Archive for metal

Speedealer’s Choice

Posted in flyers, Mala Suerte with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2016 by backstabbath

Speedealer flyerThose of you that were into the heavy rock scene in the 90s and early 00s may remember the aggressively pummeling and relentlessly driving musical muscle of Speedealer. The band that originally formed in Lubbock, Texas under the moniker, REO Speedealer, only to be later forced to shorten it due to a cease-and-desist order served to them by REO Speedwagon, toured and played continuously during that time, logging in dates with Motorhead, Gwar, Neurosis, Fu Manchu, Zeke, Voivod, Fear, Morbid Angel, and Corrosion of Conformity, to name a few. The first incarnation of the band consisted of Jeff Hirshberg on vocals, Chris Brown on drums, Rodney Skelton on bass, and James Follis on guitar. The group went through numerous line-up changes throughout the followSpeedealer-Bleeding years until 1997 when they finally settled on a solidified roster of Jeff Hirshberg on vocals/guitar, Eric Alan Schmidt on guitar, and Harden Harrison on drums, although, as far as I can tell, there seemed to be quite the revolving door of bassists even then.

Mala Suerte was initially asked to play this show many months back when North Carolina’s Irata asked us to join them on the bill. As a matter of fact, it was so long ago that I’d forgotten that we’d even agreed to do it until I was reminded by The Lost Well owner, Marcello Murphy. He informed me that Speedealer had also been added to the bill which, of course, piqued my interest immediately. “How many years has it been since they’ve actually even played live, and who is still in the band?” I wondered. I couldn’t find much information regarding the matter on their Facebook page or anywhere else online so I decided to send a message to Eric Alan Schmidt and see if he could enlighten me a little bit. He immediately responded. Apparently, Jeff Hirshberg opted out of further speed dealings in favor of more “intellectual pursuits”. TheDealer's Choice remaining members of the last functioning line-up, augmented by a vocal battery courtesy of  Daniel Barron of The Swingin’ Dicks, have been performing live as “Dealer’s Choice” and this is basically what we’ll be getting on Friday night. As Eric put it, in a nutshell, “Our plan and hopes are to share and celebrate the  ass-kickin’, shit down your throat music and show that was Speedealer”. And celebrate we will, this Friday, July 15th, though, I’m still not entirely sure why they’re billed as Speedealer now as opposed to Dealer’s Choice. It’s a minor quibble, I know, and I’m looking forward to a vastly entertaining show and evening.

For our part, Mala Suerte, is certainly looking forward to this show as well, as we haven’t played live since our last show in March during SXSW. This will also be our first show with John Petri back behind the drum kit since late January. Local doom destroyers, Destroyer of Light, will be opening the show after just returning from a month-long tour of the West Coast, while North Carolina’s volume abusers, Irata, will be filling out the bill directly after us and just before Speedealer. We hope you all decide to join in on the festive madness.

No, thank you.

Posted in flyers, Mala Suerte with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by backstabbath

No thank you.While many, if not most of you, will be stuffed to the point of being comatose while celebrating this yearly day of thanks (or as I like to call it, the day of acknowledging the  genocide of indigenous people), rather than being thankful and full of turkey and dressing, we’ll be spiteful and full of piss and vinegar as we prepare for a post-Hatesgiving onslaught of sonic rage and thrashing violence. We’ll be joined by our bitter brethren in The Blood Royale in lambasting this bloated and rotting corpse of liberty. Newcomers, Terminal Voltage, which features ex-members of Black Spr11-29-13 alternate flyering, Blunt Force Trauma, and Condemned Unit will be bringing their freshly fashioned ire to the stage with their first-ever live detonation, and local miscreants, Prions, ignite the sparks of indignation.

So after you’ve reveled in the spirit of gluttony and followed that up with the ultimate in capitalist consumerism on Black Friday, come join us later in the evening at Beerland and burn off some of that excess fat and release some of the inner rage you’ve accumulated from fighting over creature comforts and electronic playthings at your local big box store. For this we will be thankful.

Rivers To Ruin (or just another heavy metal Saturday night in the River City).

Posted in flyers, Mala Suerte with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2013 by backstabbath

