This Love: Phil Anselmo talks about his life in, and love for, metal

Photo: Rob Fenn
Philip H. Anselmo (Pantera/Down/Superjoint) took nearly an hour of his time on his birthday to spend it on the phone for an interview, in advance of bringing Superjoint to The V Club Sunday for a stop on the It Takes Guts Tour, with guests King ParrotChild Bite, and Byzantine.
Listening to him talk passionately about being in a band, his love for metal, running a label, and just making friends, well, what he had to say was his gift to the fans, the bands he helps at Housecore Records, and bands in general.
Here is the interview in its entirety.

Reposted/expanded/unedited from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch interview

WVRockscene: Today is your 47th birthday – you doing anything special or get any cool presents?

Phil Anselmo: Yeah, I’m sitting at home on my lazy ass, and I’m not doing jack shit. I’m takin’ a break, and that’s the best present I got.

WVRockscene: It’s been a long time, how excited are you to take Superjoint back out on the road for this “It Takes Guts” tour with King Parrot and Child Bite?

Anselmo: It’s gonna be awesome, man. You take the group of guys in Superjoint, you mix ‘em liberally with, fuckin’, King Parrot and Child Bite? (laughs) It’s bound to be a kickass fuckin’ time. I love all those guys, and it’s gonna be great.

WVRockscene: Superjoint just played its first ever European show, at Hellfest, how did that go, and how busy have you personally been in 2015?

Anselmo: Well, it seems like I do something every year. The year before that, [Phil Anselmo and] the Illegals played, a year before that, Down played; they’d had a cancellation, where Clutch had to pull out due to a death in the family, so we filled their spot.

This Hellfest gig was excellent, dude. It was really fun. But, I will say that, it was our second show in over a decade, so, it was a pretty damn big stage. Like I told the guys after the gig: the chemistry is still there, we just need a few shows under our belt, and then I think we’ll be just fine.

One of the reasons I started Superjoint to begin with, was to get back into the intimate rooms and clubs, just to have that feel again. So, I think bringing these songs into small clubs again, the shit’s gonna feel good, it’s gonna be alright.

As far as 2015, I’ve been strapped in this cave called the studio, since January, hashing out all kinds of stuff, mixing records for [Housecore], for the future, and Jesus, man, just writing all kinds of stuff. Matter of fact, one of the records we mixed came out today, the Author and Punisher album. That was a trip to work on, very freaky. Really a different type of production there. A very talented man, Tristan Shone, the man behind all these machines.

But, um, just writing new Illegals, practicing with Superjoint, writing new Superjoint. I did a couple under the radar projects that will probably see the light of day, I don’t know, it’ll come out in the wash. Fuck, what else? Down gigs, I’ve done a handful, more in August, but really, mostly, it’s just a bunch of studio work, man. Just keeping busy, you know? Keeping my fucking eyes peeled. Gearing up for year three of the Housecore Horror Film Festival, which is always very trying in the early stages, but right now we got a fantastic team around us, and they’re kicking a whole shitload of ass while the rest of us work back out on the road.

WVRockscene: Running Housecore Records, in this digital age, there are pros and cons. In a recent interview, Fat Mike of NOFX talked about running Fat Wreck Chords, and exposing and helping out bands he likes, but said it almost feels like the thrill is gone, or at least the immediacy of the Internet and all these bands at your fingertips takes something away from the experience of finding out about new bands at shows. Being now 47-years old, being old enough to remember the pre-Internet days, how do you see your role at Housecore?

Anselmo: You pretty much laid out the foundation for it all in your description. There are pros and cons. There are differences between today and pre-Internet, and all that shit, you know, the good old days, of having, you know, early 80’s, and well into the 90’s, being a music fan, and actually having to get off your ass and chase music down, whether it be demos, or just checking weekly in the underground music section, just to see what’s out there, reading fanzines, shit like that.

It’s completely different today, where basically, running a label is a big time labor of love. Records are stolen left and right, by everybody. And, for musicians, and I can definitely speak for musicians, you know, we know that in order to make a fuckin’ buck these days, you gotta get off your ass and get out there and hump it, and play fucking shows. We get that.

That’s why, with Housecore, we look for those bands that are lifers, that are willing to get in a fucking van and hump it for a while. You know – get out there and tour! Play for people, and take risks! Because, right now, your paycheck ain’t comin’ from album sales, physical sales, anymore. People talk about vinyl making a comeback and all that shit, and to a certain degree, it’s true. We believe in it. We do vinyl everything. Am I blown away by the sales of it? Not really. But I do see the interest, and it’s interesting that people are wanting to have this physical copy of anything at all in their hands today.

And, I’m not going to distinguish between what I think a real music fan is, you know? Someone who actually buys a record and supports the bands that they like, or people who steal music and still love the music but will come out to a show and buy a t-shirt. You know, that’s a tough water to navigate for me. Of course, I’d definitely prefer that people buy every album that they fucking goddamn well have stolen (laughs).

Because, I’m gonna tell you what, there’s eventually, well, you reap what you sow. This movement of stealing music is going to backfire bigtime on people, and in ways that they’re not prepared for. And I can’t wait for that day. I’m not gonna give away any secrets, but I will say that day is comin’.

Also, when you do something like this, the way I think about things, it’s like, heavy metal, and extreme music, really, has been so kind to me my entire fuckin’ life. I’ve had a lot of success through hard work and have made great fans – without the fans, you’re zero. So, you know, I think it’s very natural to want to give back, and help out up and coming bands I do like, and let it be known that they definitely have my stamp of approval, and I got their backs.

Even non-Housecore bands, like the guys in Portal, or Deathspell Omega, you know, extreme bands that I have complete respect for, outside of the bands on my label, I’m gonna support ‘em, you know? Because I like ‘em and I think they’re worth the time and definitely worth the effort of listening to, because you hear something new every time you listen to it. These are bands that are very much lasting to me, you know?

I find great inspiration in all places; of course, everything from The Beatles to Black Sabbath, to Merciful Fate, to Slayer to Morbid Angel, and the young innovators within sub-genres, and I’ve already mentioned two of ‘em, Portal and Deathspell Omega, they’re different genres, but still innovators nonetheless.

I don’t know. I’m a fan, man. I’m a music fan through and through. Fuck it, it’s what I know best, next to boxing and horror movies. And, at 47, I don’t think I’m gonna be challenging for the heavyweight title anytime soon. So, I think I’ll stick to discussing horror films, discussing boxing, and I’m gonna continue to keep making music, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
WVRockscene: You’ve mentioned how kind metal and extreme music has been to you over the years. Looking back on the nearly 30 years that have passed since you were brought into Pantera, how, given how hard you’ve worked, and you mentioned that, how lucky do you feel looking back at that one break, that has given you this life?
Anselmo: Well, that’s a pretty broad stroke. But, straight to the point, I feel extremely blessed, you know? Not everybody gets as lucky as I got. Right now I’m a free agent. That’s how I view myself these days. I can do pretty much anything I fuckin’ wanna do. There’s no strict schedule. There ain’t no one gonna get me out there with six straight months of touring, or shit like that. No fuckin’ way.
I’ve literally broke my fuckin’ back, literally ripped my knees apart, I’ve destroyed the skeleton inside my skin for this shit called extreme music. And there’s no regrets, except for the everyday, chronic pain I feel from the abuse, I guess, of just being on that fuckin’ stage my entire life. But you just deal with it, you know? There’s pain that goes around the entire world. Fuck it. Mine ain’t any more significant than anyone else’s.
But I feel very, very blessed, and the fact that I can put together a project and can see even a small contingency of people enjoy what I do? That’s a blessing. When I look at other contemporaries, or people before me, even, and you listen to their voices, and they have this distinct voice, and you know it’s them when you hear it, I think that’s a sign of success. And I think I’ve got that quality of voice, that when people hear it, they’re like, ‘Fuck, that’s Anselmo!’
However, there’s a lot of stuff I haven’t released that is very different than most people would be used to, to a certain degree. Eventually, when I go and release everything it’s gonna trup some people out, and let ‘em realize that, um, I’m a diverse motherfucker, and not just heavy metal music, or hardcore music. I think heavy music doesn’t need distorted guitars and shit like that. There’s all sorts of heavy music out there. Some classical music is heavy as fuck. I’ve tried to touch on those, and bands that have influenced me over the years, and you still want that heavy edge, whether it’s the lyrics, or just the atmosphere or the tonality, depending on the project.
WVRockscene: Musicians and artists talk about the catharsis of writing and/or performing. Given the pain you’ve endured physically and emotionally, over the years what kind of solace has writing lyrics offered you?
Anselmo: The world is large. Topics are many. There’s more out there than religion. There’s more out there than politics, and there’s more out there than social statements. Case in point: on my first solo record, most of it was about me going fucking bananas in my own fuckin’ bedroom. I wanted to write about something that was one hundred thousand percent real, and not just supposition.

