This page should eventually contain transcriptions of as many Fear of God. Détente and Dawn Crosby interviews, album reviews and concert reviews as possible (and translated into English where needed). If you have any to add, I'd prefer readily transcribed English versions. But if you insist on sending photocopies or something like that, please remember that I can only read English, German and Dutch.
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Metal Hammer Nr. 1, January 1986 (Détente demo review) - soon coming
Rock Hard Nr. 15, somewhere in 1986 (Détente demo review)
Rock Hard Nr. 18, somewhere in 1986 (Détente album review)
Rock Hard Nr. 18, somewhere in 1986 ("Recognize no Authority", interview)
Metal Hammer Nr. 3, March 1986 ("Thrash Without Compromise", interview)
Metal Hammer Nr. 8, August 1986 ("Recognize no Authority" review) - soon coming
Crash Nr. 9, September 1986 ("The New Speed Hope from Hollywood", interview)
Crash Nr. 9, September 1986 ("Crash Test", listening session)
Metal Forces No. 19, 1986 ("Breaking the Law", interview)
Kerrang No. 130 (review of 'Recognize no Authority') - missing
Kerrang No. 134, December 1986
Kerrang No. 328, February 1991
Aardschok/Metal Hammer April 1991 ("Within the Veil" review)
Rock Hard Nr. 50, May 1991 ("Within the Veil" album review) - soon coming
Rock Hard Nr. 51, June 1991 ("Apocalypse Now", interview)
Metal Hammer Nr. 6, June 1991 ("Within the Veil" album review) - soon coming
Metal Hammer Nr. 6, June 1991 ("God Fearing Thrashers", interview)
RIP, June 1991
H'Art Nr. 10, June 1991 ("Within the Veil" album review) - soon coming
Burn Nr. 8, June 1991 ("Within the Veil" album review) - soon coming
Break Out, July 1991 ("Within the Veil" album review) - soon coming
Revelation Nr. 2, somewhere in 1991 ("Within the Veil" album review)
Thunderbolt Nr. 12 ("Fear of God", interview)
What's That Noise? Nr. 10, 1992 ("Within the Veil" album review) - soon coming
Aardschok/Metal Hammer, April 1992 (small "Breaking through the veil" studio report)
Rock Hard Nr. 62, June 1992 ("Aardschokdag" review section) - soon coming
Aardschok/Metal Hammer June 1992 ("Aardschokdag review section)
Heavy, Oder Was?! Nr.3 July/August/September 1992 ("Aardschokdag" review) - soon coming
Break Out 7/94, July 1994 ("Toxic Voodoo" album review) - soon coming
Bang! Heft 4, August/September 1994 ("Fear of God", interview)
Aardschok August/September 1994 ("Toxic Voodoo" review)
Rock Hard Nr. 88, September 1994 ("Toxic Voodoo" album review) - soon coming
Heavy, Oder Was?! Nr. 15, October 1994 ("No Longer a Small Fish", interview)
Heavy, Oder Was?! Nr. 15, October 1994 ("Toxic Voodoo" review) - soon coming
Rock Hard Nr. 89, October 1994 ("Once to Hell and Back", interview)
Visions, November 1994 ("Living and Dying in LA", interview)
Nonkonform Nr. 3, 1995 ("Toxic Voodoo" album review) - soon coming
Eternal Flame Nr. 3, 1997 ("Forgotten Children of God #1", "Within the Veil" album review) - soon coming
The Australian Musician Issue 18, June 1999 (interview with Ross Robinson)
DETENTE DEMO REVIEW (Rock Hard Nr. 15, somewhere in 1986) (originally German)
The fact that primarily poser bands appear from LA is probably well known. That's why I was surprised when I heard Détente's demo. First rate thrash metal with two good guitarists and a female vocalist with a great, dirty voice that looks good too. Détente wants to separate themselves from the glam- and pop-rock scene in LA, and this is readily recognisable on their 4-track demo. "Widows Walk" is a strong start, before "Holy War" that is the weakest song on the demo. The last two tracks are good again, though, "Vultures in the Sky" and "Shattered Illusions" are two excellent songs, carried by Dawn Crosby's good voice. Because the production of the demo is good, too, I can advise every speed/thrash fan to get this demo. If this band isn't available on vinyl in the near future, my name is Franz-Josef!
DETENTE ALBUM REVIEW (Rock Hard Nr. 18, somewhere in 1986) (originally German)
A lot has already been written about this album. I myself have dual feelings towards it. For starters Détente has something special and is an original band (not in the least because of Dawn Crosby), but the music makes me nervous (especially because of Dawn Crosby). Luckily there are titles such as "Holy War", "Shattered Illusions" or "Losers", which are simply excellent and will be liked by every thrasher. "Recognize no Authority" is to be advised to thrash fans on account of Dawn's extreme organ. Détente does not belong to my favourite bands, but they no doubt deserve their place in the scene, primarily because of the good, politically coloured lyrics. A 7.5 for this LP, but it's not anyone's cup of tea; listen before you buy!
RECOGNIZE NO AUTHORITY (Rock Hard Nr. 18, somewhere in 1986) (originally German)
DÉTENTE this name doesn't need any further comment actually. After all those numerous articles all around the world, this band formed around pretty vocalist Dawn Crosby normally should be known to everyone. What, she isn't?
Dawn: "For me, DÉTENTE is a very rebellious name. "Relaxation" (in a political sense) is something everyone desires at heart, but the interests of certain people stand against it. So without an arms competition American economy would probably break down and many people would be unemployed. Thus, bombs are kept on being built, so people can live; no-one wants peace, the trade with fear continues. DÉTENTE is a provocative term and that is good." Some of DÉTENTE's lyrics are also political and rebellious. Dawn Dawn writes them nearly on her own, as the title of the debut album "Recognize No Authority" shows. "Everyone should do and leave what they want and say what they want. "Recognize No Authority" means to not listen to others, but to go your own way. Don't listen to governments, bigmouths, teachers and parents live your own life. Our lyrics are sometimes very political, e.g. "Holy War" is about the situation in the Middle East and the fact that many innocent people die in a war of belief, for a god. Other lyrics deal with other current affairs. I get my ideas from papers, news programmes and watching people."
One could be led into thinking DÉTENTE are one of these typical crossover bands...more punk or metal, Dawn?
"We are a metal band with punk lyrics and a punk voice, I'd say, haha. I also listen to a lot of punk, Crass or Exploited are among my favourites."
Now let's get to the most interesting subject: Dawn surely is an extraordinary goodlooking girl (there are even rumours that just by her appearance the little one from Los Angeles has turned some editors and fans into will-less (horny) slaves...), thus it's surely not easy to hold one's ground in a tough thrash scene, e.g. at gigs! "Oh, I usually don't have any problems with that, people fully accept me as a thrasher, even more as I am an enthusiastic stage diver, at our gigs each time all hell's breaking loose, mostly 500-2,000 people attend. Only one time it got tight, when some guys of DARK ANGEL (allegedly absolute bigmouths, as many people say...) pulled me into the audience and tried to pull off my T-shirt, but luckily some friends of mine in front of the stage defended me so that I could save at least half a shirt onto the stage."
Do you think it is an advantage that DÉTENTE have a frontwoman, which is easier to sell in the magazines? "I don't know, at least I don't put a lot of effort into looking good, if I wanted to do that, I would have become a photo model and not a vocalist in a thrash band. I want people to respect me for my lyrics and my music and nothing else!"
The question if you'd pose nude for a magazine to get money or help the band is therefore superfluous...!
"Absolutely NO! Never! Not for money and not for other reasons either, that would destroy my entire work with one single blow. I even had an offer of a few thousand dollars from LUI once, but I turned it down, though I could have done with the money. Women who dropped their clothes in the music scene were not taken seriously anymore later on, it's a kind of sell-out, you know?"
DÉTENTE: THRASH WITHOUT COMPROMISE (Metal Hammer Nr. 3, March 1986) (Originally in German)
The story of this Californian band is actually the story of charming vocalist Dawn Crosby. So I took the phone and did one of those "cheap" telephone conversations. But let Dawn tell it on her own.
Dawn: "Between '73 and '77 I sang in different high school bands in San Diego and Los Angeles. Afterwards I didn't do anything in particular for some time. At the end of '82 I moved to London where I sang in the band First Attack in '83 and '84. At the end of '84 I returned again to L.A. where I founded Détente. From our current line-up only Dennis Butler was there right from the start. In April '85 we recorded a 2-track-demo with the songs "Shattered Illusions" and "Vultures In The Sky". About a month later the band split up, because I wasn't satisfied with the musical attitude of the musicians. No more than three weeks later I had gathered the right guys to start Détente again. Via a small ad I found Lunatic-bassist Steve Hochheiser and the excellent guitarist madman Ross Robinson, who also brought along his friend, Caleb Quinn. Drummer Dennis Butler, also someone who on stage freaks out and puts all his aggression into his playing, was, as I just said, already in the first Détente line-up. After we'd spent two weeks in our rehearsing room we moved to San Francisco, where we played gigs at The Mab and at Ruthies, followed by a gig at the Country Club (L.A.) as supporting act of Megadeth. In October we recorded a new demo which contains apart from the two songs from the first demo also the two massive headbanger songs "Widow's Walk" and "Holy War". This tape was sent to different magazines and so also arrived at the staff of AARDSCHOK/METAL HAMMER, who got us into contact with Roadrunner Records."
How does a femals vocalist get such a rough (rather male) voice?
Dawn: "Our rehearsal room is close to a railway line and each time a train thunders past I try to top its noise. Besides, I don't smoke so it's a good training. However, I do drink (no Seltzer water auth.)."
How does the audience react to you? I mean, you don't get to see a female vocalist in a speed metal band every day.
Dawn: "At the beginning they don't know how to deal with it, but after the first song everything's sorted out, then they don't see the difference between me and other metal vocalists anymore. The show is full of energy, during each gig I dive into the audience about three times. I don't have any problems with the band, either. I manage the band, write all the lyrics and a part of the guitar-lines. I'm fully accepted."
Who are your fave bands or vocalists?
Dawn: "My fave bands are Sisters of Mercy, Crass, Metallica, D.R.I. and Slayer. Furthermore the female vocalist of Sacrilege, James Hetfield and Tom Araya."
How would you describe your music?
Dawn: "Fast metal with punk lyrics. So don't expect any love songs!"
I heard you're on the "Metal Massacre VII"-sampler?
Dawn: "That's right, we're on it with our demo-track "Widow's Walk".
What about your debut album?
Dawn: "We'll enter the studio probably in March to record our debut LP "Recognize No Authority". We still don't know who's going to produce the album, but Dana Strum (among others Vinnie Vincent) is interested very much. On the LP there'll be, apart from the demo-tracks, the following songs: "Murder Incorporated", "My Life Is Pain", "Russian Roulette", "Losers", "The Blood I Bleed", "It's Your Fate" and "Genocide Of Our Kind", as for the other songs, we haven't decided yet."
One thing's for sure, the fans of Slayer/Possessed should be prepared. "At Dawn They Sleep" (Slayer).