mala suerte flyer

As I set out to write a little something about our next show in San Antonio I couldn’t help but reflect back on some of previous gigs we’ve played there in the Alamo City. From all night illicit and intoxicated shenanigans with the gents from Las Cruces, Pillcrusher, and Slo’ Poke, to almost landing myself in the slammer on felony charges after a gig with Eyehategod and Phobia, San Antonio has proved to be a place of many vivid memories for me, fond or otherwise. Many people will tell you, especially those who reside in the area, that San Antonio is without a doubt the metal mecca of Texas, a sentiment that can be evidenced by those “Keep San Antonio Metal” bumper stickers that I saw emblazoned on more than a few truck bumpers a few years ago. Now while I may agree that pound for pound San Antonio probably has more metal per capita than anywhere else in the state ,which could also possibly be attributed to it’s even more superb tradition of absolutely delicious Mexican cuisine, I must say that it currently fails to live up to it’s lofty reputation. It’s legendary status of being a metal oasis is still supported by the memories of a scene that once was really thriving and vital, but unfortunately, rose colored glasses and the occasional backyard barbeque with a bit of Slayer and King Diamond does not a scene make. I remember hearing about all the unforgettable shows that took place there in the 80s and early 90s but the viability of the scene seems to have fallen away quite a bit since then. Nowadays it seems that many metal fans there seem less concerned with supporting their local scene and can only muster up the energy to attend shows featuring more established national acts, and in all fairness, this is probably the case in many others scenes as well, Austin included. Now before I get all my San Antonio friends and associates upset and ready to string me up and burn my corpse in offer to the metal gods, I will say that there are great bands, musicians, and fans there that are very much involved in the scene and because of their continued dedication and support we do continue to play there.  With mainstays like Las Cruces continuing to carry the torch and current frontrunners, Hod, spreading the gospel, San Antonio metal could be poised to experience a new renaissance, and I for one welcome it.

On Saturday, October 5th we’ll be returning to SA and Nightrocker Live once again for a bill that features a collection of bands that all do decidedly different takes on the riff-based sound that Sabbath created. For our part we’ve been taking the miserably morose doom-laden foundation that we’ve been known for over the past several years and incorporating a lot more velocity and chunky riffing to add an even more vicious level to our morbid miasma of sound. Fellow Austinites, The Well harken back even further and much closer to the initial source of inspiration by eschewing modern sounds in favor of a more heady concoction of psychotropic freakscapes, Iommi-induced guitar-gasms, and an almost poppy sensibility that all but belies the enveloping heaviness on display. San Antonio’s sons of feedback and fuzz, Slo’ Poke, bring the good vibes and buzz and are probably the band most likely to be a hit with the heavy metal parking lot set. I’ve yet to hear Mount Sherpa but from what I’ve gathered from the postings I’ve seen, they do the whole doom/drone thing and should add another varied element to the evening. Don’t forget your qualudes.

And by the way, to all of my San Antonio friends who may have gotten up in arms about the comments above, they should in no way be deemed as an indictment against the city or those in the scene.  Maybe I’m completely off base or maybe I’m just a cranky old bastard, but believe me I could go on an even longer rant about the Austin scene. Huzzah!

Mala Suerte: Mach 8 (Yes, we are truly becoming more and more like Spinal Tap!)

Posted in Mala Suerte with tags , , , , , on March 21, 2013 by backstabbath

How many drummers did Spinal Tap have? Well, I know we’re getting close. Prior to playing a show back on January 18th our drummer, Tony, announced to us that he was quitting the band. I must admit that we were all rather surprised by his decision as we were getting close to wrapping up the writing process for the next full length. We didn’t really press him about his reasons for leaving and we parted ways on completely amiable terms. He even agreed to play the remaining few shows that we had already booked. I immediately started thinking about who I knew that would be an ideal fit and my thoughts kept going back to one person. After a few days I sent my old friend, Chris Chapa, a message through Facebook and he immediately responded very enthusiastically.

Several years ago Dave and I briefly jammed with Chris and our old friends, John Alaniz, Tony Degon, and Mike Fuentes in a post-Curse The Heavens metal project but due to the time-consuming nature of being in more than one band, Dave and I stepped down to concentrate solely on Mala Suerte. We had a great time jamming with those guys and I still hold them in the highest esteem. Mike, John, and Chris went on to form metal/hardcore unit, Sluggard and afterwards Chris played in local heavy rock outfit, More Fire. I used to check out both those bands on a fairly consistent basis and was always impressed by Chris’s ability, frenetic energy and absolutely heavy-handed style of battery. Shit, Chris even played on the very first Angkor Wat demo when he was but a wee lad. How’s that for some Texas Metal history?

Fast forward to present day: I knew Chris had moved back to town and had briefly spoken to him about possibly playing for a thrash side-project that Vincent and I have been planning with our old guitarist, Jeff Nettles, and he did seem interested. Though before we really had time to get that underway, Tony decided to leave the band. After that initial Facebook conversation Chris and I decided to get together and talk, and soon after we had our first full band rehearsal. Everything clicked and after just a few short weeks we played our first three shows with Chris – a three day Texas jaunt with Maligno and Las Cruces. Despite a few technical difficulties and miscues those shows proved to be pretty successful. I think we bonded with Chris fairly quickly and the audience reaction was extremely favorable.

We had less than a month to prepare ourselves and refine our set for our SXSW dates and Chris’s enthusiasm and work ethic proved to be critical. He worked very hard to nail down all his parts really well and I think it showed in all of our performances. We had a great time during the fest and we are thankful for all the praise and support that we received. The new material we are working on with Chris is sounding absolutely monstrous and powerful and it’s great to hear him finally be able to put his own unique stamp on the Mala Suerte sound. Check out our next shows on May 10th at Beerland and May 11th at The Dirty Dog and see for yourself. Huzzah!

Too much Doom for one room.

