmonized with a tinge of modern blue scales and melodic minors, with slight traces of metal and rock and thus creating one masterpiece of style that is a sure depiction of his sheer brilliance and mastery to a core.
However, despite following his unique style, he admits having drawn an inspiration and influence from Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Randy Rhoads.
Currently, he has his hands well set on the Seymour Duncan Pickups, for regular practices and tuning, Line 6 HD 100 MK II for live amps, and a pair of old classic, vintage 4×12 cabs with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers for cabs. He can be found experimenting with instruments and chords in his studio named ‘Los Angered Recordings‘ which he established in Angered Sweden, in 1995. Andy moved the studio to Varberg and renamed the studio to ‘Sonic Train Studios’ where he produces bands as of this date.
We recently caught him up for an interview, right in the midst of his busy round-the-clock routine, where he revealed his upcoming ventures and projects in the pipeline.
Andy, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. What are you up to these days? Are you making any King Diamond music or are you producing?
I’m sitting in the studio right now actually and I’m listening to all the potential recorded concerts that we did last fall in the U.S. actually. Just getting ready and preparing for the upcoming DVD for the live shows with King Diamond. That’s what I am doing right now. We recorded all the shows during the Abigail tour in October, November and December last year and I’m just going through everything to check how they sound. It’s going to take me a while because there are a lot of concerts actually to go through. The release date I do not know yet but it’s, of course, a lot of work just listening to everything first. That’s what I am doing right now together I’m working with some other European bands in the studio on and off. That is pretty much what I am going to do all this fall.
That was a highly anticipated tour here last fall. I was hoping I was going to be able to catch the whole Abigail album in its entirety and that was one thing that did not come around here.
Florida? Yes, I know. People often think that “why don’t you play in Florida; why don’t you play here”? It’s a matter of finding the right promoter together with the right venue where we can present the show in a proper way. We would love to play in Florida again of course because you know it’s been a long time since we’ve played there and we are aware we have a lot of fans down there so hopefully next time around.
You guys have a lot of fans around here you wouldn’t believe the King Diamond shirts I see around here
That’s cool man!!
Just going back to earlier in your career, how did you start playing guitar? As a child? Or did you pick it up as.?
I think I was around 12 or 13 years old when I was impressed by the bands that were happening at that time back in the mid 70’s like Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy you know all the bands that were around that time even some glam bands like Sweet and Slade, Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper of course and all that. I got kind of influenced by them to pick up the guitar. I think I was about 12 or 13 years old you know when I first picked up the guitar.
What was your first guitar?
Acoustic, Some crap guitar and I can’t even remember the name. Then Ibanez and then moved on to Gibson, and you know. I think I was 14 years old when I got my first Gibson Guitar.
Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?
Yes, that’s why sometimes it doesn’t sound the way it should, no limits by theory! (laugh) but I’ve always been the kind of guy that I’m listening to a part where I’m supposed to play solo to and just constructing a song because I don’t really know that much theory with scales and such, you know? I know the notes but scales and such, I just play what sounds good and I don’t think about it that much really. Make the guitar sing and you know and that’s pretty much it.
Did you play any other instruments when you started to pick up the guitar?
No guitar has always been my primary tool, I did a few vocals back in the 80’s you know and also a tiny, little bit of keyboards you know but that’s it. I still can get around a little bit with keyboards you know I mean playing single notes here and there on albums and stuff that I’m producing in the studio if necessary but the guitar is definitely my primary instrument for sure.
You mentioned some of your influences. Who were some of your big influences before playing? You said Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath
I think back in the 70’s it was Black Sabbath, Status Quo, a British band, Thin Lizzy and if we go back to the first bands I listened to Status Quo, Slade, Sweet, what else? Black Sabbath of course you know, Blue Oyster Cult, oh man, so many bands and then when I actually started to focus on the guitar it was bands like Rainbow, Michael Schenker, UFO, Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhoads, Randy Rhoads was excellent you know still one of my all-time favorite guitarists and bands too, so you know there’s been a lot of influences throughout the years that’s for sure.
When you were still in your teenage years how did you break into the music industry?