Like, Satanism, or nationalism, or politics. There are all kinds of bands that have done that, and done it better than me, you know? Fuck it. Why should I fuck with it? Plus, half of it is fake anyway, the religious part, if you ask me. It’s like ‘Ehh,’ (sighs disgustedly) – it’s boring, you know? Can you play your instrument? That would be nice.
But either way, writing lyrics, some shit I’ve written in the past, I hate it of course. It sucks. But to someone else, it may be the best thing they like about my style. Lyrics are for everybody, and when I say that, when I write lyrics, definitely don’t try to zero in on one particular topic, really, for one song. It’s all about the song and the flow of the song: what would give that song its own personality? Its own train of strength to make that song the best song possible. But I love to leave that bit of room in there, open for interpretation.

Take a song like “This Love” by Pantera: that could mean a million things to a million different people, and that’s fantastic. That’s how I prefer it.

So, lyrics, like I say: ehh, love ‘em, hate ‘em, take ‘em, leave ‘em, to some people it’s great, to some it’s hogwash, so guess what? You can’t please everybody all the time, so fuck it, you may as well write what you feel like writing.

WVRockscene: In your interview with Graffiti Magazine, you talked about your enduring friendship with Superjoint bandmate Jimmy Bower. How special is it to have Superjoint back and share this experience with your good friend, after all these years?

Anselmo: Considering how deep we were both – and you have to lump Kevin Bond in there – there was a great contingency of my old friends who lived on the edge, so to speak. The mere fact that we’re all alive makes me glorious and deliriously happy. And the mere fact that we’ve learned our lessons and came back from it stronger than ever, and, can cope, and, can talk and be comfortable with one another, is priceless.

Because, a great case in point would be, uh, Pantera. What broke Pantera was lack of communication. I was guilty of it. They were guilty of it. Both sides were guilty of it. And, bingo, sure enough, we broke up and ended up on bad terms. And we ain’t the first band, and we ain’t gonna be the last band that happens to.

So, any advice I would give to up and comers, would be speak freely, you know? And the guys that can’t take criticism, probably shouldn’t be there to begin with. It’s best learning that early in the game than later in the fucking game, down the road, and you have to tell somebody “You’re not pulling your fucking weight,” and he becomes a crybaby, and wants to quit and go home, and you’re stuck out there with your fucking thumb up your ass.

Be up front right off the bat. Speak your mind right off the bat. Talk it out like human beings are able to, you know? We have this fantastic gift as humans called reason. We should all be able to sit down and hash things out, civilly and democratically, and with the ability to, and, I hate this word, compromise.

Because, if you’re doing something that is, I guess, stepping on the toes of one of your bandmates, or upsetting them in some weird way that you’re not aware of, and they let you know about it, you gotta have part of your heart where you say, “Oh, holy shit! Pardon me, sir, it won’t happen again,” and move on. It’s like, you gotta have that open mind.

Fuck it, man. I think being straight with each other is fantastic, and I think that’s something that me, and Jimmy, and Kevin, and, look here man, the very brutal honesty of all of this is, I got a 25-year old drummer, little “Blue” Jose Manuel Gonzalez, he might be the most mature fuckin’ guy I’ve met. (laughs) He’s bone sober and has a good head on his shoulders. He’s a father, and he’s got his priorities right. And I can’t say enough about Steve [Taylor] my bass player. He’s a hard worker, and he’s a damn good songwriter, and a great musician.

The group, you know, we get along very well. It’s stunning. The same can be said about Down. Like a lot of bands, you go through lineup changes, and stuff like that, different, uh, chapters in life, shit like that. You gotta respect that, and if you wanna keep the band going, that’s up to the band, and it’s up to you, individually, as well.

But, if you find the right guys to fill some hefty shoes, then, not only are you lucky, but you also probably reignited the band’s energy level, you know, with the infusion of new guys and new influences.

WVRockscene: Whether it’s Superjoint losing a decade to internal disputes, or Pantera/Dimebag/metal fans being robbed due to an unspeakable evil, do you feel like you’ve lost time or you have been robbed of something you love?

Anselmo: No, I don’t think I’ve lost time. I’m the kind of person, I will take the time to mourn the loss of a fallen comrade. But, I’ll also remember that fallen comrade would’ve wanted me to continue on, and keep fightin’. Keep on puttin’ those fuckin’ feet forward and movin’ forward. And, I’m a forward movin’ motherfucker.

So, really, when Pantera ended, for me, it was probably time we needed a break, anyway. If Dimebag was alive, do I think Pantera would’ve continued? Absolutely. I think we would’ve put our differences aside a long time ago, and continued on for as long as we felt like it.

I can say the same thing about Superjoint. When we broke up and called it a day, it was time. I was exhausted, man. I was dealing with Dimebag’s death. I needed a fucking break. I needed back surgery. I needed knee surgery. I needed to get my brain back together. I needed all kinds of shit; therapy, mentally and physically, you know?

When you do that, it makes you a better person, in one way or another. I would never call that lost time. I would call that recharging the battery for the next chapter in life. So, no, I don’t feel like it’s lost time. I feel like it’s life. And, I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to lose somebody dear, and close, in my life.
Hopefully (pauses) – hey, it’s gonna happen to everybody, whether it be a parent, a brother or a sister, or a best friend, you’re gonna lose somebody along the way. I just hope that people can remember, that, you know, life does still go on, and, there are ways to cope.
You might not understand, you know, all the mysteries of life, but does anybody have all the fuckin’ answers? No, they don’t. Not everybody has all the perfect fuckin’ answers to life. Human beings are very complex creatures, and everybody sees the world a different way, you know? Everybody wants different things out of life.
There’s a lot of variables there, and there’s no way one person can sum it up perfectly, unless, uh, there ain’t no way anybody can sum it up perfectly, unless you just want to say “Live and let live,” and we’ve seen that before, and does it work? No, it doesn’t, because people have different ideas of what live and let live is on top of that shit. (laughs hard)
So, you know, I say do your fuckin’ best. That’s what I say. Do your goddamn best, today, to better yourself, to better the people around you. Take care of your own. Fuck, always be open to makin’ new friendships, and listening to people, and trying to understand instead of combat immediately if it doesn’t jive with what you’ve been thinkin’, you know?
Because, there’s a lot of different ways to look at things. There’s a lot of very intelligent people out there, way more so than myself, that I find very interesting, and I’ve learned from. Hopefully a little bit every day. That’s my thing: just do your best you can today and tomorrow and next week, next month, and next year. Fuck it.

