With plenty of time changes throughout each of the three new songs, this is an almost disorienting ride, where the listener never really knows what's around the corner, how do you view it?
That is a good example. It’s like a ride at Busch Gardens - Sheikra, or the Montu…it depended on the mood we were in.
Is „Eromantic Vertigo" the pinnacle of the whole deal, with its warped, melted opening riffs?
It’s not the pinnacle, it is the whorazertical oracle.
Do you agree with, that together with Nasty Ronnie's King Diamond-esque falsetto, it's easy to see why Nasty Savage were often compared with Mercyful Fate back in the day?
Yeah, I can see that. If it was up to me, I would have preferred the lower notes, it seemed redundant sometimes to keep hearing all the high notes. But I know a lot of fans like it.
Final track „You Snooze, You Lose" is musically like a psychedelic Slayer, and probably the heaviest track of the bunch, the circus-like twin-guitar psychedelia near the end is perfectly odd--yet another highlight of this release, right?
I never heard it referred to quite like that before. But I think of all the Nasty Savage songs we performed, it is my favorite of all time. When we were offered to do the 4 song EP we already had Unchained Angel. So Dave and I were going to write one song together, and then one song each. Since I had one song left to write I wanted to make it the best, most complex song and give the fans their money’s worth. I wanted to leave my mark because we had to give it our best and make it the most bad-ass songs we could do. I put 17 parts in it, which seems kind of crazy, but I don’t think it ruined anything, making so many parts. I think it made it interesting. I gave that song all I had.
An old classic „Unchained angel" appeared on the material again, why?
Because as a band, that is what we decided to do.
The sessions for „Abstract Reality" produced the only recorded works by bassist Chris Moorehouse, how did it happen?
It happened just like all the other albums.
After the release of the EP you toured in Europe together with Exumer and Atomkraft, what kind of experiences did you gain during that tour? Can you tell us more about it?
Boy that’s a long story. We got to go to Europe and were promised a lot for doing it and it wasn’t exactly as promised. There was a promoter called Eric Cook who worked out of England with Venom, and their drummer was the tour manager. It was in the middle of the winter in 1988 and we toured all over Europe. The turn outs of the shows were incredible, and the fans were incredible. But it just seemed like as far as getting treated right, there were times we didn’t get fed for 24 hours and I just wanted to kill someone. I had to even ask fans to help me out with food. Metal Blade had even given us money to help with our food but the promoter gave us as little as possible so he could pocket it himself. As far as our experience of eating and regular comforts, and being paid, there were none. The promises were not lived up to. It was a learning experience for us. It was a great experience in the aspect of the fans, the turnout, and the future of Nasty Savage, but that was the only good part. It was also in the heart of winter, and being from Florida, we were not used to sub-zero weather. We shared the bus with Exumer and Atomkraft, and were told that this was the same bus that Iron Maiden used when they came across the Iron Curtain, which I thought was pretty cool
Was it the first time for to tour in Europe?
What type of crowd did you have compared to the States? Were you aware of that you had a great fanbase in Europe?
I think that the turnouts were much bigger than in the States. There was a bigger turnout in Europe than I had expected.
What about the festival in Poland, in Katowice at the Spodek Hall?
Katowice was the best of all. Before the show even started, there were 9,000 people there. And I heard that later the count was 13,000 people. The backdrop of Nasty Savage was bigger than my whole house and yard - it was fucking gigantic! When I saw the economy and people over there it made me really grateful for what I had…not many bands were able to go to Poland because the ticket prices were about a dollar so the people could afford to get in, which didn‘t make it worth it for the bands as far as making any money. Bands went over there for the love of music not for money! It was wake-up call for me. Over there, even having an automobile was a luxury.
Unfortunately he passed away shortly after the tour, what happened with him exactly?
He and his girlfriend were in a head-on collision. A part of his steering fell off and it made his car drift into another and they both died.
Then Richard Bateman became the bassist, what were his previous acts, before he was being involved of the band?
