|There are a lot of metal bands in the world. It’s a tough genre to really make a good go at it. Especially here in the states. With pop/country ruling the airwaves, a
handful of so called “rock” stations that don’t seem to have noticed that hard rock and metal music exists beyond the 1980’s and most metal heads not wanting to
pay for music when you can just download it and forget it (which, let‘s face it, is what happens more often than not). It’s a tough challenge to rise above all the noise
and clutter and make a living as a metal musician.
Things sure have changed a lot in the metal scene over the decades. Metal went from being an underground genre, to mainstream and back to the underground
and, at least one point, almost dismissed as a thing of the past (and from some of the headlines we see, some still do).
But for those of us who love it, it’s more than music, it’s a part of life. Metal heads will still play metal even if we can’t make a living at it because it’s a part of who
we are. It’s what we do.
Here we talk to a band who have seen a lot. They have been around for a long time and taken all the hard knocks and faced all the challenges of making thrash
music that anyone could expect.
They were there to witness first hand, the original thrash movement and made all the moves to be a part of that. They saw what was great about the genre and they
also saw the ugly underbelly of the greedy music industry. They saw how the industry has changed and how, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
But…They are still doing what they love. We have a ton of respect for them for that.
So, for starters, you've contributed a track called "Shake It Off" for our listening pleasure.
What can you tell us about the song?
Well it's definitely not the Taylor Swift song! She would have had a lot more "fun" in our video! Swift and pain free!
The original version was the 5th song we recorded during the same session we did for the songs that wound up on the NAPALM Bootcamp
EP (released 1986). Combat Records didn't spend a DIME on it, they just pressed our demo without us even knowing!!!
Sorry, back to Shake It Off... It came out too sloppy and we ran out of studio time, so we never mixed it down. The lyrics are about
"The Road Warriors" - Hawk and Animal, professional wrestlers at the time who were in the National Wrestling Association (the "original"
NWA!) The Monarch loved these guys. They would enter the ring with Iron Man playing and they would beat the shit out of their opponents
- no technical moves or finesse or any of that crap. At the time this was unheard of. We made a cheap music video using various wrestling
clips, with plenty of that VHS "fuzz". The ring announcer says "They just seem to shake it off!".
If I remember I'll try to post that old thing up on youtube one day.
Didn't SLAYER put out a song based on wrestling awhile back? Warzone? We beat their asses to the punch by many many years as
Shake It Off is definitely THE first thrash wrestling song EVER. Lemmy wrote a wrestling song too for his buddy Triple X I think, The Game?
- But that's not thrash anyway and we were still miles ahead of Sir Kilminster!
|Who comprises your current line-up, and what role do they fill in the band?
Chris "The Monarch" Weidner - vocals
(original founder originally on vocals and bass)
Aady Pandit - bass (he is also our engineer, and an excellent guitar player)
Jeff Rossbach - lead guitar
Rex "deadfoot" Rossbach - drums
You guys are no strangers to the metal genre, but how about a brief
history lesson for those who may not have had the chance to discover
you back in the day?
In 1985 my brother and I got together with The Monarch to do what METALLICA
were doing; play that new thing called "thrash" metal. No make up or outfits, just
get up on stage in street clothes and blast out the riffs and shout on top of them.
When we got a deal with Combat Records, we had to change our name from
COMBAT to NAPALM, as "management" felt this was a big conflict.
That was our first mistake of many. Maybe it was the start of the COMBAT curse.
We put out the Bootcamp EP in 1986 and promptly broke up right after it was
The track you got was recorded much more recently and came off our Mission Of Mayhem album. Obviously more polished than any of the old versions.
Mission Of Mayhem includes all the old classic tunes we used to play plus some extra surprises.
The Monarch wasn't done yet and moved ahead with a new lineup to record Cruel Tranquility on SPV Records. I
was one of their roadies driving their shit around in my van. Did you know we got kicked out of Connecticut -
escorted all the way by a state trooper! This is still a great record. After that, The Monarch left and the
remaining lineup recorded one last NAPALM record on SPV called Zero To Black. By that time the material didn't
resemble what we had started. Sounds like sour grapes!
We got back together around 2001 with Bob Eubank on vocals and bass and recorded 2 albums with him and
then he was done. I guess we have that effect on people. Monarch came back for another round of torture on
Mission Of Mayhem.
