Abyssum – Thy Call (1998) en Español

abyssum-thycall

Article by David Rosales. This review is David’s Spanish translation of his earlier review of the album.

Cuando decimos que el metal llegó a su cúspide en 1994, después de una breve época dorada, y que lo que siguió no fue sino un declive clarísimo, esto no significa que no hubo absolutamente nada bueno. Por definición, lo que le sigue a una cúspide es un declive – aunque la decadencia sólo sea aparente debido a la perspectiva. Aún más importante es aclarar que cuando hablamos de esta manera, nos estamos refiriendo a un promedio a través del género, y no señalando a nadie específicamente. Después de todo, tenemos un Summoning publicando su clásico de clásicos en 1996 y más música grandiosa a finales del siglo. En Centroamérica, siempre un paso (o más bien diez o treinta pasos) atrás del resto del mundo como resultado de procesos históricos que podemos identificar, lo poco que su reducida población, recursos y cultura permitieron desarrollar al metal local, floreció entre los últimos cinco años del siglo pasado.

(more…)

71 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Abyssum – Thy Call (1998)

abyssum-thycall

When we say that metal’s golden era peaked in 1994 and that everything went downhill, it does not mean that there was nothing good after that. By definition, quality after a peak must go downhill in comparison. More importantly, when we say such things, we are referring to a genre-wide average, not to specifics. After all, we have Summoning releasing their classic of classics in 1996 and more great music before and around the turn of the century. The same is true of several black metal bands and a very few death metal ones. In Central America, ever one (or ten or twenty) steps behind in everything as a result of traceable historical processes, what little its reduced population, resources and culture allowed for metal to develop flourished between 1995 and 2000.

The ratios of complete rubbish to authentic music to outstanding music can, in my experience, be roughly and informally distributed in percentages 95%, 4.9% and 0.1%. An actual and precise statistic would be interesting, it’s just a matter of time before we have some empirical data for you here. It is no surprise, then, that you can count the number of enduring releases from Central America with your fingers. To the best of my knowledge, the two bands that are worth mentioning for posterity (rather than out of nostalgia, which would be more inclusive) are death metallers Horgkomostropus from Honduras and black metal project Abyssum, officially from Guatemala.

Formed by the Honduran Akherra on drums and the Guatemalan Rex Ebvleb on vox and the rest of the instruments, Abyssum released two demos in the span of 1995 and 1996, and finally a full-length in 1998 titled Thy Call (it should be clarified that the drummer in this album specifically was Diatharma Thoron). In here the band follows in the most advanced footsteps of mature black metal that is inclined towards ambient music yet does not yet abandon its black metal roots. No trace of rock whatsoever is in sight. In fact, a familiar vibe of dark and “dungeon”/medieval ambient is felt in its instrumentation and coloration. It is the coming-out of metal on the other side of the spectrum and into purity, but Abyssum stops itself short of departing from metal altogether.

page2

As if walking into the forest domain of an ancient mountain god, one sees the vibrant symbiosis and inter-dependent life forms, so insignificant in themselves but meaningful and majestic when brought together. Simple acoustic guitar picked passages, arpeggios that complement synth chords and melodies in a loop followed by episodes born through them. Some of these originating passages serve as starting points in pathways into this wilderness, not complete in themselves, but without which the magic of the next distinct moments would be without significance as all manner of relative points of departure or reference would be missing.

The perfect balance of parallel worlds, one of the physical, the other of the energetic and spiritual, is portrayed vividly in Thy Call. The music is taken to the extreme of what respectable metal can indulge in ambient repetition, while keeping it relevant not only with respect to the rest of the music, but a healthy, though minimalist, movement in harmony guided by a leading melody is ever present. Life itself manifested in the inseparable music. Its nature is not rhythmic, neither is it based on the hanging-on of one harmony either, and it definitely is not the pop indulgence of a single melody line without any other merit. It is neither and yet it is all. Take away one, and it is utterly destroyed. It is a perfect balance of the three in which a holy, indivisible yet distinguishable trinity of elements which would be for naught without each other.

Treading through this dreamy world reached by walking through a portal created by Abyssum, we come by all these scenes of lush greenery among the autumn pigments of melancholy. Here and there animals rush to and fro — an electric guitar and drums disturb the calm, calling out in cries that rip through the whistling wind. Well into our journey, we finally come face to face with the lord of the realm, an old, powerful beast crowned with leaf, moss and flower.  Screeches fly over among powerful but controlled black metal drumming made famous and effective in Emperor and Graveland and supported by tremolo-picked melodies rushing under echoing synths.

This is the atmosphere that envelops one in its presence, this is your shuddering under its gaze. If it were prone to violence, there would be no escape. But the old one is the guardian and center of life and its benevolence is abundant towards those who do not come with destruction. And so, quietly, gracefully, it departs and fades into the vegetation. Distorted guitars and drums vary in patterns that bring it closer to a calm. Acoustic guitars, voice and cello synths come in to see peace instaurated as passages continue in singular impermanence, forming a continuous and uninterrupted existence as they die and are born (and reborn). We walk away and out, with only a lingering note and the whistling of the wind in our ears.

Abyssum MP3s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kll1PglzNas

15 Comments

Tags: , , , ,

Ihsahn: “What I do now is musically still black metal.”

