MC: How has the response to your new CD been and how does it feel listening to your old stuff on CD finally?
Pat: The response to the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD has been nothing short of amazing! We are hearing from new fans as well as people who were there back in the day and they are all RAGING over the CD! The CD is being distributed in Japan, Germany and Mexico and we are getting orders from all over the world everyday! The recent review on BLABBERMOUTH.NET was KILLER and is really pushing sales. I love hearing the “old” stuff sound better on the CD than it ever did on those cassettes. We have “updated” the old songs when we play them live but it is still incredible to hear the tracks the way they were originally captured in ’86.
MC: Now let's go back in time. How did the band form and give my readers a little history of the band?
Pat: Well, as I said Marc and I had been playing in cover bands together and at one point Mike Sanders (who was our singer and later went on to sing for TOXIK) quit the band. It seemed pointless to go on so I answered an ad in the East Coast Rocker and wound up joining WHIPLASH. I played with Tony Portaro and Tony Scaglione through the summer of 1984 but wound up leaving the band over musical differences. At the time they were very NWOBHM and I wanted to be doing something much harder- like I was hearing coming out of California. I had always loved punk rock and wanted to have more of a connection to it, what with the growing hardcore movement. So I started looking for players in Northern NJ and reconnected with Marc. We then spent about 6 months playing in his basement before we met Pat “Nemo” Nemeth. He auditioned and had the perfect “dirty” guitar sound and attitude we were looking for. “Nemo” knew John Scherer from a band he had previously been in and brought him down to sing. I knew it was exactly what I was looking for the first time I heard us all playing together. After we got started Marc wasn’t quite so convinced and left the band to pursue his college career. We then got Tony Scaglione, who I had remained close with, to play on the “Faces Of Death” demo- and he did a killer job!
MC: How long was the band actually together and what led to the band breaking up?
Pat: I guess Marc and I started what would be DEATHRASH in early 1985 and then the band broke up about April 1987. At the time of the break up we had turned down a few record contracts and were getting ready to record our second demo “No One Is Innocent”. It was hard seeing other bands we considered our peers getting so much notoriety even with shitty record contracts and that led to in fighting. I was naively determined to make it without having to compromise financially and that started to cause friction in the band. Eventually I quit DEATHRASH and we all went our separate ways.
MC: What are your thoughts now on that classic demo you released many moons ago and were there any label interest at the time?
Pat: I think the “Faces Of Death” demo kills- even now. I am listening to it as I type this on the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD and I couldn’t be prouder of it. It is so fucking raw! There we were sending it to major labels and wondering why the phone wasn’t ringing! John’s vocals are so aggressive- he was 16 the day we recorded “Faces Of Death”. He had to cut school to be at the studio! What I like about the demo is it doesn’t sound like everything else at the time- I think that was why so many people got into it. DEATHRASH had a few contracts put in front of us but we eventually passed on all of them. They were the typical shitty deals most bands got offered back then and I thought we could do better. Our plan at the time was to record our second demo “No One Is Innocent” and start making the rounds again.
MC: How was it for you playing CBGB's and was that place as wild as they say it was?
Pat: DEATHRASH only got to play CBGB’s once- and that is the performance captured on the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD. CBGB’s raged! We had been going to CBGB’s for quite awhile to see shows with WHIPLASH, HALLOWS EVE, NASTY SAVAGE, 7 SECONDS as well as the Sunday Hardcore Matinees. When we got the booking to open for NUCLEAR ASSAULT we saw it as our big break to introduce DEATHRASH to the NY scene. The “Faces Of Death” demo had been out for a few months and was selling well at Bleeker Bob’s so we were ready to take on NYC! We hit the stage with our full set up: double guitar stacks, a bass stack and massive double bass drum set. There was no room left for John up there! We were so fucking loud they had to open the doors to the place! There was some friction with the lady calling the shots there about loudness, running too long and under age drunken roadies so we never got asked back. We also had to leave right after we played to go to the wake of our friend Ed Wilson who had died earlier that week. You can hear us dedicate “Possessed By Thrash” to him on the CD- as we still do every time we play it.
