Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Heretic is back with a fantastic new album on Metal On Metal Records called, 'A Time Of Crisis" and here is a interview with 2 of the band members: Glenn Rogers (guitar) and Brian Korban (guitar).
MC: Have you lived all your life in the CA area? Did you come from a big or small family?
GR: I grew up the youngest of five in the Southern CA area. I spent some time in Boston MA.
BK: CA native, youngest child with two sisters.
MC: What kid were you growing up and were you into music at a young age?
GR: I was a crazy kid who used to throw water balloons at passing cars. Brian Korban and I would climb on the roof of his house and bomb every car we could. I was ten years old when I got into music I got a cheap guitar from a neighbor. There were two bands that were in my neighborhood. I would watch them practice. That’s how I got interested in music.
BK: Glenn and I were nerds! I got into playing a little later than most, I think about 14, but I was deep into music from the very beginning.
MC: At what age did you discover the wonderful world of metal and what were some of the first bands that you were into and are you still into any of those bands now?
GR: I got my first Beatles record in 1976 and wanted to be in a band. I would try to play to Beatles and Led Zeppelin records. That lead me to heavier bands like UFO and Black Sabbath. I still play those records all the time.
BK: My story is the same as Glenn's. I would pose in front of the mirror and lip sync to Beatles and Led Zeppelin records.
MC: When did the idea of deciding to join or a form a band start? When you told your parents what did they think?
GR: Like I said, it started early for me. I was ten years old when I wanted to be in a band. I went to a music school where the instructor took 4 students and put together a band. We were called Electric Rainbow. We played covers of Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull songs. We practiced at our teacher's place which was next door to where the band Black Flag lived. My parents took me to and from practice but that was about it.
BK: My parents always supported my wish to be a musician. They bought me my first instruments and let me play in the garage.
MC: How long did it take to actually get into or form a band? Were you in any bands before Heretic?
GR: I met Brian Korban in Jr High School in 1980. I had already been playing in a band. He was learning guitar so I would go over to his house and jam with him on weekends. We did have a band together for a little while. We played a Halloween party in his garage. It was classic young kids making noise. That was about 3 or 4 years before Heretic.
BK: I played in a band with some local neighborhood friends before realizing I was becoming a songwriter. I became a hot commodity once some of the area musicians found out that I wrote my own songs. I was terrible at learning cover songs, so I would write my own.
MC: I know you went through some line-up changes before you set upon a stable line-up. Was it hard back then getting members to stay in the band or was it like that for a lot of bands back then?
GR: All I can say about that is that it was hard to find and keep band members in the early days. Guys would want to change style or look for the next big band they can get into. It was like that for most bands in LA. Musicians looking for the fastest way to the top.
BK: I agree with Glenn.
MC: Now tell me about the 1st song you guys wrote. How long did it take to write that song and looking back are you still into the song at all?
GR: The first song I ever wrote was for another band that never got released. It took about 20 min. to come up with the parts. The first songs I wrote that got recorded and released were the songs off the Vengeance Rising album "Human Sacrifice". I wrote 4 songs that they recorded. The title track "Human Sacrifice", "White Throne", "Burn" and "Beheaded". Some bands have covered the songs on other CDs.
BK: "Heretic" is probably one of the first serious songs I wrote. It is very simple and to the point, I don't really remember how long I worked on it, but most songs come out my head and on to paper very quick. I'm still proud of the song today!
MC: I am sure at some point you began playing shows and stuff. What were some of the bands that you shared the stage with back then and were the shows wild at all?
GR: For Heretic, the band opened for some of the biggest bands in history. The list, as I remember it, is as follows: Armored Saint, Saxon, Metallica, Lita Ford, Helloween, Motorhead, Lizzy Borden and Malice, just to name a few.
BK: Yup!!! Played with some biggies.
MC: At what point did you decide to go in and record a demo? How many songs did you record and how was it going into the studio for the 1st time?
GR: The song "Impulse" from "Metal Massacre 7" was the first that I know of. There was never a “DEMO”. The band pretty much went from the stage to Metal Blade Records.
MC: How were the reviews and did you know about the world of fanzines and did you send many demos to them in the hopes of getting reviews? What were most of the reviews like?
GR: It was different for Heretic. The band were already friends with Brian Slagel. We all knew about the fanzines at the time, but there was never a demo that was sent out for review. The band was signed from live shows.
MC: Tell me how you ended up getting on Metal Massacre VII? Who decided what song was going on it, Metal Blade or the band? How was the response to the track once it was released?
GR: The band had a manager at the time who was friends with MBR. Brian I believe chose the song. It received local radio air play and did well with the local fans.
BK: We were happy to just get one of our tunes out there, "Impulse" was a new song at the time, so it was fresh in our heads and the logical pick.
