Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Facebook has been a blessing to me in a lot of ways as far as finding new bands; re-connecting with old bands and also people I knew way back when the underground was starting to hit its stride. Well when me and Joe Pupo hooked back up, I knew it was time for an interview and if you’re an old fart like me, this will bring back many memories and if you aren’t well sit back and read this great interview as you get to discover how things were back in the oldie days ha ha:
MC: Tell my readers who you are and why are doing this interview ha ha?
JP: Wow Chris, starting off with the existential questions. My name is Joe Pupo. You can say that I'm doing this interview because I used to have a fanzine called the Rage of Violence and did a record label with Ed Farshtey called Rage Records. Or you can say that we're technically doing this interview because we were talking about your awesome website www.femalejockeys.com (go visit it-cf) and since we go back quite bit, it hit you to interview me.
MC: So how was it for you growing up in NY around the underground metal scene exploded? When you 1st discovered underground metal, were you like me and just went nuts like a kid in a candy store and you wanted more and more?
JP: Well musically, I always felt like a bit of an outcast. While most of the world was seemingly into disco, I was listening to Sabbath, Zep, Kiss, etc. Then I remember getting into bands like Saxon, Priest, and Maiden. I was developing a taste for heavier music and would experiment with whatever I could find. There was this record store in Queens that carried a lot of hard rock and indie records. One day I walked in and they were opening up a box of new records. I saw this album with a Hammer and blood on the cover, so I had to have it. I will call that day a defining moment in my music life. From that point on, I had this insatiable hunger for heavier metal then a couple of months later, I heard Slayer's "Show No Mercy". From that point on, I was trying to get my hands on anything metal related: demos, magazines, albums, fanzines, etc.
As far as growing up in NY, I could have been luckier. We got every show coming through NY plus we had so many great local bands. I was going to shows all of the time. My first real underground show was probably Overkill in 1984 I believe. I can't tell you how many times I saw bands like Overkill, Whiplash, Blood Feast, etc. Then years later, I got to basically see one of Prime Evil, Revenant, Ripping Corpse, Immolation, etc. just about every week.
MC: How did you end up discovering new bands? Did you do any tape trading or read any fanzines at all?
JP: Chris, I don't know if I can explain the spirit of the underground back then to any new kids (spoken like the true dinosaur that I am). Back then, if you heard a good demo, you made a copy and shared it with all of your friends. It was such a sense of community that I just don't see anymore. Like I said before, there was this thirst for the underground metal. You just couldn't get enough of it. I/we tried to get our hands on every fanzine you could find. You basically attended every possible show that you could.
MC: I would assume that back in the day, you went to Bleeker Bob’s and Slipped Disc. If you did tell me a little bit about each one and what was some of the early jems that you picked up there? Did you ever get a chance to visit Rock N Roll Heaven in NJ before it closed its doors?
JP: Yes, I used to go to Bleeker Bob's all of the time (great for 7" records), but Slipped Disc was my Mecca. I didn't have a car, so it was a pain to go to SD by public transportation, but when we did, we scooped up everything we could afford. I got so many records that I can't even try to list it, but I guess the ones that stick out are my "Severed Survival" picture disc and Sepultura's split album with Overdose. Yes, I did go to Rock N Roll Heaven, but I think I've taken too many pucks to the head playing hockey because I don't remember much about it now. Damn I'm getting old.
MC: What were some of the 1st early underground bands that you liked and got into and also same thing with demo bands?
JP: I would have to say that three of my game-changers were Possessed (demos and Seven Churches), Dark Angel and Kreator. "Darkness Descends" and "Pleasure to Kill" changed my life. Seriously. From the point on, I just wanted my music faster and heavier. Those two albums accelerated my involvement in the underground. As far as demo bands, damn, there were so many. Some of the memorable ones were Exmortis, Prime Evil, Fatal, Necrovore (man what that band could have become; one of my favorite demos of all time), Immolation, Deceased, Sadus, Cynic, Num Skull, all the Swedish bands, and on and on.
MC: What were some of the early underground metal shows that you went to? What clubs were these at? Did you ever get to see Metallica during their “Kill Em All For One” tour as it made its rounds in the NJ/NY area?
JP: I didn't see the "Kill Em All For One" tour because at the time, I didn't really have any other local friends into that kind of music. It wasn't long after that I met some friends that used to go with me to L'Amours and Sundance to see just about every show that came through NY in the early to mid-80s. When the underground exploded in the mid-to late 80s, I was fortunate enough to meet Ed Farshtey who took me to just about every underground show in NY, NJ, and all surrounding states. I saw most shows. I think he saw all of them.
