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After recently seeing Crucifier live I knew it was time to do a way overdue interview with main man Cazz Grant and here is this not long chat with him:
MC: Have you lived in the Boothwyn, PA area all your life? What sort of place is that like?
CG: I’ve lived in the Boothwyn (Chichester) Pennsylvania area since about 1980. I was ten. Boothwyn is an okay place to raise a family. Not too bad considering what other ghettos and filth are out there to call home.
MC: What sort of kid were you growing up and were you into music at all at a young age and what did you want to be when you were growing up?
CG: I was shy and not as outgoing as a young one. I didn’t get into music until about 1980 that I can remember. And that was mostly radio tunes, or popular stuff. I got into metal in 1982-ish. Before Ozzy lit the way for me then, I was listening to Air Supply, Hall and Oates and whatever else my parents played in the house. I know my dad was really into the old sounds of Motown, etc. I don’t recall wanting to be anything growing up. Maybe I was into something back then, but as of now, I can’t remember.
MC: What sort of teenager were you growing up and what sort of student were you in school?
CG: Aside from what music I enjoyed I was normal. I did get along with all sorts of groups: the jocks (I played football), the smart kids (I was in honors English), the bad kids (I listened to sick music) and the girls (I loved the girls, still do!) I was an average student. Smart, but a little lazy. I was in Academic classes, and loved art classes….surprisingly I didn’t take any music classes. I recall doing football in my teen years, and metal was there too, so I was torn between the two. Luckily I chose what I wanted in the end, not what my dad wanted. Because I am so much better at metal than football!
MC: When did the down and dirty heavy metal world enter your life and what were some of the early bands that you were into?
CG: My first metal influence was Ozzy with Blizzard and Diary, which somehow I found on my own growing up. I liked AC/DC too. They were the first heavier things I enjoyed. I found those bands in about 1982. I don’t even know how I was introduced to Ozzy, but I was, and funny story: I used to ride the bus to school, and every single day for a long time I played my tape deck and every morning it was Crazy Train….ALL ABOARD! Soon all the kids got mad because they had to hear this everyday! Haha, so I finally got a hold of Diary and that was next on the bus for months on end. Take that bus #11! But I was so young and dumb I didn’t know what awesome power I had with this music. So I usually say my official start of metal was when I met one classmate who was playing bass already in eighth grade, Patrick Hughes. He knew I was into Ozzy and just started filtering down all the other greats that I had no clue of. I was a bit sheltered and poor, and I was the oldest with no family influence on music, so luckily Pat helped me to discover “my true self.” Pat, this dude Steve Anderson and I formed a band. I called the band Pyramid. Pat’s uncle knew how we loved metal and took us to see Dio and Twisted Sister in 1984 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. We just fooled around for a few months as a band until we finally ended up playing at my dad’s, in his attic, the infamous Den of Iniquities, as my mom called it….and the rest is history!
MC: Now comes the next phase. When did the metal underground enter into the picture and how were you introduced to it? What were say the first 4 or 5 bands that you heard and was it like a drug that you wanted more and more of?
CG: The Pyramid days marked my first initiation into metal. I always start there. I got into, through Pat luckily, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio, Twisted Sister, Deep Purple, etc. I would say though a couple years later the “drug” of choice for me was Slayer’s Hell Awaits, Mercyful Fate’s don’t break the oath and even Megadeth’s Killing is My Business! Slayer’s Kill Again, was that song that made the hairs stand up on my neck. And no lie, that song still does it for me….it is like sex!
MC: Did you ever do any tape trading back in the day or read many fanzines before you formed Crucifier?
CG: No I did all of that as soon as Crucifier formed. I did have a few other Underground bands before Crucifier, but I wasn’t smart enough to be proactive…I was a punk teenager! But as soon as Crucifier formed I got my shit together and wrote letters and got in touch with everyone in the worldwide scene….and I mean everyone!!!!!! I tape traded my ass off and owned every paper zine out there.
MC: At what point did you start to play drums or want to play drums? Was it always drums and not guitar or bass? What inspired you to want to drum and tell me about the 1st kit that you brought?