Who and what were your biggest influences when Combat was formed? Are there any modern metal
acts that stand out out to you?
METALLICA - as simple as that. They were not the superstars they are today, but they were better then.
They've been kind of suck-o-la since after the black album. Some would argue since the black album.
We saw them at a local club as the warm up band for RAVEN, another early influence. My brother and I didn't
know who the hell they were. Pizza faced Hetfield came up to the mic looking like a psycho. Cliff was possessed
swinging his head and hair around busting out distorted bass lines while wearing a flannel shirt. Couldn't even
see midget Lars behind the drums but he could play (remember those days?!) The songs were really fast, and
Kirk's leads were awesome, but WTF I think he wore a button down shirt. I know it sounds ridiculous but it was a
holy shit moment for us. They performed Kill 'Em All from start to finish. Jealous much? HA! It's okay, I barely
remember it so you can make fun of me back.
We were influenced by many other bands, and probably each of us would have a different list, but I don't think
any of the guys will deny any of the following:
MOTORHEAD, SLAYER, SOD, EXODUS, EXCITER, DRI, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, VENOM, SODOM...
For modern metal acts we love the "new wave" of thrash bands: WARBRINGER, BONDED BY BLOOD, EVILE,
VIOLATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, TOXIC HOLOCAUST and don't forget HAVOK - those guys are just amazing...
But what does new wave even mean? Or is it 2nd wave? Tidal wave would have been cooler, like from an
|There's no question that the music business isn't what it
was thirty years ago. How have things changed for you in
the meantime, the good and the bad?
Yeah it isn't what it was 30 years ago, thank god. But I don't
think we'll ever be out of the woods. The music business blows
and still does. Let's face it, musicians are an odd bunch to be
kind so mix that with any number of dishonest business guys
(record companies, clubs, "managers", whatever) - then add
drugs/alcohol and young hormones and you have quite the
recipe for lots of exploitation and bullshit. The same shit that
was happening back in the day happens today. Makes for
endless interesting stories! Like the ones in Penthouse! How
about all that shite on TV like America's Got Talent, etc.? Man I
feel so bad for some of those people getting roped into "the
system". I work for Simon Cowell now! OH GOD NO!
30 years ago if you wanted to do it all yourself, you could record, press records and album covers, and sell your records, but it cost a TON of money. And most shlubs like me
didn't even know that was possible. I only know of one band that attempted it, and when I found out I was in awe like a deer in the headlights. And then there was the daunting
task of distribution, with no way to get on the radio. So big farkin deal that you knew someone at a college radio station. 5 watts of antenna power got you a huge 2 mile radius -
which if you were lucky covered half the campus, and on cloudy days part of the town, most of whom could give 2 shits about thrash. Forget getting on any real radio stations,
that was like entering Mt. Olympus. Or trying to get bread from the Soup Nazi. You were "allowed" to play local clubs on weekdays when there was nothing else going on, but
unless you had a big following it was pay to play to get on the bills that really mattered. You had to out-pay all the other knuckle-heady bands doing the same thing. Or bring
better drugs to the deal. Yeah sure there was tape trading (early Napster - thanks Lars) but that was hit or miss, and if you didn't get a review or got a bad one in one of those
fanzines you and your band were lepers. Signing your life away for a record deal, if you could get one, was a necessity because it automatically took care of all those problems.
And we stupidly signed whatever they pushed in front of us, not realizing you could negotiate the terms. First born? check! Vital organs? check! 99% of your royalties?
check! Remaining royalties to offset business expenses? check! What most kids like us didn't realize is that it brought you into a whole new set of problems. No one was there
to explain the process or advocate for you, instead you were just another $ sign walking around in a fog of ignorant bliss. "Oh god thank you we're signed!!!" That 20K they just
fronted you to record and produce your new album is the only money you'll ever see until you record another album.