I guess I just fooled around with local bands you know and we practiced and rehearsed like 6 or 7 days or nights a week just to get good and I think I had a good network of friends and people around me in the local music stores around Gothenburg Sweden where I was raised and with that knowing a lot of people I got finally into King Diamond and all the bands prior to that too. So a really good network at that time was really necessary to be able to get somewhere. Nowadays you can sit in front of a computer and have a great network on the computer with Facebook and everything but that did not exist at that time so you had to be up to date with friends and whatever was around at that time like music stores and other communities you know.
Days of the music stores and I miss them very much
I know man, its crazy!
It is! It is crazy.
How did you end up joining with King Diamond? How did you guys meet?
It’s a really long story but to make it short me and Mikkey we played in a local band in Sweden before he actually moved down to Copenhagen from Sweden and he hung out with the Mercyful Fate guys , Michael Denner, Timmy and then when King broke up from Mercyful Fate he wanted to start something new, Michael Denner, guitarist and Timmy Hansen, the bass player for Mercyful Fate joined King with his new project only called King Diamond and they were looking for a drummer and they asked Mikkey and they also for a while had another Swedish guitarist that did not work out in the studio so Mikkey called me just after like a week in the studio and said it doesn’t really work out with this guy we have now so do you want to come down and check this out? Mikkey knew me from before and he trusted me you know and thought I was going to do good with King Diamond, so I quit my job. I worked in a music store and quit my job the same day he called me and I took my guitar and my Marshall 50-watt amplifier and I took the train down to Copenhagen and I did an audition in the studio and recorded a solo for Dressed in White which is on the first album FatalPortraits and after a couple of hours he said, “you’re welcome in the band, you’re in the band”!
Yes, and that’s to make it a short story you know – Very tense, you know, I was 22 years’ old
With each album that he does, what King does is based on a story. When you first started with him on this story did you have any input on it? Does he write the lyrics? You write the music? How did you guys start?
Initially, he usually comes up with riffs that he’s puzzling together along with the story lines he has in mind to create the right atmosphere, the same thing with the songs I write, it all has to be in the right spot on the album. It’s a big job putting everything together to make it fit in a story too, and he writes, of course, all the lyrics and comes up with the story and I write maybe I would 35-40% of the music or something like that
Ok so you usually start creating a riff for the new songs with Diamond is that usually how it starts? Are you guys throwing around ideas?
Yes and he’s composing on guitar too and sometimes even on keyboards you know so he creates different pieces that he later put together in the right sequence to make it fit in a story. Yes, that was going to bring me to my next question. I’ve read Abigail was one of your favorites. Is that true?
Yes, I think the whole album has a very good atmosphere. We have a very good time in the studio and we’ve been out for a few tours you know before we started recording that album. So we got to know each other very good and I think in general it’s an excellent album put together in the right way. You can tell that the band is very tight, creative and we just had a real good time recording that album.
How do you and King share ideas you know with you in Sweden and the other guys in Dallas?
Well it’s mostly me and King that shares the ideas, we send ideas to each other but usually let’s say I have a few songs you know and I send them completely with drum machine and two rhythmic guitars and maybe a bass line and the same with him, he sends it to me and if something needs to be changed we just sit down and talk about it and do some rearrangements but that’s pretty much it because usually when he writes a song that’s the way it’s going to be in the end same for me it’s very small details that usually needs to be changed.
You’ve got a little bit of neo-classical influencing in your playing would you agree with that?
I think I was more into that when I was younger I believe, inspired by some stuff from Schenker but also Yngwie, he’s a great guitarist of course and he influenced a lot of guitarists and of course Richie Blackmore with his kind of classical touch, so I guess I was influenced by that too.
How would you describe your tone? You try to get?? In the studio and??
I hope that people would see me as like a very emotional player you know, I played faster when I was younger of course because your adrenaline is high all the time but I think nowadays I play with more emotion than I did when I was younger for sure. I think it’s really important with melodies than just fast runs and I still see myself as a rhythm guitar player more than a lead guitarist that’s for sure
what kind of gear, pickups, and amps are you using?
Ok I’m using Dean electric guitars
Are you endorsed by them?