MC: Were you getting mail from all over the place and what was the morale of the band at this point?
GR: I don’t think anyone remembers. Fan mail didn’t happen much. The live response was what the band could judge how things were going. The band drew big crowds, so everyone was happy about that.
BK: We were big in LA, but never got much of a chance to venture beyond California.
MC: How did you come up with the band name and were any other names considered?
GR: Brian Korban came up with the name and logo. Heretic was his idea from the beginning. There were a couple of bands before Heretic, I was part of one of those bands. For the most part it has always been Brian's Heretic.
MC: So after Metal Massacre VII came out did Metal Blade offer you a record deal and was any other label interested in the band and what made you go with Metal Blade?
GR: The first and only deal was with Metal Blade. The band didn’t shop to any other labels that I know of. From what I remember hanging out with Brian in those days, it was Metal Blade and that was it.
BK: Yes, we felt Metal Blade would be a great starting point for the band, without the pressure of a major label. We were just getting our feet wet.
MC: You also had a vocalist change after the Metal Massacre release. How come you got rid of Mike Torres and how did you find Julian Mendez?
GR: The funny thing is Heretic was like a stepping stone for singers. The first guy Mike Torres chose to leave the band to join Abattoir and Mike Howe who replaced Julian left to join Metal Church. Julian came from a local thrash band called Hyrophant. The guitarist in that band was my good friend Brett Erikson who later played in Viking and Dark Angel. He was in my opinion the best Metal singer around. After Torres left Heretic we all knew Julian would be next to join the band.
MC: In 1986 you released an EP called "Torture Knows No Boundary". Why only an EP? Was it because you had a new singer and you wanted to show him off via an EP?
GR: At the time the way a label broke a band was to release an EP first to build a following. Then you follow it up with a full LP. An EP was like your demo is today. That was the Metal Blade's plan. Also it was cheaper to do an EP.
MC: How was the response in the underground to this EP and did being on Metal Blade help you as far as getting shows and stuff? Did you have a pretty good local following in CA?
GR: From what I remember, the response was a little mixed. Julian was really sick when he recorded the vocal tracks. It wasn’t his best performance, but it was still good. I think had he been well when he recorded the EP, he might have stayed in the band. On the other hand James Hetfield of Metallica likes it. The local following was very good. The band headlined every club worth a shit in LA.
MC: Now the next year, you had a vocal change and Mike Howe was in and Mendez was out. What caused Mendez to be out and how did you end up getting Mike Howe on vocals?
GR: Julian was let go because of pressure from Metal Blade and management. The label was not happy with the way the EP came out. They liked Mike Howe who was playing in a band called Snair. They opened for Heretic a few times and that’s how he got discovered.
MC: Your 1st full length called "Breaking Point" was also put out on Metal Blade right before Howe left to join Metal Church. Is this what pretty much was the straw that broke the camel's back and was it what led to the band breaking up?
GR: They might as well have renamed that album “Breaking Up”. The record was produced by Kurt Vanderpoof and was pretty much a singer audition for Metal Church. At the time Heretic and Metal Church shared the same manager. So like most musicians in LA you jump to the bigger band. The deal was done before the album was even finished. Because of that Bobby Marquez left the group and I actually auditioned for the band.
BK: Vanderhoof put no effort into the production. In fact, it benefited Metal Church that we didn't have the huge sounding guitars that we asked for. It helped him to steal Howe much easier.
MC: What was the morale of the band the last couple months then and was there an official last live show at all?
GR: No, there was no last show. It was all done before the release of the record. No one likes to start over again, so that sealed the fate of the band.
BK: The album got little to no promotion, so it was dead on arrival. Sad, a lot of years down the drain.
MC: While you were on Metal Blade do you think you were treated pretty fair? Did you ever get to do any type of touring or ever get to play overseas at all?
GR: Like any label, when things are good they love you. When things are hard they don’t think about you, because they have moved on to the next band. You are on your own to fix things. The band never toured beyond the west coast of the US. There was going to be a tour with Helstar, but that could never happen. Our first trip to Europe will be in the summer of 2013. We will be playing at the HOA fest in Germany.
MC: Now in 1991 Metal Blade put out a compilation release of you guys. What is on that release and was that release band approved so to speak?
GR: No one in the US ever knew about this release. Metal Blade owns the rights so they never ask the band members for an OK. I believe it was released in Europe only. It was only discovered by us looking on eBay for old copies of the first releases.
MC: Now we turn the clock up to 2011 and the band reforms with old band members, Korban, O'Hara and 2nd singer Mendez along with guitarist Glenn Rogers of Hirax. How did this come about and what had you guys been doing the last say 10 years and how strange was it to be in the same room after so many years apart? O'Hara then left the band again and who was he replaced by?