WVRockscene: Looking back on all these years, how special has it been to not only share being in a band with your friends, but meeting and sharing it with your fans? To be able to bring Superjoint, like you said, into these smaller more intimate venues?
Anselmo: I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. I look forward to meeting people, man. The fans, I find that, I learn something from them. When fans get past the fact that, this rock and roll guy they have enjoyed for many years, then they realize I’m pretty much a just a regular guy, and we have similar tastes and shit.
Dude, I’m easy to please: for me, it’s music, boxing and horror movies. Great, let’s start talkin’. You know, I can learn about a new band, fighters, movies, anything, out of meeting new people, and being open with the audience.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the term rock star, unless it really applies. And, it’s normally a pretty negative connotation when I use it, at best. The way I feel, man, I just feel like a music fan, myself. That’s how I’d prefer to be seen, whether people want to put me on this oddball pedestal or not. I think, once you meet me, you would probably, you know, just consider me a damn fun, damn fine acquaintance.
That would be a lot better for me. (laughs) If you meet somebody one time, and you have a conversation with them, you can still enjoy their fuckin’ music and whatnot, just realize some of us are really just down to Earth motherfuckers.
Man, I could go into the truth of it all. Like, some of the nicest people I’ve ever fuckin’ met, you know, would be Black Sabbath, Ronnie Dio included – maybe one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my life.
So, are they stars? Fuckin’ Black Sabbath? Hell yes they are, in their own way. But are they rock stars? They most certainly, uh, don’t conduct themselves with this air of being untouchable or unapproachable.
They’re some of the nicest people. The truth is, they’re some of the people I like to model myself after, instead of, the dicks in this business? Yeah, they exist, for sure.

--- Superjoint performs Sunday, July 19 at The V Club in Huntington with special guests King Parrot, Child Bite, and Byzantine.


Q&A w/Molly Mess of Some Kind Of Nightmare

Ohio natives Molly and Chy Mess, who front the San Diego-based punk band Some Kind Of Nightmare may have had to cancel their show at The Empty Glass Wednesday due to not having a drummer, but that will not stop us from running this fun, fact-filled Q&A. Hopefully they come back to West Virginia soon and we can run this feature in print and get paid for it. Who knows?

“…We’re still without a drummer so we had to cancel on our end. We’re very disappointed in this as we’ve never been to Charleston,” Molly, the singer-bassist said over email. While the band has found a drummer for a show in Indianapolis for its Never Gonna Stop Tour, not having a drummer and keeping her band going with her husband, Chy, is no big deal compared to the fight Molly may end up fighting: breast cancer.


Molly Mess: The Never Gonna Stop Tour was really good and really harsh at the same time. It was good because we got to see a lot of our friends across the country again. Booking the tour started getting easier. But it was extremely difficult because we were touring in a ‘76 Ford Econoline so we were breaking down every day. Then we inherited a ‘94 dodge ram b250. Then we had fuel pump issues with that van. So we changed the name of the tour because we felt it was cursed hahaha.

We were able to take my 16-year old sister on the road with us for about a week. That was really awesome! We also got to play with our friends from Berlin called The Fever. That was great seeing them.


Molly: Rancid and The Sex Pistols were a major influence on my life. Rancid’s album “Let’s Go” changed my life. Chy and I both came from broken homes, as it always goes. I had never heard anything so uplifting. It gave me a sense of self-worth. Chy’s album was Rancid's “…And Out Come The Wolves.”

Chy and I are actually both originally from Ohio. We met in middle school and started dating when we were 17. We were both looking for a punk to be with. In the small towns that we grew up in, punk was an extremely rare thing. We were both so passionate about it. We became inseparable. About two and a half years into the relationship, we formed Some Kind of Nightmare.

Molly: Mess Fest was incredible. It really meant a lot to see so many people, friends and strangers, showing support. It was really appreciated that our friend Kevin Stokes filled in for drums. It was a little difficult that we didn’t have our own drummer. It was somewhat difficult having the focus on the health issue. It was easier when we were on the road because we kept so busy that the health issue was more in the back of my mind rather than being the main focus. We’re so grateful for our friend Reed (a cancer survivor) and his band AboveRepute for putting this benefit show together for Chy and I.


Molly: The health situation right now is testing to see if it is breast cancer. I have a tumor in my left breast and an unidentified lump in my lymph node area under my right arm. At this time we do not know if either issue is cancerous. I just made an appointment today to get a mammogram and an ultrasound for testing. The not knowing has been terrifying.

Unfortunately the process has been slow. First you have to get a referral. Then you have to set up an appointment for a mammogram and an ultrasound. Then depending on the results, you have to set up an appointment for a biopsy. A very slow process.


Molly: Ah the drummers! We’re still trying to figure out our drummer situation. We live on the road, so it is very difficult to find someone to commit that is in a healthy state of mind, to put it politely. We’re a bit bitter right now, because Chy and I invest money into drummers who bail on us. Today we bought a drum machine. Hahaha so we won’t have to keep canceling shows because people back out and bail on us.


Molly: I started out singing. We wanted to take the band and explore California. So we packed everything we could in a two door Hyundai Accent and moved to San Jose. The other band members stayed behind. We stayed in San Jose for about a year then wanted to explore Southern California. San Diego became our new home and the band really started cutting our teeth.

In 2011 we did our first tour up and down the coastline. I became sick of constant changing members. It was very difficult to get members to tour, so I picked up the bass and learned to play and sing. In 2012, we did a two-week tour from San Diego to New York and back with a wonderful drummer named Phil Cullin. Then a few months later, Chy asked me why we came back from tour? He then said we’d quit our jobs and leave our home and do a year on the road. In 2013 that’s what we did.

--- Check out Some Kind Of Nightmare on Facebook and Bandcamp


Divine Intervention: Chris Ojeda leads Byzantine into new era with “To Release Is To Resolve”

Photo: Courtney Bell

Charleston-based progressive groove metal band Byzantine (clockwise from bottom: Chris Ojeda, Sean Sydnor, Matt Wolfe, Brian Henderson) will release its fifth album, “To Release Is To Resolve” Saturday night at The V Club in Huntington.

Reposted (and expanded) from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

For Byzantine fans who haven’t heard it yet, the question over the last few months has been: What will “To Release Is To Resolve,” its new record, with two new members, sound like?

“How should I put this?” singer and rhythm guitarist Chris “OJ” Ojeda responded when asked that question over the phone with his band, “All I can say is, everybody better be ready for a decibel shower, because it is comin’.”

Byzantine will release “To Release Is To Resolve,” and perform Saturday night at The V Club with opening acts Horseburner and Among The Dead.

“I’m pretty pumped about it,” Ojeda said of the new album, the band’s fifth release and second on its own Snakepit label, and funded again this time by fans. Like past releases, it has already received critical praise, from press outlets large and small, most recently Revolver Magazine.

“It’s the second time around that we get to do this kind of on our own label and on our own terms,” Ojeda noted. “We’ve got the new guys, so there’s a lot of provin’ to do. I think we’re gonna shut up some people who, uh, wanna see us fail, and we’re gonna make a lot of people happy.

“When you’ve got a group that’s put together four albums, and then you have a sudden shift in members, you feel like you’re up against the wall. With me and Matt being here for so long, it’s like, we’ve got a lot to prove on this.”

Fifteen years after starting the metal band, playing shows with a drum machine, and after the agony of keeping the band together with members spread out over the east coast, Byzantine is now based entirely out of Charleston, and moving forward with its new lineup.

