jueves, 12 de abril de 2012

Interview with Mike Usifer (PRIME EVIL)

MARTIN: Mike, thank you very much for taking the time to answer this questions. Let’s talk about the origins of Prime Evil. You´ve started in a growing underground thrash/death metal scene, how the band was created? 

MIKE: Thank you Martin; it is an honor. Well…you can get our whole bio on our web site www.primeevil.net … but basically, Gary & I were playing together in 1984 in a band playing Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden covers. When we started writing original songs, they were coming out faster and heavier. We started adding some early Slayer, Motorhead, and Celtic Frost; that’s when Andy joined the band in 1985. From there, we just kept playing as many shows as we could and writing new songs. We went through a couple of drummers and bassists until we found Mary and Tad in 1987 and recorded out first demo. 

MARTIN: You’ve released three demos during the early years. Which was the response of them on the scene of that moment? 

MIKE: I must admit, we were taken back by the responses of each demo. We never expected such great responses from the zines, radio, clubs, fans, and other bands. The scene treated us very well from the start, and we were extremely honored to have been a part of it. Everybody was breaking in back then – Death, Dark Angel, Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, etc. It was an awesome time to be a Metal band. 

MARTIN: While other bands of the scene get signed for their first album, Prime Evil didn’t get the proper recognition in my opinion. Do you have an opinion of why the labels didn’t notice the music of the band? 

MIKE: There are many reasons…I think the biggest reason was because we didn’t send the first demo out to any record labels. We only sent it to fanzines and occasionally to radio stations when requested. That was our mistake. We were completely unhappy with the sound, and we were embarrassed to shop it to labels. So, while Death & Sepultura were getting signed, the labels didn’t have any representation from us. In hind sight, that was a mistake on our part. We thought that by waiting, and sending out a more polished demo like The Manifestation, we would grab the labels attention. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. We never had management, so it was extremely difficult for us to get the demo in the record exec’s hands. By the time we did the Industry Demo in 1990, the labels were telling us we were too technical. Even with Gene Hoglan of Dark Angel and Steve Reynolds of Demolition Hammer pushing for us to get signed to their respective labels we couldn’t get a good deal. We did however get about 6 or 7 contract offers throughout our existence, but we had politely turned them down. The one staple that PRIME EVIL have always stood by was that we would not give up any of the rights to our songs. That’s probably the 2nd biggest reason why we weren’t signed. It is a principal that we still stand firmly by today…and always will!

MARTIN: Ed Farshtey released a 7” on his label Rage Records. How did you get contact with him and what are your impressions of that record? 

MIKE: We first met Ed when he did an interview with us for his zine The Book of Armageddon, and we became friends immediately. When he and Joe Pupo started Rage Records, they approached us with the idea, and we gladly accepted. That 7” is my proudest achievement to date. It features 2 of our best songs from that time, and it received extensive college radio airplay, landing us on the CMJ Loud 100 Chart for some time. It was an amazing achievement for us that I am still very proud of today. 
MARTIN: You are mentioned on Glorious Times book (The Bible of old US Thrash/Death Metal). Thanks to the editors (Alan Moses and Brian Pattison), I discovered the band and read some interesting histories. Please if you want share with us some of them, specially about your first shows. 

MIKE: There are so many road stories and stories about the early days… One that comes to mind was in 1987 when we played in a religious hall. I didn’t really know anything about the show except when and where. I didn’t care where it was, I just wanted to get our music out there; so I made up a flier using the demon on the cover of our first demo and Andy’s sister started hanging them up in the high school. Apparently, one of the teachers thought it was sacrilege, and started a whole big controversy trying to get us off the show. She went to the local newspapers and radio stations pleading her case. In the end, we still played the show to a packed house because of all the publicity; and we literally “Haunted the Chapel” that night! 

MARTIN: Which more known bands did you support, or share shows with them? 

MIKE: We shared the stage with so many great bands! We played a lot of shows with fellow New Yorker’s Immolation, Demolition Hammer, Incantation, Suffocation, Morpheus Descends, Mortician, Brutal Truth, Winter, M.O.D., Lethal Aggression, Murphy’s Law, and Cro-Mags, as well as many shows with Death and Cannibal Corpse. We also played with Sepultura, Carcass, Pestilence, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, Obituary, Goreaphobia, Deceased, Ripping Corpse, Profanatica, Death Angel, Sacred Reich, Watchtower, Devastation, Cynic, Exmortis…sorry if I can’t remember them all! 

MARTIN: I’m from Argentina, and obviously didn’t live those years. How was the thrash/death underground scene in terms of bands, venues/clubs and the audience?. Did you have some shows with more “intensity” and maybe violence, because of the crowd reaction (I mean pits and situations on a gig)? 

 MIKE: When we first started, there wasn’t Death Metal yet; there was just Thrash Metal. Back then, the scene in NY was a mix of a few Thrash bands and a lot of Hardcore Punk bands; so almost all of our shows were a mixture of both types of bands and fans. There would be fights in the pits when skinheads would get pissed at Metal heads playing “football” and not slam dancing. But once Death Metal came around, the scene was awesome! The bands, venues and fans worked together to make it the best music scene there ever was! 