Ihsahn is recording his upcoming solo album right now in Norway according to Blabbermouth. Furthermore Ihsahn believes that black metal is not a specific type of heavy metal music but rather a mind set and that the random progressive rock and jazzy instrumental masturbation Ihsahn performs now is still actually “black metal” despite not even being metal music to begin with, yet alone black metal.

(more…)

62 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sadistic Metal Reviews: Inquisition of the Unworthy

Burn them all!

(more…)

18 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mail Call: Infamous and Kshatriya

infamous_-_mail_call

Metalheads love going to the post office. This is established fact; we are either sending off dubs or trades, or going there to receive a package full of music. Like most anti-social types, we do not trust centralized authorities like iTunes or major labels, so mostly our music comes in physical form. We like it that way.

(more…)

27 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A call to arms – How to get published on DMU

"How to be a feisty rock critic" - Matt Groening (1986)
One of our goals here at DMU is to be free of the incessant marketing and gossip that plagues all too many metal music/culture websites. This deprives us of a lot of potential content, and surprisingly, not posting the occasional throwaway video of a photogenic animal ‘enjoying’ metal (or at least moving to a rhythm almost, but not entirely unlike that of the music) costs us some traffic. With that in mind, every now and then one of our readers gives us a hand by contributing an article, a review, or even just a topic they want to see discussed. We’d like to see more of that.

A brief summary of what we are looking for:

  • Intelligent, in-depth articles about various metal related topics – theoretical analysis of the music, cultural analysis, academia, and so forth.
  • Reviews of albums both old and new. I focus on covering major new releases at this point, but there’s always room for everything else. This is to be distinguished from the publication of press releases, or the promotion of your avant-garde neo-traditionalist blackened bedroom death metal project with nearly 3/4ths of a view on their one Youtube video.
  • Did something worthy of our commentary in the land of metal pass unnoticed? This is your opportunity to fix a glaring omission.

If your submissions meet our quality and relevance standards, we will publish them; possibly suggesting some revisions in the process of getting them ready. Ideally, we will get more content and more reader interaction without sacrificing an iota of quality, but that lofty goal depends on you specifically rising up to the challenge. If this interests you, send your submissions to the same email address as always.

P.S: Our ‘lifestyle’ (read: drugs and alcohol) reviewers are looking for someone who can analyze whiskey. If you’re a connoisseur, or at least a gas chromatograph, this might be a good way to get started.

3 Comments

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sympathy for the Hipster

gigging_hipster

I write a lot about hipsters because I am fascinated by subcultures and how they attempt to find meaning independent of the center. You can join the ska kids, Goths, rivetheads, wi-fi hobos, ecolos or channers. You might have a thedic identity, a de facto tribe combined of ethnic pride and politics, or an outright political group like the earth firsters, crypto-coms or far-right. In a time of no actual commonality to our deconstructed societies, you know you will be a cog in the machine: working a job, paying taxes and housing, and doing all the day-to-day stuff like shopping at Costco that is about as romantic as math homework. To counter-balance that, people seek an identity which shows why their lives are important. All of these are extensions of the original “keeping up with the Joneses” that saw people trying to out-consume each other, but now we are consuming the image of ideas instead of pure product.

Modern life represents at its core a long slow grinding compromise. Any idea is taken from where it is found and made into a product by simplifying it, exaggerating its surface features, and then presenting it for mass consumption. Joining an identity first involves a shopping trip for music, books, clothing and personal accessories including tattoos, piercings, scarification and hitting the gym. Through this process, unique identities are gradually “assimilated,” or made into variants of the mainstream. Every ideation operator declares the gradual entry of those who perpetuate this process into their chosen identity — the falses, the poseurs, the day-trippers, scenesters and imitators — because when enough of them arrive, the unique group becomes overwhelmed and as happens in democracy, what is popular and easily understood wins out over the original idea, which then fades into a distant memory and a cartoon of itself.

Hipsters represent those who have given up on the idea of idea itself. They realize early on that this society is a kicked clip, empty of ammunition and fit only to be returned to the pocket and another retrieved, starting over. But discovering what we want for a future represents a good deal more ambiguity and risk than knowing simply what we detest, and in the meantime, people need an identity to distinguish themselves from the faceless mass. The hipster was born out of this situation by Generation X, who combined slacker culture with counter-culture and added the suburban desperation of their parents, who were only to happen to discuss in detail how the world was going to hell, in front of their children. As a result a new identity formed based on those who have dropped out of society but still seek a way to distinguish themselves, and instead of doing so through strong group identity, they base their concept of self on self-image alone. Thus the hipster opposes the idea itself, and instead seeks a different kind of center: what everyone else is doing, but with some unique conceit for the individual itself. Hipsters are bog-standard people who have hobbies in craft beer, tattooing, making artisanal objects, odd collections, activities chosen for their apparent randomness, and of course art, art and more art, because nothing makes a person look profound like the boho artist lifestyle.

As the definitive article on this topic says:

Ever since the Allies bombed the Axis into submission, Western civilization has had a succession of counter-culture movements that have energetically challenged the status quo. Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society.

But after punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of “counter-culture” have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the “Hipster.”

