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I got in touch with Rich from Wargasm about doing an interview and I fired him off some questions and here is what he said to them.
MC: Is the band broken up or are you guys still together? If your still together
who is in the current line-up and will you be playing any shows soon?
RICH: Wargasm officially split up in 1995, and aside from a reunion show that we
did in September 2004, we have not been active since. The fact is though, we
are all "brothers" who love playing music with each other, and you can never
say never when it comes to playing again...
MC: Let's go back and time and tell me what you can remember about the band
forming and what were the early days of the band like?
RICH: In 1983, my brother
Barry (drums), Bob Mayo (guitar),
Peter Schiffer (bass)and me (guitar) began jamming in my parent's basement.
Without a singer, we played covers from our favorite bands, like Maiden, Priest, Saxon, Riot,
Krokus, The Scorpions, and UFO to name a few. In 1984, after Peter and I
graduated High School, Pete decided that college was his future, and left
the band. At that point, Bob picked up the bass, and we continued on. At the
time, I was also roadying for a metal band from the Boston area called Steel
Assassin. They were my metal mentors at the time, because I really knew
nothing at all about writing tunes and playing shows - I learned a lot from
them, but more on them later... Soon after Bob switched to bass, we started
to write a few tunes and realized that we needed a singer, and Bob once
again stepped up and took on the front-man responsibilities. It really blew
us away, because for anyone who knew Bob, they wouldn't have figured he'd be
the one to front the band, because he is such a mellow guy. We soon found
out though that he had another side... In 1985 we started gigging in Boston,
and quickly found a loyal following. At that time, we were known as Maniac.
It wasn't until 1986 that we changed our name to Wargasm, in an effort to
try to snag a record deal with a label that told us there was already a band
called Maniac that they wanted to sign...
MC: When you played live back in the day he he did you play any cover tunes
or were they all originals?
RICH: As a matter of fact, we were always known to throw a cover in here and
there in our set, mainly because that was where we came from. Playing tunes
by our favorite bands was something we felt comfortable doing, and it always
up giving people a rush to hear our versions of these songs. In order to
keep ourselves interested, we picked many different covers to play by such
bands as Tank, UFO, Raven, Kiss, Sabbath, etc...
MC: When you went into record for the 1st time how was the studio experience
for you and about how many demos did you sell and what was the reaction to
your demo? Was it mostly good to great reviews?
RICH: I remember playing a show in Boston after we had become established,
someone walked up to me and said, "So when are you guys going to do a
demo?". I thought to myself, "a demo? how do you do that?". Anyway, soon
after that, we met a guy who had a small 8 track studio, and we recorded a
demo called "Rainbows, Kittens, Flowers, and Puppies" - we were still Maniac
at the time. We were very happy with the demo, and sent it over to the local
metal radio show out of Emerson College in Boston. The show was called Nasty
Habits. The DJ was Mike Jones, and for all intents and purposes, he was a
main influence back then in educating all of us young metalheads into what
was new and kicking back then. Mike loved the demo, which consisted of five
songs - "Bullets and Blades", "Revenge", "Undead", "Suicide Squad", and "The
Hawk" - and a bonus track ("Aloha From Hell"), and he played it a lot on his
show. He also had us up there for interviews when we had upcoming shows. It
really helped get us out there. I can say that when we went into the studio
that first time we were a little nervous, but just like when we would play
shows, as soon as you kick into the tunes, you feel at home, and the
engineer on that demo, Bill Miller, was really cool with us and made us feel
MC: Why did you sign with Profile Records and looking back do you regret signing with them and did they make many promises that they did not keep? Was here any other labels interested in the band at this time
RICH: Just before we signed with our first label (Profile), we recorded another
demo - this time as Wargasm. It was called "Satan Stole My Lunch Money", and
it contained the songs "Wasteland", "Revenge", "Sudden Death", and
"Humanoid". We sent it out to a bunch of labels including Profile, and began
talking with a few other labels. In fact, I think Profile's first reaction
to that demo was disinterest. It wasn't until they heard we were talking to
Metal Blade that they approached us - typical politics of the business.