MC: Did you ever get to go CBGB’s and were you at all a fan of the hardcore/punk/crossover scene and if you were, what were of the bands that you were into?
JP: My hardcore taste was limited to the The CroMags, Agnostic Front, Leeway, and a couple of other bands. I have to admit, I tried to avoid hardcore shows. Those skinheads would start so much trouble with anyone with long hair. They used to just show up to metal shows and fuck with everyone. What a nightmare. I'll never forget the riot at Club Bene during a Ripping Corpse set. It was pure mayhem like a Western including chairs flying through the air. As far as CBGBs go, I set up a show there with a Pittsburgh metal core band called Eviction and Biohazard. My favorite show of all time was at CBGBs: Possessed and Dark Angel. Holy hell, what a show. I'll never forget seeing Gene Hoglan on that tiny stage. His drum kit took up most of it. The man was just this mammoth figure. It was just jaw-dropping. And Dark Angel on that stage? Omg, what a performance. Plus what can I say about Possessed, my favorite band of all time. That was my first time seeing them. I also saw them play their last two shows with the original line-up at L'Amours opening for Megadeth. I just want to say that I hear people say negative things about the current Possessed line-up, but Jeff Bercera to me is a survivor and a warrior. He should be an inspiration to all of us. The first time I saw him again while on tour in Houston (2009 I believe); he said that I was the only person at that show in the audience that had seen him play in the 80s. He just broke down in tears. I don't know, it was just one of those touching moments and I just wanted to give a shout out here to say how much I appreciate seeing him up on stage again. It just kills me to hear people call them a cover band or that they should have stayed retired. Jeff has a ton of heart.
MC: Now it is time to talk about the granddaddy of all clubs on the East Coast, the legendary Lamour’s in Brooklyn, NY. I am sure you have been there as I did many times back in the day. How many times did you end up going to see shows there and what are some that still stick out in your mind even these days?
JP: Chris, I can't tell you how many times I went to L'Amours. Hundreds. So many great shows. The best band I ever saw play at L'Amours was Slayer. I can't even begin to explain the electricity from the crowd when they would sell out L'Amours. You couldn’t even move in that club. It was like they just created energy playing live. Truly unbelievable and I'm blessed to have seen them in their prime in a club setting. (i saw them there a few times and I am 100% right on board with ya). Other favorite shows: the last two Possessed shows. Seeing Voivod early in their career. The Nocturnus show was one that sticks out. Another great memory was interviewing Kreator in that downstairs little room. My favorite moment had to be introducing Sadus on stage. They were one of my favorite bands and I had gotten to know Steve pretty well, so it was just a huge honor for me.
MC: What were some early fanzines that you read and what gave you the idea to start your own?
JP: First of all, I have to say the Book of Armageddon. Metal Core, Slayer Mag, Blood Shed, Bestial Conspiracy (who just asked me to write the prologue to its 25th anniversary), Blackthorn, Chainletter, Chainsaw Abortions, Metal Meltdown, No Glam Fags, Ripping Headaches, Aaaarrghh!! and many more. I guess I started my zine because I wanted to be involved in the scene. I loved the music so much and I just wanted to review records and ask bands questions. I loved to write so it just seemed like a natural thing to do.
MC: Looking back, was doing a fanzines easier or harder than you thought it was going to be and were you the only one that was doing it? How many issues did you end up putting out and did you have a lot of fun doing it?
JP: It was a lot harder than I thought, but mostly because I just didn't have money back then. My first issue was like 90 pages. Way too much, but I just loved interviewing bands and doing reviews. It was ton of fun and I just wanted to include everything. Luckily, I worked at Atlantic Records and was able to print off 500 in their Print shop for not too bad of a price to the guy that ran the shop. I think I ran off like another 200 copies later. My friend Mike McPhillips helped me with some of the interviews and reviews. I wrote a second issue on my own, again about the same length, but this time I couldn't print them at work. I was shocked at how much it was going to cost me. About the time I was wrapping it up, I started talking to Ed Farshtey about doing a record label together, so we both abandoned our zines. So I did two issues, but only officially released one that did pretty well.
MC: What was the name of the zine and how did you come up with the name? Where did you get the issues printed at and did you ever make any money while you were doing it and what lead to you stopping doing it?