Posted in flyers, Mala Suerte with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by backstabbath

Thursday, June 7th fast approaches  and I look forward to this date with much anticipation, for we will be sharing the stage with one of my current favorite up-and-coming doom ensembles, Uzala. Much like fellow acts Blood Ceremony and Jex Thoth,  this Boise, ID. gloom troupe traffics in the same sort of Sabbathian riff-magick, albeit with a much more somber and crusty vibe. Where, with the aforementioned groups, their more throwback sounds conjure up images of pagan hippies dancing sky-clad under an autumn moon as the smell of incense fills the night air, Uzala’s brand of musical misanthropy brings to mind things less fanciful and more tangibly corrupted and profane. While the hippies dance the night away in a secluded glen, not far away in the midst of  cold giant monoliths of concrete and steel, the city dwellers go about their daily rituals of misery, dejection, despair, and death. Filth and misfortune reign supreme. One thing that really sets Uzala apart from those two slightly more established acts is the dichotomy between vocalist/guitarist Darcy Nutt’s melodically morose, siren of despair doom wailings and the old-school death metal, straight from the grave and fresh from the tomb gravel gurglings  of vocalist/guitarist Chad Remains. Just when you think you have them figured out, they’ll change gears on you and send you reeling down another crooked path or spiralling out of control and headlong into more psychotic soundscapes of psychedelic sludge. Uzala will be on tour starting today (May 24th) and will be out on the road until June 13th. Come out and help make their Austin stop a memorable one.

Also on this bill is local combo, Communion, which features within their ranks, ex-The Roller drummer, Jeremy Jenkins. I caught them live last weekend and they delivered a short set of very ambient, yet minimalist drone/psych. I look forward to seeing further shows as their sound continues to progress and evolve.

Mala Suerte is teaming up with Uzala for an upcoming split 7″ which is set to be released on King Of The Monsters Records really soon. The Mala Suerte track is a song we recorded quite some time ago with our previous drummer, John Petri, entitled “The Veil Of Secrecy“. Those of you that saw us live before Dave rejoined the band may remember the song as we did perform it a few times. The Uzala track is for a song called “Burned” which I just recently heard the mastered version of, and it sounds absolutely crushing! As a matter of fact, I should be finishing up the artwork for our side of this split rather than sitting in front of this computer so I am out of here. I’ll post more information regarding this release really soon.

March Madness during SXSW…or why I am such an asshole. (Day 1)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 12, 2012 by backstabbath

Once again, as Austinites, we survived another yearly invasion of hipster hordes and industry blowhards as they descended upon our fair city with their skinny jeans, man-purses and entirely overblown senses of self-importance. Normally I look forward to SXSW because there is usually quite a variety of different musical acts that I am excited about catching live. This year, however, left me feeling a little bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, as there were some good acts in attendance this year, but many of the showcasing bands, especially those of the metal genre, have played here several times already or do so with such regularity that it made it difficult for me to get too overjoyed. In 2010 SXSW brought us Voivod and last year delivered Saint Vitus and Pentagram. So what incredible acts were in store for us this year? Job For A Cowboy, Devil Driver, and Impending Doom! Oh boy!

With all the hype and hoopla that SXSW has managed to generate over the years it seems only natural that the festivities gradually begin to start sooner and encompass more days than before. What used to span only a few days has now begun to take over the entire week and this year it was certainly more apparent than ever. On Sunday, March 11th immediately after band practice, Vincent and I decided, since it was an incredibly beautiful day, to walk downtown and check out the scenery…er, douchebaggery. Seriously, what reason could there possibly be for so many men to be walking around with purses? What could they possibly need to carry around that they cannot fit into their pockets? More hair product and a couple of changes of clothes? Ten more pairs of skinny jeans? My mind recoils in horror at the thought. The only person that has ever looked cool with a purse is Indiana Jones, but he fought the fucking nazis fer chrissakes…and he had to have somewhere to put that goddamn golden Fertility Idol that he snaked from the Chachapoyan temple before being chased by that giant boulder in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Initially, my plan was to head downtown to Headhunters later that night for the Ossuary Industries showcase, but since my friends in San Antonio sludge band, Pillcrusher, informed me that they had to drop off of the bill at the last-minute, the idea of witnessing a whole night of brutal death metal seemed like more than my already volume-damaged hearing could handle. After walking by Headhunters to survey the scene of black-attired longhairs, Vincent and I milled around for a bit on Red River and then made our way towards 6th Street. Just outside of the old Emo’s location we were stopped by a girl holding a stack of flyers. “Do you guys like metal?”, she glibly inquired. To which her friend retorted, “They ARE metal!” Once on 6th, I ate a hotdog and we decided that it was time to quench our ever-increasing thirst. If we were going to subject ourselves to the onslaught of the hipper than thou throng then many cold libations were definitely well in order. We opted for the decidedly unhip surroundings of the Dirty Dog Bar due in no small part to the fact that there was no cover charge to enter said establishment, but after a couple of beers and several minutes of gratingly mind-numbing modern metal miasma we hastily opted to depart the premises. Next up was Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub. We figured we’d have a couple more brews here and since we were only two bars away from Headhunters it would be the ideal spot to meet up with the two Pillcrusher members that still chose to make the trip to Austin for their label showcase. After a quick text message we were joined by Pillcrusher bassist, Marilyn, vocalist, Beer Reebs, and our mutual friend, Jaylen. Hugs and verbal jabs were exchanged and before long a general agreement was reached to repair to other more happening digs.

