Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cheers to a Great 2008!

Top Shit of 2008

Albums: By Band Alphabetically

Coffins: Buried Death
Dismember: Dismember
Enslaved: Vertebrae
Gigan: The Order of the False Eye
Gojira: the Way Of All Flesh

Lair of the Minotaur: War Metal Battle Master
Metallica: Death Magnetic
Nachtmystium: Assassins, Black Meddle Pt. 1
Warrel Dane: Praises to the War Machine

Classic: King Diamond: Them


Burning Witch: Crippled Lucifer 2xCD
Demolition Hammer: Necrology-A Complete Anthology 2xCD

Life Of Agony: River Runs Red, Top Shelf Edition CD/DVD
Machine Head: The Blackening Special EditionCD/DVD

Live: By Date

Machine Head 2.16.08 The Rave Milwaukee, WI
Trouble 4.5.08 Nite Caps Chicago, IL
Testament 5.3.08 Pearl Room Mokena, IL
Van Halen 5.30.08 Allstate Arena Rosemont, IL

Iron Maiden 6.12.08 Allstate Arena Rosemont, IL
Early Man 7.8.08 Reggie’s Chicago, IL

Machine Head Mayhem Festival 8.9/8.10 Detroit, MI/Tinley Park, IL
Judas Priest/Heaven and Hell/Motorhead 8.19.08 First Midwest Tinley Park, IL

Nifelheim/Nachtmystium 9.7.08 Double Door Chicago, IL
Metallica/Machine Head/The Sword 12.18.08 The Forum LA, CA.


Get Thrashed! - DVD
Cannibal Corpse:
Centuries Of Torment -2xDVD

Iron Maiden: Live After Death -2xDVD
Lair of the Minotaur:War Metal Battle Master - DVD

W.A.R., The Unauthorized Biography of William Axl Rose by Mick Wall - Book

Everybody Wants Some - The Van Halen Saga: Ian Christe -Book
Metal Hammer presents Metallica and the story of Thrash Metal - Magazine
33 1/3: Reign In Blood by D.X. Ferris -Book

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Old Metal Mag III

Here's a double Thrash Attack from Rip Magazine 1988...

Writer Steffan Chirazi does his best to make both bands look their best, but who are we kidding here?

Megadeth's 'So Far, So Good...So What?' is essentially a shit album. Sure it has it's moments, "Set The World Afire" and "Liar" remain killer, but overall it falls short. Third albums for a lot of bands, especially those of the thrash persuasion, seemed to be their pinnacle release. "Master of Puppets", "Reign In Blood", "Among The Living" are all third album releases and what does MegaDave deliver?

"Anarchy In The U.K." was such a fucking dud, I still cringe whenever I'm in the vicinity of this song being played or the video shown. "502", "Mary Jane" and the anti-PMRC inspired "Hook In Mouth" are all pretty horrible. Worse is when you A-B these tracks to any songs off the above mentioned landmarks.

(Click to enlarge)

In the same issue Steffan corners Gary Holt and bits from Rick Hunolt of Exodus upon the release of their own so-so release 1987's 'Pleasures Of The Flesh'.

I say "so-so" because no matter what, Exodus are destined to be a band of the truly doomed. Not musically of course, but from a decision making, career standpoint...doomed. I'm guessing the members of Exodus never wore watches because they were always at the wrong place at the wrong time!

'Pleasures...' finally released after what seemed like an eternity couldn't hold a candle to their debut, 'Bonded By Blood'. Complicating matters was the sacking of Paul Baloff after demos for what was to become 'POTF' had begun. True Paul couldn't carry a tune in a brand new Samsonite luggage collection, but that was hardly the point. Exodus to a lot of people was Paul Baloff and vice versa.

'Pleasures of the Flesh' has some great stuff on it, but why is it every time I listen to it the "should have beens" resonate louder than the grooves in the vinyl? Missing is some of the frantic urgency we heard on 'BBB', the chaotic and violent fury whip somehow controlled enough to end one song and start the next.

