Hi Scott, how you doing?
All right. I‘m in the studio working on the vocals for a cover song, “Freedom Of Choice” by DEVO. We are thinking about doing an EP this year and we recorded the song rough before but now I’m trying to make it presentable. I’m not sure if it will be on the next release but I’m sure it will be on a record at some point and I want to get it done so we have it in the can.
Last year your new band THE TAKE released it‘s self-titled debut record and you guys did a lot of touring in the US and in Europe. In retrospect, what was the year like for you?
It’s was great. You know, it is great to finally get out there with it because the record was done for about a year before it came out. We were waiting around, which was hard. I didn’t want to play that many shows before the record came out, because to me, it really sucks playing shows when no one in the audience knows any of your songs and they’re just looking at you like, what the hell is this? I figured that after the record came out, at least a few people might know all the songs.
The people at your shows in Europe seemed to know all the songs really well.
Yeah, for sure. People were singing along and that was pretty damn cool for our first time around. I love Europe, I’ve spent a lot of time there. At one point, after I quit BIOHAZARD, I was wondering if I’d ever be able to get back over there again, so I’m very happy and grateful that we were able to. We’ll be back again.
Your bass player, Carlos Congote, could not join you during your tours in Europe. What happend?
A few months after I got Carlos into the band he tells me, oh yeah, I’m not allowed to leave the United States. I’m like, what?! More than likely, most of what were gonna do will be in Europe! He’s a Colombian immigrant and he’s not allowed to leave the U.S. but he’s got a hearing in June. He’s going to try to get political asylum. Hopefully it will work out.
Who were the guys filling in for him? Can you tell us a little bit about them?
Pete Wachmiller filled in first. He’s a good friend of ours and he also plays in Carlos’ other band 45 ADAPTERS. The second guy to fill in was Paul Stone from the UK. He’s was in a band called KEYSIDE STRIKE and has a band now called JURATORY. Pete couldn’t get enough time off from work so I asked Paul to do it because I’ve know him for a long time and I knew we’d have a lot of fun on the road.
Let’s talk a little bit about yourself, what kind of music did you listen to when you were young?
My mother had a big record player downstairs in the basement. It was like a piece of furniture, you know, a wooden huge thing. She had all these 50’s rock and roll 45’s down there. FATS DOMINO, ELVIS, doo wop and all kinds of stuff. I would go down there and listen to those records all day long.
When did you start playing instruments?
My father always had a guitar around the house and my mother played the piano. I actually took piano lessons when I was young, like five years old or something. Music was always a big part of my family. The first time I was ever singing on stage, I was two years old, in church. My father and I would sing on stage and my mother would play the organ.
So the guitar was your first instrument, besides the piano lessons?
Yeah. I played around with it a little bit for a few years. My dad taught me like three chords but I couldn’t really figure out how to play a song. All I could to was strum those three chords and I would get bored with it real fast. When I was 15 I decided, all right, I want to learn how to play. Before that, it wasn’t really anything. Just a couple chords.
Was that the time when you started to get into heavier music?
I was into it before that. The first bands I really got into were the BEATLES and the ROLLING STONES. I was really, really into the ROLLING STONES. I still am. Then I got into bands like VAN HALEN, BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST and went heavier for a while, eventually getting into thrash metal bands like METALLICA and SLAYER etc. At this point I didn’t really understand punk rock. The weird haircuts, safety pins, I didn’t get it. When I heard SUICIDAL TENDENCIES first record, that totally changed my opinion about punk and I went backwards from there. That’s when I started getting into hardcore stuff etc.
When did you join THE SPUDMONSTERS? You were not in the band from the start, right?
They were going for a couple of years before I joined. Chris Andrews was the only original member that was on any of the records. I joined in 1989 when I was 19 years old. Don joined a few months later. I was in the band the longest.
THE SPUDMONSTERS were pretty big in Cleveland at the time.
Yeah. We were probably the biggest local band at that time. We put out some seven inches, demos etc. and we got our first record deal in 1992 with Massacre Records. Our bass player when I first joined, Joe Kilcoyne, had quit the band. I can’t remember why, but he joined this other band RITUAL, a metal band from Cleveland. They got signed to Germany’s Massacre Records. The label asked them if they knew any other bands because they were looking for bands to sign. Joe told them about THE SPUDMONSTERS and that’s how we got signed. And then buy luck, Massacre was owed a favor by a booking agent, Carlos from Blue Star. So he had this BIOHAZARD tour coming up and the payback for that favor was to put us on the tour. That kicked off everything for us in Europe. That was in 1993. Things went really well for us on the Biohazard tour. Carlos put us on the M.O.D. tour later that year and then a few months after that, in the beginning of 1994, we did the PRO-PAIN tour with LIFE OF AGONY. Three really great European tours in a row.
