úterý 26. listopadu 2019

Home » » Interview - POSSESSED - These days, I just try to make good heavy music that scratches that itch.

Interview - POSSESSED - These days, I just try to make good heavy music that scratches that itch.

Interview with legendary death metal band POSSESSED.

Answered Mr. Jeff Becerra, thank you!

Translated by Duzl, thank you!

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

Ave POSSESSED! Jeff, imagine for a while that in 1992, there was a bunch of young guys, metalheads, who liked to listen to thrash metal in a small town in the Czech Republic. One of them went to the neighboring Poland to the market, where they blasted the cassettes. When he returned, he brought an unofficial (that we did not know) "Seven Churches" from MG Records. To the former socialist countries, were receiving recordings with several years of delay. I remember we were sitting with my friends all weekend at the tape recorder and listening to the tape all the time. This tape was incredibly hard, dark, crazy for us. And has influenced us for all our Iives. I must thank you very much for the beginning of our interview. For me and my friends. 

How did you feel when you went to the studio? Recording after so many years has to be a huge change. You already have a completely different experience, and you also have a different approach to recording, but mainly ... technology has changed, everything is digital. Have you seen big differences? Did something give you a problem when you was recording the vocals? 

Hello, Jakub, first let me thank you for your time and patience this interview has been a very long time coming. In truth, between my last album and this new one 33 years has passed. But with regards to the studio and the equipment evolving over the years I had still been doing the occasional side-project here and there as well as hanging with friends during studio time. And even though, the new equipment is usually made so that it will be an easy transition. So even though it’s new it still pretty much works similarly to the older stuff. And of course, I had Peter T, and my guitarist Daniel Gonzalez there to help with the engineering & producing, tech stuff so it wasn’t that crazy. I was the Executive Producer as well as Co-Produced this new one so it felt pretty natural. As far as my vocals, they have these giant hard-drives that store every single take so I have the ability to keep punching in lyrics until I find the right one. Although, I was pretty prepared by the time we actually hit the studio so I was usually able to do it first or second take. We were really prepared for this one. 

How does the current POSSESSED work? I think who, and how composed a new material, who is behind the individual ideas? In which studio did you record? 

I am the band leader so all ideas come through me. At the same time, my guys are all professionals and have all earned the right to be in Possessed. I write all the lyrics & song titles and most songs are written by me and Daniel Gonzales and on a few songs it was truly a group effort with me, Daniel Gonzalez, Emilio Marquez & Robert Cardenas all pitching in. On the songs that I write music for usually how it works is that I will record anywhere from six to twelve riff ideas and email them off to Daniel who went to college to learn Engineering & Production. From there, Dan will incorporate my riffs and sew them together and record them with a drum machine and his solos. Dan will then send that to Claudeous and Robert to record their parts. After then, Dan will fly to LA and mic up Emilio’s drums to replace the drum machine. Lastly, Dan and I record my vocals in my basement. This is how we made the demo tape. We included a hidden click track and used those initial recordings as “scratch tracks” or foundational tracks to record the actual studio album over so that saves a great deal of time and money. 

I like your new album "Revelations of Oblivion" in all respects. The sound is brilliantly “outdated and dark”, the cover is excellent. But the main ones are ideas and there are plenty on the record. As if I had returned to the time when the world was ruled by VENOM and thrash and death metal began. What are the bands that influenced you in your early days? And what do you listen to today? Are you still a fan, do you collect music? What does you listen to when you're driving a tour? Or when you just resting? 

Usually whenever I say a band, „influenced“ me it is about attitude more than actual musicality. The people that have really influenced me over the years are the actual musicians that I am playing with and hanging around. Back in the day, (and now) bands like Exodus, Venom, Mercyful Fate really changed my life and made me want to just go super dark and heavy. Also, the SF Bay Area hardcore Punk scene was incredible and still is. To see some of the harder punk singers just let it out vocally and not hold back. I loved that primal yawp and wanted to take that into my Possessed vocals. 

Author of the cover of the new album is Zbigniew Bielak. Personally, I'm quite focussed to the metal cover art, I like to wear them on T-shirts and the new POSSESSED album must be done by someone who likes your music! Is that true? Did the Zbigniew get inspired from your music or did you choose from the prepared paintings? How did you get together? 

