I used to write to Tony Blakk on a regular basis in the 90’s and when he recently sent me a Cd of his new band called Serpent Son I knew it was time to hook up for an interview. I sent him some questions and here is what he said to them:
MC: Where were you born and where did you grow up? Did you come from a big family?
TB: I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but moved to Florida when I was 6. The big family is exactly who we were trying to escape from. My mom saw many of them drink themselves to death and she wanted a better life for me.
MC: Were you into music at an early age? What are some of the early bands you remember hearing?
TB: Not Really. I remember watching the band Kiss on TV a lot and thinking they were fucking cool, but never considered playing an instrument. I met this kid in Junior High that played guitar. We got stoned and he started playing the opening riff to "Smoke on the Water". It looked so easy, but sounded killer, so I gave it a try and got hooked. Got a guitar and amp that year for my birthday. Started learning songs from him and anyone else who could play.
MC: What do you remember about the 1st time you heard a metal band?
TB: Well, to me Black Sabbath started it all. But, I know some people probably don't consider them "metal". I remember the 1st time I heard Metallica. Holy shit! It was a huge leap from Dio and Ozzy. I had never heard anything like that before. It was fast and heavy and dirty and angry. I still feel bad about borrowing the "Master of Puppets" LP from this kid down the street, but he didn't even like it that much and I was obsessed. I still have it!
MC: What are some of your early memories of underground music? What was some of the 1st releases that you bought and early concerts that you went to?
TB: This guy at school was really into Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate. I got into them for awhile. This really hot metal chick in art class told me she had a tape of a local band that was heavier than Slayer. Of course I didn't believe her. Took it home, listened to it and was floored! It was Death's "Scream Bloody Gore". From then on I was trying to get my hands on anything Death Metal sounding. My 1st Death metal show was Massacre, I think, at the Plus 3 Lounge. It's all kind of fuzzy cause round that same time I saw Sepultura with Obituary at the Beechum Theater. The local band Naphobia were crossing over from Thrash to Death Metal. Then this band Evisceration showed up one day and it was like "Hell Yeah! We got a scene in Orlando!" I learned a lot from those guys.
MC: When did you start buying fanzines and I know you have some issues of my zine still. What other zines did you check out back in the day?
TB: I have a few issues of Metal-Core from 1986 or 1987 I think, I have to dig them up to check, but I remember it being the earliest zine I ever saw, but, I didn't really start buying Fanzines til '92, when I joined Acheron and we started appearing in them. That's when the whole underground metal scene really opened my eyes to the movement that was taking place out there. I was 20 years old, playing some big venue's and appearing in magazines. I couldn't believe it. Some early zines I remember from those days are Metal Core (of course), Fungal Infections, Ugly Zombie, Infernal Death, Metal Age, Battle of Bewitchment, Static, Loud Fast Rude, Corrosion, R.A.S., Metal Aggression, Anatomia, Metal Curtain, Void of Tolerance, Subcide, Real Sickness, Cemetary, Sepulchral Voice, Petrified, Stress Related. Shit, I know I'm forgetting someone?
MC: Are fanzines today still an inportant part of the underground?
TB: Man, I still love getting a fanzine in the mail, there's nothing like it. They speak their mind in there. It's honest. No outside forces telling them what to publish. If it sucks, they will tell you point blank. And if they like it, you know they are not just blowing smoke up your ass, they really dig it. We get people writing all the time "Hey, I saw you guys in "Voices from the Darkside". How much is your demo? I mean yeah, of course things have changed, but there will always be a need for fanzines.
MC: At what time did you decide to join or start a band and looking back how fun was it being in your 1st band? Do you still talk to any of your old band members?
TB: I was trying to form a band before I even knew how to play an instrument. People would see the long hair and ask me what band I played in. I jammed with this crazy Philipino drummer named Scott Fernandez for awhile, but we could never get a permanent bass player. I consider Acheron my 1st band, because we played shows and recorded and mailed tapes to people and did all the things bands do.
MC: For those who don’t know tell me a bit about your first band and is any of that stuff still around?
TB: Well, I heard Metal Merchant was scared of our original title "Satanic Victory" so they compromised with "Hail Victory". Then Vince found Lethal Records in Austria and they re-released it with the original title. Then Black Lotus Records released the Decade Infernus double CD that had highlights of everything the band did from 1988-1998. I just got "Satanic Victory" on vinyl. You can get it from www.ahdistuksenaihio.com
. It's killer!!!!
MC: How many releases did your old band put out and are you still proud of that stuff?
TB: There was "Rites of the Black Mass" before I joined, then "Satanic Victory" and the Alla Xul 7 inch. They did a bunch of stuff after I left like "Lex Talionis", "Anti-God Anti-Christ" Those Who Have Risen" "The Final Conflict". It's all killer, but I still like the stuff we did better. It's not an ego thing, it's just I know the meanings behind those songs and when I hear them it takes me back to the time we were playing them.
MC: What led to the break up of that band and were you in any other bands before being in the one your in now?
