POWERSURGE, a power metal band from Tampa, Florida, USA. Our questions were answered by Eddie Rice, guitarist.
Eddie, in 1984, singer James Marra, bassist Todd Dyer, drummer Rudy Goryance, and guitarist Will Palmer formed the metal band AndzVolt, were you already involved in the metal scene at this point?
Was a few year younger than them, in 84’ I was living in South America, before moving to Florida the following year. Yes, was involved in metal –
How and under which circumstances did you discover metal and how did you turn into the realm of metal?
Growing up in California heard UFO and Stained Class by Priest at a friends partyand wanted a piece of that
What were the stuffs that you started growing up with?
UFO – Manowar – Riot (Fire down under), Metal Church etc
Were you into bigger, established outfits, rather into smaller, underground ones or was it for you equal?
Always the smaller underground stuff, I loved it. The best music in my opinion. America was to coporate and didnt accept metal they way the Europeans did, no radio play – you basically heard it through word of mouth from a friend about a band or someone would have a cassette copy What was underground here in the States was bigger in Europe.
What about the Florida scene as a whole? Would you say, that the metal scene in Florida, especially Tampa, started in the mid-1980s and is still thriving today?
It started in the late 70’s with Bands with the Oliva brothers and Savatage, as far as today, there are some real good bands here in Florida, little different approach to metal than what we brought to the table 25 years ago. It’s new, fresh with alot of dropped D tunings etc.
Were the metal bands in majority or were there more punk bands? How was the connection of these groups?
Actually more hair bands at that time – Punk music was very rare, glad to see it making its comeback – But the bubblegum rock and hairspray was a big part of the scene here. More cover bands than original bands. Guys went to their shows to pickup chicks – they’d come to ours to sweat and bang heads
As for metal, were Nasty Savage and Savatage (earlier Avatar) the firsts, that paved the way for a lot of metal bands that popped up later on (including the death metal scene)?
Absouelty, no doubt – they really opened up alot of doors for us and bands like Iced Earth –
At which point did you start going to shows? What were the clubs that started opening their doors for metal?
I remember seeing Savatage on an earlier visted to florida in 1982 at a clubed called Ruby’s. The Rocket Club, Club 92, Brass Mug, Volley Club, Sunset etc – lots of real good clubs to see good bands at – Unfortunately, Rubys and Rocket Club and the Volley club all burned down
Would you say, that metal had a strong background in Tampa and the fans were very supportive of the metal bands? Was it a kind of big metal family?
Oh yeah , very loyal fans.
Will Palmer was later replaced by 2 guitarists, Todd Boese and Charlie Cook and after 2 years of touring they replaced Charlie for you, and RudyGoryance for drummer Hal Loo and changed the band’s name to Powersurge, how did you get in the picture eactly?
When I moved to the States, a good friend of mine was roomates with James Marra the singer, we’d sit around on the couch and play metal – he asked if I’d like to do an audition and soon after we were in the studio recording our 1st EP
Were you the band’s first choice or did they audition other guitarists too?
I’m not sure actually, didnt know the band members or anybody in Florida, but they liked my playing enough to invite me to join
Did you arrive at the same time as Hal did?
Yes, We both were the 2 new members and original members of Powersurge
By the way, was Powersurge the very first band for you or did you did you get earlier hold of any musical experiences?
1st all original band for sure – I was 20 years old when I joined Powersurge – I’m sure I did what most have in my earlier teens – gargae bands doing covers
What went wrong with the previous guys? What did they do after they departed from the band?
Not sure to be honest, never really got into what happened with Andz Volt. We didnt discuss it much but there were some bad blood between a couple of guys – We formed a new band and were focused on a new sound and moving forward
To which extent were you familiar with the band’s material? Have they cut any demos, rehearsals etc. under the moniker of AndzVolt?
I saw Andz Volt a year before moving to Florida – They had a couple originals like Tear Up the Pavment and Wall of Power – But they also mixed in some metal covers, If they had a demo, I wasnt aware of it – Our 1st demo was Elements of Metal
What made you to change the band’s name? Did it better represent the band’s musical world or…?
That name and the project was up and going when I 1st met them – I happened to be in the right time and place -
Was it also a new start for you?
Yes, It was a very exciting time for me – great players, great sound –
Did the music, the material change compared to the AndzVolt period? Did you start writing new stuff, that was into that power metal direction, that was Powersurge known for?
