NECROVORE (USA) was a one-demo-band around the middle of 80’s, and they played old school death metal. Allthough they just recorded that 4 songs in their career, they aren’t unknown in the underground movement, becuase the demo was released as bootleg-CD togther with INCUBUS and MORBID ANGEL. The questions were answered by Bjorn Haga,who also plays/played in several US black/death bands, like THORNSPAW, HOD etc.
So Bjorn, I would start the interview with your musical background, when and how did you discover metal music? At which point did you find interest in music and in metal particular?
Hello and greetings to you. I think that the first actual heavy metal album I was exposed to was Iron Maiden's Killers sometime in late 1981/82. I remember seeing that my cousin had the album in his collection and being an avid fan of horror movies since I was 4-5, I was intrigued by the cover. At the time, the heaviest music I had heard was Kiss and some AC/DC. When I asked him to play the Maiden album, and heard the first few bars of Ides of March, it was like getting hit with a ton of bricks. Music like this was simply verbotten in my parents household. The extend of my parents musical enjoyment was Dave Brubeck, Jim Croce, some Las Vegas style lounge music, and living in 1970's rural Texas, old school country. It was my school friends who had more liberal parents allowing them to listen to rock that started to sway me towards an appreciation for the illegal music(in my house). Once my parents split up in 1981 and we moved into the city. The neighbors kid was into stuff like Judas Priest, Maiden, Cheap Trick(Live at Budokan was a regular spin), AC/DC, Black Sabbath, etc... I really think that this was the kid that corrupted me and started my path to what I am now. I do know for a fact though that in August of 1982, I was visiting my grandparents in Connecticut and some kid I met that lived up the street from them turned me on to Venom's Black Metal. It was that moment that I wanted to listen to nothing but loud, fast, noisey, rude music. Joe Doran was the villain that tainted my soul into full on metal.
What did you find so exciting in this untrendy music back at the time?
It was something that my parents did not approve of. It made me feel good and gave me a feeling of empowerment, knowing that I was doing something bad. Aside from just rocking my fucking socks off.
At which point did you start playing guitar? Was it the first instrument what you’ve decided to play? Do you play perhaps other instruments as well?
I started playing guitar around age 8. I lasted all of about 3-4 lessons. The guitar was some cheap thing that my dad bought at a yard sale that was near impossible to play. Where we lived in Texas at the time was not somewhere where sitting inside playing guitar was conducive to a young boy's development and the great outdoors called me. At age 10, my parents decided to try again and stuck me in school band playing cornet(trumpet). I stuck with this until my parents split up several months later. The new school I went to still had band, but the kids there were vastly more experienced than I was and I felt stupid so I quit. Outdoors called again until I turned 12 and was given another guitar, this one electric and a small amp and vintage(now) Electroharmonix Big Muff. This gift happened to be given right around the time when I first started discovering music in a serious way. I have stuck with it since and now have been playing 25 years. As for other instruments I can play a little drums, piano, cello, and sing some decent clean metal vocals. My personal goal for singing was to be able to sing Priest's Dreamer Deceiver in key, which I finally was able to do a year ago. Since then I have not sang other than some accapella to explain guitar riffs to my bandmates.
What were your influences to become a metal musician?
This is going to sound hilarious to you and I am sure others, but I could care less what anyone thinks, but Fucking Elvis Presley was a HUGE influence on my eventual desire to be a musician. Remember that I said that my early years was musically deprived. Well Elvis was one musician that my parents did like and in the late 70's, Elvis, Aloha From Hawaii was shown on television. It was at that moment that I knew that was what I wanted to do. He had total command on stage and his persona was immaculate. Now looking back, this was Elvis on the decline. It wasn't until later in life that I was able to see older films of him to truly see how badass he actually was.
In 1978 Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park was shown on Television. Now watching these guys at 8 years old was total shock to the system. I think I liked the movie(which is utterly aweful and worth never seeing again), but when they got to the concert portion of the movie. Good old Elvis was left in the dust. From then on I was a Kiss Army member until my experience with my cousin and Iron Maiden and Joe Doran and Venom.
Once I started playing guitar and was serious about it my influences were pulled from the bands I was listening to. Glenn Tipton and KK Downing, Michael Schenker, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Mantas, Jeff Hanneman, Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, Jimmy Page, plus many other rock guitarists were heavy influences and are still to this day. I do not think that I can list any modern day guitar hero as someone who I draw influence from. While they have probably become technically more proficient than those I listed above, they are just rehashes who do not have the feeling that all these masters wrought out of the guitar.