While not a total loss, "Brain Dead", "Parasite", "Seeds Of Hate" and the title track are all pure Exodus. However if you want the "real" recording of some these tracks, look no further than the 1997 release of 'Another Lesson in Violence', the Baloff fronted live album. Current day Exodus is another story, loving the Dukes/Altus/Holt/Hunting/Gibson line up and albums. Consistently solid and hopefully many more albums from this line up to come.

(click to enlarge)

(kinda looks like Scott Ian and Adrian Vandenburg, huh?)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Metallica/Machine Head/The Sword Dec 17/18th The Forum Los Angeles

I’ve been going to see Metallica in concert for 22 years. The first time I saw them was back in 1986 supporting Ozzy. It was a life changing experience. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe what that show meant to me, so again, the words ‘life changing’ will have to suffice.

That concert, the vibe of the band was inescapable. Even in an arena setting the band on stage meant business, it was felt in their delivery and it was a feeling I’ll never forget.

Over the next 11 years I’m sure I saw them at least twenty times. 1988’s Monsters Of Rock, ‘…And Justice For All’, shit I probably saw them seven or eight times just during the ‘Black’ album years (including ‘Live Shit’ era).

The last time I saw Metallica was back in February of 1997. They were touring in support of the ‘Load’ album and at the time I (of course) hated the record…but was still of the mindset that no matter what the recorded output…Metallica live was untouchable. I had the ticket stubs to prove it! I remember being one of “those guys” where I’d tell people who cares about the new album, you have to SEE them!

That gig was the first Metallica concert I ever left early. I hated everything about that show. I don’t want to get into it, but there was not one thing that connected Metallica 96/97 to the band I first saw in 1986. The feeling, the power, the vibe and the connection was gone. I remember looking around at some of the people there and felt bad for them. “This” wasn’t going to change anyone’s lives.

So I took a “live” Metalli-Sabbatical and it lasted, 11 years.

We fast forward to 2008 and many things have seemed to align. Of all of them the most important would have to be the release of ‘
Death Magnetic’. To date I have read only 2 reviews of the album. I have seen at least forty to fifty available to read, but there’s no need to. I don’t care what you or anyone thinks about it. It was never going to sway my opinion one way or another, so why bother? I think the album is kick ass.

Another alignment would be the inclusion of my friends
Machine Head to the Metalli-Party. This is a huge thing for the band, especially in the US, and when they were asked to step in for two shows at The Forum in Los Angeles, well I was already on my way!

The first show on December 17th was a mixture of sweet and sour and while it ultimately ended up pretty sweet it was a show that, for me never really took off. I was preoccupied with a few outside distractions and the only way to over come those were to drink away those blues and live to fight another day, right?

Thursday December 18th however was a totally different story altogether!

The show got off to a good start with the support band of the tour,
The Sword. What a difference a year makes as back in 12/2007 I saw The Sword headline Reggie’s Music Room to about 95 people, a year later they were at the Forum playing to a few thousand. While the spacious venue did little to help them out, they were solid and super tight.

24 hours earlier Machine Head played their first ever show in-the-round. They played that show without a decent sound check and like myself a day earlier their set really never took off. I was hoping they’d rebound and rebound they did!

Opening with “Clenching The Fists of Dissent” it was a more confident and focused Machine Head. Their sound had improved tenfold and song after song both the band and crowd seemed to pass back and forth a higher level of energy. They worked the stage aggressively from the first note until the last and it made all the difference.

Imperium”, “Halo”, and a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name” all followed and for those 45 minutes on Metallica’s vast stage, it was a Machine Head show. “Davidian” was the final song of the night as well as the final song of 2008 for the band. Another solid year of touring over and it was party time!

Metallica took the stage surrounded by a rather cool arena rock laser show and blasted into ‘Death Magnetic’s’ opener “That Was Just Your Life”. From the first note I knew this was not the band I had drifted away from a decade earlier. There was something so apparently different, I could do nothing but stare in amazement, stopping only to bang thy head!

