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Cold Steel was a NY based thrash band many, many moons ago (late 80's early 90's) and with StormSpell Records putting demos on cd and the band is back and just released a new ep I got in touch with singer Troy Norr for a interview and here it is:
MC: First off what is the current line-up and how many members are from the old line-up?
TN:The current lineup is Troy Norr – Vocals, Eddie Campbell – Guitars, Joe Shavel – Guitars, Doug Odell – Bass, Hal Aponte – Drums. Troy, Joe and Hal are from the last Coldsteel Lineup when the band broke up in 1993.
MC: What made the band decide to get back together after being away for 20 years? Take me through the steps of what made it happen?
TN: In 2011, I contacted Stormspell Records (USA) and Battlecry Records (Germany) to re release all previously recorded Coldsteel material. Both the demos and “Freakboy” record. Once the details were worked out, I started looking for pictures and artwork to include in the re releases. I had stumbled upon a cassette tape Labeled Coldsteel Rehearsal 1990! I listened to the tape and found 3 songs on there that were cut out of our live set and were never recorded.I contacted Ave Casas (Guitarist on Freakboy) and found out he had 2 more songs! I compiled these 5 songs and listened to them many times. I felt they had a lot potential so I reached out to the last lineup explaining this would be the best time for Coldsteel to return since there were two record companies re releasing all of our previously recorded material. Hal Aponte and Joe Shavel were the only 2 besides myself that agreed to go back into the studio and record these 5 songs. 2 of the 5 did not have any vocals or lyrics. Those two songs would become “America Idle” and “Blink of an Eye”. Since I was in a King Diamond Tribute band called “THEM”, I simply asked Eddie Campbell to join to work on this record. Doug Odell was asked to join after trying to work with a number of bass players while preparing for recording of America Idle. During the rehearsals, the new Coldsteel took the songs and sculpted, molded, modified, removed and added parts. Some of these reshaped songs resemble their original versions accurately and others sound a little different. As a group, we changed or added what we felt made sense to the better good of the song. Originally, this project was intended to inject our names as musicians back into the industry. At the time, Hal, Eddie and myself began writing an original album for the band “THEM” since now we had decided to become original in a similar vein as King Diamond. “THEM”’s debut record had to be put on hold in order to dedicate the time and energy to complete “America Idle”. Update: Members of “THEM” have reformed to continue the writing process for the debut record entitled “Sweet Hollow”. “Sweet Hollow” will be released sometime in 2014 and will be a conceptual record of “9” songs.
MC: Now we are gonna go back to the old days. Tell me about how the band forms way back when and how many line-up changes did you go through before you came to a solid line-up?
TN: The band has gone through many lineup changes over the years. I was not the original singer nor did I come up with the band name COLDSTEEL. Our bio on coldsteelny.com/bio explains all of those changes. Back in the old days, our most solid lineup was the “Freakboy” lineup.
MC: How did you come up with the name and were any other names considered? Looking back are you happy with that name?
TN: The name of the record “America Idle” was the brain child of Hal Aponte. But his suggestion was “American Idle”. Eddie Campbell suggested to remove the “n” from “American” and thus “America Idle” became the name of the new EP. We considered other names that did not stand out as much including “Ignite”.
MC: Now this is if you can remember. What were some of the early practices like and did you ever do any cover tunes way back when?
TN: I actually have some 20 year old rehearsals on VHS tape! The rehearsals were always well organized. The band usually played through the entire set twice each rehearsal. Before a group of shows we always performed 2 to 3 times per week. Coldsteel began performing only covers and eased their way into originals with “Dead By Dawn” being the band’s very first original. The last cover Coldsteel performed live was “Big Shot” by Billy Joel back in 1992!
MC: What was the underground scene like back then? When you discovered underground metal was it like a drug that you could not get enough of? Did you do any tap trading or read many fanzines back then?
