Death Metal Underground

Interview with Jeff Tandy of Birth A.D.

by Aaron Lynn
April 30, 2014 –

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I’m interviewing Jeff Tandy, vanguard of the hateful and cynical Texas thrash band Birth A.D. He also played bass in the black metal band Averse Sefira under the pseudonym Wrath Sathariel Diabolus.

How were you introduced to heavy metal, and how have your tastes evolved over the years?

Unoffficially it was by seeing Alice Cooper on the Muppet Show when I was three years old, and my mother very graciously bought me the single. Officially it was exposure to traditional American heavy metal through secondary contact (Dio, Quiet Riot, whatever else was going on) then discovering thrash with a few like-minded friends. I had the proper evolution that all fans should experience: heavy metal, speed/thrash, then death/black. At that point you’ll be fully literate, fully integrated, and you’ll have avoided all the stupid stuff.

How was Birth A.D. formed?

We formed out of a need for something to do while we watched our guitarist let Averse Sefira languish and die. I had songs in the vault from my formative days (back when I had a very remedial thrash band called Afterbirth) and I had always wanted to record them just to have for posterity. Little did we know it would actually be something with promise.

And how did you meet the drummer and guitarist?

Mark and Brian had a band called Death of Millions, and I’d known them for years. Mark joined me in Averse Sefira in 2001, and that was basically that. I invited Brian in to try guitar because I knew he was a solid player, and it came together perfectly.

When you write songs, what comes first? The riffs? Lyrics? Rhythms?

The lyrics are invariably first. They actually shape most of the riffs, and that’s always how I write. In this band, the words have to be just right or the riff is worthless.

In an old Averse Sefira interview, you identified yourself as a hessian. What does being a hessian mean to you?

To be a hessian means you make metal part of your life in an integrated fashion. It’s not a hobby, it’s not a weekend diversion, and it’s not something you hide. It is akin to a faith, except without all the retarded masochistic tenets of worship.

What album are you looking forward to most in 2014?

I think the new Triptykon will be good. My friends in Death Wolf have a new one coming, so I’m interested in that as well. I don’t know, these days the time between announcing an album and actually releasing it is so narrow it’s hard to build a lot of anticipation. The Demilich compilation finally came out so I’m all taken care of for now.

What’s next for Birth A.D.?

We are finally looking into live dates elsewhere. I’m working on a new album, but I want to take some time to make it right. I feel like our first one will be hard to top, but I intend to try my damnedest! Thanks for the interview.

Final words?

Hail Hanneman. Cause problems! In that order.

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31 comments

    1. Krabapple

      I hate gossip, but read a comment not too long ago to this effect: his introversion being a big factor in both the creative aspects and eventual downfall of the band.

    2. trystero

      The band lasted long enough for it not to matter I think. Averse Sefira had a decent career. As for Birth A.D. I get the feeling its already running out of steam. The EP was great, the album was good, whatever comes next will decide.

  • Lord Mosher of the Solitary Pit

    Death of Millions – demo 2002
    .

    Emerging from the ambivalence over death metal versus black metal
    styling currently paralyzing the underground the central Texas act
    Death of Millions return with blazingly fast metal of an updated
    version of the first school of death metal to emerge from North
    America. Comparisons to Suffocation and Cryptopsy are inevitable,
    but one might suggest that with a dose of something whole-hearted
    and basic yet cryptic like Malevolent Creation or Monstrosity.
    [...]
    .
    To read the full review click here:
    http://www.anus.com/metal/about/zine/death_metal/issue3.txt

  • eman

    Now, I thought that Averse Sefira was comically generic when I first started listening, but after going through their whole discography, I can hear some real maturation and some very solid structuring by the time they got to Tetragrammatical Astygmata. After a couple of years I began to realize that there was some depth to the music and I appreciate their albums (especially the last two) a lot more now.

    This? I’m not sure. The vocals and lyrics sound like a modernized, cleaned-up take on Rollins-era Black Flag. I also don’t see what’s cool about playing super-clean sounding Kill ‘Em All riffs. I’m reminded too much of the bogus “thrash-revivalist” bands that there are exactly all too many of, with their polished up, shimmery distortion (even Nirvana had a ballsier tone than this) and carefully mixed drums.

    The introduction to the video was cool though. The ending was almost cool but then it got to that goofy TV-snow fade-out and I was reminded that I just sat through a 4-minutes snooze cruise.

    1. Lord Mosher

      There’s a trend on the blog comments to bash everything in a “smarter than thou” attitude. Everything sucks, so I’m better than you. Having ultra high standards works if you’re sincere about it. Conservationist and Bitterman come to mind.
      .
      Birth AD are impressive. They remind me of Stormtroopers of Death, Cryptic Slaughter and Sacrilege BC whom I love.
      .
      It’s become easier for me to enjoy pretty much anything posted on this site. I repeat; ENJOY it.
      Whether I add it to my sacred collection or not is a different story!

      1. eman

        So my observations can be dismissed because I’m taking part in trendy behaviour?

        Where does intelligence come into my criticism? I didn’t imply that I’m smarter than you or any of the musicians in Birth AD, I just pointed out that the music was dull and a rip-off of other bands who did the same thing better 30 years ago. That’s a good enough reason to claim that a band sucks. You can’t defend them against this criticism by saying “well fuck you, I enjoy them”. I enjoy Alkaline Trio but that doesn’t change the fact that they are a shitty band.

        1. eman

          Premature posting, wasn’t finished with my comment.

          I was also going to add that I do make it a point to check out all the bands (especially the newer ones) featured on the front page here, and I’m usually really pleased by what I find. Scalpel, Derogatory, Disfigurement, Soul Remnants, Blaspherian, and more have all become bands that I follow now thanks to DMU. I definitely don’t make it a habit to rip into bands featured here, but I might as well point out boring and subpar bands when I see them because I don’t want them to become the standard that we accept.