“From my point of view, it was fairly seamless,” drummer Matt Wolfe said of bringing lead guitarist Brian Henderson and bassist Sean Sydnor on, replacing longtime members Tony Rohrbough and Skip Cromer. “Brian and Sean and I have been friends for a very long time, longer than I’ve been in Byzantine. So, we’re very familiar with each other on a musical level.”

Henderson said this, his second stint in Byzantine, feels more special.

“It’s a little different this time. A lot different, actually,” Henderson admitted. “The last time I felt like I was just filling in somebody’s shoes temporarily. Now that I’m a full-fledged member I feel like my fingerprint’s gonna be on what you hear. Playing this kind of music, it forces you to kind of push yourself, and play things you wouldn’t normally think yourself capable of playing.

“Especially when OJ is standing in the room with you, making you play things you can’t play, or previously couldn’t play,” Henderson said to hard group laughter.

“I think all Byzantine fans are gonna love it,” “Hendo” added of the new record. “If they don’t, they don’t, whatever. But I don’t see it as a problem or think it’s too far of a departure from their stuff in the past.”

“I’ve said it from day one, I felt like this was divine intervention,” Sydnor said. “The four people in this band are all on the same page musically. That’s the key to this music, that, whatever changes happen, it’s always gonna be Byzantine because OJ is OJ, and that means Byzantine.

“I’m beyond pumped,” Sydnor added. “This has been a dream come true. The last tour we just did, I’ve been waiting twenty-some years to do that. It’s been a dream come true and I don’t see anything but total awesomeness coming from us from here on out. I just feel totally blessed and privileged to be a part of it.”

“It was neat to get this lineup together on this record because the last record, I think me, Matt, Skip and Tony, we elevated ourselves,” Ojeda said of the band’s self-titled 2013 release. “I think it was our best record to date, and it came after a four or five year layoff.

“To come back after that, have two new members come in, write a new record and keep an identifiable sound, it’s a fuckin’ hard task, ya know? There are some bands that just can’t keep it together over four or five albums. Me and Matt have been able to put a stamp on a certain sound, a West Virginia-based groove metal, and no matter what lineup it is I think you can turn it on, and you can hear it and know it’s Byzantine.

“This new album is going to do exactly that, and then some,” OJ said. “The first song that we put out, “A Curious Lot,” I’ve done a couple interviews already and they keep asking ‘Is this what the album sounds like?’ And I have to tell them no. This song is the most up-the-pike, straight forward song, and we like to put out songs that sounds exactly different from the rest of the album, kinda to fuck with people,” Ojeda said with a laugh.

“It’s what we did on the last album. Our single was “Signal Path,” which was the weirdest song we’ve ever written. It’s fun to do that, so we did it again on this one. The rest of the songs are gonna be a complete one-eighty from “A Curious Lot,” so everyone just needs to hold on to their seats until they get all eight songs.”

“There’s just such a solid sound, that you can’t fuck with it,” Sydnor added. “We all know what to do with this music. This music, the ideas that OJ comes up with, it really stays Byzantine no matter what it sounds like tempo-wise or dynamically. We were just meant to be. That’s why I say it was divine intervention. It’s not egotistical at all. I just think it was meant to be.”

After praising engineer Jay Hannon, the “fifth member of the band,” OJ said crowdfunding albums is really the way to go for Byzantine these days.

“It’s instrumental in how we’re doing things right now,” Ojeda said. “We’ve circumnavigated the record industry, and worked our way back into it without having to sign a record deal. Anybody can get on Kickstarter, or PledgeMusic, or GoFundMe, and try to fund a project, but to actually be able to work it, and to get it out in a timely fashion, you’ve got to have some business sense. I think we’ve gathered some business sense, fifteen years into this.

“When you’re trying to do something that costs some money, you either spend your own money, or you spend other people’s money, and one of the best ways to do it is to sign investors, and that’s with any business. Who better to invest in a project than the people who love it? The fans get exactly what they want out of it, there’s no middlemen, everybody’s shareholders, and if someone has a problem with it, they can go straight to the CO’s, and we resolve everything as quickly as possible. It’s a very streamlined process to get records out, and we’ve been able to do it successfully two times in a row.”

Wolfe said what’s made Byzantine stand out among their metal peers all these years is really just them being themselves.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve gotten accomplished to this point. I think the reason we may stand out, sonically, with some fans, and people that may have never even heard us before, or are hearing us for the first time, is because we’ve always kind of stayed true to our formula, and what we like, and what we wanna write, and what we wanna play, or hear, instead of following any trends.

“I mean, we’ve been at this for going on fifteen years now, and music being the cyclical thing that it is, there’s been a lot of styles and fashions of metal that have come down the road and have since dissipated, but we’ve just kind of stayed true to what we do.”

Ojeda, with his twangy southern West Virginia accent (and ever present sense of humor) said with humility that being called a metal god by media types isn’t really accurate, maybe. The real rock stars are the other guys in the band.

“I have successfully figured out how to fool everybody in the heavy metal industry,” he said laughing. “There are a lot of people who think I may be one of the best front men, and yet, I’ve never been the best guitar player in my band. Now, I’m not even the best singer in my band because we’ve got Hendo,” he said to group laughter.

“So, it kinda keeps me grounded, when people put me on these plateaus, you know, this that or the other, and I look at the other guys in my band and they all smoke me. It’s pretty cool.”

Ojeda said that, with help from his old friends, he’s going to keep Byzantine going for the foreseeable future.

“What I’ve realized, through this whole time of breaking up, and getting back together, is that you really shouldn’t quit anything you love to do just because it’s hard. This is the hardest thing I think I’ve ever had to do, was try to be in a band, uh, and have somebody care about it. But I love it so much it doesn’t matter, you know? It’s not really that hard.

“There’s a lot of people who -- I just turned 40 -- there’s a lot of people who put age limits on it and will say ‘Well, I’m 30 I’m gonna quit,’ or ‘I’m 35, I’m gonna quit.’ I’m kinda fuckin’ done with that stuff. There’s no reason to quit something you were born to do.”

Byzantine, Horseburner, Among The Dead
WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday, April 4
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave. (304) 781-0680
COST: $8 ADV, $10 DOS
INFO: www.vclublive.com
ONLINE: www.byzantinemetal.com


John Lancaster brings "Hell on Earth" to V Club Saturday

photo: Laura Dial

On the heels of releasing “A Penchant for Hell on Earth,” their third record in five years, John Lancaster and his band (L-R: Mac Walker, Lancaster, Josh Adkins, Barry Smith) will perform at The V Club Saturday night with opening acts Floraburn and Sly Roosevelt

Reposted with permission from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

You could say things have kind of slowed down for John Lancaster in the two decades since he was fronting the Huntington-based melodic hard rock band Chum.

Between then, you know, the 90’s, through bands like Guru Lovechild and Earth To Eros, it’s been Lancaster’s own labor of love to front a rock band. With help from old friends he’s not only now released three solo records in five years, but has a rock band he has fun playing shows with.

“Overall, we don’t play out a whole lot,” Lancaster said over the phone. “We do what we can, we kind of have other things going on. We do enough to keep us all somewhat sane I guess,” the singer-guitarist said with a laugh.

Lancaster will bring his atmospheric (apocalyptic?) melodic hard rock band (Lancaster; Mac Walker: guitar; Barry Smith: bass; Josh Adkins: drums) to The V Club Saturday night, where they’ll be joined by Floraburn and Sly Roosevelt.

But just because there aren’t a lot of shows may not mean things are slowing down creatively for Lancaster.

