Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Look Back with Malevolent Creation

Here’s another interview from 2004, this time with  Florida Death Metal institution Malevolent Creation.   If you’re a regular reader here you’ll know this is not the first time we've looked back with MC,  that previous interview can be found here.   This one, which was conducted around the release of the ‘WarKult’ album is both hilarious and borderline ridiculous.  Everyone knows MC main man Phil Fasciana has his own way of writing and especially rewriting history, but this is almost too much.  

Since this interview took place much has happened with MC.   A few live albums have been issued, they’ve done two studio records with Bret Hoffman back in the band, one of them was a reunion of sorts (‘Doomsday X’) featuring several members of MC’s past.  Most recently the band released  Invidious Dominion’ and continue to tour in support of it. 

None But My Own/MM: Take us back to the cycle for ‘The Will To Kill’ the tours, the reactions to Kyle fronting the band etc.

Phil Fasciana: Well right after we made the decision to have Kyle let it rip with us we actually had a tour booked with Marduk, it was like 30 dates and after that then we went out with Immolation and Aborted.  Now both these tours were before we went in to record ‘The Will To Kill’ and he just kicked ass so massively on tour it was like we were reborn, it was just so heavy! So when we got home we started to put everything together and then went back on tour for the record, we did Europe and we did a tour with Cannibal Corpse as well as a small headlining tour in the US.

Everything has just been a lot smoother since Kyle’s been in the band and even though we’re a half assed band as it is-I mean I don’t even know how we pull off what we pull off (laughing).  But because we’re so dysfunctional it just works!  When we get together we get to it,  I mean Rob is in Tampa,  Dave’s in New York and me and Gordy and Kyle are here in Ft. Lauderdale but we manage to make it work.  I wouldn’t want any other musicians in the band right now and although it gets a little expensive running the way we do, it’s worth it!

Now one of the things that got me excited for ‘WarKult’ was knowing Dave Culross was behind the kit, again.  And while there are millions of great drummers out there,  Dave definitely adds something to the bands he plays with.

For sure man, he’s one of my favorites as well.  I’ve played with many great drummers but when I play with Dave, he’s just the drummer for our band.  We let him do whatever he wants because it just always sounds right.

I’m sure that helps the live show as well, I mean not having to worry about the drummer.

Dude, he’s even better live, you know that.  When he left I feel we lost some of our confidence and it’s always hard for someone to come into that situation and try to play the way he did.  But we just got home from a tour and it was great from the first song to the last.

Now I’m sure his coming back to the band may have something to do with the current state of business with Malevolent Creation being signed to Nuclear Blast.  Was that an issue, having the business taken care of?

Well Dave was around for some of our bad business decisions when we were signed to Pavement!  I mean we really slit our own throats with them (laughing)!  We never made a penny with all the releases we did on Pavement and unfortunately Dave was on just about all of those releases and everyone in the band was always like “what the fuck” ya know?  It was terrible being on a label that can’t promote you, did nothing for you and their distribution was ass too.

So when we did sign to Nuclear Blast we did let Dave know that we were signed to a real label again and you’ll never have to listen to another kid saying they can’t find the record again.  But we’re a Death Metal band all we really need is distribution and some promotion and the rest is up to us!

So how was the first phase of touring for the ‘WarKult’ album?

The shows we did were based around the festivals, we did Graspop, Fury Fest in France and With Full Force in Germany and a few more in Germany and Switzerland.  It was only two and a half weeks but it was killer, we played great and got to see a shit load of our friends while we were there.  I mean there were tons of American bands doing the festivals, Exodus was there Hatebreed, Testament we’re all sitting around joking that there’s no scene in the US because all the bands are here!!

You also did a hometown record release show, how was that?

It was killer but it was so fucking hot we almost died!  Kyle just about did, he passed out on the last song, he did this long scream and then he just went “BOOM”!  I thought it was the PA or something (laughing)!  I went off stage to catch my own breath and he (Kyle) comes up to me with this big mark on his face saying “dude, I passed out” and I was like “what??”  But I didn’t even see it because my hair was in my eyes and I hear shit like that all the time on stage but fuck, was it hot! 

So let’s talk a little about the writing of ‘WarKult’, what was the first song written?

“Shock and Awe” was the first one, written by Rob and I in like ten minutes!  We were getting ready to go to South America for the last album and he was hanging out at my house and I had a riff tape, pulled one out and he had something for it and we just played it, then the two of us went to our warehouse and recorded a one song demo without drums.  But there were a few changes along the way.  After that we all started writing by ourselves and then we ended up getting together eight weeks before we started recording to go over everything,  so we wrote it all in like under two months.