MC: Tell me what you remember about some of the shows you guys played and who did you manage to share the stage with way back when?
Pat: DEATHRASH managed to play quite a few shows in a short period of time. As well as CBGB’s we played a lot of “alternative” venues like peoples basements and abandoned warehouses. We also had massive parties where we rehearsed at the Scherer house that would have hundreds of kids at them. The street would be closed due to parked cars! We were able to tear things up with such bands as WHIPLASH, HALLOWS EVE, SHEER TERROR, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, MASSACRE, CALIGULA, DOOMWATCH and others. If you look under the disc on the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD you can see a lot of the original fliers for DEATHRASH shows!
MC: Did you get to see many shows back in the day, what I mean is did you go to Lamour's in Brooklyn or The Showplace in Dover, NJ or The Sundance out in Long Island to see any shows?
Pat: We were constantly going to shows! It seemed that not a weekend went by that there wasn’t a great show at either The Ritz, L’Amours or The Show Place. We never went out to Long Island- too far to drink and drive from NJ. I remember seeing great bills like HALLOWS EVE/NASTY SAVAGE/WHIPLASH at CBGB’s, VOIVOD/CRO MAGS at The Ritz, NUCLEAR ASSAULT/LUDICHRIST at L’Amours, GBH/AGNOSTIC FRONT at The Show Place- so many great shows. It’s funny to think that all that fun was packed into only a few years. DEATHRASH never played any of those places as our “Fuck You” no compromise attitude got in our way.
MC: Do you still have any of your old zines or letters from way back when still stuffed somewhere?
Pat: Not really- most of that stuff was lost years ago. Fortunately we had a press kit made in 1987 that contained a lot of the reviews and things that I still have a copy of. I still had a lot of old photos and we got a lot more from fans through the internet. You can check them out at DEATHRASH.NET as well as on the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD. People I have met since the 80’s can’t believe it when the see the old DEATHRASH videos and pics. I tell them you just had to be there!
MC: What did you end up doing after the band broke up? Did you join any other bands and were you still a fan of underground this whole time?
Pat: After DEATHRASH I flew down to Florida and spent a few weeks with Rick and Kam of MASSACRE. I had met them when they were in NJ and we kind of hit it off. It didn’t work out though- it’s hard to be from the North East and move anywhere else. Everything seems too slow. I came back to NJ and started putting together ZERO HOUR with Tony Scaglione. Tony had just gotten back from touring with SLAYER. We got together with Robbie Goodwin (MASSACRE), Gordon Ancis (AGNOSTIC FRONT) and Joe Haggerty (PRIMAL SCREAM). It was going to be a crossover super group but it didn’t work out. I tried to get into BLIND ILLUSION after Les Claypool left the band but Mark Biederman didn’t sound like the band was going to continue. After I moved to NY I played with ex-WHITE ZOMBIE guitarist Tom Five a few times but by then the scene was over and my heart wasn’t into it. I never stopped listening to old metal, punk and thrash but the new stuff that was coming out sounded so homogenized.
MC: How did the recording of the new stuff come about? Was it easy to write songs and why did you put it out yourselves and not have a label do it for you?
Pat: We recorded the new material on “Thrash Beyond Death” between 2008 and 2009 at Mix-O-Lydian Studios with the great Don Sternecker at the board. Guitars were recorded at Black Oak Studio with Tim Scherer (guitar) running the show. Once we got back together and were playing again I immersed myself in the “Faces Of Death” demo as well as live tapes to capture the old feel and the song writing came easy. I like to start out with a few riff ideas and as the band rehearses them they take on a life of their own. I have found that the worst thing to do is to come to rehearsal with a song you consider complete and try to force it on the band. It has to evolve on its own.
We had a few people contact us about releasing “Thrash Beyond Death”, but most of them wanted to do it on vinyl.
