Interview with Chris, Joe and Sophy
Interview conducted by Michel Renaud
Date online: August 5, 2003
Hails! First off, could you fill us in with a short history of the band?
[Chris D.]The band began in '96 when me and a guy I had just met named Little Jimmy Satan where sitting in a local cigar lounge talking about Metal. I mentioned I wanted to start an arena style metal band. I said it kind of jokingly, thinking he would laugh if he knew I was serious. He didn't detect the humor in my voice and said he thought it was a great idea. I said I wanted smoke, lasers, Satanic imagery and where leather outfits. He said "O.K.", I own a flying "V". Oh, by-the-way this cigar store had a free recording studio in it, too. We went into the booth and proceed to blow out the mix down speakers with some horrendous version of War Pigs or something. From then on in it was a matter of finding people with the same sensibilities to join. Sophy, who was first a drummer, joined soon after on bass. It wasn't until Cozine was added on vocals that the band really started to sound right. Jimmy Satan left in 2000 to explore more AC/DC style avenues. I found Joe Johnson playing Mozart on electric guitar in a music store and he joined soon after he heard "Say Your Prayers". I am leaving out all info on drummers because there are too many to go into and we happen to be drummer less at the moment. Anyone interested?
How did you come up with the name Wastoid? Does it have any special meaning?
[Chris D.]I came up with the name. I grew up as a metalhead. I had the longest hair in my high school. I was constantly called a wastoid because of my hair, even though I pretty much just stayed in my room and played guitar all the time and didn't even do drugs.
I think it kind of became a term of endearment for metalheads like me in my neighborhood.-Metalhead, badass, wastoid; they all described the same type of person and that's the mentality we wanted to tap into with this band. The name definitely seems to anger and frustrate for some reason. I never thought it would cause so much confusion, but then again I like the fact that this band often throws people for a loop.
I read that you guys opened for a number of "big name" bands... What were they, and what are your best (and/or worst?) memories?
[Chris D.]Best memory: wining over Priest fans with the dual lead in "Mt. of Fire".
[Sophy] The coolest thing ever was when we opened up for Dio about three years ago. He came into our dressing room after the show and talked with us for a bit, then on he way out he proclaimed "When I'm in my wheelchair, I want to be rockin' out to Wastoid!" What can you say to that? We have to keep playing, we have to do it for Dio.
How did you guys like playing the Classic Metal Fest in Chicago? From where I was standing, the crowd certainly seemed appreciative. Would you play at a 4th edition if given the chance?
[Joe]It was great that there were some kids in the audience. That's what it's all about. I enjoyed getting to see Iron Cross. Both our bands have an element of "what in the world can that be?" and I think kids react to that more broadly. Older heads tend to take things more seriously. This band can withstand a number of interpretations, and I don't think we always get to take full advantage of that, because the ordinary expectation is playing to 21+ in bars. I love playing different types of shows. We're a live band, and we thrive on playing to crowds, especially people who've never seen us before. Also, I think there was slightly less bravado between the bands because they're from all over, which of course is great. It was a positive experience for everyone in our band, and we'd be very happy to play it next year.
[Chris D.] The CMF is THE venue for underground metal. Brad Youngblood is one of those rare cool guys in the music business and I hope he will have us back. Playing for the small crowd of true metal fans that went to it was a tremendous experience-I had a blast! I see the CMF growing into a big deal some day.
[Sophy] The metalfest was awesome. I would like to play one every weekend.
You opened for Judas Priest in 2002, what do you think of the recent news of Rob Halford rejoining the band?
[Joe]I'm a little pessimistic. Let's be clear about this: the band kicked him out for deciding to be openly gay (not that it wasn't pretty obvious to begin with). He goes on to have multiple projects of varying success. The last two Halford albums were awesome. The last two Priest albums were pretty lackluster. Now he rejoins, and suddenly the next album he has to make is a make it/break it, where it wouldn't be so much if he had stayed solo. On top of that, I think most of the market is too fickle in a certain way to accept something like "Sad Wings of Destiny." It puts them in a difficult position, artistically, which maybe is where they want to be.... They're a great lineup; Scott Travis took that band to a new level, and Rob and Glenn have both developed their entire careers both in vision and technique. There's no reason they can't round this turn and make a great record, but a lot of bands get that shot and muck it up.