The balance of new stuff and classic Metallica was simply impossible to not enjoy. I’d go as far to say ‘Death Magnetic’ material was even better live…and that’s saying a lot as I really enjoy the recorded versions.

We got “The End of the Line” and the blistering “Broken, Beat & Scarred” right next to “Ride The Lightning” and “The Four Horsemen”.

Now without the full on aggression I was witness to, those old songs mean nothing. I saw plenty of old songs being performed by a tired and color-by-numbers Metallica throughout the years (‘
Cunning Stunts’ anyone?) and this was a complete 180. James Hetfield had that fire in his eyes again and it was up to the other three to keep up with him!

Here’s the set list from the second show:

That Was Just Your Life
The End of the Line
The Four Horsemen
Ride The Lightning
Broken, Beat & Scarred
Sad But True
Wherever I May Roam
All Nightmare Long
Kirk Solo #1
The Day That Never Comes
Master Of Puppets
Fight Fire With Fire
Kirk Solo #2
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Seek and Destroy

So there you go. The shows were a blast, the after parties were a blur and I met so many fucking cool people at these shows, it was a trip. Many, many thanks to my crue of misfits, alcoholics, musicians and Hollywood Goalies that I am proud as fuck to call my friends!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Merry Cliffmas!

Say what you will about silliness such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band etc. I think they're great! I normally do not play video games, haven't since the dawn of time, but my 9 y/o lives and breathes the shit. So playing these games with him is not only a lot of fun, but it's also bonding time for him and I.

I think these games are also important in that they're introducing the youth of the World to Rock Music! How great is that? Sabbath, Priest, Metallica, Maiden through Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, KISS and everything in between?

How could you go wrong?

Yeah, I read all the negatives from actual musicians, but it's a start and if the kids end up with real I said how could it be wrong?

So what I'm trying to get at is another cool feature of these games. The isolated tracks that make the game. Hearing things you didn't know were there..especially, say on the bass guitar.

Someone has uploaded Cliff's straight-from-the-master recording of "Battery". Fuck!

I know Jason Newsted (where is that guy?) got the proverbial shaft on '...And Justice For All' but 'MOP' producer Flemming Rasmussen and Mixer Michael Wagener didn't exactly give Cliff Steve Harris promenance either...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Heavy Metal Heaven

I read the news today, oh boy...

I sat there, jaw on my desk for what seemed like 10 minutes. Adrian's gone. What the fuck? We're the same age...this isn't right. I'm so sorry for his family, his girl and all his friends.

I always looked forward to seeing Adrian and the entire Canadian Crue...Bruni, Ristic, Adam...all solid people. Adrian was like all of them wrapped into one.

I've been reading this thread on the Brave Words/Bloody Knuckles Forums and felt compelled to write my own thoughts here:

I met Adrian Bromley for the first time over 10 years ago at a Milwaukee Metal Fest. Both of us were promoting our magazines and through a several minute conversation, we were instant friends. I spoke with him all that weekend and after we kept in touch. I would see Adrian and the U! crew every year in Milwaukee and truthfully I looked forward to hanging with the fellas just about as much as seeing all the bands.

Over the years I’d see him at various shows and festivals and every time we got a chance to hang it was memorable.

In 2003, I was still managing Usurper and the band held a listening party for the ‘Twilight Dominion’ album, their debut for Earache Records. Earache flew Chris Bruni and Adrian into Chicago to cover the party for BW/BK and Unrestrained! Unrestrained was the creation of Adrian and Adam Wasylck (sorry man, rough name!) and it is one of the best Metal Magazines around. I had the honor of contributing to a few issues and that was a feeling of accomplishment for sure.

So I picked up the guys from the airport on a fucking freezing January day…we went record shopping at Metal Haven…where Adrian was in heaven…instantly the minute he walked into the old Metal Haven location (where stuff was stocked to the max everywhere you looked) it was like he was “home”. We went for Mexican food and had our share of beers and just had a good time catching up. When we spoke we’d always be comparing “notes” of everything from what we were listening to who was an asshole in the “industry” and who made our jobs harder.

Always lighthearted, always interesting…I’m going to miss talking to that guy.