GR: I had just finished up a tour with Hirax and decided to retire from the road. A few months later I received a call from Brian about some equipment he needed. He said that he, Julian and Dennis were getting the band together to play some shows. I said, if you needed a guitarist I was in. For years while I was in Hirax, I would try to get Brian to play again. Finally he did it.
The years before I joined Hirax. Brian, Dennis and I had a band together. It was the dark days of Metal, so we were playing some Hard Rock stuff. After that ended I joined Hirax.
When we got Heretic back together, it was fun with Dennis until we started going over new song ideas. Brian, Julian and I wanted to be old school Metal. Dennis wasn't into that. He’s into Krapp Metal. Not at all the direction we want to go. So it was the old musical differences thing. That’s why he’s not with us. So after a few shows with a friend Daniel Cordova filling in, we ran into my old Hirax bandmate Angelo Espino. He also played many years with Brian in Reverend. He was a natural fit for the band, so we asked him to join.
MC: In 2012 you released "A Time Of Crisis" on Metal on Metal Records. How did you hook up with them and what are your feelings on the release, I personally love it.
GR: I read about Metal on Metal online. They were described as an Old School label whose focus was on real Metal music. I thought they might be a good fit for us. It turns out that Jowita was at the HOA fest in 2004 when I was playing in Hirax. So it made sense to me that they would be the label. We didn’t shop to anyone else.
I feel the album "A Time Of Crisis" is our best work to date. We recorded it in 7 days. Just imagine if we had a month in the studio, what it might have sounded like.
BK: It is by far the best recording experience I've ever had. Start to finish. What a great job producer John Haddad did. Getting the sounds, and pulling the best out of each of us, in three weekends of recording is amazing.
MC: Does the band have goals this time around and what are some memories of the band from way back then.
GR: Our plan is to keep making new CDs and to play places we have never been to before. We hope to expand the fan base. My favorite memory was the infamous Troubadour show. It was a 3 band bill with Heretic as the headliner, Snair with Mike Howe on vocals and my band Blind Decree who later went on to become Dissenter from "Metal Massacre 9". The show was so intense the singer of Snair, Mike Howe jumped from the stage to fight some fans who were giving him a hard time. The place went nuts.
BK: Oh... memories!!! One show, during the song "Let 'Em Bleed", moshing fans destroyed some railing and tables at a club called "Gazzaries". We were proud to not get paid that night, so we could pay for damages. It was our badge of honor.
MC: Whose idea was it to reform the band and from the get go was the plan to use the name Heretic?
GR: I have been telling Brian for years to do it. At first we jammed a few times, but it just didn’t work out. I think Julian wasn't ready to do it, and they felt strange calling the band Heretic at first. A year or two later Julian and Dennis contacted Brian about it, and wanted to call it Heretic. That’s when I got the call from Brian.
BK: I was burned out with the music business, and needed a break. But after years of not playing, seeing pictures of Glenn and Angelo playing in front of thousands of screaming fans at a festival in Germany, the lightbulb finally went off. Glenn had been telling me what a great time it was to reform Heretic, I guess envy was the beast to help me see the light of day.
MC: Can we expect any type of touring at all from the band?
GR: We plan to play wherever we can, mostly fly in or festival shows. Extended tours would not work because we all have regular jobs. We hope some big festivals like Bang Your Head will give us a chance.
BK: West coast US, stuff like San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Texas for sure.
MC: Tell me a little bit about each band member.
GR: We like to drink beer, play Metal Music, and watch football. We are robots.
BK: I love bacon.
MC: Any websites you have please plug them. The music business is a bit different now than back in 1985, so what do you think of email, mp3s, Facebook, MySpace, etc.? Have you reconnected at all with people from back in the day through any of these sites?
GR: You can find us at www.hereticusa.com that will link you to all our social network sites. You can also reach us through our label Metal On Metal Records.
We love the internet. It allows us to reach the world in seconds. Try posting flyers on telephone polls in the middle of the night. That’s how we used to promote a show.
MC: Back in the day the band was referred to speed and thrash metal, what would you call your music nowadays?
GR: We never considered Heretic a Speed Metal band. The band has more things in common with Accept than Slayer. I would say we are a Heavy Metal band with a touch of Thrash. More Armored Saint, less Hirax.
BK: We like to call ourselves "CLASSIC METAL".
MC: Is all your material still available and is there any unreleased stuff that might see the light of day one day?
GR: Metal Blade has the rights to the old recordings. Some day they will see the light of day. We will bug them 'til no end to re-release the old records.
MC: Any last words? Congrats on a great comeback release. When can we expect new music?
GR: We want to thank the Metal fans all over the world for their support, and Don’t Turn Your Back!
BK: Thank you for the interest, it has been a pleasure answering your questions.