Would you say, that in the ’80s were broadcasted more metal videos in the tv and were more metal radio programs than nowadays? Was Headbangers Ball a great support of metal?
As I said nearly all FM station had their own metal show. On TV we had some metal on main channels and again when they started to add new channels, Metal came to them more and more... I remember these Sunday evenings around 8 on that brand new TV called TV6 when they were playing a live show every week... They had Warlock/Doro. I remember having diner with my parents watching that! That was amazing. Again it didn’t last long. The channel stopped and later was called M6 which is still airing but no metal at all again. It wasn’t cable tv yet, just classic TV channels. The 2 major channels had rock program where they eventually played Motley Crue („Live wire” video was amazing back then!), Iron Maiden, Warfare, Zodiac Mindwarp... Then came cable TV and Headbangers Ball but as it was in English with a small diffusion it wasn’t so popular. In the mid 90’s it had some influence but again very small. And extreme metal was just 3 videos in that show so not so exciting for me.
Both the tapetrading scene and running fanzines were very popular in the ’80s, they were at their peak those times, would say, that running fanzines was a chain reaction back then? I mean, the editors draw inspiration from each other or…?
Exactly, everyone wanted to make his own zine to promote his fave bands. Or to get backstage passes at shows? Ha ha! Maybe both!
Was a competition between the fanzines editors or was a unity among them? With which fanzine editors were you in touch back then?
Competition? No i don’t think so. Some were saying ours was looking shittier than theirs but that was it. Not more. I was in touch with Metal Core, Uniforce, DOD, Raging Metal, Morbid Mag, Decaying Maggot, USD, Blakthorn, Metallic Beast, polish zines, mexican zines like Cheerz!... At a time I had more than 500 zines at home.
In my opinion legendary compilations, such as Metal Massacre, Raging Death, Beyond Metal Zone, Speed Metal Hell etc. helped introducing new bands for the fans, they played an important role in the underground, how do you view it?
Metal Massacre of course! „Death Metal” compilation from Noise with Hellhammer, Avenger, Helloween... and also the compilations from Metal Hammer, that „North West metal Fest”, „Raging Death” too... The first time you would hear Metallica’s Hit the Lights, Slayer’s Aggressive Perfector, Omen’s Torture Me... that was something!
What have been your favorite interview so far to date and your most disappointing?
My faves? Entombed, Forbidden, Darkthrone... The most disappointing? Sepultura in 89.
In the 80's and 90's you also used to be one of the co-editors of Gorgar and SprashCore fanzines, what about them compared to Ripping Headaches? What kind of metal style did they prefer?
Gorgar I just joined for issue 2. I guess he stopped after. It was mainstream metal and I would prefer to add more extreme stuff in... so I quit. And it was in French if I remember well so I thought it would be better to write in english to have larger distribution. So Sprash Core came to life. It was a killer team of 3 people, one into HC: Arnaud, one into Death/Thrash: Jean-Marc and I. Everyone would bring in various reviews, interviews... Jean-Marc was doing most of the typesetting. Arnaud I got back in touch with him some years ago, that was great to talk to him again. I loved the layout actually. I quit as I wanted to join an international zine so I went with Bruce of R.H. who was from Tampa, and remember Tampa had the best Death Metal scene in the late 80’s.
Were they also from France?
Yes, both of them. But Sprash Core was in English. By the way Sprash Core stands for Speed, Thrash and Hardcore. What were all about!
Did you do them interviews as well or did you write few reviews?
Reviews in Gorgar and reviews & interviews for Sprash Core. Like that Darkthrone interview after they just released their first demo „Land Of Frost”. I was very close to Gylve Nagell (= Fenriz) then .
Gorgar chose its name on the base of the Helloween song or…?
I bet but couldn’t say as I jumped in the team after the zine started.
After the 14th issue of Ripping Headaches you stopped doing more issue, at which point did you decide finishing the fanzine? Have you had enough of doing any papers, the scene was oversaturated, you lost your interest, it was lack of motivation or…?
I guess it’s abit of all what you’re saying that caused the end of RH. Actually it stopped because Bryan moved with his parents to Deland in Central Florida, Bruce started to work more and more for that professionnal Tampa bay magazine „Music Players” and lacked of time (remember he was the one doing all layout and typing). He moved to his own place with a girl I think and as for myself early 90’s were a very bad period of my life, and it took me several years to recover. I quit tape trading, nearly stopped to answer my mail, got myself a steady job, moved several times... Kinda lost interest in anything except metal... We lost contact. Many years after Bruce and I wrote some e-mails but then again we lost contact. I never heard from Bryan anymore.
Did you never think about to carry on the fanzine after few years of silence?