Since releasing the debut full-length, “Phantom Moon” in 2010, following that up with the six-song EP “Crash Test In Progress” in 2012, Lancaster’s studio project has congealed into a band, has opened for acts like Byzantine, Karma To Burn, and Dream The Electric Sleep, and released the six-song concept EP “A Penchant for Hell on Earth” in January.

“You know, this whole thing originally started with the idea that this was going to be a studio project,” Lancaster admitted. “When the first record was coming together, I had the idea of all these different friends coming together and coming in to play on different things.

“But there was really no intention for it to be a live thing. But after “Phantom Moon” was released, I was missing playing out at the time, so I thought ‘Why not put together a solid band to play some of these songs live?’ I wanted to kind of keep the songs alive on some level.

“So we started doing that, and that’s where it’s been ever since,” Lancaster said of the project. “We’ve got three releases now; the first full-length and the two EPs. We kind of take our time with the recording side of things, and we do everything ourselves, so that gives us the opportunity to take our time with the recording.”

Breathing life into the project as a live band has been made easier by working with longtime collaborators Walker and Smith, who recorded and mixed the new EP.

“I love working with Mac,” Lancaster said with emphasis. “I’ve known him for a long time, and I’ve played with him in various projects for years. The same goes with Barry; we did a project together back in the early 90’s, then we did Earth To Eros. But with those two guys, there’s a lot of history there, and I love working with them.

“But back to Mac, our guitar tones seem to mesh really well, and our styles seem to compliment each other really well, and that’s really nice. When I present these songs, it’s just in demo format and it’s just my guitar, so, it’s nice to add these other guys and their playing styles to what I have. It kind of breathes life into the songs.”

Lancaster said that from “Phantom Moon” to “A Penchant for Hell on Earth,” what began as a studio project has become an actual rock band.

“One thing that was different in the process on that record, was, on the previous two records, definitely on the first record, and pretty much the second one, was that a lot of those songs, I’d already written them and demo’d them myself, and then showed them to the guys, and from there we recorded them.

“So, the difference with the latest record is we worked on those songs quite a bit in rehearsal. This latest record sounds more like what we sound like live. The vocals are more aggressive on this record, and I think that’s because when you’re working on vocals in a live environment, it definitely pushes you more. The difference in the process made the end product something I’m really proud of.”

While not meant to literally be about Hell on Earth, obviously, Lancaster said it may not be a surprise the new EP plays like a concept album.

“The interesting thing is that it wasn’t meant to be a concept record, but it totally plays like one. I’ll admit that and I’m happy that it does. It does have the same themes lyrically throughout, which is more or less, letting go of things that you can’t control, and moving forward, you know?

“But, without getting into each song, it does have sort of a conceptual vibe to it,” Lancaster added. “I didn’t really mean it to, but it has part one at the beginning and part two at the end, so it kind of wraps the idea up at the end and gives you an intro and then concludes at the end. So it does have a conceptual feel.”

Lancaster said despite the Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify pages and social media platforms, getting the music out these days, compared to the 1990’s is easier. Getting people to shows? Sometimes, not so much.

“On paper, you would think, in this day and age it’s perfect for getting your music out,” he said after an exhausted sigh. “But there’s just so much out there, and I think a lot of people just aren’t as excited about hearing new music or seeking out new bands that excite them, at least not like they used to be. We’re definitely in different times now,” the 42-year old Huntington music scene veteran said with an understated laugh.

“You’d think with the technology you have, you’d just be able to promote yourself better, and you have the possibility to, but I just think it’s a lot harder to get people to come to shows now. Everybody has their reasons why they think that is, and there’s not one specific reason, I think it’s a lot of different reasons. Umm, I don’t know. It’s definitely a different time. And it’s not just around here, it’s everywhere.

“I was having a conversation the other day with somebody, and we were both talking about how we just hope it’s one of those cycles that’ll come back around. You see how that works, you know? It’ll be really hot for a while then it’ll die off. Then, at some point, it’ll come right back. Hopefully that’s how this’ll turn out.”

Moving forward with his band into 2015, with his old friends backing him up, Lancaster said he not only is looking forward to playing The V Club Saturday, but just having a good time playing shows.

“I have a family and help run a business, so obviously my priorities lie there. But music is still important to me and it’ll be important to me until I’m long gone. I think I look at getting out and playing shows differently. Like, I appreciate it more, you know? I don’t get to do it as much as I used to. In a strange way I enjoy it more and appreciate it more.

“You know, I’ve just tried to approach this whole project with the idea that it needs to be fun. If it’s not fun, just don’t do it. It’s not worth it if it’s not fun. We’ll play a gig somewhere and there’ll be five people there, and we’ll still have a good time.”

John Lancaster, Floraburn, Sly Roosevelt
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave.
WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday March 21
COST: $5
INFO: www.vclublive.com
ONLINE: www.johnlancaster.com


Darrin Hacquard and Ben Townsend talk about "Signs and Wonders"

Leave it to Darrin Hacquard and Ben Townsend to, if nothing else, have fun in the snow. Bandmates in The Fox Hunt, the pair, now both calling Elkins home, with help from the rest of The Fox Hunt guys, pulled off no small achievement in recording Hacquard’s solo “psych country” debut “Signs and Wonders,” released in February on Questionable Records.

Talking over the phone together about the record, and preparing to take Hacquard’s project to 123 Pleasant Street with The Fox Hunt Thursday night veered more into what they each hope Elkins, and West Virginia can be: wild and weird.

“Well, uh, drinkin’ a lotta beer, for sure, and playin’ some old time music,” Hacquard summed up when asked how he was holding it down with heavy snow falling.

“We’ve got some friends in town and we’re just making the best of it,” he added. “As far as old time music, it’s just about the best scene you’re gonna find in the country.”

Hacquard said that, while his roots are in old time music, both he and Townsend were/are looking to shake things up in Elkins.

“I’m from Hocking County, in Ohio. It’s a part of Appalachia. The music I guess, I have a deep connection with it, and I believe it goes back to, it’s connected to the landscape, and the culture, and where you’re from. It was also a part of my family, so I connected to it in that way. It just makes sense to me, something that old, to keep it going. But, really, it just sounds right.

“But as far as a weirdo rock scene, we’re trying to get that going as we speak. That’s what I’m interested in.”

Making the best of things (and keeping things weird) with his friends is just how the 13-song “Signs and Wonders” got done, to hear Townsend, who performed on and engineered the album, tell the story.

“You’re talking about playing old time music? I don’t know, I came back here so I wouldn’t have to think about it so much. Like, you can go anywhere and get experimental, but like, here, I kind of came here, like Darrin was saying, some of the best players in the country, and in the world, a lot of them live right here in Elkins. I came down to hang out with my buddies, who I consider to be some of the top musicians in the old time world.

“But I came down here to get away from that,” Townsend added. “Or at least to get away from the idea that I needed to do that everywhere. So, there’s a good solid foundation of old time music, from which I hope we are able to continue to do creative, and experimental, and visionary things. But I think that while it’s great to have a foundation in the past, it doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time there.”

Hacquard said enlisting Townsend, The Fox Hunt guys, and talented dudes like William Matheny to help on the record made it more special.

“I’m proud as hell of it. I’d like more people to know about it, but I’m just glad to have it for my own accomplishment, you know? I wrote the first couple of songs like five years ago, and they kind of trickled in over the last five years but my vision for them was pretty much what you hear on the record. I didn’t have to look very far to find the people that could make that happen.”

Making it happen proved quite the challenge, recording in “The Doodio” as it is known, Townsend said.

