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Annihilator

It obviously doesn't happen every day that you receive a request to do an interview with metal legend Jeff Waters. At first I thought it would be a phone interview but only days later I received the request to report myself at a hotel in Roermond around 19.00 to sit down with the man himself and of course that made it even more interesting. With little to no expectation I went down to Roermond because Mr. Waters was supposed to be an arrogant musician who would have no interest in annoying Dutch reporters. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Jeff Waters was without a doubt one of the most open and enthusiastic musicians I have met in a long time. I had little preparation for this interview because Annihilator's new album “All For You” was delivered to me the same day of the interview. Nevertheless the album left a big impression on me after only two listens so I was curious to know what Jeff had to say about it.

By: Kasper | Archive under speed / thrash metal

band imageI was quit surprised to see you here doing all these interviews. Someone like you does not need this kind of promotion anymore does he?

Haha you're mistaken. I most be honest with you, at the moment I found the perfect combination between the essential and pleasure. My new girlfriend lives in Germany so after this press week that leads me to Germany and Austria after this, I will visit her for a few weeks. And believe it or not I even had a though discussion with my record company the other week. I wanted way more press time than what I have now. It is a long trip for me to come down all the way to Europe so I wanted to go to more countries than those that I am visiting now and talk more to the press and media. And believe it or not, bands like Annihilator do need this kind of media attention, it never hurts doing this and besides that I feel that it is an obligation towards the press and the fans. And I am a smooth talker who likes doing this so it doesn't matter that much. Haha.

All right, let's talk about your new album for a while, because that is the main reason of your visit of course. I received the record only this morning so I had the chance to listen to it twice. Most interesting new appearance is obviously your new vocalist Dave Padden. Could you please tell us a bit more about him?

Well, what did you think? I am really excited about his vocals.

He has a heavy voice. I really liked the way he combines his clean with his more raw vocals.

Thanks, that was exactly what I wanted. You need to understand that Dave wasn't a vocalist but a musician. I knew he had a good voice and there for I just asked him to give it a try. At first he didn't want to because he was a little insecure about his voice and besides that he didn't know how to sing. I had to teach him all of that. Not that I am the best vocalist in the world but I know how to do it. The more we practiced the better it got and when we started the recordings we took all the time we needed and in my opinion you can really hear that on the record.

He has little experience, aren't you afraid that he wouldn't make it in a live situation?

I am fully aware of this and so is he. So we are practicing very hard to get his voice into shape and to keep the condition leveled. But the shows we did so far with Dave were all good.

Besides Dave you also have a new drummer?

Yeah that's correct, Rob Falzano. Rob is a well-respected and experienced musician in Canada. It was really a huge honor for me to work with him and definitely not the other way around. I really wanted him to play on the album but if he will be able to join us on tour is still uncertain at the moment.

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Could you for once and for all clear the mystery why your list of ex musicians is growing by the minute? Are you that difficult to work with or what?

Haha, I don't think I am that hard to work with. I only fired someone from my band twice to be honest all of the others left of their own free will and in good relation with myself. You should see Annihilator as a company, but then a one-man company. The people who are in the band along side myself work for me and get paid on commission. If we have a good year all of them share a part of our profits but I cannot offer them a steady monthly paycheck or other regular benefits because we totally rely on what comes in. If we do a new record and go out on a tour for a whole year no one complains but when there is a slow year a lot of musicians choose to go and look somewhere else. This is something I fully understand and accepted over the past few years. I could imagine it being hard to be in their shoes. If Annihilator takes it slow for a year I myself am busy with writing new material but for the rest of the band there is little to no work, I also rely on their loyalty towards me for a part.

Could you tell me a bit more on how you write your songs?

I always start with making up a good title and a lyric to go with it. When I have those I start with the music. The creation of my music is a boring process. I have a drum computer at home and that is the basic for all my songs. I play my guitar everyday for hours at a time and when I am writing I put my drum computer on for instance 120 beats a minute. I leave it in this tempo and start playing to it for hours, I do this for about a month and a half. All riffs that I have created in this tempo are saved on my computer in a special folder simply called 120. After this is set my timer back to 100 beats a minute and do the same thing for about another month. I keep on doing this on all kinds of tempos so after a while I have more than a thousand riffs in like 15 different tempos stored on my pc. When I am done with this I listen to all the individual riffs I have created. Those who don't get me immediately when I listen to them are instantly deleted from my pc. This way I keep like 30 or 40 riffs in every folder at the end. When I am listening to them I already decided if a riff is suited for a chorus or the mid part or a solo part or whatever so that I can simply copy/paste them and start my arranging. I like this way of writing, I have done it for years and I can't imagine any other way of writing.

But all of the other riffs, you throw them away? Can't I have them next time?

Hahah maybe not even a bad idea. I will offer them for sale on e-bay. “metalriffs for sale written by Jeff Waters” haha

You're new album is entitled 'All For You'. Could you explain the title please?