So at the Usurper party, again Adrian was right at home. The Metal was cranking, the beer was flowing, the heads were-a-banging and there were people all over the place. Adrian was making the rounds chatting it up with members of The Chasm, Cianide, Scepter and made some time to do his “work” as well. I don’t remember how the evening ended other than knowing there was no way I’d be able to drive, let alone walk. Chris and Adrian insisted I stay with them in their room…where the party continued!

Right now I can’t remember if that’s the last I saw Adrian in person. It might have been. Time flies…

Adrian later moved to Brooklyn, NY to work for The End Records and then moved on to his own PR company and everyone who knew him knows he would’ve been massively successful in anything he did.

This was at the end of the evening of the listening party, Adrian had been "working" on this waitress all night. The staff was all doing their money counting and we all were still in party mode. Before we left Adrian talked her into a photo... take care Adrian, until we meet again.

12.9.08- Blah, Blah, Blah...

GUNS N' ROSES: 'Chinese Democracy' To Drop Out Of U.S. Top 10

According to Hits Daily Double, the companion web site of music industry tip sheet HITS, GUNS N' ROSES' long-awaited new album, "Chinese Democracy", will drop out of the Billboard Top 10 next week with second-week U.S. sales that are expected to fall below the 80,000 mark.

"Chinese Democracy" sold 261,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release (including a reported 25,000 downloads at iTunes on November 23 not counted towards the opening week) to debut at position No. 3 on The Billboard 200 chart — right behind Taylor Swift's "Fearless" at No. 2 (with 267,400 sold) and Kanye West's "808s & Heartbreak", which opens at No. 1 with sales of 450,000 and change.

I've gotta say...I've never been happier to see a Hip-Hop/Rap/R&B whatever the fuck you call it, album come in at #1 in the U.S.A. in my life. 'Chinese Democracy', as a whole is fucking horrible.

As a fan of Rock Music, I think it's an embarrassment of an album. Seventeen fucking years and all I hear is bits and pieces of trends long gone and a delusional vocalist who has spent so much time in seclusion, he doesn't even know what's going on.

I'm glad the record is not selling because it doesn't deserve to. Who the fuck does Axl think he is? No press, no promotion, no interviews, nothing for the "fans"...just a "record" with an $11.99 price tag.

People have commented how AC/DC sold 800,000 copies through WalMart, it's a no brainer...the band helped their cause and it shows. Axl can't be bothered, why should you?

ps: Fuck Chuck Klosterman and his blatant ass-kissing 'Chinese Democracy' review. Also, 'Talking Metal' used to be one of my favorite podcasts, simply for entertainment as I never actually discovered shit from them...but their moronic and David Koresh like worship of Axl Rose and 'Chinese Democracy' prevents me from ever bothering with them again. It's almost embarrassing guys.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Old Metal Mag II -

Welcome back to the wonderful world of Metal Magazine collecting. Today, we jump back in the chronovisor and dial it back to late 86/ early 1987. Sir Lemmy Kilmister and Co. were in fine spirits, out and about in support of their 'Orgasmatron' LP.

Over 21 years have passed since this printed and while reading it you'd swear it was conducted yesterday. Motorhead never change, neither does their leader. A straight shooter since the day he was born, Lemmy remains at the top of the heap when it comes to true ambassadors of Rock N' Roll.

Some good stuff in here including some choice words about Dave Mustaine and Megadeth.

Before I forget, inspiration for this look back came from a fellow blogger, Mark DeVito and one of his homes on the web, SKETCHPAD.

Mark's a Rock Merch Mastermind and has been working with Motorhead on several designs, both classic and based around their latest release 'Motorizer'

So do some history reading, do some Holiday shopping, crank some music and all's well.

(Click to Enlarge)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life Of Agony: The Lost Interview [2005]

From the moment I first heard them, there was something about Life Of Agony that connected with me, like really connected. As time passed that connection only grew stronger. There were songs on albums like 'River Runs Red' and 'Ugly' that I swear to god were about me...seriously, it was fucking strange, surreal and incredible all at the same time.