The M.O.D. tour was were we first met, those were some great shows.
That was the time when everything was really exciting and fun. You know, before we started getting too serious about it, before we started thinking we might be able to actually make a living doing it.
What happened then? Why did the band break up in the end?
Well, when our third record came out, in my opinion, it was our best record and it just didn’t seem like it was going anywhere. I was feeling like I did the best I could do with the band and you know, it was time to move on. I had also been hanging out with John Joseph a lot at that point, because we did a tour with the CRO-MAGS in the States. I think he influenced me a lot, he kept telling me that hardcore is dead, you gotta move on, do something else, do something new. That was getting in my head, you know? So I felt like I needed to do something different. That’s when I moved to New York because I didn’t really want to play with any of the musicians in Cleveland. I just wanted a new start.
So what did you do between leaving THE SPUDMONSTERS and when you first joined BIOHAZARD?
Will Shepler, Alan Robert and I were doing a band called AMONG THIEVES, which is pretty much like a LIFE OF AGONY kind of band. We did that for a few years, then Will decided to quit the band and start a family. Then we got Danny Schuler (BIOHAZARD) to play drums. Not to long after BIOHAZARD needed a guitar player because their guitarist had some health problems and wasn’t able to do an upcoming tour. They asked me to fill in, so I went and did the Resistance tour in Europe with them in 2002. A few days into it Evan asked me to join the band. That’s how I got into BIOHAZARD.
That was quite a step, they were pretty big at that time. What was it like for you?
That tour was really great, it’s definitely one of my favorite tours I ever did. AGNOSTIC FRONT was on it and it was HATEBREED’s first time in Europe. We were headlining in all these big places and they were packed. That was very cool but the next tour we were supposed to do was in the States, we were going to open for KITTIE. We were supposed to go on tour for a month or so. We got the tour bus and drove up to the first show in Albany NY and Evan says he won’t play the show and won’t do the tour. I’m like, what the fuck? I just quit my job to do this! That was probably the first sign for me that things weren’t all good in the band. I remember Evan saying stuff like we should break up for five years, like LIFE OF AGONY. By the time we made a record it was pretty obvious that the band was breaking up. It was a real bummer for me. The other thing about it too was… I thought, well, I’m getting in this big band, like a real band and when I really got in there, it was like these guys really don’t care about this. Danny was the one that really kept it going, but they were just all over the place doing other things, not concentrating on the band very much. Which I couldn’t believe because I always had to work so hard to get anything to happen in music. These guys had it and just didn’t seem to care, or at least that’s how it seamed to me. It was very disheartening.
So BIOHARZARD breaks up in 2006 and you form a new band, BLOODCLOT!, right?
Yeah we were on tour with BIOHAZARD in England and Danny and I were in a hotel bar talking. We knew BIOHAZARD was going to break up, so we’re talking about starting a new band and who we should get in the band etc. The original line up was Danny Schuler, Craig Setari, Matt Henderson, John Joseph and myself. We jammed once or twice with that line up. Matt quit right away because he was worried about making a living and Craig was just too busy with SICK OF IT ALL, so we never got a song written with that lineup. Eventually we got Rick Lopez from MARAUDER to play bass and my good friend Eric Klinger (SPUDMONSTERS) on guitar to complete the line up.
When did you rejoined BIOHAZARD? How did that happen?
2011 but not officially until 2012. They got back together with the original lineup and they actually had me guitar tech for Bobby for their reunion tour. He hadn’t toured in a long time so they asked me to help him get his gear together etc. Then there was two shows where I filled in for Billy. The first one was a music and tattoo festival in California with SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. Billy had already booked a family vacation in Brazil, his wife’s Brazilian, so he couldn’t do it. The second was in Poland I think. Billy’s son was just born so he couldn’t make the first show of the tour. I flew in to play the one show and flew back home the next day. The next time I get a call, I think it’s 2011, they were gonna do some New England metal fest and Evan won’t tell him if he’s going to play or not, if he’s going to show up, and it was like two weeks away. They ask me if I can do it? I’m like, no. I can’t learn all that in two weeks, because the bass parts are totally different than the guitar parts and I didn’t know any of the lyrics. I had them wrong in my head for 20 years, so I basically had to relearn everything. He ended up playing that show anyway but then I started thinking, well, maybe I should start learning Evan’s parts. And then of course, a few months later, they call me because they’re supposed to play a festival in England and once again Evan is not telling them if he’s going to show up. Then not long after, he quit the band. I still didn’t have a lot of time to really get it together then either, but we played the show and that’s basically how I got back in the band. Evan quit right around the time that “Reborn In Defiance” was being mastered.