CG: I picked up drums in 1983 when the aforementioned Pat Hughes said he wanted to start a band. I said I don’t play any instrument but am willing to give it a shot. I don’t really recall if I was good, but I assume I was good enough and he wanted me to play in the band. I only picked up guitar, bass and vocals later in my career. My first kit was loaned to me by Father Mike of the Holy Saviour School…funny and ironic considering where my career took me! Oh and I never returned that kit….sorry Father! My first purchased kit was in 1989 when I was playing in a band called Witchery. I needed one bad and I guess saved up enough to put a down payment on this red Mapex, that I still have a use to this day!
MC: Did you have somebody teach you how to play drums or did you learn a lot of it on your own? How long were you a drummer before you believed you were a good drummer and what are some drummers that you think kick total ass?
CG: I taught myself. I got advice along the way I’m sure, but I don’t recall anyone ever teaching or showing me how to do it. I think in about 1985 I thought that I got my chops down! Bill Ward, Chris Reifert, Peart, Tommy Aldridge, Hoglan, Abaddon, and the list goes on.
MC: Now how did you get to satisfy your metal craving? Was there any good local metal store where you live or did you just go into Phila, PA and go to say South Street to get your metal stuff?
CG: We had some good vinyl shops back in the day locally. The best one was Jeremiah’s Record store in Wilmington Delaware….you found everything there: vinyl, cassettes, discs, mags, etc. And Tower Records in Upper Darby and Rock N Roll Plus on South Street. A place where Alex Bouks of Incantation/Goreaphobia fame shopped, among others.
MC: Were you in any bands before Crucifier? Now take me through the baby steps and then into the early formation of the band. Did you go through many members early on before you came upon your first stable line-up? From the start was this “your baby’ so to speak, meaning the band?
CG: I’ll do my best here…..hard to remember so far back, but I think I have it down.
Pyramid in 1983
Acephalous Vector/Macabre Forces circa 1985
Satanic Slaughter circa 1986
Caution circa 1988
Witchery circa 1989
Crucifier in 1990
Now between the reigns of those bands, were other little bands or changes within, which made offshoots. It is complicated. But those were the main bands that I was jamming in as a precursor to Crucifier. And I’ve played in many other projects and important bands after and during Crucifier too. To name a few: Masada, Grand Belial’s Key, Aryan War, Infernal Hatred, Infantry, Mourning, Ancient, Decieverion, Viaticum, amisegardauQ, Bludgeon, Brethren, Hearse…and I’ve did backing vocals on so many cool tracks too.
MC: How did you come up with the name and were any other names tossed around and how long were you around before you learned of another band with the name Crucifier and what did you think of them? How came up with your nickname and for those who don’t know, tell them what it is?
CG: Before Crucifier I think we were almost happy with using Hemorrhage as the name. But last minute I thought Crucifier fit better for our style and plan. I think we heard the word in Morbid Angel’s song Suffocation and wrote it on the long list….Crucifier won out in the end. I didn’t hear of another Crucifier for years. And at that point we were well established so it almost didn’t matter. I of course threw a fit but in the end just dismissed it. I didn’t hear them until the last couple of years. There are a couple bands with Crucifier in their name. All of us are different sounding, so I don’t worry about it. In 1994 somehow I came up with The Black Lourde of Crucifixion for my moniker. I don’t recall why I used that one, but it stuck.
MC: Now the first few months of the band. Where did you practice and at that point was the band writing any originals and what year was this in? How long was the band around before you released your 1st demo, Humans Are Such Easy Prey”? What are your thoughts on it today and can you still listen to it?
CG: We rehearsed at the Crucifier Brotherhood Attic for many years. I still don’t know how my parents and neighbors suffered through the noise, but the cops only came about three times in all of those years. But we started in 1990 as Crucifier and the first official demo came out in 1991. I love it still. It is the epitome of raw and Underground sound.
MC: Now in 1992 you released an EP on Pagan Records called “Unparalled Majesty”. What are your thoughts on this release these days and how did you end up on Pagan Records and did you feel with this release the band was on its way? What were the reviews like for this release?