While the band changed both personally and musically over the years, I was always on board. Yeah, some of the later stuff was not exactly my favorite, but I was a faithful fan and always liked "my" bands to evolve as long as their initial foundation/style remained intact. Life Of Agony really did neither. Their foundation of an early crossover type band faded rather quick, but what they'd end up embracing, to me, was equally as poweful. Thus the connection.

Because of Midwest Metal, over the years I was lucky enough to strike up a friendly relationship with the band. I'd hang out with, say Keith Caputo when they were in Chicago and through this was able to see and hear things that most people didn't, or shouldn't. The guys as a whole were always super cool and their 1997 break up? I knew about that maybe a month before it happened. I'll never forget Keith asking for an "off the record" moment during an interview while he ripped into a venemous tirade on the state of Life Of Agony circa 1997. Soon after he was gone and while I had a chance to see Life Of Agony with, fuck I can't believe I'm writing this, Whitfield Crane (please stay gone), I just couldn't.

When they returned in late 2003 first for a few reunion shows and followed it up in February 2004 with a tour, I couldn't believe I was getting another chance. I had high hopes for their "comeback" album, 2005's 'Broken Valley'. It was released on Epic Records, it was going to get a massive push and it seemed their second chance would prove fruitful. It was not to be.

Dismal sales of 'Broken Valley' and unable to land the proper support tour, 'B.V.' fell off the radar, quick. Tours with Mudvayne and later on the innagural run of Dave Mustaine's Gigantour were trainwrecks. Poor attendance (Gigantour) and hostile audiences (Mudvayne) seemed to derail the LOA train and they disbanded once again. Being dropped from Epic was a no-brainer as I'm sure someone probably lost their job over the signing and ultimate [sales] failure of 'Broken Valley'.

Would it have been a different story had the band written a classic [aggressive and soulful, some balls out material] Life Of Agony album instead of a few great tracks surrounded by, what sounded like a poor man's Velvet Revolver? Possibly.

My thing with 'Broken Valley' was the band saw the way the people reacted to their reunion as well as the classic setlist that made up the 2003 live CD/DVD 'River Runs Again'...this I know. So why not try to recreate the fire of the material people stood up and devoured? Instead, like I said we got a watered down Alt-Rock album with bits and pieces of a Caputo solo album.

Don't get me wrong, for the most part I like 'B.V.', but it was a pretty dumb "career" move to think they could grab a whole new audience and sail off into the sunset. That's what they had to be thinking because the early Life Of Agony fan wanted nothing to do with the band and no new fans really cared.

The fall of 2005 saw the band on a short headline run. The second I walked in I knew it was over. 14 months earlier the crowd at House of Blues was electric and the place was packed. Now in Mokena at the Pearl Room; there was no one there, Caputo was out of his mind and the vibe of hope meets perserverance was long gone.

The following interview was done in May or June of 2005. This was both supposed to see the light of day in Issue # 28 and be a two part interview. It never printed as by the time it should've run the band was dead and gone, again. Part two never materialized as I'm sure Keith Caputo wanted to talk more about Life Of Agony like he wanted a hole in his head.

None But My Own: Hey Keith, what’s going on today?

Keith Caputo: Um, let’s see what went on today, I had a box of CD’s delivered to my place, my solo stuff that I handle on my own. I refined some lyrics and vocal melodies for a song that Joey Slipknot wrote for me, I’m actually recording that tomorrow…

Oh for the Roadrunner All-Stars album?

Yeah, well, I’m doing it for Joey and I’m trying to ignore the rest, it’s all about Joey. What else did I do today, I stretched for about an hour and right now I’m on my way to New York City.

Cool, so everything is good with you?

Right now, in the present moment I feel great. I had a bad weekend as it was Father’s day so I was kind of emotionally twisted. But right now I’m emotionally relaxed. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow as I’m going to hang out with my Uncle.

With the good comes the bad so I’d like to talk about the tour you guys did in support of Mudvayne.