Was it difficult for you to switch from guitar to playing bass?
No, not really. I mean, it took a lot of practice for me to be able to sing and play it. I didn’t ever think I’d really be able to do that. But you know, you just got to practice, just like everything else.
How did the people react to you taking over the spot from Evan?
At first I was a little weird, people didn’t know what to make of it. In time though it was definitely working. Every day, especially the last year or so, people would come up to me and say that the band was better now than ever and they were thanking me for bringing back the hardcore spirit. It was working for sure. The crowds were getting bigger again. We started headlining festivals again. It was working, but it fell apart.
Why did it fall apart?
Well, there was one guy I wasn’t getting along with on the road and I was just not having fun anymore. That’s really the whole reason for me to do it, to enjoy myself because I’m not making money, I’m actually losing money when I’m not working. That‘s fine as long as I’m enjoying playing the shows etc. I actually quit on the road because I got into an argument with this guy and I had enough. Then they talked me into finishing out the rest of the shows that year. The more I thought about it, it’s like, you know, I really want to make a record, a great record. Try to bring this band back to what it was, but at some point another person in the band made it clear to me that it wasn’t going to happen. I was like, there’s no reason for me to do this, you know? If I’m not enjoying it and I can’t make a record I’m really proud of, then I don’t want to do it, that’s it.
But there were plans to do another record?
Yes. We actually broke up in the studio. In my opinion, one of the problems with them is that they just didn’t communicate with each other. They would go home from a tour and just split, not talk to each other, you know? Danny and I would write songs and send it to the other guys and then never hear back whether they like them or not. It’s like there’s just no communication going on. To me it felt like this was just a job to these guys and I had had enough of the nonsense honestly.
After you left BIOHAZARD, how did your new band THE TAKE come about?
Well at first, after we broke up, Danny and I were talking about just getting a couple of other guys to play the songs that he and I wrote for BIOHAZARD and just call it something else. So I just worked on that for a little bit, but then Will Shepler calls me. Will and Craig Satari were talking about starting a new band, a hardcore power trio. Will asked me if I would be into doing it and I’m like, hell yeah! So then I started getting excited about that idea and I started writing old school hardcore riffs and sending it to those guys. I asked Craig what style of music he wanted to play and he replied… whatever we feel. I though to myself, wow, I never thought of that. Why didn’t I ever think of that? It’s so simple, you know? He’s absolutely right. Just do it, let it happen, don’t think about it. That’s when it started changing to being more Oi! etc. I started getting really, really excited about it because I’m thinking this is something that could be a little different. I could really sing to this, not just scream my head off. The focus of my attention shifted completely to THE TAKE. I still would like to do that project with Danny at some point though, when the time is right I guess. Craig never actually wrote a song with us because SICK OF IT ALL were doing it’s 30th anniversary tour, they were on tour constantly. Eventually Craig’s like, I’m holding you guys back, you should get somebody else because I’m just not around. That’s when I got my friend Carlos to play bass.
Tell me something about your first record, what is it about?
Life experience I guess. The music is kind of a culmination of different styles we’re into and the experiences we’ve had playing in other bands. The lyrics are mostly about people I know, my friends, myself and experiences I’ve had.
With you living in New York and Will living in Florida, how are you practicing and writing songs?
He flies up here a lot. When we first started the band, he was living here. Then he moved to Florida and for a few months we didn’t do anything. Then we figured out that we could email each other our ideas. I’d send him rough recordings of guitars for my song ideas, he would record drums in his small studio down there, email his tracks to me, then I would re-record guitars and bass to his tracks and have a demo to work on my vocal ideas. When I felt like I had something decent, I’d send him the song to him and get his feedback. So that’s what we did for at least half of the record. After it was all pretty much written, he flew in and stayed here for a couple days and we recorded drum tracks for the whole record except for “Revolution Now”, we recorded that later. He’ll fly here a day or two before we play shows so we can practice. We usually try to record something while he’s here. I haven’t really written a lot in the last year or so because I’ve been so busy with all the other nonsense of getting a band going. We’ve got a couple songs we recorded that I’m trying to get finished. I want to write one or two more and then put out an EP later this year. Probably with a cover song as well. We’ve got a couple of cover songs that we recorded a while ago. Trying to keep it rolling.
What are your other plans for 2020?
Right now I want to work on this EP but Will is getting shoulder surgery, so we have to take a few months off from playing. We have a couple of festivals in the States and a couple in Europe right now, so we’ll probably book some other shows around that and see what happens. But what I’m trying to focus on is this EP at the moment. We already have artwork and a title.
What is the title? Can you tell?
I think it’s going to be “Live For Tonight”?