Yes, I am. Live I am using Yamaha Acoustic Guitars which sounds really good. On the Dean Guitars I’m using all Seymour Duncan which I think is awesome pickups and I’m using them since I guess the mid 80’s. Different kinds of pickups but right now most of my guitars I’m using the Trembuck 11 and it’s a Custom Custom I think it’s called and I’m using the 59 pickups for neck position that’s pretty much what I’m using right now. I’ve been trying all kinds of pickups and I still have some guitars with EMGS and other pickups but you know seems like I’m always returning to the Seymour Duncan’s because they’re so alive you know and very dynamic and I think they’re just great. For other equipment I’m using Marshall Cabinets and Line 6 POD HD Pro X, rack mounted with a Line 6 pedal board and I’m using two power amps with that and two Marshall Cabinets live and that’s actually the same for the other guitarist in the band Mike Wead, he’s using exactly the same set up and it’s very versatile because I mean you get a really nice tone and people are really surprised when I say I’m using that because they think, “oh really that sounds that good” because you pretty much can get any tone you want from it, we got a few presets with clean sound, solo sound and rhythm sound and it’s so easy to work with and just a Ethernet cord between the unit itself and the floorboard and you have all your presets right there on the floor you know so I’m really happy with that. Very easy set up really.
Back in 2012, I think it was 2012 when you guys took a hiatus when King was recovering from his health issues I read that you spent most if not all the monies you guy’s made on some festivals I guess in the production upon his return. Is that accurate?
When we got back after King’s health issues which actually lasted from 2007 five or six years we did not do anything at all because of his health. Then we got back and got some offers from some festivals and we thought OK it’s going to be now or never. We spent a lot of money actually on making a big production to get out and play festivals that would blow people away, they would see something that they never seen before with us you know, so we built a really big stage with a lot of stage props and nice backdrops and spent a lot of money on the light designs and all kinds of stuff and just make sure we had great people around like sound guys and light designers and you know stage designers and everything. We came up with something that people haven’t seen in our camp before. We played bigger stages and just a great show that we haven’t been able to present before 2012. So I think it was a very good move to do that, we had to do something spectacular. We’re still this day using a lot of the same things playing around on some really big festivals all over the world actually, so yes very good.
WhenGive Me Your Soul came out you guys did not tour in support of that because of health issues?
Yes. That’s correct because first of all, he had his back problems. That actually happened while we mixed Give Me Your Soul album and then two years later he has his heart issues so it definitely took some time to recover from that but he recovered quickly I would say and now he’s better than ever, he’s in very good condition. That is awesome
you guys played festivals in Europe with 10,000 of fans and in the US you have to play smaller venues do you think that metal is more popular in Europe than the US? If so, what do you say, why?
It’s really hard to say but it depends on where we play, it seems like the festival thing is really happening over in Europe, I mean there are so many festivals over in Europe and it gathers a lot of people while in the US there are just a few festivals so I would say that’s the big difference. The places we played in the states were indoor venues and we did three tours in one and a half years in the states and I think all of them were very successful. It’s just different venues you know but the metal fans are still there that’s for sure.
Do you think that metal scene has weakened in America because they follow fads or trends?
I don’t know man, I mean when we were out on tour we were doing good so nothing I have noticed, to be honest with you.
You guys usually sell out everywhere you guys went
Pretty much yes. I mean the last couple of tours have been successful for us in the US that’s for sure
With your producing you’ve worked with many death metal bands have you produced any other origins of music in your studios?
Any other type of music you mean?
I produced some pop stuff too you know all kinds of stuff but 99% has been metal, heavy metal, hard rock or black metal. So that’s the main thing, seems like people think I am the right guy to do that kind of stuff. That’s just the thing that has been happening.
How do you consider producing bands do they send tapes? How do they get to you?
I think mostly they hear other productions that I’ve done and they think it sounds good and they get in touch with me. That’s still the main thing you know from mouth to mouth kind of connection sort of stuff, or they see the studio name on an album so if it sounds good they get in touch with me or maybe recommendations by other bands who’ve been in the studio
Do you let groups use your studio? How does that work? Do they rent it out? Do they have you producing it?
Yes, usually they have me producing it but I have a few other guys here in the studio too that can help, when there’s a lot of things to do here in the studio I call them in, and they can assist in tracking and all that but usually the bands come here because they want to work with me.
During the hiatus that you guys had where are you producing any bands at that time?
Yes. That is what I do here all the time actually. Unless we are not doing anything important with King Diamond I pretty much have the studio booked here pretty much all the time so that’s what I do when we are not out touring with King Diamond, King Diamond is, of course, my top priority. That’s what I really like to do, a right combination of working with King Diamond out and touring and in the studio, I really enjoy that for sure. Its two different worlds but still working with music.