Apparently, those more happening surroundings happened to be found at The Jackalope on 6th. This place is a good spot for hipsters and punk rockers to converge and make fun of each others hairstyles, and there is usually a fair amount of lovely young ladies in attendance, though I am far from being hip or punk enough for it to make any difference. After a couple more drinks Vincent decided to call it quits for the evening, as he had to work early the next day, and not long after Jaylen decided to return to Headhunters for a good ol’ ear-raping.  I walked with her back to Headhunters and decided that the $10.00 cover was more than I wanted to pay for a night of blast-beats, buzzsaw guitars, and pig squeals, so I opted instead for the show at across the street and a couple of bars over at Beerland.

My good friend and guitarist/vocalist for The Blood Royale, Tim Corken, was working the door at Beerland so I talked to him a bit before venturing inside. Apparently, since I was too drunk to remember and I was primarily there just to check out the band Entropist, the bill consisted of Immerse, Entropist, Fed of Me, and Adamastor. I don’t know anything about the other three bands so therefore I have nothing more to say about them. Once inside I had just enough time to order a beer and a shot for myself and Tim before Entropist started their set. I believe that this was their second live performance and for such a new band they did a fine job. In contrast to the extreme and unrelenting brutality that was on display across the street, Entropist displayed a much more old-school approach to their death metal and it showed in their very riff oriented style of writing. Vocalist, Oscar Martinez, delivered the death proclamations competently and guitarist, James Hardin, is an excellent lead player, though I think his guitar was a bit too loud in the mix. All in all I was fairly impressed with the band and I will definitely try catch them again at some point when I am less inebriated.

Finally, after Entropist’s set I retired directly across the street to Valhalla for last call. After chatting with my friend Mel over a beer it was time to head out the door. A few people did come over for a bit of after hours festivities before I finally called it a night. It was going to be a long week and I definitely needed some rest. Though, as I expected, I was going to be getting very little of it.

Vomitous Horsecorousous: A very old interview with original dead horse vocalist/guitarist Michael Haaga.

Posted in Interviews with tags , , , , on January 20, 2012 by backstabbath

Back in the early late 80s/early 90s if you were a patron of metal/hardcore shows just about anywhere in Texas chances are that alongside D.R.I.’s ubiquitous skanker dude and any shirt with a Slayer logo on it, you we’re probably just as likely to see some mullet-headed thrasher adorned in a shirt with dead horse’s “death ride” logo or their classic “Farm Road 666” design. For a brief period there they seemed poised to be the next underground band to break out of the regional scene and bring the sound of Texas metal to national and international audiences. They most certainly had the talent and originality but, as has so often been the case within the annals of rock history, label issues and internal band strife proved to be too much and the galloping hooves of the stygian steed finally came to a halt.

dead horse released their very first recording in 1988 in the form of their Death Rides A Dead Horse demo which was quickly followed in 1989 by a self-financed proper full-length entitled Horsecore: An Unrelated Story That’s Time Consuming which, incidentally, was recorded at Rampart Studios, the same studio as D.R.I.’s monumental Dealing With It LP. This album established the bands unmatched penchant for writing exceptionally heavy songs with infectious almost pop-like sensibilities. Extreme grindcore blasts like “Murder Song”, “Crushing of the Irate”, and “Subhumanity” were juxtaposed with comedic gems like “Hank”, a little ditty about a good ol’ boy that likes  “shooting deer, drinking beer” and which starts out as a bouncy country tune before devolving into scathing grindcore madness, and “Bewah”, a groovy bass-heavy track about the plight of the underage drinker. Thrashier, slightly more midtempo songs such as “World War Whatever” and “Mindless Zombies” were also on display and one of the bands most classic cuts, “Scottish Hell” evinced a mournful dirge, proving that dead horse was much more than a one-trick pony. As L.G. Petrov, vocalist of Swedish heavyweights Entombed announced at a gig one dark night in San Antonio before launching into their rendition of “Scottish Hell”, “This is a cover by one of Texas’s greatest bands”. Indeed.

1991 saw the release of dead horse’s second LP, Peaceful Death and Pretty Flowers on the ill-fated Metal Blade/Warner Brothers subsidiary Big Chief Records and once again showcased the band’s metallic heft, irreverent sense of humor and manic, derailed train of thought lyricism,  but this time around some of the speed was reigned in a bit in favor of more carefully crafted compositions which revealed a band that was ever-evolving and maturing. While there was still plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor manifested in songs like “La La Song”, “Aplo”, and the cover of the B-52s hit “Rock Lobster”, songs such as “Like Asrielle”, “Turn”, and the monstrous titular lament “Peaceful Death” presented a more thoughtful, somber, and sobering side of the band. Unfortunately, the band’s decision to sign with the fledgling Big Chief  proved to be a costly one and the label shut down operations some two years after the release of Peaceful Death.