THE NEW SPEED HOPE FROM HOLLYWOOD (Crash Nr. 9, September 1986) (originally in German)
In the otherwise male-dominated thrash metal scene, Détente from Hollywood/California comprise one of the few exceptions, which, as we all know, confirm the rule. Because with their hot front chick Dawn Crosby, the five speedsters have a female member among them, who is at the same time the musical head of the band. Reason enough to run Dawn through the mill on her small European promo tour...
Crash: To start with the formalities, let's have a brief look at the band history.
Dawn: A few years ago I lived in London, where I tried for the job of a vocalist in several bands. As I didn't succeed, I bought a ticket and flew to L.A. to start my own band there, together with an acquaintance of mine called Dennis Butler, our drummer. That was about 20 months ago. For one year, firm members have been: Caleb Quin (guitar), Ross Robinson (guitar) and Steve Hochheiser (bass), with whom I have also worked on the song material for our current album RECOGNIZE NO AUTHORITY. Owing to my origin, we could excellently combine European and American elements.
Crash: That sounds quite interesting, but in how far does this show through on the album?
Dawn: My main infuences are deeply rooted in British punk like Exploited, Discharge or Sisters of Mercy, so that the lyrics as well as the vocals tend in this direction. Yet on the instrumental side, the album is more metal-oriented!
Crash: Does the album title, RECOGNIZE NO AUTHORITY, have a special meaning?
Dawn: Yes, it's a kind of concept going through all of the songs. It means that everyone should say exactly what they think and mustn't let any government put them down. Or, to cut it short, "Live for yourself!"
Crash: As a female vocalist, one has certain advantages within a band and also among the press, I'm thinking of 'sex symbol' and similar stuff. What does a Dawn Crosby think about this?
Dawn: I hate such phrases as I, personally, consider myself neither pretty nor anything else. What counts for me in the first place is the music. If I'd looked better, then I would have become a photo model. I have already received an offer of over $ 15,000 by "Oui" (they also disrobed Lee Aaron), yet I turned it down. I won't undress myself, neither for money nor to become known to a bigger audience. I also think that many of those who have already done it now regret it!
Crash: You seem to be a very self-assured lady, but what is it like being "on stage"? Arent there certain people who...
Dawn: ...yes there are. It happens very often that fans try to pull me into the audience during the gig to rip off my T-shirt. But so far I've always been lucky, because my friends are the 'Hollywood Trashers' (probably some kind of rocker gang - the author), who have always 'saved' me so far. For those down there it may be very funny, bit I'm not into it at all. I've bought myself a black body suit as a 'weapon', haha!
Crash: I'm anxiously waiting to see it! When will we get a chance to admire it in Europe?
Dawn: We have the same management company as Agent Steel, and if the sales of RECOGNIZE NO AUTHORITY do well, then we'll come this fall. I'm already looking forward to it!
CRASH TEST (Crash Nr. 9, September 1986) (Originally in German)
"Crash Test" is a column where an artist in invited to listen to several tracks, and respond to them. In September 1986, Dawn got a chance to do that.
Craaft "I Wanna Look In Your Eyes"
"I already do hate the lyrics after just a few lines! But: a good production! Could become a big disco hit, a good rock-disco-crossover, which is full of clichés, though. Probably very good background stuff in single bars! Could be from America, where it surely will do well in the right clubs."
Sacrifice "Turn In Your Grave"
"Another one of those guitarists who are in love with themselves! The bassist plays tremendously fast! Is it Cryptic Slaughter? No? Possessed? What, Sacrifice, never heard of them! Sound like Slayer-clones! I ask myself if this young man really is as evil as he sounds! Good tempo, but that's all!"
Ozzy Osbourne "Rock'n'Roll Rebel"
"A very good song, excellent guitar work, and for Ozzy's part good lyrics! Probably the most political he's ever written. Our producer worked together with Ozzy when he was 18. It's the bassist of the Vinnie Vincent group, Dana Strum, who in his days also got Randy Rhoads into contact with Ozzy. He also wrote some songs for Ozzy's first and second album, yet foolishly sold the rights to them!"
Europe "Rock The Night"
"Sounds like a Christian rock band! That's Europe, right? A big name for a band, and when they go to America, they'll probably make it. But the music has got a strictly American design. I wouldn't buy this. There are thousands of other bands in L.A. doing the same, Poison, Guns N'Roses, London..."
Razor "Cage The Rangers"
"Sounds like us when we were still young and howled like cats! The production is not very good. The vocal phrasing sounds like Slayer and the production is quite bad. Who're they? Razor? Never heard before. If you turn it real loud, organise a wild booze-up in addition then it would possibly be the most interesting so far!"
Paul Samson "Power Of Love"
"Very fluent. I like the simple playing technique of the guitar. This is a very relaxed and relaxing song, a production comparable to some big American bands. Which group is this? Paul Samson? Oh, he's already been hanging around the scene eternally. I got to know him when I lived in London for some time. At the time Nicky Moore was still with him. Paul never gave up, and I think that's great."
Dio "King Of Rock'n'Roll"
"I like it! I like this drumming! Is this live? Great! Dio has a fantastic control over his voice, but the lyrics are somehow worn-out. I don't like the song-title, this "King Of Rock'n'Roll", sounds like the seventies. But the music's strong and his voice is great, just the way we know him! Very harmonic, even live. He is an absolutely professional vocalist, he's always been. Besides, he's very intelligent. He never has some dirty women in his videos, he doesn't put women down, and I already respect him just for this, because there are but very few of this kind."
Keel "Arm And A Leg"
"Sounds like an L.A.-band, nice and good production! Hey, that's Keel! A very hard working guy, who never gave up! I know Ron, he'll surely get as big as Twisted Sister or Dokken, but I wouldn't buy the new album nevertheless. Have you ever seen him and his band live? Each single movement is co-ordinated, synchronised which may really look good as pure rock entertainment, as pure showmanship, but I think people should find their own ways. And what I can tell about Ron besides is that he's going to make it big, and he deserves it, too!"
Rhoads "Push Shove"
"Sounds like an American band, a little bit like the seventies. The vocalist is very good, he doesn't scream all the time like so many other HM-vocalists do. They don't really try any musical alterations, to create something new out of something old. They've got a good hook, a good chorus, but I prefer something totally unusual and crazy in the middle of a song, I'm more into extraordinary stuff."
"Ah, that's this meet-metal-thing. Already heard about it, it's really good. I think there should also be a punk thing like this, a thrash-benefit-thing for the hungry. Everyone on this record sounds really terrific, I really mean it!"
King Kobra "Home Sweet Home"
"An interesting beginning, sounds also like a good production. But the guitarist seems to be in love with himself, sounds very self-complacent! Tell me, is this a rap song? I do like the lyrics, especially the fact that and the way they sing about Hollywood. You go there to try your fortune and then often get literally mistreated. It isn't by far as glamorous there as people think! It's one of the worst places I've ever seen in regard to (inner) homelessness! Now I'm only missing the scratching on this track, that they play it backwards instead of this guitar solo! What, this are King Kobra? I thought they were much heavier?!"
Détente "Blood I Bleed"
"This is after a sort a complete human biography, a song about exploitation and prostitution. The lyrics don't tell it directly, they are rather coded and esoteric, thus sort of symbolic. I think when you add aggressive music, as we play it, to such lyrics, it fits together very well. There's simply the power and aggression of punk in it, which we've combined with the elements of metal and thrash. The people who listen to our songs get the best of both!"
BREAKING THE LAW (Metal Forces Mag 19, 1986)
Bernard Doe talks to Détente vocalist Dawn Crosby
"I really think the metal scene should concentrate more on the music than on the money, because there's so much contrived bullshit out there right now."
Those are the words of Dawn Crosby; founding members and lead vocalist of L.A. based metallists DÉTENTE, who've just had their debut album "Recognize no Authority" released by Roadrunner. But while that statement will be echoed by many metal enthusiasts, the truth is it will never happen. The whole music business is one big money making machine, with selling records the name of the game. Unfortunately a vast majority of the record buying public do like, as Dawn puts it, "contrived bullshit", and as long as they do, so bands will continue to adopt previously successful formulas in a hope of finding their own fame and fortune.
But Dawn Crosby refuses to compromise keeping her punk/metal roots is very important. Much of that earlier musical education was gained whilst living in London for a couple of years, as I found out when I spoke to Dawn during a recent promotional visit to Europe.
"I went to London in 1983 when I was eighteen and it taught me how to write better, become a better musician and be more original. I have about five full books of lyrics and ideas that I got just from being there."
Were you in any bands? "Yes I was in a punk/metal band called FIRST ATTACK and also some all female punk bands, but we never got very far, it was just a learning process."
What were the reasons for you coming to London? "Well in Southern California at that time all the bands around my age wanted to play cover songs, but I wasn't into that because I wanted to find musicians to write original material, and I just couldn't find those elements in California, so I went to London."
"I was also into early MAIDEN as well as punk and I was attracted musically to what was going on in London."
So what made you return to the States? "Well I had gone to Germany to audition for some bands after one particular punk band had broken up, and when I came back the squat in Lambeth North where I had been staying had been broken into. So I had nowhere to live and no money for about two months and eventually I decided to go back to America. In fact it's worked out quite well because there are a lot of good musicians in L.A."
Was DÉTENTE the first band you formed when you got back to the States? "Actually no it wasn't. I formed a band called ALLIES, but musical directions was a problem and there were four different personalities, so we broke up and then I put together DÉTENTE."
Have DÉTENTE done many live shows? "Well we've played in L.A., San Diego and San Francisco and done about 10-12 shows in twelve months. Which is not bad because hardcore shows are really hard to get in L.A., and there's only two or three venues really worth playing."
What sort of audience are you trying to reach? You've mentioned the hardcore scene, presumably you're hoping to attract both hardcore and metal fans? "Yeah, I think so. I'm more into hardcore and punk than metal, but I couldn't find the right hardcore musicians for DÉTENTE, and the other members of the band are very metal influences stuff like MAIDEN and MERCYFUL FATE. So I feel we are metal music with a punk attitude, which I think is good because sometimes punk lyrics are better than punk music and metal music is better than metal lyrics, so if you can take the best of both worlds and combine them, then maybe you can appeal to a wider range of people. It wasn't intentional but if we can reach both punks and metallers then yeah it would be great.
"In the future I think I'd like us to get more rawer; I definitely don't want to get commercial. We're not into the big money at all, we've survived so far quite nicely living poor and the most important thing for us is that we're happy once we've recorded an album that's all that matters."
So you're happy with "Recognize no Authority"? "Yeah, I'm happy to an extent, especially as it's our first album and it's on an independent label, so we weren't on a very large budget."
"I think the quality of the production is high, in fact sometimes I think it's too high. You see it was produced by Dana Strum who's the bass player and producer of Vinnie Vincent's group and he's also worked with Ozzy Osbourne, so he's not into thrash or punk; he's a very Hollywood type of person. But I still think he's done a great job and he really stretched out budget doubled it almost because of his skill."
