It was my distinct pleasure to get my hands on a copy of Anger As Arts new release "Callus and Furor" out on OSM records. It has been in heavy rotation on my CD player for 2 weeks now. I first meet Guitar / Lead vocalist Steve Gains at the Thrash against Cancer show at the now defunct Pound SF where A.A.A. had just completed a blistering set.
I've since had the pleasure of sharing a show bill with AAA at a couple of times and have been eagerly awaiting the bands next release. Though I am not here to do a CD review of "Callus and Furor" since as all of you here at Thrash Unlimited are keepers of the faith, I figure you will find your way to one of the bands web sites or OSM records and listen to a track or two and then decide to go buy it for yourself. If any of you here already have this CD feel free to comment about it here.
Well Steve, Please introduce yourself to our readers here and brief back ground of what you did prior t forming AAA and introduce your band mates.
Sure thing!!! Well, I am an old fart to begin with. And I think I
have been doing thrash since before we called it thrash. I was always drawn to the fast and heavy stuff. I loved it when Sabbath did fast shit, songs like Die Young, Never Say Die, Neon Knights.... I remember hearing Judas Priest when Stained Class was brand new... and that seemed so fast. Then here was Motorhead.... but the band that cemented my life was Accept. I had the Breaker album, and my mind was blown when the long awaited new album Restless And Wild was released... and the first time I heard 'Fast As AShark.. it was like someone reached into my soul and said 'here you go,young man!!!'
Life hasn't been the same since. I had already been laying n bands, some with ties to multi platinum artists. but no one wanted to get heavier. They all wanted radio hit songs. The first band that went that direction was Bloodlust, of which I was a founding member. But I joined Abattoir in 1984 to record the debut album 'Vicious Attack' - we were playing with Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and Exodus.. to give you an idea of what we were doing in that time. But the band started to get pressured from management to go more pop-like. So here we go again. I m definitely not a pretty boy, and was not their idea of the stereotypical frontman.
So instead of fighting for the purity of the gig, I drank myself out of it. Started a band called Tactics, but shelved it to return to Bloodlust in time to do the Terminal Velocity album. That lasted for awhile. In 1989 I reformed Tactics, and we lasted throughout the 90's -probably the only PURE thrash type band in L.A. at the time, during hose dark ages when the scene was dead or dying. In 1999 Abattoir reformed, and I am still involved with it today - although we do not work on the band at all really. Just weighing out offers. I played in 2 bands with ex Dark Angel Jim Durkin (Pagan War Machine and Dreams Of Damnation) but he quit both of them. So that was the motivating factor behind the birth of
Anger As Art - just to have a band that would not be its own worst enemy, so to speak. I have a knack for writing some decent songs, and this was thevehicle. Anger As Art has been my primary focus since 2004. I am alsonvolved in a Bloodlust reunion right now, and have recently been
playing bass for a reunited BITCH (yes, with Betsy... THAT Bitch). All in all my life has been centered around Thrash, or at least a heavier version of metal.
Lets get right to your CD "Callus and Furor" Listening to this CD acts as a bit of a catharsis forme. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone out there who is into thrash is that, we all seem to share in having pent up anger or frustration which makes this style of music a great release for it. You really seemed to have found a voice for lyrically expressing those feelings with this CD, tell us about what you draw upon when you write?
That is why we connect, brother. There is a certain emotion that only
thrash can get to. Don't get me wrong, I love death metal... but that
is very much like a horror/fantasy movie for me. It isn't real. I don't
really watch movies, and never got into comic books. I spent too much time dealing in reality. While my bandmates and peers were medicating themselves and vegging into their VCR and television, I was trying to survive - living in the back seat of my car. Everything was brutally honest and real. I had no safety net. So, just trying to survive while people were 'taking food off of my table' became a battle cry, or way of life. Wonder why I am angry?
Life and reality made me this way. There are so many of my peers who
make statements - 'see how hateful he is? Oooh, the anger... what a BAD
person' as they slip into an alcoholic stupor, ignoring the problems in their
own lives - just like good Catholics who look the other way when Priests
sodomize little boys.
Not me, I was never afforded the luxury. Life was always very real...
and since I am not in any position of power, I have very little at my
disposal to do anything about it. So it comes out in thrash - this really is a
Catharsis, as you said. Look at the lyrics of that song... "Goddamn
you.... I really hate you... I wish you'd fucking die". That's it. How many
times have you been there? And the person you hate is actually connected to the hand that feeds you.... That is where I am with lyrics, and where it comes from.
