First of all hails and congratulations for the new album 'Metal Manifesto'! Why don't we go back in time a little bit, let's say: 1987? After the two fantastic sacraments 'Metal Inquisition' and 'Stay Ugly', you were suddenly disappeared! What happened?
Hails, and thank you! By the phrasing of your question, it looks like you have never heard the actual truth about Piledriver and those albums. You and your readers may need to sit down, and perhaps have a drink first before I go too far into unravelling your belief systems… please, sit. Better make your drink a strong one as well… are you ready for the truth? Can you handle the truth? Here it is: Piledriver was never a real and complete band until late 2004. Metal Inquisition was written / produced / performed in July/August 1984 by Leslie – Long John Silver / Bud Slaker- Howe, Louise – Sal Gibson- Reny, and myself Gord – Pile Driver - Kirchin brought in to do the vocals in a basement 8tk studio in Ottawa, Canada. While I knew that it was a recording only project, I jumped at the chance to get my throat on a record. I was 23 years old. 'Stay Ugly' was written / produced / performed two years later by Dave DeFeis and Eddie Pursino of Virgin Steele, with myself again brought in to do the vocals. After this departure from the original sound of MI, I talked with the Record Weasel about letting me write and produce the next album, since I was Pile I thought I knew what made him tick and how he should sound, so I moved to Toronto. I had assembled a band and written and recorded what was to be the third Piledriver album with guitarists Shawn Abbott and Randy Deeg here in Toronto, and we were at the mixing stage of the 'Shock' album, when Record Weasel told me he wasn't going to support a band in any way, and he wasn't going to give us any advance money for the masters. Since I had yet to receive a penny for the first two albums, I decided he could take a hike, instantly renamed the band Dogs With Jobs, and kicked him out of the studio. I then re-wrote and re-recorded the lyrics, de-Pile-ing them, and released the album thru Fringe Product. (You can still find them them on eBay apparently…). That was the original death of Pile.
The years after that you were involved in bands like Fist, Convict and Dogs With Jobs! But the status of Piledriver remained untouched. Did you get the same satisfaction with those bands as you did with Piledriver, seeing that was in a different level theatrically?
Well, the timing there is a little off, Fist was before Piledriver. Convict happened in between the two Pile albums, and was again just another 'Record Weasel recording project' -fake names, no band. Again, since at that point there was no Pile-band, there was no theatricality to theatricalicize! I know this is all confusing, so, here's the chronology: I met Leslie Howe when I played bass in his bar-band Mainstream in Ottawa in 1982. I left Mainstream to do a tour with Fist in 1983. I was kicked out of Fist then joined with Ottawa friends bar-band U.N.. I then recorded the 'Metal Inquisition' vocals in August of 1984 and moved to Montreal in September to play in bar band ICE, then with Brian Greenway of April Wine's bar band. In June of 1985 I moved to Toronto to start getting a Piledriver band together. I had very little luck in finding metal dudes who could deal with Piley's look, and mostly the ego problem so many had with me wanting them to take stage-names and wear costumes and stuff. I had two guitarists hunting drums and bass. Find drums then lose a guitarist while looking for bassist. Find bassist, lose drummer, gain guitarist. Then I was shuttled by the Record Weasel to NYC to do the 'Convict' and 'Stay Ugly' albums in 1985/6. Then, as I continued to find drummer, lose bassist... Lose guitarist. Find bassist. Lose and find a drummer… still need 2nd gtr… lose bassist, find bassist… lose drummer. Then it was 1989 and I was tired of how hard it was to put a simple theatrical band together. Heh, it STILL is, really, so many bloated egos. Then, like I mentioned above, I was working on what would have been the 3rd Pile album, recorded by a real band finally, and that's when the wheels came off and Record Weasel nickelled and dimed it into the realm of 'what could have been'. I still remember the original lyrics.. I may someday decide to re-record 'Shock in it's original Pileriffic-sickly-spiffiness, butI'll just tease you all with that for now.