“We used to live in this house in Martinsburg that was my granddad’s house. Darrin and I had lived there, some of The Fox Hunt guys had lived there over the years, it’s really been kind of a rotating cast. We used to call it The Doodio and I guess we still do, but there ain’t much of it left. So, John [R. Miller] and I had been playing in The Hackensaw Boys for two years, and I’d been living in Richmond, and I hadn’t seen the house. It had been vacant for like three or four years or something. And I had this wild or stupid idea to, we were financially necessitated, to go in there and record. So I took all my gear up -- we couldn’t lock the doors or anything, so somebody had to stay there all the time -- and there was black mold all over everything, just fucked up, man, you know?”

“There were Wolf Spiders,” Hacquard added.

“Yeah, there were Wolf Spiders everywhere, and it looked like some sort of rodents had gotten in and kind of tore up everything, and the ceiling was falling in. So we just decided that it would be a great place to make this record. We cleared all the shit out of the sink, and we got a cooler, and we filled the sink and the cooler up with ice and beer. Darrin got a bunch of Kombucha on his food stamps, and a half gallon of vodka and some groceries, and we sat up there for four days and just tracked them all out.

“The power wouldn’t work, so we couldn’t run a bass amp, the power wasn’t strong enough to run it. We had everything all plugged in and I had everything all mic’d up. We tracked everything out, and I took it to my house in Winchester, where I was living at the time, and I did all the overdubs. Then, Darrin and I got back together at the house in Martinsburg and mixed the thing. It definitely was a trial by force, you know? Computers died, just about anything that could go wrong did.”

“We almost lost the whole thing,” Hacquard recalled with more horror in his voice than when describing the spiders.

“Almost, and more than once,” Townsend noted. “I spilled a beer on my laptop and fried it. But it’s those inconsistencies in life -- you don’t have to have everything to make a great record. I think sometimes our limitations are what allows us to really thrive. I think the attitude around that record was just like the record itself, there were some ups, there were some downs, you know, that’s life.”

Townsend said he’s both impressed with Hacquard’s songs and proud of pulling the record off, despite the challenges.

“Oh shit, dude, I think it’s awesome,” he said of the experience. “I get pretty crazy in the mixing situation, and can tend to be a little bit of a perfectionist. We’d set a mastering date and we were coming up on it and I was stressing out about it, and I’m talking slight changes. Darrin, though, had the wherewithal to just be like ‘This is done. It has to go out,’ you know?

“We didn’t even have a room to monitor it in. We’d just burn the CD off and go listen to it in the car. Usually I have a really good setup, and that’s kind of what I’m working on down here, is getting my setup back together. I mean, we didn’t even have a set of speakers to listen to the thing on. And I don’t say any of that because I think it’s an interesting story. I think the record sounds awesome, I think the songs are awesome, the performances and the energy, I just think it’s all right there.”

Hacquard said he’s glad that friends and fans like the album.

“You know, a certain number of people would have bought it whether they liked it or not,” he said. “But it’s cool that people actually like it. Some of these songs, I take a risk putting what I think out there. People know me as one person, and I share some of my struggles and some of the weirder aspects of my personality on the record. I’m a little surprised that people are rolling with it so much, but I’m glad that they are.”

Townsend said that Hacquard, everyone involved in the making of the record, and area bands as a whole have something to be proud of, and it is something they are glad to be a part of, being from West Virginia.

“I’ll chime in on that stream of thought. I’m not sure if it’s a good way to say it, but I think that’s the overall view too in the state, that like, there’s a big reception when we’re doing something that’s more traditional. Then you kind of have to like guide people along for the other side of things.

“That’s a big part of why I came back here, specifically to this area, because a lot of people that are into old time music in Elkins, are also into some other creative aspect of music, or art, or life, all those things. What led me to this wasn’t having a closed mind and being interested in one style of music, it was being open to just about anything. I think what we’re really hoping to do is push the bar, like ‘Yeah, sure, you can play old time music, and that’s great, but what do YOU have to say?’ Let’s all encourage each other.

“How many cool bands are in West Virginia right now? You mentioned Horseburner, everything Bud Carroll is doing, The Demon Beat, when they were going strong, there’s just a ton of creative people in West Virginia, and I came back because I wanted to be a part of making the world know that.

“To hell with, ‘Let’s move to L.A. and play old time music,’ let’s move to West Virginia and make it happen here.”

--- Signs and Wonders and The Fox Hunt perform Thursday, March 12 at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown.


Seven Year Itch: Tucker Riggleman debuts new single, announces new solo effort "Burn Out Too Bright"

Photo: Renzo Velez

Before he was in The Demon Beat, Prison Book Club, Bishops or RHIN, Shepherdstown’s Tucker Riggleman was doing acoustic stuff by himself. Roughly seven years after starting down his own musical path, Riggleman will release his seven-song sophomore effort, “Burn Out Too Bright” on translucent yellow cassette March 24 on Twin Cousins Records.

Tucker took some time to talk about the debut single, “Signal” and bringing the solo material to fruition with friend and longtime collaborator Paul Cogle…

“Burn Out Too Bright” was essentially seven years in the making. It was that long ago that my only other proper release, “Let You Down”, became the first Big Bullet Records project that was completely handled in house. That feels like a lifetime ago, and a lot of really great things have happened since then. I was very lucky to be a part of some awesome bands with some of my best friends throughout that time. During that span, and especially once Bishops got up and running, it became easy for me to forget about my solo material that got me started down this crazy path. Even though I am the songwriter in Bishops, my solo material has remained a separate entity throughout the years. This particular batch of songs covers that whole seven year span --- some were written that long ago, while the single “Signal” is my newest solo song.

 photo solocoverrough_zpszpwcpbsw.jpg
While The Demon Beat, Prison Book Club, and Bishops received the bulk of my focus during that stretch of time, I continued writing songs that didn’t fit with any of those projects. I would play them alone in my room, at the occasional open mic, or keep them hidden in notebooks. I finally set aside a couple of days to track some of them for posterity’s sake with my good pal (and founding member of Bishops) Paul Cogle this past October. I went in with a bunch of ideas, but ultimately kept it incredibly simple. All of these recordings are one take with no overdubs. It is just me in a room with a guitar, the way all of this started. I thank Paul as always for being an amazing producer, and knowing just what the songs and the performer need to make the record be its best.

The result is an intimate collection of songs that were written on the sideline of my twenties, in which a lot of good and bad things happened, just like in anyone else’s life. This is what I was writing when I wasn’t out touring and playing loud music that I love with the people that I love, and I’m glad that it is now available for anyone to hear.

The release show for “Burn Out Too Bright” is 3.27 at Gene’s in Morgantown with guests John R. Miller and Tyler Grady, and it can be pre-ordered by clicking on any of the conveniently placed TCR links.


15 Years of Thrash: The False Profit Q&A

Buckhannon-Morgantown thrash punk legends False Profit will play 123 Pleasant Street in Magic Town Friday for its 15 Years of Thrash kickoff show. The band (Marshall Tolliver: vocals; Tommy Fultz: guitar; John Halterman: guitar; John Lang: bass; Steve Halterman: drums) will be joined by False Pterodactyl, High Fives and Hell Yeahs, and Fuck Your Birthday.

WVRockscene caught up with singer Marshall Tolliver, guitarist Tommy Fultz, and drummer Steve Halterman to talk about being a punk rocker, making your own music and your own scene... 

WVRockscene: How exciting has it been having the band back together? How pumped are you guys for this “15 years of thrash” kickoff show Friday night at 123 Pleasant Street?

Marshall Tolliver: I know we are all excited for the show. We have some new songs we’re going to be playing for the first time, and we’re eager to see how the crowd responds to the new tunes!