JP: I was sitting in a restaurant with Mike McPhillips and my friend Mike Carlos and we were rattling off names for the zine. I wanted the words "rage" and "violence" to be in it because it seemed to fit the music. I said how about "The rage of violence" and we agreed to the name. See above for the rest.
MC: After stopping the zine did you do any further writing for anybody and what did you think of your interviewing/reviewing skills?
JP: Well, I did occasional reviews and interviews for a few zines. I even did a couple for some bigger magazines in Europe, but I was focused on our label, so I basically stopped writing. I love to write (as you can see by my wordy responses). I eventually did a lot of sports related writing (did some work for a newspaper covering a minor league hockey team). I would love to do an anniversary issue, but I don't want it to be about me. I want all my fellow underground zine friends to help me do one final print zine as a collaborative effort. I really would love to do that. As far as my interviewing skills, I don't know. I think I have a natural probing personality, so I probably do alright. I was scared to look back at my zine to see what I wrote, but surprisingly, I still agreed with what I wrote years ago when it came to albums and demos. That shocked me a bit.
MC: What are your favorite genres of metal and what are some of your favorite bands and are there bands from back in the day that you’re still a fan of these days?
JP: For a long time I felt that I was stuck in a time warp refusing to listen to music other than underground thrash and death metal. I didn't really buy into the black metal trend early on. I guess I was just too protective of the death metal scene. Eventually I opened up to newer music. I really became a fan of black metal. I would say that I prefer new black metal over new death metal. Call me a dinosaur, but most new death metal is kind of boring to me. It just doesn't break ground. My taste is pretty heavy now, so I don't listen to much traditional metal anymore. That goes for thrash, too, unless it's really heavy thrash like Sadus or classic stuff like Exodus.
MC: Did you hang out and have a lot close nit friends so to speak when you were really into the underground? Besides Lamour’s what were so of the other clubs that you went to?
JP: Definitely. I felt like I was friends with everyone back in the day. My whole life was basically dedicated to the underground. I was basically either going to shows all the time, talking to friends in the scene, or working on Rage Records until the wee hours of the night. My girlfriend had enough of it and moved out. I was pretty upset about that plus I already knew I couldn't get very far at my day job without my degree. I was just having one of these moments in my life where I had to get bail and go focus on getting my degree. I'm not type to typically have any regrets, especially with the way my life turned out, but I do regret bailing on my underground friends back then, especially my close friends. However, it was the only way I could straighten out my life. Luckily I have been able to get back in contact with many of them although sometimes it's awkward.
MC: Do you have a favorite show and a show that the band you went to see really disappointed you as they did not deliver the goods live?
JP: The Possesed/Dark Angel show was my favorite of all time. I don't recall being disappointed with any underground band. The one moment of disappointment that sticks out like crazy to this day was when I took my girlfriend (now my wife) to see Primus in Florida in 1995. I wore my Seven Churches shirt and stood by the front row. Les Claypool points it out and him and Larry LaLonde started making fun of this Possessed days. I was furious. What a fucking traitor. I hope that sellout Larry burns in hell.
MC: After you folded the zine, were you sad to see it go?
JP: No, not really. Ed and I dove into Rage Records, so it just felt like a natural progression to us. I loved to write, but I was focused elsewhere to be honest.
MC: If my memory serves me correct, it probably doesn’t, didn’t you go and work for a record company. If you didn’t ignore my question.
Well, I worked for Atlantic Records for about ten years. I started out in the Royalties department. My first week on the job, I heard Robert Plant say thank you to each employee individually. It was quite the moment. From that point on, it really wasn't a big deal to meet celebrities. I also worked in the Atlantic Records warehouse. We used to rotate playing records down there. Most of the guys were into rap. I'll never forget the expression on their faces when I would blast Terrorizer and Carcass. One guy said that it sounded like a busted sewer pipe. I still laugh about it. Later on I worked for the executives doing things that I probably shouldn't mention publicly. I once got in trouble for working on Rage Records during the day. Apparently they were pissed because some of our bands (Exmortis, Prime Evil, Revenant) were getting more airplay than their crappy false metal bands. Although we didn't make any money, I was really proud of the work we did back then. It was pretty well received.
MC: Has their band one band that you have never seen live that you would want to someday and how overseas, have you ever had a chance to do that?