A couple of songs were written and performed with Andz Volt before our signing with RoadRunner records. It was when we formed Powersurge that it became 100% original and we all started
Later that year (1986), Powersurge released the demo „Elements of War” (according to metal-archives – the ed.), how did the songwriting process go? Who was responsible for the music and the lyrics?
Elements of Metal – There were a couple of new songs written for the demo – I wrote the instrumental „”The Stalk” alot of the rest of the music was composed by Todd Dyer and the lyrics by James Marra
Do you still remember the recording sessions of that demo?
Never forget – my 1st ever recording experience –
Did it open some doors for the band? Did you heavily promote that demo?
Yeah – it was what got us our 1st record deal – Yeah, back then promoting was basically mailing out – internet wasnt around then – I think we sold about 5,000 copies
Through which channels was it distributed at all? I mean, was it available at record stores, were you selling it at your shows etc.?
No, we were basically using it as a stepping stone to get signed – we had it in some mags for purchase- sold a bunch in Japan-
The demo was bringing the band to the attention of Roadrunner Records, does it mean that they took notice of the band soon and they looked the potential in the band?
I think so, if you listen to our EP – you can really hear a collection of different styles
Is it true, that Powersurge was approached by Parr Records in 1986 but held out to be signed by RoadrunneR, Europe’s one of the largest record label and before being signed?
Yes – we didnt feel comfortable with Parr records and we had some interest from RR records and it was who we wanted to work for
Were there other labels interests in the band besides Roadrunner by the way? Would you say, that Roadrunner preferred rather the death/thrash scene (Obituary, Xentrix, Defiance, Sepultura, Exhorder) or did they strive signing original bands and were the supporters of the underground metal scene?
After the Elements, we were in a long discussion we were in discussion with Tom Morrison about financing from him so there was very little effort on anyones part to keep looking – we felt very confident we were gonna be signed by RoadRunner.
At which point did Hal Loo leave the band and how happened that Rudy Goryance returned to play drums? Were other drummers out of questions besides Rudy considering Hal’s replacement?
Hal had some personal issues and Rudy was the clear choice except for 1 player that was agaisnt it – But we voted him back in.
During 1986 you entered the Morrisound Studios to cut „Elements Of Metal”, was your plan originally to start an EP with and not with an album?
Yeah, it was inexpensive – we actually had to do it live pretty much to cut studio costs down
Would you say, that Morrisound came into being to support the Florida scene? Was Scott Burns a talented, experiences producer in your opinion?
Yeah, great bunch of guys – Scott Burns was an up and coming producer at the time
Did they help a lot taking the Florida scene shape?
I think so, with bands like Obituary, Death, etc
In 1991, Powersurge released their debut album, „MCMXCI”, but why did take so long completing the material since the EP came out 5 years before? Didn’t you fear, that the fans will forget the band’s name?
That time, we were in long negotiations with Tom Morrison who financed the album – and we spent alotta time writing new songs – we wanted to make sure we had the very best of our stuff at the time on our 1st record. There was about 2 years of negotiating and another year of recording – Since Tom financed the recording, we had to come in and do a little here and there every 3 months or so – Whenver his studio wanst booked out
How did the recording sessions go with the album? Were you more preapared than with the EP?
Recording went pretty smooth – much better than I anticipated. We made some changes here and there.
Did you have a decent budget to record the material?
Really, it was more about time – Since Tom owned the studio – there really wasnt a budget per say – But time is money so I’m sure he wanted to get it done in a reasonable time, since he did finance it with his time – I’m sure he didnt want to cut corners – since his intention was to sell the master to RoadRunner – which he did.
Do you think, that while metal school classmates of Hades, Agent Steel, Toxik, Sweden’s Agony, Realm, and even Whiplash when they got all scrubbed and bubbly (circa. Insult to Injury), Powersurge manages to loop itself between the seams, revealing a harder head than Toxik while tightrope-walking a much thinner thrash line than the rest?
It was a different sound for sure – which is what we were striving for
You stand at the intersection of burly power metal and tech thrash-threshed speed with an overhang of scream queen vocals, how do you view it?
Looking back now – theres somethings I would have changed
You guys strut your precision proficiency wherever possible like true graduates finally in the work force; you and Todd Boese seem to let their potency ride more on sweaty, tightly sewn rhythms rather than solos that sometimes bound with intensity as confirmed by „Pulled Over”, „Engine Rail” and „Wall of Power”, how do you explain this?