Does it worry you that you're probably going to be compared to WARLOCK? Not musically I think you're much heavier but more because of your vocal style, which, like Doro Pesch, is very raw and aggressive.
"Well, I'm happy you do think that we are heavier because you're right, I am a little worried that we will get compared to WARLOCK. I really like Doro's voice, I think she's an incredibly talented woman, but I do believe we're not as commercially accessible as WARLOCK, which is what I want, so hopefully not too many people will compare us."
How do you react to people who say that there's no place for females in metal?
"Well until recently there wasn't any female you could say was metal or hardrock. I mean, the minute there was some hype about a supposedly female metallist, you would go out and listen to the record and find out that it wasn't metal at all. So I can't really blame metal fans writing off female musicians they hear about, because in the past it's been such a letdown.
"But now people like Doro are changing that and I hope that I can be accepted. I'm trying to be, I write the music myself and I don't wear sleazy clothes and try to get off on the sexuality aspect; I'm trying to be as equal as a man in my field."
But don't you think because DÉTENTE are a female fronted band, that it gives you an added attraction, and therefore an advantage over other bands? "Well I guess so, but I hope that's not the main reason why people will like us, because I don't think I could stand the pressure of being the main focal point of the band, what with all the publicity pressure and having to look good all of the time from a sexual point of view I'm not into that at all. I'm into the music being what they want to hear.
"DÉTENTE is not a backup band for the singer. DÉTENTE is a band with everybody contributing on every song. And that to me is really important."
Well those of you who haven't heard "Recognize no Authority" yet, should go and check it out, because you will find that DÉTENTE are more than your average female fronted metal band. In their ranks are five very talented musicians. As well as Dawn, there's guitarists Ross Robinson and Caleb Quinn, bassist Steve Hochheiser and drummer Dennis Butler. All of whom get to produce a fine mixture of speed/thrash and melodic metal. What more could you want?
THE CROSBY SHOW (Kerrang 134, December 1986)
Can females Frash it out with the fellas? Don Kaye had his doubts, but that was before he came across LA band Détente and their vocalist Dawn Crosby, a gal who's out to prove that 'Moshable, maniacal metal' isn't an exclusively male province.
It's become painfully obvious to me that there are no women around playing real, honest-to-goodness Heavy Metal, I mean true Heavy Metal. Especially of the thrash variety.
Oh, there have been attempts. Sentinel Beast have a rough'n'ready singer in Debbie Gunn, but the group sound too much like the Iron Maiden crew for their own good. Wendy O. is but a shadow of her former self. And two recent attempts, Thrashqueen and Original Sin, can pretty much be labelled disasters and binned.
What's the problem here? Why can't the girls Thrash right along with the boys? It seems that the Thrash audience doesn't really take women seriously when it comes to the Death/Hate side of things. And outside of the small group mentioned above, female Metal is in an even worse state, with mosr groups or singers relying more on pretty faces and tight skirts than their actual ability to deliver the goods.
But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Détente, a five-piece hardcore Thrash outfit from LA, boast a singer named Dawn Crosby. Dawn doesn't care how she looks. "I'm a slob!" she insists. She's not interested in selling her body or face. What she is interested in is making Moshable, maniacal Metal (say that three times fast!).
Détente were formed in 1984 by Dawn and drummer Dennis Butler, along with guitarist Fred Tutone. They wrote some songs, played some gigs, garnered a cult following ("LA sucks! It's full of posers!") and recorded a demo. Along the way, Tutone and the original bassist left, to be replaced by Caleb Quinn and Ross Robinson on guitars, plus Steve Hochheiser on bass. This was the line-up that cut their Roadrunner debut 'Recognize no Authority' (see review issue 130), which was released in the States on Metal Blade. But then the problems started...
"We had to replace Ross and Steve because, while I was away in Europe promoting the album and Dennis was in hospital recovering from an accident, they plotted to use a song that they didn't even write, "Vultures in the Sky", for their own purposes.
"We were approached to do it for the movie 'Trick or Treat', and we were to be paid $10,000 for it. Of course, the five of us planned to split the money evenly. While Dennis and I weren't around, Ross and Steve plotted to bring in another singer and a drum machine and do the song themselves, thus collecting all the money. Number one, you don't do that to your fellow band members, and numbers two, it wasn't even their song!
"So we went to the movie company and told them they would have a lawsuit on their hands if they used the song. And when we found out that Ross and Steve had done this, we decided they had really dug their own grave. Then they tried to steal our name, which had been around since '84, and they had only joined the group in June of '85. Plus the name was trademarked in California. Ross had some money and thought he could use that to fight us, but he was sadly mistaken."
That's quite a story there, Dawn. So who's in the band now?
The new members are a little older and very hard-working. Our bassist is George Robb (ex-Agent Steel) and our new guitarists are Greg Cekalovich and Mike Carlino."
How did you meet up with 'em?
We met George and Greg at the rehearsal studio, actually. They had a group called LSN who attracted quite a bit of attention with their demo this year. They lost their drummer and singer at the same time we had our problems, so it seemed natural for us to band together. In fact, Dennis did a show with them that they were obliged to do before LSN was dissolved. We started writing songs and it clicked, because Dennis and I and Greg and George are very much into hardcore and the same type of bands. Caleb left with Ross and Steve, so we held auditions and found Mike, who's originally from the East Coast and an excellent lead guitarist."
Let's talk about your album. I quite liked the songs, but I felt you had the wrong man behind the board producing. Somehow, to me, Vinnie Vincent bassist Dana Strum and Hardcore Thrash don't mix!
"Well, as for the older, original songs, 'Shattered Illusions' and 'Vultures', I thought they came out pretty good, although we've kind of outgrown them. As for 'Widow's Walk' (which could be classified as Détente's 'hit', meaning most well-known song) I'm still happier with the demo version. And I prefer songs like 'Losers' and 'Life is Pain' to 'Russian Roulette' and 'It's your Fate'. Those are rather typical American metal songs, and I felt a little uncomfortable with them. The other stuff is much more intense. 'Widow's Walk' didn't get the attention it needed, and I'm very disappointed with the way it turned out on the album. The producer didn't like it, and he only gave me one take for the vocals. If you want to hear the real version of that song, get the demo or 'Metal Massacre VII'.
"Some of the songs, like 'Blood I Bleed', I'm really proud of. A lot of the songs almost hit the mark production-wise, but as an artist you have certain ideals and it's very hard to reach those all of the time.
Dawn says that the next album will be produced by the band with an engineer, because "I think we know what we want now and how to get it.
"I agree that Dana was the wrong producer for us. Dennis was immediately turned off. We wanted to have a very powerful sound, like the SOD album. But the way it ended up and the way the songs were placed, they tried to almost make it accessible to the radio. And I would be very disappointed if I heard it on the radio, because I like being on the outside. We needed someone who was closer to what we were about, not a Hollywood bullshitter who was into formula."
Dawn, you mention that you like being on the outside. Being the only woman in the band, are you outside in that respect as well? Or are you just one of the guys?
"I can't really tell, because I've never been around another band with a woman singer. But the guys are just as crude around me as if they were just among themselves! They sit around and watch porno movies and don't really care if I'm there!"
Have you gotten any adverse reactions from audiences?
"Very little. Actually, I've gotten more positive responses from people. That's because I don't dress up and try to draw attention to myself that way. But once in a while, because I like to sing down right into people's faces, you get guys trying to rip my shirt off. I either hit 'em with the mic, kick them, or let the roadies take care of them! You think they'd never see a woman before!"
Dawn gets quite incensed at the general exploitation of women that goes on in Metal.
"I'm looking at a picture of Oral right now," she says, "and I think they look very nice in their garter belts...and I really think they suck! That's just the kind of thing I despise, and if they came up to me in a bar I'd probably throw something at them."
What if your manager or record company suggested selling you as a sex symbol to lure an audience?
"I'd say, 'You're not my manager any more!' What's the point? It's so hard to make it in this business. If what you do makes you cringe or makes you feel awful, or if you're exploiting yourself, it's not worth it.
"There's a lot of great all-male bands who never had to do any exploiting. I know there's a lot of talented women who will do it the hard way as well. As for these other women, these sleazy types, when their looks go, they'll go.
Dawn's not worried about that, even though she's got her fair share of looks, and she plans to be around for a long time. And so do Détente: they're hungry to tour, especially on the East Coast and then Europe. They really want to go to Poland ("Our lyrics are very social/political-oriented," she claims, "and people write to us from Iron Curtain countries and really relate to our songs") but may have to settle for the US for now.
ALL FEARED UP! (Kerrang 328, February 1991)
In 1986, Dawn Crosby was the voice of a little known band by the name of Détente. 1991 sees her teaming up with guitarist Mike Carlino to front the enigmatically monikered Fear of God with a debut release mysteriously monikered 'Within the Veil'. Don Kaye has been pole-axed by said disc, only able to gasp, 'It's immensely heavy, grinding through rhythmic landscapes smothered in oppresively ominous riffing...topped with Crosby-patented screams' before lapsing into apocalyptic apoplexy.
It seems so long ago, like a distant dream, that it's not too easy to remember anymore. I recall the sunshine, the warmth, the sharp crystalline blue of a crisp sky.
It was in LA on a good weekend: the air dry and breezy, the view clear, the city bustling with life and colour and electricity. And somewhere in the midst of that city, on a small side-street and through an unobtrusive glass door, two people are sitting in darkness, the sun a foreign element, fresh air a tonic all too rare and fleeting.
The two people were Dawn Crosby and Michael Carlino, vocalist and guitarist respectively, for Fear of God. Once known, at the beginning of the dream, as Détente. Known now and forever more as Fear of God.
We met near the completion of what might once have been the second Détente LP but is now, for all intents and purposes, the debut Fear of God effort, titled 'Within the Veil' in an import shop near you on Warner Bros Records.
"It's been a growth period, a transitional phase," says Dawn about the four-and-a-half-year gap between this record and 'Recognize no Authority', Détente's 1986 debut.
"It's been excruciatingly painful on many levels; excruciatingly frustrating. I think we've captured all that in the songs, and in my voice, and I think people can identify with that.
"But it's never been passive. We've never said die, and I think that's all in the music too. Everything happens for a reason, and that's how I look at it. I try not to dwell too much on the past and all the problems. I figure that they happened for a reason. Without all that, the art wouldn't have evolved into what it is now."
Dawn is the only permanent fixture remaing from the hungry, naive days of 'RNA'. She is the only musician from that album to follow a direct like from '86 to the present. But there's no doubt that the musical progression which began almost immediately after the release of that LP was set into motion by guitarist Mike Carlino, who's been there since late 1986 and formed the catalyst that launched Dawn and Détente/Fear of God into a completely unforeseen artistic realm.
"I liked that first record a lot," recalls Mike. Obviously, that's what made me pursue even auditioning for the band in the first place. I think the thing that turned me on the most was Dawn's voice. Being a guitar player and a writer, my main goal was to find someone who could deliver the same kind of power to match the music. I eventually wanted to be writing. I though Dawn blew away a lot of guys who were singing that type of music."