Were you self taught at that time or…?
When I finally took up the guitar at 12 I took about 3-4 months worth of lessons. I was always getting my instrucotr to teach me songs. He was one of those lead guys and always grew angry when I did not learn the lead of a song I wanted to play as I thought at the time that it was the rhythm that made the song. He eventually stopped teaching me due to my inability(not inability, just lack of desire) to learn leads. since then I have been self taught, or used video tapes for lessons. Star Licks etc...
Can you tell us everything about your career before you joined Necrovore? What were the previous acts that you’ve played with before being involved in Necrovore?
The previous act that I was in prior to Necrovore was Obsessed Death. Nothing more than Scott Humphrey, a guy named Carlos Maldanado, and myself jamming, or maybe banging our guitars and drums(Scott and I played guitar, Carlos, drums), escaping from disfunctional families and smoking tons of marijuana like most metalheads did in the mid 80's.
Did you record any demos or did you have any local gigs with Obsessed Death?
No Obsessed Death never recorded anything as we just played cover tunes from what was popular on the radio and MTV(back when they played music), and eventually into thrash and proto deathmetal. We played one gig at a Halloween party. After that it was back to the basement and more pot smoking.
What do you recall from the Texas scene of those times where was a great underground buzz, with acts, such as Militia, S. A. Slayer, Watchtower, Matrix, Synarax, Helstar etc.? Could you tell us more about it?
Back in the 80's Texas, and San Antonio in particular was a heavy metal hotbed. The local radio channel 99.5 KISS(still around) had a radio program on Saturday nights hosted by a dj called Joe Anthony. He would play pretty much everything that was out at the time except the real underground stuff. The underground stuff was played by the local college station 90.1 KSYM(still around). This is where you heard the real underground stuff. Militia was pretty popular, but I never really got into them as I thought they were a standard run of the mill metal band and offered nothing really special. SA Slayer was really great and I still listen to Prepare to Die regularly. Matrix, Syranax, and Helstar I never really liked. Watchtower was pretty intense. there was another band that I really liked from Texas was Rotting Corpse. They had mainly cover tunes to their sets, but did have three originals on a demo that I really liked. They seemed to have that total didn't give a fuck attitude that appealed to me moreso than a lot of the other Texas bands, which sometimes seemed more like heavy rock bands trying to fit into the new in thing.
Did you have a healthy club scene as well?
To be quite honest, I was still a bit young to get into most clubs and see a lot of the bands that impacted the early scene. It wasn't until all ages shows started becoming popular that I was able to see many of the shows. Back then it was a different atmosphere in the live music scene as well. The shows that you went to see weren't really club shows like they are today, but smaller concerts. There would be people waiting in lines waiting to get into the venue, once the place opened up and got filled, the show would commence and would be over right around midnight or a little after. Most of the time there would be maybe a 4 band max with 2 to 3 bands on average. It was like going to see a smaller version of an arena concert. Maybe this was also a teenager looking at the scene through starry eyes, who knows. I didn't really care at the time. It was just a metal show. As a fan I didn't care about the logistics of the shows. Just that they were cheap and got to see some loud metal.
Would you say that the metal scene had a strong background and fanbase in Texas? Were you close to some bands or…?
Sure. I remember on average there would be a minimum of what seemed to be 100-200 people per show. Even for local bands. Unlike the 100 best if you are lucky on a good day like now. As far as being close to any band, no I was not close to any.
How did you get in the picture being the guitarist of Necrovore and why was Scott Humphrey fired? To which extent were you familiar with Necrovore’s stuff?
When Scott joined Necrovore, he used my equipment. He did not have any gear until after the demo was recorded. There was a bit of drama about getting my gear back, but eventually did. We still hung out and he was showing me the stuff that they were writing. So as he learned the material so did I. Scott was fired due to some bullshit that happened involving some chick and I really do not fully remember what the cause was, except that one night he was over my house and Jon and Ross both showed up and were about an inch away from beating the shit out of him.
A couple of months after that, Scott moved out of Texas and I saw Jon and asked him if they had found a new guitarist, he told me that they had not yet and I asked if I could audition. I guess from being so close to the material from the beginning and knowing it pretty well enough on guitar I made the audition.
Were you the first choice of the band back then?
I have no clue.
What do you think about the „Divus de Mortus” demo?
The Necrovore demo is my guitar bible. Pure and simple. To me that music is religion.
Do you agree with that this demo is one of the oldest and most hard hitting of the first generation of US death metal, a bit like Possessed, a bit like Obituary, but still has its own unique sound?