Anyway, we met with Chris Williamson, of Rock Hotel Records - a
metal/hardcore affiliate of Profile, and he promised us the world - he would
get us more money than any other label could come up with (he didn't) - he
would get us on the road more than we could ever imagine (he didn't) - he
was going to get Profile to push our albums hugely (he didn't). In fact, we
unfortunately had no clue that his label was about to split ties with
Profile, and that we in fact would be left with Profile, which was at the
time, primarily a rap label. We did sign with him based on all of his
promises, and waited a year for the release. By then, he had split with
Profile, and they didn't know what to do with us. Despite all of that, we
got great radio airplay around the states and continued to tour around the
east coast of the states.
MC: Your debut, Why Play Around I would call it one of the 20 greatest thrash
albums ever. The sound, songs, etc are just fuckin perfect. Were you guys
mega happy with the way out it turned out and I assume the record is out of print,
will it ever be re-released?
RICH: Thanks, bro. We were
very happy with the way WPA? came out. The four songs from the "Satan Stole
Our Lunch Money" demo were remixed for the album, so all along the way,
over the course of a couple of years, we knew that it was
sounding good. The reaction to it was fantastic as well - as I said before,
massive airplay all over the country, and lots of good reviews. As far as a
re-release, we are working on that as we speak.
MC: Did you get to do any sort of touring to promote the release? What was the morale of the band like back then?
RICH: In the very beginning, when we had just signed, the morale of the band
very good. We were playing the best gigs and our fan base was
growing hugely. By the time that "WPA?" was released though, the morale of
the band became mixed. While we were high on the reception of WPA?, and the
shows, especially in the northeastern states were getting bigger and bigger,
we were having major problems with the label and then our manager. There was
no real support from the label at all, and our manager was money hungry,
turning down possible tours and other events that couldn't guarantee a
massive payday. For example, I remember that he told us (after it was all
said and done) that he had turned down a tour with Raven because they
wouldn't pay us $500.00 per show, even though the $300.00 that they were
guaranteeing per show would have paid for the van rental and hotels and
food. Through it all, as I said, we kept playing shows, building our
following as we could, but those bad business endeavors started taking a
toll on us...
MC: Thrash metal was pretty much at it's peak during this time. What do you think killed off thrash metal in general?
RICH: That's a good question, because outside of the states, thrash stayed
popular. In the states, people are fixated on style and image as much as
they are on the music, and they tend to feel left behind if they are still
listening to music that isn't new and "in". When we were out there, it was
Grunge that came in to blow thrash out of the water, and if you really want
to analyze it, Grunge represented a more down to earth style. You know,
flannel shirts and jeans - a lot of metal was spandex and leather and
referred to demons and gargoyles... Grunge was more to the heart, and people
went for it. I always said thank god for Europe, because they still dug us
like there was no tomorrow. What's really interesting is that one of the new
styles here in the states as we are doing this interview (early 2007) is
none other than a resurgence of thrash metal!!
MC: What are your thoughts on your 2nd release and your Ep that came out later?
Are you still happy with these 2 releases and will they ever be re-released
with maybe bonus tracks, etc?
RICH: Our second album, "Ugly", was written over the course of four
the time in between the release of WPA? (1988) and Ugly (1993), we were
touring and writing, and fighting Profile to get off of the label. The songs
on "Ugly" run the full gambit, from mellower stuff (like "Slow Burn", most
of "Spirit In Decay", and parts of "Dreadnaught Day") to full on speed metal
(like "Dead Man's Smile"), and then everything in between. If you believe in
general that music describes a moment in time, then you will see that that
album shows the craziness that we went through during that era. I think for
the most part, people liked it but saw it as a significant departure from
what we had done on the first record. And let's face it, the first one kicks
you in the face. What's interesting is that eleven years later, as we were
preparing for our reunion show, the three of us expressed amazement to each
other that we wrote that album. We had not really listened closely to that
one in a while and when it came time to learn the tunes, it really blew us
away that this was our record... The Deep Purple song ("Fireball") that we
did for the EP was recorded at the same time as "Ugly", and we added a few
songs from a live broadcast on a college radio station called WMBR at MIT in
Cambridge, Mass. to round off the EP . As I mentioned with WPA? we are
working on re-releasing all of the Gasmic catalogue. Extra bonus tracks?
Well, you'll just have to wait to see!!