When did you start thinking about digging up Piledriver again and why in the blue hell did it take two decades to do so?
I finally got a computer and got online in late '95, and was blown away to find that the Record Weasel had lied to me all along. Pile was not a failure. Pile was a legend!!!!!! I couldn 't believe my eyes when I saw all the corners of the planet that Pile had infested, and that the fans were still there, and were hoping for more!!! It was then that I vowed to return their faithful support and kind words by bringing Pile to life, to finally put him onstage and get on with tearing their faces off!!! They deserved it. I feel that it is my duty to bring it to them while I'm still alive and able. I have my aging-man health issues, but, I vow to bring it to the Minions Of The Metal Inquisition till I die. It took another bunch of years to get a proper lineup together, and, we're here, strong and tight, brothers in arms setting out to conquer your minds.
What can you say about the addition “The Exalted” to the name?
In the years of my absence, lesser mortals have chosen to steal my name and use it as their own. There's a metal Piledriver in Japan, there's an industrial Piledriver in Scandinavia, there's a Status Quo tribute Piledriver, there's a hardcore Piledriver in L.A, apparently there's one in Australia. Way to many Piledrivers to beat down, so I just grabbed my descriptive modifier right out of my titular song to remind people exactly which Piledriver they're dealin' with… THE FUCKING EXALTED ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!
How do you look back at the time when you started Piledriver?
Bitterly. I wish I wasn't such a naïve, blinded by the promises, gullible young stooge that I was when I signed my first contract with Record Weasel. Gotta say, he had a golden tongue, capable of convincing you that while, yes, your head may be on fire, he's pretty sure he can write it off somehow. He ripped and Leslie me off to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lots of other bands too. Yeah. That's my biggest regret, not shooting him in the face when I had the chance. Other than that, I look back and appreciate the innocent beginnings and the leaps of growth that my path in metal has undergone since then, while still retaining the essence of my own voice and style along the way. I've spent many of the years since those albums behind the glass, producing and engineering, and for the past fifteen years I've been wiring studios and tv/radio stations for a living. So, finally, the timing and circumstances are ripe to get out there and tear up the stages as Pile for all the fans that are still waiting for him. Better sooner than later, as none of us are getting any younger, ha! When I look back, it's astonishing that we were in any way considered shocking. The songs sound almost commercial now. I guess it was a more innocent time, after all… All around us was disco and hair-metal, and we were inspired by the few extreme bands like Slayer and Venom and the Bay-Area stuff, with a slice of punkish aggression here n' there, all filtered through our OTT senses of humor. It was a great time to be young and rockin' I tell ya! I couldn't imagine being teenager today scanning across a North American radio dial, the celebration of mediocrity is disgusting. No wonder they're all consumer-stooges brainwashed by useless-doodad and sugar-water manufacturers dictating their playlists.
Have you ever wondered what would have become of Piledriver if the band didn't stop after 'Stay Ugly'?
Heh, yeah… We'd be bigger than Metallica if I'd have had my shit together. But, who knows? I don't know if we'll ever get the chance now, with the economy and the fracturing of metal and it's masses into all it's smaller, less supported derivative scenes, plus the easy-to-rip internet killing cd's, and general dollar-shrinkage all around, it's getting hard to finance touring too, so, catch me while ya can, before bankruptcy or a heart attack takes me out, ha ha!
Speaking of 'Stay Ugly'; one of the “secret” co-composers of the album was Virgin Steele's David DeFeis and Ed Pursino was also a part of Piledriver. David later re-used 'The Fire God' for Virgin Steele's 'The House Of Atreus – Act I' album. Are you still in contact with the guys?