No never. I kept listening to metal though, I kept my tape and records collection but sold my zine collection.
What did you do after you finished Ripping Headaches with? Did you remain in touch with the underground? Did you keep an eye what’s going on in the scene?
No I kinda lost contact with all of my previous contacts. With the RH Myspace page I started in 2006 I’m now able to write again to most of them, which is nice!
Did you have a lot of reviews, interviews which were never released, because you stopped doing the fanzine? What did you do with them?
Just a few I think like a Damnation Canada int. I did at their show in Montréal in 88 and that DRI and Gang Green int’s from ’88 at their Paris show. I believe all of the reviews were published.
How big is your music collection? What are your most rare items?
I sold most of vinyl collection and all of my zines. I just kept the tapes and cd’s. I may have 1 500 CD’s and 900 tapes I think. I do regret through that I sold my zines as with the Myspace thing i would have loved posting comments including scans of old reviews, and pics...
What do you think about bootlegs, about bootlegging? Are they really for die hard fans or are they a kind of money making?
There was a time when I was buying bootlegs on vinyls then on CD, but most of the time sound quality was shitty... It’s rare nowadays when i buy one. Latest I bought: the Dark Angel demos & the unreleased 86 LP from Devastation Chicago. Die hard fans may find interest in those that’s for sure.
What are your thoughts on some of the old bands getting back together? Are you for something like this or do you think the bands should just let sleeping dogs lie so to speak?
Most of the bands who got back together turned out shitty, didn’t they? Destruction did a nice come back with All Break... but then? Agent Steel released their cool Omega C. Cd but then? Onslaught? Celtic Frost? I must say all their latest releases aren’t my cup of tea. It’s maybe nice to have them play the old tunes in a club near you but apart from that? The Germans have understood it very well as they invite some old bands for reunions in fests only if they play their old set. Good for the fans but I believe it may be frustrating for musicians... Some bands returned and released some killer stuff like Infernal Majesty, Destructor, Ulysses Siren, Hirax… But I’m not into new stuff from Exodus, Death Angel…
How do you view do present scene compared to the ’80s?
Every band can now record their own cd in a living room with just a computer and release their own cd’s with just the same computer and a decent color printer ... That means every single band could make it to CD format. Noone has really to struggle to get released anymore. But as downloading kills the music industry I believe it will become harder and harder for record companies to keep releasing cd’s. For many years sales decreased so they multiplied the number of releases to keep the money coming in but now I think they’ll go back to less releases of higher values (i.e. cd’s with DVD bonus, Digipaks, CD boxes... they will improve the packaging and spend more money on that). As for the music itself it’s of course more difficult for musicians today to make fresh and innovating music in styles that have strict codes like Death and Thrash metal let’s say. In 85-87 every band was sounding different, now you can listen to samplers without recognizing half of the bands on... Many great bands keep on doing killer music though such as Insanity from SF, Ulysses Siren, Crucified Mortals, Infernal Majesty, Sons of Chaos from the UK,... and I also love Nunslaughter, Ammitt, Witchtrap... I respect people in Marquee Recs, Hell’s Headbanghers and some others for what they do to keep promoting the real stuff... The media have changed but they keep the flame burning! Most of the labels are struggling to survive now though.
If you would own a label, which band would you get sign respectively which records would you re-release?
The re-issues Marquee Recs from Rio de Janeiro did are awesome...Especially the Sacrifice and Slaughter CD boxes. I would have loved being part of it... Marquee will soon release Chicago's Devastation unreleased 86 LP with demos and videos, that would have been also a must on my own label (as they're great and I've been a friend of them for such a long time now). Also Desecration AZ the HC act and Aftermath Chicago, Sindrome, Necrovore, Bloodcum... Also the re-issues of first 2 Trouble LP's are nice and the Metal Blade boxes for Omen, Hallow's Eve, Voivod, and Flotsam... Deathrow has to be re-released too! In the late 80's I was heavily supporting Slatko Dolic's gore Recs who released Master, Abomination, ... and then became part of the new Nuclear Blast. Brian Slagel of Metal Blade then, early Roadrunner here in Europe, hell's Headbangers and Marquee today!
What are the most underrated bands in the history of metal?
Infernal Majesty, Devastation Chicago, Artillery, Détente... NYC Mayhem, Straight Ahead...
What would be your all time favourite metal group? I mean, the line up of it...