Finding themselves once again a band without a record label, dead horse released a 5 song demo entitled Feed Me in ’94. The demo failed to  attract the attention of a major record label and guitarist/primary vocalist/songwriter Michael Haaga left the band amidst rumors of turmoil and dissension within the ranks. The rest of the band soldiered on for a while and in 1996 released the BOIL(ing), EP and added Force Fed guitarist/vocalist Scott Sevall to the line-up in an attempt to fill the huge void left by Haaga’s departure. Not too long after, the band would call it quits…well, at least for the next 15 years.

Michael Haaga went on to form the band demonseeds which released one  album in 1999 entitled Knee Deep In Hell’s Grasp and actually carried over the song “Every God For Himself” from dead horse’s Feed Me EP. Completely abandoning his metal and punk roots, he later formed another band and released a solo record in late 2004 of sunny pop material entitled The Plus And Minus Show. This group was short-lived however and disbanded not too long after.

Fast forward to 2009 and we see the majority of the post-Haaga dead horse line-up of Greg Martin, Ronnie Guyote, and Scott Sevall teaming up with underground icon Kurt Brecht, of crossover progenitors D.R.I., to form the excellent thrash outfit Pasadena Napalm Division. They released their first EP in September of 2010 and have been keeping busy, as their Facebook page states, “playing live, touring, drinking, gambling etc…” I have seen them live a few times now and I can say with utmost certainty that they are definitely worth your time and attention, so check them out.

In June of 2011 it was announced that dead horse would be reuniting for a show in Houston later that year in October. Almost immediately speculation began as to whether it would be the original line-up or the later post-’94 incarnation. I know many old-school Texas metal fans, myself included, were completely ecstatic about the idea of witnessing the original band back together again, but unfortunately it was not to be. Haaga expressed interest in doing the show but apparently he and the other members couldn’t come to an agreement in time and the show went on without him. Since that show they’ve gone on to perform a few more live dates including a gig at last year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin and it appears that they plan to keep the band going with a new lead vocalist, Michael Argo.  Finally, a full decade and a half after their demise, death rides again.

(This interview was originally conducted sometime in 1990 for the small metal fanzine that I did at the time called Subterranean ‘Zine. dead horse had recently played my hometown of Waco, TX. for a rabid following of music starved metal fans and I wanted to find out more about this group that was rapidly becoming one of my favorites. It was done the old-school way, through snail mail, and I still have Michael Haaga’s handwritten correspondence with the responses to all my questions.)

Please tell me a bit about the band’s origin.

well, dead horse is the final regurgitation of many nauseating band experiences. from mere acoustical trash dating back to the early 80s when greg and i chain smoked for a living to semi-seriously productive thrash bands that greg, alpo, randy (our manager), and rob the former bonehead guitarist that would be a part of the band that would eventually be called dead horse. four years ago after much vomiting greg and i would jam for the first time. later, alpotatoe would join and i don’t remember why they asked me to sing, but they had written a couple silly originals, so i wrote some silly original lyrics, not taking all this too seriously. we then called the band brain dead, bloody typical, eh? anyway, so rob quit the band and since i’d already been playin’ git fiddle for a long time it seemed logical that i start playing, consequently making the whole experience quite more serious for me. we had never done any shows yet, and we sorta unconsciously dropped the old name. it somehow unanimously became a different outlook at what we were doing: we sped up all those silly songs drastically. and like many bands still finding themselves (did you look in the toilet, yet?) we found ourselves in that beautifully categorized category, death, punk, thrash, polka, country, rock group. i can’t remember exactly when dead horse became dead horse, about 3 years ago or less, i think, and we started writing songs like bewah and scottish hell, a logical happening considering greg and my long time mutual musical friendship and understanding. viola, and otherwise check the john again, actually, cause i think that’s our real origin, some bacterial growth found on the spleens of dead horses.

Lyrically and musically, what influences you?

strangely enough, i’d say the reason our band works is due to our varied musical influences, our open-mindedness and the ganja god himself, chicken feet, a great historian. i don’t know, we’ll listen to anything that’s good, if you’re talking musical influence…lyrically i move my emotions out of the reach of the deadly pendulum of life recalling all the near misses. did i say something? ah, sure.

Who came up with the name “dead horse” and how?

greg, and i don’t know how. but neither does he, so rot.

I heard that you were getting signed to Big Chief Records. Will there be a new album out soon? Tell me something about your newer songs.

yes, we signed to big records and we’re setting a studio date for late april. this would place the record release date for sometime in june i suppose. the newer songs are more thought out. lyrically, they’re more sobering. they represent dead horse much better musically, not that “horsecore” didn’t, that album represented then. so what am i saying. chicken feet.