I look at Necrovore as the perfect mixture of the best elements of Possessed, Kreator(Pleasure to Kill era), Celtic Frost, and Bathory. These were my favorite bands at the time and were the four bands that we all listened to the most. I don't know about the most hard hitting demo. But I am looking at it from a different dtandpoint than others.
Do you think, that this recording has stood the test of time as a very influential piece of death metal history?
Looking back I guess I would have to agree with you there.
„Divus de Mortus” is one of the world's most bootlegged demos, it appeared on vinyl from Brazil, countless CDs and a bootleg split together with the demo’s from Incubus (USA) and Morbid Angel, are you aware of it?
Yes I do, the only boot of it that I think holds any worth is Metalion's with Incubus and Morbid Angel. The rest use shoddy versions of the recording and were used mainly to make those that released it some quick cash. Metalion at least put his out as a fan and to further the word of those three bands.
Necrovore were active before the modern definitions of Death and Black metal had become standard, you sometimes refer to your style of music as Black Metal, however, the sound of the music is very similar to bands like Death, Obituary, Possessed and other first generation American Death Metal bands, what do you think about it?
Necrovore has never used Black Metal as a label for the music. Necrovore coined the phrase Blackdeath. Necrovore is Blackdeath.
Would you say, that you have been a major influence to many of the modern American death metal bands like Morbid Angel, Immolation and Incantation to only name a few?
I can't honestly say that. I hope that Necrovore's music did as much for them as it has for me, but those guys all had other influences than mainly Necrovore.
You have been both allied to and critics of Morbid Angel and Jon DePlachett asked Trey Azagthoth and David Vincent of Morbid Angel to join Necrovore just before Altars of Madness was recorded, is that correct?
I do not know about this. I know that Jon spent time with Morbid Angel in Florida around that time. I am not sure if he asked them to do Necrovore in seriousness or in jest. I know he was around during that recording timeframe and helped them on the Altars eastern seaboard tour(and was the real culprit regarding the human skull on the bus, but will not divulge any further info. Just let it be known that it was Jon's stuff, not Morbid Angel's)
The first Necrovore show was at the Cameo Theater in May of 1988 in San Antonio, what do you recall of it? Did you play many shows with Necrovore after this?
About the only thing that I recall of that show was that we backlined the set as we had bigger amps than everyone else. Militia played right before us and came into the dressing room telling us that the audience was like they were on herion. We get on stage, the place explodes with mayhem, we play a short 6 song set, tear down and went home and got drunk. After this Necrovore only played one more show before disbanding until Jon and I tried getting it back going again in 1997.
You also recorded a track called „Slaughtered Remains” for a compilation LP called „Satan's Revenge Part II” (released by New Renaissance Records), what about the recording sessions of this tune? Was it recorded during the demo sessions or did you write it especially for this compilation?
We re recorded the song, which was song number two off the demo with the new lineup that included myself and Javier Villegas on drums.
Do you still remember, which bands were still on the record?
Not fully, I would have to go dig through my album collection, but off the top of my head, Ankor Wat, Morbid Angel, Ripping Corpse, and obviously Necrovore were on it.
Did this compilation draw more fan’s attention to the band? Did it help to expand the band’s popularity in the underground scene?
To be quite honest, I have absolutely no clue.
Did New Renaissance offer you a record deal at all?
Yes they did, but it was retracted soon after due to a disagreement on what the contract was supposed to contain within it. I cannot fully remember the details. Something about the length of the contract or something like that.
The band split up before 1990, what led to the demise of the band? Would you say, that Necrovore left its mark on the scene and became one of the most influential death/black metal acts?
Not fully sure as to why we split up at that time. I guess it was a period in our lives where it was no longer meant to happen at that point. As far as leaving its mark. It left a heavy impression on me as a fan first, member second. So yeah definately its left its mark on the scene.
Did you remain in touch with Jon DePlachett, Ross Stone and Scott Staffney after the band’s demise? What do they nowadays do? Are they musically still active?
I kept in touch with Jon and Ross off an on until the late 90's. Staffney was out of the band before I joined, so I really did not know him all that much. I spoke with Staffney a few times around 1999-2000 or so. He still plays drums. I no longer speak with Jon, and I know he is an engineer now. As far as playing I don't know. We tried to get Necrovore going again in the late 90's but nothing ever came out of it. Ross is career military and no longer plays.
And now some questions about your other bands: THORNSPAWN, REHTAF RUO, HOD, Ok? How did you see the metal scene at this point? Would you say, that at the early ’90s metal in general seemed to be died and being killed by grunge and pop/punk?