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

People who seek an idea loathe hipsters because hipsters are the anti-idea. They reject the notion that we can have purpose outside of ourselves, and instead make their time by adorning the self with new fascinating attributes which are always bizarre because their sole goal is to distinguish themselves from the rest, and so whatever is sensible and normal is verboten. The hipster seeks to be unique, individual and different (UID) so that they do not get mistaken for the rest. Part of this is a counter-culture style protest saying that they do not endorse or enjoy the mainstream, and in fact oppose it so should not be held accountable for its failings; the rest comes from the simple need to distinguish oneself in a social scene flooded with people who are all trying to be noticed. Where in the 1920s doing stunts on the lawn might have worked, and in the 1980s it was enough to join an indie band, for the people who come after the reunion of right and left in the 1990s there is no longer an obvious majority culture to oppose. There is only the gradual compromise, and trying to stand out in its midst.

Hipsters suffer for the time into which they were born and the lack of easy and safe ways to rebel against it. Smoking weed and living in a VW van involved relatively few risks; at worst, an arrest occurred in some random little town in Ohio and dear old Dad had to dispatch money and lawyers to fix it. But opposing the conglomeration of democracy, capitalism, liberalism, consumerism and patriotism takes some guts and some time on the thinking couch, because it is not like The Establishment an easy thing to identify. Who can blame these people for laboring as poor cogs just trying to have normal lives? They can laugh at them but not indict them as the problem itself. The focus of the hipster becomes not reform of a society that is already lost, but saving oneself by at least being socially competitive through appearance and having a life independent from concern about the inward collapse — an idea — which might obligate one to sacrifice time otherwise spent on self toward some purpose.

That tendency reveals the problem with hipsters: they are perpetual entryists. Their only idea is the self, so any identity they discover they will turn into a product just as surely as their grandfathers did back in the 1950s. In essence, hipsters are the same consumers that people have always been, except now they are casting around for an appearance of having an idea and thus always sacrifice the idea itself because they are fundamentally opposed to ideas. Subcultures fear the hipster because to admit the hipster is to abolish the subculture and allow it to live on in zombie form as another branch of the great compromise but now as an adornment, like the “French bread” flavoring in the industrial-processed bread aisle or the “exotic scales” used in bog-ordinary rock music to dress it up and disguise its ordinariness. The hipster is indeed the dead end not of just Western civilization, but all civilization, because civilization requires an idea and with hipsterdom, all ideas have been sacrificed to the self.

At the same time, hipsters deserve our sympathy. They are the people on the deck of the Titanic, watching the unstoppable disaster that will inevitably compose them, choosing to get another pint from the bar and bum another cigarillo while bravely chatting about the inconsequential. The water grows incrementally closer and the lifeboats are long gone. Nothing remains except to live it up a little, stand out from the crowd and have your fun, before the darkness inexorably takes over. If you wonder why hipsters look as stressed and miserable as their parents, even when they have trust funds (and an alarming number of them do) and hip indie bands with the flavoring of metal, it is because they too see the approaching disaster and have found nothing to do about it.

14 Comments

Tags: , , , ,

Heavy metal arises most frequently in wealthy nations

what_society_looks_like_to_an_outsider

The Atlantic’s CityLab writes how [heavy metal, the] music of disillusion and despair is, strangely, biggest in countries with very high quality of life:

Heavy metal is a strange case, then. The music sprouted originally from working-class kids in economically ravaged, deindustrialized places like Birmingham, England. Even today, it seems to be most popular among disadvantaged, alienated, working-class kids.

But take a look at the map below, which I wrote about two years ago, and have been thinking again about over the past couple of months. It tracks the number of heavy metal bands per 100,000 residents using data from the Encyclopaedia Metallum. The genre holds less sway in the ravaged postindustrial places of its birth, but remains insanely popular in Scandinavian countries known for their relative wealth, robust social safety nets, and incredibly high quality of life.

This should surprise no one. Heavy metal is not a reaction to external physical challenges like poverty, but a reaction to cultural decay. It exclusively arises in industrial societies, as did punk, because our problem is not that we do not have options but that we — in the view of these artists — picked the wrong options. Heavy metal is music of internal criticism of a society that believes it has lost sight of life itself in the midst of its own opinions, economics and other proxies.

As written in The Heavy Metal FAQ:

Heavy metal inherited all of this through a modern form because of its desire to escape the cognitive dissonance reaction to modern life. In part, this impulse comes from the metalhead who realizes that he or she is basically powerless, except in a future time when predictions about the negative nature of modern society will come true. Of course, in the now, parents brush that aside and go shopping, stockpiling retirement funds so they can carelessly wish their children a good life before disappearing into managed care facilities with 24-hour cable movie channels. A more fundamental part of this dissident realism is creative. People who see most of society going into denial because they cannot handle their low social status, the dire future of human overpopulation and industrialization, and the negative motivations hiding beneath social pretense, aka “cognitive dissonance,” will often mourn most for the opportunities lost when people value putting their heads in the sand more than finding beauty in life. It is the convergence of these ideas that creates the violent and masculine but sensitive, Romantic side to metal: it is a genre of finding beauty in darkness, order in chaos, wisdom in horror, and restoring humanity to a path of sanity — by paying attention to the “heavy” things in life that, because they are socially denied, are left out of the discussion but continue to shape it through most people’s desire to avoid mentioning them.

