Since, somehow, people haven't heard of Liege Lord, Contaminated Tones' dudes Steve and I happened to catch up with bassist Matt Vinci at their November 3rd, Dingbatz show with Freedoms Reign and Attacker to find out what's going on with their planned new album, recent tours and whatever else we could elicit. If you believe Heavy Metal is dead and gone, pay attention...
|© Michael Paranoid Photography|
Matt Vinci: Right, right... of course.
S: Alright, Jon... are you actually recording this time?
O: Yeah... I actually am.
S: You're positive.
O: I am positive. Last time I interviewed Mike Sabatini and I completely forgot to hit record. And we did a twenty to thirty minute interview...
M: Oh no!
O: ... and I completely forgot to record.
M: Let me know if we're on. Haha.
O: Yeah... we're on haha.
S: First. How have things been going with the reunion? People are recieving it well?
M: Yeah! Everything's been going very well. Ummm... there was a little bit of a lull. We took the summer off basically, because our singer works with Yes - the band Yes - so, they're not touring right now so we're doing some gigs and we have been getting some... you know... we have a bunch of plans that we're going to... yeah.
S: What does Joe do with Yes?
M: Joe is the Production Manager and Steve Howe's guitar tech.
S: Oh. Awesome.
M: Yeah. And they tour all the time so we have a window now where we can do some stuff.
S: So you mentioned that you've been working on new material. How is that coming along?
M: It's coming along very well. We have... basically I have about three song to bring to the table. Anthony - the other guitar player and original member - has about four songs and we're going to let Dan - the new guitar player - and Joe is going to write a couple so we'll probably be at about fourteen or fifteen songs. But it's coming along very well. Umm... the stuff that we wrote sounds very much like the stuff that we did before... it sounds very similar with a couple slight changes but... very happy with it.
O: When you guys are writing material is there a specific formula that you guys go with in terms of how songs get composed or...
M: Yeah! Yeah.. yeah..
O: One person writes a song and then you guys add to it or does one person write everything...?
M: The first three albums that we did, me and Anthony Truglio wrote... like I wrote songs on the bass and he wrote songs on the guitar and then I would write the lyrics for my songs and for his songs... we're doing the same thing now. So it's the same formula except we're going to throw in a couple of Joe's songs and a couple songs by Danny also. But the meat of the songs are from the two of us and we're doing it the same way when we were twenty three, twenty one.
S: That's great. Going back to Master Control, you worked with Terry Date who went on to do a lot of very famous bands, especially Pantera's Cowboy's From Hell... how did he shape the album and what type of role did he play?
M: Well... I think that... now you have to remember this was 1989. All he had done was Soundgarden's demo and... umm...
M: Yeah.. he had done a couple other things... Who did Baby Got Back?
S: Sir Mix Alot!
M: Sir Mix Alot! He did Sir Mix Alot... so he was kind of newer then... so what happened was basically his technique was better guitar sound... better with the vocals... he just had a better ear than some of the other experiences we had so... that was really it. We... like I said... back then we got him for nothing basically compared to what you would consider an engineer and a producer now.
O: Was working with him on Master Control different than working with the producers on the first and second album? How was working with him different?
M: Well... the first recording we did ourselves. The second album Joe Bouchard, the bass player from Blue Oyster Cult did. Ummm.. Working with Terry was, like I said... he was just a little more in tune with the scene... you know what I mean? He was a little more familiar with the style of music and so... that's really it. He just had a better ear and was in tune more with it..
S: I'm going to stand here to block the wind.
S: You mentioned Metal Blade is looking to do re-releases of the first three albums?
O: I also heard a box set was in the works.
M: Yeah. That's what it's going to be. Metal Blade Europe and Metal Blade US are going to put together a box set of the two Metal Blade albums we did and the first album... we're going to give them that. And we're going to maybe put a live DVD of a couple tunes from Keep it True and some older stuff with our other singer and umm... booklet kind of thing. Probably this summer? (This sounds a bit like it may be similar to the three-disc Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian re-release - Orion)
S: Are they going to be releasing the original recordings or doing any remixing?
M: I think they're going to remix it.
S: Alright. With Burn To My Touch... that was never properly mixed, I think.
M: Yeah... no. It wasn't.
S: What was happening around that time? Was getting signed to Metal Blade and just trying to get it out quickly?
M: Yeah. We tried to get the album out quickly and we ran out of money.