Would you consider doing a guitar solo album like some of a lot of the other guys are
I’ve been thinking of that for many years but I don’t know you know. I’m so busy doing other things that I think are more interesting than just putting out a solo album so we’ll see man, I’m not going to say never, but right now, I don’t know probably not
Just a couple more questions
Yes man sure
The YouTube issue with them is not compensating artists fairly. It seems like everybody is putting albums up in their entirety and YouTube is not enforcing their policies. Do you have an opinion about the YouTube issue that’s being brought up by other artists?
Of course, it’s, wrong, you know, artists should get paid for their work, unless it’s pure promotion.
You said you’re doing the King Diamond DVD live album. Do you guys foresee a studio album coming out shortly?
As soon as we’re done with this live thing, and I don’t know when it’s going to be, but we’re talking about starting to compose here later on this fall you know or maybe around New Year’s but it’s impossible to say when it’s going to happen but of course we want to make a new album. It’s about time too; the last album we released was in 2007 so it’s definitely about time to do that.
My last question is are there any guitarists that catch your eye
Let me see here well you know the last guitar I bought here in the studio as a tool more than anything else was a VGS guitar. I’m not sure if you heard about that. It’s a Les Paul type guitar you know made in Germany with EverTune Bridge. I’m not sure if you know about that?
The VGS yes I have
EverTune Bridge, you tune it once and it stays in tune forever. That together with a true temperament fretboard makes it just an amazing studio tool. The right personality is the crazy looking frets you know but it’s perfect in tone on all the frets and the intonationis fantastic. You can take chords that you didn’t think was possible and it sounds so clean. I would say that’s one of the best studio tools I ever had.
That’s one thing, except for that, I don’t know. I was actually in a music store the other day, and I saw a Gibson Rudolf Schenker V. I’m not sure if you’ve seen that. It was kind of close to the Vee-guitar that Gibson made in the 70’s you know,
You know, it’s alright.
What musicians are you following these days?
Oh man! What am I listening to? Oh, that’s a tricky question, man! (laughing) Anything that comes up on the radio. It’s not like I’m actually looking for new musicians and stuff. It’s going to be people who ask me have you listened to this and that you know. But I usually just listen to the whole band instead of individual musicians I think, and I can’t really give you an example. Whatever people tell me to hear to you know, I’ll check it out and take a listen but I’m not actively following or hunting for new musicians.
I understand with your busy schedule. Andy that was all of my questions, and I appreciate you taking your time talking to me.
Vicious Rumors came out at the same time as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Exodus. Vicious Rumors are known for killer guitar riffs and head banging music. It’s been 37 years since Geoff Thorpe formed his iconic brand. I recently caught up with Geoff to discuss Concussion Protocol and other happenings of Vicious Rumors.
Man last time I saw you were in Windsor, Connecticut at a dive bar in 1990. I was disc jockeying at a college radio station in Hartford, Connecticut. McGee was with you guys, and all of us got on your tour bus and went to see Total Recall.
Yeah Man! Well, when you mentioned that about going to the movies in the tour bus, you know, I remember that because we’ve never done that before, just taking a bunch of fans, jumped on our bus and went and did something on our off day, so yes, I completely remembered it. Also, it was hilarious; you were like how did you remember that? My God!
I know 26 years, like five albums for you guys.
Yeah, Incredible man!
Are you touring in Europe?
Yes! We’re not on tour right now, but we’re doing a big tour with Dirkschneider.
Yes, I saw that! Is he done with Accept?
Yes, he is doing a tribute to Accept where I think he just sees how popular Accept is and so he’s cashing in on it and it’s working. When he does the Dirkschneider thing, he plays to packed houses, and so it’s a big tour for us. We’re kind of excited about it.
