The bands first album 'Don't Metal With Evil' was a highlight in shock rock metal. It was originally released back in 1985. How do you look back on that particular record?
Well, I guess it's hard to comment on something that has become so important to us with out having mixed feelings. On the one hand I love the material I have always thought that the songs were great, but I have always felt that the production was lacking. We went into the studio back then with no money and no plan, we had no idea how to make a record we just had these songs and a desire to get them out to our friends. Of course when you first start out in this business you always think you are going to be a rock star. We had that dream as well, but we just shared a common love for this music and wanted to do a good record. There was always a certain magic between the four of us, and even on the rare occasion that we see each other today we still pretty much get along and would probably still make good music together. But time and circumstances have led us separate ways and that's just a part of life in this business. I still love that record enough that some day I'd like to re-record the tracks and release it with both the old versions as well as new versions just to let people see the state of the band and our writing and arranging abilities today. It would be amazing to hear those songs performed and recorded with today's knowledge and technology. Our new CD 'Horror Fire' is about to be released and I hope people see a new magic similar to what we had back then...
The album was released through the relatively small and unknown Motor City Metal Records-label. I was never able to purchase that particular piece of vinyl, because it was never released in Europe. Therefore, nowadays it's a highly sought after disc. The recordings were re-released in 1998 on CD. I suppose you disliked the fact that 'Don't Metal With Evil' was never brought to light outside the North-American borders, only providing you with a cult following here?
We have always been at a disadvantage when it comes to having control of our own business. We have been mismanaged and mislead by so many people that it would make your head spin. Twice we have had our manager die on us, both times as we were working towards negotiating our careers direction. We are grateful to every body who has helped in the past and are just happy that there are people out there who like our music. M.C.M. Records is our own label and we as a band have not had the resources and/or connections to distribute our recordings around the world, it has always been by chance that somebody would find us and put our material out. Usually in small amounts and then we would never hear from them again. Someday we would like to re-release our stuff on vinyl I think vinyl is cool and a great item for collecting.
The next album 'Victims Of The Night' was recorded in 1986 by the classic line-up, consisting of Brian Thomas (vocals), George Neil (bass), Rick Craig (guitars) and Bill White (drums). The recordings were mixed in 1997 and released through Molten Metal U.S.A. in 2002. Why did it take so long to be published?
Aah... 'Victims...' … what a story. First I should let you know the correct spelling of my partner in metal's name it is, George Neal. So in 1985/86 we went into yet another studio with still no idea what the hell we were doing. We struck a deal with a local musician we knew here in Detroit, who was working at this studio. the deal was something like we would pay a certain amount up front and the balance 90 days after it was released. As fate would have it we worked hard on the record and due to our arrangement with the studio had to record during non-peak hours like eight am and late at night after playing shows. Needless to say we were in no shape to be making our follow up record under those conditions, but we pressed on. Our producer wanted to experiment with drum sounds which are horribly obvious on the record the vocals were never to my satisfaction most of what ended up on the CD was scratch tracks if you know what they are (I'm sure you do). Just there as a reference so as to be able to get the drum tracks down correctly (so we didn't accidentally leave out a verse or something). Anyway, we were unhappy with how the recording was going and we walked away from it. The producer and his band were going on a small tour, and he kind of left us hanging and we never went back. Then many years later a guy from Molten Metal John Mestad got in touch with me and started asking about the long lost Halloween album. After a lot of red tape and trouble we settled our financial differences with our old producer and Molten Metal put it out (as is) which I was never crazy about but it is what it is. Again good songs, just not a great finished product. We also still have a never released album with the original line up. It is a live record called 'Don't Metal With Evil Live'. It was done in 1988 and is the entire first record performed live in order plus bonus tracks. It was recorded by Jon Drenning of Crimson Glory. Maybe one day...
After that, Halloweens mark II line-up, with Tommy Scott Steward (drums, also known for his works with Godsmack) and Billy Gray (guitars) recorded the five song 'Vicious Demos'. Why is this released for show and promo only?