Ideas clicked between the two, and a new edition of the band formed around Dawn, Mike, and founder/drummer Dennis Butler, with a revolving door of rhythm guitarists and bassists. The group had long abandoned their deal with Roadruner and began a long period of limbo in which members and locales changed with alarming rapidity.
Eventually, only Mike and Dawn stuck it out, beginning from scratch in New Jersey and laying down two excellent demos that alerted a sharp pair of ears at Warner Bros and inevitably brought the duo back to LA to sign a deal. Détente were reborn.
"One of the things that was so cool was that there's been a continuous flow of response from people who had heard the first record," says Mike. "All the way up to the point where we did the first demo. To this day, we've still gotten a lot of positive feedback from people who have been interested all along."
Why had Dawn refused to quit, even when things looked the bleakest for the future of the band?
"I felt this was something I had to do, not just something I wanted to do," she says, "It's like a compulsion. I have to sing, I have to write, I have to get up onstage. Mike feels it too. We just had blind faith. We wouldn't say die because we couldn't. Otherwise I would've always asked myself, 'Why didn't you keep going when you were given something to do?'
"People never test their mettle and everyone should. Don't listen to outside forces, or the tempest around you saying, 'You can't, you can't'. Say, 'Fuck you, I can!'"
It was Détente's two demos in 1989, recorded with fresh bass recruit Blair Darby, that netted the band their deal. But even then there were snags, least of which was a legal problem concerning that name. Some California yahoo owned it but was simply sitting on it, seeing the opportunity to squeeze some cash out of the reborn group.
Rather than give in, the decision was made to take the risk of making a clean and nearly complete separation from the old identity, which at this point didn't even necessarily hold any kind of kinship with the group's expanding ideals. Thus, Fear of God.
While 'Recognize no Authority' was Power Metal with raucous vocals, intelligent songwriting, and an almost punkish attitude, 'Within the Veil' is a different creature of Lovecraftian proportions. Immensely heavy, grinding through rhythmic landscapes (courtesy of cracking new drummer Steve Cordova), smothered in oppressively ominous riffing from the superb Mr Carlino, 'WTV' descends into the tortured psyches of peope whom life has cast adrift on black seas of paranoia, madness and abuse.
All roles played by Dawn Crosby, whose patented screams are just one part of an expanded vocal package that reverberates on the edge of performance art.
"My singing style has definitely changed over the past few years," she understates, "There's still aggression, and I love screaming and I love the power of the voice. But I love the texture of the voice, too. And I'm trying to make every song on this record vocally totally different from the other ones. I'm trying to sound like a different person sometimes.
"I think that keeps the record interesting, cos sometimes you hear a record where the singer sings the same melody line on every song and you say, 'Gee...
"You hear an album by Pink Floyd, where they have two completely different singers; I think it's a lot more interesting. Sinead O'Connor is very good at that. And I really admire Tom Araya's voice. Even though it's basically one style, he's got such power and such a commanding voice. But I'm not real fond of some of the other hardcore Thrash singers."
Mike concurs that the musical vision of Fear of God developed along with Dawn's performance style.
"The second night I was with the band - and I wasn't even definitely in - we sat up 'til five in the morning trying to work out a song that is actually on this album, 'Diseased'. I mentioned that one of my favourite bands and main influences is Pink Floyd, and Dawn got this expression on her face and that made it click. Cos she's really into a textured, surreal, moody sound, and right there we knew we had a good base to work from for the writing.
"We both wanted that weirdness mixed in with the heaviness. A lot of melody and texture plus real heavy powerchords. From that point on, everything really fell into place as far as the music was concerned."
Dawn's atmospheric, through-a-dark-glass lyrical style has also come into its own during Fear of God's lengthy restructuring period, bringing emotional resonance to her surreal vocal stylings and Mike's gargantuan riffs.
Dawn: "If something takes hold of my shoulders and shakes me, and turns me around to look at something, and says, 'What do you think about this?', that's usually how a lyric will come to me. I'll just see something.
"When I look back in time to when I was 13, it was a powerful transition time, not just in the physical sense of becoming a young woman, but my whole world changed. I was taken from a very sheltered, loving, peaceful, church-going life with my legal guardians in Maryland, and thrown into the chaos of the Third World, the American military, and alcoholism. So it's been two totally different extremes.
"My mother had decided she wanted a family and took me to live with her and my new stepfather at a Navy base in the Philippines. My stepfather was there three months before us and was developing a severe alcoholism problem.
"The things I saw there shocked me on many levels, personal and private, as well as what I saw on the streets. I rebelled against authority and society and swore that there was no God... and in that environment, I literally wrote my first song. It's called 'Red to Gray' and it's on this record. So that's the extreme of whatever leads me to write certain lyrics, or look at certain things.
"Inspiration happens, to a varying degree, every few days or every couple of weeks, and I'm starting to be able to listen for it and cut out the distractions. But if I hadn't taken that trip, I'd probably think everything was hunky dory all over the place and done something completely different with my life.
That trek was just the first major step on Dawn's long journey, a path joined first by Dennis Butler, then Mike and Blair and Steve, that's now culminated as a peak of sorts. But it's anything but restful.
"We've completed a chapter," she reflects, "I think the band as it is now brings so much more diversity and newness to what we do, and I'm very happy."
She smiles: "It's wonderful but it's painful, because we're not all fluff and love. We fight physically and emotionally and mentally, but we're all very supportive at the same time. It's very much like a family. There's every variable between the four of us now."
"The greatest feeling - at least for me - is to really know that it all reverts back to that first night that we worked on that first song," says Mike Carlino. "Sitting here now in LA and hearing all those ideas and hearing nothing gone astray from that at all, we know that we've retained the consistency of the visions that Dawn and I had."
It's a strong vision indeed. Détente is dead, long live Fear of God. Get 'Within the Veil' and take a ride on their mystery train.
APOCALYPSE NOW (Rock Hard Nr. 51, June '91) (originally German)
What do they say? "Rules are made to be broken". That's what also must have come to the mind of a band named FEAR OF GOD, whose debut album "Within The Veil" emanates a rarely achieved intensity. FEAR OF GOD have managed to do the nearly impossible and melt the brutality of Slayer with the melancholy of Warrior Soul into a perfect unit. Heart and soul of this sound-painting is apocalyptic, bizarre poetry, avant-gardely made audible and recited by frontwoman Dawn Crosby, who lends additional depth to FEAR OF GOD's musical vi-sion and turns "Within The Veil" into an irresistible symphony of the end of times.
But who and what is behind the phenomenon FEAR OF GOD? The key to a better understanding lies without doubt in the person of vocalist Dawn Crosby, a full-blooded artist who has absolutely nothing in common with the usual clichés normally attached to female rock stars. With those things Crosby had already absolutely nothing to do in times of her former band Détente, from which FEAR OF GOD proceeded. Already the fuck off parole "Recognize No Authority", title of the first and only album of this band, puts this clearly. Détente, one of the first thrash acts with a woman at the mike, had brilliant perspectives at that time to play themselves to the top, last but not least thanks to Crosby's charisma. But the quintett split up shortly after the release of "Recognize No Authority" due to internal conflicts. It all started when Dawn was in Europe for promotional purposes and drummer Dennis Butler, who had founded Détente together with her, incurred severe burns from a chemical accident and had to be taken to a hospital.
"Guitarrist Ross Robinson and bassist Steve Hochheiser took advantage of this situation. They had the firm which was commissioned with the completion of the album cover change nearly all songwriting credits, so that Dennis and me were only mentioned on two songs as authors", Dawn tells me in the Sherman Oaks office of Metal Blade Records, which are in charge of the marketing of "Within The Veil" in the USA. "After this incident it was clear that things couldn't go on this way with Détente, also because Dennis had to recover from his accident."
Robinson and Hochheiser got fired and thereupon started Catalepsy, to whom breakthrough remained as well denied as later on to Murdercar, who arose from the remains of Catalepsy.
"Ross and me are now friends again", says Dawn relieved. "He came to me at the last but one Foundations Forum and apologised for his behaviour of that time. It is really a pity that it had to end this way, because Roadrunner were behind us, and I firmly believed in the chance to build up the band, like Metallica, via Europe."
In spite of this setback Dawn didn't give up and continued Détente together with Dennis Butler. The first one to cross their way was LSN-guitarist Greg Chekalovich, who in the end couldn't decide definitely in favour of Détente and left his place to Mike Carlino.
"Mike answered to an ad and originally, he came from a totally different musical direction", Dawn recalls. "He played in a mainstream band, but he wanted to do something different and was ready to fit to the situation. We then made him familiar with stuff like Slayer or Venom, and he gradually grew into the band. For a long time we were only three, because we couldn't find a suitable guitarist and bassist anywhere. We already were so desperate that we even checked out someone who had travelled from Italy just to try for the job!"
After a long quest, Blair Darby came in their way and turned out to be their man. Darby was originally a guitarist, but for Détente he switched to the bass. Next they played one show each at the Troubadour and at the Country Club, where the band was checked out by among others some Warner Bros.-A&R-representatives who were obviously impressed. Yet it took about a year until they got a deal, because Détente packed their luggages and moved to New Jersey, the home of axeman Mike Carlino.
"We had no idea that Warner were interested in us", explains Crosby. "It took an entire year until they spotted us at the east coast."
There they worked with among others producer Alex Perialas, but after Warner Bros.' offer the band preferred to go back again to Los Angeles.
"Eight long months passed until we had settled the deal with them", Dawn continues. "It was a real horror story. And after that we had to wait half a year agai for our producer Pat Regan. I call him "anti-producer", because a co-operation with him was simply impossible."
That comes hardly as a surprise, because the same man had produced comparative lightweights like Harlow and Doro before and seems to have expected about the same from Détente, who had in the mean time replaced drummer Dennis Butler by one Steve Cordova.
"I knew from the start that this guy wasn't the right producer for us and would have preferred to work with people who had experience with bands like Slayer or Ministry. The whole recording process was one single nightmare, because the guy constantly blocked, and all the time we were quarrelling over something or other. The recording levels for the drums and bass were far too low, for example, and he also totally failed to get along with my way to record the vocals. He simply wouldn't understand that I first do the backing vocals before I touch to the lead vocals. Furthermore, I prefer singing my songs in one take, because else the continuity gets lost. Only on "Betrayed" he let me after a long to and fro work the way I wanted to. In my opinion the result speaks for itself: the vocals on this song are simply better than on the other material."
In spite of the circumstances illustrated by Dawn, "Within The Veil" has become a brilliant album which FEAR OF GOD can rightly be proud of. But that's something Dawn doesn't want to hear.
"I am an absolute perfectionist and analyse everything forwards and backwards. The album could have turned out far better. We owe it to Andy Wallace, who already mixed Slayer's "South Of Heaven", that the end result turned out good at least to some extent. Andy's mixing capabilities saved "Within The Veil". Next time some things will change for sure", promises Dawn. "Above all, the drums have to come across much more intensely and more industrial-like. We want to move one step further on the next album and try to catch the mood even better to shape the whole atmosphere even darker and more nebulous. What I'd like best would be to play it all entirely live; the feeling would be much better."