This same principle underlies classic European and Greco-Roman art and music, the idea of an aggressive and warlike but wise and sensitive motivation that is both religious and scientific, peaceful and belligerent, because it understands a principle of order to the universe and asserts it because it is beautiful in that it is a “meta-good,” or the harmonious result of darkness and light in conflict. For this reason, it is not moral in the sense of judging as good or evil, and neither fits into the hippie “peace, love and hedonism” approach nor the conservative, market- bound ignorance-is-bliss smoke and mirrors of mainstream music and bourgeois art. Unlike any other musical principle, the one thing that unites the varied borrowings from baroque, rock, jazz, blues, folk, country, classical and electronic music that form heavy metal is this Romantic principle of doing what is right not in a moral sense to the individual, but in a sense of the larger questions of human adaptation to the universe, the conceptual root of “heavy” in metal and what throughout history has been called by a simple syllable: “vir,” the root of virtue in a sense older than a modern moral interpretation as chastity. Vir is doing what is right by the order of the universe discerned by asking the “heavy” questions, and speaks to an abstract structure of right as opposed to an aesthetic one, where the individual picks the non- threatening as an option to the threatening.

The point behind heavy metal is to discover the life that is denied. That is the “heavy,” or that which acknowledges existential doubts and fears instead of burying them behind socially popular ideas. This is why heavy metal is such outsider music: it sees most people as delusional because they deny the mechanics of life itself because those mechanics are dark, so it embraces the darkness to show us the wisdom found within.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK2_eHJwtro

5 Comments

Tags: ,

Interview: Turner Scott Van Blarcum (Talon, Sedition, Pump’n Ethyl)

From 1986 through the early 90s Turner Scott Van Blarcum was easily the most recognizable, outspoken, memorable, and talked about local singer and figure of that that era. During those years Sedition became one of DFW’s earliest underground-breaking Metal bands as they helped this area’s Metal scene reach an all-time peak. I sat down with Turner one afternoon in March at the Bar Of Soap and we reminisced about those good ole band days he experienced with Talon, Sedition and Pump’n Ethyl. We even rapped about his enormous bone collection that would lead to him designing stage sets for the bands Ministry and Cypress Hill. He also talked in depth about that infamous night back in 1991 when he had an unforgettable confrontation with Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain (RIP) at Trees in Deep Ellum.

When did you first get into metal? What were some of the early bands that were an influence on you?

I was listening to Black Sabbath and Kiss and this and that. But, fucking… I gotta give props to Casey Orr man. Rigor Mortis dude… Haha! He turned me on and fuckin’ got me going… opened my mind up. That’s when we all started fuckin’ getting harder and faster.

Right, I agree… I mean I was always into the older stuff, too, until I started hanging around with those guys.

Yeah man, he turned me on to Motorhead, Riot, and Destruction and a lotta bands. Hey, Rigor Mortis is my influence.

So I know you were a drummer there for a while. Were you ever actually in any bands?

Oh yeah man, I played in bands. I played with my brother’s country bands. Me and Mike Scaccia did this uh… I think it was… I can’t think of the guy’s name. But anyway, we played with this Elvis impersonator cat. It never got off the ground… but that was about it.

Ok, so I remember it was probably around 1984 when you moved over there off of Hard Rock Road in Irving. You formed a new band with brothers Pete (guitar) and Phil (drums) Lee. Hard Rock Road became the temporary name for the band. That was when you first decided to become a singer. Do you remember what made you just say, “Man, it’s my turn to get up there and I wanna become a front man.”?

Well, I think I came to the rationalization that I was a shitty drummer… and I wasn’t getting any pussy… Hahaha! I figured I might get laid if I started singing…. Hahaha!

Y’all started out playing mainly covers in that band right? Like Alice Cooper, Steppenwolf and Black Sabbath right?

Yeah and Dio, Iron Maiden, and then we started doing Metallica right when Metallica started fucking poppin’.

Do you remember when y’all decided to change the name of the band from Hard Rock Road to Talon and started working on original songs?

Yeah, that was the high point. That was probably one of the best gigs we did, man. We opened up for you guys at New Year’s Evil … with Gammacide, Morbid Scream… I got the flier still on the wall. Anyway, we changed the name to Talon in 86/87. We were still doing covers but fuckin’ uh… ya know we started writing original music. But by the time Sedition rolled around it was all originals.

I know you started with Pete Lee (guitar) and Phil Lee (drums) and then you added Eddy Carter (bass), right?

Yeah, Eddie Carter was the original bass player. Then we got some kid… red-haired kid from Waco named Scott something… that was near the end of it. And Mike Dunn on drums, I forgot Mike Dunn joined up after Phil left… ya know everybody fell apart.

When you guys decided to change the name to Talon and go heavier, that was around the same time period after Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” came out and the underground thrash scene was starting to kick in. So do you think you guys were at the right age and right there at the right time to go along with that movement? Would you agree with that?

Oh fuck yeah… we fell right on in man. Also, Punk Rock started crossing over into metal… D.R.I. and all of that.

You released a demo under the name of Talon. What were some of the songs, lyrics and subjects on that demo?

I wrote one about Charles Manson. “Summer Of Hate” was the name it. There’s lines like uh… I actually took it from the actual words of Charles Manson right… that book about him talking about himself. {Doing an impression of Manson with his voice… Turner then begins to give me some lines from the song} “At the age of thirteen I raped the Preacher’s daughter and choked her little brother for snitching on me.” … Hahaha and that kind of shit. One song Pete Lee did called “Pestilence” was bad ass… he sang on that one. We were fuckin’ writing about all kinds of crazy shit. We didn’t start getting political until Sedition hit. That’s when we started seeing everything.

I am sure you remember the Deep Ellum scene back around that time. It was a lot different than it is today. There was a big Punk scene going on in some areas. There were also the more trendy types of bands like Edie Brickel and The New Bohemians in other parts of Deep Ellum. But there was no metal scene at all at the time. What are some of your memories back then as metal first started making its way into Deep Ellum?