Sorta kinda, but, not really. I had a great coupla days with them, but, yeah, we've led our separate lives. Same with Leslie Howe. Maybe moreso with Leslie Howe, 'cuz he's a bit of an overly-proud rich-ass record industry whore who thinks Piledriver is waaay too small a financial return for his pishposh million dollar producer ass. His loss, I say. A while back I was really working hard on getting a proper re-release of both MI and SU, and was in contact with them to get permissions, etc., but, since that was so brutal from a personal standpoint, let alone legal tanglings to straighten out with all the Record Weasel's 'creative' accountings through all his not so creatively named record labels, not to mention the animosity between the Weasel and the rest of us for ripping us all off in the first place. So, folks, get used to the idea: those albums will never see the light of day unless the Weasel creates yet another label (his 340th??), and once again we won't see a penny from it, 'cuz he's the Record Weasel, or in the bootlegs from FullMoon. HighVaultage did a nice job stealing my entire website for the booklet, and not giving me a penny for my audio contributions, let alone copyrighted text and images… whatever… they never paid me a penny, but they've had no problem exploiting my intellectual properties. No problem I say, you can find those albums in torrents all over the place, and since we never did nor ever will see a dime from any of it I could give a rat's ass. I can't be barred from performing the songs for the fans, and that's what I'm gonna do, besides releasing new music from a band that plays old-school 'frashitude just the same, hopefully not losing tooo many of the fans of the fake-band songs along the way. Who knows, maybe if I can find a proper label someday, you'll ALL get to hear it, ha ha! NSR is sucking balls right now, to say the least!!!! You see, THIS is why I went underground-techie-dayjob for all those years.. this business SUCKS!! At least Live it's just us and the audience, and hopefully a decent sound guy inbetween, ha ha! Maybe a plastic sheet too, because various fluids of various shades and viscosities have been know to drip from my expanded Pileness.
I think it's interesting how Virgin Steele developed into the more theatrical and romantic style, while Piledriver is still an angry band! Your opinion please.
Ummm… whatever. I'm glad they did the magical and intricate work they did, too! There's some truly symphonic stuff in there! I'm not of that school though. I was born in 1961, my father was a drum major for the Navy band as well as a 50's drummer, so I started on a snare drum as soon as I could hold sticks. I got into the Beatles at five. Into the Stones at seven. Into Alice Cooper and guitars at eleven. Into Zappa at thirteen. The damage was done once I discovered The Who and Blue Cheer and Iggy and MC5 and Stiv B and Johnny R and Venom and Slayer and El Duce's Mentors and all the rest of the amped up maniacs out there. Sure, the NWOBHM was a major influence as well, but, it's always been the cruder, more off-the-cuff stuff that's excited me. Having said that, I'm a Zappa fanatic, so, I'm also quite fond of superhuman prowess on an instrument or larynx, ha ha! So… go figure… I like it all except country, rap, and disco, ha ha!!!
When an artist has been away for such a long time, there are of course some doubts. But 'Metal Manifesto' proofs that absence doesn't mean change! Of course the music on 'Metal Manifesto' is rather up to date (while having the old-school feeling as well), but still sounds like the “classical” eighties metal and is stronger than ever. In the years of silence, did you keep a close eye on the developments in the metallic world?
Heh, heh, NO! I've always been a kind of musical hermit, sticking to the voodoo that I do, musically. I like to let my songs write themselves, if you will, and they come out like they come out. I'm lucky that I've found Kinky, 'cuz he can imitate my style at will, and that's just cosmic, ha ha! I buy like one or two cd's a year because I don't get thrilled by much, and those albums tend to be by ancient bands. Out of my last batch of purchases I see that lately I'm into COC, Machine Head, Eclipse Eternal, Spock's Beard, Lamb of God, Alltheniko, Hayseed Dixie, Freak Kitchen, Slayer, Ron Thal, Deep Purple, MrBungle and FZ bootlegs. Oh, I see, I'm musically nuts. Sorry. I like it all. So, you can see that very little of this has had much impact on my style other than Alice on my throat and FZ in my humor. The rest is an amalgam of old-school-speed-prog-punk-comedy-power-metal, with a fat loud-mouthed sweaty ham in bondage gear pukin' it up for ya!!!!