It seems to me that each song and its title starting from first track " Catharsis" to last track"I Still Hate" seem to become more progressively intense to me, its not as if the tempo gradually increases each track to the next one, yet it has that affect on me. Is that just happen stance or a an intentional theme on your part or am I just reading to much into it?
Not so much a theme... but we paid a lot of attention to how each
track flowed into each other. So that the whole thing made a collective
And just about the time you think you have it figured out - BAM - we
turn left on you. The idea was to lure you in, and before you know it, you
are listening to the entire album. not just a song here or there. Another
thing we did (and for those that are old enough- you will remember) was make sure that there were no more than 2 seconds between songs. I still remember when AC-DC's Back In Black was brand new, and was in heavy rotation on radio.
The songs were so close together, that the DJ couldn't lift the needle
before the next song started. And many times you went straight from
'Hell's Bells' into 'Shoot to Thrill' ... you had no choice. you were hooked.
This is something I tried to present to every band I have recorded with...
and they would all say 'shut up, Steve. You don't know what you are
talking about'. Abattoir's live album from 2001, for example... when mastered the songs faded down to silence. It's a goddamn LIVE CD people... a live album recreating the concert experience. And it was unrealistic. I was outvoted 3 or 4 to 1. Fuck... in this day and age, if you get someone to bite, you have to keep them on the hook. Like fishing - we are not running a 'catch and release' program here. I see so many CDs now who follow the sameformula... a logo that you cannot read... dark artwork with eerie gray black and silver smoke... an evil image... maybe a few body parts on the end of spears... and it is the same shit. One to the other to the other...
c'mon... it is time to start thinking just a little outside of the box.
And if we are the only ones who pay attention to little details like
So... sorry for the rant... but you caught onto it. It was definitely
planned. We wanted the whole thing to flow right down to "Still I
Hate" closing out the album with that ending that leaves you to think...
'that's it? Is it over?'
I like the art work on the cover, it really seems to convey the CD title to me, who did the artwork and are the faces on it a representation of your own there seem to be a bit of a likeness?
No.. it is not me. That all comes from the sick and twisted mind of
Eddie Mize. He also did the art on the reissue of the first Anger As Art CD.
But you are catching on to something. He will start with a picture of
himself, and throw whatever emotion he is feeling into it, and that is what you get. There is an element of anger and despair that comes through on a personal level - and I thought I was picking up on that looking at his differentpieces of art. Go to his website to see more of his work - there is a link on our website. As I got to know him, I realized that he and I walked almost an identical path in life - right down to our upbringing. This guy ispouring his emotion into his art - very much the same way that we might do through our music. And that is the bigger picture - with the name Anger As Art - we have a unique ability to reach out to artists, sculptors,
poets... whoever, and we are really tapping into an underground culture of
people who deal with Anger in different ways. And regardless of medium, we all are in the same place. That is a deeper connection than just being a thrash metal fan.
But if you put the CD in your computer, you will see that each lyric
sheet has an original piece of art created by Eddie. Something that puts a
visual to every lyric. We caught some grief from some of the 'authoritative' metal people who called the cover clichÃ©... and we should have done what Suffocation did... or whatever. Another said that I (me) didn't really know what kind of cover I wanted, but just didn't know it yet. Bullshit - e knew. Between myself, Eddie, and Patrick (OSM label CEO) we all worked our asses off pulling this together. To me, the human emotion was the absolute most important thing to convey in this cover art. And if I had the chance to do it all again, I would do it the same way. Besides, there is always the next album.
Steve, who are some of the bands or artists that were a big influence on you early on that lead you the style of music that you play today..
Believe it or not, I still listen to the same bands. I will always be
a Priest fan... and Sabbath too. It begins and ends with those 2 bands.
Motorhead... and a lot of the band I was competing with back in the
80's -Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Exodus... even
Abattoir -from both the inside and outside. How about Accept? I think it is safe to say that you can hear that influence of all of those bands in AAA...
Guitar players? My biggest influences were Gary Moore, Tony Iommi, Glenn Tipton, and Zakk Wylde. I will go on record right now and say that I fucking cannot stand Michael Schenker. Everybody worships this lush.. and he is nothing other than a fret board wanker who cannot write a song unless he is acomplimentary writer - his best stuff was with UFO when he wrote with Phil Mogg and Pete Way... as a solo artist, it is as boring as watching Steve Satriani, or Joe Vai.... 'oooh, look how good a musician I AM!' Big deal. Write me a song that I will go away singing.