He was with Agent Steel, Nocturnus, Semitar, and a few other bands that I can not remember.
While the band's line up was or least seemed to be complete (you, Dave, Curtis and Ronnie) you always had a deuce with the bassplayers, why? Was a curse on you or…?
Yeah…that’s what we’ve been told. Nobody was ever fired from the bass player job. They all left us one way or another.
At this point you were dropped by Metal Blade as well, how and why did it happen? How much support did you get from them at all during the years?
We weren’t dropped from Metal Blade. They made us an offer, which had less of a budget than our previous recordings and we felt that it was degrading. As long as we had devoted our lives to it we felt it should improve over the years, not get lower! So the band searched for other labels and Rotten Records made us a much better offer than Metal Blade.
You got signed by Rotten Records, was it a backspace labelwise compared to Metal Blade?
Rotten Records gave us the budget that we needed to make a great recording of Penetration Point which I think is our most complex recording of all times. They also set us up on the best US tour we ever had with DRI - which we did 60 shows with. However, I don‘t think the label properly distributed the album or the release and promoted it as good as it should have been. Basically, it had its good and bad sides. I guess that is really a tough question.
I think, you were the first signing of the band, since they were established at this point, weren't you?
They were rather new, but I am not certain of that.
Didn't you bethought, that Rotten can't give as many support for you as Metal Blade could?
We bethought Metal Blade’s recording budget sucked. That’s all that needs to be said.
With Richard in your ranks you started writing your last album „Penetration point", what do you recall of the recording sessions?
Richard was my favorite bass player that we ever had. He brought it to a new dimension. He had so much energy and power. I was excited about recording with him because he’s a phenomenal bass player. At this stage of the band I think our music was at it’s highest level of difficulty and maybe at times, this complex style went over peoples’ heads. At that time, our goal was to make the most fucked up, weird, unique music we could possibly do to make people go -“HUH?” - but musically I thought it was our best release. The recording sessions went well. That’s about it!
According to the official Nasty Savage page, only 2500 were pressed, does it mean, that you wanted check out, whether all of the pressings will be sold and after a successful sale you can press more items or…?
I assume you are talking about the Penetration Point album. This album was originally pressed on Rotten Records in 1989 or 90...and there were more than 10,000 units pressed with Rotten Records as well as many cassettes and records. I think it was in 2002 we worked out a deal with Rotten Records and they pressed 2500 cds - so that is where that number came from.
Anyhow, the music is fast, more thrash oriented than anything the band have done in the past, do you agree with it?
Noticably missing is the high, shrill falsetto vocals of Nasty Ronnie, who goes more for aggressive, rough thrash sound, correct?
Yeah. I like it that way. I prefer the deep voice rather than the high falsettos, but that is my particular preference.
Are the songs actually somewhat more complex and technical than before, but the music on the whole fails to have the same kind of dark appeal as the tracks on „Indulgence"?
I think our music was the most advanced that it ever was, and I was proud of it. We practiced 100 times, even before we got together with the drums. We didn’t care what anybody thought or what our previous recordings were. I have heard from die-hard fans of Nasty Savage and they have told me that that album went over their heads. Maybe it’s not a dark feel but I am proud of it, I think it is a masterpiece.
Did Nasty Savage really come together on this album? Were you on your best at this album?
I don’t know it is hard to decide what’s your best, but as far as playing complex musically, there were some really complex parts on that album.
You dropped some of your technical riffing on this album, and replaced it with more raw power, this is nevertheless a powerful album, how do you explain this?
We didn’t drop the technical riffing, I disagree. I think it is the most technical we had done, of all ever! Maybe at times it didn’t have the groove of other albums, but as far as technical parts, it was the most we had ever done.
Did you do any shows in support of the record?
Yeah, we did 60 shows with D.R.I. all over the US and a short tour to California and back also, before the long tour. We had the plane tickets to go overseas with D.R.I. but the tour was cancelled. It was shortly after that the band broke up. It kind of put down our spirits, telling everyone we were on our way to Europe, and then having to mail back the tickets. It wasn’t the reason the band split up, but it didn’t help the situation.