Again a spelling tip...Tommy Stewart (he also played with Lillian Axe, Lo-Pro, and currently is filling in with Fuel). 'Vicious Demonstration' (which is the full name) was only recorded to show Detroit fans who predicted that George and I would never be able to continue to succeed with Halloween if Rick and Bill were gone, that we had found two great players and that we were just fine. We only released that on cassette to sell at our shows to help pay for a truck to get our gear to the show and gas. We never really thought that it would end up being so popular. Obviously we had planned to record a CD with those songs on it but we never got that far with that line-up. We did have a very successful tour with Crimson Glory back then and also played with King Diamond. But we never got to make a record. FYI... I still write and play occasionally with Billy. We just wrote five new songs together one week ago... Billy played almost all of our shows with us in October 2005. Donny and Billy sound great together and there is talk of doing more together in the future. Of course you know we did include the 'Vicious Demo' tracks on the second release of 'No One Gets Out!'
Yeah, but by then, the line-up was extremely changed. What happened?
The line-up change in 1991 was due to (as usual) bad luck, bad timing, and bad financial times. Tommy was driving 100 miles three and four times a week to come to rehearsal and just couldn't afford it anymore. He left to join a top 40 band and started making a little bit of money then he was in the right place at the right time and joined Lilian Axe, and it went on from there. Billy was dealing with some issues in his personal life at the time and was unsure if he was going to stay in the band, so George and I decided to just start over from scratch with a new drummer and guitarist as well in fact it ended up being two guitarists. Ironically we brought Donny on board for his melodic side, and the fact that he liked both Rick Craig and Seduce guitarist David Black We also found Tim Wright, and loved his heavy Slayer like style. We found out in a hurry that Donny was just as heavy as they come. He's been with us 15 years now. The drummer Billy Adams (BA!) was just a bad ass on the kit. We moved into a new world with this line-up and we were loving it!
The '1031…A Number Of Things From Halloween' kinda confused me because it's not released under the Halloween banner. What's the story behind this release?
Again, being broke makes you do crazy shit. When we were getting ready to play a Halloween night show back in ...I think it was '97 or '98 we had no money to have T-shirts made for the show, so we borrowed the money from a friend. And, another friend suggested putting together a CD of unreleased and rare demos and rehearsal recordings and selling them at the show to help raise money to pay back the t-shirt debt (so we wouldn't get our legs broken). We didn't even put that CD out, it was some friends of the band who put it together and sold it at the show. They only made 50 of them, but with bootlegging and stuff there are more than that out there now... it was called '1031 A Number Of Things From Halloween' because 1031 is the numerical date of Halloween day, tenth month (October), and thirty first day: (1031) And because it also included a song called 'In Darkness', which was performed by a different group, Abandon (which included George and myself), It wouldn't have been correct to call it a Halloween CD release.
On the bands homepage I noticed there's a still unreleased album entitled 'Fire Still Burns'. Why did these recordings never leave the dungeons?
You will be happy to know (at least I hope), the album you are asking about is moments away from being released. However we have changed the name... it is called, 'Horror Fire' and will be out very, very soon, it is done and we are just going through the process of manufacturing it. The name was changed for a number of reasons including the fact that we like the new name better. 'Fire Still Burns' was always just a working title but after so much time word got around about it and every one thought that was the name. That is the name of one of the songs on it. All of the songs that were intended to be on this are there. When we started work on this album, we were not going to put it out unless it was done right, and the way we envisioned it to sound. This time we did this album all ourselves with no outside influence, nor time constraints. It has taken a little longer to finish than we had hoped, but I am sure that it shows in the final product. We are very proud of this album, and think it will re-solidify our position in the metal scene.
According to the '4.0 Tricks, Treats And Other Tales From The Crypt' album title, I suppose this is a “Best of…” CD?