I have recently seen a couple of the young guns from Los Angeles like Merciless Death and Fueled by Fire . Up here in the Bay Area we also have a handful of new bands carrying the torch for thrash as well.
They seem to have a decent following of kids that dress up "80's old school" sporting white high tops, levi vests replete with patches. For me it is like stepping back in time. My question to you is , do you think thrash is truly on its way back or just a fad ?
I do not know that we should really care that it is 'coming back'. I
mean, if it becomes a trend and rises, then the fall is inevitable, right? I
think the best thing we can all do as thrashers is to write and perform fromabsolute honesty - be who we are 100% of the time. Do you realize thatmetal as we know it is about to turn 40? Blue Cheer, and Black
Sabbath. It is not going away anytime soon. Neither is thrash. But to answer, I am so encouraged specifically by Merciless Death - that someone is doing my favorite form of music with absolute purity and honesty in their hearts. I love what they do... and cannot believe that they average 19 years old.
That is amazing. But to say that they are going to bring it back isn't fair
to them or to those who never stopped doing thrash. I just want to
rejoice in the fact that another band is doing it 'the right way!'
The funny thing.. I have busted out some of the denim and leather that
I still have, and my wife says "you look like an old school hesher..." I
say "yeah... just wait until you see everyone at the show." And she can't
believe it. It is nice to be out in public, and people don't look and
say â€œ'that old dude"... instead they say " are you into Thrash?"
Any tours lined up in support of "Callus and Furor" domestically and perhaps in Europe?
We are working on it. We just missed being added to Destruction and
Sadus when Municipal Waste dropped off. They went with the latest version of Hirax instead - we have only one date on the tour here in Los Angeles.
We are looking at a couple of festival dates in spring 2007, and if they
work out, a string of gigs that will take us from one to the other right
down the middle of the country. We are trying to string together a series of short tours that will constitute covering the whole USA throughout the year.
We are looking at a way to make Europe a reality - but it really starts
with selling records over there.
Funny, but one thing that has changed since our signing to OSM is the
reaction of promoters. Where it used to be"yeah, I remember your old
band - we have nothing for you", now they see a label, and offer us festival dates but only if the label agrees to give money to help promote the festival -in other words it becomes apparent that they are trying to make sure they break even long before they put tickets on sale on the back of some morons with stars in their eyes. Essentially a buy on in exchange for promotion.
One of these which occurred this past summer, and we were guaranteed a
spot. As soon as the promoter thought the check was in the mail, he contacted me to say he wasn't going to use us, but was going to use the money for promo anyway - he would put our band name and company logo on flyers. So I am freaking out, and get in contact with the label, and tell him what happened.
I was informed that the check had never been sent - he didn't have the
chance to drop it in the mail yet. This promoter freaks out, and wants
to know why we aren't sending any money.... as if he didn't know.
The point is that now we are at the level where we have a name people
have heard, and we are big enough to try to screw over. And this is the
source of laughter... watching these lemmings line up to try to take money that we don't have. Sorry guys. But we aren't here to give it away. There are compromises, and arrangements - but I have a business to run, and mouths to feed.
It also shows that 'most' promoters don't give a shit about you at all.
they see you as a mark or a sale. So don't be fooled. There are many
who I trust, have worked with, and will continue to work with. We recently
saw a guy who had a show collapse on us - and he stood there and took the brunt of our anger, and he did the right thing. Tried to accommodate another band who was on the bill as best as possible (maybe you have heard of them), and is making it up to us. Another up in Seattle is a very good friend of mine - and he stands by whatever he says - even if there is a 'buy-on'. But too many of these people fancy themselves as a male Sharon Osbourne, and they are doing Ozzfest. WE just watch for the red flags, and stay clear.
So what CD's are you currently listening to?
Ready to laugh? I have a series of CD's called 'Learn Spanish like
crazy'. I would venture to say that it will reap benefits for the rest of my
life... oh that's not what you meant. In the player this week, I had Black
Sabbath's Dehumanizer, Death Angel's Art Of Dying... Dew Scented's
Impact... anything by Henry Rollins or Motorhead. I listen to a lot of talk
radio - a big fan of Tom Leykis!!!
What in your opinion is the one essential Thrash CD
ever put out ?
Are we including "Reign In Blood"? I think it begins and ends there. I
am still partial to the big combat releases in 1985 - Abattoir's Vicious
Attack was one of them. But on the same day, they also released Slayer's Hell Awaits, Megadeth's Killing Is My Business, Exodus's Bonded By Blood,
and what else? Possessed... anything in 1985 on Combat counts to me as one big CD - each band mattered so greatly, and shaped the scene. 1986 brought further refinements to thrash... and Reign In Blood was clearly the best example of all of them.