CG: The Majesty cassette ep was more like 93, the demo Crown of Thorns came out in 92. We were already in touch with Tomasz with Holocaust zine. He reviewed our first or second demo, I can’t recall which or if both, I’ll have to check. But, he mentioned liking us very much. He said he was starting a label and wanted to know if we’d be his first band. I jumped on it! I thought we did well with Majesty and that we were surely doing very well and going to at least please not only us but many others with it. I love listening to it to this day. I have never seen a bad review on it.
MC: I know the band has gone through a ton of line-up changes. I know it can’t be you because I have known you for years and you seem to be an easy going guy. Do you think that the line-up changes are a result of some people not giving a 100% in the band or don’t believe in the band enough to warrant that kind of work?
CG: Thank you, but truthfully, I may have been more of a dictator. I was very controlling but for the good. Now I am sure over the years I was the factor causing so many people to leave the band. So I can only speculate as to why some others left. We were all very young back then, me usually being the oldest. So you can see how boredom or excited youth could have caused departure. Some dudes were given the boot and others just rolled. Dan Kamp took a gig in Incantation, so, I wasn’t always at fault. Nowadays, I am so laid back it is scary.
MC; The same year you put another release on Pagan Records called “By Disgrace of God”. Was it that easy for the band to write songs and then release them? Take me through how a song and the lyrics come about.
CG: No it is not easy but we had some good talent and fresh ideas and churned a couple memorable songs out. We usually each had riffs and then put them together when we practiced. The lyrics I took care of separately after the tunes were done. I usually follow this pattern nowadays, unless I’m writing by myself. Usually, lately, it’s been just me so I wrote a few alone. I always do all the vocals and lyrics myself. I’m anal that way.
MC: Tell me a bit about the release “Powerless Against”. Was that just for record companies at first and then later on released by Sinistrari Records? Why did you come with them and not Pagan Records? Do you feel being a band based in the US and being on a label in Poland hurt you in any way?
CG: Powerless Against was done for Sinistrari. They were friends of ours and they wanted us to put out a cassette, and we got to it. It was the rawest production we put out. We really didn’t want to put out a whole catalogue with one label. The fact that the label was based out of Poland made us more proud, other than feeling loss or hurt in any way. I often thought that being on a foreign label was more cult or Underground anyway and wouldn’t do it any other way in retrospect.
MC: What are your thoughts on all the church burnings and murder that ended up going on in Norway? Do you really think there is a Satan or did you think he is more made up character like a villain would be in a horror movie and did any time the band wear corpsepaint?
CG: I thought the burnings, etc. were childish. I recall getting a phone call from some douche out of Norway called Christophe about the same time those dumb things were happening. He called me false and that our band would suffer if we came to Norway. I was pissed, but let it go after a while. I heard other bands in the US got the same call….Masochist got a call too. Satan as I’ve learned over the years is not a real entity. I may have believed that he was one time in my life. But nowadays no way…and no god, only science and the tangible are real. One night I attempted to try out some red and black paint, but totally dismissed it after determining that it just wasn’t me. I think Joe Ceresini did the paint in 93, as did Mark Neto in 94, and that was it for that. It isn’t a part of that Crucifier mystique.
MC: Almost forgot, what led to you being the singer of the band? Were you always the singer or did you at some point think about actually bringing in a singer? Was it hard at first to sing and play drums or it was just a matter of getting used to doing it?
CG: I really don’t remember when I started doing both. But I was always the singer in Crucifier. I don’t recall it ever being difficult. I always told people when they ask….I’m breathing out anyway, might as well sing too!
MC: Now after the release on Sinistrai Records the band went on hiatus for a few years. Can you tell me about that period of the band?
CG: In 1996 I started playing full time for Grand Belial’s Key and that took up a lot of my time. Also, Crucifier lost members right before that, so I used that time to take a short hiatus and focus on GBK. I wrote in the meantime, and when I got the call from Don of the Dead of Nunslaughter about doing a split, I was ready with a new song.
MC: You came back in 1999 with a split 7” with Nunslaughter as the other half. How did this come about and why only one song after being away for 7 years?