S: Hopefully that doesn't happen again.
M: No, it's not going to happen again.
S: Jon, do you have a question?
O: Why? Do you have more?
S: Of course!
M: Go For it!
S: In 1987 you toured with Manilla Road, who never really stopped... hugely regarded band... Jon's got his Manilla Road backpatch.. Do you have any memories of the tour?
M: Hahaha! I was hoping you were going to ask me that! I don't really remember! I think we were drinking a lot of beer back then. Ummm... ahhh... we didn't tour extensively with them, we toured with Anvil and Candlemass for a period of time. I think the Manilla Road gigs were just on the East Coast. I think that's all it was. I do remember this: I remember them being nice on a personal level and I liked the music... I thought they were very cool and interesting and they were on the same record label as we were: Black Dragon.
S: Black Dragon?
M: Black Dragon.. yeah... but do I have any real memories or stories... no... I'm sorry. I'm afraid I don't. That was a while ago though.
S: Candlemass are playing Maryland Deathfest this year. Manilla Road did last year...
S: Gotta get them to get Liege Lord on that bill.
M: Yeah. Right now we're subjected to Joe's schedule with Yes but he's going to be free in June so there's talk of doing a festival in June... a couple of things...
S: Warriors of Metal in Ohio?
M: The Hellfest? I think it's in Germany.
S: Hellfest is France, I think.
M: Is it France? Ok. Joe would know better than me. Umm... so he has some ideas. We're free that month... like whole month and so.. yeah... we'll see about that.
O: So. Talk about... who writes the lyrics for the band. Who does most of that?
M: I do. I wrote most of them. Joe wrote a few on Master Control. The other two albums, our singer Andy wrote a couple but the majority I wrote.
O: So when you're writing the lyrics, what kind of influences do you take what interests you as far as lyrics?
M: Ahh.. you know what... I'm doing the same thing now that I did back in the day... it's very just kind of like sci-fi influenced kind of storytelling. That kind of thing. You know...
O: It seems like you apply a lot of... that aesthetic of the science fiction side of but at the same time a lot of the lyrics you can apply them to more real life situations...
M: Trying to blend the two. Trying to blend a little bit of the creepy sci-fi with the... something you can actually relate to kind of thing. And... kind of like I said a lot of the songs we're doing now and the lyrics are very Master Control style. It sounds like that and it's going to give a nod to that. It's going to... so...
O: What would you say is your favorite song lyrically that you've written for Liege Lord and what... what about that song makes it your favorite? Is there something specific in the lyrics?
M: Ahh....... Well... I was just a kid when Freedom's Rise, the first album, came out so I was... ahrg... I'm not going to.. (Matt sighs)... I don't know, man. It's hard... I would say the lyrics to Master Control might be my favorite only because it's kind of a longer song and Joe's like spitting the lyrics out really fast and there's a story to tell and it kind of... I'm going to go with that... but I'm very proud that at such a young age I was actually able to actually write stuff that now still sounds fresh... so... we'll go with Master Control. As a favorite... for lyrics.
S: What ever happened to Andy Michaud - the original singer?
M: Why isn't he in the band or why did Joe or...?
S: Well, obviously Joe is an upgrade but... what ever happened to him? Has been in other bands that are still around or...
M: Ahhh no... well after we let Andy go he didn't ever sing in an original band and he moved out of state for a long time... I think he lives in Connecticut now... but, you know, he never recorded with anyone.
O: So you guys let him go?
M: Yeah... yeah... well we were just... we were looking to change up the singing situation and we did it sight
unseen. We didn't have a singer lined up. It wasn't like we had someone lined up... it was like we were "Ok, let's replace him," we let Andy go and Joe answered an ad in the Village Voice and we got lucky, man.
O: I think he's probably one of the more recognizable vocalists... and not just vocalist - he's had a long history of..
M: Yeah! Yeah..
O: ...at least being a part of the metal scene with his work in Overkill and...
M: ... Annihilator, he's got a band Dusk Machine...
O: I think he did stuff with Metal Church too...
M: No... I don't think he did anything with Metal Church... Annihilator.
O: Yeah... I confuse those two bands all the time.
M: And there's something else too... and I can't remember. But yeah... we didn't have a plan... we just went
with it and Joe came down the line, man. So.. yeah..
S: So, a cheesy question. What are your favorite Maiden and Priest albums?