The band decided to fight through it, you know? There was, well there were a lot of kids in Milwaukee that weren’t feeling us and that was the second night of the tour and was so bad that night that half the band wanted to leave the tour that night. Half the band didn’t want to so we put our heads together and thought it’d be the best thing to fight through it.
We have respect for the Mudvayne guys, Ryan and Chad were great guys, they were the only guys I spoke to, so we decided to finish it out. The way I feel, who cares if one thousand kids hated us every night?

Well that is the Life Of Agony way, the way the band always did things differently…doing your own thing whether people liked it or not.

I was the vocal outcast on that tour, but you know what? I liked it. I was always used to being the oddball or the bad seed or the outcast in some form or another so to me, it was home.
In a sick way, I can see that.

Yeah, and personally I wasn’t disheartened I was very challenged. Yeah some nights it really got to me, I’d walk off the stage and I’d be like “fuck you…you fucking fifteen year old kids don’t have a fucking clue.” I’d be screaming back at sixteen year old girls, it was ridiculous how young the audience was, it was a big radio crowd.

It was very tough to see you guys in that kind of environment, especially in Chicago where you’ve had some amazing shows over the years…

Oh man, that was a tough show I had a tough time getting into it, actually.

What were your thoughts on the tour before it started, was it just a matter of getting out there and hoping to pick up a few people here and there?

Well we kind of knew that it was the wrong crowd, going into it. But at the time that’s all that was being offered business wise. We were thinking about going out with Papa Roach, we just weren’t sure.

Here’s a good question. Whom do you see Life Of Agony being the most compatible with? I mean it’s like the band is too deep and heavy for the radio crowd, not heavy enough for the aggro bands so where do you see the band “fitting in”?

Two answers…either the band needs to “blow up” and be able to do its own thing like a Metallica or Evanescence where the cult following grows to amazing heights. With ‘Broken Valley’ I’d love to see Life Of Agony working with other bands like Queens of the Stone Age or Foo Fighters or maybe Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, bands of that nature. But it’s probably best if we were able to go a few times platinum and basically did our own thing…

And be able to call your own shots

Yeah, exactly and lived it like that. I just don’t think we fit in with anyone or anything in a way.

I’d like to back up a little bit, a few years really. Before the Irving Plaza shows you were based out of Holland and then every now and then you’d come to NYC and do, like CBGB’s basement and do intimate gigs like that. So in 2000, 2001, 2002 what was your mindset and how often are/were you thinking about Life Of Agony?

During that time I was still very determined, I worked with great people and had some great experiences. I worked with Gerry Leonard, who is now David Bowie’s band leader. I worked with him, what, five years ago before he got that gig. I worked with a couple of guys from Lenny Kravitz’ band I had Jeff Thall from the Velvet Underground, I had a lot of great players with me, I learned a lot.

Creatively I was in a different space. When I’d do a New York show it was just who I could get together quickly to spontaneously get on a stage it wasn’t something that was well thought out nor did I really want it to be, I really didn’t care it was just about filling up the room which I knew I could do. So it was just singing some real naked stuff when I was back home. But how often did I think of LOA?


Not that often, really. You know sometimes I thought I’d love to rock out again, maybe do another record, the right record. But it was all idle dreaming, I never thought, expected or anticipated to really get back with them. I was doing my own thing, living in Holland, I did a tour where Coldplay opened for me, I toured with Travis, I did the Rolling Stones Road Show there wasn’t a place in Europe where I couldn’t fill a room up. I got to play some great festivals with Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Neil Young.

So other than problems with Roadrunner and certain staff people, I was doing well. I was in a great mindset, I felt free I was moving on and moving along trying to survive. However at the same time I was going through some shit with my Dad who wanted to kill himself at that point so I was going through stuff with him.

He got locked up a few years later and during that time my Fathers parents, my grandparents were really, really sick so I got rid of my place in Amsterdam and I came back to take care of them because he couldn’t. I helped my Aunt basically clean my grandfathers shit, living with the live in nurse. The first night my father was free from jail was the night he O.D.’d. So that was when I kind of rooted myself back in New York.