MC: What are some funny road stories you would like to tell and if you can
remember what was your favorite show (s) and some of your least favorite?
RICH: Funny road stories - well, one time we played in Buffalo with the Cro-Mags,
and somehow, after our show was over, there was a local band playing for the
drunks at the bar. I (being drunk) decided that it would be a great idea to
turn all of the volume faders up on the monitor board while the band was
playing. So I did it, which created feedback in all of the monitors. I then
walked across the stage on my way out and yelled into each mike, just to
greet the crowd. Let's see, another time, we were on the first show of a
European tour with a band from Germany called Tankard. After Gasm played, I
took a shower backstage, and felt it would be appropriate to introduce
myself to Tankard "au natural" - as I was when I came out of the shower! As
soon as they saw me, they were about to go on stage, and they asked me to
introduce them to the crowd just as I was. It was a great way to break the
ice, you know? As far as favorite shows go, well we certainly always tried
to blow people away every night, but in fact, there were a few shows that
stick out because the vibe was extra special. One of those nights was in
Heidelberg, Germany. We had finished the tour with Tankard, and it was now
our turn to show them what it was like when we were the headliner. It was a
great show - the crowd was great, we were on point, our new record label
(German label Massacre Records) was there - it was just massive, and we
ended up playing a bunch of covers too, because they wouldn't let us stop!!
Pure Gasm at it's height!
MC: When the band decided to break up was it a bad break up and did you guys
join any other bands shortly thereafter?
RICH: It wasn't a bad breakup in that it wasn't a big fight or anything like
I personally didn't want to the band to break up, but things were definitely
slowing down for us after ten years, and in hind sight, it was proper for us
(the three of us) to finalize the history of the band with a final show and
call it a day. That was in 1995, just after the release of our third full
length album, "Suicide Notes". I think that the bad deals with record
labels, and the fact that we never really made any money doing it became
more difficult to deal with as we approached our 30's. Pairing that together
with the fact that music in Boston (and the rest of the states) was
changing, and not as many people were coming out to see us - it's a recipe
for destruction. I went to two other bands after Gasm; One was a hardcore
band called Bitter. That came about when a couple of guys in the local
Boston metal scene asked me if I would start a band with them, seeing that
Gasm was over. As soon as I realized they were serious about touring and
releasing albums, I jumped at it. It was a lot of fun, but short lived. The
other band that I joined was Souls At Zero, replacing the GREAT Jay Abbene
for a short stint. That was an awesome time, and I am very grateful for
their call to do the dates. My brother and Bob also did a few stints with
some bands. Noteworthy are Every Second, which Barry joined, and Bob and
Barry were also playing together in a Thin Lizzy tribute band called
Vagabond Kings. Two of the members of Steel Assassin (Mike Mooney and Kevin
Curran) rounded off that lineup.
MC: I think either you or one of the other band members does some producing
as I got a demo from a band up your way that either you or somebody else
in the band produced. How long have you or your fellow band member been into producing?
RICH: That would be me, and the band that you probably heard was the mighty
Assassin (you see, I knew I'd be talking about them later in this
interview!). About ten years ago, after doing all of the tours, I decided
that I wanted to learn more about the recording process, so I bought some
gear and went at it. I had produced a few artists before that, but I wanted
to learn the other part - engineering. I started to work with artists a few
years later, and now I'm doing full records as a producer/engineer. The
Steel Assassin thing came about because they reformed a couple of years ago
to write some new material. They asked me to produce them, and after a long
9 months, the record was finished. It sounds great, and they ended up
getting a deal with Sentinel Steel Records. Their record is scheduled for
release in June of 2007. So go out there and look for it!!! I am currently
working on the new Meliah Rage record as a co-producer/engineer with Tony
Nichols from Meliah. It's gonna be a great record, and I'm glad to be
involved in it.
MC: Yes that was the band I was talking about. Do you think if back then if we had the internet, websites, video websites, etc that bands such as yourself would have gotten more popular?
RICH: Great question. Yes, absolutely we would have had more popularity, but
real question is would we have had our head any higher from within the sea
of bands out there? That I do not know, because it is just another of many
questions you could ask about "what if". What if we had taken the deal with
Metal Blade or any of the other labels in the beginning? What if we had gone
with a different manager? A lot of those things could have created a
different picture for us, but unfortunately we'll never know.
