Bassist, producer, label head and much more
How did this particular Praxis album come together? Did you have all the vocalists lined up before you started, or was it put together piece by piece?
It wasn’t totally lined up. I had a few ideas. Some people had been contacted and told that there was possibly a project in mind, but it wasn’t totally structured. I just started putting pieces together with the core band, which was bass, drums, guitar, sometimes keyboards, sometimes turntables, and we just started building tracks and step by step gradually adding vocals on. Sort of like the way hip-hop is made, I guess, where you create a beat and someone writes to it.
Did the vocalists record in the studio with you, or send you their stuff on hard disc or by email?
Probably about half recorded in the studio, and then some did electronic back-and-forth.
As Praxis albums go, this is pretty straightforward stuff. Did you know when the album began that you wanted to go in this hard rock/metal direction?
Yeah, I think so. When it started I was in the middle of a lot of collaborations with drum ’n’ bass producers and new, up-and-coming people from different places, so some of the foundations actually came from the drum ’n’ bass reference, and then it was sort of decorated with—because it was a lot of guitar, bass and drums and not horns or too much electronics, it started to lean more toward what I guess you’d call a more rock direction. I was listening to all kinds of even conventional metal at that time, so there was that influence, and I was kind of bridging the drum ’n’ bass into this rock thing. So it was just kind of a hybrid that was happening without being totally conscious of all the elements.
What’s the music-writing process like with Praxis? Do you and Buckethead and Brain get in a room and jam out riffs like a regular rock band?
I think on that one I actually sort of wrote some riffs, and then Buckethead embellished that, and I might pull out something and use his part or vice versa. Then we did just sit down and play a little bit and come up with structures, and again, that probably constitutes about half, because some of it was these forms and structures that were sent to me by drum ’n’ bass producers from all over the place. There’s probably three or four—which ones I can’t even remember at this point, but there were three or four of those that were structures that we just improvised on and then edited and sort of rewrote. But sometimes the writing process is just putting something on a tape and then rearranging it. That’s kind of the new notation, I guess.
This album was released in Japan in 2008—what were the legal holdups that kept it from coming out in the US?
That was a rumor, because there were actually no legal holdups. I owed a record to Sanctuary. I did a deal with a guy who was at the label called Merck Mercuriadis. We made a deal for, I think, about five records, and before I really started this record, Sanctuary kinda went away and he disappeared, so I no longer owed them a record. So it was never a legal thing at all, it was more—what I didn’t want to do was just give it to some small label that would fold and then I would never hear of it again. And it was in a time when majors were not so trustworthy. You’d give it to a major and it might not ever come out. I didn’t want to throw it away, so I purposely sat on it until I thought I could have more control over it being visible and available. And I did it in Japan strictly to realize the package, to create a hard copy to give to people, to have artwork and be able to say ‘This is the idea, eventually I want to put it out worldwide.’ That’s the story. I read that there was legal stuff, but there never really was. The Sanctuary thing was so loose you could hardly use the word ‘deal.’
How was the Blood of Heroes project put together? You’ve known Justin Broadrick since about 1989, right? Did you meet him through Mick Harris?
Yeah, it’s been a long time. I don’t know Justin that well. I like some of the Godflesh stuff and some of the stuff he’d done with Kevin Martin, and I got those guys to do tracks for records I was doing. I’ve never really worked with him that much. I always sort of liked what he did, and the minimalism of it, and the directness, but I didn’t work with him directly on that project. I just played on it, added some stuff, and he had already played on it when I played on it. It’s not my project, really.
Was that album recorded with people working together in the studio?
No, never, that was a strictly mail-it-in project as far as I know. When I played on it, it was drum programming and some sounds, and I put some stuff on it, and Justin was already on the tape, and then I did a few mixes. I think there’s one of them on that remix record. But the way it resolved, I thought it was mixed rather lo-fi. I thought they lost the bass and some of the programming, which I thought was the more powerful side of the music. I didn’t think they did justice to what was there. I think they lost a little bit of edge on his guitar. It seemed to favor the programming over the guitar, the bass and definitely the vocals, which suffered. So I didn’t think it was a very professional result.
The quartet you were in with Zorn, Fred Frith and Dave Lombardo—why was that group never really documented with a full-length studio album or a live CD or anything like that?
I’m not sure why. It happened so quickly, and I think we only played in Canada, New York, Paris and London. We played four or five times. Lombardo had left Slayer, and he was kind of looking to do things, and I think right after that little run he rejoined Slayer and got very busy. And I think Zorn was moving kinda fast as well, and we never followed up on it.
Do you feel that was a successful collaboration, musically? That it achieved what it set out to achieve?
It’s hard to say. I’m not quite sure if it did, because I’m not sure if Dave ever totally connected with what we were doing. I was trying to connect with what he was doing, but he kept changing his approach. There’s one thing he does with the double bass drum which goes back years, back to the record everybody loved, Reign in Blood, and he still does that, or did that, pretty effectively. And that’s undeniably kinda powerful. So when he did that, there was something there for sure. I’m not sure we all made the right contribution to it. I’m not really clear what happened there. It seemed to happen really fast. Sometimes in improv, it comes and goes and you don’t even remember what you did, and other times it stays with you like a composition.