At which point did drummer Rob Proctor the band? Was he the perfect replacement of Curtis?
Shortly after we recorded Penetration Point there were a lot of disputes among ourselves, and it got to a point where we had a lot of problems. It got to where Curtis wasn’t returning calls and went a different direction. We had Rob take his shoes, and though it was hard shoes to fill, he did a pretty good job. But he ain’t no Curtis. It wasn’t the same; when you mess with the chemistry of the band - take away some of the ingredients - it isn’t always a good thing. Rob is a good drummer, though.
Why and when did the band split up? What kind of reasons did lead to the band's demise? Did you part ways with each other on a friendly term at the end?
It was like a marriage that didn’t work out. Rob was replaced with Craig Huffman (he was back in the band) and we were set up to open a show for Overkill. Unfortunately, the gig was cancelled. At that point, Dave decided he had enough of the hard work with little pay off even to make a living with the music and quit the band. He was an important part of the team and also with Ronnie not attending any of the practices with Craig on drums, it really effected the life of the band. Ronnie wanted to keep it going, but wasn’t around much at that time. The people who were left at my house practicing, ended up being the founding members of Gardy-loo, because we figured out we would just jam and do something different.
According to Ronnie's old interview, Curtis' father didn't do the band's promotion so well, does he?
He did what he could and really did a lot for us. I don’t want to get into all that. I mean, he bought us a bus and let us use it to tour in, rescued us in Alabama when we broke down so we could continue on the tour by renting us vans. And much more. As far as promotion, he didn’t do a lot but he did what he could to keep us going.
How did you view the thrash scene of the late '80s/early '90s? Did it become oversaturated in your opinion?
There were a lot of copy cats. It definitely got oversaturated but only the strong survived, it seems like.
The '90s weren't good for metal, a lot of band turned their back on metal, either they broke up or changed their music, what were your views on it?
You are right! There weren’t a lot of bands I liked in the 90’s. The real true thrash bands existed in the late 80’s. There are some exceptions but in general the best bands were from the late 80’s.
After Nasty Savage's break you formed Gardy Loo (with Richard Bateman), then Lowbrow, Curtis was involved in Havoc Mass, Ronnie established Infernal, but what about Dave Austin? Can you give us informations about your musical involvements following Nasty Savage?
Dave Austin didn’t really do anything after that. He got married and pursued his family. Gardy-loo got pretty busy going on low budget tours throughout the US. We did almost 600 shows throughout our existence. Lowbrow did a couple of albums but not much touring. Unfortunately it was short-lived.
How did happen your show in 1998 at the Bang Your Head festival? Was it the first step to your reunion or…?
We did a few reunions here and there through the 90s, not just that one. But it was the first European reunion since we had been on hiatus. We got the call to be a part of the Bang Your Head festival, and it was a great experience. There were 2,000 plus people in attendance, and I really felt that the spirit of Nasty Savage was alive there. People were happy to see us and asking about the future of the band. It was really awesome.
How did you view, that a lot of '80s acts regrouped, such as Agent Steel, Metal Church, Destruction etc. and started recording new albums? Was it a good idea?
It is a good thing to be part of what you did in the past, as long as you put everything into it. I was glad to see a resurgence of the older metal. As far as my experience with Nasty Savage, I have seen three generations of fans, old and new, enjoying our music. I think about the people who were into us before, and now their kids are digging us and even their kids! Metal is something that will live forever, I guess.
Crook'd Record re-released in 2003 both „Penetration point" and the cult demo „Wage of mayhem", can you tell us more about it?
Crook’d was always straight up with us and after Penetration Point we felt comfortable dealing with them again to re-release Wage of Mayhem. It had never been released professionally before, so it was a good opportunity. Ronnie suggested adding a couple more songs to demonstrate that we were still putting new music out. I have to say Crook’d did the best they could for us. Dave Harmon of Crook’d believed in the band and gave his heart and soul to it.