Good! That will lead me to my first question for you. You guys are trendy in Europe. You guys are playing festivals 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 people and your counterparts, I mean everybody Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, everybody goes over there, seems like they’re making more money than they are in the States. Do you think the market is pretty much dried up here in the states for metal? Could you come back and play a thousand seat clubs? Then you guys go over for the Wacken Festival or whichever festival you guys are at —
Well you know, I don’t think that it’s ‘dried up’ but there’s just, I say the difference between the European audience and the American audience is that you know trends come and go and the European audience tends to, they might embrace something new but just because they embrace something new they don’t reject stuff that they liked before, and I think that the American audience like fads come and things change, and then all of a sudden people might think like, I mean I’m not like you know I’m just thinking out loud what is the possible reason for that? I just feel that European audiences are more open to still loving what they used to love and then embracing new bands that were sometimes American audiences tend to go with new fads and just move on from what they used to do to something new. I don’t know man, you know the bottom line is there are great metal fans all around the world but there’s definitely something special that goes on here in Europe, and we were lucky enough to start in the 80’s and we were embraced here by the fans here and so you know we just went where the opportunities were, and we’re just really thankful that we have this incredible European fan base here and I always love being in Europe. I love the people. I love the way that they can get together in large numbers and they know how to behave you know. People aren’t getting robbed or beat up or vandalized. You know they get together, somebody falls, and someone gets picked up. You understand me? They don’t get trampled on. So it’s just a different vibe out here man, and it’s very cool especially for us, we’ve just been fortunate to have this incredible fan base that’s been with us from the very beginning and here we are on our twelfth studio album 37 years later it’s all going strong so it’s just – you know we’re humbled by it and at the same time we just want to give the fans the best possible metal experience we can deliver, night after night. We just want it to be a metal party that you can remember for all time and that way if we just give our best every time, you seem to be invited back.
Going back to Soldiers of the Night which is still considered a Metal classic is going up with the Carl Albert Fronted band 1988-95 RIP Carl –When you’re doing pre-production for your records, and all are you primarily the one doing the writing of the music and the lyrics, is it a band effort? Because I know Vicious Rumors is, you see, you found it, how do you dispense what the duties are?
You know I am the primary writer, and if the guys don’t do exactly what I tell them, they need to get the fuck out and if we don’t do it my way we don’t do it anyway but really, I’m easy to work with. I’m just kidding bro!
I was going to be like; you sound like Mr. Malmsteen!
No shit huh! That was insane; it felt excellent to say that though. No, I’m just playing with you man. I lead the direction, and I write most of the music. I do write a lot of lyrics and melodies, and I always have. When we had Carl, we worked together in that way too. Vicious Rumors has always been a team, and we work together much like a sports team. I’m the leader of the team, maybe I’m the driving force, but I like to surround myself with really talented creative people, and right now we have a unique combination. I never intended to have this worldwide line up this international lineup with guys in Europe and guys from California it comes down to chemistry, the most important part of having a band is the chemistry within the group, and that’s what made bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and Metallica they have chemistry together and when you find that kind of chemistry, luckily we live in a day and age we’re just a flight away and with the internet it’s possible to have these guys half way across the world and we can still do it and like I said, I never intended to do it but when we got together and when I found Nick and found Tilen they just brought so much to the table in every way they’re super creative; talented, they got a lot of great ideas. So to me, chemistry is number one, and if you have that, then the rest will follow. So yes, I do a lot of the writing but we work together as a team, and I’m entirely open to all the guys’ great ideas. We don’t always use them because I do so much of the writing, but they help me shape it. The one thing that we’ve had with all the different lineups is my songwriting, and that is sort of like the thread from the beginning to now that’s kept up Vicious Rumors, so I don’t want to lose that but at the same time, I really value the talented guys that I work with.
When did Nick come along? Was he on the last album or come on the tour?
Well what happened was we had a big US tour in 2013 and then Brian Allen was becoming more and more unavailable you know understandably, he’s got, three kids, he’s a single dad with 3 children, so you know that’s a huge responsibility and so he started looking at, he just became unavailable and the problem was when he decided that he was not going to be available it was four weeks before a giant tour that I had already spent four months working on and so I was just lucky that I found Nick off a recommendation of a good friend of mine in The Netherlands from my brother Jake’s band in The Netherlands he recommended Nick to me and we had just gotten Tilen in the group, and I was just lucky to find him in time, and he came in we did the US tour together and he did the last live album Live You To Death 2: American Punishment and he had only just joined the band and just crammed in to learn like 20 songs and did a fantastic job and now we’ve had three years of chemistry behind us so if you listen to the last live album and the way he sounds on the new album you can just actually hear in percussion protocol the growth that’s taken place and the way his voice has evolved, you know he can sing
high and clean all day long but we worked on his lower range and bringing out more of a full-voiced thing with his classic high decent thing and really you know he just has the ability and the range to do all the styles of Vicious Rumors music you know. I think you being someone who really knows Vicious Rumors from the beginning to now know we are aware that we don’t just have one style or one sound we have a lot of different aspects to our music from speed metal to ballads to slow quenched stuff and we need a singer that can sing low and cumbersome, high and clean, dark and moody and also melodic, so it’s a real tall order to be the singer in Vicious Rumors and Nick’s just done a great job in the band the last few years and a fantastic job on the new record.