Nowadays it's easy to be an indie artist and release everything online, and it just keeps getting easier and cheaper. I just
switched us over to DistroKid where you can add an album for a one time fee of 20 bucks. Just upload the artwork and mp3's,
and they automatically post them on iTunes, Amazon, Youtube, etc. Getting CD's made is almost as easy and you can get 100
copies made for under 2-300 bucks. You can get vinyl made too, but it's not as cheap as doing CD's, though still do-able for like
1000 bucks, depending on what you do - unheard of back in the day. You can get t-shirts, posters, flyers, buttons, patches,
stickers, etc. all on the cheap as compared to yesteryear. Getting gear is so much easier these days - Amazon Prime! But wait
before you start high-fiving and singing hallelujah, betting get in line for fisting and saying your hail mary's... How do you stand
out among the 50 million other crappy bands doing the same shit as you?! Remember myspace? Got replaced by facebook or
as I call it assbook. Yeah it's great, connect with people, yadayadayada. But seems like all the same problems we had back in
the day are still there, you just get feedback immediately at any minute of the day or night instead of enduring the mental
anguish of waiting a couple of months to only find out that you suck.
One comment about the CD digital format. It blows. It's cleaner than vinyl and has better bass response, but it's way too
So all those artsy fartsy vinyl fanatics are right; the CD format sacrifices data. Don't worry, I'm not getting all
misty eyed and nostalgic, vinyl and especially cassette suck balls too. There are so many better digital formats
out now that make the CD format sound like an old cassette and blow vinyl away. Someday the CD format will
finally die and take scratchy vinyl along with it. Maybe when we all have gigabit cell service.
There is one thing I do bemoan about the old days, so give this old thrash drummer a minute to reminisce.
That's the fact that the art of making an album flow is all but dead. Remember when you could drop an album on
the turntable and play it front to back? Oh wait, I'm really dating myself... Trust me, you could do it and it was
awesome. That skill seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird. That and the fact that people have the
attention span of a hummingbird to hardly make it through the first minute of song unless it gives them some sort
of music orgasm before fingering the next thing on their phone.
Are there any recent recordings the listening public should know about, and how can they get their
hands on them?
What have been some of your favorite places to perform, and some of your favorite bands to share a
Well back in the day we warmed up for MOTORHEAD at a local club and got to meet Lemmy. We were trying to
give him one of our t-shirts but he was being all weird about it, like it was the wrong size and he gave it back.
Maybe he wasn't toked up yet.
I've been lucky enough to have subbed in and played drums for 3 local bands, and surprisingly they've asked
me back from time to time! We have tons of respect for them - VERMEFÜG, MAGUS BEAST and
CASTROFATE. From the ashes of VERMEFÜG came BRÖHAMMER another cool local band but no longer
active. Our buddies in MARTYRD have been putting out quality progressive thrash records for as long as I've
known Mike (guitarist/founder). NJ legends ATTACKER are still going strong and gave us our first break into
the Jersey scene. BEYOND FALLEN who are also on the FLMF bill this year invited us on a bill in Pennsylvania
a number of years ago. NJ locals APATHY have an absolutely great record in Decade Of Aggression - there is
something magic about that album. They need to put the original lineup back together and make the magic
happen again. VICTIM OF PAIN was a great local thrash band we played with a couple of times. And these
guys in REIGN OF PESTILENCE from Massachusetts when they were still active, were always so great to us.
Our label guy Nick, who is also an excellent guitarist was in HELL'S THRASH HORSEMAN (no longer active) and
currently in CYST. LOCKDOWN was a hardcore band formed by ex-NAPALM guitarist Jeff Lombardi who I still
stay in touch with. I'm sure there are plenty more that I'm forgetting. Feel free to take it out on me on social
If you were to be approached to provide a movie soundtrack, what film genre would your music be
best adapted to?
Honestly who cares! It would be cool no matter what kind of movie. And if we got a few bucks in the process, even better. But let's face it, it would probably be B-movie horror!
It's the meat, don't skimp on the meat!!!
You guys will be joining us for Finger Lakes Metal Fest soon, are there any other fun events you'll be playing that people should know about?
No! We're saving all our energy for this one epic gig!
Speaking of playing live, are there any fun road stories you'd like to share?
One time we played NoWareHouse in Baltimore and met this guy that was heading to Florida the next day.
Only he didn't have any money, not even to get into the show. He told us he was going to take the train by
going to the train yard, getting under the train and ride for free. Literally wedge up in there underneath for
hours, like those stunts you see in the movies. He said you had to watch out for the workers checking for illegal
riders, so you would continually hop off and back on at every station, while moving. He said it really sucks when
Aliens have invaded, and your music is the only way to save us all from being turned into human
jerky. What song from your catalog would be the best hope to save the world?
Come on, aliens are already here, and the world is already lost! Our material fits the sound track of the
apocalypse, not hope for mankind!