How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
Well that goes back a long, long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away. I actually bought my first metal record in the summer of 1983, just before I turned 13. It was VENOM’s Welcome to Hell. I only bought it because my older sister told me not to because it was devil music. But it was my own money so I bought it. Thought it was the worst record I had ever heard the first few times I played it on the family turn table. The more I played it, the more I liked it and understood it. From there I discovered more metal bands and it’s pretty much been downhill ever since. In the 80’s I always wanted to be in a band, but couldn’t play for shit. Right out of high school I bought my first guitar and tried to play, but it was useless because I was horrible. The only thing I could actually do was growl a little, so I stuck to vocals. Played with some friends in bands here and there in the 90’s, but never really did anything.
As far as achieving a level of success, Ted and I really never gave it much thought when we started UNNATURAL. Ted just wrote some songs and played them for me. I liked them so I put some vocals to them. Pretty much just put them out on a demo for fun. It caught the ear of Mike at HPGD, so he signed us to an EP. I’d say we have pretty much gone beyond what we thought we would do with this. I know it might sound like I’m trying to be modest, but that’s the absolute truth.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
I’m pretty much whoring out UNNATURAL to anyone and everyone that will listen. I send out lots of emails to bands that I like, just to tell them I like their material and I do the same with labels if I really like a release from them. UNNATURAL is a fairly new band so I haven’t had to debase myself just yet. But give it time, it’s still early in the year. Embarrassing story??? How much time do you have??? Around ’92-93, went to a show with a friend. Was wintertime in Chicago and had been snowing like crazy. We started running across the street from where we parked to get to the venue. As we reached the front door, in front of about a hundred people standing in line, I took a spill on some black ice. Fucking wiped out. Everyone in line burst out into laughter. I felt awesome. Funny thing… I don’t even remember who was playing.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
I’m an old goat, so for me, seeing the younger people create music with that old school death metal feel and sound is what I see as a great thing. I think it’s awesome that these newer bands are paying homage to the bands that started it all and put a spin of their own in it. I think as long as bands keep doing this, that old school death metal flame will never die. Also, I love labels re-issuing old demos on CD and vinyl. There were so many demos and records back in the 90’s that never got wide distribution, that were absolutely killer. It’s great to see these releases get the distribution they deserve. As for some of the worst things??? Pretty much the same old drama that’s always been with bands feuding for whatever reason. You know, the “He said, she said” BS that gets so annoying. I mean, I’m not trying to preach some “We are the World” BS, but people just need to chill and let the drama go.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
The state of this country is a mess. I’m so tired of so many injustices that are going on in this country right now. One of my biggest concerns is how much this country is becoming a socialist country. I’m so tired of so many people just holding their hands out for what they feel they are entitled to, yet they put nothing into the system for themselves when they need it or for others. It seems to me that “Pride in one’s work” has been replaced by “How much can I get, with the least amount of effort”. It’s like 20% of the people are doing 80% of the work. While the others do a minimal amount of work. There are so many things that bug the crap out of me, but I try not to dwell on them too much. Otherwise I would go nuts. I pretty much just use the anger that I have from these issues and put it into music form. I tell lots of people that this planet is so fucked that someone should just drop a bomb on the entire planet and start all over. So I wrote a song called The End, which is about Armageddon and world obliteration.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you?
I think I already answered this. Bought my first metal record in 1983 and never looked back. No one person really got me into metal. I pretty much discovered it on my own. Actually, my parents used to spin a lot of country records on the family turn table. I never cared for those records. I had older brothers and sisters that would play lots of other music, but one of my older sisters would listen to stuff like KISS, Ted Nugget and RUSH. I was always kind of drawn to the heavier stuff for some reason. I didn’t choose metal. Metal chose me. In the late 80’s early 90’s I met a friend (Brad Buldak Ex- Bassist/Vocalist MORGUE) and he got me into the death metal underground. I mean I knew about the records and tapes I could buy at my local record store, but I never knew about fanzines and the death metal tape trading underground. I got hooked quickly. I tried playing guitar for a couple of years, but I sucked. So I just decided to stick with vocals. Not that I’m any better at that, but it’s the only thing I can contribute.
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
Last time I was at the carny and got some cotton candy. I always make a mess.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
I would just tell the critics to keep an open mind. Inspire bands as opposed to criticizing them. If you really like a band’s material, drop them a line and just let them know you like what they are doing. It may inspire that band to write more music that may eventually inspire others and so on. Keep promoting the new and don’t forget the old. There are lots of really good new bands out there that just need a chance to be noticed and there is still a ton of old material and bands that were never discovered that are absolutely killer.
What’s your goal for Unnatural? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Uh… I dunno. Maybe see if we can get a 7 inch deal. I love 7 inch Eps. I buy them all the time. Ted is just going to keep writing the musick and I’m just going to keep growling to it. If a label likes it and wants to work with us, Great!!! If not, we’ll just put it out on another demo. Either way, we’re going to have fun doing it and try and keep the old school death metal flame alive.
Finally, when you’re not listening to, writing or playing metal, what are some of you favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
I pretty much only listen to metal. Whether it is death metal, black metal, heavy metal, speed metal, etc… It’s always metal. Right now I’m pretty much listening to all forms of metal:
IRON MAIDEN – The Book of Souls (Amazing Record. They can do no wrong in my book)
NOCTURNAL – Violent Revenge (Some sick, thrashy, German death)
UNDERGANG – Døden læger alle sår (One of the heaviest albums of 2015)
BLOOD URN – …of Gory Sorcery and Death Demo 2014 (New band from Austria. Absolute evil death metal)
DESECRATE – Call the Ancients Demo 1993 (Re-issue of their 93 demo on CD. Reminds me of the first DEICIDE record)
ANGEL WITCH – Sinister History (I’ve had this for years, but I recently spun the disc and it drew me in. What an amazing band)
CIRITH UNGOL– King of Dead (Everything about this record rules. From the bass lines to the vocals. Amazing record)
INCINERATOR – Human Garbage 7 Inch EP 2015 (Killer new band from The Netherlands)
MARDUK – Iron Dawn (I’ve played this a million times and it still killz me.)
GOUGE – Beyond Death (I can’t stop playing this.) (Editorial Note: I couldn’t agree more on the Gouge album. Criminally underrated album.)
Thanks so much to Ken for his time. We hope for nothing but the best for Unnatural