MARTIN: You have Mary (Ciullo) on the bass. I can remember Lori Bravo of Nuclear Death as another woman (Or Jo Bench of Bolt Thrower) that played on a extreme band. How was the relation with her talking about the band exclusively?. The audiences accepted her without any absurd prejudice?. As you know, some metalheads didn’t like a woman on a metal band. 

MIKE: Well, Andy met Mary at a Slayer show, and once Gary and I met her, we knew right away she would fit in. She was just like us; a Metal Head! We never had any prejudice that I was aware of. Mary is actually the most popular member of the band! 

MARTIN: Why did you split up in 1992? 

MIKE: By then, any good record deal we had fell through; and we were all young and struggling to make a living, so we didn’t have any money of our own to record and release our own album. Without being able to release material of our own, we decided to retire the band at that time. We kept getting small offers and requests to reunite, but the timing was never right…until now! 

MARTIN: During your first years did you get demos, tape trading with south American bands? As you know specially Brazil had an huge underground scene at that moment. 

MIKE: Well, Andy & Mary used to handle all of the correspondence back then; but I do remember them bringing a lot of different zines and tapes from South America. I don’t remember most of the names (Sepultura, Mutilator,…), but the scene was huge back then! 

 MARTIN: Let’s talk about “Unearthed” CD, it is an awesome collection of your demos, the EP plus live performances. How was conceived and how did you see it after all this years? 

MIKE: Like I said before, even after we broke up, we continued to get some offers. One of those offers was to release the first demo and The Manifestation demo as a vinyl Ep. That fell through, and we were sitting with all the Master tapes of our 3 demos; so we approached King Fowley of Deceased about releasing it on his label, Battlezone Records. He agreed, and the rest is history. 

MARTIN: But Prime Evil returned last year!. Please tell us how the five of us get in touch again to revamp the band. 

MIKE: YES! We have returned! Well, we have all gone through various things in the past years that prohibited us from all getting together at once. But, in 2010, Todd had posted a PRIME EVIL Facebook page. None of the rest of us were on Facebook at the time, but our spouses were, and they had stumbled across the PRIME EVIL page, and we all decided to get together in the Summer of 2010. Andy brought with him copies of Glorious Times for everyone, and Todd took pictures to document the event. It was then that we decided we wanted to do PRIME EVIL again! 

MARTIN: Do you have any plans for record a first album?. 

MIKE: We are putting the finishing touches on songs right now for a 5 song Ep to be released at the end of May. Once that is completed, we will start working on a full length that we hope to release in November. 

MARTIN: I’ve seen on Glorious Times book pictures with DEATH. Could you tell us some words about the band and specially Chuck Schuldiner (RIP)?. And what about Dark Angel? 

MIKE: Back in the early days, when Death was still a demo band, we had a connection with Chuck through our drummer Tad. At the same time, Mary was friends with Gene from Dark Angel, so we all knew each other early on in our careers. I think we played more shows with Death than any other band! We played with them every time they were in NY, and we even played with them up in Buffalo with Carcass and Pestilence. It was amazing to see the progression of Chuck as a musician and songwriter. I truly believe he is the Father of Death Metal. He became one of the greatest guitarists in our genre, and he was also an amazing human being who left us with an incredible legacy! We sadly miss him, but always fondly remember him. 

MARTIN: Outside of music, do you have works?. As it happens in Argentina, I assume that a musician didn’t live from their art. Any hobby apart from the music? 

MIKE: As for me, recording music is my hobby. I have been building up my home studio over the years, and I am currently up to 24 track digital recording. I hope to continue to build up and have a full blown recording studio soon. Gary does custom auto painting for work, and Andy is a production manager at NBC Universal. 

MARTIN: About music, being and old school outfit, what do you think about this Pro Tools thing, and use of triggers for a performance or a recording?. Do you love a natural sound or believe that could bring the sound of a band to a new label? 

MIKE: Being an apprentice engineer, I believe in technology, and anything you can do to enhance the sound is great. However, technology can be abused, and when it is used to cheat, instead of enhance, then it is kind of like lip-synching. I believe a Metal band should be able to create their sound and performance live, without cheating! 

MARTIN: Are there any plans of doing more shows on US? 

MIKE: YES! So far, on May 26th we are playing on the Dark Ascension Fest with Artillery and Deceased in Brooklyn, NY; on July 27th we are playing on the Mortal Extinction Fest with Mausoleum and Funerus in Poughkeepsie, NY; and on October 27th we will be playing at A Day of Death in Buffalo, NY. 

MARTIN: Mike, please choose your ten favorite records, no matter what genre they are. 

MIKE: It’s really hard to break it down to just ten, and my favorites change all the time…so this is my current list of favorite albums; in no particular order: 1. Goreaphobia – Apocolyptic Necromancy 2. Immolation – Providence 3. Autopsy – Macabre Eternal 4. Atheist – Jupiter 5. Psyopus – Odd Senses 6. Cannibal Corpse – Evisceration Plague 7. Macabre – Grim Scary Tales 8. Napalm Death – Time Waits For No Slave 9. Entombed – ALL! 10. Whitechapel – A New Era of Corruption 

MARTIN: Ok, this is it. This interview is published in English and in Spanish. Any words for the fans or people that are reading this?. Feel free to say whatever you like. 

MIKE: Thank you Martin for the interview! These were great questions, and we appreciate everybody’s interest in PRIME EVIL! Please look for our EP to be released at the end of May, and check us out at these web sites: 



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