Whose idea was to turn into that power, catchy direction?
DR: We all gelled to create the new style.
What about the lyrics? Were they a kind of anti-christian, anti-religous texts? I’m thinking of „Forgive me father”, „Beneath the crosses” or „On the eight day (man created)”.
DR: Actually, our material at that time was anti-war, anti-violence, anti-government, and pro-environment!
Did you shop around the demo to attract label interests? Were there some label, they started interesting in DEATH MILITIA at all?
DR: I don’t think we actively shopped to any labels believe it or not! I think we naively thought that some major label was going to come knocking on our door to give us the ’Big Deal’. We had talked a bit to Fringe/Diabolic Force and Attic but nothing came of it. We self-released the tapes our own, and we sold them at gigs and at record stores like teh Record Peddler.
What about your live gigs back then? Did you often play live?
DR: We did play a bunch of gigs back in those days, I don’t know how many off hand, maybe 30 or so. We played at clubs like Ildiko’s/The Bridge, The Siboney and the El Mocambo in Toronto, as well as some shows out of Toronto as well.
Were you always an opening act or did you do some headliner shows as well? Did you have the opportunity playing at festivals or stuff?
DR: We were both headliners and opening acts, depending on the gig. Unfortunately we never were able to play any festivals, all of our shows were at clubs.
What do you think, Canadian metal bands lacked to become big, I mean, that most of the Canadian bands have a lots of talent, but most of them went nowhere, what’s or what was wrong with the Canadian music industry as far as metal in concerned?
DR: It was a new scene back then, and although there were lot’s of great bands across the country there was still a lot of naievete as well as great distance between cities.
For example, was Attic the only one metal label in Canada back then? A lot of Canadian bands got signed to labels such as Roadrunner, Combat, Metal Blade, New Renaissance etc.
DR: There was also Diabolic Force/Fringe who put out Sacrifice, Slaughter and Sudden Impact Records among other titles. They were based out of Toronto.
Would you say that the Metal scene wasn’t supported so strong in Canada?
DR: There was (and is) a lot of support, and it’s great that after over 20 years a lot of these great bands are finally getting their due. The bands in Canada back then were easily as good as their US and European counterparts!
In 1988 you recorded the „One day closer to hell” demo featuring „Begin the last rites” and „Does he live today”, how did the recording sessions with this tape go?
DR: Those sessions were interesting. We had a friend, Stephanie Haynes, who was a student at the Trebas Institute, which was a recording school in Toronto. Recording Death Militia became her school project and we went in to record 3 songs: ’Begin The Last Rites’, ’Does He Live Today?’ and a re-recording of ’The Family’. The facilities were much better than when we recorded the ’To Serve & Protect’ tracks at our rehearsal space underneath the Big Carrot. The recording went relatively smoothly, except we had a problem where the click track was printed onto the drum tracks for ’The Family’ which made that track unusable. Of course now I would never use a click track under any circumstances but we didn’t know any better back in 1988. This tape marked the recorded debut of new guitarist Jason Marsden, and I believe that ’Begin The Last Rites’ was our most accomplished recorded track as well as our crowning achievement songwriting-wise.
Why was this demo only a two tracks tape? Didn’t you have enough material for a longer demo?
DR: We did, but like I said the ’deal’ was for 3 tracks only, and the take of ’The Family’ was unfortunately destroyed. I wanted to record ’Rocket’s Red Glare’ as well but there was no time. We saw this tape as a precursor to a full length album, but sadly it ended up being our swan song.
Was this demo also shopped around to get a deal?
DR: Somewhat, although I’m not sure to whom. We passed some around to friends and we may have sold some. But we didn’t even do a cover for this demo, unlike the ’To Serve...’ demo.
Would you say, that you musically followed the direction of the „To serve and protect” demo?
DR: The tracks were in the same vein writing-wise, but I think especially ’Begin The Last Rites’ was much more advanced than anything on ’To Serve...’.