MC: Do you have a website besides the My Space page ? If not what is the url of your My Space page so people can go check it out?
RICH: We do. The main Gasm site is http://www.wargasm.org/ , and the myspace
MC: Do you or any of the band members plan on maybe posting a video of the
> band on the internet?
RICH: We do intend to. In fact, I have been putting together a DVD of the band's
reunion show from a few years ago, along with a documentary of the history
of the band, and because it has taken some time to finish, I have planned to
post some of it on the myspace and Gasm sites periodically until it comes
MC: Can you still listen to your music and do you think it still holds up and sounds fresh today as it did way back when?
RICH: Man, I love listening to our stuff. I think WPA? will stay fresh forever,
because it was us in a very fresh place. The other albums are great as well,
but I think that first one has "timeless" written all over it.
MC: Since you have this My Space page have you got a lot of old fans emailing
RICH: Yeah, and it blows my mind how many people still show interest in Gasm.
like to add that I at one point had an email account where I was collecting
names and email addresses for anyone interested in the DVD when it comes
out, but the email got corrupted, and the list was lost. If anyone is
interested in getting the DVD when it comes out, please write to the myspace
site and leave your email address so we can inform you when it is done.
MC: Do you ever see thrash metal making a comeback?
RICH: It seems to be making a comeback right now. I'm not an expert on all
newer bands, but my assistant engineer, Danny Dykes (ex-Triphammer/Every
Second guitarist) is up on all of the new stuff and he's played me stuff
like Shadow's Fall that sounds just like our old stuff. It's here again,
MC: What advice would you give to a young band starting out?
RICH: Man, I can just say to everyone out there that no matter what you want
do, study how it's done (whether in a manual, or by watching others doing
it), and keep working at it. Die trying. You can never have any success if
you stop working at it. No matter what it is, whether it be playing in a
band, or engineering with Pro Tools, or ANYTHING - just learn it and do it
any way you know how to, and don't stop!!!
MC: Any shot of getting any Wargasm shirts printed up? I'd die for a "Why
Play Around" shirt?
RICH: Well, it's all in the works. I know I must sound like a broken record
most of the people who have been waiting around for the DVD, but it's all
coming soon. Hang tight.
MC: How long did it take you to write songs and have you seen your stuff go
for much money on sites like EBAY?
RICH: For "Why Play Around?" we didn't take too long for each tune. Some of them came within a few days, while "Ugly" was really ugly... It took a long time before we were able to finish each of those songs. Too long. Then there was our last album, "Suicide Notes", which we wrote and recorded (and mixed) within two months. A huge feat for us, and a proud moment. In fact, it was really a step back towards the first record, and to me it sounds that way in the songwriting, although there are traits of "Ugly" in it. I have seen WPA? going for over $100 on eBay. Amazing! Thanks for anyone who loves it that much - I mean that!
MC: What would you like the band to be remembered by and what did you think
of fanzines back in the day and do you miss the ole days?
RICH: You know I am always striving to have great things happening in my life,
and Gasm was one example of that. I hold that time in my life up on a huge pedestal,
and I am proud of what we did. Do I miss it? I do, but it's here
inside me, so I really never leave home without it, if you get my drift. How
would I like the band to be remembered? Man, it *is* being remembered just
as I would have always dreamed it would be. For example, someone just wrote
me from a band in Florida, and he said "...check out my band knucklebath to
see what guitar playing you all created", and the band is hot! That blows me
away! Regarding the fanzines, I loved every one of them, they always saw us
for what we were, and dug us for the most part. No major egos to deal with
MC: Have you seen any fan sited dedicated to the band or a band that did a
RICH: No Gasm covers (at least that I know of), but the wargasm.org site and
myspace site were both put up by a fan named Jim Ash, who I really didn't
even know until after the sites were up. We owe a TON of gratitude to him
for all that he's done, and we do consider him a knighted member of the band
MC: Any last words. Thanks for the interview.
My last words are that I wish Bob and Barry were here to accept this interview with me... and for all of you Gasmites out there, you're in for something great soon, aaaight? STAY TUNED...