We put it out ourselves and are seeking distribution opportunities; anyone interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
MC: Do you miss the days of tape trading and writing letters and do you still have an original copy of your demo on cassette?
Pat: I still have an original copy of “Faces Of Death”! It is sitting right in front of me on my desk as I type this. I don’t have to miss the old days of tape trading because sending CD’s all over the world takes me right back there! I don’t have to burn the cassettes anymore but I am still stuffing envelopes and going to the post office a few times a week! It is great to be back in touch with old fans and meeting so many new ones!
MC: What do you think killed off thrash metal in the early 90's and what was your favorite thrash band?
Pat: I think that thrash got killed off when it got pulled out of the underground and put on major labels. It became completely homogenized for mass consumption. Instead of dozens of bands on a bunch of labels you had just a handful of bands on a few labels. There just wasn’t any room for originality or experimentation while maintaining that major label bottom line. There is also the “rock star” myth. Labels can’t force bands to be mediocre but they all want to be the next METALLICA so they compromise. I really liked HALLOWS EVE, WHIPLASH, BLIND ILLUSION, EXCEL etc. If I had to pick one favorite thrash band it would be EXODUS.
MC: Can we plan on hearing some more new stuff from the band later on this year?
Pat: Not quite that soon! We have begun working on the follow up to “Thrash Beyond Death” which will be called “All Goes Black”. It will have six new songs: “Monkey King”, “Rise Defiant”, “Devoured”, “I Am”, “Never” and “All Goes Black” as well as a 2011 version of our classic “Lock Jaw”. It will feature another killer cover by Rich Rethorn and also contain an Ian MacKaye approved cover of the MINOR THREAT song “Betray”! We are expecting to release it in early 2012- I will keep you posted! IT WILL RAGE!!!
MC: Tell me about you’re My Space page and what is the url of it and have you re-connected with many old fans from the day like me?
We started the myspace page shortly after we reunited. The URL is www.myspace.com/deathrashmusic. It has been a great tool for re-connecting with old friends and fans. Through the myspace page we got a lot of old photos from people, some of which we used on the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD. While myspace is cool we prefer people to go to our website, DEATHRASH.NET, and join our e-mailing list at email@example.com.
MC: If somebody were to visit North Jersey and want to go record shopping for metal, where would you send them and did you ever get to go to Slipped Disc in Valley Stream, NY or Rock n Roll Heaven in Clark, NJ at all?
Pat: If someone were to visit North Jersey they would have to call me in New Hampshire if they wanted to talk to ME! John, Nemo and Tim still live in North Jersey but I live in NH and Marc is in Delaware! I would have to recommend The Sound Exchange on Rt. 23 and Vintage Vinyl in south Jersey. Both are great stores that happen to carry the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD! I used to go to the Rock ‘N Roll Heaven North in Warwick NY all the time. It was run by Harold and Shari Risch. I believe Harold was related to Johnny Z. That is where I picked up EXODUS “Bonded By Blood”, SLAYER “Hell Awaits”, MEGADETH “Killing Is My Business”, HALLOWS EVE “Tales Of Terror” and many more! Without the internet back then- fanzines and local record stores were your only contact to the metal world beyond your small town!
MC: If you could go back what are some things you would differently as far as the band goes if any?
Pat: That’s a tough question. I would like to say have more patience with the other guys in DEATHRASH as well as with the music business. I would definitely spend more time enjoying where we were rather than resenting where we weren’t. I would try to keep Marc from leaving the band in late ’85 so he could have played CBGB’s with the rest of us- I know that is something he regrets. But then we wouldn’t have met Peter, who was a great guy and part of DEATHRASH history too. So it’s hard to say. I’m still glad we didn’t sign one of the shitty record deals that were offered to us at the time. That would have complicated us getting together again now.
MC: Describe to someone who has never heard of you what the band sounds like?