TB: Well first Pete left the band and I was trying to hold on cause I really liked what we were doing. But the addition of lead guitarist Vincent Breeding pretty much killed it for me. Nice guy, but his former band was called "Cast of Nasties" and was not a fan at all. In my eyes, he wasn't worthy. Acheron Never broke up, though. Vince has kept it alive all these years. When I quit and joined Apostasy I ran into Vince at Office Depot and it clear that we were still friends and have remained friends all these years. Let's see after Apostasy, I did Equinox, then Diabolic and now I'm in Serpent Son.
MC: How did you find the band members for the current band?
TB: Gabe, Pete, Kelly and I were doing Equinox, but it was clear the members wanted to move in different directions. Gabe and I started writing songs that were really fast and satanic. Pete wasn't into that and formed the doom band Druid Lord. Kelly was busy with Diabolic, but eventually came to his senses and joined the band just in time to record the leads on our "demo666" CD. The other guitarist Ken Charlton, answered our ad on My Space.
MC: How did you come up with your name?
TB: Gabe came up with it with the original line-up back in 2006. He said he wanted an evil name and what is more evil than the Son of the Serpent (hint, the serpent is Satan!). He also said "I want to show the messiah on the other end".
MC: I have a CD that you sent me. Is this the band’s first recording and are you happy with it?
TB: Yeah that's the demo. We recorded it ourselves and it's pretty raw sounding, but overall I'm digging it. No one has totally slammed us, yet. Got some comments like "the vocals are buried" or "our logo is pixelated", but they all agree the music is good and well played. To me that's all that matters.
MC: For those who don’t know, how would you describe the music on it and when can we expect some new music and how has the feedback been to it so far?
TB: Fast and evil! Like Krisiun meets Deicide. The drums are crazy! We are writing songs for the full-length right now. We just signed with Butchered Records out of New York.
MC: How are you going out promoting the CD at the moment?
TB: We mailed a shitload to zines and radio stations and record labels. We're doing interviews and trading with other bands. Had a sweet deal for a split CD, but we have to concentrate on the full-length right now.
MC: Is there a good metal scene where you are at and do you get to play live much and any live videos floating around on say You Tube?
TB: I have a few videos from other bands I've been in, but nothing so far with Serpent Son. We haven't played live yet, with the new line-up.
MC: How does a song come about and do you have to be in a certain mood to write?
TB: Yeah, fuck...you CAN'T FORCE IT!!!! If I'm in that zone, then the shit will flow like fucking lava down a mountain. But, when there is a deadline and everyone's waiting it's hard. When that happens, everything I write sounds generic and like it's been done before. I usually have 5 or 6 different drafts for my lyrics. I go back weeks later and try to read them like I'm someone else seeing them for the 1st time.
MC: Are lyrics important to the band?
TB: Hell yeah! I heard this band the other day that was all "Satanic" with their lyrics but the music was kind of cheesy and almost happy sounding. It sends a mixed message. To me satanic bands should be dark and angry sounding. When you hear the name Serpent Son, hopefully, you kind of know what you are going to get. It's my job to surprise you.
MC: What are your thoughts on the underground today as opposed to the underground of the 80’s and 90s’?
TB: Everything happens so fast, now. You could play a show on Friday have the video posted on You Tube on Saturday and by Monday more people have seen it than were at the show in the first place. Its crazy. We played one and there was a girl in the audience that did a Webzine and we have the video and a review of the show on the internet at the same time. Promotion is a lot easier and cheaper now, but attention spans are shorter.
MC: Do you like sites like Facebook and My Space or do you miss the days of me and you writing letters instead of email he he?
TB: I hate Myspace and absolutely loath Facebook. They are fucking gay, but what is the alternative? It's free. Someone needs to invent a METALSPACE or something that doesn't require me to ask someone to be my friend, or ask someone to play Farmville with me. Fucking gay!!! I don't miss the old days, cause I still send CD's through the mail and it's just like the old days, with little flyers and everything. Oddly enough, no one has asked me to send their stamps back, he he.
MC: Who is your favorite band and why?
TB: Deicide. I don't own every CD they have, but those 1st few albums are incredible. The very 1st is a masterpiece in my eyes. I can listen to it from start to finish without wanting to skip any tracks. Like "Reign in Blood", or "Blessed are the Sick". Do you know every word to any songs out today? I don't. To me, that is a sign of a great band. You can't get the riffs or beats or words out of your head.
MC: Does all the band members get along and how much time in a week is spent on band related stuff?
TB: We get along like brothers. Gabe and I have been known to hit the strip club a few times. The two of us probably average about 8 to 12 hours a week writing and recording. Ken and Kelly probably do half that. Wish we could do more, but those fucking day jobs kill so much of our time.
MC: Where do you see the underground scene in say 5 years? Do you think CD’s will be going the way of the Ipod?
TB: Shit, I don't know. There will probably be some new gay ass social network that everyone is flocking to, but no one knows why. Because in reality it sucks ass, but is so trendy people just can't help themselves. I think Ipods and memory sticks or memory cards or SD cards will take over. They hold way more shit then CD's and don't get scratched.
MC: Plug any websites or merchandise you have.
MC: Any last words, horns up for the interview.
TB: Thanks Chris, you know most of these people probably don't understand how much work a zine is, but I do. My girlfriend tried putting one out years ago and it was a fucking nightmare. You're the fuckin man bro!