"Feeling" seems to be something which is very important to Dawn Crosby. It seems that in the conference room of Metal Blade, it's not the best one which prevails. Dawn suggests to continue the interview in a strip bar. An explanation for this not very common wish follows immediately: "I like to be at odd places like this one and together with unusual people." No, guys, Dawn Crosby isn't crazy, and we finally agree to continue the interview inside my own four walls where we come to talk about Dawn's adolescence. A time which had lasting effects on Crosby and which represents the inspiration to a part of the FEAR OF GOD lyrics.
"I grew up in Maryland in the custody of an elderly woman who gave me a severely religious education. The whole atmosphere was very spiritual and I even helped to build up our church by going from door to door and selling sweets each afternoon after school. At the age of 13 I was torn out of this surrounding by my mother, whom I hardly knew, and my stepfather, who was an alcoholic, and abducted to the Philippines. The whole thing came to me as a total shock, because the differences couldn't have been bigger. Never would I have thought that such conditions as prevailed there could exist."
At this point, Dawn tells of a nightmare-like experience which she watched from a secure hiding-place. We won't go into details here, because such things belong at best into hardcore porno mags.
"After this incident I became very suspicious towards other people and temporarily God was dead for me. If there was a God, he wouldn't allow such things to happen, I said to myself. In the following years I cared about nothing but the excessive celebration of parties. Little by little I got into contact with all different kinds of people, among others many prostitutes who are always numerous in the vicinity of American military bases, and I started to watch them and write lyrics about it."
An example for this gives "Red To Grey", which is on "Within The Veil" and deals with the suicide of a girl whom Dawn was friends with.
"Beth, as she called herself, stemmed from the country and came into the town when she was barely 10, because she had lost both her parents and there was no-one who cared for her. In order to survive she started hooking. We became friends and on Sundays she sometimes came to us to the military base to have a meal with us. One day we went to the beach together and I noticed that she was much more quiet than usual. As it then turned out, a US aircraft-carrier had arrived the night before, which meant a boom for all prostitutes, and one of these seamen burned Beth's entire back with a curling iron. I sat there unsuspectingly at the beach and Beth waded into the water right in front of me and drowned herself in the lagoon. I wrote the lyrics of "Red To Grey" on that very evening. The fitting music wasn't written until 10 years later."
Crosby's other lyrics, too, are not for soft minds and deal exclusively with the dark sides of human existence. Those into party-sound and trivial "Baby, I wanna get laid"-rhymes should look for other stuff than FEAR OF GOD. In the mean time the band has also done their first video, "Betrayed", of which the concept is strongly based on the lyrics.
"We were in Chicago and worked there together with those people who had already done stuff like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and Mindfunk", tells Dawn. "These guys are real artists and with their ideas they gave the concept an entirely new dimension very strange."
Another important aspect is, of course, touring, but except of a recent warm-up show in San Diego nothing has been settled yet. The only thing that seems to be sure is that FEAR OF GOD will play in the States before Dawn Crosby and co. pay a visit to Europe. Be prepared, guys!
"WITHIN THE VEIL" REVIEW (Aardschok/Metal Hammer, April 1991) (originally in Dutch)
The first time that I listened to the debut album of the American band Fear of God I didn't really know what to do with it. But after several listens it started to grow (no, not that one, I mean the LP). Only vocalist Dawn Crosby remains of the original Détente line-up and, as opposed to the "Recognize no Authority" album, she screams a whole lot less. With the aid of many technical gadgets she sings and speaks the songs in a unique way, which makes Fear of God quite original. Finally no Hetfield, Araya or Schuldiner imitation. The album is produced by Dawn Crosby and guitarist Michael Carlino so the vocals are in the foreground where necessary, and when there's time the guitar is layered heavily across the music. "Within the Veil" has been mixed by Andy Wallaca (Sepultura and Slayer, among others) and that makes it sound extra heavy. All songs were written by Dawn Crosby together with Michael Carlino, who also very much forms the face of Fear of God. The rhythm section, consisting of Blair Darby (bass) and Steve Cordova (drums) is pretty good but plays the role of a filler.
The opener, "All that Remains", immediately lets us hear what we can expect: partly spoken social-critical lyrics and really heavy riffs with the occasionaly cool guitar solo. It's a song that changes into a higher gear in the middle, too. This also applies to "Betrayed", sometimes it sounds like a progressive thrash version of Candlemass. I can't wait to see how they're going to do that on stage. We'll have to wait a while until that happens, however. For the time being we'll have to make do with the album, but it's good enough for that. 8.5 (out of 10).
GOD FEARING THRASHERS (Metal Hammer Nr.6, 1991) (Originally in German)
WITHIN THE VEIL, the debut album by Fear Of God, caused quite a fuss among thrash fans. The band has a female vocalist, Dawn Crosby, who already released an album titled RECOGNIZE NO AUTHORITY in 1986 under the Détente moniker. The album received enthusiastic reviews, but internal conflicts nearly led to a split-up. Their former label Roadrunner decided to drop the band.
At the end of 1987, drummer Dennis Butler and Dawn Crosby (not related with Bing in any regard) took Michael Carlino into the band, and at the beginning of 1988, they found a suitable bass player in Blair Darby. Together they recorded a demo and Warner Brothers showed interest, yet started negotiations with another band, also called Détente. It took a while until Warner realised that they were negotiating with the wrong band. The misunderstanding finally cleared up, but OUR Détente had to change their name to FEAR OF GOD. A little bit later, drummer Dennis left and was replaced by Steve Cordova. Since then the line-up has been constant.
Together with producer Pat Regan the musicians entered the Fortress studio in Hollywood and started with the recordings of WITHIN THE VEIL. Dawn Crosby and Michael Carlino had written all material together. Just like on the Détente-album, the songs deal with serious social topics and point at the faults of modern society. Dawn would have liked her vocals on the Détente-album to sound like those on the new album, but she recalls: "I had only three days to do the vocal-parts for the Détente-album. Dana Strum, who produced the album, is a big asshole." She doesn't appreciate Pat Regan's work much, either, and adds: "Do you know the term 'anti-christ'? Pat Regan is the anti-producer!"
In spite of her criticism the album doesn't sound bad at all. Says Dawn: "On that point I agree with you. This time I had more than three days in the studio. I've got a little studio at home and have worked out many ideas during the pre-production. But even on this album, I couldn't unfold my potential entirely. Mainly because we had to work together with someone who doesn't know how to do his job. He wasted a lot of time."
Michael Carlino adds: "Working with Pat Regan was very frustrating, because he didn't understand our music and he didn't take the time to understand it, either. I know that Dawn, Pat and my own person all are mentioned on the cover as producers, but Pat doesn't belong into this line-up. He had rather the function of an engineer. And even as an engineer he wasn't very good."
Was it a disadvantage of a major-deal that they couldn't choose their producer?
Michael: "I don't think so. Otherwise we couldn't have co-produced the album. The studio belongs to Warner and Pat is their home-engineer. Instead of working with a big producer, on whom we couldn't have taken any influence, we opted in favour of an unknown producer, which allowed us to co-produce. At first, it seemed to be all right, but in the end he wasn't fit for the job. Nevertheless, the result isn't bad, but we don't owe that to Pat."
Probably the mix of Andy Wallace, who worked together with Slayer and Sepultura, has helped a lot.
Dawn: "He's a real professional."
Michael: "He worked hard, knew exactly what he was doing and had absolutely no ego problem. He wanted the band to be satisfied with the result. We mixed the album together with him and he was open to suggestions, but was also very creative on his own."
How much support did they get from the record company or were they just 'Project 138/D'?
Michael: "Until now, they've given us full support. For example, we just came back from Chicago, where we did a video for "Betrayed". As you already said, it is difficult to put our music into a certain category. That's why our record company tries to sell our album on the metal and alternative market. Then they'll see on which market the album gets a better response and intensify their work in this field."
Now we're waiting for a European tour. As far as the management is concerned, everything is OK, because the Cahn-Saltzman-team, who also have Testament and Vicious Rumors under contract, will see to it.
FEAR OF GOD (RIP, June 1991)
"Fear is faith in the negative." I was shocked to discover that was one of singer Dawn Crosby's homilies, because I had come up with the same idea about a year ago before meeting her and guitarist Mike Carlino. It's one of those coincidences that gives you goose bumps; a moment of synchronicity that makes you wonder if "coincidence" is just an indicator of the timeliness of fate. Within the Veil, Fear of God's Warner Bros debut, lends itself to such deeply abstract thoughts. The music combines speed metal with trancelike tribal pounding and an industrial drone. Above it all, Dawn's voice floats like a malevolent spectre, forcefully expressing harsh commentary on society and the human condition. This is heady stuff, but its impact is as emotional as it is intellectual.
Fear of God had its beginnings in Détente, a heavy metal band Dawn fronted. In spite of being a woman, Dawn found that LA headbangers easily warmed up to her. "We played with Beowulf and DRI," she recalls, "I got a lot of respect after that show, because I didn't act like 'Oh I'm just this wimp here, oh dear.' I was screaming at them. I had my flanel shirt on, and my Discharge shirt - that's all I needed!"
The group released an album on Metal Blade, and then Dawn, while searching for a new guitarist, found Mike. The two started writing together, and the songs they created transcended Dawn's heavy roots and Mike's progressive influences. With the addition of bassist Blair Darby and drummer Steve Cordova, the music got even stranger and more inventive.
Warner Brothers wanted the band, but they had to find it first. Dawn and Mike had relocated to New Jersey for a period of time, and it was a year before the label tracked them down. The two moved back to LA and coproduced their record with Pat Regan.
What, exactly, is the meaning behind the album title? Says Dawn, "Within the Veil is very esoteric. You could think it would be a good thing, but the veil could also be a smothering, suffocating layer of distraction and decay." Perhaps that's something to think about, but it's even better to listen to Fear of God's music and just feel it.
"WITHIN THE VEIL" REVIEW (Revelation Nr. 2, somewhere in 1991) (originally in German)
Lovely, completely enchaining, torturing, but not real metal! It's more along the lines of SOUNDGARDEN. This band used to be called DETENTE and released an album through METAL BLADE. The music is often fast and heavy, then slow and melodic. The songs show a cynical view of life, and that together is a unique conceptional idea! The highlight of the album is no doubt Dawn Crosby's heated, annoying and tempting voice. She produces a lot of different sounds and characters. Often she speaks, prays, screams or sings slowly. Sabrina of HOLY MOSES has to watch out, or Dawn will jump her and bite her!!!
Danny (97 out of 100)
FEAR OF GOD (Thunderbolt 12) (Originally in German)
"What takes long will turn out well" would actually have made a good headline for this article. If it wasn't for the fact that I look with a certain scepticism upon the new opus by FEAR OF GOD and that even the head of the band, Dawn Crosby, is also quite pessimistic.
All this may sound somewhat confusing to non-insiders and thus I'll go back five years into a time when thrash metal really began to flower and you could buy one of the new releases nearly blindly, as quality dominated over quantity.