Pat: How do you describe something that is such a part of yourself? When I left WHIPLASH in ’84 I knew what I wanted my band to sound like. I had no musicians or songs yet, but I knew where I wanted to go. I wanted to be able to tap into the punk energy of the bands I had always loved in a metal setting. I had always listened to THE RAMONES, FEAR, THE MISFITS, THE PLASMATICS, THE STOOGES, STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, BLACK FLAG, THE SEX PISTOLS, DEAD KENNEDYS etc., and wanted to be able to capture that fire while still playing music that was technically proficient. You should always be playing at the far edge of your ability- that’s where the excitement is. I think DEATHRASH captures that. My favorite DEATHRASH songs are the ones I’m working on that you haven’t heard yet. If a musician doesn’t feel that way I don’t know why they would keep going.
MC: Do you think if we had the technology today back in 1987 that bands back then might have gotten bigger or no?
Pat: Possibly. I remember thinking how amazing it was to be getting letters from kids all over the world and being written about in fanzines in foreign languages. I think the coolest part about the old days was how “low tech” everything was. Everyone participated; either through playing in bands, booking gigs, having radio shows or writing fanzines. The “scene” belonged to everyone. We all had a stake in it. Now all I see are “spectators”. Everything has become too easy and accessible what with the world at your fingertips. So of course, people appreciate it less.
MC: What are some of your great memories from back in the day and some of your disappointments?
Pat: There are too many great memories to list; having Tony Scaglione and Tony Bono come to the first DEATHRASH show and saying we were the best band on the East coast, getting to play CBGB’s, getting fan letters from kids all over the world, signing peoples “Faces Of Death” demo tapes at shows, reading an interview with EXCEL and them saying DEATHRASH was one of their favorite bands, getting the #6 “Demo Of The Year” in Metal Forces magazine for 1986, all the great parties and obliging girls, the list goes on and on! As far as disappointments; I wish that DEATHRASH had stuck it out and done more, but 22 year old kids don’t always make the best decisions. I am just glad that DEATHRASH can be playing again now and it’s all the original members- I wouldn’t want it any other way.
MC: Do you have to be in a certain mood or feeling to write a song and are lyrics important to you as a band?
Pat: I have to be in the right mood to write the lyrics- which are very important to me. If you’re not saying something you’re saying nothing. I am especially proud of the lyrics on the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD. As far as the riffs, I was never someone who played cover songs that much so when I rehearse I just open myself up and let the songs come to me. I’ll be playing awhile and hear something interesting- then expand on it. I like to let the songs develop on their own, so it usually takes me awhile to finish a song. You know how you know a song’s done? You stop writing it.
MC: Do you have any merchandise for sale besides the CD and where can you pick up your CD at?
Pat: At DEATHRASH.NET you can find two styles of t-shirts as well as the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD. We sell merchandise at all of our shows as well. You can also pick up the CD at Sound Exchange and Vintage Vinyl in NJ and numerous places online (especially in Germany and Japan). If you buy the CD through DEATHRASH.NET you get a poster and sticker with it.
MC: Pat I am out of questions. Horns up for the interview and I hope I can meet and hang out with you someday and any last words? The floor is yours!
Pat: Chris I’m sorry it took me so long to get this interview back to you. I’ve been working on it for months! I’ve joked with my wife that it was like taking an essay test on myself! Kidding aside- I just want to thank you and everyone who has supported DEATHRASH over the years. It means the world to us that people are still interested in what we are doing and there would be no DEATHRASH reunion without you. Every week I hear from someone who tells me how much they enjoyed the “Faces Of Death” demo back in the day and can’t believe they are able to hear new DEATHRASH music! If you keep listening- we’ll keep playing. If you like the “Faces Of Death” demo you will rage over the “Thrash Beyond Death” CD- and if you like the CD the new material we are working on now will fucking destroy you! Count on it! Please check out our website DEATHRASH.NET for news, videos and show info and join our e-mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org. All the best! RAGE!!!