Interview with guitarist Barry D. "Skully" Waddell
Interview conducted by Sargon the Terrible
Date online: January 28, 2018
Sargon: So it's been ten years since Once in a Blue Moon, what caused the delay? Was it Wes' issues alone?
Skully: We originally planned to get it done and out by 2010. The economy was going through a time of crisis. Then we found out that Wes had problems with his health due to drug addiction. At the time we figured that this would be the last SOTW studio album. After so many years of commitment from Wes, we held back working on the album and were willing to give Wes a couple years to sort things out and hopefully recover. But things did not go that way. At the time he had only finished singing 5 songs. So, after a couple of years I went forward and finished the rest of the songs myself. We thought about bringing in another singer. But then we thought it would just come out better for this album if we kept it on track with the concept. One reason the title Last Act Of Defiance worked out so well. We did start auditioning singers by 2011. Went through a couple dozen tryouts. Took a few years until Robert Baxter came along. Obviously we really need a specific type of voice and character to move forward and Robert is the package. We did not want to release the album until we had a new line up in place to perform. Finally, all the right people came back into place and then having money to get it out was a problem. Now finally that fell into place with help from Iron Shield Records. SOTW had a couple of vinyl reissues and a double disc reissue during all that time. That kept product rolling out and helped keep up the interest. During all that time Dennis and I got involved in recording and producing other bands. I opened up our stage for other bands to rehearse and that helped keep things floating.
Sargon: I understand your brother is no longer in the band, can you tell us more about that? I don't want to intrude on his privacy, but I want to know what happened.
Skully: Indeed, that is understandable. My brother Wes got worse instead of better and definitely took a toll on his ability to continue singing and performing. He was affected both physically and mentally. He finally said we should continue without him. It was a time of struggle. And, yes indeed, the situation just plain sucked for a few years. Dennis and I started SOTW back in 1988 and we decided we wanted to continue. So, we moved forward in our search for a new singer. Meanwhile we finished the recordings for the album and worked to get it out.
Sargon: Tell us how you hooked up with Robert Baxter and the others. It looks like it's just you and Dennis from the old lineup now, and you otherwise have all new members. Did the new guys perform on the new album at all?
Skully: No, the new guys did not record on Last Act of Defiance. We still have bassist Bill Bois and drummer Mark Empire on this album. And they both are still kept in the loop for the future in case they need to fill in for live shows and such. We have worked with Bill and Mark since around 2002. We even have bassist Phaedra Rubio and drummer Wayne Hoefle on some tracks on this album too. In fact, Wayne recently put in a few practices with us to break in our new bassist Sam Conable. After Sam fit in, he suggested we try out Ken Trapp on drums. And it works out great. The new line-up fell together quickly this past year. We have a 14-song live set list of old classics and already working on the next SOTW album. It is our intention to get another studio album out by Jan 2020 to make up for lost time. We will most likely release a single from the album with this line-up very soon. Appropriately titled "Once More unto The Breach"
Sargon: Back in the old days, when distribution was all physical, you swam against the tide and did it yourselves. Nowadays distribution is a lot easier with things like Bandcamp, but you have hooked up with a label this time out. How did all that change?
Skully: By doing all the things we did in the past it led to a lot of helpful acquaintances with label owners. We still have our label Earth Mother Music. In the past we licensed out to Adrenaline Records in Italy for a Euro release of Lost in Hell. From that other help was created. During our down time we ended up licensing 2 Vinyl reissues to Pure Steel Records – Germany. Then we licensed the double-disc Anthology in a joint venture to Witches Brew and Iron Shield – also German based labels. Our relationship with Thomas at Iron Shield is a bit more personal. Thomas Dargel and his label partner Frank 'Grete' Weiser (R.I.P.) actually came to Florida a few times and visited us at our studio. They would purchase stock directly from us for their label. We even went out to a metal show together and sloshed down some brews. We became friends. For quite some time Thomas and Frank had wanted to get SOTW on Iron Shield. When we found ourselves in need of label assistance, Thomas was on it. Without Iron Shield Records it may have taken us a couple more years to get Last Act of Defiance out. This is probably a good example of why it is so important to create a demand and develop strong networking connections on a personal level. We will most likely if possible release the next album with Thomas.
Sargon: I know you guys always write tons more songs than you ever have a chance to record. Are the songs on Last Act of Defiance old songs or new? How do you go about winnowing down the list?