In the sea of good releases, there were also certain treasures which obviously knew how to stand out against the large number of good albums. One such piece was offered to us by a band called DΘTENTE, who above all stood out against the mass of other releases because of the fact that a female being provided for the vocals. The lady, whose voice got down to the marrow, was the aforementioned Dawn Crosby and together with the rest of the band, she made a strong impression both on the press and the fans, so that DΘTENTE soon could look upon a considerable following, which had been growing steadily since the legendary demo days.
But as fast as they'd risen, as fast it all went down. Personal differences between Dawn and Steve Hochheiser, the bass player and main songwriter, split the band into two camps. Dawn continued under the banner DΘTENTE while Steve called CATALEPSY into being, who also surprised us with a front woman and came up with a very respectable demo.
The DΘTENTE myth lived on without stirring up much ado. And thus the subject was as good as dead to me until recently something happened which I would never ever have expected. Because DΘTENTE now call themselves due to legal problems FEAR OF GOD and are in possession of a deal with Warner Bros., who even have already released their album "Within The Veil" (the European release is due to follow in the next few weeks via WEA).
Music-wise, the parallels to DΘTENTE are quite obvious and Dawn Crosby also still insists to regard "Within The Veil" as the successor to "Recognize No Authority". As I don't want to anticipate all, I just say: tape's rolling and let the story be told at first hand.
"After the majority of the original line-up had left DΘTENTE, we started looking in the beginning quite in vain for new musicians. It really took several years until we found the right line-up. And then in addition to this, our drummer Dennis (to be heard on the debut) had a severe accident and thus couldn't continue playing. Besides, we also were quite lazy, because especially our guitarist Michael preferred to spend a lot of time with non-essentials. The deal with Warner Bros. had actually been settled more than a year ago, yet we've been wasting so much time that only now the album gets into the stores.
The band continued to exist during all this time and never really split up. A hard hit was the incident with Dennis I just mentioned, which led to it that we stopped rehearsing for nearly one year and I just concentrated on the song-writing. Somehow this protracted way also had its advantages, because this way a lot of aggression and desperation accumulated, which led to enough material to do a second album and which will definitely find its way onto the next album."
Now Dawn came up as she did several times during our conversation with some highfalutin psychological talk about her soul flying out, which sounded somewhat abstruse to me and seemed difficult to retell because of my poor knowledge of the technical terms (at least as far as the English language is concerned).
So let's remain on safe ground and turn again to the internal band "events", among which especially one fact makes me wonder: no-one of the other members of the original line-up of DÉTENTE is left.
"Yes, that's true, but Dennis Butler was very much involved in the song-writing. He co-wrote nearly the entire album, but couldn't play on it anymore because of his aforementioned accident. We still are DÉTENTE and we kept the name until a few weeks ago."
So don't you see any difference between FEAR OF GOD and DÉTENTE?
"Yes, I do, because as we had so much time a lot of our songwriting changed. The basic concept has remained the same, though. It's still the same spirit!"
Somehow, "Within The Veil" means a new beginning for you, because who does still think of or know you today! Is this starting position justified with regard to a major deal, as you would have got the necessary support to build up a band more likely from an independent label?
"Oh, I don't know. Because basically, it was all planned a bit differently. If I had had to decide, we would have finished it all years ago. Yet something kept interrupting us all the time. E.g. when we were ready to enter the studio, someone told us to take a certain producer, but he didn't have time and thus we had to wait again another year. But there's got to be some reason why we are at Warner. At least I'm quite content, because they are a great label."
Okay, let's talk about the new album now. What can you tell us about it specifically?
"The album has become some kind of metamorphosis. Because the next album is going to shock a lot of people and thus "Within The Veil" represents a transition to what is to come in the future! The cover is tightly connected with it, it shows a state of pain and you just wait to break free from it. "The Veil" also is anything but a nice place, it's a very, very bad place and it's extremely frightening to stay there. But it's more of a transitory position in which you cannot stay, but that will change with time.
Summing it up, I can only say that the album contains a lot of hate, anger, desperation and frustration, which builds a tight unit together with the title and the cover. Basically, the subject matter is the one of everyday life."
Most people will now indeed shake their heads, but Dawn is somewhat strange and seemingly has a different way of seeing things, yet this makes it all at least more original than e.g. the typical clichéd answers concerning this subject. Nevertheless, you can't do without clichés and thus I wanted to get to know something about the musical side. According to my impression, there's more emphasis on heaviness than on speed.
"(Very depressed) Yes, yes, I know. I can only stress that this was by no means our intention, but unfortunately it turned out this way. The demo was much more faster and totally thrashy, and that's how I also would have imagined the album. Yet the drummer spoiled it all in the studio. But on stage it will be totally different, there we'll go to the limit!"
Which drummer is the one to be blamed?
"Steve Cordova! Dennis Butler wrote the drum tracks, but he couldn't play them. And with a drummer it's similar to a vocalist or so, each one has a different approach and Steve thought he had to play the stuff this way."
Somehow this all sounds somewhat abstract to me, but except of the statement that Dawn deeply regrets that the songs are too slow and that it will sound totally different on stage, I didn't manage to get the lady to tell a lot more!
Let's switch to a different, less pleasant subject connected with the album. There's a very big sticker printed on the cover bearing the slogan "Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics"!
"Yes, that's really very bad. I only can say that my lyrics tell neither more nor less than the truth and those who can't take it should have a look outside. Some people talk themselves into thinking that these things are bad, because they are afraid of reality.
There are so many pigs in this world who put down other people and I think that it is my right to criticise this. Because I'm really very angry about all this shit happening in the world and so are my lyrics. I want people to get angry when listening to FEAR OF GOD, because it is the right of young people to be angry at what the elders do. Many people have already written to me and said that they can identify themselves with these or those lyrics as they express exactly what they feel, experience or think. This gives me confidence that I'm right, yet doesn't guarantee that I'll be spared from such a stupid label, hahaha!
When the album is released at your place, I hope the label will be missing, because as I heard it doesn't exist in Europe! And besides, the album will also be released on vinyl at your place, which has the advantage that the artwork will have a better effect than on CD!"
I can but agree with Dawn on both. I do indeed not know how long we will be spared from such adhesive labels, yet the fact that in the USA they now are already printed directly on the cover is a mystery to me, and it looks more like some kind of promo gag, generally put on each and every metal album by the record industry to make them more interesting. But as I said, it's just a guess and I actually don't want to know what the real reason is. One thing is for sure: it spoils the cover! But now let's go on with the text or better: the picture! Because there's also some kind of painting on the inlet which looks, at the first glance, like a painting on a ceiling in some church, yet shows, at a closer look, some demons and similar horned figures who "copulate" in some way with human beings! What's the meaning of this? Have you turned to those worshipping the devil?
"Well, I like the painting as I believe in Satan. Because the devil or demons often show up in some people and lead them or literally "suck" them dry. I think this is horrible, bat unfortunately it is true that the evil does exist. This has absolutely nothing to do with satanism. People who do such things are completely immature. It's just some kind of short term interest they will reject a few years later."
In this context I also touched the subject of "death metal". Yet Dawn showed little interest, the only word which caught her attention was my remark that most bands of this genre were from Florida.
"Yes, in the USA there are a lot of people who are on a "satan's trip", it starts with politicians and then goes all the way through society. Especially Florida is a hot place, because a lot of dirty things are happening there!"
Now Dawn started to talk about an article from Life magazine about a woman who indeed appeared to be somewhat crazy, but was totally right. To save you from all the details, I'll cut a long story short: Basically it's about a drug called MDA, which is said to have been hip in the sixties and which would make you subject if certain "powerful" personalities just did it right. These personalities would meanwhile go so far as to mix this stuff into wine, beer and other beverages in order to thus gain influence on these persons. According to Dawn, the danger of MDA was that you didn't just get "high", but that you would react totally differently and unpredictably and thus turn into a tool in other people's hands. Many people who took MDA turned, according to Dawn, into satanists and prostitutes.
"I can only warn everyone to watch out if he buys dope from a stranger, because it's easy to add MDA and it makes you entirely addicted afterwards! As far as I know, this stuff isn't available in your country, but here it's spreading out steadily. My message is 'Don't get high on strangers!'"
How does the ever continuing cramming of the thrash market affect the chances of the new FEAR OF GOD opus?
"Perhaps you're right supposing that today it's much more difficult than it was then with "Recognize No Authority", but the next album will be so "scary" that it will actually blow away everyone. We will go "back to the roots" entirely and go to the limit. I like bands like KREATOR, for example, who play very fast, and that's the direction we plan to take again, too. The slow "slips" on "Within The Veil" are once and for all passé! Besides, we are desperate for a second guitarist, who adds even more power to the sound!"
If one hears you talking like this it seems "Within The Veil" is a flop to you!
"Well, not exactly a flop, but I really am quite dissatisfied. A lot of things went wrong. The producer was a total failure, he didn't get along with our sound at all, because he's a poser. And I'm just not a poser, hahaha, because I come from the same place where SLAYER are from as well, East LA."
Didn't you have any influence on the production?
"Well, on this point we've been very negligent and relied too much on Pat Regan, and so there was only little we could correct! (totally enraged) I can't believe how I still can go on living in spite of such frustrations, because the production is just terrible for the most part! Hadn't it been for Andy Wallace, who thanks to a good mix has managed to beef up the songs a little bit, I'd bury myself alive right now! Thus in the end it turned out to become a good album, I don't want to say any more about it, because otherwise I'll get even more upset about the producer!"
Did Warner also bring their influence to bear during the production process?
"We were actually free in any regard, yet they didn't realise either what Pat Regan has muddled. Besides, they didn't have the possibility to talk with him, as he mostly hung around at some posh parties instead of working on the album! Thus it was mostly Mike, our guitarist and rather an amateur in this field, who had to deal with the knobs...it was just terrible! Pat is an absolute scumbag, he wasted the budget on expensive eating and drinking instead of providing for a good sound!"
But on the album it says that Mike and you equally took part in the production!
"Yes, but Pat was also engineer and knew about the technical stuff so that he could talk us into anything which came to his mind, because we had absolutely no idea in this field! I can only stress once again: come and see us live, it's an improvement of 100%!"
And then followed another hundred curses on Pat Regan and some stories that Dawn had attacked him with a knife in the studio, which seems rather utopian to me, just like the fact that you can't tell me they recorded their own album without any influence on the sound! Somehow it rather looks as if Dawn is trying in vain to look for someone else to blame, because she's angry about her own performance!
Well, let's wait and see what the much-appraised next album will bring. Yet as this will take some time, let's turn to the present and things like, for example, the touring plans of FEAR OF GOD, by which Dawn could convince us of what she has stressed above many times!
"Oh, we've got big plans! At the moment it looks like we will tour the States first and then come to Europe. I don't want to say too much right now, as it's still all quite uncertain, I can actually just hope. But what I can promise you already now is that one of the blackest and worst days of your life is awaiting you when we will perform at your place!"