I was selling my CD’s on-line, writing new music and just doing a Van Gogh. A Van Gogh is basically locking myself up, doing a lot of yoga, doing a lot of intoxicating myself, doing a lot of writing a lot of transcending you know? I have an abundance of songs that are very naked, Dylan style, very vulnerable stuff I’ve written over the years. I’ve gotten very Brain Eno on myself, discovered the world of ambience and just took my talents elsewhere.

Not radio friendly at all, I mean it probably could set radio trends but this world is too afraid of people like me. I have yet to meet an A&R guy who had the guts to take me on as a solo artist, someone who needs a lot of artistic time for the label to develop, because the artist itself is already developed.

It’s about rewiring the corporate mind, there’s still a lot of older people are still in the business, they have their jobs and as the (music) business shrinks these people that do not want to take cuts in their salary, it’s the more proactive people in the business that end up losing their jobs. I agree an artist, no matter what style of music they create will not be able to grow and prosper unless their product moves massive amounts, it’s sad, but simple. So tell me how the LOA seed becomes planted in your head.

It all starts with those reunion shows which were great. I was very, very, very surprised that Life Of Agony sold out Irving Plaza two nights in a row…because the last night of LOA’s “career” or whatever you want to call it back in 1997, the night before I left the band was at Irving Plaza.

And on that night we were very shy of selling it out so to come back seven years later and sell that motherfucker out in like ten minutes…I thought people were messing with my brain. People would tell me “see all these years you waited” this and that but, it was true.

But how do you dive, head first back into the whole…

Well at this point in my life I’m at a stage where I want to embrace all things. I want to display my compassion, I want to give my compassion, I want to serve others I want to make things work. As hard as things may become, I want to work at them. It’s easy. I’ve grown a lot, I’ve awakened myself a lot and I’m not as chaotically disordered as I was in the past.

As a young’n I was all about revolt, I’m still about destroying as well but I’m a bit more…if rationale does exist in my vocabulary (laughs). I’m not a practical human being, but what is practical? But back to the question, it was excitement! The band didn’t really jump right into it again, we did the gigs but we still weren’t a “band”.

At that point we didn’t label ourselves a “band” we didn’t know if I was going to go back to Europe, Joey was still contractually bound to Columbia, Alan had Among Thieves and Sal was in Suppermassiv and other things going for him so we did the two shows were like “Wow, we’re still capable”, you know? So all of these thoughts and feelings boiled for months afterwards so it wasn’t an overnight thing at all.

It took night after night after night of dreaming again and wondering inquisitively how it would be again and what would happen if we did these things. Shortly after our decision we did a four song demo consisting of “Love To Let You Down”, “The Calm That Disturbs You”, “Justified” and “The Day He Died” we did that demo in one day.

Shortly after I took Joey to a Velvet Revolver show and saw [ex-Sheer Terror guitarist] Mark Newman who’d been at Epic for like fourteen years, he heard we had a demo and he wanted one.

So of course we had no expectations and had nothing to lose so we got it to him and Ben who’s the vice president loved it and wanted to see us live, he came to see us at Hellfest, of all places! And then meeting after meeting they wanted to sign us. We had done an incredible sold out European tour where we got to play with Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie, the Pixies and we were successful, no matter where we went and who we played with. It was even bigger and better , more blood thirsty than it ever was and with that we wanted to write a new record, so we did.

How was it writing with the guys again? After all it’d been seven years and each of you had moved on to your own bands all of which were different, stylistically from one another. All of a sudden you’re working together again were there a lot of compromises?

We were very collaborative with it. Alan and I, we’ve never had a problem in the band and for many years even during the break up days, Alan was always the guy to go to and talk to, he knew about everything. He knew everything about me. There were never any secrets Alan and I have a great friendship so for this record we even went deeper with one another.

We went deeper with our talents of throwing words down on paper and we’d go word for word, chorus for chorus we just, lyrically dropped major bombs together on this. Just very meaningful stuff, real thought out Dylan type of shit. Musically, I brought in a couple of songs on my own that worked, some didn’t work. I had a song called “Paperman” that was a bit too poppy but Alan and I did the music together and I did the lyrics.