'4.0' is our little way of letting people know that it was the fourth major line-up change with the band. At the time of it's inception this group of players were not supposed to be a Halloween line-up I put together a little side project with some other musicians in 2003, we intended to do all new songs but as we began to rehearse we ended up playing Halloween songs. The drummer knew a bunch of our songs and it just ended up going in that direction. Halloween had sort of become defunct at the time. One member only wanted to play once a year which wasn't what I wanted to do, and every ones work schedules were conflicting, so we just kind of went separate ways. When Donny found out I was doing a new band he wanted to be a part of it, and once he was on board we kind of picked up the Halloween banner once again. 'Tricks, Treats And Other Tales From The Crypt' was a bit of a tribute record the new guys had certain songs they liked, and we decided to each pick a few songs, and record them to celebrate the bands twentieth anniversary. We did that record in a hurry which I'm sure is evident to most people. But we just did it for fun and to honour the bands long history. It was only a limited release and is no longer available.
During your show in Allentown, Pennsylvania on February twelfth (along with Seven Witches), there was a DVD-shoot. I'm curious if these recordings ever will be released…
Unfortunately, we never made the trip to Allentown, we had a personnel situation arise and did not make the show. And from what we heard, it was good that we didn't, apparently there was a problem at the venue and we would not have been able to play any way. Seven Witches had trouble with security and their set was cut short as well. We did however play with them here in Detroit, and it was a great show (it was not recorded though). Jack Frost says we will play again together in the future. Hopefully, now that this record is done we will be able to do some extensive touring, including Europe. (Help us get some connections over there...ok?)
Yes, Halloween once came over to Europe to perform on the Keep It True festival, but shiploads of freaks, including myself, never had the chance to see that particular show. Any details on that European tour yet?
Keep It True was awesome we hope to return many more times... Hail to our metal heads in Europe!!!
For those who never seen you guys perform live or didn't have the opportunity to watch the 'Keep It True II' DVD, could you please explain what to expect, watching a Halloween show?
Well Keep It true was only a little piece of the puzzle we were unable to bring our stage show with us, so Oliver (Weinsheimer from German magazine Heavy Oder Was) and (Majesty singer) Tarek (Maghary, who organize the K.I.T. festival) put together a replica of what they had seen in pictures, along with the stage setup that Majesty uses. It was cool but nothing like playing on your own gear and with your own stage show (props and scenery). We have different stage sets that we rotate from show to show. Our most famous one is the "Cemetery" filled with crypts, tombstones, skeletons, spider webs, caskets, zombies and other craziness plus our light show to enhance it all. Another set up is our two story "Haunted House" complete with book cases, stairways, shredded curtains, doorways, and dilapidated furniture. We also have a chamber of torture with various instruments of pain. It's all quite extravagant. We like to give people a good show for their money and time... it's all in good fun.
Did you ever encounter problems with the German power metal outfit Helloween or filmmakers from the famous movie series concerning the band name?
We have had a run in with Helloween back in the beginning but not lately. Back when they were on RCA in the USA their lawyers made some kind of deal with our manager, at the time, but they didn't honour it anyway. They had agreed to stop using the pumpkin in their logo and did for only one or two albums in the U.S., but then they started using it again, I guess they figured we wouldn't do any thing about it. We met them in Detroit when they were on tour with Anthrax and they were afraid to meet us, fearing we were going to kill them or something (they had heard of Detroit's reputation for being the murder capitol of the world). I guess they didn't know what to expect haha. But it was all cool in the end. I like their band I just wish they had a different name. It would've made life easier for us throughout the years. After all we were around before them and they already know that. (Just ask them)…
Speaking of movies: what's your top ten favourite horror motion pictures?
'Bram Stoker's Dracula', 'Nosferatu', 'Tales From The Crypt' (1972), 'The Omen', 'House of 1.000 Corpses', 'Sleepy Hollow', 'Saw', 'The Addams Family', 'Halloween' and 'The Amityville Horror'… I Love horror movies so that list is probably only accurate for a short time it's always changing I love them all. Oh yeah forgot 'The Exorcist', see what I mean it could go on and on...
The space below is yours!
Hey, just wanted to say on behalf of the rest of the band, HELLO EUROPE... we hope to see you soon, Keep Metal Alive and if you get the chance check us out on the internet. Look for our new release 'Horror Fire', it will be available very soon. Take care of yourselves, peace...