Yeah, it’s an excellent record. I reviewed it for another website that is not mine. I think you guys liked it on Twitter and followed me back as a matter of fact. For Concussion Protocol did you do anything differently in production for the preparation of recording the other albums?
We did, it was the most I mean months of great lots of hard work man. I started by just writing riffs on my little digital recorder. Once I had put together the body of twelve songs we actually got together and rented a house in The Netherlands and spent like three weeks together you know finalizing the ideas and taking suggestions for the guy’s and really just working together to try to make the album the best it could be and luckily we had the three years experience together and all the touring we did. Since Nick and Tilen have been in the band we’ve done a major US tour a South American tour, two European tours we had built the chemistry already which was really helpful, we were all really comfortable with each other when we started writing this album and after I kind of assembled most of the songs you know we rented that house in The Netherlands and put the final touches on it. Once I really felt like the album taking shape I really felt like wow this is going to be probably our heaviest album and one of our most powerful driving records that we’ve ever done, and so I really felt at that point like man I need lyrics, I need a cover, I need a concept to be to be just as heavy and after the guys had gone home I stayed in Europe for like three weeks, just with a notebook and a pencil and my pads and paper and I just wrote lyrics and started coming up with this crazy doomsday story with the asteroid taking out the world and I was just thinking when we went digital dictator we were at the beginning of the digital age, and I was thinking where are we now? Well, unfortunately, we’re in the age of disasters. You know with tsunamis and earthquakes, terrorism and all this shit I just thought man what would be the ultimate catastrophe? That would be the whole planet being destroyed in one swift blow! So I wanted to make a bad ass heavy metal loud one and a total nightmare at the same time, and that’s how the whole thing came on the Concussion Protocol. I hope you know I was just kidding when I said we were going to do it my way and all that. You know, people, it’s the funny dude the way you know how long this band’s been together.
Yes, I sure do
And anytime you have a band together for half as long as we’ve been together there are lineup changes, and that’s just life. I mean look at any heavy metal band that you can think of at off the top of your head Judas Priest, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath you know Testament and the list goes on and on everybody’s had lineup changes. So there’s nothing different from Vicious Rumors to any other bands. If you love what you’re doing you just fix it and move on and that’s what we’ve done in the past. Right now we’ve got a very particular combination and I really hope that we can stay together and make a few more albums together in this lineup and if for some reason that doesn’t happen, then I’m just going to go ahead and make another bad ass album without, you know I got a great bunch of guys right now, and we have a real good chemistry together. I think as long as we can work together you know I think the guys are very excited about the response so far, the views and the ratings that the album’s been getting like 9 out of 10 and 8 out of 10. People just responding in such a positive way and I appreciate your comments too man
Oh yes I rated you guys an 8 out of 10
that’s fantastic man!
Soon as I heard it, I knew it was you! Soon as the opening riff, I knew it was you. That’s how distinctive your riff playing is
Thank you very much
Drums, everything about that you can always hear a Vicious Rumors song
I appreciate that
Going on from Concussion Protocol you’re on a German label now. How was that first back in the day when we had big budgets with Atlantic Records all that compared to now and the market?
Well, I tell you it’s been fantastic. Working with SPV has been an incredible experience. They know what they’re doing Ali Han and Marco over there in the office. They’re seasoned veterans. They’re into the music they know the market. They’ve done a great job??? Spinning up the album and this year I think they’ve done more for the band than ever before. I was just here two months doing Press. I did like 70 interviews. So it’s been a great experience to work with SPV, and you know Atlantic was also you find out when you’re in a band, and you’re trying to get signed it’s a very tough business you know. When you have the opportunity to sign with the same label as Led Zeppelin and AC/DC you know it’s a dream come true and you take that opportunity no matter what it is but you know there’s also the reality of being a minuscule fish in a huge pond and so to be with SPV and be one of their more featured bands it’s also working out quite well
I remember Sylvio Bonvini, the guy that was doing your A & R at Atlantic
Yes, he was one of them it was him Sylvio and Peggy Donnelly.