M: Hahaha. Ahh.. well, I'm old school, man... I like the 70's Priest. Probably Stained Class and Iron
Maiden's first album, I'd say. I like the older stuff.
O: From the perspective of bassist, what bassists have influenced you specifically?
M: Ahhh. Well... you know, when we were writing songs back in the... way, way back... I was big into... I grew up on John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin and Geddy Lee from Rush. I grew up on that stuff. When we started writing I was heavily into Maiden and obviously the bass licks are kind of in that... realm... ummm... But I really like Geezer Butler, I really like... you know, I like those old school guys... I don't really know bass players. I always liked the way Jason Newstead played... I liked him in Flotsam (Flotsam & Jetsam - Orion) and I liked him what he brought to Metallica... I liked Cliff Burton too... but when I was writing songs, when I was younger it was probably Steve Harris and, you know, before that Geddy Lee and those guys.
S: Have you been listening to any newer or modern metal lately? Have you been into anything like that?
M: Hah.. I'm just getting back into it, man. I don't know... Like the stuff I listen to is way out in left field. The music I listen to is way out in left field.
S: As far as shaping the sound of a new album, would you be looking to do more 80's style production?
S: Like the old school or a thick modern production?
M: No. I think we're going to go for a thicker more modern production... but the songs are definitely going to have an older school metal sound. Because of who we are... ummm.. so, yeah. You know. We're going... You know we were never one-hundred percent happy with the things that we did. We're going to try and make that right now with the new thing. We're going to try and make it right.
O: So you say that you weren't happy with everything you've done to this point.
M: With the sound, no.
O: So it's specifically with the production or were there other things that you would go back and change?
M: No, the production was... you know we were in the stone age with technology it was a different time we were subjected to studio money - all that kind of stuff - and you could record basic tracks in someone's basement now... you know what I mean? Save money, have more time to do things instead of having the clock ticking. We ran out of time. We ran out of time on all three albums... you know.
S: Did you have material that you were going to record that you didn't?
M: No! No! We just didn't have time to really dig in and make sure that everything was one-hundred percent. There was always a compromise.
S: When you worked with Black Dragon, were they getting their records over here because you were around here or were they not really distributing them?
O: I believe distribution with Black Dragon was always an issue.
M: Yeah... well distribution with everybody was always an issue back then, you know... umm... Black Dragon put stuff out in Europe and I think that back then, Imports were big with metal and I think we were just getting imported over here with probably Manilla Road, and... whoever else... there were a few others...
S: Heir Apparent, Candlemass' first album...
M: Yeah... it was just a trickle down import thing from Black Dragon.
S: Were they getting stuff to Connecticut because they had a band here?
M: No. I think it was just the stores were getting imports...
M: And maybe... back then in the record store era, people might ask for us or they might have ordered it from connections they might have had. That's probably what happened.
S: Well, I've gone through all my questions. I do want to point out that I'm the only person in this conversation that hasn't played bass at Keep it True... since both of you guys have. Haha.
O: I remain nameless.
O: The last time (I saw you) at Webster Hall, you did one of the first shows you've done in the US since, I guess you're..
M: I think it was the second...
O: Reunion... second then... How do you guys go about deciding on what your setlist is going to be?
M: Well, we play a lot off Master Control, because that's what Joe knows... he knows the other ones too. When he joined the band we were doing all the old stuff but twenty five years later... we're trying... we picked out the songs as best we could from the other two records that are fun and that we liked at that we know people like that like the band... we try to pick a few of them and we left a couple out but we picked most of them, you know what I mean? That's how we did it.
S: Are you going to change it up a bit? Any chance of playing Transgressor?
M: Not right now. No. We're trying to... you know, because of Joe's unavailability to rehearse because he's on the road with his other job, we... you know... Once we do the St. Vitus gig in December, then we're going to regroup and write new songs and probably learn a couple older songs too. To bring to the table, yeah.
S: Have you had a chance to play any of the newer stuff you guys have been writing as a band?
M: Nooo... it's still in the... I know the songs I wrote, Anthony knows the songs he wrote, but we haven't sat down as a band. But we're going to do that soon.
O: What would you say is the time frame for the new album?
M: The time frame, loosely, we're hoping, is that we have it recorded basic tracks and maybe some of Joe's stuff in the summer and have it out maybe September, October? A year from now.
O: Are you planning on shopping the new album, or will...
O: You stick with Metal Blade.