Were there any other offers other than the offer by Big Chief?

metal blade, and cargo in canada. big chunk offered more bucks and more concern for the artistic needs for seriously promoting a band. more sincerity and fewer bands on their rooster. turkey for thanksgiving, and did i mention chicken feet.

You played Waco once before. What made you decide to come back?

the sincerity in the people who went to the first show. those that kept in touch and their persistence in getting us to come back, also i had planned to do more headstands, so i figured wacko was the place.

What’s the crowd response usually like at a dead horse show?

interested. relieved that shows can be fun, instead of completely serious, with rock gods glaring at you like they want to kill your grandmother. can’t relate, man.

How often do you usually play shows and whereabouts?

over our three years of existence, we’ve made excursions, (what’s an excursion?) all the way to california, back to phoenix again, to colorado, places in mississippi, all the way to canada, and of course lots of places in between, and we usually play various texas shows monthly, except for now as we’ve been trying to finish our new material. there are talks (in the white house) about touring with rigor mortis all over the west. we like this idea particularly because of rigor mortis’ connections with dookie houser.

What bands do you listen to?

i’ll answer for me. and i like everything that’s good. lately i’ve been listenin to godflesh, the b-52’s. jane’s addiction, and rocky horror. everybody’s music is as varied. mentors to napalm to dee lite.

How would you describe the dead horse sound?

vomitous horsecorousous.

Any final closing remarks?

hmm? as you get older and more and more people die…people you and i know; arises the question of why all this self-destructing reactionism exists, death is more real than you might imagine. everything is funny, or can be. do you take it serious, murder, murder, murder? do you know what that song’s about? chicken feet…rot. thanks for going to the shows, we’ll come back for sure.(All photos in this post were taken by yours truly, and all flyers are from my personal collection.)

Wasted Life: An interview with D.R.I. vocalist, Kurt Brecht.

Posted in Interviews with tags , , , , on January 8, 2012 by backstabbath

(This interview that I conducted in 2000 originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of Whoopsy Magazine. I’ve included it here as well so that more  people have the chance to read it.)

I’m fairly certain that if you are reading this then you are at least somewhat familiar with the Texas-born band, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, or D.R.I. as they are more commonly known, so I won’t go into a long-winded account of the band’s history. I would, however, like to shed a little light on what they’ve meant to me throughout the years and on how their music was instrumental in exposing me to underground music. I must’ve been around fifteen or sixteen years old when I first heard D.R.I. At this point, I was already into bands and artists like Aerosmith, Van Halen, Twisted Sister, and Ted Nugent and I was starting to get into heavier stuff like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax, and Megadeth. Growing up in a conservative town like Waco offered me very little opportunities for release, so one of my favorite activities back then was to go down to the local Hastings to shop for cassette tapes.

Back then I didn’t have anyone to expose me to cool new music since I don’t have any siblings and none of my other friends or relatives were into heavier styles of music, so essentially, I was on my own. On one particular trip to Hastings I came across the cassette release of D.R.I.’s Dirty Rotten LP and was instantly drawn to the wonderfully rendered cover of a skeletal soldier bursting through the door of some unknown residence. After looking over the track listing, I was intrigued by such subversive song titles as “I Don’t Need Society, “Money Stinks”, and “Capitalists Suck” and even more intrigued by the fact that they managed to fit 26 songs on one side of a cassette tape! I quickly purchased the tape and headed home, unaware of just how different D.R.I.’s music was compared to just about anything else out there, and of how much of an impact it was to have on my life.

The first thing I noticed when I popped the cassette into my tape deck and the first few notes of music began to blare out of the speakers, was that the production was extremely raw and when the opening mid-paced verse of “I Don’t Need Society” gave way to a virtually unrelenting blitzkrieg of blistering speed, the likes of which I’d never heard before, my first thought was, “What the hell? Are these guys ever going to slow down?”

After the tape ended I was somewhat bewildered, yet still intrigued, so I flipped over it again for another listen. During this second playback, as I read along with the lyrics, everything just clicked inside my head and it all made perfect sense. This was the truest sound of rebellion and rage, and of passion and unbridled aggression I’d ever heard. These guys were writing true songs of protest and were playing them at such an insane velocity, that your average listener would probably deem them utterly incomprehensible…and I loved every second of it.

D.R.I. exposed me to the world of extreme music and I dove into it headfirst and never looked back. They were playing hardcore music long before it was considered fashionable and before it became a “dirty” word. Hardcore, to me, was bands like D.R.I., Bad Brains, and Black Flag, and they have absolutely nothing in common with the fashion conscisous, trendy haircut, crybaby, cookie-cutter bands that comprise the majority of the hardcore and metalcore scenes today. However, before I go into an “old man” tirade about why today’s extreme music scene sucks, I’ll just get on with it. This interview was conducted with D.R.I. vocalist, Kurt Brecht, back in 2000 immediately after one of their shows here at The Back Room.