CG: It was just how it went down. I had written Foul Deeds Will Rise for the Trafficking with the Devil split with Nunslaughter, the song was long enough for a side. I was still busy with GBK, and still by myself, so I took on the sole duty of composing and recording. I played all the instruments on the 4 track recording! Jeff Anderson (ex-Face of Pain/ex-Bludgeon) helped with ghost tracks and recording, but I did the whole thing myself otherwise.
MC: A few years after that, with going through various line-up changes in 2003 you released your 1st full length release called “Stronger Than Passing Time” which came out on Death To Mankind Records out of Spain. How did you come about to work with them and not a US label? How did it feel to finally have a full length release out after so many years? How was it going into the studio for this as it was a full length and not an ep? Do you feel that Death To Mankind Records did a good job with promotion and all that?
CG: We were introduced to DTM Records through Gelal of GBK. Gelal himself thought that Matei would give us all the attention we needed. I think DTM did a great job. I have no regrets. I was anxious about going into the studio but that faded after a little bit of time. We got a great sound with some wonderful engineers. I was pleased to see that final release…it was more than I expected and it did very well, and does well still! Although it is quite rare, it is talked about all the time in Underground circles.
MC: Now we fast forward to 2009 and your latest release called “Trampled Under Cloven Hooves” which came out on vinyl on Paragon Records. Why only the vinyl version and not on CD?
CG: The deal was for rare and exciting vinyl! All metal heads love vinyl releases. It is very aesthetic and important for us spiritually to have as many releases as we can on vinyl!
MC: Now we fast forward again to almost 2013. What is the line-up of the band at this point and do you think this will be a stable line-up for the most part? I recently saw you live and you were awesome. Do you feel you’re a strong live band and are many live videos floating around of the band on say You Tube?
CG: Thank you, it was great to see you at that show….we have another one at the same venue on the 12th of October too. Hope you can come out to that one too! I was very pleased with the 2000 lineup of Crucifier, but this new one seals the deal for me! I am still doing drums/vocals/averse theology. Rob Spisak (Pale Existence) is on lead guitars, Chris Kerns (Pale Existence) is on bass and Jefferson Lopez (Insatanity) is on lead guitars. I think all the guys in the band now are in for the long haul. I am happy to have company like that! They are all great musicians and I truly think this is our strongest lineup to date…no offense to the past members. I know Crucifier is a powerful live force. We are thinking about resurrecting that old live stage show….blood, candles, fog, dead goats, etc. Should be a very spooky Halloween in fact this year!!! I have some live stuff that I may pass out soon. Also, there are some vids on You Tube.
MC: Now through all this do you have a regular job and if you do, do any your co-workers know you are in a band and what do your parents think of you being in the band?
CG: I just started working again after a short layoff. I won’t divulge Crucifier to the new co-workers just yet. At my last job, they all knew I was in Crucifier. One year I posted flyers at work and a few came out to see us share the stage with Bloodstorm and Kult Ov Azazel! My parents don’t care; they are so used to me doing this. My mom is supportive but to a point. My dad isn’t at all interested.
MC: When can we expect some new music from the band? If so will you just put it out yourselves or look for a label to do that for ya?
CG: I am planning on writing very soon. We have at least two splits coming up on Warfuck Records, one with Blaspherian and one with the mighty Ungod. So I need to get my ass in gear! Then we are scheduled to put out another LP in 2013, on Deathrune Records (which is the new name of Death To Mankind.)
MC: Are all your releases in print for the most part or are some sold out? Do you ever go on Ebay and look see if any of your stuff is on there any what it goes for?
CG: I do that all the time. I really don’t have any old official stuff of ours, so I’m looking on eBay for something I can purchase for me! Most of our stuff is long gone. Once in a while you can find a rare gem out there.
MC: In regards to your old stuff, is that stuff been re-issued on any cd format like a lot of labels are doing these days, re-issuing old stuff on cd?
CG: I am thinking about it, but no official offers as of yet. We have some South American support to put out a cassette compilation of old stuff, but I didn’t get that done yet.