What about the tracks such as „The unknown epic” or „The future in question”? Were they written during the „One day…” sessions or a little bit later?
DR: Both of those tracks were written at the same time as the ones on the demo. I’m not sure why we went with the ones we did on the tape, there were probably some inter-band politics involved!
In your opinion, why did failed DEATH MILITIA getting a record deal? Were you sad back then because of couldn’t releasing your debut record?
DR: Our biggest problem was that we could never keep a stable line-up together for more than a few months at a time, we were our own worst enemies in that regard. Just look at Sacrifice, I’ve always admired the fact that they kept the same 4 members for 3 albums and several years. I’ve always wished we could have done that.
Why did thrash metal go out of fashion at the late ’80s/early ’90s?
DR: I guess people were looking for new avenues of heaviness, it seemed like the wind went out of the sails with a lot of the big thrash bands by the end of the ’80s.
It will be replaced by death metal, didn’t you think about to turn into a brutal, but technical death metal direction?
DR: We never thought about changing our style at all. We just wrote what we felt like writing.
At which point did DEATH MILITIA split up? Did you remain in touch with your bandmates?
DR: By 1988 we were writing some pretty complex material, but we were also going through some inner turmoil, as both Big Dave and Corey Stoll left and re-joined the band that year, and Jason Marsden ended up leaving the band that year as well, leaving us to be a 4 piece with me as the sole guitarist. There were a lot of strong personalities in the band and it was hard to keep things together after a while. The last gasp was when it was myself, Steve Mills, Corey Stoll and a new vocalist Steve Fitzpatrick, although Steve F wasn’t very experienced and I don’t think he realized what he had gotten himself into. Corey Stoll could never dcide whether he wanted to be in a band or be a motocross bike racer and his heart was never 100% into it. At the end it was really just Steve Mills and I who were trying to move forward, and when Steve announced he was leaving that was it for me, I closed the book on Death Militia, which had been my baby for 4 years. I have remained in contact with Steve Mills throughout all the years since those days, he’s a great friend and he helped me to put the ’You Can’t Kill What’s Already Dead’ CD together a couple years ago, and since them I have been in contact with Big Dave and Jason Marsden. I am hoping to see Dale Kennedy when I’m in Toronto in March 2008. I haven’t heard from Corey Stoll since probably 1989 or 1990.
Did you follow what’s going on in the metal scene after DEATH MILITIA’s demie? How do you view the present scene compared to the mid ’80’s one? Are they comparable with each other at all or are they two different worlds?
DR: Different world’s! There are so many bands out there these days, and unbelievable networks for them to get heard, especially the internet. Metal is so much more massive now than it was back then, it was an elite club to be into the early thrash bands in the mid 1980’s, and pretty much everyone who was into it started their own band as well.
What do you say to SACRIFICE’s reunion? Did you see their reunion gig?
DR: I wouldn’t have missed that reunion for the world, I flew back to Toronto from where I live now (Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada). To me it was more than just a reunion of the band, it was a reunion of the whole scene. I saw so many old friends that I hadn’t seen in many, many years, including Big Dave Bracewell, Terry Sadler and Ron Sumners from Slaughter, Joe, Rob, Gus and Scott from Sacrifice, Ken Pynn, Ray & Stam from Brutal Torture ’zine and so many others. It was unbelievable!
RAZOR and INFERNAL MAJESTY are active again…
DR: Really? I didn’t know that. Great for them. I alays loved Razor, Dave Carlo is a genius. I was never really into IM though.
Last year Evil Legend Records released the „You can’t kill what’s already dead: Anthology 1985-1988”, who came up with the idea of this collection? All of the DEATH MILITIA materials on the CD?