Yes, Zbigniew grew up listening to Possessed. In truth, I had no idea that “Z” did the Ghost albums as well as so many other great bands. The way that I met Z was because any time that I played Europe, especially near Poland Zibigiew just seemed to show up and have his calendar and work with him to show me his latest creations. I loved both his talent and his drive and hustle. Because he showed so much passion and interest and so obviously had the talent I emailed him and asked him if he could create a church for the new cover. This was created through countless back n forth discussions between Zbigniew and myself and took the greater part of a year to create. Last June, when we played Mystic Festival out in Poland (with Slipknot) Zibigniew had an art exhibit there showing many of his iconic covers and artworks. Included in this was the original Revelations Of Oblivion cover art which is a pretty giant piece and done by hand in oils and paints. We all signed it and it was a really great experience. 

I read a very nice interview for the Polish magazine with you from 2016 and you mention that the current line-up of POSSESSED is Robert Cardenas - bass, Daniel Gonzales - guitar, Mike Pardi - guitar, Emilio Marquez and of course you. But Mike Pardi was replaced by Claudeous Creamer, why that change? 

Yes, we really love Mike and maintain a close friendship today still. Mike has a young daughter and decided that he wants to concentrate on being a great father to her and being there for her as a single parent which just shows what a great guy Mike really is. Claudeous, is an amazing guitarist and I can’t imagine Possessed without him in it. So it was really a win-win situation. 

You are a legend that has a big name. When POSSESSED is said, anyone who just sneaks to metal knows who is talking about. But I was fascinated by your performance in our country in the Czech Republic in Ostrava. You played with BELPHEGOR and ABSU and this year with Czech bands. You stayed after the concert with fans, chatted, signed, photographed. For me personally, it's such an extra bonus that distinguishes the big (I mean really great for us fans) bands from the small ones. How do you feel live concerts and meetings with fans like vocalist and musician? By the way, musically and singing it was absolutely perfect performance, thank you! 

Growing up and being a huge fan of metal I was lucky enough to get to hang around so many bands. And whenever I went to concerts I remember just really wanting to meet the band members. At the same time, the people that listen to our music are literally the reason that I go up on stage and create music and without them I am nothing. So for me, meeting up with my fans & supporters after the show I do not only for them but also for me as I just find it enjoyable and makes it all so much better. 

My friend whispers here to ask you about some funny stories from POSSESSED history. Should you have any for us? What about the first underground concerts? 

Oh God. Lol! Touring always produces some funny stories because it is just so ruthless. At the same time, touring with a band is the equivalent to being married to four ugly women as we are forced to put up with each other and live in close quarters. Back in the early days we had this crazy roadie and friend named Toby Rage. We had saved up our money and bought an old blue Chevy van, removed all of the back seats, covered the floor with blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and 13 of us all piled in and went on tour. Driving for 23 hours a day can start to get boring so I would come up with what I thought were fun ideas. On this occasion, my idea was that we should all keep drinking beer and try to fill up the entire van with empty beer cans. So we all started drinking heavily and throwing the beer cans down on to the van floor. After time we kept having to stop to buy more beer and piss. Every time we opened the side door to get out a litter of beer cans would come flying out and clatter all over the ground outside and we would have to carefully shove them all back in so as not to lose any. Eventually, our driver became completely fed up with having to stop so many times and yelled at us that we were going to be LATE and miss the show. But we were undaunted and stayed on task, drinking and throwing our beer cans on to the van floor. Filling up more and more. Pretty soon, we were all screaming to the driver, „STOP WE REALLY NEED TO PISS!!“ but he refused. So we began pissing into anything that would hold liquid and then opening the back doors to the van and dumping them out and whenever we ran out of containers we simply whipped out our dicks and pissed out of the opened back doors of the van to the shock and horror of families and drivers behind us. After this happening and the massive wind that blew back in whenever opening the doors, the driver again yelled at us and told us not to open the doors again or he would quit. That’s when Toby Rage decided to piss in a Fritos corn chip back. He filled that entire big ass plastic bag with his urine. And you have to realize that Toby was a pretty scummy looking guy that slept with way too many girls and had openly talked about Herpes and other social diseases acquired over the years. He had half his head shaven and the other half was long hair and he was covered in acne. When Toby tried to throw his Fritos bag of piss out of the van’s side window that only opened up a restricted 5 inches or so (because were no longer allowed to open the back doors) instead of dumping his dirty piss outside the wind blew all of his piss back into the inside of the van and COVERED every single one of us inside with his piss. LOL! It was both disgusting and funny. 

Stay still in history. You are considered to be one if not the first, band to start playing death metal. Hard, dark music which was spread throughout the world. How did you perceive it then? Did you realize you created a new direction? 