JP: Yes, if there is one band that I have never seen and I don't know what the fuck I was doing when they toured, it would be Sacrifice. A couple of years ago, I almost went to see them in Montreal, but I chose to see the Prime Evil reunion in NY. Hey Mike and Andy, as much as I love Sacrifice, I chose you guys over them. Bolt Thrower is my other favorite band (outside of Possessed) and I thought I would never see them again. So when I heard that they were playing MDF in 2009, I flew to see them and now I go to MDF every year. I even went to see Bolt Thrower in London last year when they did Boltfest with Autopsy. Next week, I'm flying to Baltimore and Los Angeles to see Bolt Thrower. I will also drive to Austin to see them.
MC: With Facebook, have you found people (like myself) that you had not spoken to in decades? What do you think of sites such as Facebook, Reverbnation, My Space, etc?
JP: I used to google people's names, but it didn't really provide a contact address. One day I joined Facebook and ran into Henry Veggian. He encouraged me to get in touch with a lot of the old school guys. It was awkward at first because I had been out of the scene for a while, but eventually I got to catch up again with a lot of people like yourself and Ed Farshtey. I'm in touch with a lot of people these days thanks to Facebook.
MC: When you listen to a song or band, what is the 1st thing that catches your ear and are there any metal genres that you hate?
JP: Well, I pretty much only listen to death and black metal these days with a few exceptions. Simply put, the band needs to be heavy for me. But most important, I need memorable catchy riffs. Don't get wrong, it has to be heavy as fuck, but I don't want to hear a wall of noise and I don't want to be bored by a lot of technical emotionless music either. Just give me good heavy song writing. There is still a lot of good new music out there. It took me a while to open up to things past 1994, but I buy new music all of the time now.
MC: Do you feel that there are too many bands and labels now? Do you think if we had site as I mentioned above that the underground would have gotten bigger than it was back in the day?
JP: Well I thought things had gotten saturated back in 94. Remember when Roadrunner dropped everyone? I thought that would be the end, but yeah, things did get bigger, but it's different now. I just don't feel the same sense of community as back then. There are a lot of labels and bands, but to make matters worse, the economy just really fucked people over. There is no money to be made, but frankly I'm ok with that. I have participated in a few projects and I don't want to make a profit on the underground. I want bands to make enough money to keep doing what they love, but the first reality that people have to accept is by rarest of exceptions, there is no money to be made. It's a labor of love.
MC: Do you still live in the NY area? Do you still go to shows at all or follow the underground at all?
JP: No, I moved to Florida to finish school and then I got recruited to work for an Oil and Gas company in Houston. I've been here since 98. Oh yeah, I go to a ton of local shows and even fly to several. I recently saw Master and Incantation. A few weeks ago, I went to see Infinitum Obcure and Scorcery. Before that, I flew to Atlanta to see Inquistion and Marduk. Last week, I saw Immolation, Napalm Death, and Cannibal Corpse. I wanted to see Krisiun tonight in San Antonio, but I have an early meeting at work tomorrow (the one difference from being 21 years old back in the old days). On Thursday I fly out at 7am to be able to get to Baltimore in time to see Derketa. Then we have Bolt Thrower at MDF. I leave Baltimore on Saturday to fly out to see Bolt Thrower and Autopsy in Los Angeles. Then the following week I will see Bolt Thrower in Austin. So yeah, I guess I still go to a few shows.
MC: What were some of the coolest band members and some of the biggest dicks you met?
JP: There are so many cool people in the scene. Two of my favorites have to be Ross and Bob from Immolation. I can't say enough good things about them. They are as humble as you get and friendly with all their fans on the road. Roto from Infinitum Obscure is another good friend of mine. The guys from Prime Evil are great. Wes Weaver from Blaspherian is another great old schooler. Mike Abominator from Gravehill. I'm a big fan of Sharon from Derketa. We'll sit there and talk about Game of Thrones, dogs, or hockey. The last thing we ever talk about seems to be music. I haven't talked to Veg in a while, but Henry is a super cool guy. So is Brian from Exmortis. Again, just too many to list. As far as dicks go, there were a few back in the day that ripped us off, but I haven't really met too many these days. Most of the bands I deal with are very cool. There is one band with an arrogant singer that rubs me the wrong say, but I'll just say that I much prefer their previous singer, the godly Mike Browning.
MC: Did you ever end up getting married and if so any kids?