Yeah, we grinded, and dug into our strings alot – On those tracks we kept it pretty simple
What about the record as a whole?
I loved it – it was good solid record
Is it in the category with the likes of „Ample Destruction” (Jag Panzer), „March Of The Saint” (Armored Saint”), „Refuge Denied” (Sanctuary) or „Hall Of The Mountain King” (Savatage)? I mean, it is an influential, important power metal record…
Wow, your pretty good – done your homework I see
Does James Marra easily throw his vocal weight around, shearing mountaintops effortlessly like a less loony John Cyriis trying to impress a young Geoff Tate?
I think so – He’s a very talented singer and songwriter
What kind of reviews did you get for the album? Did it satisfy the demands of the power metal fans in your opinion?
We got great reviews at the time- Sometimes I look back and wish maybe we would have made a change here or there, but overall – I think we and our fans really enjoyed that LP
You also did a music video later to be aired on MTV’s Headbangers ball and Florida’s V32 music video station, did it help the band to expand its popularity in the underground?
Absoluetly, it really got our name out there
What were the shows or tours in support of the record? Can you tell us a lot considering your shows? What type of crowd did you have?
We’d do shows with Savatge, etc – Our shows were really our strength – We as a band put on a good visual on stage – you didnt have much of that back then unless you you looking and a hairband and wondering if theres a adams apple laugh
Since the Florida scene reached its peak at the late ’80s/early ’90s, was Florida the perfect home for Powersurge or did you swim against the ride considering Florida’s musical world, since it became the home of a lot of influential death metal bands?
Yeah – This was the percfect place for Metal at the time – Good solid all around metal bands and very good clubs to see good live new original acts
Did Powersurge help to make Tampa a metal capital?
No, but I’d like to think we had a major part in it. Savatage and Nasty Savage were already making noises here in the bay area
Shortly afterwards, James Marra and Todd Boese left, and the band split up, what kind of reasons did lead to their departure? Did you part ways with them on a friendly term at the end?
Actually, I was the 1st member to leave, they replaced me with a local guitarist, I left for personal reasons and wanted more input into writing – The Stalk and Burning Revenge were songs I wrote and wanted to pursure more opportunity in writing.
Do you agree with, that James left Powersurge in 1991 right at the turning point of a hopeful career? Did you stand at the door of a breakthrough at this point?
I left in 1992 – the band broke up about 8 months later – I’m not sure what the circumstances were
Powersurge did ended up being one of the biggest underground metal bands of the 80’s, correct?
Yeah – I would say it was
In the last six-seven years four Powersurge records were released (an official album titled „Snow God” – 2002 and three compilations „The Lost Tapes” – 2003, „Aftermath” and „Eye Of The Storm” – 2006), how deeply were you involved into the making of these materials? Can you tell us detailed about every material?
Didnt have much. Much of that was handle by Todd Dyer.
As for „The Lost Tapes”, these are songs made from parts of unreleased songs that were made in preparation for the „MCMXCI” album, does it make that Roadrunner asked you to hear some advance material?
Actually, Tom took the chance to produce us on his own dime – so the decisions of the songs were his and the bands – RR, had no say into the recordings
It means, that all of the Powersurge songs recorded, released and available, right?
Thats right, and all remastered too
How about you these days? What about your musical career? What have all of you done after the demise of Powersurge?
Aftering leaving Powersurge in 92’ I did a solo record and from there started getting into the producing part of music. I currently have a studio and have been doing alot of behind the scenes stuff
Are you still in touch with them by the way?
Yes – all still are doing well
Being a long time metal fan and musician you are, how much did the metal scene change compared to the early/mid ’80s? How was its progression? What about the subgenres, such as death, thrash, black, doom, power etc.?
Metal has come a long way from my days- Metal to me was Riots Fire down under album, Manowar etc. Lots of dropped down tunings and the technology is so far superior now than it was back then when we were all tape to tape. I like some of the stuffed that follewd like Disturbed etc. There just seems to be a trend in Metal than there wasnt back in my time – We were cut from a different cloth than todays metal players – we sanded agaisnt the grain if you will. But all in all – its still metal and its still the best music on this planet
Eddie, thanks a lot for your answers, anything to add, what I forgot to mention or to cover?
Thanks for the time, enjoyed it