At what point is Dave back in the band?

We had like five songs we had demoed and sent to him, so he knew those and he got to Florida like six days before we went in to record…

What about the rest of the songs?

We showed those to him when he got here (laughing) he learned the last five songs in those six days!

No shit??!!

Yeah, but that’s what we wanted, we wanted it to be spontaneous and we wanted it to be an exciting recording and it could have been a fucking funnel, a total disaster but we were confident in the fact that, we felt together, we could do this.   And to some extent that we could still do this under the gun and just let it rip and the record is the results!  There’s song that was written the day before we went it, I had a riff that we just had to use so we made a demo of it the night before and listened to it in the studio the next day and laid it down, this is the song “Captured.”

That’s one of my favorite tracks on the album and I’ve read a few reviews where the writer mentions the song as a stand out as well.

I had the one riff in there for so long and we just had to make it work and I’m glad we did.

Now you kept the same production team from the last record so was that a case of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”?

Yeah it sucked because we didn’t get to spend a lot of time on the record because we had a lot of problems like damaged hard drives and shit.  The whole album was edited and mixed in like two days which was all we had left from the planned five days and we were already over budget so we couldn’t do much more.  So it had to be done that way, but it would’ve been cool to have a few more days to mix it comfortably but the whole process was nerve wracking so at least now we could laugh thinking about it.  I’m just glad it came out as heavy as it did.

I suppose I could guess as to why Bret is out of Malevolent Creation for good, but what is your take on everything?

Dude, the kid was just a complete drug addict and a total bum, he lived on Gordy’s couch and man, he didn’t leave that couch for like nine months straight (laughing)!  I mean he’d be blowing off rehearsals and all he had to do was get up off the couch and get into Gordy’s car.  We had written fifteen songs for ‘The Will To Kill’ album, made demos of all of them for him and he couldn’t even face us, this is how twisted and out of his mind he was, Gordy’s telling us “the dude is a wreck, he’s snorting his fucking brains out” and then Gordy tells us he’s waking up to go to work and Brett’s just coming home with people Gordy didn’t even know, just these scary motherfucking people (laughing)!  But he wouldn’t even rehearse so there was no way we were going to try and do the album with him.

I guess the age old question of “how can someone so smart be so dumb?”

Dude, drugs, what can I tell you?  I mean I’ve had my own issues and my own problems but this kid is brutally out of control where it’s scary to be around.  Put it this way he made traveling very uncomfortable for everyone, I mean we like to party and have a good time but he was just way over the top with everything…Rob and I always say if we could write a book about this dude we’d be rich (laughing)!!

Seeing that he was putting Bret up, I have to ask, where exactly did Gordon Simms come from? He’s been in the band for awhile now, but I don’t think I ever knew where he came from?

Gordy lives here in Ft. Lauderdale and I knew who he was, he’d played in a bunch of local bands but nothing too popular, but the way he got in the band was because of Brett!  He started mooching off Gordy way back when sleeping on his couch and Brett thought “If I could get Gordy in the band then that means I have free room and board forever”!!   I mean at the time we weren’t even looking for a bass player, Rob and I were writing back then and going over shit with the drummer and we thought we’d just play the bass ourselves on the album and look for someone when it came time to tour.

But Brett was just constantly breaking our balls to get Gordy into the band to secure that fucking couch (laughing)!!  That’s how it went down man, but the good thing is Gordy’s a great dude.  At the time we didn’t really want to bother with getting someone new in the band, but in the end Gordy came in and had learned everything on his own so we just started jamming.

Don’t ask me why but he still feels like the “new guy”, even more so than Kyle!

(laughing) I know he’s a quiet guy that just goes with the flow; he’s just one of those people you don’t meet too often, totally honest and just cool as hell.  I mean he’s slow as hell he does everything in slow motion, he’s like a sloth (laughing) but a great guy.

If you would, I’d like to get a 2004 perspective on the Malevolent Creation back catalog. I suppose let’s start way back with the 1987 demo, do you ever listen to that these days??

Not really, man I don’t even think I have copies of them. I do have a few of the 1989 demo. I lost a lot of shit due to an air conditioner blowout at my old house!

No shit?? That really sucks.

