How came that you were performing the vocals? Didn’t you have enough time to find a good vocalist or…?
I would not go through another Mike Smith experience. For better or worse I would be the singer.
Were you forced to do the vocals?
The band had momentum and I did not want to wait five years to find another singer.
What do you recall of the recording sessions?
I remember our engineer Wayne Cook ,who was really quite an accomplished producer, being very tough on me about my vocals. I would get very frustrated that he would make me do things again and again, but he was always right and I was always wrong. I thank god for him, because he helped us to make a GREAT record.
Could sound and style wise, this album probably be best compared to Agent Steel’s „Skeptics Apochalypse”, with a slightly more epic touch?
I never really thought we sounded like Agent Steel. I think we were closer to Queensryche than Agent Steel on that album. I think we even sounded more like a speed metal Dokken on that record. The record is very dramatic and theatrical. The opening of “After the fall from Grace” the bridge section on that track; the bridge on “We came we saw we conquered” very dramatic and dynamic.
How do you view, that it isn’t as aggressive or in your face as „Untstoppable Force”, but this is still some of the finest speed metal of all time?
“After the Fall” is a very complex and sublime record, especially for metal. If you listen to the tracks closely there is a lot going on. A lot of guitar harmonies back in the mix, a lot of very intricate vocal harmonies, excellent drum and bass syncopation and dynamics. Listen to the very intricate melody line on “After the Fall from grace”, who sings like that in metal, Halford in the Stained Class period? Geoff Tate?
You are extremely top notch here, you even sound a bit like a less shrieking John Cyriis, you don’t go beyond Cyriis but you really make this entire album incredible with your performance, correct?
I am not Mike Smith but when people listen to “MOD” and “After The Fall” they can hear that I am the spirit behind these tracks. I had a lot to prove on that record, I was trying to replace a truly great singer. I did my best and I think that it is a truly great record on it's own
Expect some razor sharp vocals, soaring and hitting high notes at all times, perfect for the speed metal sounds here, is the whole album a blast?
You are so sharp, where were you when I needed you?
The production is up there with most higher produced 80’s albums, and sounds great, every instrument is clear, and nothing really overpowers anything, do you agree with it? Does it mean, that you had more time and budget to record the material?
You are right again, the production was great. Yes, we had more money, more time and better people working with us. There is very little I would change on it.
Is musically this stuff very melodic and mesmerizing, fast, with catchy hooks and leads?
Yes, yes, yes, I could not have said it better myself. Had I known you at the time I would have hired you to go around with me and tell everyone about how great my band is. It would have been more polite than me telling everyone.
The songs are memorable and stick to one which merits the album repeated listens, right?
Yes, you can listen over and over. I still listen to it.
The great thrash metal boom happened at this point, a lot of influential thrash classics, such as „Game Over” (Nuclear Assault), „Master Of Puppets” (Metallica), „Rign In Blood” (Slayer), „Darkness Descends” (Dark Angel), „Pleasure To Kill” (Kreator), „Eternal Devastation” (Destruction) were released, what were your views on the scene?
Yes, I remember it well. It was the peak of speed metal. I was enjoying it. It was a very good time for me. We had a lot of fun. I'm glad I experienced it.
Did Savage Grace fit to the scene or did you become old in 1986?
1986 was a good year for us. We released “After the Fall” and we toured Europe.
How about the L. A. scene, with new bands, such as FCDN Tormentor, Death Force, Viking, Recipients Of Death, Evil Dead etc. that started making a name for themselves at this point?
I don't remember those groups exactly. We were still playing and working on new material.
As for the sales, did the record fulfill the hopes set on it? Was it equal to the band’s expectations? Was the label satisfied with the sales?
Yes, “After The fall” was our best seller. I was very proud of it and I think the rest of the band was to.
Have you done a lot of shows to support the album? Was it hard for you to concentrate both on singing and on playing guitars in live situation?
We toured Europe with Heir Apparent to support it and we did some L.A. Shows. Playing guitar and singing that kind of material is very difficult. I was also playing most of the lead guitar.
Did these two albums („Master…” and „After…” changed the face of speed metal?
I think they will be recognized at some point as seminal works in that genre.
After those two releases, the kind of speed metal Savage Grace, Exciter and others were doing just kind of faded away, what do you think about it?
We could have kept going for years doing the same style. Metallica and Slayer have never stopped. I would not have been able to play the same kind of music over and over. I need new challenges or I get bored. I kept the band going but in a different direction.
Your last effort was the „Ride Into The Night” EP, at which point and why did bassist Brian East leave the band? Was it a kind of bloodletting for you?
I think he was tired and frustrated after years of hard living. He was a good man. He just reached his limit.
Was he an important chain-link of Savage Grace considering the band’s career?
He was a big part of the band. He was solid and dependable. He had good ideas and he was a team player.
He was replaced by Derek Peace, what have we to know about his musical past?
We met Derek when he was in Heir Apparent. He was a good bass player.
Can you tell us detailed about this EP?
I think this will actually be recognized as a very underrated record. It was our most technical record. The guitars sounded GREAT. Mark Marshall's guitar playing on this record was GREAT. We ventured into some new musical territory.
Who came up with the Deep Purple cover? Did it musically fit to Savage Grace’s musical style?