Where can our reader get a copy of Callus and Furor?
Well, where can you get any CD anymore? the day and age of the record
store is rapidly going away - sad but true. Tower Records is the latest. I
don't even know if you can get Christ Illusion at Wal-Mart, or Target... I
have this talk with people all the time, who ask where they can get it -
specifically if they live in a small town. Get it online! That is the
future - and probably the main way that you will keep the price down,
because you don't have to pay rent in a strip mall, pay to keep their
lights turned on, and not pay the salary of some kid who will call you sir,
and cannot understand anything other than My Chemical Romance... do you really want to go to a record store, other than one that specializes in metal? You can find it online, and it will be in your home a day or 2 later.
Start at the label's website - http://www.osmrecords.net
- go to the links page,
and you will see who is distributing it. It is going through The End here in
North America. Of course there is Amazon, CD Baby, and we are even in
By the way, if you order now, they will be in your possession in time
for Christmas (or Festivus... if you celebrate it). Get multiple copies of
both albums - they make a great Christmas gift!!! (okay, shameless self
promotion is now over)
Is it true that you are close to inking anendorsement with Ibanez.? "just kidding"
Okay, if you are reading this interview, you know that I have a
tendency to be long winded, or write too much. You got me started.... this one is your fault. LOL
I owned one Ibanez in my life - it was a 1975 or 76 lawsuit copy of a
Gibson double neck - bass on top, guitar on bottom. It was amazing, but
impractical. But back in the day, Ibanez made great guitars - they
still do, actually. But I'll be goddamned if they are not the most lacking
of any sex-appeal whatsoever. That Satriani thing? What a BORING superstrat.
Same with the Vai Model. When I see people playing Ibanez, I ask why?
They have no answer, other than the walls of Guitar Center are teeming with models, and they are willing to bargain on them. Then they always talk about 'someday, I will own the guitar that I really wanted". What does that mean?
Why do you settle now? Why not get one that you will want fore the
rest of your life? The only Ibanez models I care for are the Iceman, the old double cutaway Artist, and some of the jazzboxes, like the George Benson signature model. But the crap they offer now? So what? They could double as paddles for your rowboat. I absolutely hate those Ibanez Sound Gear basses in 4 and 5 string models. Who do they market them to? Beginners. They are entry level, unless you are the bass player for Godsmack... and you also where a windbreaker buttoned to the top, a backwards baseball cap onstage... and play with your fingers while rocking back and forth slowly. Fuck! Step up!
For the record - I am listed on the Gibson website under Gibson
Artists. I have been enamored with Gibson for more than 30 years - dating back to those old Kiss Albums where Kiss uses Gibson Guitars because they want the best.
There is nothing on earth like my Explorers, my SG's, or particularly
my Les Paul's. I strap my LP on, and the ghosts of all who came before me (from Les, all the way through Beck, Clapton, Page, Ace Frehley, Joe Perry, Glenn Tipton when he played a Black Beauty - see the cover of Hell Bent - Gary Moore) suddenly flow through my fingers. It is a strange kind of magic that only appeals to some... a Les Paul is the ultimate guitar.
It annoys me when I see companies like ( sorry bro... not personal)
ESP try to take tried and true shapes - the SG , LP, Explorer, and even the
Stratocaster - and try to sell them as an original idea. Then you hire
some jackass like James Hetfield to play one in a photo.... sorry guys, I am not fooled. It is like near beer - it is almost as good as the real thing.
Why fake it - GET THE REAL THING. Same applies to Dean, Hamer, Washburn, and Schecter. No originality. And what is with those BC Rich pieces of wooden Shrapnel? I remember when BC Rich guitars were sexy... what the fuck is that Beast, with that stupid headstock? I have played with so many idiots who insist on running around blindly with those things - don't need any stage blood here fellas. Nothing says "ohh, look at me " as desperately as a bolt neck BC Rich!
I will state that I do like Jackson, PRS, and some Fender guitars. But
Gibson is the only one that matters.
Thanks for taking the time to do this for us here at
Sorry for carrying on so much. Just a little passionate about things I
believe in. And on the record, I gotta tell you how much I love
Potential Threat. I still remember when you sent a file to me and said "I have a chance to play with this band". You guys live up to your reputation -
I love the songs, the live show, the camaraderie between you and the
Noble brothers... it is a damn good band. I am so looking forward to your
next release, and the next time we get to play together. You guys do it the right way. Thanks for that!