Yeah I had a bunch of stuff in a closet, all the demos I was trading back in 1986/87 just fucking gone because the air conditioner broke while I was on tour in Europe and all that shit just got soaked, everything got flooded all my carpeting and shit had to be taken out.  I lost a ton of old Malevolent shit, all the shows we played before the first album recorded at the Treehouse in Hollywood, FL.  There were like 25 shows all gone.  But musically to get back to the question the 87 demo was a mixture of Kreator and Slayer just faster, we were little kids then trying to fit in with those bands.

1989 Demo

’89 demo was when we had Lee Harrison (Monstrosity) on drums because we moved to Florida in 1988…

Now you were one of the first bands to re-locate to Florida, right?

Maybe, all I know is I had family down here so I coaxed everyone into coming down here and what can I say, Ft. Lauderdale seemed a hell of a lot better than Buffalo, NY!!!  We had just gotten out of school and our drummer quit, we couldn’t find anyone in Buffalo so we gave it a shot.  But Lee joined us back then and the 89 demo was more of the same as the 87 demo, just a little better (laughing)!

1990 Demo

That one we got Scott Burns to work on it and we got a record deal with Roadrunner.  All we wanted to do then and to this day was get heavier, ya know?

OK, how much do you miss the following scenario: get a band together, jam, play live pool money together to record a demo on cassette and if it’s good enough, send it to some labels and see what happens?  I mean these days it’s everything is a CD and they look great but for the most part sound like shit!!!

Yeah man there was a lot more leg work for sure!  I’d work all week and then use every dollar I had to mail demos everywhere.  We didn’t do much mail for the first demo but by the second I had gotten turned on to the whole underground by Pat from Hellwitch!  When I met him down here he was like “you idiot, you have to send this shit out”!!  So he gave me magazine addresses and that got me going…

I first heard about you guys through Thornado

Wow man, exactly ya know? But back then it was exciting and cool to package everything up and today it’s way more convenient so I have to agree that back then bands had to work a lot harder.

So to keep it going some seventeen years after that first demo came out has to make you feel good knowing you did it the hard way!

Yeah man we busted our fucking balls doing it!

That brings us to the debut album, 1991’s ‘The Ten Commandments
 We do the demo, get signed and had some more songs to write and we worked on these songs for like three or four weeks before we were set to record and during this time Bret would not rehearse with us!  And we were flipping out and he kept telling us “Ah, I’m just saving it for the studio” like he was going to go in there and magically all the long screams and shit were just going to come flying out like nothing!

And this is from a dude who drank and drinks alcohol every single day, constantly, smokes cigarettes, snorts coke (laughing)!!  So the first song of the session is the song “Malevolent Creation” where it’s got that really long scream at the beginning and he didn’t even make it past that!  We had been in the studio for two weeks busting our asses putting the album together and all we needed to do was the vocals to complete it and he lasted maybe an hour and a half!  Scott Burns starts screaming “PHILLLLL, get in here”!!!  He say’s you better call Monte [Conner] at Roadrunner and tell him you guys are going home because your boy’s cashed, he can’t sing…    

You must have been fucking devastated!

We were, we all just were totally devastated! He [Bret] was going to commit suicide…

For real?

Yeah, that’s the thing with him he just lets people down constantly, the stories could go on forever man, it always comes back to that book Rob and I should write!  I mean to this day we still collect the drunk and coked out of his mind voice mail messages he used to leave us, fuck, they’re unbelievable we can put them on and laugh for hours!!!  Which only means we’re losing our minds as well (laughing)!!  But it took an additional four months or whatever to complete the album.

How about listening to the album today?? How do you feel it holds up?

Fuck, listening to it today I think it’s still a good sounding record!  I mean it’s not like it was ever some monumental ground breaking release, but for us it meant a lot and it was a great mixture of our styles.  It’s a total Death/Thrash Metal album where you can hear the Kreator, Slayer and Destruction influences with our own twist.

Next was 1992’s ‘Retribution  

For that one I had written two songs when we started having problems with our Drummer, Mark Simpson who played on the debut.  Jeff Juskiewicz was out of the band and we had Henry from Devastation down here jamming with us, but he didn’t work out because he had too many problems at home.  The guy was like 21 years old and had like four kids at home and we had to tell him “dude, this ain’t gonna work out.”  So Rob Barrett and Alex Marquez were good friends of ours and they came to see us “rehearse” one night when we didn’t have a second guitarist or drummer (laughing)!  So those guys had their band Solstice going and knew a lot of songs from  our first album so they just jumped in and we started bashing it out and I was like “you guys want in,  because we have an album that needs to be written in like six weeks!”