TN: The underground scene was amazing. Everything achieved was through the mail! NO EMAIL and NO INTERNET! With our first review in Metal Forces magazine, a slew of fanzines from around the world had inquired to conduct reviews and interviews. I read plenty of fanzines and supported unsigned acts. Many of Coldsteel’s original reviews and interviews can be found on coldsteelny.com/press located under the “old Reviews” section. I also tape traded with any metal bands playing a similar form of metal as Coldsteel. I built up a solid demo collection over a few years including Demolition Hammer’s two demos as well as Iced Earth’s first demo! I recently sold my entire collection on ebay with the exception of “Sanctus”, “Maelstrom” and “Kronin”. I still have my vinyl collection though. I love Vinyl!
MC: What were some early shows that you went to? Does any show or shows still out in your mind at all?
TN: Since I loved Thrash metal, I saw many shows. I say Flotsam & Jetsam during the Doomsday tour, Megadeth during Peace Sells, Forbidden – Twisted Into Form, Death Angel – Act III…The list goes on! Two of my favorite shows were Death Angel/Forbidden and Testament/Vio-lence. I especially loved the Testament/Vio-lence show because there were only about 30 people there. Testament’s video “Trial by Fire” was being aired on MTV that very night! I never heard of Vio-lence and they were direct support. Vio-lence opened with Eternal Nightmare and I instantly knew this band was amazing. Being young like me and performing a brand of thrash I could relate to, I became a fan!
MC: What was the 1st show you played like? Were you nervous at all and was it an all original set or did you throw in some cover tunes as well? Do you remember where it was at and di many people show up?
TN: I was in a band called “Overdryve” with Ave Casas. We were supposed to perform a show with Coldsteel but that never happened. Overdryve broke up and Coldsteel’s singer/bassist, Greg Hock, quit. Coldsteel Drummer and founding member, Dom Mincieli, called me and asked me to join. Since they lost one of their guitarists, Joe Catanese, Dom asked if Ave wanted to Join! We both did and the rest is history. The first Coldsteel show was all covers from bands like Metallica, Nuclear Assault, Overkill and others. There were close to 300 in attendance!
MC: Was there many places up in that area of NY did buy underground music and fanzines? Was their many places to play shows?
TN: There weren’t many places in NY that offered underground music or fanzines. Mostly everything underground was offered overseas. There were places to play shows and unlike today, many local bands were able to get on shows with signed bands and not have to sell tickets!
MC: How long was the band together before you decided to go in to record a demo? What did the coming of a song come together? Was it one or 2 members that wrote songs or was it more of a bad effort?
TN: The band with Ave and I were together for about 6 months before we decided to record a demo. The majority of the songs were written by Ave Casas and Myself. Rick Lopez, formerly of Marauder, had assisted in writing Coldsteel’s flagship song “Crackdown” among others on the first Coldsteel demo “Dead By Dawn”
MC: Did at the time, did you think you were an original band and how would you describe what the music sounded like back and then and what were some of the bands you were into?
TN: At that time, we knew we could do something special with originals. Writing songs is a different type of commitment and once everyone was on board we moved forward. The originals we first wrote were all our speed metal. We loved Metallica, Megadeth, Flotsam & Jetsam, Testament, Exodus, Death Angel and many many others fom the bay area.
MC: After the demo came out how did you promote it? Around how many copies did you make and did you do any tape to tape dubbing like a lot of bands did back in the day? What year did the demo come out?
TN: After the first Demo came out, We sent it to every magazine and fanzine we could find. Radio play dribbled in from time to time as well as interviews for both print and radio. We produced 1,000 copies of both the “Dead By Dawn” demo as well as the “Perfect Peace” Demo. We did not do too much tape dubbing. The Dead By Dawn Demo came out in 1988 and the Perfect Peace Demo came out in 1990.
MC: What was the response to the demo like and did you get many good reviews? I assume there are no copies laying around buried somewhere.