You guys toured with “The Social Chaos Tour” this past summer which was basically an “old-school” punk fest. I was wondering if you found the crowd to be more of the older punk rock types or was there a pretty good mixture of young and old, punk and non-punk?

Pretty much a mixture.

Overall, how was the response and turnout for the entire tour?

It was pretty good. You know, like any tour when you’re out playing seven nights a week – you’re just here or there on a Monday night and it may not be that good, but on Friday and Saturday nights it’s pretty good.

I was rather surprised by the show here in Austin because D.R.I. was billed as playing somewhere in the middle of the set, yet you guys ended up playing dead last.

There was a problem when we showed up in Austin. We arrived later than most of the other bands and there was kind of an uproar and the (promoters and club staff) were saying that they wanted us to play last. They were afraid that if we did not play last that everybody would leave, which I could not understand because I didn’t think we were that popular in Austin. Just from the vibe going on outside, before we got (to the club); everybody decided it would be better if we played last, so we were thinking, “Why aren’t we the headlining band?”

That’s exactly how I felt because you guys were the only reason I came out and I ended up having to literally wait around all day and night.

That’s what everybody else was saying too but it just didn’t end up happening that way, and what’s kind of fucked up is that the headlining bands got paid a lot more money than we did for the whole tour. Not only in Austin, but in other towns we were asked to play later.

When I first saw the band roster for the tour, I remember thinking that D.R.I. may be a bit too “metallic” or metal-tinged compared to the rest of the bands on the bill, although after witnessing your live set I noticed that it primarily consisted of songs from your first two albums. Was this consistent for the rest of the tour?

Yeah. What we played here in Austin that night was basically the set we had for the whole tour because it wasn’t our headlining set. It was just an opening set, about half an hour long.

You guys played “Suit and Tie Guy”, “Thrashard”, and “Do the Dream” from the Four of a Kind and Thrash Zone albums but I think the rest of the material was mainly from the The Dirty Rotten LP and Dealing With It.

During that tour we had days off and we played our full set. We even got to do some shows with TSOL where we each got to play our headlining sets. That was really cool.

So, what’s the word on a new album? I hear that you are going back to the “hardcore punk” sound of the first two LP’s.

We have no new album. We have no record label. We had our own record label called Rotten Records which our manager ran. We fired him and he’s still running the label so I don’t think we’ll be doing a record with him. We’re searching for a label and we don’t have a lot of offers. Nobody seems interested.

Is there any chance of you putting the album out yourselves, somehow?

No. We don’t have the money for that. It’s very expensive, not only to record the record, but also to promote and produce it.

I checked out the D.R.I. web site a while back and read that the band had written quite a few new songs that were in the vein of your older and faster songs.

Yeah, we have some new songs but we haven’t put a lot of time into (them) because of the fact that we don’t have a record label.

At this point a zealous, wide-eyed, and visibly intoxicated fan wandered over to our table to voice his appreciation for D.R.I.’s music.

“I’ve been listening to you guys since I was thirteen fucking years old, man! Thanks a lot, man.”

To which Kurt graciously replied, “Thank you”.

“How long are you guys gonna do this shit? Until you fall down?”

“Probably, until I fall off the stage,” responded Kurt.

Then the drunken patron went into a tale about the time he met Lemmy of Motorhead and asked him the same question, which unsurprisingly elicited a similar response.

“Sure. What else are you gonna do? I’ve already wasted my life. I mean, I don’t have any other skills,” offered Kurt honestly.

The guy thanked Kurt once again and headed back to the bar, as his cup of beer was dangerously close to being empty. I immediately engaged Kurt in more conversation.

A lot of lyrics for D.R.I. songs seem to have started out as one of your poems, which leads me to wonder about the song writing process. Which comes first, the lyrics or the music? Basically, what is the D.R.I. method for writing songs?

I’ll give lyrics to Spike and he’ll write music to them and sometimes he’ll write music and I’ll put lyrics to that.

You’ve put out a few books on your own publishing company, Dirty Rotten Press. Your last book, Whore Stories, is a collection of stories written from the first person perspective, about various exploits and encounters with different whores and prostitutes. At the beginning there is a disclaimer that states that the book is entirely a work of fiction, yet after reading it I got the impression that there may have been some truth to some of the stories or that they may have been based on actual personal experiences or situations. Care to comment?

There is absolutely no truth in that (book).

No truth at all? You mean to tell me that the entire book is a work of fiction?

Yeah, it’s something I made up in my own sick mind.

Isn’t there a bit of it that may be real?

Well, some of it could be true about other people’s stories that they’ve given me…or something like that. You know what I’m talking about.

What about your first book, Word War I? Is that still available?

Word War I was the first book that I put out. It was photocopied and stapled together. I only made a hundred copies. It was all poems, photographs, and drawings of mine and it ended up in Notes From The Nest. So that’s why I never really reproduced that one.

So there is some of it that hasn’t been reprinted?

Yeah. There is some stuff that people haven’t seen out of there. Some people have been wanting it lately and I told them that I would check it out when I got home from this tour and see what I could do.

I wouldn’t mind getting a copy of that myself.

