Forward – Curt King
Interviews – Phillip Cerreta Jr.
After having opened yet another box of metal goodies from the Demolish HQ Vaults this weekend, it became even clearer that there was no way in Hades (the place – not the band – ed) that all this would fit in the first issue of the magazine. As a matter of fact, when this started to become painfully obvious, I (being the editor in chief) started to morph into General Patton mode and began ordering the troops in the field (i.e. – writers) to start condensing the articles and interviews that were underway and or try to edit them in order to try to make them fit in the première issue.
When that too became rather obvious and there was just no way we could make all the articles fit, then we had to start
making some decisions…and fast. What to do now? Leave out some important features or reviews, if so, how do you decide what to cut and what to keep? I liked ALL of them and even promised several bands and or labels ample space inside the “friendly confines of Demolish.”
With that being said, when it came time to find a printer we made a mock copy with the exact layout and number of pages, ads, cover artwork etc. Then we could methodically start to “give em’ the axe” and proceeded to place bands, articles and reviews on the chopping block. This is certainly something that I did not take lightly and was not looking forward to. In fact, we put it off far longer than we should have!
Fear not though, the “others” were to be swiftly placed and guaranteed space in Demolish Issue #2, which was full at this point as well (yes, even before the début issue was printed and or distributed). I guess this was a good problem to have but it was a problem none-the-less!
OK, enough rambling about the inter-workings of trying to run a fledgling magazine. At the end of the day this will probably be good news to some of you in 2010, as it’s likely that we will be able to post the full interviews at some point and I will just simple call them “Part II” when posted, now….on to the music.
Power Metal Goodness
From the East Coast we have two great up n’ coming melodic Power Metal bands. VIRGIN STEELE and ESP. First up is a condensed interview with David DeFeis, singer for V.S.
*Before I forget, I still have some left-over promo posters from these guys. If you would like one, then use the handy contact form (top right hand side) on this site and leave your contact info and address and why you want one.
Since the release of the band’s highly acclaimed début in the latter part of 1982, VIRGIN STEELE have continued to deliver nothing but the “noblest” of Metal. Virgin Steele is the eponymous début album by this New York Metal band. This was the first album released by Music for Nations label in Europe.
Originally formed by guitarist Jack Starr (who plays on their first two full releases and one EP), they are now led by the awe-inspiring vocals of David DeFeis and flanked by the likes of guitarist Edward Pursino, bassist Joe O’ Reilly and drummer Joey Ayvazian, the band has carried on without compromise towards the success they so deserve. With a new LP on the way, Dave DeFeis took a break out of his busy schedule to fill Demolish in on the following topics…
Phillip Cerreta Jr: Do you mind the term Heavy Metal?
David DeFeis: No I don’t mind Heavy Metal, but Heavy Metal today means so many different things to so many people. Some will say Heavy Metal is Metallica – that type of stuff and not what we are doing, while others will say it’s what were doing and not that! I don’t know what you’d call what were doing, but if you have to give it a label, I’d say “adventure music”, drama music -music that has movement and light and shade to it, while conveying an image of adventure.
“Freddie Mercury from Queen was a big influence – he’s one of my favorite singers, especially the early stuff like QUEEN II.” – Dave DeFeis
So, exactly how would you define the band’s sound then?
DD: Magic fire music…if that makes any sense? It burns, it cooks and it’s got a sense of magic and mystery to it. Like I said before adventure -very dramatic, sort of grandiose and pompous.
You have such a strong and recognizable voice, both in chorus and speech, have you ever had any vocal training or done any singing outside the Metal genre?
I haven’t had any real vocal training. My sister was an opera singer and I went to her coach once or twice, plus I’ve learned a few things from my sister but that’s about it. All the learning I’ve done is through listening to people like Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury and David Coverdale -that sort of thing and just singing constantly since I was eleven years old. Also by singing in bands and blowing your voice out! You find out just how much you can take and how far you can push it.
I’ve done a few things outside of Metal. There was this Jazz thing that I did when I was very young but I really haven’t sung any opera yet, outside of fooling around the house. I haven’t recorded anything like that yet but you never know what’s in store, so I guess you can say I’m basically self-taught.
Is there anything you do to prepare your voice before going onstage?
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It just depends on how the day goes. If I’ve got time to actually warm up, then I” do a couple of exercises and I’ll massage my throat, back of the neck and sides of the neck to get the blood flowing in there. I’ll also do a few push-ups and things like that to get the whole body in that kind of physical state but sometimes you don’t have that kind of time. Like during the last tour we did, when you’re bouncing around from city to city, you just have to go onstage and your first song is your warm-up. So you just take it easy from there and as your voice starts to get warmer and the blood starts to flow then you can start to do more with it.