In 1991 I joined the military. I was completely out of the loop on what the scene was doing outside of an occasional magazine and MTV. I saw how grunge impacted the hard rock scene, but that was about it. I lost all contact of those I knew in the scene until 1997. So when I got out I had a lot of catching up to do and still have not fully caught up.
Do you also agree with that the scene was oversaturated and the crowds started jumping from a trend to another one?
See above answer. I was really out of the loop.
Around ’98 you joined Thornspawn, but while in Necrovore you were guitarist, in Thornspawn you played on the bass, how did you end up becoming bassist? How did you get in the picture exactly?
I knew Necron from college, once I got back from being in the service and was back home I started making aquaintences again. I hung out with Necron and Swornghoul a few times and went to see Thornspawn play a couple of times. when they threw out Gothmog, Necron asked if I might be interested in helping out on guitar or bass. I told him that they were both already established in the band as guitarists so I could do bass.
What did you do between during this period? I mean, after Necrovore’s demise, and before you being involved in Thornspawn?
United States Marine Corps Infantry
Can you tell us more about your career as a member of Thornspawn?
Nothing more to tell really. I joined, did quite a few shows, recorded the Infernal Legions 7", Blood of the Holy cd, Emperess ep, more shows, there was a sudden lull in the action right after the bands started rising towards its zenith, that lull got extended, and I punched out as I saw that it was going to go nowhere for me. Would rather do nothing than wait for something to happen.
You formed in 1997 RehtaF RuO, what is „Our Father” in reverse, how did this band come into being exactly?
I did not form RehtaF RuO. This was Urobach's band from the get go. The only thing I was involved in with it was recording the guitars and bass for a Beherit song that we did for a tribute comp (Grave Desecration on the Gates of Inanna comp), and tried to work with Urobach on some new material he had come up with after Boiled was released. Due to some personal problems I was having at the time and sheer laziness on my part nothing more came out of my involvement with RehtaF RuO.
Do you agree with that, this is a very inspired record that could be a soundtrack to some demented underground horror flick?
I will agree to that. Urobach wrote some really fucked up stuff.
Cheap machine-gun beats do battle with chessy-sounding noisy fuzz guitar, various electronic and keyboard effects and slurpy reptile vokillz slopping out lurid purple lyrics, how do you see it?
Noise to ass fuck a nun to while stabbing her in the skull with an ice pick, and eating the brains. Finishing off by nutting in her mouth that you just broke all the teeth out with a ball pein hammer.
What do you think about, that it's difficult to distinguish definite individual tracks because you don't use conventional music structures so there are no clear guitar riffs and melodies that would guide the listeners and the rhythms seem all very chopped up?
Boiled in Goats Blood is really really fucked up music. Quite genious actually, but alas none of it is me on that.
Do you think, that RehtaF RuO is the epitome of raw hellish Black Metal and this album is pure hell and torture personified and an essential underground release?
I finally heard a better version of this a couple of years back. One you can actually hear whats going on. Urobach's stuff makes the original Abruptum sound like merry go round music.
This record was originally released in mid-2000 and then re-released through UHR (Unsung Heroes Records) in late 2001, is that correct?
I cannot comment on this as I do not know.
Why did leave Angelblood Baptizer the band after the releasing of the record? Did you already find his replacement?
I do not know who this is.
If we talking about black metal, in your opinion, did the whole black metal movement start with Venom or with Bathory?
Venom started it, Bathory perfected it.
What do you think about NS black metal? Does politic something to do with metal at all?
I don't car what politics get involved with music as long as the message is the music first and foremost. All musicians tend to get political in their music. It is when the political message in the music takes the foreground is when I tend to not pay attention to it.
Do you prefer the pure, evil, hellish old school black metal, such as old Mayhem, old Gorgoroth, old Immortal etc. or do you like the melodic, with female vocals and keys combined black metal as well?
The former and sometimes even rawer than any of those bands.
Would you say, that black metal wouldn’t have came into being without the existence of old school thrash metal? Did old school thrash have an important influence on black metal?
Sure, of course it did. Slayer helped out a whole lot. They influenced pretty much all of us older guys. At the time they weren't thrash though. They were death metal, as were old Kreator and Possessed. It is the internet kids now who say that they are all thrash due to bands that really went off with the death metal moniker and gutteral vocals. I can somewhat understand what they say, but at the same time, it is a time period thing. You understand if you were involved AT THAT time. if you came in later, of course they werent as heavy as the current bands. But they were blowing our brains out in the time context.