JP: I did get married, but no kids, just two dogs. My shih tzu loves black metal for some reason. He will run into the room whenever I play Watain or Inquistion. He even loves Destroyer 666.
MC: Do you still have copies of copies of your zine and other old zines?
JP: Omg Chris, so I kept getting requests for my zine in the mail. I mentioned before that I had to print another 200 copies. I even dipped into my personal stash. I mailed out my own copy by mistake, so all these years I didn't have a copy. I saw on Ebay for $75, but it had already sold. Ed Farshtey mentioned that he thought he had one at his mom's house. However, Brian Werking found his copy first, so I am eternally grateful to him.
MC: Did you ever get a chance to meet Bob Muldowney who did Kick Ass Monthly mag back in the day?
JP: I did, but I think smoking with Sadus on their tour bus killed some of my ability to recollect meeting Bob.
MC: Do you have any rare goodies that you will never part with? Speaking of that have you ever gone onto Ebay and just surfed around?
JP: So Kim August had given me a copy of Morbid Angels' "The Kingdom Come" 7". It was number 665. I guess you can say it was my prized possession. One day I was looking at my vinyl collect dust and I thought, I'm going to give this to someone who will enjoy having it more than I do. So I put on Ebay for only $25 and sold it to Don from Nunslaughter. I felt good about it at the time, but sometimes I think that old Sadus dust was having its effect on me again.
Personally I hate people making mega profits on Ebay from old underground items. To each their own I guess especially if people are willing to pay for it. But, it's not for me. I don't want to profit from the underground. I've been in involved in a few projects recently and I just don't want to make money from it. It's my way of giving back to the scene that provided the best memories of my life.
MC: What was the craziest show that you ever attended and why was it?
JP: Well, if we're only talking show, it would be the riot at Club Bene when Ripping Corpse was on stage. Just pure mayhem. If we're talking post-show, it would have to be the time some of us got thrown into a line-up in DC for destroying a hotel and taking some beer after the liquor curfew. If you want details, you'll have to ask King Fowley or Ed. Oh, well another crazy show was after partying with Sadus on their bus, I ran out hysterically alternating between crying and laughing. I eventually ran through a door and stood in the middle of the stage while Obituary was playing. I don't know what Sadus was smoking, but it was out of this world.
MC: When I say the term thrash metal, what comes into your mind?
JP: Bonded by Blood, the ultimate thrash album (no offense to Reign in Blood). Paul Bailoff was the master of thrash.
MC: What are some great times you remember back in the day and memories that time won’t erase?
JP: I mentioned some of the specific moments above, but in general, great times with my friends. I think back to some of the great road trips that we took to Buffalo, Milwaukee, DC, etc. I think about how we were all young with this pure thirst for heavier and faster music. That sense of community is something I'll never forget. We all helped each other out. We stayed at each other's places. We shared new music. We helped setting up gigs. I'm so fortunate to have had such great memories and friends.
MC: Imagine if back in the day you could just email bands and not have to write them ha ha?
JP: Fuck, I type a lot faster than I write, but there is something just so impersonal about posting, texting, etc. I can remember calling Chuck from Death and just shooting the shit about music. Not just him, but lots of other people. I think some of that is lost on us today.
MC: Any plans on ever doing some writing ever again?
JP: Yes, I've been asked to write the intro to the 25th anniversary of Bestial Conspiracy zine (Chile). I would love to do that print version zine with all the other zine editors that I mentioned earlier. I've wanted to do my own website, but I have a hard time committing to it because my job can be crazy at times. We'll see.
MC: Have you ever went on Google and typed the name of your fanzine, just to see what would pop up?
JP: I have, but not recently. I'm going to a lot of shows and I keep up with a lot of metal friends on FB, so it's like I'm moving on the next chapter of being in the scene.
MC: Any last words thanks for the trip down memory lane?
JP: Yeah, I want to thank you and Metal Core for this opportunity to talk about all these great memories. It was truly Glorious Times (ha, my shout out to Brian Pattison and Alan Moses). I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the underground from its inception. I've made many great friends and have had so many good experiences. I still live and breathe metal as I'm sure most of us will for many more years probably until our dying breath. I don't think that you can ever take it out of us. It's incredible when I see the old school guys like King Fowley, Ross Dolan, and Jeff Becerra still displaying all this passion. Also, a special thanks to my friends Ed Farshtey and Mario Junco for making my underground experience as great as it was and continues to be. Cheers.