What tips would you give any aspiring vocalists?
Eat right…I always try to eat right. I also try to do some sort of physical exercise everyday, be it push ups, a bit of weights or sit-ups. Sit-ups are very good for keeping the diaphragm in shape. Getting that thing strong is how you wing out the notes while taking the strain off the throat. Also don’t drink excessively or smoke! Drinking is fun but you have to know when to drink and when not to drink cause it can dry out the vocal chords. Herbal teas are good with honey -I usually drink that before going on. The honey is like a sugar buzz. I also drink it when I come off cause’ you wanna’ cool down the throat and body.
Are there any new bands or vocalists you admire?
Yes, Paul Shortino (from Rough Cutt – ed) I really like. I think Eric Adams from Manowar is a fine singer. As far as my listening goes, I mostly listen to the older guys like Robert Plant…the Zeppelin stuff. Freddie Mercury from Queen was a big influence -he’s one of my favorite singers, especially the early stuff like QUEEN II. Also David Coverdale and Dio of course…Ian Gillan too. I could go on all day (laughing)! Frank Dimio from Angel is great and Phil from UFO and so many other singers.
What can we expect from the new album?
The new material is very heavy, very up -very positive and I think it’s gonna’ be an even-stronger record than the last “Noble Savage” album. We’re very confident and proud of the new songs and I think the production will be even more intense since we have a bigger budget -one which we’ll definitely be taking full advantage of.
“It’ll be the usual VIRGIN STEELE epic stuff, plus there will be some straight-ahead rockers and very fast, up-tempo tunes. There’s also several ballads plus there will be some anthem-like things like “We Rule the Night”, you know, American-sounding things. The records not gonna’ be any more commercial then the last -just some good songs, good playing, singing, drumming, bass playing and some ponderous keyboards too. The VIRGIN STEELE trademark will continue!
*Listen to the song “We Rule the Night”
In closing we want to thank you for the interview. We really appreciate your time and enjoyed talking with you. I am sure our Demolish readers are chomping at the bit to hear the new material!
One last question-is there going to be any promo videos this time perhaps?
There is a video budget so there will definitely be videos. A lot of the songs cry out for videos cause’ they’re pretty visually oriented in terms of the lyrics, so you can expect a few when the album comes out.
*Listen to “The Burning of Rome (Cry for Pompeii)”
- David DeFeis – vocals, keyboards, orchestration, synth bass, swords & efx
- Edward Pursino – electric & acoustic guitars
- Josh Block- electric bass & additional rhythm guitar
Links of Interest:
Virgin Steele – Noble Savage CD Re-Issue
Virgin Steele – Wiki Discography
Next up is Connecticut’s own:
Like the dawn which has ascended from its darkness, Connecticut’s ESP have arisen to shed new light upon the North-Eastern Metal scene. Forging ahead with a style that is as powerful as it is melodic, contagious as it is rare, vocalist Billy Jennings, bassist John T. McCarthy (R.I.P.), drummer Sean Kelly and co-lead guitarists Brian Waterbury and Bill Gleason shall no-doubt emerge victorious from the battle impending.
In the midst of recording new material, John McCarthy granted Demolish the following interview…
Phillip Cerreta Jr: Can you please tell us a bit about the band’s background.
John McCarthy: ESP was formed about two years ago in 1985. Brian, Sean and myself started rehearsing and then we recruited Billy Jennings and later second guitarist Bill Gleason.
Is being from Connecticut a plus or a minus for the band?
Well, a lot of talented bands are emerging from Connecticut. There’s Obsession, Fates Warning, Liege Lord etc. So in that sense it’s a plus. The club scene is starting to pick back up again. People want to see live rock again so that’s also a plus, but if we had our choice, I think we would rather be out west in Los Angeles. I visited out there a few months back to talk to Metal Blade RecordsMetal Massacre Eight compilation we are featured on and the scene is really happening!
*Have a listen to their track “Take Em’ Alive”.
The song is supposedly about a “futuristic Vietnam-type war.
Tell us, how did the name ESP come about?
I can’t really remember! I know our drummer Sean came up with it and we all looked at each other and said: “that’s it”. Plus it’s a large subject with a lot of meaning. We could really do some wild things with “ESP!
Is the name in any way reflective of the lyrics?
Well, I wouldn’t say it directly reflects the lyrics, but in the title track off the LP “The Future is Now”, it has somewhat of a meaning behind it. I don’t think we’ll ever write about one main topic. There’s so many things to write about, I’d hate to see us stuck with one format.