During the years a lot of bands have tried to shock! I'm talking about people like Marilyn Manson, Slipknot or the monsters from the Muppet show Lordi! However, none of them has had the effect your lyrics (and also outfit) had in the eighties. Your opinion about these bands please.
Darling bastard children, all… As am I, by the way. It was Alice Cooper and The Tubes' Fee Waybill's 'Quay Lude' character that drove my look, I think. And we all steal from old movies, anyway, so, the only difference I'd like to point out is that with us, we don't purport to imply any amount of 'coolness' to our dime-budget dog-and-pony show. We enjoy the 'cheepnis' of the 'cheese', if you will. Look at the cover, ha ha!!! Fans are trying to convince me to act like the other bloated sellouts, but, nahh… sorry. I'd rather take the piss than spend the money on getting all fancy-assed. Maybe some day, if this really takes off and I'm desperate for tax write-offs, I guess… maybe then I'd step it up. Besides, I'm getting' old now. I can't run around the stage like a speed-cranked bleeding gazelle anymore, the heart won't take it, and I've never been that type anyway, leave that to the Iggy's and GG's out there. Mind you, yer lucky I'm not nestling my fat lazy sloth-like bloated form into a comfy settee lounge chair in front of the drum kit either! Look! I've even been seen standing up and pointing around n' shit!!! This is all you get this late in the game, ha ha!! Oh, wait… I was supposed to talk about those other dudes… Oh, well. The lyrics were a little over the top in their time, but, tame as moon-in-june by today's standards. I hope to have had even a minor hand in that perceptance of acceptance shift, ha ha!
Listening to 'Metal Manifesto' I hear some elements of the Italian horror-shockers of Death SS. Of course the horror and shocking elements are at a different level and Piledriver has a sense of humour, but do you have anything with Death SS?
Sorry, mate, I've not heard of them, and I'm far too fat and lazy to Google. I mean, really… I would have to move the cursor aaaaaaaall the way over there, and actually have to click on something or other… seriously, dude??? But, send me some, they sound interesting.
In continuance to the previous question a little; I think a connection between Death SS and Piledriver is that both bands have had their share of banishment and censorship! For example when 'Metal Inquisition' got released in the US, they changed a lot of the song titles. I think on one hand the censorship makes an album a bit more interesting for the public, but on the other hand it's a total violation of the freedom of speech. What do you have to say about this?
Not only did they change song titles, they replaced two of the songs! 'Twister' and 'Devil's Lust' from the 'Convict' sessions replaced 'Sex With Satan' and 'Human Sacrifice'!!! Not only is that artistic chicanery, I say that it's a freedom of speech issue for sure. Sadly, these days, music is pretty much uncensored in developed countries while the news is whitewashed beyond semblance to reality on the ground. A sad trade-off for mankind. I'd rather have to work a bit harder to find an album with the words 'fuck' and 'shit' possibly in them than to find that my government's been lying to me about everything forever and I go to jail if I dare say so.
How important is the show and the band's appearance for Piledriver?
Fairly to moderately important, I guess. I think the fans would be bummed out if I didn't trot out in the costume. Jeans and a t'shirt of my favorite soft drink don't strike me as appropriate for stepping into the lights and attempting to entertain people. I think that even a two dollar Halloween mask helps remove the context of humanity and helps transpose a 8' x 15' stage into a Performance Space. Being as tight as a nun's cunt and as aggressive as unfed wolverines musically helps, too, we find, but, yeah, the stupid costumes are a bit of fun to distract and confuse, if not help induce a bit more of a party mood to the proceedings.
Listening to the lyrics of songs like 'The Things I Give' and 'When I Saw Your Face' among others, I can fortunately conclude that you are still as perverted as 25 years ago. But you also sound more pissed-off nowadays. Can you explain the anger, frustration and perversion you have to deal with?