        2. Lord Mosher

          Oops! I actually wasn’t trying to post my comment as a reply to yours. I think this happened before to other guys in other posts.
          .
          Anyway, my point is that, it seems to me (and I’m willing to concede I may be under the wrong impression), that most commentors want to agree with Prozak’s opinion under concern of being deemed contrarian or just dumb, and thus failing to be on the right side of the fence.
          .
          I mean, I worship the guy! And I pretty much memorized most of his reviews and many other articles that are now absent from current site’s versions. And I scrutinize (because I trully enjoy)everything he writes (Metal related) and can find inconsistencies in a heartbeat! Even he changes his mind now and then and contradicts himself. Like with Dissection or Immortal’s Battles in the North.
          .
          All I’m saying is: I may not be as smart or gifted or have the correct musical tastes or experience as him or other Anus regulars, and that’s okay, not everyone can be king.
          .
          I feel like most commentors are limiting themselves by peer pressure and that sucks because part of this site’s charm is reading the comments section from obviously intelligent people.

          .
          Or maybe I’m an idiot and suck cocks…
          (cuz I liked Odalheim and think later Iced Earth fucking kicks ass. Glorious Burden included).

          1. eman

            Or maybe you are not an idiot, you are just wrong. I gain nothing by agreeing with Prozak on principle. I gain nothing by having people accept my observations. I’m the uncommon type that just calls em like I sees em. I own CDs by lots of bands that would probably get me lynched by ANUSites (whoever and wherever they are).

            1. Robert

              “I own CDs by lots of bands that would probably get me lynched by ANUSites (whoever and wherever they are).”

              You should throw those CDs in the trash.

          2. Brett Stevens

            And I scrutinize (because I trully enjoy)everything he writes (Metal related) and can find inconsistencies in a heartbeat!

            It’s amazing and impressive that you do this. I hope these writings are worth something to metal at large, but having dedicated and intelligent readers makes my day.

            1. Lord Mosher

              No. Thank you. You made my day the day you accepted my Metal genrology. (http://www.anus.com/metal/about/genre/).
              .
              Hails.
              .
              Here’s a little piece of trivia for you:
              .
              “I met Spike at the________ and together we went
              to Spike’s buddy Miles’ apartment, at which we arrived
              after much climbing over air-conditioning units, steam
              pipes and forgotten rusted ladders over the collected
              roofs of several drearily similar apartment buildings.”
              .
              a) grocery store
              b) bus station
              c) rathole apartment

        3. Brett Stevens

          I just pointed out that the music was dull and a rip-off of other bands who did the same thing better 30 years ago.

          Which bands specifically are they ripping off?

          1. eman

            I pointed out already how the vocals sounded like a cleaned up version of Henry Rollins ranting style, but you can hear similar vocals from Exodus and Testament (not just in the tone but in the rhythm of delivery). The drumming is generic and functional enough that I can’t claim they rip off anything in particular in that department. Someone else mentioned Slayer riffs, and I hear that in the rapidly shifting power chord sections but the similarities end there. Slayer had developed much more intricate tension between drum percussion and shifting chords. That’s why I mentioned Kill Em All; I can’t think of a way in which Birth AD developed this style any further than the rudimentary blueprints on that album. All in all, my criticism of Birth AD is summed up in the observation that they are playing a style that was rapidly evolving in its era, but they missed out on the evolution and are stuck at the Kill Em All level of complexity and technique when bands were already surpassing that by leaps and bounds in 1987 or ’88 (Slayer, Sodom, Exodus, etc.)

            With that said, I judge Birth AD to be about at the level as all those other squeaky-clean “revivalist” bands like Municipal Waste and Skeletonwitch (though I will concede that Birth AD have way better lyrics than those and other bands). Even Revocation (who suck) are more interesting to listen to because at least I get surprising guitar parts.

      2. trystero

        In all fairness if Burn L.A. was my first exposure to the band I wouldnt think they were anything special.

        1. Roger Waters' Unwashed Dildo

          “Burn LA” is enjoyable to me primarily because the lyrics resonate with my feelings towards the city. Given that I live in relatively close proximity to it and am forced to come in contact with the products of that wonderful concrete dystopia.

          I think that cross over ultimately lives or dies on the relationship the listener has to the lyrical content. If you don’t get anything out of it, you won’t enjoy the music because, and let’s be honest, cross over is NOT a “musical” genre.

              1. thewaters

                It depends how deep
                Into metal you are. Beg to differ is coherent speed metal in a populist tradition so it may not appeal to you if you have moved into the deep underground. Its kind of like listening to vnv nation in a way….

      3. trystero

        Also, that this place is full of curmudgeons that bash on anything decent is a rather outsider criticism. It is what this place is known for in some other circles and is quite unreasonable considering people here are ready to jump on anything good and support it. If I was aware of even a single good band that had been unjustly criticized or dismissed even in comments (serious ones at least) then maybe I could agree with you Lord Mosher, but I cant recall any such instance.

      1. trystero

        While that isnt a bad idea at all, I would probably recommend the EP first instead.

          1. trystero

            I am of the opinion it sounds better and the added songs on the full length dont help. Its pithier, works great for a thrash band.

      2. eman

        That is the fair thing to do before I cement my judgment of this band. It’s not looking good, though; this song drove me far away from being interested.

  • Nito

    This song was tame and I lost interest when the Slayer rip off riff with the lame “end of riff” grind blast came in. Also, Watain, Marduk and Immolation providence poster/flyers are lame.