MC: Have you ever had a chance to play overseas and if so who with and if not, do you hope to one day and what bands have shared the stage with over the years and what is the farthest place you have played out of town?
CG: I haven’t been overseas yet. We’ve shared the stage with Unleashed, Incantation, Revenant, Bolt Thrower, Sacrifice, Brutal Truth, Immolation, Nasty Savage, Lesch-Nyhan, Damonacy, Ripping Corpse and so many others. Crucifier played Lakewood, Ohio and Connecticut, Virginia and Brooklyn. Don’t know which is the farthest away. I would love to go overseas to play….Europe would be fun!
MC: Now when the band was first starting out and stuff there was no internet, no websites, etc. How has the band embraced this form of technology and what websites does the band currently have? Please plug any websites you have and any merchandise you have for sale.
CG: I come from the time of stamps and envelopes and phone calls. I love Facebook to network with all of those old friends from the eighties and early nineties! We have only FB to promote the band; there you can find the Bandcamp page and jam out there. Contact me there also to find out the news and upcoming releases. No merchandise right now. We are working on getting shirts done and other crazy stuff.
MC: What are some of your favorite memories of the band and some not so fond memories and how long do you see the band being around?
CG: All good memories: I recall before playing a show with Immolation in 1994 in Manhattan, waiting in the back of the club. We had a cooler with our other equipment, just sitting there. So Ross comes up to me and says, “Cazz you have beers in the cooler?” I said we have some stuff in there if you want to check it out. He opened it up, and inside he found our goat and deerheads! He said, “You guys are fucking sick!” We laughed! Now that was a phenomenal show! I always stated that Crucifier will only die, when I do. Only at that point will Crucifier rest.
MC: Have you ever been asked to join another established band as a dummer and/or singer?
CG: I was asked in 93 by Craig and John of Incantation to help do vocals for a Bonnie’s Roxx show that was coming up with Autopsy. I jumped on that! Well turns out Craig had strep throat, so I just started learning the songs. I had one practice and did pretty good from what I remember. Well before we could do another practice, Craig got better and didn’t need me. But at the show, and you can Youtube this one, Craig said that I could do two songs because of my dedication to the band. I think it was a highlight of my life. Hell, got to play with Incantation and share the stage with Autopsy and the original Vital Remains!
MC: Do you have stored away somewhere all original copies of all your stuff, old fanzines reviews, flyers, etc?
CG: I had folders of all of the random collected adverts and flyers, about 10 of them. I recently trashed all the ones that weren’t of Crucifier or any of my stuff. I have all the playlists and zines and articles and reviews. Anything Crucifier I have saved somewhere upstairs!
MC: What are some of your favorite bands that you like and are there any other forms of music that you like besides metal?
CG: Fate, Diamond, Venom, old Slayer, Sodom, Tankard, Incantation, Mortician, Blasphemy, Hobbs, Autopsy, Bathory, Razor, At War, Arghoslent, GBK, Emperor, Immortal, old Destruction, Labyrinth, Coroner, Sargeist, Horna and there are just so many, too many to keep naming. My non-metal likes are: Kelly Clarkson, Sade, Van Halen, Aldo Nova, Jim Croce, 3rd Bass, EPMD, Rakim, Led Zeppelin and a few others.
MC: Do you feel like me that there is way, way too many bands and labels oversaturating the scene now making it tough for the good bands to stand out from the too many shitty and trendy bands?
CG: I wouldn’t say shitty, but I would say unnecessary. You can’t stop bands from forming and playing. But you can force yourself not to buy their stuff, or even watch their Youtube vids. I don’t think too many good bands are going to be coming out anymore. It is tough to get a fresh idea out there nowadays. All the good stuff has been written! Good luck to you young players out there…don’t give up, but don’t force your crap on us either!
MC: Cazz, horns up for doing this semi long interview. Hope your fingers aren’t killing ya ha ha. Any last words and thanks for the many years of friendship my man.
CG: Thank you Chris, for years of support and friendship and for doing this long lasting great zine! You are one of the greats, truly! I will always be your brother! Any copies of zines laying around I want some!!!!!! Thanks again, any photos you need just ask, or go to the FB page and help yourself!
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