Humans suck, that's why. Every day only gives me more fodder for the hate cannon that is my mouth. Fuckin' HELL I hate humans. I for one can't wait for us to finally obliterate ourselves thru our own inbred violent or ignorant volitions, as either will do the job, eventually, and that's if some pandemic disease or “space related problem” doesn't wipe us out by sheer grace of chance. I give our species four to five generations at most before we return this planet to it's rightful owners, the cockroaches and marmosets. Then it'll be nice to live here again. In the meantime, every idiot that crosses my path inspires the rancor and hatred that I spill into song, since I'm apparently not allowed to twist their necks shut.
One of the most legendary quotes of Piledriver is of course “If you're not a metal head, you might as well be dead!”. During the past decades the level of crap that people call music has increased immensely! But also the amount of open-minded tolerant hippies within the metal scene has grown. What do you suggest we can do about this?
The problem is the corporate celebration of mediocrity, the solution is MORE METAL!!!!!!!! People need to reclaim the airwaves for metal by being vocal and persistant, like a metal-cancer on their request lines and e-mail boxes. By actually purchasing the music and supporting the scene instead of choking it selfishly by freeloading it. We need to make our metal-multitude presence be known, or, continue to keep it to ourselves, a small and devoted cult relegated to the token 'metal-hour' once a week in between discount-mattress and diet-aid adverts and requests for ' your contribution to the fundraising drive that keeps us on the air'. Only the fans can turn the tide by putting their wallets where their headphone jacks are, cuz dough-re-mi is the only thing that corporations understand. Words and concepts confuse them, especially when those words aren't on order forms for more halfcrapfauxpunkurbanmindrot. GET ON IT, ALL YOU MINIONS OF METAL MUSIC!!! Deluge the broadcasters and labels for MORE METAL!!!! TILL THE DAY YOU DIE!!!!! Look at me! I wouldn't be back if it wasn't for the relentless goading of my fans in my inbox! And even then it took me seven years to do it! Imagine how long it would have taken if I was a paradigm-laden music corporation, ha ha! Seriously, though… the squeaky wheel gets the grease. MORE METAL!! MORE METAL!!! MORE METAL!!! Do it. Now. Deluge them with your vocal demands!!!!
Having returned back from the grave you already performed at festivals like Keep It True! As for this year the band has been confirmed for Headbangers Open Air (alongside your fellow countrymen Razor), but can we expect some club shows in Europe as well?
Yes indeed!!! We'll be making many more stops this time out, farther east into the dark side of Europe and farther north into Scandinavia, too! Spain! Italy! Germany! Holland! Poland! Bulgaria! Sweden! Norway! Batslavia!! And we're waiting on many confirmations still! It's to be at least twice the length of our '07 Auf Grosser Fahrt tour… the Unsuck The Continent tour is coming my minions, and we are salivating as we can't wait to tear your faces off and feast on your souls!!!
Now that The Exalted Piledriver has finally reason, what can we expect next?
Um… besides the tearing off of your faces and the feasting on your souls? Let's see… um… the drinking of your sins… the fucking of your lives, and the stench we leave you with as we leave you there in the night, half-naked, sweaty and stained in our ejectamenta. Oh, and maybe a live album soon, with all the old favorites and one or two of the new ones, or maybe one or two even newer yet unrecorded ones. We'll see… we're not sure if anybody would be interested in any of that.
Well, I think we can wrap it up for now, but if there is anything left that you'd like to share with us, please do so…
I've got a major hankerin' for some waffles and ice cream n' maple syrup right now… Seeing as I've smoked about three spliffs during this interview. No, wait, there's some fresh PileWench Apple Pie on the counter. Maybe there's maple syrup and ice cream too. I'll have to look into this… wait… there's pie, but no syrup or ice cream… well… there's mustard… and peanut butter… and cheese… ok… cool… that'll work… where's that waffle-iron now?
Hail to the Exalted One and thanks for your time! All the best.
No problems, bud! All the wurst to you and yours!!!