Talk about names I remember dealing with getting your stuff. Sylvio hooked me up with posters of you guys.
Well you know, like I said Atlantic Records is no joke and everything we’ve done in the past has led us to where we are now. So I have no regrets, I have no excuses, and I make no apologies. We’re just trying to do the best we can do and do it. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel we’re just trying to take our art and our music and make it the best we can
Going on with your music we’re going to kind of go to a different level we’ll get back to that in a second. The YouTube issue. It’s becoming a big issue about YouTube, and I ask everybody these questions I always want to hear what everyone’s opinion is. There are a lot of people like Nikki Sixx, and a few other people are saying that YouTube is not fair in compensating the artists due to all their music being on YouTube and it just being replayed and replayed and people uploading full video’s of the bands without consent. I mean do you have an opinion about that? Have you been following that story at all?
I mean it’s a real double-edged sword. I mean it’s great for people to find the band and get to see it. Like our albums just came out Friday and I think later that day someone had already put the whole album on YouTube or some link to go and get our entire album for free and it’s just like in some ways it kills the industry so it’s such a double-edged sword I mean in one respect it’s great because people can find out about you they can hear the music and if they’re real fans maybe they’re going to go out and buy it but there are so many people will just bootleg your stuff and won’t pay for it, and it is unfair in a lot of ways, and you know it just comes right down to being victims of a digital world.
How do you feel about the streaming service like Spotify and Apple music and all them? Do you think they help or hurt the industry?
Well you know there’s some accountability there. You know with YouTube it’s just the artist ripped off so at least with Spotify and some of those other things there can be some accountability. You know man, that’s just the world we live in today, and it just makes touring that much more valuable.
Yes to increase the revenues you’re losing on record sales
Exactly and selling your album to the hardcore fans that go to the shows you know luckily in my case and I think the guys in my band, everybody in my band are guys that love what they do it’s not about money, it’s about passion and fire and living out our dreams you know we’re just very thankful to our fans that stood by us and the new ones that we get all the time cause man without the fans there is no band, and we’re all about the fans we’re nothing without them.
Your video that you came out here, are you playing Dean Guitars now?
Yes, I’ve been with Dean for a while now.
I saw I don’t know if it was you playing a Dean Dime Guitar are that what you’re primarily playing or do you have your signature model?
Yes, I use the Razorback. You know when I saw that thing I was like my God it’s like a bolt of lightning, and it’s just so fun to play and I’m also a good fan of Dimebag so yes I was euphoric and honored that Dean Guitar would sponsor me with and give me so many great guitars to work with that’s been really a privilege and I’ve been really really proud to play my Dean Guitars around the world. I have three Razorbacks a Razorback B and ML also an Eric Peterson, and the Eric wasn’t given to me by Dean it has been paid to me by Eric. He came to my house and gave me the guitar we’ve known each other a long time, and I remember the day he gave that to me I was. I was like man there are a couple of million people that would just be so blown away to have you come to their house and give them one of your guitars. Eric and I have grown up together we’ve known each other a long time, so that’s part of being fortunate enough to be a part of the Bay Area metal scene that turned out to be something that the whole world looks to is just something extraordinary. Metallica, Exodus, Vicious Rumors, Death Angel, Testament, Megadeth bands that are still going strong today.
You’ve got Dave Messina on Dean Guitars. You’ve got Michael Androvetti??? Who are in my group, you’ve got Vinnie Moore, and Rusty Coolidge is on there you know I can go on. It seems like Dean is picking up a lot of different artists and all. Is there any top signature model for you or are you just happy with what they provide you?
Well you know, we’ll see, we’ll see. I would love to do that at some point but I’ve been very thankful just to be sponsored by Dean, and you know they’ve given me some great guitars. You know I strangle the hell out of them, I beat the hell out of them and they seem to hold up quite well, so it’s not like a top priority for me my priority is the music and keeping the band working. I would love to have a Geoff Thorpe signature.