Tommy Fultz: I am super stoked, I know we are all super stoked. These guys are my best friends, have been since we were wee little. Playing music is something we all do. We took a hiatus but it was never a question to whether we were done. We’ll end up being the meanest fastest thrash band in wheelchairs.

Steve Halterman: We are super stoked for the show, whether 50 or 150 people show up. It is great to be playing shows again. I am not so sure if you could say we are back together or not because we never really stopped hanging out and jamming. Our other band/side project, Wildman Band of Thieves, gave me, John, and Lang an opportunity to practice False Profit while playing some good ol rock and roll.

rockscene: How much did it suck NOT having the band together?

Marshall: We never officially quit playing. We just weren’t actively seeking shows for a while. Some of the guys were performing with other bands, but we were all still writing False Profit songs. I know we’ve all been itching to get back out there as False Profit though.

Tommy: Life is better with thrash

rockscene: Talk about meeting/knowing each other and forming out in Buckhannon and in Morgantown so many years ago. What punk bands influenced you guys or brought you together?

Marshall: When I was in 7th grade (around 1990-1991) a good friend of mine named Jonah had a cassette of the Dead Kennedys, “In God We Trust, Inc.” Up until this time I just listened to whatever was on the radio, whatever was popular at the time. When I heard that DK album, I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard! I was blown away. I liked the fact that the songs were so fast and short (and offensive!). Then he played some Minor Threat for me, and I was hooked on hardcore music.

I loved how you didn’t really know when one song had ended and the next had begun. I loved the aggressiveness. Later, when we were in high school, Jonah and I decided we would start a band. Jonah played bass and I played guitar. We found a drummer and a singer, called ourselves “Big Trucks” and played a few shows. Jonah and Tom had jammed together before, so that’s how Tom got involved.

The lineup then changed to Steve on drums, and me taking over on vocals and rhythm guitar, Tom on lead guitar, and Jonah on bass. We changed the band name a few times, but eventually ended up calling ourselves Aneurysm. This was around 1993, 1994. That’s when we started writing our own songs, as opposed to playing covers, and taking things more serious.

We played quite a few shows around West Virginia and surrounding states, and put out a few albums. During this time, a lot of local bands really influenced me. Bands that were more established, who took the time to help us out and sort of “show us the ropes” so to speak. I really looked up to bands like Malicious Intent, Screw Worm, and Dead Ant Farm, all West Virginia bands.

Somewhere along the way Jonah moved on, and Steve’s brother, Dave took over on bass. After a short dormant period with Aneurysm, we were all ready to fire back up again. We made some more lineup changes, with John taking over on second guitar, allowing me to concentrate solely on vocals, and Tim on bass, as Dave had moved to Columbus, and was playing with a pretty successful band there. This was in 2000, and we decided on the band name “False Profit”.

Tommy: we have an awesome story about how we formed. I got asked to play one song with this garage band called Big Trucks that Marshall played guitar in. This was 1994 or ‘95. We ended up winning this battle of the bands, not because we were good, but because we were crazy lunatics on stage. That’s how I met Marshall. Another crazy fact: my uncle and his uncle had a band in high school, had no idea.

First day of school in art class the teacher asked us to draw something, anything, I drew a Dead Kennedys symbol. I look over a couple seats down and this long haired dude drew the same thing. “You play drums?” ‘yep,’ “Awesome, practice is Tuesday, see you then,” or something easy like that. That’s how we met Steve.

Tuesday practice came, our new drummer showed up two hours late. We thought he wasn’t gonna show. He did, first song was “California Uber Alles,” and ANEURYSM was formed. We started, by playing our school talent show, and played Black Flag’s “My War,” again, we were lunatics. Audience didn’t expect that.

Big Dave Halterman, Steve’s brother, later played bass for us and we tore up shows in West Virginia for a few years. Big Dave moved to Columbus, Ohio, and John Halterman, Steve’s other brother joined, and False Profit was born. This was 2001. False Profit was faster, meaner, a completely new band. John Lang, a lifelong friend, came into the picture to play bass in 2010. This is our final lineup. This is False Profit.

Steve: In as far as what punk bands influenced us I would say for me first and foremost Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys and too many more to mention. One day I heard NOFX’s “Linoleum” for the first time and said “We can play that fast.” From that point on we have been playing with speed and precision blowing the rest away.

rockscene: So you have new demos and are gonna have a new album?

Tommy: We have all of April booked to record our new full-length. We have 10+ new songs, faster and meaner than ever. You can tell through our 15+ years how our songs have progressed. We are known for our blazing fast drums, stop-on-a-dime riffs, and our oohs and awws in the background.

The new songs and album will be no different, just better. I’m super stoked and I’m sure the False Profit fans out there are too to hear some new songs. I know we are.

rockscene: Looking back on your 2004 full-length release “Thrash Till Death” how proud are you guys of it still?

Marshall: Actually, the “Thrash Till Death” CD is a compilation of songs from all three of our albums. I’m proud of everything we’ve ever recorded, but I think our self-titled album (our second album) that we recorded ourselves in 2003 is my favorite. Kevin Lyman (founder of Warped Tour) heard that CD and called me up personally to offer us a stint on the Lyman Stage at Warped that year.

He commented on the production of the album, which we did entirely ourselves, from recording to mixing to mastering. He thought it was a great recording for being done entirely DIY. I felt that this was very positive feedback, considering the overwhelming number of bands and albums this guy hears on a daily basis!

Our newest album, “Hallucinatory Terrain” is definitely better quality of any of our previous recordings, as we went into a real studio. We recorded it in 207, so we’re anxious to get back into the studio with our new material!

Tommy: “Thrash Till Death” is just a compilation of every False Profit song ever recorded, songs that we recorded at our home studio and songs off the “Hallucinatory Terrain” album. It’s nothing better than a crowd singing along to all your songs. Every False Profit song is fun to play or we wouldn’t play them.

Steve: “Thrash Till Death” still sounds just as great as it ever was. Some of the songs are still a challenge to play even with as far as we have progressed since.

rockscene: You released that record over 10 years ago. Is the desperation gone for you guys? People change over time have you felt that influence how you feel about punk rock or do you feel the same love for it?

Marshall: I still feel the same about playing and performing my music as I did from day one. Life happens, (marriages, kids, mortgages, etc…) but we still have that same drive to get out there and rock it out!

Tommy: We play THRASH PUNK, that’s what we do, and we do for shits and giggles at practice but we play the fastest blazing pissed thrash that we can. Our business is thrash and business is good.

Steve: I still feel as passionate about playing as I ever did if not a little more.

rockscene: It happens that people can kind of put music down for a while and just not be in a band. The worst thing would be to try to do something if your heart wasn’t/isn’t in it. What made you wanna start False Profit back up? Did it take not having it around to make it seem kinda more special?

Marshall: When we weren’t playing all the time like we used to, I definitely missed it. Going to shows and watching bands play made me miss it more. We all still hung out and there was no doubt that we would be playing as False Profit again. I think we all just finally had had enough of not performing together as False Profit!

Tommy: False Profit never ended, it just took a break. There are two things that we do when we see each other and always have, is we have a handshake we do to say hello and goodbye and we talk about False Profit. False Profit is a part of my life, it’s what makes me, me.

It is cool though, friends and fans are stoked to see us playing again, and we are greating great response from new fans that haven’t seen us. I get more people saying they can’t wait to see False Profit for the first time, they say False Profit was legend.

Steve: I am not one of those people who can put down music for a while. I am always playing and have been in multiple bands at multiple times and all the while have been working on False Profit stuff.

rockscene: What/when was the high point of/for False Profit during your operational time? Favorite show?