You haven’t done much work as a producer with metal or hard rock acts—do you think metal has a rhythmic rigidity that’s difficult for you to tune into?
I can tune into it. It’s like most things, if you’re not in direct proximity to it and you’re not somehow deeply connected, you don’t wanna be a tourist and just try to invade into these spaces. If you’re not directly connected, it’s not gonna be natural. I haven’t come into contact with something that was natural—and starting out, I talked to bands like Megadeth and thought about those things, but at the end of the day I thought it wasn’t as important as other things I should be thinking about. I worked with—I don’t know what you’d call Motörhead, a rock band, I guess—but some of those kind of things. I go through phases where I’m totally interested. A few years ago it was, like, Earth and all those bands. I thought that was really interesting. But they don’t need me to do anything. I just listen to the stuff.
So you feel like metal is a world unto itself that doesn’t need your help?
You know, if I had something that was direct and I was conscious that it would be something relevant and might be an improvement somewhere or something that could enhance it, I would maybe push for it. I would need to know what kind of group or situation. I wouldn’t mind playing—I just did a recording with a drummer from Sweden, Morgen Ågren, and his approach is very advanced and incredibly complex. I guess you could say derivative of metal. And my approach was something else. And we did a recording with Finnish guitarist Raoul Björkenheim. So that kind of borders on a mutant sort of metal.
They couldn't get a sponsor for "Best Vocalist"?
* John 5 (ROB ZOMBIE)
* Dan Donegan (DISTURBED)
* Gus G. (OZZY OSBOURNE, FIREWIND)
* Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance (AVENGED SEVENFOLD)
* Janick Gers, Dave Murray, and Adrian Smith (IRON MAIDEN)
* Alexi Laiho (CHILDREN OF BODOM)
Drum Workshop Best Drummer:
* Tommy Clufetos (OZZY OSBOURNE)
* Abe Cunningham (DEFTONES)
* Joey Jordison (ROB ZOMBIE)
* Roy Mayorga (STONE SOUR)
* Nicko McBrain (IRON MAIDEN)
* Mike Portnoy (Ex-DREAM THEATER, AVENGED SEVENFOLD)
* Glenn Danzig (DANZIG)
* Bruce Dickinson (IRON MAIDEN)
* Chino Moreno (DEFTONES)
* Ozzy Osbourne (OZZY OSBOURNE)
* M. Shadows (AVENGED SEVENFOLD)
* Corey Taylor (STONE SOUR)
Affliction Album of the Year:
* AVENGED SEVENFOLD, "Nightmare"
* BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, "Order of the Black"
* DEFTONES, "Diamond Eyes"
* OZZY OSBOURNE, "Scream"
* STONE SOUR, "Audio Secrecy"
* VOLBEAT, "Beyond Hell/Above Heaven"
Samson Zoom Best Live Band:
* AVENGED SEVENFOLD
* IRON MAIDEN
Most Metal Athlete:
* Chris Cole (pro skateboarding)
* Dan Hardy (MMA fighting)
* Toni Lydman (NHL)
* The Miz (WWE wrestling)
* Jeremy Shockey (NFL football)
* Mike Vallely (pro skateboarding)
Best New Band:
* ASKING ALEXANDRIA
* BLACK VEIL BRIDES
* THE DAMNED THINGS
* THE PRETTY RECKLESS
* TIMES OF GRACE
* WE ARE THE FALLEN
Eagle Rock Comeback of the Year:
* FAITH NO MORE
* A PERFECT CIRCLE
* SYSTEM OF A DOWN
New song from 1 of 2 2011 albums
Extreme Noise Terror vocalist found dead
Win a free trip to London & tons of free stuff
• 2 tickets to see CHILDREN OF BODOM live on April 9th in London
• Roundtrip airfare for two
• Hotel accommodations for a two-night stay
• An exclusive Meet 'n' Greet with the band
• 1 ESP LTD Alexi 600 Scythe Guitar, signed by COB's Alexi Laiho
• 2 ZERO skate decks signed by pro skaters Chris Cole, Jamie Thomas & Garrett Hill
• 2 copies of Relentless Reckless Forever on CD
• 2 COB hoodies & 2 COB T-shirts
• $400 spending money for the trip
The runner-up will receive:
• 1 ESP LTD Alexi 600 Scythe Guitar, signed by Alexi Laiho
• 1 ZERO skate deck signed by pro skaters Chris Cole, Jamie Thomas & Garrett Hill
• 1 copy of Relentless Reckless Forever on CD
• 1 COB hoodie & 1 COB T-shirt
The "Children Of Bodom Relentless London Sweepstakes" will end on March 6th, 2011. Contest rules can be viewed at www.coblondon.com/rules. NOTE: You must be 21 years of age or over to enter.
Cactus, Captain Beyond, Abdullah, Mammoth Volume and more
Also out today: Devildriver, Earth, I See Stars
New indie movie: good for metalheads?
live local music on
Enter your ZIP code to see concerts happening in your area.
Data provided by Zvents