TN: We received 99% positive reviews to both demos. The Dead By Dawn demo is virtually impossible to find. I am actually trying to find one for my personal collection. We still have a few Perfect Peace demos for sale on coldsteelny.com/merchandise
MC: Do you get to play many more shows now that you had a demo out? What are some of the bands you shared the stage with?
TN: We have not played live together in 20 years. Our first show will be on April 9th with UDO (Formerly of Accept). The next few years will be very busy with Coldsteel and THEM between writing, recording and performing. With Coldsteel, we have shared the stage with Annihilator, Biohazard, Morbid Angel to name a few. With “THEM”, we have performed with Mike Wead and Hal Patino from King Diamond in various shows spanning the years 2008 until 2011.
MC: Now what year did demo # 2 come out? What was the name of it and how many copies did you put out and with this demo did you seek out any record labels? What was the response to this demo?
TN: Perfect Peace came out in 1990.The name was Perfect Peace. We manufactured 1,000 copies and we solicited it to many labels. The response from press was great. We got nothing but rejections from labels until Turbo Music (Germany) offered Coldsteel a record contract in early 1991.
MC: Now at some point you signed with Turbo Records, but they folded and the album was released at JL America. What are your thoughts on this release today. Is that going to be re-issued at some point or has it been already.
TN: The “Freakboy” album was release by Turbo and JL/America almost simultaneously. The release “America Idle” is being issued by Stormspell Records (USA). We are extremely excited to release “America Idle”. The band is very confident in the material that was recorded and are very excited to share it with Thrash fans around the world! The “Freakboy” record was re issued a 2nd time by BattleCry records in April 2012 so we probably will not re issue it again. “Freakboy” was first reissued by Pavement Records (Germany) in 1995.
MC: The band broke up after the release. What led to to the band breaking up and did any of the members to your knowledge go on to other bands?
TN: The band broke up for several reasons. We had differences among us in which songwriting path we wanted to take. We were also really bummed out about Turbo Music shutting it’s doors. We were preparing to go on a European tour to support “Freakboy” and it never happened. We were devastated! Lastly, the Grunge scene almost destroyed metal with the introduction of Nirvana!
MC: Did you ever keep in contact with any of the ex-members and think back to the old days over the yrs? Did you follow the metal scene much at all?
TN: Yes, I kept in contact with the last lineup of Coldsteel as well as the original drummer’s parents before they both died many years ago. After Coldsteel’s breakup, I cut my hair, got married, bought a house, had 3 children, and worked on my career in computer networking. Today I work for a Neurology Practice in Long Island, NY assisting them in evolving their computer network along with automating their work flow procedures. During my first 8 years after the Coldsteel disbanding, I did not sing one single note! I was battle chronic laryngitis years before the band breaking up so the 8 years break assisted in curing that condition. I got the singing bug again when co workers of mine forced me to sing in a karaoke contest. I won first place in that contest in front of 100 or so people and wanted to play again. Around 2003, I joined a heavy metal band called “Anger Mgmt” and performed with them for 3.5 years singing covers of Pantera, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer as well as some originals they had written. Anger Mgmt had recorded a project of 8 songs but it was never finished.
MC: What led to Stormspell Records putting your demos out on cd. I assume they contacted you and how did they get hold of ya? Did you have access to the master tapes of the demos or did you have to dig around?
TN: Iordan from Stormspell wanted all of the demos from Coldsteel after I initially contacted him to see if he was interested in a re release. Once we knew this project was going to happen, I had to find all of the master recordings. When the band broke up, I gave 2 master reels to each band member and close friends. I had to locate them and hope they would still be good to use after all these years! I found all of the Reels! They all existed on Long Island and were all useable!
MC: Had anybody prior to Stormspell attempted to contact you in regards to putting your stuff out on cd? Did you know that a lot of bands were having their old stuff or demo stuff re-issued on cd?