[Chris D.]What can I say? They're my heroes. Many of my heroes have let me down before but I still must remain hopeful. Besides- many have tried to prove they were faster, but they didn't last and they DIED AS THEY TRIED...sorry, I don't know what that means.
[Sophy] Have you seen the Ripper? They're doing everyone a public service getting him off stage. (Well, looks like we're stuck with him in Iced Earth now... - Ed.)
On a similar topic, a lot of 80s thrash and heavy metal bands have reformed (or have announced plans to do so) in the past couple of years. Do you see this as a good or bad thing for a band that plays similar music, like Wastoid?
[Joe]It's a good thing for us because we're better than them. The peculiar thing about subgenres is they presume to give you more delineations, when they really push everything toward homogeneity. When thrash or even metal in general started, no one knew what it was, including the people making it, where now, we have a pretty good working definition for those things, and a lot of even smaller subgenres. What that functionally means is that when someone starts a metal band or a thrash band, they know in advance pretty well what all they're going to do, which is deriviative and more or less a totally bad thing. One thing Twisted Tower Dire said at the fest that I agree with totally is that we should abandon subculture snobbery within metal. It's a joke to argue about what's true black metal and what's not, because all those rules just become ways that people can stop thinking about what's good music and what's not. I put a lot of responsibility on fans from a philosophical standpoint, but I also place a lot of responsibility on musicians I like to develop in a responsible way, and to continue to prove there's a reason they're up on the big stage when other great players aren't. I can't answer in general whether it's good for more bands to form/reform in a particular genre. It's good if fans won't be afraid to like music that's different from what their friends like. It's good to the extent those band can still make good music that no one else can make.
Some of the band's stage antics (by the front man, mostly) are a little bit Manowar-esque, like the sword for example. Who had the idea of the... hmmm... "medieval" overtones (that's the best I can come up with, but you know what I mean - lol!) in the live show, and what kind of feedback have you had since you started doing that live?
[Chris D.] First of all, Hail MANOWAR! But that was there from day one when I carried most of the lead vocals. Cozine really built upon it when he joined with swords and olde English phases. There's a name for that. I think they call that "showmanship". It was something that was pretty prevalent in Rock and Roll from about 1955 to say 1990. See, bands not only would play and sing songs, but they would often use other skills that they may've possessed, say like walking like a duck or just acting in general . When this was done on stage the audience would often become very excited and applaud loudly!.....But seriously, I'm personally sick of this "keepin it real" mentality that is so prevalent today. The sword is there to lop the heads off those members of other bands , so as to knock off there backwards baseball caps and blood soak their cut-off jeans.
[Sophy] From the beginning this band was always about putting on some sort of show. It's such a drag to see bands that just stare at their feet for the whole set, and we see a lot of that in Phila. We used to have lights and lasers that we'd take to smaller clubs with us, we had this cross that shot light out the middle, and usually blinded the audience. It's fun, people like it.
Glad to see a band who's not afraid of putting on a SHOW, some people seem to think it's a crime nowadays (side-effect of the grunge wave maybe?) Anyway, next question. :) The band seems to be of a pretty young age overall, yet you are playing a style of music that's very "early 80s". What made you decide to take that chance and stay away from the more popular metal sounds (eg. European power metal.)
[Chris D.] We're just not trend followers. Wastoid is about going out there and stirrin' it up. Everyone is so conscious about fitting into an established, "current" genre. When you do that, the message you ultimately send to the listener is "I'm playing it safe". No one ever made any real difference by playing it safe.
[Sophy] There's a difference between playing the music that you like, and playing the music that you think other people will like. We never did this to be popular or get a record deal or play at Wacken (although we wouldn't turn any of that down) We've always played because at the end of a long crappy day at work, it's a lot of fun.
How are the songwriting duties handled within the band?
[Chris D.]I did all the writing for "Say Your Prayers". But our next release will have some real gems from Mr. Cozine including a song he wrote about that sword you asked about.
Which bands would you say have the most influence on your music?