I wanted to give the album a different title but it was mainly the record companies choice. They thought the title would appeal to a lot of my fans, the album is in fact all for them. I could relate to this but for me it means something completely different. For me it handles about all the things I left behind and put a side in a past relation, therefore the full title is 'All For You, Fuck You'…. Haha!

Any favorites on the album?

I am really satisfied with the title track, mainly because of the different kind of vocals we used and the strong chorus. But also 'Weapon X' is one of my favorites. It is probably the heaviest song I have ever made. But I don't have a real favorite, every song has something that makes it special for me. For me it is one of the most diverse albums in the Annihilator history, every song is different so no real favorites for me.

What was the thought behind the awesome cover? You brought the doll back is that a coincidence?

You haven't seen the full layout yet but I gave the artist full responsibility and freedom. He made a separate drawing for every song. I gave him the lyrics and he made a drawing with it in his own perspective. I haven't told him what the song was about for me but left him with the option to fill it in the way he wanted it to. So this question should go to him in a way. The doll was a small wish of mine, mainly because the album reminds me of the older stuff I have done.

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I found it quit interesting to see that you often visit the Annihilator website. If fans ask questions through the forum section you often give them a personal answer. How important is the contact with your fans?

I think it is very important. I am fully aware of the fact that I am one of the few musicians who do that. To be honest I don't understand that. The fans are the people who keep you as a band alive, I really try to make as much time for it as possible. I also want to know everything concerning Annihilator, how people think about stuff etc plus people who have supported you for years have a right to know what you are doing.

What's your view on the whole downloading situation?

Basically I have three different opinions. For small starting bands it's great. You can easily send your Mp3 to a record company, you can put it on the net for free to get the attention and to spread your name. My second opinion is about the real big bands, they should not complain at all. It makes no sense if you ask me. They now make 20 million dollars on an album instead of 30 million. That's pure greed. And my last opinion is that it is very harmful for the bands in the middle. We with annihilator really rely on our record sales, every album sold is another dollar that we need to exist, people don't often realise what it takes financially to keep a band like Annihilator up and running.

You're a well spoken guy in the scene. There are hundreds of rumours circling around on the net with your name in it. I picked a few and I was wandering if you could give us a reaction.

Great man. Bring it on.

You have cooperated with Joachim Cans of HammerFall?

That's correct. Joachim asked me if I could write a few songs for his debut album. I wrote two songs, one heavy song and a ballad. He only used the heavy song. I respect him a lot as a musician, he's extremely motivated and an excellent singer.

There would also be some kind of cooperation between you and Kai Hanssen of Gamma Ray?

Yeah. But that isn't completely correct. I never met Kai personally. We have a mutual contact who wanted to set us up together to do something. Kai misunderstood. He thought he needed to write some songs for Annihilator but I wanted to put up something brand new. Eventually I explained it to him and he still was interested, if it ever will work out I don't know.

A colleague of mine had an interview last month with Debase. They said you were interested in becoming their manager. What's true of this? (see the actual lines of the interview below)

“And what did Jeff Waters and the Priest-guys think of your music?

Well, Jeff Waters wanted to be our manager. He said he wanted to quit playing music and becoming our manager full-time.

Yeah right… hahaha! After how many beers did he say this to you?

Well, I don't know if he was serious about quit playing himself, but at that time he was really serious about managing our band. But after that he got a lot of problems with his own band and so…

He always has…

[giggles] Yeah, he always has…”



Hmmm, a bit stupid. You know, Canadians are really relaxed and polite people. Due to this we are often misunderstood. Of course I will not be Debase's manager. They asked me for tips about contracts and other business related topics that are involved with playing in a band. I gave them that info and said something like “I should become a manager instead of a musician”. I obviously meant this as a joke. It's pretty annoying that stuff like this is said, but I had more problems before with my way of speaking.

band imageTell me?

Haha, okay, I shall share a nice story with you then. We were touring with Judas Priest a few years ago and we were in Grease were I had an interview with a big metal magazine. He asked me if they played metal on Canadian radio shows. In my enthusiasm I told him that “shit” like Metallica, Priest or Iron Maiden wasn't aired in Canada on mainstream radio. The day after I had a huge press conference together with K.K. Downing. The same guy who interviewed me the day before stood up and asked me why we were touring with Priest since I have told him their music was shit. I was completely stunned and KK really was annoyed by this. I tried to explain that that was not what I meant but that I just used the term “shit” instead of metal music. The journalist accused me of being a liar and pulled out the tape as evidence. I really talked for hours to straighten things out. Haha.

To finish of, I read you will be releasing a DVD soon?

Hmmm, you're well informed since we haven't announced it officially. But you're right. I actually was planning on releasing a few DVD's. The first one will be released pretty fast and will contain mainly all the old stuff that I have gathered through out the years. Later on I would like to release a DVD with a complete live show. We still have some very good shows on video.

Will there be a tour for this album?

Probably yeah. But there are no concrete plans as of yet. We had some offers for some festivals this year but I don't think it will be possible. It's too expensive for a festival to fly us all in for just one show. And besides I prefer doing a club tour were we have a better interaction with the audience.

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