So they’re in and Scott Burns comes down and ‘Retribution’,  I ain’t shitting you was recorded and mixed in,  like,  five days!  Drums were recorded in something like eight hours, guitars were done that same night with one track me and the other Rob, solos came a day later and bass was laid down super fast and we just worked fast and went with it.  I think the only thing that took really long were the vocals because Brett needed to take a few days with them.

Next comes ‘Stillborn’ which was released in 1993, and many, many people really had a beef with that album, how do you explain it?

Man, there were just so many problem around that time…it’s hard to even pin point all the shit surrounding the band back then.  Jason, our Bass player at the time, he wasn’t even at any of the rehearsals because he was living with this psychopath bitch who was running his life because he choose not to work and was being a bum and had to abide by her rules.  So he was not with what was going on, Bret we had to beg to come and rehearse and at that time he was so fucked up on drugs it was unbearable!

It was a joke, I mean I knew it was the end that saying you can’t polish a turd rings true! Bret had no enthusiasm whatsoever as he’s laying down vocals and it was a miracle we even got anything out of him to begin with…

OK, so I have to interject, why did you release the album?? Did you HAVE to?

Well, when we were working on the music we thought everything was going well but you know I guess I really don’t know what to say.  But the record came out and it really set us back some, I mean the whole process of writing, recording and then releasing it, man I can’t even explain all the shit we went through.  And it’s funny because we were up there for four weeks and it felt like four years (laughing)!  I fucking wanted to jump in the lake that was behind the studio, I wanted to fucking kill myself (laughing)!!

 And then when I heard what was coming out of the speakers I was dying, I did my best man that’s all I can say.  Jon Rubin, who played second guitar on the album and I were the only ones who knew what was going on.  Did you know we actually tracked the whole album with “Crazy” Larry Hawke on drums?

No, I never knew that, what the hell happened?

Dude, he does the drumming on the whole album right, so we go in and listen to the tracks and we found three songs where there were mistakes.  And, of course, this is before Pro-Tools and all that, right?  So the tracks had to be redone, but the problem was he [Larry] thought he was done with the tracks so took off with two chicks he met up in Gainesville, he thought they [the tracks] were fine and there were no mistakes.

So Larry ends up getting a DUI and since he had no license he gets arrested, thrown in jail and we couldn’t bail him out so we were fucked!  We’re in the studio going “Oh my god, now what” and we had to leave him in jail.  We go home and the only way to salvage anything is to have Alex play on the record. Alex had told me he was practicing and all that so I mailed him a tape of the songs with Larry’s drums on them and told him to learn everything, right?   But at the end of the day the tracks with Alex came out a lot slower and a lot different than what we originally planned on.  

Alex’s heart was just not into it anymore and I was hoping we could squeeze one more out of him, but we couldn’t.  I’m still friends with Alex though, he actually just sent me his new bands demo where he sings on it and its total Power Metal, he’s all Halford-ed out!

Things are quiet until the release of 1995’s ‘Eternal’ your Pavement Music debut.

Bret was gone at this point and Jay took over and it was a big adjustment and it took a little time but we were happy once we got there.  We had Dave in the band for this album and that was so fucking killer as we now had a drummer in the band who could do everything we felt the songs deserved.  So when he joined we felt it was a new era of the band and we wanted the music to keep flowing and for it to get even more intense and we were able to do that with Dave.

It was definitely a strong album and quite a statement following ‘Stillborn’

Yeah, I think so too.  ‘Eternal’ was an album we produced ourselves and it was our first album with Pavement like you said and it was horrible, they couldn’t even pay the bill for us to record at Morrisound.  But we were able to spend a lot of time on the album but we really needed some guidance in there (laughs).  But the album is raw and it rips and we still play a lot of those songs in the set and with Kyle singing them they sound even fucking heavier! 

There was the ‘Joe Black’ release in 1996 which is what it is and then 1997’s ‘In Cold Blood’ which was a weird album, huh?

Yes it is…the drummer situation was very fucking weird around this time.  Let’s see, we had Derek Roddy in the band before we wrote the record, we wrote it and him and Jason were living together and they had some kind of blow out, some sort of fight and the next thing I know Derek was packing his bags and going back to South Carolina,  Jason threw him out of the place they were living and he just thought “fuck this” and quit the band.

 I didn’t know what went down, I think it was about money or something and I suppose things happen for a reason, right?  So at that point we were helped out by Tony Laureano who did the European and US tours in support of ‘In Cold Blood’ which was very cool and then Dave comes back for ‘The Fine Art of Murder’.

So any insight to why ‘In Cold Blood’ seemed like such a strange album?

