I'm always interested to learn how people became fans of extreme metal [with me, I was an Iron Maiden fan and also bought albums by Motley Crue etc. until Master Of Puppets came along. I picked it up in a branch of Littlewoods (UK equivalent of a Wal-Mart) and never looked back. From there I got into Reign In Blood and then started buying lots of thrash. Reading about the roots of thrash got me into hardcore. 20 years later and I'm still listening to metal]. What were your metal "roots"?
Apart from Def Leppard and Iron Maiden in my REALLY younger days, my metal roots didn’t start showing for sometime. I really didn’t discover extreme metal until 1991 when I was 15 or 16 years old. Until then, Metallica and Slayer were the heaviest things I’d ever heard—but they honestly never really did that much for me. I had a few friends growing up that started getting into early death metal and grind bands, but since I didn’t really care for Metallica and Slayer, I thought that this wouldn’t be my thing either. In fact, it wasn’t until I started listening regularly to a local college radio station that I really started to get into the scene. There was a show called “Metal Monday,” which, of course, dedicated an entire day’s play list to heavy metal. That’s where I really had my first exposure to bands like Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Carcass and Obituary. And after hearing those bands, I felt like I had just experienced to coolest, more revolutionary music I ever heard. After that I never looked back—well, at least until I wrote Choosing Death, when I spent over two years looking back on the music.
How did the book come about - was this a project you'd had in mind for some time or were you approached to produce the work? I've read a couple of Feral House publications - the Hardcore history and Michael Moynihan's Black Metal book - they seem a natural home for this kind of work?
I actually wasn’t approached by anyone to write the book. I first conceived of the project when I interviewed Earache founder Digby Pearson in May of 2000 for a label profile story coinciding with the release of the label’s Immortalized box set. A friend suggested that there was strong enough story within that 1,000-word piece to form the skeletal outline of an entire book documenting death metal and grindcore’s history. I put the idea off until January of 2002 when I worked up enough courage to begin working on the project. As for Feral House, they seemed like a natural fit to me as well, so they were basically the first publisher I contacted after working on the book independently for well over year.
I'm interested in the magazine project. Here in the UK I think Terrorizer stands head and shoulders above the mainstream metal press in terms of publicising new bands and writing with respect about acts on the fringes of the metal world. What are your aspirations for your magazine? Will it be available in Europe??
I agree with you about Terrorizer, especially now that Jonathan Selzer has reclaimed his editorial position at the magazine. I don’t wanna say that this new publication with be the US answer to Terrorizer (I feel we’re gonna have our own identity), but I think we’ll share a similar aesthetic. Personally, I was very much raised on the Big T, and former Terrorizer editor Nick Terry is going to be heavily involved in this new publication, so I’m sure the Terrorizer influence will inevitably shine through. At the moment, there are no plans to distribute the new publication in Europe, but hopefully that will change at some point next year.
I've read the excerpts on the website and already I'm eagerly anticipating the book. Napalm Death are a band who I feel have been given only a fraction of the respect they are due. In fact, here in the UK they're still seen as something of a "joke" by many uninitiated observers. How would you quantify (if it's possible!) the significance of a band like Napalm to the development of extreme metal?
It’s nearly impossible to understate Napalm Death’s influence on extreme music. As they were the first extreme band to reach the masses—especially in the UK with the help of John Peel—they were the first exposure to grindcore and death metal for many impressionable young headbangers and punkers tired of thrash and old school hardcore. While other bands have certainly sold more records or pushed the genres in heavier and more extreme directions over the years, they only did so after first taking influence from Napalm. It’s safe to say that extreme music wouldn’t be the same without them.
Favourite bands (all kinds of music, not just metal) : both current and all-time?
Here’s a short list of both…
- Bad Religion
- Napalm Death
- Catherine Wheel
- Paradise Lost
- My Dying Bride
- The Dillinger Escape Plan
- Killswitch Engage
- Pig Destroyer
- The Hellacopters
- Electric Six
- The Hives