As regards information, this sentence equals zero, but perhaps we're lucky and the band will actually come one day! Somehow, these "prophecies" seemed to me somewhat untrustworthy, because during all these years of vinyl-abstinence not much will have happened on the live-front!
"During these times we've played some single shows, among others in New York and here in LA as well as in the Bay Area. Afterwards it was back to the East into the studio!"
With regard to the deal with Warner I also wanted to know if it had perhaps been the feminine being of Dawn which "accelerated" the decision to sign the contract, because a thrash band with a female vocalist is not exactly very common and a good marketing factor!
"Well, I don't consider myself sexy and basically, I don't care about it. Maybe right now I try a little bit as I don't have a man, hahaha!
But as regards the deal, it was different. Because the A&R person who took us under contract was a woman herself. And thus the aforementioned aspects surely didn't have any influence on her. It was just that she liked my voice and that we both got along well! Besides, she'd thought for quite some time that it was a man doing the vocals as she couldn't imagine that a woman could sound that extreme, hahaha!"
For sure, there's potential in this woman, to whom I'll leave the final words!
"FEAR OF GOD does not mean that you shall be afraid of God, but that you shall regard no other man as such and thus make yourself not subservient to anyone. Be your own, do what you want!"
"BREAKING THROUGH THE VEIL" STUDIO REPORT (Aardschok/Metal Hammer, April 1992) (originally in Dutch)
Producer Chris Tsangerides had barely turned down the knobs from having recorded Exodus' "Force of Habit" in the Battery studios in London when he already had to turn them up again for the recording process of the second Fear of God CD. The production of "Within the Veil" was rescued by Andy Wallace. Producer Pat Regan was actually called an "anti-producer". They can at least not say that of Chris Tsangerides, like singer Dawn Crosby explains:
"He has a great personality and is a real professional. I met him backstage in '83 at the Marquee after an Anvil gig and we got along so well that I told him he would have to produce my next album... And almost ten years later we're in the studio with him. Next to our guitarist Michael Carlino and drummer Brendan Etter we have a new bassist in the form of Jason Levin. With regard to the album, I have to say we have grown artistically. We still get vibes, signals and messages. I think the world is in a really bizarre state. Quite frightening, actually, like a pendulum that is about to swing the other way. We have some songs about that, like "The Curse" and the almost demonic "Hands in the Dark". Then there's "When the Wolves Come out to Slay" that lasts for about nine minutes, contains a lot of breaks and is really quite a small Wagnerian opera. "U.V." (Ultra Violet) is also really long, about 11 minutes, and if it won't fit on this album we'll keep it for the next. Another song is "One Nation Under Spell", and more titles I don't want to reveal at the moment. In the end, this album will have to have more power than the previous one. Especially the raw power that was on the Détente demo before "All that Remains" needs to be captured."
After disappointing US sales of "Within the Veil", the band is in a "do or die" situation with the new album. A really strong CD with similar Aardschokdag performance should make the Warner Brother counters move to the right direction as far as that is concerned.
AARDSCHOKDAG REVIEW (Aardschok/Metal Hammer, June 1992) (originally in Dutch)
When I got their "Within the Veil" CD last year, I could hardly wait to see the band around singer/screamer Dawn Crosby. A couple of days before the concert I was disappointed a little because I'd heard that Dawn had fired her complete band and would perform at Aardschokdag with members of Wrathchild America that had only had two days to learn the Fear of God songs. I had expected a messy show by musicians that had not really been fine-tuned. Thankfully, my expectation were way off the mark.
Fear of God's performance was not perfect but that was primarily caused by technical problems (guitar transmitter problems, etc.). The CD opener, "All that Remains", now functioned to open the show. But this time it was performed in a true thrash version onto a unsuspecting audience. After this baffling opener we got extremely heavy versions of, among others, "Red to Grey" and "Betrayed". Dawn Crosby has a great throat. Not everybody will be charmed by her vocals, but it perfectly fits Fear of God's music. The band was a lost heavier live than on the album, which meant that most of the audience appreciated the band. Due to the faulty guitar transmitters we had to do without a few of the acoustic intros (like with "Diseased") but in the end the "demons in the amplifiers" (such as Dawn called them) could not prevent Fear of God from being the first band that really hit home...rightly so.
FEAR OF GOD (Bang! 4, August/September 1994) (Originally in German)
She's back again: One of the most extreme women in the music business, who so far got attention because of her bizarre sounds, her personal-shocking lyrics and her eccentric manner. Of course, I'm talking about Dawn Crosby. Admittedly, I did have a slightly odd feeling in the region of my stomach when I dialled her number, because Dawn is also well-known among journalists for her strange personality. As so often, my fears were unfounded. With a friendly, yet also frightening voice she greeted me happily at the other end of the line. Frightening because her rough voice indicates excessive repression of problems by alcohol and intense smoking. Signs which show that so far not everything in Dawn's life has turned out well. Those who have taken a closer look at the lyrics of "Within The Veil" know what I mean. Now in these days, the second album "Toxic Voodoo" is released, which shows another side of Dawn, namely the aggressive, angry one. This album is like some kind of self-purification for Dawn, because this time she dealt with her feelings and problems without musical compromises. Yet what has happened in the time between the two albums and what were the reasons of the problems within the band, which led to some line-up changes?
"I wouldn't say there were any problems within the band. The actual problem was guitarist Michael Carlino. He's a little dictator and wanted to take over the band, which, of course, I couldn't allow. But he managed to get the other two guys on his side. We had just started preparing for the new album when things threatened to escalate. Michael tried to oppress me all the time and even replace me as a vocalist. Just imagine, after all it's my band, which I built up, and then there comes this guy trying to destroy everything. To avoid further confrontations I quit and got to know the guys of WRATHCHILD AMERICA. Together with them I went to Europe to play a few gigs. Their bass player Brad Divens also supported me on "Toxic Voodoo". After returning to the States I looked for new members for my band. This turned out to be quite difficult, but I think I finally found the right guys. Right now I'm very content with my life and this also means my private life. I've started to live for myself and not for someone else."
OK, Dawn, let's talk a little bit about the new album. In my opinion "Toxic Voodoo" sounds much more aggressive and harder than "Within The Veil" and not as desperate and sad: Do you agree with me, and where do you see further differences between the two albums?
"Exactly, that's a very good description, I totally agree with you! Yet I also see a big difference as far as the producer is concerned. In retrospect I'm not content anymore with "Within The Veil", as our producer then, Pat Regan, had spoiled a lot of things. Already then I'd wanted a rather powerful sound, but this guy just did what he wanted to do. For "Toxic Voodoo" we picked Mark Penske, who has already worked for FRANK ZAPPA. Mark was a true lucky hit. It was a nice experience to know that you can rely on someone 100% during the recordings. With "Within The Veil", things were, as I said, different. All the time, Pat and Michael wanted to manipulate my vocals and change this and that."
Having a closer look at the lyrics of "Within The Veil", one gets the impression that you're a very contemplative, well, nearly depressive person. How would you describe yourself?
"I am in fact a very contemplative person and at that time I had to suffer from depressions. A person from my family, who was very close to me, had died and otherwise, too, I was in a very bad situation, in a very sick relationship to be precise. Let's name it: I was together with Michael and I tell you it was hell. We lived together and worked together, but our relationship was permanently characterised by a mutual stabbing-in-the-back and a certain inconsequence. Nothing did change, on the contrary, it got worse and worse. I call this situation "Torture Chamber", because I felt as if I was locked up. In "Emily" there's a part which describes our relationship: "It never changes, it goes round, and round..."(sings). "Emily" is actually about a woman I worked for, but this small part is about Michael and me. Now I'm free, I can live for myself, and over the last years I've grown mentally. Yeah, right now I'm probably the happiest person in this goddamn world (laughs). I'm indeed still angry, but I know how to get rid of my anger, namely on stage and in my songs."
Dawn, you're often described as a very difficult character with whom it's not easy to get along. What's true about this allegation?
"Hum, let me put it this way: If you work together with me, then there are no problems, but if you work against me and try to exploit me I can get very unpleasant. Some people already got to experience this, but generally, I'd say that I can be the kindest person you may get to know. I mostly get into trouble with people from the music business. Okay, I'd still describe myself as somewhat bizarre, but right now I've got myself totally under control, I feel very strong and balanced."
From where do you get the power and motivation to play music, especially after all the problems you've had to face in the past?
"I just have to sing! To me, singing means something very beautiful! I like to experiment with my voice and use it in different ways. Writing lyrics also is an important motivation for me, because it allows me to cope with my feelings. Music means communication and music is a higher form of art! I know there are a lot of people who think the same way I do in this regard, and this in return gives me strength in my striving to make music for these people."
Okay, Dawn, alas we've got to come to an end. Last question: When are we going to see you again in Europe?
"It all depends just on our fans. If they buy our new album and turn to the record company asking for FEAR OF GOD, then, of course, the chances will go up. Therefore tell your readers to write to Intercord. I want to come to Germany again so badly. Did you happen to know that my grandfather was German? OK, baby, I hope we'll see each other in Germany..."
"TOXIC VOODOO" REVIEW (Aardschok, August/September 1994) (originally in Dutch)
With high expectations I inserted the Fear of God advance tape in my cassette deck. Singer Dawn Crosby's career may have gone through mountains and especially valleys, but her recorded material has so far been excellent. Détente's debut in 1986 and Fear of God's debut in 1991 were both superb. The heavy guitars and similar production fitted well with Dawn's screamy, somewhat out-of-key vocals. Her band changed line-ups quicker than she did her underwear. Two weeks before April '92's "Aardschokdag" performance she threw out all members of her band and performed with members of Wrathchild America (now Souls at Zero). I don't know which band members she worked with after that, but it hurts a little to see that she's now working with the weakest line-up so far. Especially the guitarist is a lot less capable - he plays in a pretty simple fashion and sometimes in the wrong key. Dawn's lyrics are socially critical as always, so that's not bad at all. What is bad is the production. Compared to "Within the Veil" it's, to use Beenhakker's words, "vagin au poire". The songs are OK, but can't measure up to earlier work. What a shame...
NO LONGER A SMALL FISH (Heavy, oder was!? Nr. 15, September/October 1994) (Originally in German)
Our forgotten sons-section has been interrupted for some time, but that doesn't mean that we won't pay any regard to it in the future. The problem is that it's incredibly difficult to contact bands and musicians who nowadays probably don't play music anymore. So we'd already tried to get into contact with LAST DESCENDANTS, TANK or Tommy Stewart of HALLOWS EVE. Unfortunately, without success. FEAR OF GOD, too, were on our list, but this subject is now settled, because the Yankees surrounding Dawn Crosby have to our total surprise and in spite of all rumours concerning a split-up released a new album titled "Toxic Voodoo".
This band belongs without any doubt to the last still existing cult bands of our time. "Toxic Voodoo" has consequently become the expected killer album, full of double bass drums. A real thrash hammer like we nowadays don't get to hear very often, unfortunately. Dawn Crosby has the reputation of being a quite difficult person, yet I've got to deny this rumour vehemently. She answered my questions very kindly, obligingly and willingly to give information.