DR: The idea to do an ’Anthology’ CD was something that Steve Mills and I had been discussing for many years, we just didn’t have an avenue to get it out there. Laurent Ramdier from Snakepit, who has been an angel of mercy to us for over 20 years, suggested that I get in touch with Tim over at Evil Legend as he was looking to stat a label. Once we came to an agreement with Tim everything started to roll into place. I had the old cassettes remastered by Andy VanDette over at Masterdisk in NYC, and Steve had a motherlode of old photos and flyers. The CD includes our 3 most important demo recordings as well as some instrumental rehearsal tracks for songs we wanted to include as well, to give a good overview of what the band was all about. The reception to the CD was excellent, and as far as I know it is currently sold out, although there may be some copies available on Ebay. I haven’t had any available for a year, and as far as I know Evil Legend is sold out also.
Didn’t you think about to put some covers or live stuffs on the CD? It could have been a double CD as well…
DR: We are currently looking for more good quality live material, we are working on doing the ’To Serve...’ and ’One Day...’ releases on vinyl, and I want to include bonus tracks not on the CD. The LP will focus on the 1987-1988 period of the band, and it will be exceptionally high quality as with anything we put out these days. Steve and Dale recently located the original 4 track cassette master of the ’To Serve...’, so we are hoping to have that remixed for the vinyl. Stay tuned for more details!
The title of the CD speaks for itself, would you say, that DEATH MILITIA became a buried and forgotten band?
DR: We are hoping to set the record straight and make sure that that is not the case!
Was it done for the old school, die hard maniacs?
DR: It was done for anyone who is interested in what a real, no bullshit, hard working metal band was up to in the glory days of mid 1980s metal! But mostly for me, it was done for my son Nico, so he can see what his Dad was up to over 15 years before he was born.
The title of the CD speaks for itself…
DR: ...and it’s the truth, right? That title came from the 1st ever Death Militia flyer, as created by me back in 1985.
Would you say, that the label wanted drawing the younger fans attention to the band?
DR: You’d have to ask Tim, I’m sure that was part of it!
This year No List Records released a 7” single called „”Noise agony mayhem” featuring „Death militia” and „Feel the pain” and this songs were recorded in 1985, why didn’t end up „Fell the pain” being on the first demo? Do you still have unreleased DEATH MIITIA material?
DR: ’Feeling The Pain’ was originally intended for the CD but it would have put it over 80 minutes long so we decided to keep it for the 7” as a bonus track. We have lots of other tracks of varying quality although not all are suitable for release. I’m sure we will see more unreleased Death Militia come to light!
The single was released in three different colors, are they sold yet or are there still some copies available? Why was the single in three different colors released?
DR: There are a handful of copies left although we only did 300 pieces total and I’m sure they will sell out sooner rather than later. Anyone interested in buying one can email me at email@example.com, it’s first come first serve as they won’t last forever! I did it on 3 colors to make it a nice collectible for the fans. Each color version has a different poster insert as well as a black and white photo card.
What kind of DEATH METAL MILITIA merchandise still available?
DR: The only item still available is the ’NoiseAgonyMayhem’ 7” single; I’m sold out of CDs and I am also sold out of Death Militia T-Shirts. Hopefully later this year we will have the LP available, stay tuned!
What are your best and worst memories as the member of DEATH MILITIA?
DR: My best memories were of the music we made together when we were firing on all cylinders, we were as good as any band out there. My worst memories were of all the in-fighting that took place towards the end, and how a wonderful band came crashing down around egos and petty bullshit. Generally I have mostly good memories of those days though!
Dave, thanks a lot for the interview, anything else to add to this feature, what I forgot to cover?
DR: Thanks to you Leslie for your interest in Death Militia, the support of all the amazing fans and fanzines out there makes revisting those days of the mid-1980’s an amazing thing. More info on Death Militia can be found on our MySpace page at www.myspace.com/deathmilitia1987, and I welcome any correspondence from metalheads and maniacs around the globe, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Canadian Metal RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You Can’t Kill What’s Already Dead!!!!!!!!
Dave Read, 20 February 2008
Onslaught Thrasher (2007-2008)