Joey and I did ‘Calm…’ together, Sal and I did “Junksick”. “Wicked Ways” and “Justified” was a lot of Alan’s music, I would change a verse here and there but it was really cool it was very open.

Now you guys went away to do the writing, right?

Yeah we went to Woodstock, NY to write…you know we had some tense moments you know? We’d start at like 11:00 am and write music until 8 or 9 pm and it can kinda get to you a little bit. At first, when things weren’t really working we didn’t know how to handle it, so we’d work it, rework it and then rework it again until we decided if it wasn’t working we’d just fuck it off completely and move forward. I’d say we were very detached from the whole process.

Some people say “people never really change”, I know this for a fact to be true. How was it personally working with each other again?

Yeah, yeah sometimes we all experience that with one another, and that’s OK. I mean we’re all different people and we handle ourselves and the situations differently. When Sal gets really moody we know how to handle it. When I get moody we know, when Joey gets quiet on and on and on, we know how to communicate now.

In the past we never really communicated why we don’t like certain things, now I think we talk a little too much to tell you the truth…

Do you think it all happened too fast? I mean 1993-1997

Probably…for me yeah, you know for everyone definitely. I almost went Cobain, emotionally I had just had it with everything.

I remember those days, I remember that period and I knew you were bothered by it.

You know, you want to do something good in your life and you just can’t understand why all this bad is coming to you…drugs, liars, thieves, crooked lawyers, empty promises, dickhead band members and you’re like “what the fuck is going on?” So at that point you start to think “Is this my calling or isn’t it?”

It’s strange to have things ruined by people who aren’t even in the damn band, you know?

Well at certain times in your life you handle things a certain way and you know what? In order to create you need to destroy. And I needed to destroy that to create a new path for myself, a new spirit. I gave everyone the greatest gift that one could give them, I gave them themselves because no one was themselves anymore.

I felt I needed to get back to where I came from and so did the other guys but no one wanted to “face the music”. No one had the courage to fucking make a change like that and I did. I wanted to follow my heart and I didn’t give a fuck who was working for us, what was gong on blah, blah, blah. I had to make a change for myself and it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life and I made it. I’m proud that I did and I don’t regret a fucking minute of it.

Of course you don’t, it’s been quite a journey up to this point.

The band wouldn’t be the band it is today and we wouldn’t have come out with ‘Broken Valley’ if I didn’t follow through. If I’m going to do something it’s all or nothing and I can’t pretend to have a good time on stage if I wasn’t so I fucked off.

I figured that my fans would understand that “hey, the guy’s unhappy.” Tom, it took a lot of people a long time to understand, I mean I was way over everyone’s head for a very long time. All the heckling I would get, all the disbelievers in my decision it was like, Do you know how many people I listen to, none and I am such a better person for it. Maybe we blew our shot? Maybe that [1997] was the shot?

Maybe if I would’ve held on just a little bit longer…maybe I could’ve flown you to do this interview somewhere!

Let’s move into the future and talk of ‘Broken Valley’. To me it plays like a concept album, is that intentional? Is this a concept album?

No…you just get the record, you know what I mean? The band has always loved Pink Floyd and loved ‘The Wall’, ‘Final Cut’ and ‘Animals’ and how those were parts 1-2-3 and 4.

We weren’t deliberately trying to make a concept record it just happened that way. As a whole when you intertwine everything there’s a lot of stuff going on lyrically about my Dad and the heartache he’d lived. There’s a lot of forgiveness in the record and it can intertwine, but it wasn’t meant to be like that.

It’s not a very long record, but I think that helps it stand out, it’s meant to be digested in full. But for your band that’s a scary thing because of the whole radio format and “hit single” shit.

It’s a great record, man. That’s what we set out to do, we didn’t want to come out with two singles and a bunch of filler. We did it old school style and when I say old school I’m talking Led Zeppelin, the Doors and really put together a record as a whole and it really has to say something.