Death with Kam Lee and Chuck was pretty much it
What are your favourite records, tracks, covers and musicians
fave recs? Death scream bloody gore, dark angel first 2, Forbidden 1st, Death Angel 1st, 1st and 2nd Destruction, and same for Sodom, Kreator! Youth of Today, first couple Of Agnostic Front, all Diabolic, early Immortal stuff, Nasty Savage, Hallow's Eve first 2... Laibach up to "Wat", Prodigy stuff up to "The Fat of The Land" for a change lol! Gainbourg and Dutronc too... fave tracks? all of SOD "Speak English or Die", "Scream Bloody Gore" and Death demos, most of the sing along tunes ha ha like "Zombie Ritual", "We have arrived", "XXX", "Carnage Your Fate" from Cardiac Arrest, Maiden songs outta the first 5, Twisted Sister, Accept, classic Judas Priest, soundtracks from C. Young, B. Hermann, M. Nascimbene, J. Bernard, L. Schiffrin, Celtic Frost songs up to "To Mega Therion", Destruction's tunes from mini LP and "Infernal Overkill", all Sodom songs from their Mini! Excel demos, Cryptic Slaughter, Artillery, Possessed, Master, Trouble, Saint Vitus, Solitude Aeturnus, Fatal "Guts For Dinner" demo songs, Necrophagia, not only old bands but also some more recent stuff! Nunslaughter, Ammitt... Musicians? any I guess in bands above... But most importantly those who are laid back, nice to meet and hang up with... No rockstars attitude. And sometimes shitty bands have some rockstars in their ranks. lol
Did you already meet with those musicians who you very respect?
Some of them, like Chuck of Death, Paul Speckmann, Kam Lee, guys in Forbidden, in Entombed back in the 90's, Darkthrone back in 90 too. Many musicians friendly when I was interviewing them back in the 80's - early 90's, most of them actually... Excel, Deicide, and recently people in Devastation Chicago, Usurper, Aftermath Chicago... were great too...
Do you have any hobby beside listening to metal?
Actually i love going to the movies, mostly sci-fi, horror, and some comedies too. I love reading books too, collecting flyers of gigs, dating nice gals... travelling and meeting old friends from the tape trading days all over the place...
What do you think of the internet and places such as MySpace? What do you think about downloading music files? Are you into or against it?
Myspace gave many old school bands a chance to get new people familiar with their music and also new bands get exposure there (think of that new wave of Californian Thrash metal with Merciless Death, Exmortus, Warbirnger...) Myspace also helped me to get back in touch with most of my 80’s friends. I also dedicated there a page to 3 bands that deserved it in my opinion: Desecration AZ, the HC gods from Arizona who released „Who’s in Control” EP in 86, Aftermath Chicago: everyone remembers their „Killing The Future” demo from 87 right? And last but not least I did a page for Abattoir who for unknown reason wasn’t on the site... Now you can also find many of my old zines partners such as Metal Core, Slayer Mag, Mark of Uniforce/Impetigo... there. It has totally replaced written letters and even e-mails for some. As for downloading I never did it illegally and will never do. I just download from time to time files that are there for legal downloading like on myspace for example. I would say downloading promo stuff should be ok but not commercial releases. Otherwise say goodbye to the record industry, tour promotors... Anyway I believe cd’s will disapear like the cassette tapes disapeared. No way to stop the evolution that’s running. Record labels may have thought earlier to make their music available for sale on downloading sites. They’re working on it at the moment, but come on, who would download 10 songs for nearly the same price as the real cd in a store? One day we’ll have that only solution though as everywhere cd stores are closing: Paris, Chicago, Sydney... the biggest, the smallest they all close. Hopefully there will always be some die hard labels who will keep on releasing cd’s and LP’s.
Would you say that downloading files is killing the music industry or can they mean to be a kind of promotion of bands?
As I said earlier downloading promo stuff is good promotion while downloading commercially available stuff is killing the label, and the band too. Think about Morbid Angel with Earache. That label was used to sales around 100 000 but the Heretic CD did only 20 000 even if the label made it a collector item with that extra cd added. So what do you think Earache will do if they keep MA in their catalog? They will reduce the production money, the advertising money, the touring money... or do like Nuclear Blast: they won’t give a dime until the cd reaches 15 000 – 20 000 in sales figures. We’ll soon go back to the New Renaissance and Wild Rags days when bands had to shop labels with a finished product, labels only taking care of distribution and promotion. Even big popstars lost their contract with their long time record label so why metal bands won’t?
A lot of fanzines are exisitng nowadays as webzines, do you like reading them or do you prefer rather the printed ones?
Just as for books I prefer reading the paper version. Not i’m retro guy but i feel it’s a part of the fun you have when opening it, touching the object, not only the pleasure of the eyes but also the fingers, the smell of the ink (remember i’m working in the printing/packaging industry ha ha). Plus reading on a screen makes you act like if you’re into a flipper you’re always clicking to zap onto different things, different links... I’m not too keen on reading webzines then.