We used to play “Burn” live and people loved it, so we thought we'd record our version of it.
The EP was released by Semaphore, how did you get in touch with them? Were they an independent, small, underground label or a bigger major one?
I don't remember how we hooked up.
Why did you leave Black Dragon? How much support did you get from them? Did the label put stress on promoting heavily the band?
I really forgot why we left.
How about the Motörhead/Savage Grace tour as a whole? Was it the perfect bill for you, since you were close to Motörhead’s musical world?
That was a great tour. Motorhead was great to us. Malice was also on some of the dates. We always had a good time with them. I liked their music and James Neal was really an incredible singer. You had to see him live to understand how great the guy was. It was spooky. It was the States, so we went through a lot of women on that tour.
Did the label finance that tour or did you pay everything from your own pockets?
Our management company helped us on that one.
Did still this tour help getting new fans for the band or was it already too late?
We did great on that tour, ask anyone who saw it. Lemmy loved our uniforms and ritterkreuz. He asked me if I sewed the uniforms myself?
Under which circumstances and why did the band split up exactly? What kind of reasons did lead to the band’s demise?
I kept the band going until 1992. I could have kept going longer but Seattle rock was popular in the U.S. at the time not metal. I would have rather sold shoes than play Seattle music.
Did you remain in touch with each other after the split? Can you tell us everything about the musical involvements of the Savage Grace members after the band fell apart?
I have not been in contact with any ex-members. I have no idea what any of them have been doing.
Did you follow the formation of the underground scene? I mean, did you still remain a fan and musician?
I have always been a fan of metal. I do listen to new bands from time to time.
The song „Mainline Lover” made up on the sampler „American Metal - Heavy ’N’ Dirty” (1993), can you tell us more about it? Was it a previously unreleased Savage Grace tune?
We recorded ten tracks in New York in 1991. I may yet do something with them.
Would you say, that those times weren’t favorable for metal, the whole scene was almost annihilated by the crap grunge and pop/punk bands? Nobody was letting heavy metal go by…
Yes, you are right. When we moved to New York in 1991, we were playing more mid-tempo AC/DC style rock. WE had a LOT of fun in NEW YORK and we caused a LOT of trouble. It was probably the most fun time I had in my life. We went THRU a LOT of women there. Oh man.
Do you agree with, that Savage Grace blended various styles of speed metal and power metal thus somehow being one of the best bands from the LA scene?
I think we were the best speed metal group for sure. Ask people who saw us with Mike Smith in the band when we played with Abattoir or Armored Saint or anyone else.
In later years Savage Grace’s place among the ’80s metal resurgence would elevate your status to that of a cult act on Europe, were your more known or popular in Europe than in the States?
Americans have more simple musical taste. They like mid tempo rock without guitar harmonies. Guitar harmonies confuse and frustrate them. Europeans appreciate more sophisticated music.
Italian band Shadows Of Steel covered „Destination Unknown”, Powergod covered „Lion’s Roar-Bound To Be Free”, have you ever listened to these tunes? Did these covers help keeping the band’s spirit alive and to draw more fans attention to the band?
No, I have never heard them. I'm glad people like to play those songs.
What made you after 21 years of silence to reform the band? Was it easy to get the guys together again?
I was not happy about seeing bad things that were not true being said about me. I was never in any prison. I never stole any person's identity. How can you impersonate yourself? I never impersonated a Doctor. I never stole anyone's money, except maybe the guy in Holland who said my singing was so bad, I should give him his money back. I did have some VERY BAD things done to me, which I can not talk about right now, but I will soon.
Are all of you excited considering the reunion, shows etc.? Does still the same fire burn in your heart that back in the day, considering Savage Grace? I mean, you are still a metal head and metal is in your vein forever…
The German band Roxxcalibur will be backing me up at Keep it True. I look forward to playing with them. I intend to deliver a great performance.
What about former/early members such as Dan Finch, Brian East, Mike Smith and John Birk?
They will not be part of the show.
It’s well know that next year you will perform at the Keep It True festival, but what about your future plans as a whole? Do you plan to record a comeback album?
There will be a remixed release of “Master Of Disguise” later this year and a few surprises. Who knows what could happen from there.
Being a longtime fan/musician you are, in your opinion, how much did the whole metal scene change compared to the early/mid ’80s? Did the whole Internet thing make the metal world easier considering distribution, promotion etc. or…?
That time was very special. It was really incredible the creative energy that was released. A lot of forces converged like the formation of a new universe. Today it is very hard for musicians to make money with their music with all the piracy. There is very little reward offered for all the sacrifice.
How would you sum up the career of the band? On what would you change it? The best and the worst memories…
It was an incredible journey for 12 years., a lot of pain, suffering, tears, hope, joy, excitement. We made some great records and put on some great shows. We met some great people and a lot of crazy people. I always tried to have a good time along the way. Things I could change, I will let you know in a few more years. The best memories were the great shows, the fun on the road, the great recordings, the worst memories, constantly looking for new musicians, very frustrating and such a waste of time.
Chris, thanks a lot for the answers, anything to add what I forgot to mention?
Thank you for your very well thought out questions, and Thanks to all the Savage Grace fans. I hope to see you one more time in Germany next year.