Marshall: Really, the whole time has been a high point for me! Playing with some of my favorite bands like the Queers, The Murder Junkies, D.R.I. The Warped shows were really fun, getting to meet and hang out with bands like Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Rise Against, NOFX. It was a blast!

I really miss the 516 Pearl St. house parties in Morgantown. We had some crazy shows there to say the least.

Steve: My favorite show was playing with D.R.I., or Vans Warped Tour. But our high points just keep getting better and better as time goes by.

Tommy: Right now is the tightest we have ever been since 2001. We area ll focused on practice, shows, and recording our new full-length. This Friday starts off our schedule of shows booked until the end of June so far. In 2001 we all lived together and practiced day and night in our basement. We have played so many kick ass shows, shared the stage with so many awesome bands. I miss the house party, anything goes, beer flying chaos shows we had in Morgantown the most.

rockscene: Do you think it was much different forming/having/keeping a band together back in, say, the mid-to-late 1990’s? Pros and cons, promoting bands online versus getting people out to shows? Even/especially as it relates to Morgantown?

Marshall: I don’t think it’s any different now keeping a band together or starting a band than it was when we first started. Of course now everything is much easier in terms of setting up and promoting shows, as well as distributing one’s music. With the internet you can let hundreds of people know about a show instantly with the push of a button. Press kits can be sent electronically to promoters or clubs. We used to use “Book Your Own Fucking Life” and mail out cassettes to every venue when looking for a show in the early days.

Honestly though, I miss some aspects of that. It was more personal. You had to talk to an actual person on the phone instead of doing the email, Facebook, text thing.

Steve: It has always been easy for us to keep the band together from the beginning until now because we are all good friends. It’s much easier to promote and to get people to come to your shows with online media. You can gain fans on the other side of the world and not have to play a show in their hometowns.

Tommy: Flyers, zines, and word of mouth was the only way to promote your band. It’s a lot different now with online social media. We have only been on Facebook for a month and we’ve reached out to so many people, new and old. Promoting is a lot easier now but vinyl, cassettes, flyers, those were the days. When this new full-length comes out, what’s the point of producing CDs? They are obsolete now. Digital downloads are the new big thing. We will put all of our stuff online for anyone to have and check out, but we are thinking of putting this album on vinyl to have at our merch table. I’d buy vinyl over anything, any day.

rockscene: The drummer from Charleston-area punk band Miniature Giant lamented the lack of a punk scene in West Virginia recently in a Facebook post. It does seem like there are cool punk shows going on in Clarksburg at Main St. Café, and 123 has cool punk bands play there. How supportive and/or active of a scene is there for punk bands?

Marshall: I think the scene is what you make of it. Coming from Buckhannon, there was no “punk scene”. No bands played punk rock when we first started. No venues wanted to book a bunch of rowdy punk rock kids! This is West Virginia for God’s sake! Your average bar crowd wants to hear hip-hop. If there’s a band playing the crowd wants to hear Skynyrd, AC/DC, or country.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But that’s not what we do.

So we started our own scene in Buckhannon. We started renting out firehalls and community buildings. We booked tons of touring bands, and put on numerous kick ass shows. We basically started our own scene and we realized that people would come. They wanted an alternative to the bar band, DJ club scene.

Tommy: It’s not like it used to be. We’re just getting back into the scene but so far it’s been encouraging. Morgantown will always have a scene, and 123 Pleasant St. and Clarksburg used to be on of the best towns to play in, and I’m sure it hasn’t changed, if anything it’s gotten better with the Main St. Café. I think what Daniel Bonner is doing at Main St. Café is great. Our first show back in Clarksburg is Saturday, February 28th.

North Central West Virginia is definitely lucky to have two major venues that are being packed and bringing traveling, touring bands. Elkins is also starting to form a new thriving scene at Captain Ron’s, so our idea is growing. If you look around at our neighboring states, this whole area has a lot of venues that we can all keep the music going. And social media just makes it easier to promote and schedule.

Steve: I’ve always thought the scene in West Virginia has been rather weak compared to other regions, but that being said, there has been enough for us to play shows comfortably for almost 20 years now. I’m always hearing about bands playing in the Charleston/Huntington area, Clarksburg and Morgantown and a multitude of bands coming and going so it seems robust enough.

rockscene: You call yourselves “West Virginia’s Kings of Thrash” -- influenced by these old punk bands like you are -- do you think thrash is something that’s kind of lost on a generation of punk and metal fans? Or, not?

Marshall: I’ve always said “to each his own.” You can’t force someone to like a style of music they’re just not into. So many bands are influenced by thrash bands and they don’t even know it. I hear people saying “I love Avenged Sevenfold,” but put in some old Sacred Reich or Nuclear Assault and they’re like, “What’s this crap? This band sucks!” If not for these bands, the bands out there today wouldn’t exist!

Old school thrash is basically punk rock, just faster with more distorted guitars. Most of the kids out there, into this brutal slam metalcore stuff, have no idea where extreme music came from! It didn’t start with Korn and Slipknot, that’s for sure!

Tommy: That title didn’t come from us, but we will proudly use it. Every band comes up with their own sound, something that sets them apart from the rest. Our sound is straight forward, blazing fast. We will see if the generation is dead or not, maybe a resurgence. Even back in the day we weren’t like the others, we fill a niche that nobody else does.

Steve: NO, because the thrash that we play rides the line between punk and metal. We fit in playing with pop-punk bands and get good responses as well as hard ass metal shows and rip it up. I think what we play is right at home with punk and metal fans.

rockscene: You guys play thrash, right, haha? You guys have no doubt witnessed this kind of safer punk rock emerge over the last 20 years. When DID punk rock become so safe? Was it the late 90’s? Seriously though are False Profit shows safe?

Marshall: Yeah, punk rock has become safe. I do believe this happened in the late 90’s. After the whole “grunge” scene was done, the corporate record labels were looking for the next big “underground” sound. Poppy sounding punk was the obvious next step. Punk rock became so mainstream, and easily accessible. Nowadays automobile manufacturers use Sex Pistols music on commercials to sell cars. You can go to Wal-Mart now and pink up the latest “underground” band’s album. We used to have to order albums from labels like SST, Alternative Tentacles, or Epitaph and wait for them to show up in the mail. You couldn’t just go down to the department store’s record section and ask for the new Anal Cunt album. Nor could you instantly download it and listen to it on your cellular phone, ipad, or laptop.

There should be a sense of danger associated with punk and underground music. The topics discussed in our lyrics are not happy or sugar coated. But we want everyone to feel welcome and safe at our shows. I can’t stand the guy who gets in the pit with the intention of causing harm to others. That’s not what we’re here for.

Some minor injuries have to be expected when thrashing with others at a show (I know I’ve had my share), but if we see someone acting like a total jackass in the crowd, we will stop playing and have that person removed from the show. Actually, one of our new songs deals with this exact subject (tough guys at shows).

Steve: I think that safety in punk rock started with the emergence of bands like Green Day, Blink 182, and other happy sounding overly emotional bands who have months of the year or days of the week in their names.

Tommy: We encourage safety. Everyone, be safe while stage diving. Make sure there is someone who will catch you or it’s going to hurt. If the pit’s too tough, take a safety-breather-beer-break and jump back in.

It’s funny, we don’t look like your typical punk rockers. None of us try to pull off that look. We would roll up to a venue, show, or house party and people would look at us like ‘Who are you guys? You got the wrong place.’ Until we flipped the switch on our amps.

We look safe, actually probably out of place, until people hear what we’re all about.

--- False Profit performs Friday at 123 Pleasant Street with False Pterodactyl, Fuck Your Birthday, and High Fives and Hell Yeahs.