Shit man, I will never forget the first time I saw Rigor Mortis play at the Circle A Ranch, man. That was before you joined the band and it was still a three-piece band. Man, that night was just intense, ya know? I had never seen all of that shit before. It blew my mind. I knew I was at home. That was when me and Mark Oberlander (RIP) started doing a sound company and running sound down there. But the most intense show that I saw was Rigor Mortis and Samhain. When Rigor Mortis played the cops showed up. The cops were outside busting everybody. Then when Samhain came on and they had two songs left, the cops came in fully armed, riot gear, Batman shields, all that shit and they stopped the show. But I have to say the best one we ever did was with you guys at the Arcadia Theater man… New Year’s Evil. That was the bomb! Do you remember that guy Gonzo? That was his nickname… we can say this because that was his nickname. He came up to me that night and said, “Man, I sold over 350 hits of acid tonight. We’re gonna have one hell of a party… I made a lot of money!” I was like, “Right on, now I can fuck with these motherfuckers.” It was fun man… that was the bomb back then. That was a great gig too, man. That night… fuckin’ Mike and Casey came up and played and Phil Lee sang a GG Allin song… “Now We’re All Gonna Die”.

Do you remember when and why you decided to change the name from Talon to Sedition?

Yeah, because when we released the Talon cassette there was a band in Europe called Talon. That’s when me and Pete Lee got our publishing company set up and we were trying to get the name copyrighted. Then we found out somebody else had already released a record under the name… some Glam band from Germany or something. So we had to change the name and the name Sedition just fit, because during this time period, ya know, Ronald Reagan was fucking things up and it was just a mess. It was time to secede. I used to say, “Man, if Texas would secede from the Union, I would fight every day and wouldn’t take a lunch break… Hahaha!”

After the band changed the name, you recorded two demos as Sedition, right?

Yeah, that was in ’87 and we recorded it out in our driveway in a mobile studio. To me the first Sedition tape… we call it “Sedition White”… because it was white and just said “Sedition”. That had only like 4 or 5 songs on it… that tape was the bomb to me. It had “Road Kill” on it, “Sedition”, “Product of Your Faith” and uh… I can’t remember the rest of ’em. Anyway, that was the shit! The second demo we did at Crystal Clear Studio with Keith Rust. I think that was also in ’87 around the same time period. We didn’t last very long, ya know? It sure seemed like a long time though.

When did Mike Dunn come into the band and replace Phil Lee on the drums?

That was in 87′ after Phil left. Mike Dunn did all of the Sedition stuff. Eddie Carter (Bass) was on the Talon and both Sedition demos. Then he quit ’cause him and Pete were fightin’ man, ya know? That was the whole deal. That is why Phil quit too… his brother… Hahaha! And that’s why I quit too! You can print that. I don’t give a fuck.

People fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over.

– Jim Morrison (The Doors)

How would you describe yourself back then as a singer and your stage persona?

Pissed off… Hahahaha! Pissed off, man… but having fun, though… fuck we had a blast back then. I don’t know man… it’s kind of hard to say. I know that at that time period, man, music was changing… there was change in the air. Punk Rock was crossing over into Speed Metal… Speed Metal was crossing over into Punk Rock. Yeah, I’d say I was pretty pissed off. I didn’t like what was going on with the government and to this day I don’t. I definitely had an attitude back then… Hahaha!

You used to take knives or swords or both on stage back then and cut your arms during the show. Was that something you thought about doing or did it just come out one night on stage?

No, actually, man, where I got that from is fuckin’ I remembered when Mike Scaccia and Rigor played at the Circle A Ranch, Mike carved an A on his arm. No, I’m sorry, somebody else did it to him. I thought… “Man… Fucking A!” Then, ya know, we all carved A’s on our arms. Then we started playing Tick Tack Toe… me and Big Jim Dolan, we were always playing with knives, man, ya know? Back then… do you remember that shit, man? … if it was your birthday everybody got beat to ever how old you were. Dog piled… taking a beatin’… playing Tick Tack Toe with knives…that’s where it all started. But carving an anarchy symbol on my arm, that’s where my mind was, ya know? Anarchy… and it’s still there too. It’s just the difference is… I’ve mellowed out a lot. Hey, you gotta pass the guns down and let somebody else do it. Let some young bucks come up and kick some ass!

What are some of your best memories of that time-period back then and some of your favorite places you played at?

Man, I thought the Tombstone Factory… regardless of what everyone wants to say about Jerry Warden… that was the shit! That was about as close as fuckin’ gettin’ to Hardcore… Punk Rock… Metal as you can get, man… and I fuckin’ dug it. It was alive… it was fun, and man… fucking hot chicks… it was all good… Hahaha!

It seemed like there was always some crazy shit happening at shows back then. Is there any wild shit that happened at any of y’alls shows that really stands out in your mind?

Well, not that much with Sedition, but with everybody else…Hahaha! What I would say sticks out in my mind is when that motherfucker stabbed you in the back at fuckin’ Goddamn Joe’s Garage. That was pretty much the highlight and the peak of stupidity.

Yeah, it was… and Harden getting stabbed that night too and also Dave Spivey. Y’all beat the shit out of that dude that did it and Shane ran over him in his truck… remember? Hahaha… That was some crazy shit…

Hahah… That was it… that was the highlight.