Yes, for sure, we were the very first “Death Metal” the band both in name and style. As much as we loved Thrash I had always wanted to go heavier and darker. Venom had “Black Metal” and Exodus had “Thrash Metal” and I wanted to have a brand of our own. Back then, our music was so much heavier than other bands and it really was apples to oranges so completely different than Thrash. We did this intentionally. I had always noticed that music had this invisible line. And while bands would only hint at the Devil and Satanism and they always stopped short of just going full-on fast and straight time without letting up. I wrote the song Death Metal and we began calling Possessed and actively promoting Possessed as a “Death Metal” band back in 1983. I figured (naively) that because our music was so much different than Possessed would be the only death metal band in the world and this is what would set us apart. Of course, luckily, soon after we released our first 83 live recordings and videotapes as well as started touring a lot of other bands really loved what we were doing and also began calling themselves death metal. And the rest is history as they say. I am proud to have played my part in this movement and to be the first band in death metal history. 

When you started out as a musician, you played the bass. Are you playing even today? Are you giving her more attention when you are recording? Are you telling your colleagues that they're playing something wrong? It is said that when someone plays a musical instrument, it will always remain in him and he would look at the world through the eyes just above the instrument. 

Yes, I still play both guitar and bass daily. But since I am now in a wheelchair I made the difficult decision to stop playing bass live on stage because it would force me to just sit there in one place. So now I concentrate my focus on my vocals. With the old material I was able to show Robert some of the more challenging riffs if he got stuck and the other guys some of the guitar and music if they got stuck. And of course, I am still playing and writing for the new music & albums at home. I will never quit playing as it is just a part of who I am. And you’re right, I have always identified as a “musician” then a vocalist and this really helps with perspective. 

At the time you started, a lot of fans listening thrash metal, but also black metal, punk. Which bands the most influence you? Is there a musician who was your idol and thanks to him you started with the music? When I tell someone today that I have listened to a lot of RAMONES in their beginnings and I still love them today, they do not believe me :)). 

I grew up in the SF Bay Area metal scene and back then the kings of the Bay Area underground were Exodus & Metallica. We were all good friends and used to go to shows together and play shows together almost every weekend. And of course, there was a myriad of Bay Area bands that kept us going to weekend shows and really just 100% absorbed into the underground scene. It was a way of life more than anything and took all of our time all day every day and all night every night. Because there as so much Bay Area talent one couldn’t help but pick up on things. At the same time, the best way to try and stand out was not to copy people but to try and create something original and make something yourself. In my logic, we are all completely different people so I just decided to pull from inside myself and try to put that on my albums. 

Today's current death metal is often played on the edge of clarity. Lots of bands play a lot of technically, brutally, they have an "artificial" sound. Are you looking for new bands? Did some bands get your attention? Do you attend concerts and watch current events around death metal? 

I love all types of music. And I support all musicians and bands. It’s pretty crazy how some bands have fallen into that sheer technical gymnastics type format but for me, for Possessed, I am all about straight-up heavy ass music. Rather than trying to be the “heaviest band on the planet” which in truth, I have already been back whenever this was still possible. These days, I just try to make good heavy music that scratches that itch. 

Jeff, do you still remember your performance at the OBSCENE EXTREME festival in 2014? You had a huge success on this great grind festival! How did you like it there? And what you say about Czech fans? 

I do! In fact, at least part of our set at Obscene Extreme is on YouTube. That show was really crazy and really fun. Nobody had warned me that people were dressing up and jumping up on the stage, but honestly, I grew up in the days when stage diving and slamming were crazy and it felt a lot like those days. My usual drummer Emilio Marquez was unable to make that tour (having a baby) so we had Nick Barker on drums so that was also fun. Great show. In truth, I really look forward to playing the Czech Republic every European tour and make sure to include the Czech Rep because the fans are so fucking real and in my opinion, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. 

Since the founded POSSESSED, 36 years have passed. You are famous, you have true fans, and you perform at big festivals. Is there anything else you want to achieve as a band? What are your goals for the future? 

Honestly, it still feels like I am starting out. I love playing music so much and I just want to continue playing as long as I can;. I want to keep making albums and meeting new people and touring. And whenever I die, I want Possessed to live forever in the heart of the world. But most of all, I want people to really enjoy my music. 

Thank you very much for this interview. For me personally, this is one of the fulfilled dreams. I never thought I'd ever be interviewing a band I like and admire my whole life. Thank you very much Jeff - for the music you are doing, great concerts and for everything. I hope that the new album will be sold well. I also wish you many successes and health in your personal life. I will look forward to your next visit to.

POSSESSED -  Revelations Of Oblivion

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