What are your rigs consisting of? I know you have the Dimebag but what else are you using?
I’d love to tell you, but unfortunately, I’d have to kidnap you. No man, I use a real classic rig called a Langner power amp and preamp with a very particular amp called a More Sound, and the More Sound amps are made in San Diego California, and he did make me a signature amp. I do have an amp it’s called a Megajet amp. It is not available on the market is a custom amp that was made for me by More Sound amplifiers and yes it’s pretty bad ass I think we got a really great guitar sound on the record and other than that I don’t have a lot of special gear to tell you about and quite honestly 90% of the way guitar players sound is their hands. I could go into Guitar Center and plug it into the amp, and I’m still going to look like Geoff Thorpe of Vicious Rumors because it’s me playing, so gear and tone is definitely concordant but like I said you know Michael Schenker walks into a Guitar Center picks up the guitar and amp he’s still going to sound like Michael Schenker, and that’s because 90% of guitar players sound is coming right out of his hands.
That’s what I was getting to are you still practicing before each show? You’ve pretty much been at it for 37 years
Oh yes man, I still rehearse and warm up it’s important. I feel like I can play much more freely if I get a chance to warm up. I enjoy having rehearsals but unfortunately, nowadays we have this international line-up, and so we don’t get to have so many rehearsals. Everybody’s professional enough just to be ready, and we talk about the list, put together the set list everybody’s ready to go. We get together, have one or two rehearsals and start the tour.
Are you still up in the Bay area? Are you guys still practicing up there because you guys are playing Europe so often do you guys stay out there?
Yes, Larry and I and Thaen still live in the Bay Area and Nick is in The Netherlands. So usually what happens is when we are preparing to go on the road I’ll have three or four rehearsals with Larry and Thaen just the two guitars and drums and then we’ll come to Europe a week early before the tour and have three or four rehearsals together as a band and then just do it and then everybody shows up individually ready to go so we can have our rehearsals be very concentrated and we’re already rehearsed and ready and you know when you’re in that situation no one wants to be the guy that’s not ready you understand me? So everybody shows up prepared.
What is your touring schedule going to be like for the next twelve months? Are you guys going to be in Europe?
No. We’ve got some large plans. We start October 31 we’re going to be with Durkschneider playing into November supporting him through Scandinavia and Germany, Czech Republic, Austria then we’re going to break and do two and a half weeks of headline shows, and then we finish with another run with Durkschneider till December 19. We’ve got the 70,000 tons of metal cruise coming up at the beginning of February. We have a second opportunity for a tour in Europe that we’re negotiating right now, and we certainly have plans to return to the United States as well as Japan and South America, so it’s going to be a very busy 2016-2017 for Vicious Rumors man we’re just putting the classic set out there with the best material. We just want to make it a heavy metal night to remember every time we hit the stage.
I ask everybody this question too. Is there any guitar player of a younger generation that has caught your eye?
Oh man, there are so many good ones. Everybody’s younger than me though so I’m not sure what the guys in Arch Enemy. I don’t know how old Jeff Lynne is he might not be that much younger than I, but he sure is amazing. It’s funny the part playing of soloing and stuff was a lost art for a while, and now it’s coming back again big time, so I think it would be great to see somebody stepping up the guitar playing again. Especially with like schools losing music programs and things like that dropping out.
Well, Geoff, those were exquisite. Those were the questions I got for protocol, and it sounds like a good album and Nick looked superb on it, the video is sharp there. Hopefully, you can get your signature endorsement from Dean so you can do that
I appreciate that, and I just want to thank you and the followers, of all your info like I, said we’re all about the fans whether it be the fans from the beginning or they’re just finding out about us you know no excuses no apologies it’s just bad ass heavy metal, and that’s all that matters.
It’s been one hell of a ride with Vicious Rumors in my collection for the past 26 years. All of us going to see Total Recall is still one of my favorite memories.
I’ll tell you what, just keep rocking my friend and we’ll take you to the movies again sometime ok?
Well if you’re down in Florida, are you guys going to be touring in the states soon or you guys just stay primarily over there because Europe is more of a money maker for you?
Well, we plan on doing a US tour sometime I’d say mid-2017 so yes we’ll be back for sure.
Dedicated to the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Guitarist!