{After pondering for a second to realize how funny it is that my highlight in life was almost getting murdered… I continue with the interview} Soooo… when and why did Sedition come to an end?

I had had enough… I couldn’t fuckin’ take it no more. We couldn’t replace Eddy Carter. The truth of the matter was, when Eddy Carter and Phil Lee quit the band, that was it. That was the band. And everybody had problems with Pete Lee because of his attitude and this and that. There was no replacing Eddy Carter and the reason why he quit was that Pete was all about money. And what money? What money did we make? It was all about writing the music and whose name was gonna be on what. Ya know, when ya cut it down like that… I mean… it was just stupid… so Eddy quit. After Eddy, there was no replacing the guy… same way with Phil. Well, Mike Dunn filled Phil Lee’s shoes… big time! ‘Cause we were going in the direction of getting faster. But after Eddy quit, it just got stupid and I had enough of it, so I quit. That was in ’89 when everything busted up. The last gig that we did was with Agony Column and Dead Horse at Trees. Remember the big fight broke out? Out front with all the skinheads and all that shit and I was up there on stage getting a blowjob from a titty dancer. Please print that… thank you very much… Hahaha!

Did you ever get any label interest before the band broke up?

Oh, yeah. Oh, hell yeah, man. Metal Blade… man we were big overseas… we sold more tapes overseas, ya know… underground shit. And Hell…fuckin’ over here ya didn’t have enough to get a Popcorn fart, ya know?

Speaking of Dead Horse… what are some of the other bands that you guys did shows with back then?

Oh man, we had a blast. We had a blast playing with you guys. As far as local guys, we played with Gammacide, Rigor Mortis, Arcane, Utopia, Bliss, Shitface. Like as far as opening for major bands… Flotsam and Jetsam, Suicidal Tendencies, Circle Jerks and D.R.I. Yeah, it was a blast… you should have been there, kiddies!

After a few years away from being in bands you started singing for a Punk band called Pump’n Ethyl in the 90s. How did that band come together?

Well, man, I got sobered up, I quit drinking. I’d went out on the road with Ministry in ’91 and ’92 during the Lollapalooza and Psalm 69 tours and I about drank myself to death. I mean I had the time of my life… no regrets… it was a blast, man. Fuckin’ money was rollin’, hot chicks, the whole Rock N Roll package. But when I got off the road and got sobered up, I was itchin’ to play. Pete Lee and Casey Orr were playing with GWAR by then and they played at Dallas City Limits. It was after Pete Lee got shot and they did a benefit for him. Some crackhead shot him in a car or something. Anyway, I got up on stage and sang with The V Suckers… with Hank Tolliver… the future guitar player of Pump’n Ethyl. I got up there and sang a song with them and we did “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Cherry Bomb”. And man, it just felt so fucking cool just to be able to play again, because I hadn’t played in so long. I had got burned-out on it and I went out and did other things, ya know? So we started doing Punk Rock. Ya know, I just caught the tail end of Punk Rock… I got the see the Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Exploited and this and that. But I wasn’t a Punk Rocker back then, man… I was a Metalhead and still am. But fuckin’ we started doing this Punk Rock stuff, and man, I just dug it. It was a total different thing. Instead of being agro or fighting, man, we were up there partying and throwing beer on everybody. And man, fuckin’ I got more pussy in that band than I did in Sedition…Hahaha!

I remember the band was originally called Ethyl Merman. How did you come up with that name and what year was the band actually formed?

Ethyl Merman started up in ’94 and that was a blast. We couldn’t come up with a fuckin’ name. We had beaten ourselves up for a name. And I had been working out, I’d gone sober and quit drinking. As you can see, under this party ball there is a 6 pack, but I was working out and wasn’t drinking then because my liver had gotten fucked up. But I am alright now… knock on wood. Anyway, we was watching “It’s A Mad Mad Mad World”… Jonathan Winters. We thought about calling the band Jonathon Winters. But we were making a joke about Ethel Merman. Ethel Merman was starring in the movie too, and I was singing like Ethel Merman, ya know… I can sing that song “I Don’t Wanna Go To The Betty Ford Clinic” like Ethel Merman… Hahaha! So we decided to go with that name, and we never thought in a million years that anybody would give a shit. We never thought in a million years that anybody would ever give a shit… PERIOD… about this band… and then we get signed… ya know? With Sedition, we fuckin’ya know, Goddamn did everything we could do to get signed. Then we form a band and nobody gives a fuck, it’s all a joke, then we get signed…Haha! And we got fucked on that deal too!

When the band got signed y’all had to change the name from Ethyl Merman to Pump’n Ethyl, right?

Yeah, we had to change the name because the estate of Ethel Merman was gonna sue the record label… or whatever the hell David Dennard was lying about.

What was the name of the label you signed with?

It was Dragon Street Records. It should be called Draggin’ Feet, is actually what it should be called. When we put our second record out he [David] goes, “Man, this is punkier than the first.” I was like, “Punkier? Like Punky Brewster? What do you mean ‘punkier’, man?” It was heavier, it was harder, and it was faster, ya know? It was more metal, ya know. So come out and say it. But he didn’t. And that album was called “Lone Star Police State”. And there are only a few of those still floating around. In which, eventually I’ll have a web site going and I’m gonna release all the Sedition, Talon and everything we’ve done… get it out.

You had 2 releases under Pump’n Ethyl and when were those released?