Yeah, I’ll see what I can do. I was selling them for like, three dollars each and they went real fast. Originally, I just put it out so I’d have some money because we were going on tour year after year and we were starving. I was starving to death, basically. I was so skinny and weak and everything. I could barely even survive on tour and I needed something, you know. I saw other people like Henry Rollins selling books and I thought, “I gotta put something out. I gotta put some kind of book out and sell ’em so I can have some money (while) on tour.”

We never actually had any money to split up to live on. Our money was to pay for gas and hotels and our van and repairs and all that kind of shit. So that book, when it came out, was basically for that, but like I said, it sold out real fast and didn’t really help me out that much. After that I just started putting out other books. It’s the same thing basically now. We don’t really get paid much except for whatever we do on the side – like my books.

Do you have any other books in the works?

I do, yeah, but I can’t put them out because I can’t afford to. All the money that I make from my other books…I just spend it.

So, are you currently working any other jobs?

I have a regular job, yeah. Construction…remodeling. My boss is always pissed off when I go on tour. When I come back I don’t really expect to have my job back but usually he’ll (rehire) me after a week or so. He doesn’t like to hire me back right away because he thinks I get too complacent (and that I think) I can come and go as I please, so he’ll say, “Well, I don’t really need you now,” but after about a week he’ll call me and say, “All right”.

Back in ’89 when the Thrash Zone LP came out, and after reading the lyrics to the song “Gun Control“, which is basically a song about the need for stricter gun control laws, I remember being really surprised by the stance taken on that particular issue.

I didn’t write that song! Spike wrote those lyrics. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want those lyrics, but there are a lot of lyrics of mine that he doesn’t like either and he compromises, right. So I compromised with that song, and we rarely played it live, if at all.

So, what are your views on Gun Control?

I’m not into control at all.

Yeah. I always found those lyrics to be somewhat odd, especially coming from a band that seemed to have such strongly anti-authoritarian views, as evidenced on songs like “Counter Attack” and “I Don’t Need Society”.

Yeah, the deal was that Spike lived in Oakland with his wife in kind of a bad part of town, and at night all around his house, machine guns would be going off all the time. (When you’re) living in the city and people are shooting all around your house, you’re on the floor a lot of times at night because you’re afraid that a bullet’s going to come ricocheting through your wall. So, he came out with that song and he believed very strongly in it. I don’t know if he still does, but he did at the time and I had to respect that.

D.R.I. has been around since the early 80s when the hardcore punk movement was going strong, and the band managed to do well during the heyday of thrash and speed metal in the late 8os/early 90s and is still going strong here in 2000. What is your opinion on the current state of the metal/hardcore scene, especially considering the proliferation of so many rap-metal and black metal bands?

I like rap-metal and I like some black metal too. I feel that bands like ours should just get together with other bands and make big tours and go out, kind of like we did with the Social Chaos Tour. Bands like us and D.O.A. and bands like that that are still together and have been around for a long time may not be able to make it just going around on their own. We should just get together and present a good package rather that having somebody pay $15.00 to see us with some local bands that they’ve never heard of, or that they can see every night for free. I think we should just continue to do that sort of thing, but as it is right now, we do shit on our own a lot of times because that’s what the booking agency wants.

There’s something that’s been bugging me for years. There’s a song on Crossover called “I.D.K.Y.” After reading those lyrics over and over I’ve never been able to come up with even the slightest clue as to what that acronym could mean. What that hell does I.D.K.Y. stand for?

I don’t know yet. We were working on the song and Spike kept asking me every day, when we’d show up at practice, “Do you have a name for that song yet?”

I kept telling him, “I don’t know yet; I don’t know yet,” and he said, “Well, let’s just call it I.D.K.Y. (for) I don’t know yet.”

I couldn’t come up with a name and I still never have, so that’s what it ended up being.

What’s the key to D.R.I.’s longevity?

We like to go on tour (and) we like to travel a lot. None of us have ever wanted to be in some other band, otherwise we just would’ve split up and started other bands…and our fans that keep coming back and wanting us, and writing to us, and calling us, and e-mailing us, and saying “Come back on tour (and) come to our town. We love you guys. We like you and we like your songs.”

How can you give it up? You can become addicted to it. Like I said, I have a regular job and everything (but) when I go home and I check my e-mail and I’ve got e-mails from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, and places like that, with all these people asking, “When are you gonna come back to our town? We’re waiting for you to come”.

You know, they push you into it. It’s an ego trip, basically.

As long as you guys keep coming around, I’ll definitely keep coming to check you out. I don’t make it out to as many shows as I once did, but I always make it a point to catch all my favorite bands.

I’m the same way.

I guess that’s about it. Any last words?

I’d like to thank Austin for being there for us. At first we never had good shows in Austin because we were from Houston and people here didn’t like us. After we got Felix in the band, (and because) he was from Austin, we started doing better. Now that nobody thinks we’re from Houston, it doesn’t really matter (anymore).

(All live photos in this post are courtesy of Scott McCauley)