Is it correct, that you recorded two new tunes „Sardonic mosaic" and „Wage of mayhem"?
Yes, those are the ones I was just talking about.
Then you allied with Sadus and Finntroll for European mainland dates in December 2003, how did this tour go? Did you get on well with those bands?
That was booked and we were ready to go, but Sadus had a critical family emergency and without them and the strong drawing they would bring, the tour was cancelled. It was nothing to do with us, because we were all in agreement and ready to do it.
In 2003 Marquee Records released a live album called „Cleveland '87", how deeply were you involved into the making of this material? Did they ask you to release it or…?
Yeah, it was an official release of 1,000 copies that we all agreed upon. Marquee Records produced everything, even the artwork. It all met our approval, so it was released.
How and when did you approach the songwriting for your comeback album „Psycho psycho"? Were you under pressure considering the songwriting? How did the recording sessions go?
Crook’d gave us a great budget and a whole year to do the album. Dave was out of state so we worked with him by sending tablature back and forth with cds through snail-mail. There was no pressure and we took our time trying to make a high-quality album. The recording sessions went well, I thought. We did the major parts of it in the first week because Dave flew out to record. In eight days we did drums, rhythms, leads and bass and then Dave went home. Ronnie followed up with vocals, and we would mail Dave the release of what Ronnie did and how the mixes sounded, to get his input.
I think so, you can be proud of the record, because it is an excellent follow up to your previous releases, correct?
I thought it was. We had difficulty writing with the long-distance collaboration with Dave, so kept it straight and simple, but we all wanted to make a really great album. We aren’t getting any younger you know, and felt we could show we could still put out great music.
Can you give us details regarding on the record?
It’s a great album. I don’t think there is more to say!
Is it definitely Thrash but there a few traditional Power edges to them?
We gave it the Nasty Savage style along the lines of the first album, I thought. Back to the basics.
You have a unique aggressive coarse sound, your riffs alternate between fast and mid tempo but some slow moments are there too, right?
We mixed all different tempos, never being predictable - making it unique.
Do you think, that it succeeded in drawing more fans attention to the band?
I think mainly it appealed to the people who liked us before, I think. I really don’t know the answer to that.
Unfortunately you vanished from sight again, what's the current status of the band?
Even I don’t know and I’m in the band.
Will you still continue Nasty Savage or is it already a closed chapter in all of your life and career?
It’s never a closed chapter. I am sure if the right opportunity came along, we’d all agree to go for it. We still eep in touch and are friends.
By the way, are you still in touch with each other? What do the members do these days?
We are still up to no good. Ha ha
How would you sum up the band's career? Would you something change on it?
I think we had the potential to be a household name. We made mistakes along the way, but there is no point in looking at what could have been. I just move on and look at what’s ahead.
Were all of you good friends with each other? Did you often hang with each other?
We hang out occasionally. We’ve managed to keep friendships with each other. We all have had our moments along the way, but we’re grown adults and accept one another for who we are.
How can you charakterize personally the band's members including yourself?
Each one is his own individual, all unique. It is these 5 different people who created the chemistry of Nasty Savage. We all have our individual interests but Nasty Savage is where we all are common.
The best and the worst memories with Nasty Savage?
I could write a book on that! Ha ha The best memory is a tie between doing the Bang Your Head festivals - the awesome turnout and playing with some of my heros and influences such as Motorhead, Dio, Twisted Sister, Udo, Destruction, Exciter, Saxon, Krokus. The low point is seeing it not happen every day of my life.
Ben, thanks a lot for your patience and time, anything to add, that I forgot to cover or to mention?
I think you covered it all! But if I am to add one more thing, it was an honor to recently play in the Keep It True Festival with Nasty Savage this November in Germany with Girlschool, Artillery, Flotsam and Jetsam, and many other great old-school bands. It was a great turn out of 1,500 people. Thanks for taking time to do an in-depth interview with me!