[Joe]..., Chris has a much more prominent role in the songwriting, so he'll probably see it differently, but my main goal in the band is to craft a unique, expansive lead style. People I think have done that especially well would include Steve Vai, Duane Allman, Buckethead, James Murphy. It's not limited to guitar players either. One of the things that I think gives this band a lot of depth beyond what's immediately apparent is that we've all had pretty sustained exposure to styles besides metal: punk and indie rock among others. In addition to that, DiPinto and I both have backgrounds in jazz (him moreso than me). I don't think anyone who knows our material or our show or anyone who hangs out with us would seriously question our commitment to metal as the highest form of music, or question the purity or single-mindedness of our vision, but it helps this band that when we're writing or playing, we can bring in ideas that are foreign and subvert and mold them to suit the needs of traditional metal. That's a useful and powerful procedure. You don't have to look any further than Yngwie to see it borne out, although we don't do it that systematically. Maybe I flatter myself, but most of the time when I'm soloing, I'm trying to think like John Coltrane.
[Chris D.] For me, the first Leppard album, The first two Ozzy ones (with DAISLY and KERSLAKE-God ,Ozzy is an ass for taking them off the recording!), The first Vandeburg, Sabbath-Heaven and Hell, all the Maiden and Priest, Manowar, various NWOBHM, Saxon, Riot, Tygers of Pan Tang, Scorps w/Uli Roth - I do like Hammerfall and Dream Evil, too. My album collection does extend into 40's and 50's Jazz and Bluegrass, 70's and 80's pop, 90's indie stuff, various classical...
You now have one self-released album. Have you been approached by any label so far? What kind of reaction do you get since you play a style that's deemed "retro" by the unworthy souls out there?
[Chris D.]Labels don't like us. No, that's not true, some off them tell us they like us and listen to our CD often, but want nothing to do with it. They're all so conservative. If someone else isn't already making money in the genre then they can't see it. We need a label that's brave and unwavering. One that sees the value and importance of relighting the torch of NWOBHM. Besides, it doesn't take genius to see that people still dig it.
[Sophy] By far the strangest and most common response we get from labels starts out.."While I personally like the material...' or "I find the material very strong but..." or something to that effect. And that does make me wonder, if you're going to start your own label wouldn't you want to put out material that you like or find strong? Does this mean that the people running these labels don't think they can sell what they themselves like? Or they could just be lying.
Where was the album recorded? Did you hire a producer or did you do everything yourselves?
[Chris D.] A stereo drum mix was done at very small local studio. That was dumped onto my Fostex 8 track 1/4" that I got in '86. We just took our time with it with very primitive equipment. Producers are for people who don't know what they want, and we are very sure of our sound.
How's the metal scene in Philadelphia? Are there many real metal bands or is it flooded with "nu-metal" and other crap like that?
[Chris D.] Its mainly indie rock. We usually disintegrate other bands when we play with them. I don't think to many people would argue with that analysis, either.
[Joe]Relapse records are located here, so we get those guys a lot. Stoner Rock and Deathcore, technical death metal and that kind of stuff. No one in this city plays with the precision or in the tempos that we've got. No one takes as many solos as us. Omegalord are a good band from here even though they don't sound like us. Frankly, the scene's pretty bleak. Indie rock is in, and everyone has their own band, which is a built in reason to hate and not support any other band in the city. The benefit of this is that it's easy to make a spectacle and stir things up and not have to answer to anyone but ourselves for what we consider art, and secondly, any time Priest needs an opener in this city, we automatically get the call.
I noticed you guys got some good reviews for your album "Say Your Prayers". Have you also run into negative comments?
[Sophy] They don't seem to like us in Britain,there have been two or three English websites that gave us pretty bad reviews. One said something like "if they have a future, I certainly don't see it."
There was another website that said they couldn't review Say Your Prayers because ...."the review would be so incredibly profane that they would break internet laws." Maybe it's just because I'm on the other side here, but I really don't understand what about us could possibly make someone that mad. (I know which review that is - that guy gave St.Anger a perfect score, so I wouldn't worry too much about it... Too bad the album didn't end up in better hands though... - Ed.)
What are the immediate plans for the band? Any touring? New album?
[Chris D.] We have a lot of material written, easily as good as "SYP" if not better. I want to do a double-live-vinyl-gate-fold with pull-out poster- don't laugh... (Vinyl rules! - Ed.)
Alright, that's all I have for now! Thanks for your time. The last words are yours!
[Joe]Be just and fear not; we are dispatched with invincible vigor for the sake of all metal.
[Chris]Hails to you Metal Crypt!
|Other information about Wastoid on this site|
|Review: Say Your Prayers|
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