You know when we started working on the songs we had another guitarist who was a friend of Derek’s, he was supposedly his best friend, his name was Jason Hagen and he wrote some killer stuff that ended up on the album.  He was a killer guitarist and while he was out here he was a bum living on all our couches and never having any money.  So for whatever reason he and Derek have some sort of blowout and Derek fires him from the band!!

Derek fires him? The new drummer fires the new guitar player?

(laughing) Yeah, it’s not even like it was me or Jay doing the firing you know?  Derek tells us he’ll refuse to play with us if Jason stays in the band and that was it, and shortly after that Derek and Jay had the blowout and that was that.  That was just a weird period altogether and it must have rubbed off on the music.  But there’s some good songs on the record and we played quite a few of them on that tour, we need to bring back some of those songs when we do some headlining  dates in support of ’WarKult.’

The Fine Art Of Murder’, which was the return of Bret Hoffman.

Well we gave it a whack and I’m not saying his vocals sucked on it, but it does suck when you have to sit in the studio and have to tell people every little thing they need to do, you know?  He couldn’t be trusted to just go in and do a good job because he was just so lazy.  Anything that came out of his mouth was fine by him and if the producer said “OK” even though it sucked Bret would say “that’s cool, keep it” so you had to watch over him like a hawk throughout the whole thing. 

I’d just about lose my mind and want to murder him myself if I had to do that the whole time, luckily Rob has patience and did that every record.  While there was a lot of drama getting that one recorded but it was a step forward for us musically.

Musically it’s a strong album, vocally I think it was just cooler because it was Bret. 

To me it just felt like it wasn’t coming from the heart and that might sound funny because we’re playing Death Metal and it’s about people growling and shit, but you can tell the difference!  I mean if a guy is giving it his everything you can totally tell.  But if you’re just going through the motions you can just hear the cheese!

Did you have anything to do with the “compilation” 'Manifestation?'
We had no say in that whatsoever! Our names aren’t even on it, just a photo, and no credit, just pitiful.  The best thing about that thing is the artwork! 

The next album, I thought was fucking great, ‘Envenomed

‘Envenomed’ was killer because we got to write the album with Dave, he had jumped into ‘The Fine Art…’ when everything had been written.  So we wrote everything on the record pretty fast and we also produced it ourselves, again but with a new engineer/producer named Jeremy Staska who’s like the local guy doing every band these days, but it freaked us out because he works real slow and that fucked with us!  

But we were happy with the record and the recording went smoothly, the longest part of it all was the vocals, Rob sat with Bret and went over each and every word to make sure it was right and on time and all that shit.  I have to thank Rob for all of that shit man because he was the only one who could do that.

I never did pick up ‘Envenomed II’, so what can you say about that album?

The thing with that is we did the Dark Angel cover on there and the music was recorded when we did ‘Envenomed’ but the vocals were never finished because of Bret couldn’t even remember the words to his own songs that he had written and sung for years.  So we found the lyrics, dug them up and Bret was able to figure them out.  So we were set to go on tour and right before we fired him we forced him to go in and finish that shit, so those were his last songs with Malevolent Creation.

But another reason for ‘II’ was we had a distribution company that folded and we lost mass inventory when they did.  We wanted to keep the album out there and because of the bar code system we had to do something different to the album so we did.  And again, when we do songs from this album Kyle fucking crushes them I mean he makes the songs sound evil.   
So ‘The Will To Kill’ we covered, how about closing this out with when we can expect to see Malevolent Creation live again, how long before you do some US touring?

Well we’ve had plenty of offers but we’ve got to try and choose something that will be beneficial to us and the thing is we don’t want to do anything half ass.  We’ll do the next European run and then come home and take a break, let everyone get caught up at work and then January we have another 20 shows in Europe, come back do South America, Brazil and then go back in March for the other half of Europe including a full Scandinavian tour and then that’s it so anything we do in the US will have to be then.

It’d be nice to get on some killer package, so we’ll see.  But it’s more expensive for us to tour in our own country than it is to fly across the World!  At least there we have our own bus and make a shit load more money.  But in the meantime check out ‘WarKult’, it’s our ninth studio release and we’re happy with it.  We haven’t changed, we haven’t added clean vocals, yet (laughing)!  

No girls in the band it’s just us five ugly dudes and yeah hopefully Spring 2005 we’ll see everyone but we want to get on a killer package like bands that have been around as long as us.  Maybe Dismember or Bolt Thrower and us, I mean I don’t want to tour with no emo bands (laughing) or some metal-core band, I want to do a Death Metal Tour!!!!