Didn’t you think about to do Ripping Headaches as a webzine? Was it a popular, well know fanzine back then?
I believe the Myspace page for RH acts a bit like a tribute page to the zine and in the future i’ll try to add more stuff in it to keep it going like a webzine in a way... for example i started to add some of the gig flyers i have in my collection of more than 3 000 items. I also added demo covers... Some links to bands and people i’d like to help promoting their stuff. That’s now my way to promote the scene i love. As a „webmaster” for Abattoir, Aftermath Chicago and Desecration AZ Myspace pages I keep on doing what i always did before, promote the music i like, the people i respect. I may eventually start other pages in the future for long time forgotten bands.
RH had a great following back then as we were sending away nearly thousands of ads in letters, with zines or tapes while tape trading. Everybody was doing the same. You would receive up to 50 a day sometimes! Everyone was spreading them. That was like a huge network. Nothing like internet but it was only between people involved in the scene so pretty efficient! I believe more than 100 000 of these ads may have been sent to promote the name!
Are nowadays fanzines still popular and abided the test of time? Which fanzines, magazines do you like these days? For example the mighty Snakepit?
From time to time I read paper zines, old and new. Snakepit is nice even if the lettering may be too small sometimes and the interviews too long... But Laurent is the way he is! He loves in depth interviews... I’ve been in touch with Laurent since 1986 or so i guess... In the early 90’s we even spent a couple of weeks together in Tampa, FL staying at Bruce’s place and meeting up with Morbid Angel, Nocturnus, Deicide... In the 80’s we traded tons of tapes together. I remember sending some cash to get the first issue of DOD of Ludo Gluzco (who later introduced me to Laurent) and the Apocalyptic Noise issue of the Geuggis brothers with Destruction on the cover. Those 2 were the first 2 zines I bought back then after reading ads in Enfer Magazine i believe. Laurent stays true to the scene! Hail Bro if you’re reading that!
Do you often read early fanzines, such as Metal Forces, Kick Ass Monthly, Whiplash etc.?
Unfortunately I sold them all... If i were aware of the Myspace thing earlier I would have kept them and scan their covers for a special „old school metal zines page”! Someone else has to do it NOW!!!
Unfortunately Bob Muldowney and Sam Kress passed away…
The best people always leave first. But they’re still in our hearts like the great musicians we lost: Chuck C. (I remember that day I spent with him in 89 in France, he was so friendly and down to earth), Dawn C. of Détente, Joe of Insanity...
What are the differences and similarities between fanzines and magazines?
Quite simple in my opinion: fanzines are made by fans (losing lots of money) for fans, while mags are made for money to please record labels to get more and more ads space money ha ha!
What about you these days as a whole? Are you a family man with children and stuff or…?
I’m still single, no children. I listen to metal everyday and still headbang even if i’ll turn 40 this July! I still to go to shows and buy too many CD’s on eBay! These days i’m organizing my trip to California this summer. I’ll travel in the Western States to see the great sites of Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Yosemite, LA, SF, Lake Powell, Las Vegas... I’ll stay there 4 weeks and that will be a great opportunity to finally meet friends there in Abattoir, Détente, Nausea, Insanity, Insecticide...
Are you still in touch with dudes, with whom you were in touch 20-25 years ago?
Yes most of them I found on Myspace! That was nice actually after the 90’s where I kinda lost contact with anyone... People moved and the addresses changed and I had no e-mail contact to get back in touch, so Myspace helped a lot. Now, I’m back on the roads to meet my old buddies and new friends too! I travelled a lot in the 80’ until ’93 to meet friends and only did it again in 2006 to meet up with friends from overseas. That was in Chicago and now i want to meet again soon with my long time friends from Mexico too!
Would you say, that metal is in your veins forever?
It is! Even in the worst period of my life it was and helped me going through it! I’ll still headbang to Scream Bloody Gore, Balls to the Wall, The Number of the Beast, Bonded By Blood, Violence and Force.
So Chris, thanks a lot for this feature, any closing words?
Leslie, thanks for your time and interest! That int brought back a lot of memories from the early days and that was fun! Even for me it may be useful in the future to remember these days when i’ll get very old ha ha! I plan on adding it to the RH Myspace page in the blog section if you agree as a tribute to the RH history...
I would love anyone to help me getting back in touch again with Bruce Davis and Bryan Daniel my long time friends of Ripping Headaches, Ronny Eide (former Morbid Mag editor), Magnus Furelius (former Raging Metal editor), Bob Plante (who did some art for RH), Kim August (former editor of Ultimatum), Mary Ciullo of Prime Evil, Alan Moses, Gylve Nagell (aka Fenriz), Robin Mazen, Rob Tarasiuk (from Poland who did interviews for the zine)...