Skully: The song "Centuries of Pain" was re-produced and recorded ground up for this album. It is an older song from the Anthology days. First lyrics my brother Wes wrote for SOTW. And it was a good fit for this album. "Be Careful What You Wish" is also an older song that finally found its place on an album. Once a concept for the cover and overall vibe of an album start to come together we begin to choose what will stay on. Usually a couple new ones get written during the process to fit the vibe. "No More Room in Hell" is one of those type songs. Fits well with the cover art. Songs that don't make it on the album end up on another album or used as bonus tracks for a possible vinyl reissue. "Last Act of Defiance" at the end of the album is also an older song written back in 1997. It went over well at live shows. It was left over from Lost In Hell. It finally found a place as the title track on this album. It fit nicely with the cover art and overall vibe.
Sargon: Has your songwriting approach changed at all over the years? Do you find yourself doing things differently?
Skully: It comes from a variety of ways. Has not changed much. A lot of material gets started with a guitar riff. But, sometimes a bass line or keyboard sound. In the past inspiration even could come from a particular drumbeat to inspire a guitar riff. The lyrics come from wherever! Life inspired, drama, sci-fi, Horror, or a story we want to tell about in our own vague sort of way.
Sargon: I'm hoping the title of the new album does not mean you are calling it quits.
Skully: I'm too young to give it up, and too old to be wasting time. I'll call it quits when I'm dead. The title of this album Last Act of Defiance and the cover art is an example of how I feel about giving up. Cover art is by "Five Milligrams" - Ipoet Poetra from Indonesia. Cheryl from Witches Brew commissioned him for us. I sent him a few examples scribbled out in pencil and he nailed it. The wolf-man with the Flying V giving the 3-headed serpent from hell the finger. That is a very personal statement from me. Going through all the crap we have been through and not about to give it up regardless of death doom and destruction! I believe our longtime fans probably feel the same way after all the past years of crap we have been through. Sorry about the wait and the weight!
Sargon: The metal scene has obviously changed a lot since you started out, both overseas and here in the US, what do you think of it? I remember when I interviewed you years ago you had very little good to say, has that changed?
Skully: There is obviously some good in it all. Unfortunately, there are still the bad. I've grown a bit to try and accept things how they are regardless. Again, the cover art shows how I feel about it all. There are a lot of great bands out there in the underground that really need true support in order to achieve a status enough to reinvest in themselves. Once the music is good, the hard part is having enough to invest in the proper presentation and create more demand. Presentation is very important. I believe there is a problem in the business with this. So many times we have found that bands are not allowed the time to properly present themselves especially in a live show situation. You have to have extra money in order to grease palms in order to get your way and present yourself. In some cases the bands themselves don't know how to present themselves. They need help and that can be expensive. The live shows and videos have to look and sound as great as possible. After running a rehearsal and recording studio for the past 10 years to help other bands I've definitely learned a lot about other bands. As good of musicians as they are, most do not have a clue how to present their act properly.
Sargon: 2018 will be 30 years since the band started. Did you ever think you would still be at it after all this time?
Skully: I never gave it a second thought about what I wanted to do since I was 14 years old in my first band. I have been in a few that did not last for one reason or another. But SOTW for me was when it all made more sense. I knew that this would be the band to actually write, record, and perform. Actually, make music art to put out into the world.
Sargon: What keeps you inspired now, as opposed to when you started? How is it different?
Skully: As Dee Snider once yelled out, "STAY HUNGRY"!! Back in younger days it was all about the challenge of just getting the right bunch of people together and being able to write songs and perform them well. Once that is done it is not enough. Next phase is about creating material that you enjoy and moves people and getting it out there. The current phase is about keeping it together and continuing to climb the ladder. All the while still learning more. Staying hungry keeps me inspired. There is always one more step on the ladder. Sometimes you get knocked down a step. We did get knocked down a couple steps. It has taken the past 10 years to climb back up and go for another extra step. If we work hard and hold on tight, we might just get up a little bit further.
Sargon: Answer a question you never get asked but wish you did, or just add anything else you would like to say.
Skully: OK, let's talk about the future of the human race. Well, most of what I'd like to say is written in lyrics of Seasons of The Wolf songs. On every SOTW album there are a least a few songs that have lyrics coming from a philosophical point of view. Figured I'd just throw that out there. Seeing this world, the way it is going I truly believe we need to find another livable planet out there somewhere. Or learn how to repair the damage we have done to this one. If we do find another place to sustain life, hopefully we will have learned what not to do. I'd like to see some real progress in my lifetime.
Thanks for the opportunity of this interview. We very much appreciate it. Hope everyone enjoys what we have created on this album. It definitely reflects the struggles we went through in the past 10 years.
|Other information about Seasons of the Wolf on this site|
|Review: Seasons Of The Wolf|
|Review: Lost In Hell|
|Review: Nocturnal Revelation|
|Review: Once In A Blue Moon|
|Review: Lost in Hell|
|Review: Last Act of Defiance|
|Interview with Guitarist "Skully" on June 18, 2003 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)|
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