TN: No one before Stormspell contacted me except a long lost friend from Germany, Joachim Schlums. It was Joachim that convince me this project needed to get done. Joachim told me to contact either Stormspell or Battlecry so I contacted both labels among others and it turned out that both labels re released some Coldsteel recordings!
MC: What was it like when you saw the CD in your hands and seeing all your demos on a round disc?
TN: To see the Coldsteel Demo Anthology finally get released I was so excited and happy. I listen to the original demos on CD with a re mastering treatment was a very special event for me. I still cannot get over how long it has been since the first Coldsteel Demo. I am old but I can still kick some ass! As I write this, I received the first batch of Coldsteel “America Idle” CDs and all I can say is I am so emotional. To see this new work finally coming to fruition is an amazing feeling.
MC: Now after the demos came out, you also now have a brand new ep on the same label. Now at the time did you know you were going to be releasing new material and how did the new material come about.
TN: I mentioned this previously in the interview but I will say the only reason we were planning on releasing “America Idle” was because of the re releases by Stormspell and Battlecry. Timing was right for Coldsteel.
MC: What was it like going into the studio to record some new music after all these years and how fast did the songs come about?
TN: It was great to go back into the studio to record with Coldsteel. The process went a little differently as I had remembered it previously but we still accomplished the same result. The main difference was the sequence in which we recorded. We recorded bas tracks at the very end of our tracking sessions. We spent about 1 month in a rehearsal studio in Astoria, NY before going into the studio to record. We took about 6 months to record the “America Idle” EP.
MC: Obviously the music scene has changed since the band has started out. What are some of the positive things you see and negative things you see and how far would you like to see the band go or is this kinda just a fun thing for now?
TN: The positive things of today is the Internet. You can do everything to promote, sell and even perform online! A band really doesn’t need a record label anymore. But what is a great positive is also a great negative. There are many people of current day that do not support the band by purchasing CDs, LPs or even digital content. They acquire the band’s material through torrents sites and that only hurts the entire music industry. My first idea was to get this new EP out and it would be good fluff for the debut “THEM” record. But as it has evolved, “America Idle” has turned into something special that we are all proud to have our names attached to. We plan on playing shows wherever and whenever they are offered. Our first show kicks off in April and we could play that one show or 100 shows. Whatever happens will happen. We have no expectations and plan to go along with the flow.
MC: Plug any websites you have. Do you find it weird seeing sites like Facebook, twitter, My Space, etc?
Our music can be found on Coldsteelny.com, cdbaby.com, amazon.com, facebook/coldsteelny, reverbnation.com/coldsteelny. Follow us on Twitter! Twitter.com/coldsteelny. I do not think it is weird seeing all those sites just time comsuming! I cannot keep up with it all! lol
MC: What are the bands plans for 2013 and beyond?
TN: We plan on playing some shows and if there is a demand, we will record a full length Coldsteel record after the “THEM” debut record. You may even see a Coldsteel/THEM show touring in the future. You never know!
MC: Does it surprise you that here we are 20 yrs later and the band is still around and that the band is back together?
TN: 20 years is a long time. I am surprised we are all still alive! Also, there was talk about 6 years ago for a coldsteel reunion recording. Back then, we discussed re recording the freakboy record. I am so happy that we did not do that because even though it could have sounded better, there was no reason for it. The recording of “America Idle” in 2012 was the correct path to take for Coldsteel.
MC: What was it like the 1st time the band all got back together? Was it weird at all and what did you talk about?
TN: Even though I have seen Joe Shavel over the years it was a little strange actually performing with him for the first time. Eddie and Hal played with me in THEM so I was not phased. We were already locked in.
MC: Any last words, mega thanks for doing this long interview.
TN: Sure thing! I am extremely honored that you took the time to give me this interview. I am honored that my band members share the recordings and stage with me and share the same vision as I do! Any support your readers give Coldsteel is greatly appreciated. LONG LIVE METAL! LONG LIVE THE KING!! (And I don’t mean Elvis baby)…\m/ Stay Heavy with KD Forever! \m/