Actually three… The Ethyl Merman demo in ’94, Pump’n Ethyl’s “Thank God I’m Living In The U.S.A” in ’95 and “Lone Star Police State” in 97. To me, that was the fuckin’ shit! Hank Tolliver, Mark Schafer and Phil Lee… I mean it was like playing with MC5 or something. It was a lot of fun, man.

What are some of the cooler bands that Pump’n Ethyl did gigs with and did the band ever tour?

The best one we did was with Fear. We played with Fear, Rich Kids On LSD, Suicidal Tendencies and Chaos UK. We did a southern tour but we never got it off the ground. It was like a Bat bouncing its butt trying to get off the ground ya know? Bad luck was hittin’ every angle on that aspect. But you can still get Pump’n Ethyl’s “Thank God I’m Living In The U.S.A” off the internet on the Dragon Street web site. But, like I said though… we’ll be releasing our own shit soon enough.

Why did Pump’n Ethyl come to end?

Oh man, it was a fuckin’ freight train of doom… Hahaha! Everybody was all fucked up on drugs and alcohol except for me and Hank… we were sober. And the other two were all a mess and it just fell apart, ya know? Nobody gave a shit. Actually it came to an end in ’99 when me and my bro Larry Rosales were working WWF and got blown up by a concussion bomb explosion, so I had to step down. I got tinnitus in the ears from it, so I can’t do live music anymore. I can do voiceovers and I can do stuff in the studio, but you know that doesn’t come very often with Hardcore music. Because nobody has the money for that kind of shit, unless you’re fortunate enough to have friends in a rock band that’s making money. So I quit because my ears were racked and hopefully we’ll go to court and settle up. And start a management company, is what I’d like to do.

But currently, you are working on doing some vocals for a Blues project, right?

Yeah I’m doing some vocals for a guy named Jack Morgan. His project is called Whip N Shack and Hank Tolliver is playing in it. I’m sorry I don’t remember everybody’s names that are involved in this, but there are some heavy hitters from the 80s and 70s… guys that fell through the cracks. What this guy is doing is he is giving everybody a CD of his music to different musicians of different genres. I was honored, ya know. I couldn’t believe that he handed me one because I don’t have the blues. But this sounds like The Doors meets ZZ Top. Ya know, it’s faster. It’s not really Blues… it’s heavy Rock N Roll, rhythm Rock ‘N Roll, I guess. But it’s kind of hard to describe… it’s different and it’s good… I’ll tell ya that. But uh… he handed it out to different musicians and everybody is gonna do their mix on it and apparently he liked what I had the chance to do, ya know. I wrote three songs for him… one is about gambling, one is about a whiskey drinking woman and the other one is about about stepping up to bat… ya know?

So what are you doing for a living these days?

Man, I am doing the same thing I’ve been doing since you met me, man… doing stage work. But I finally joined the union back in ’87… a union stagehand. I’ve got a union card and I’ve worked with all kinds of bands. Nearly every band that’s came through Texas I’ve worked for.

How did you get started collecting bones and did that lead to you designing sets for Ministry and Cypress Hill?

That all started as a kid… I found a Beaver skull in Colorado. But in Talon and Sedition we were doing a song called Road Kill and I’d take actual road kill and throw it on the crowd. Ya know, I had bones and I would tie it on everything. And then when Mike… when Rigor Mortis disbanded… Mike hooked up with Ministry, they were saying, “Man, this crazy fuck has got all of these bones”, and this and that. So I did their set for Lollapalooza. Then that took off and I did a set for Cypress Hill. I did their set and I did their video set for the “Insane In The Membrane” video. Then I did the Psalm 69 tour with Ministry, and now I’m doing their new tour. I don’t know the name of the record, but ya know we’ve been listening to the new music today… and it’s off the hook!! Oh man, the new Ministry is off the fucking hook! They got John Monte from Mindfunk, the bass player… this guy is incredible. They might have Scott Ian from Anthrax, I am not sure if that’s the lineup or not. But [Dallas native] Mike Scaccia is on guitar, Al Jourgensen is on guitar and vocals, Mark Baker is on drums and Kol Marshall is on keyboards. I am gonna make this set so fucking creepy, ya know, you guys gotta come see it. I don’t wanna describe it… just come out and see it. And you definitely gotta buy the new Ministry record, man. I mean it’s the dawning of a new era in Punk Rock/Metal. It’s like MC5 meets Iggy Pop meets Rigor Mortis… BAM!! I mean right in your face when you hear it. Anybody that’s into Metal and into Speed Metal that knows about Rigor Mortis and knows about where Metal came from is gonna dig the shit out of this, man. It’s off the fucking hook!!

From what I have heard I agree. So do you know how many bones are in your collection, and what are some of the wilder bones that you have?

Oh man, I gotta shit-load of bones… never enough. On the way up to El Paso going to the Sonic Ranch where Ministry and Mike Scaccia from Rigor Mortis are recording their shit, I found a Bobcat, and the head on this Bobcat is the size of the head on my Pit Bull named “Pardner”… man, wait until you meet him.

Now I wanna hear your side of the story about the Kurt Cobain incident at Trees in 91.

Nooo problem! I was doubling and doing security for Trees, plus I was working for Creyton from Peak Audio. And he just got this brand new monitor board… paid 45 hundred bucks for it… state of the art shit and he was so proud of it… so happy with it, ya know? And then Nirvana shows up, and I remember I had worked one of their shows at Club Clearview. And I didn’t realize that they were that big. This was when they were just starting to take off. And I remember the record “Bleach” was bad ass, ya know? And believe it or not, I liked Nirvana. I liked their music. But the guy was a fuckin’ jack-off… but he was off, and he’s dead… God rest his soul. Ya know, I hate to talk shit about a dead man.