1. PSA (105)
2. Never Too Scared
4. The Future Is Now
5. Don’t Put Up A Fight
6. United And Strong
7. Chance Of A Lifetime
8. Take ’em Alive
9. Tower Of Babel
How would you define the ESP sound?
I like to call it Power Metal. It’s not totally commercial nor is it anything like Thrash. It’s got catchy riffs with a heavy edge to it I guess. Everyone will just have to judge it for themselves but if you are into mainstream Metal with some good changes, then I think you’ll really enjoy the album!
Have a listen to: “The Future is Now” from their 87′ debut LP of the same name.
Which bands have had the biggest influence on ESP?
We’ll there’s a Queensryche influence that’s for sure, but we also enjoy Loudness, Iron Maiden and bands like that. I really don’t think you can compare us to any one band.
What’s your opinion of the current Metal scene?
I like a lot of stuff that’s coming out today and the Metal scene is picking up that’s for sure. But there’s also a lot of garbage out there. Don’t get me wrong, I like bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Metal Church and Agent Steel to name a few, but there are some awful Thrash Metal bands that aren’t making music -just noise! That whole thing is quite boring to me.
Where was the new demo recorded?
We recorded the latest demo at the same place we recorded the album -Audio West in West Haven, Connecticut…it’s an excellent studio.
Are you happy with the results?
Yes, for the low-budget we had for the demo we’re happy. It’s funny cause’ when you first record everything sounds awesome, but then the more you listen to it you start to pick out little things that you would do differently. I guess the same thing will happen with the album but we had more money, so hopefully it’ll come out better.”
How’s the reaction been? is the underground picking up on it yet?
Yeah, the underground’s really picked up on it! We’ve been requested on a French radio station called Neptune. It’s #20, right next to David Lee Roth, Bon Jovi, Metallica and Poison! We’ve also been in many magazines, fanzines and radio stations all over Europe and in the States as well. We’ve also been featured in the January issue of Hit Parader‘s Heavy Metal Hot Shots, so the underground scene had really been supportive.
Just wanted to say thanks again for your time and interview. We really appreciate it!
What’s the next step for ESP?
We’ll finish the album next week and it should be released in Europe by the end of the summer on Dream/CBS Records in France. We’re still negotiating on which label to release it here in the states. So until then it will be available only as an Import for people in the states.
The album will be produced by Joe Bouchard (ex-Blue Oyster Cult bassist). ESP has in the past played with Malice, Obsession and Leige Lord, who Bouchard also just finished producing their new LP as well. We’ve also just finished about ten dates here in Connecticut, so we’ll start writing new material and continue playing live. Hopefully a tour won’t be too far away!
Links of Interest
*It’s pretty slim-pickin’s as far as info about ESP on the web goes. If anyone has any photos or anything of value, please contact me and I will add it to this post.
**unfortunately guitarist Bill Gleason has recently informed me that bassist John T. McCarthy (R.I.P.) has since passed away!
In order to transport you directly back to 1988 we will continue to keep the language in the posts “present tense” even though this is 2010.
Comprehensive, educative and entertaining as all Metal hell!!
The retrospective look while drifting my mind back in time is deliriously Metal exhilarating.
Don’t stop emptying those Demolish “vaults” Curt!
If anyone needs or wants to enroll in Heavy Metal 101… just visit Demolish Fanzine.
Thanks Stone –
I thought you might like this esp. (pun-intended) since this was maybe
near your old hood!
yet two more under rated metal bands that fly/flew under most peeps
Virgin Steele of course the larger of the two having released lots of albums
since their early days, but ESP‘s career was cut short.
That demo from 1986 was rockin’ too. Some prefer it to their debut LP.
Thanks again for the compliments and glad I can scratch yer’ itch!
Just Not “Dave” King(er)
Virgin Steele were one of those bands that I wanted to like, but never really got into.
Just kind of a dry sound although I think that I own an album or two.
Never heard of ESP.
Their album cover looks like Alien’s album cover.
That’s cool –
My favorite was Noble Savage – esp. “Fight tooth and Nail” with the double-bass drumming power!
*They did/do get a little too “theatrical sometimes” for me but at least they do what they like and they have managed to stick it out far longer than most bands.
**Someone once described them as a “MANOWAR-lite”.
I see they have re-mixed/mastered their first two releases and added some extra stuff. So that should be worth picking up -back then, which was 81′ they used to get fan mail from Metallica and also a very young Queensryche (according to their bio)!
So they were def. way a head of the US version of the NWOBHM scene perhaps.
I will admit that I shut down after 88’s
“Age of Consent” promo that I received and shortly after the band went on a 4 year hiatus.
There were also plans to go back and re-record Noble Savage. I would suggest you check that out for a great starting point!