M: We don't know yet. We have ideas and, you know... if they come to us and say "how bout this" sure, that would be great but as a band member that hasn't played in forever getting back into it, we're doing a first things first, make sure it sounds good. Best thing we can do is record it make sure we're happy and then I think it will take care of itself. I really do.
O: You have a couple new members and ummm, what kind of energy have they brought to Liege Lord that maybe wasn't there in the reunion in 2000? Do you think that Danny and...
M: Well, I wasn't in that reunion either! Neither was Anthony. They replaced all of us except for Joe and Paul.
S: They had like three song-writing credits between them?
M: Haha.. No we didn't... the timing wasn't right for me to play the 2000 thing umm... but the two new guys we have now, again, we got lucky. Danny... Paul Nelson was an incredible guitar player but he plays with Johnny Winter now so... we found Danny we're very happy... I was amazed that he stepped in playing Paul's solos note for note, hahaha. I was amazed, you know... that's very interesting. Frank Gilchrest is a really great drummer... you know his resume, right?
S: Virgin Steele...
M: He's a really great drummer so, we got lucky. We got lucky when we got rid of Andy and got Joe and we got lucky with these two new guys... I think the band sounds better now than it did... Well, when we played in Stanford, before we went to Keep it True, you know... I thought we sounded pretty good... by the time we played Webster Hall, I thought we were rolling! I really did.
O: That was a great show.
M: I thought we were rolling by then. But, again, now it's been a while... this is our first show in a while so, we'll see how it goes.
O: You have a handful of shows upcoming now. Several of them are with Attacker.
O: What kind of relationship do you have with those guys and how long have you known them for?
M: Really, we knew them from the 80's. We knew Mike, we knew the band from back in the day. My recollections of all those things - same thing with Manilla Road - a hazy recollection of a lot of details but with social networking... Mike Sabbatini reached out to me on Facebook and said "Hey, what's up?" And we got to be friends. He said I have to go to Germany where Keep it True is happening to take care of stuff, so he was there and we got to be friends and, you know, I gave him an itinerary of when we were available and he just mustered up a couple gigs and that's how this happened. And that's how the other gig is happening. Same thing.
O: You were originally supposed to play a show with Attacker in Philadelphia and that fell through. This is the first show that you're doing with them since then.
O: Was this kind of an "owed" show because that fell through?
M: No. I think that Mike was trying to get gigs and he was trying to figure out if maybe we could play with Liege Lord too and see, you know. Like I said, I gave him that window of time that Joe's around so... we're not making up for not doing that gig... I think we would have done this gig anyway but, you know. That's it. We just have that window of time.
O: So far, what has been the best show since you've guys have started playing shows again. You haven't done that many but..
M: Ahhh... well, this is my opinion but, the other guys will have a different opinion... Hey! Pat, nice to see you!... ahhh, I really think Keep it True was fantastic, it was the catalyst of the band getting back together but we played a show the next day, it was the next night... in another town really far away from where the festival was and we showed up at this place... it was a rock club... big rock club... a little bigger than this...
O: Bigger than Dingbatz! Who would have known they existed!
M: Haha. It was a pretty big rock club, man. We hadn't talked to anybody from there... we were busy with the festival, we showed up at this gig... they had a photo of us in the window from the Master Control... from the 80's... in the window, they did no promotion, nothing... and people showed up. To me that was really important because, we knew what we were getting with Keep it True and nothing against Keep it True but my favorite show is the show in Essen, Germany at the Turock Club, because it was a band that hasn't played in twentyfive years in another country and no promotion and people showed up and they were into it and I loved it.
O: Was that show discussed with the organizers of Keep it True or was that on the DL?
M: No, we told them we were going to do another show. They said just don't play before you play our show. Yeah, they were cool with it. Joe was being diplomatic with Ollie from Keep it True.
O: So what do you have coming up, other than the album. Do you have any more shows coming up... you have one in December...
M: We have one in December in Brooklyn, and if we can do something else we will. That's the only thing right now that we have.
O: I think that's pretty much it. Thanks for the interview and we're looking forward to seeing you again, tonight.
M: Thank you, thank you! Hopefully we're not too rusty. I think it will be ok. We practiced three times for this gig, so... we'll see how it goes.
O: Should be good!
S: Same setlist as always?
M: We abbreviated a couple songs because it's not our headlining show... So we killed a couple songs.
M: Fellas, Thank you!