Yeah, I know. But of course you had no idea when this happened that he was gonna commit suicide later.

No, I had no idea what was gonna happen later. Anyway, that night he smashed the monitor board and he beat it with his guitar. He just smashed it and broke the guy’s hand… his own monitor man. First he was complaining that the kids were all over the stage. So they wanted me to double as security to help keep the kids off the stage. I made a lot of money that night… Haha! And then he got mad at his monitor man and smashed the monitor board, and then he jumped out into the crowd. Well, he had smashed the monitor board and I couldn’t believe he did it. So, ya know, I’m standing there and Creyton comes up to me… the owner… and he’s like, “Turner, what fuck!?” I was like, “Man, don’t worry about it… these guys aint getting out of here without paying for it. Ya know, even if I have to personally whoop all of them… because I am pretty sure I could take ’em all on… ya know?” But anyway the little bastard fuckin’ dove out into the crowd and was kicking his feet into the monitors. And I yanked him up by the hair of his head and tried to pick him up and throw him back on stage. And the kids were pulling his clothes off… they had a hold of his hair… everybody’s ripping on him. Right then the little fucker hit me on the head with a guitar. After he did that it knocked me out, so now I am going by the video footage. It knocked me out and I pulled back a handful of strings off his guitar. But he gets up and ya know, I see the blood on my head… so I fucking nailed his ass and kicked him. I think I kicked him in the head…to be honest I couldn’t tell if I had landed a good kick or not. But I waited in a parking lot afterwards for his ass when they were about to leave. Russell Turns is the monitor man down there… I think he’s the sound man now… I don’t know. He came up and said, “Turner, he’s going out back!” So I go running around the back and I hear… “Get in… get in cab… GET IN THE CAB!!” Ya know, they’re telling him to get in the cab and all these people just dog pile me man, and hold on to me. And I was watching the cab go and he was trying to get on Elm Street and I see the brake lights and the cab stop. So I go, “It’s cool… it’s cool, man…I’m alright… I’m alright… I’m dizzy.” Because I was bleeding profusely from the head. So uh… when they let go of me I went running across parked cars and I went over there and started kicking the cab and I kicked the taillights and headlight out of the cab. My plan… my objective… to take control of the situation… like our Nazi President George Bush does. And I was gonna kick the headlights out… and get the cab driver out… kick his ass… get the keys and then start workin’. Well, that didn’t work and I’m runnin’ around and there were a bunch of kids with us, too. I can’t remember this kid’s name, but he had real long hair… a Hispanic kid… a heavy metal kid… and he was right there, man. I wish I could remember his name. Man, I punched that cab’s window and it fell. I went right though it on top of them.

You smashed the cab’s windshield with your hand and what was Kurt Cobain doing?

Yeah, I went right through it… I mean I went in… all the way. He gave me a peace sign and that’s when I said… “Fuck it!” That mad me so fucking mad, I went through the window on him. I bit his nose, man… Haha…and I fuckin’ had his nose in my teeth and I’m telling him that I’m gonna walk through his dreams until he’s fucking dead… right. And everybody pulled me off of him and I got out of there unscathed. I thought I was gonna get sued by… I kept receiving letters from Geffen Records… this and that ya know and I’d throw them away. Then I talked to Jeff Liles… Jeff Liles, ya know the guy that worked with Rigor Mortis. He wrote this real sweet juicy letter to Geffen. And I kept thinking they were gonna sue me. Well, they sent me three grand to shut me up… and I wasn’t about suing this guy… I didn’t give a fuck… I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire.

Didn’t the video end up on one of those tabloid talk shows like Inside Edition or Hard Copy or something?

I have no idea… I know that asshole… well, the jerky that filmed it… I gave him a reenactment. I can’t remember his name… oh yeah… Brad Featherstone. I gave him a bitch-slap… fuckin’ when I saw him. He’d released it without telling me nothing … ya know? All I know is the next thing I know it’s being shown in Deep Ellum. It got released… all that kind of crap… because of that Brad Featherstone guy… I gave him a good slap. I wish I had some royalties off of it, I’ll tell ya that. I’d like to see… well somebody’s got footage of me pumping the window out… I’d like to see that… I don’t know who has it.

It looks like you landed a couple of good punches in the video… and he went down.

Yeah, I clocked him one good one…I didn’t throw it off the hip or off the shoulder…if you see it you can see… I was out…he knocked me out… I didn’t remember doing any of that. He clocked the shit out of me with that guitar, man. I had to go get staples in my head. I looked like Herman Munster with 13 staples in my head. It cut a vein on my forehead and it wouldn’t quit bleeding. So I remember when I came home and Biker Marc is like, “Man, did somebody shoot you?” I go, “No, man… some junkie Rock Star hit me on the head with a guitar.” So the next day they are waking me up going… “Dude, you’ve got to go to the hospital, man… you’re white…you look like you’re turning blue.” So they took me to look in the mirror and I had lost a lot of blood. So I go down there and Biker Marc is going, “Yeah, that’s right…it was Kurt Cobain from Nurvaana.” Hahahaha!

The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.

– Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s

Interview conducted by Bruce Corbitt

No Comments