"The new album is more of a teamwork of a real band. On the debut "Within The Veil" all musicians relied on me and ducked away from any responsibility. The main part of the music stems from my fellow musicians, whereas it was my share to do all the lyrics and the vocals."
"Toxic Voodoo" reminds me rather of the album "Recognize No Authority" of your former band DÉTENTE than of the FEAR OF GOD-predecessor...
"We wanted a more direct album than "Within The Veil". The new guys Rob Michael (bs.) and John Grden (dr.) played earlier with the band HAVE MERCY (Cult!!! auth.). I knew the guys from my time with DÉTENTE already. The two were big DÉTENTE fans and so it lay at hand that their preferences would show in the song-writing. The new songs have got this deadly SLAYER-groove. Though nearly all of them are quite fast and straight, they still contain enough slow and psychedelic parts, which increase the dynamics of the album."
Why did it take entire three years until the new album was finished?
"I had to find new hungry musicians, who would participate in the songwriting, the songs had to be worked out and a new deal was required. There were indeed enough offers, but Pavement seemed fit best to us. Warner Brothers hadn't done anything at all to push our debut, that's why we simply had to change the company. I don't want to be a tiny little fish in an overwhelming pool any longer, but I finally need the support of a reliable label."
Apart from lack of commitment, were there any other reasons why the entire band was exchanged?
"I founded FEAR OF GOD together with our former guitarist Michael Carlino. In the beginning, it really came off very well. We got on excellently with each other. Yet step by step Michael got more and more jealous of the fact that I was the focus of attention. A female thrash vocalist is something uncommon and I had made a name for myself in the underground with DΘTENTE. Thus the media were mainly interested in my person. That was something Micheal couldn't cope with any longer. Besides, he wanted to steer the band in a more commercial direction, which was absolutely not what I had in mind. He always said FEAR OF GOD was his band and he acted like a dictator. What made the barrel spill were the planned recordings for the second album in autumn 1992, when we flew to London to produce the new songs with Chris Tsangarides. Micheal flew ahead and asserted that I had left the band and that he would now take over the vocals in addition to the guitars. He totally stabbed me in the back and wanted to force me out of the band by all means. Ex-drummer Steve Cordova was on Carlino's side, because the latter kept saying that you can't have success with a woman in the band. Further co-operation wasn't possible anymore, because it was a working-against instead of a working-together. I took myself a lot of time to find fit musicians, because permanent line-up-changes do harm a band a lot. The new team is like a real small family, where everyone does respect each other. You learn your lesson from such disillusions."
The lyrics are extremely depressive and dark...
"Not on the new album. You're right when referring to "Within The Veil". But on "Toxic Voodoo" the vocals sound very aggressive and angry, yet there's a lot of hope underneath the current songs. The language I use is often symbolic and therefore not easy to understand. The track "Beyond The Veil" is the continuation to the title of our debut album, "Within The Veil". We've become more open, my attitude towards a lot of things is now more positive than three years ago, when I wasn't content with what was happening around me. Now we want to lift the veil and provide the listeners with messages full of hope. I've found reliable friends and what's very important to me I've a good relationship with my father again, to whom I'd broken off any contact for a long time. I'm happy and it shows in my lyrics. Of course, my lyrics are meant to make you contemplate, because I myself am a very contemplative and very sensitive human being. Therefore the lyrics stem from my within. The subjects may not be easy to digest, but are full of hope. Read the lyrics for yourself, connect them with the music and draw your own conclusions from it."
The music of FEAR OF GOD sounds unusually original and individual...
"We have a somewhat strange way of writing songs. During those six months when the new songs were written, we avoided nearly any contact with the media, because current trends on radio and TV might influence you unconsciously. We didn't want that to happen, that's why we always sat very close to each other. After all was done, the first thing I had to know was what had happened on the music market in the past few months. Through this kind of discipline we reached a higher level of originality than most other bands do. Quite tiring, but it was worth it. My main goal has always been to develop the angry thrash of DÉTENTE further and now I finally have the right musicians around me. I wanted to continue playing thrash metal with blast beats and this SLAYER-like sound (Dawn's ultimate fave band, as she repeatedly pointed out during our conversation auth.). But you've got to find ways to improve, to reach the next goal. Now we've found our own style."
Are you satisfied with your career as a musician so far?
"The sales could of course do better, but music-wise I'm absolutely satisfied, because I can do just the music I always had in mind without compromises. Of course, there were set-backs like the incident with Carlino, who instigated our former manager against me and prevented with his continuing jealousies that this second album was released earlier. Besides, there were again and again negative experiences with different untrustworthy labels."
What would you consider the most pleasant event of your career?
"When we could perform together with SLAYER in Montreal in front of 8,000 people and Tom Araya jumped onto the stage after the concert and screamed into the mike: "That was the heaviest Janis Joplin you ever heard." The audience went wild and even screamed for encores. At the Aardschok-festival we played together with SEPULTURA, which in itself was a great experience, because we just realised how fervently the fans in Europe missed us. Many people came up to me and said they'd only come to see FEAR OF GOD. We had to cope with some technical problems during the gig, though."
Are there any plans for a trip to Europe?
"It depends on how the sales will do. I can tell those guys who'd like to see us live to write in large numbers to our German record company Intercord. FEAR OF GOD always received very positive responses from Europe."
Isn't your sound quite difficult to reproduce live?
"'Toxic Voodoo' was played in live and the band are now fit enough so that there won't be any problems in this regard. The tracks on the debut are by comparison partly more intricate and technical and will sound live a little bit different from the studio version. Keep your fingers crossed that the trip to Europe will come off well. SLAYER will release their new album in the near future. Dear guys at Intercord, wouldn't you like to see FEAR OF GOD as opening act?"
ONCE TO HELL AND BACK (Rock Hard Nr. 89, October 1994) (Originally German)
It took FEAR OF GOD about four years to finally come up with the by many people fervently awaited successor of the phenomenal debut "Within The Veil". The reasons for this long dry term are manifold, yet can be brought to a common denominator and traced back even to 1989, when after the split-up of Détente, vocalist Dawn decided to call a new band into being.
"The problems already started when we were still working on "Within The Veil". Michael (Carlino guitar) and Dennis (Butler drums) didn't get along with each other right from the start. At that time, Dennis was my husband and we had already played together in Détente. When I was on a promo-tour in Germany, he incurred severe burning marks from an accident. The band took advantage of this to stab us in the back. They cancelled Dennis' credits, so that after my return, he eventually decided to leave the band and retire once and for all from the music. The money he got from the accident would have sufficed for both of us, which is why he asked me to throw it all up. Yet I said to him I couldn't do that, whereupon we got divorced. From then on I was without cover to my back, and Michael developed more and more into a tyrant who didn't miss an opportunity to put me into a bad light even at our record company. When we were working on our second album for Warner Brothers in London, he even secretly tried to replace me. Even our producer Chris Tsangarides, this big slime-bucket, wanted to scare me away. Each time I came into the studio to do my vocal-parts he simply was not there. And this five days in a row. Warner started getting nervous, and as if that wasn't already enough, my manager turned out to be a mega-asshole. That was it. Well, the material that had already been recorded was pretty shitty anyway; totally commercial and wimped out. As we still had touring engagements, I just asked the promoters if they would mind if I performed with other musicians. They said no and I went back to the States to put together a touring band, returned to Europe and played a handful of shows on which the guys of Wrathchild America (now: Souls At Zero) eventually supported me. Afterwards, I started together with bassist Rob Michael to put up a new line-up."
Which consists of musicians who all live just a stone's throw away from Dawn and were found step by step. At least two of them are no no-names anymore. Bassist Rob and drummer John Grden signed up a long time ago at the thrashers of Have Mercy, who might still be known to fervent tape-traders. Apart from two demos and a song for the "Metal Massacre V"-sampler they also released a mini-album, which was part of the short-lived Combat Boot Camp-series.
"They are absolutely cool guys and very talented musicians. I wish to them more than to myself that we will have some success with FEAR OF GOD. They deserve it as they've worked hard on "Toxic Voodoo" and have really given all they've got. I myself have only co-arranged two songs and kept myself deliberately a little in the back, as I didn't want them to feel just like a part of a solo-project. I just let them do. In the beginning it was only Rob, but then the others came up with more and more ideas, too. "Burnt" was written by Chris (Kalandras guitars) on his own and provided with a riff which could also stem from Obituary. The album hasn't turned out extraordinary, yet still very good."
Did you really think about following the example of Dennis and give it all up? After all those disillusions this would just have been logical.
"Life and also cooperation with Michael were over all those years one single nightmare out of anger, hate and self-abasement. It seemed there was no awakening. That pressed me very hard. Yet I never toyed with the idea of stopping. That all has made me even stronger. Songs like "Feed Time" and "Beyond The Veil" eventually helped me to get over it. Here I could let go of my anger. Inspiration I had enough. A life without music is something I just can't imagine. I'd miss the fun and the getting-to-know of new people and I'd probably be bored to death."
Was it difficult to find a new label? In the end it all lasted longer than originally expected. A first promo-tape containing three new songs already circulated about a year ago. Among others, there were also contacts to Century Media.
"Yes, but unfortunately that didn't come off well. Actually a pity, because then I'd probably be in Germany right now and give the interviews on the spot. We got a lot of offers, among them also some by major companies. But they all belonged to Warner Brothers. And just there I had because of all those events the reputation of being a very instable, unreliable person, which is why they shrank back from me. Though exactly the opposite is true. I always look ahead and I am also very companiable, unless idiots and bootlickers surround me. The guys will confirm this. We respect each other and all problems turning up are immediately discussed within the band. Furthermore, Pavement give us full support. They work their asses off and call up nearly every day. At Warner we were just a band among thousands and we got to feel this, too."
In the news of one of our previous issues it said that Pavement were close to bankruptcy and thus the fate of bands like Crowbar or also FEAR OF GOD was in the balance.
"Oh God, it's the first time I get to hear this. I've got to talk with them immediately. When we met a few days ago at the Milwaukee-Metalfest, everything seemed to be all right. I only know that they recently lost a big distribution deal, which hit them very hard. Yet should this really be the case I can but hope that we will be picked up again by another label soon. But maybe it's just a rumour. That's what I hope at least."
Is writing lyrics a means to get a clear head and throw accumulated frustrations overboard? It seems to me you attract idiots like shit attracts flies...
"During the last years I've met so many false, backstabbing people who don't know what to do with their lives. People who can do nothing but start with their five o'clock-beer and drink until they finally drop. My father owns a big house in Maryland, which has got four apartments separated from each other. When I came back here and moved in, I knew not a single soul. I was alone, as my parents meanwhile lived in Florida. The only person in whom I placed trust was the housekeeper, a kind old man and my life saver. There lived all those rotten, destroyed figures marked by drugs, who just lived through the day and vegetated. They didn't give a damn about what they'd become. I felt as if I was having a look into hell and sometimes I sensed the wish to just mow them down with a machine gun. But I wrote about it instead. In winter it was extremely bad. It was freezing cold and up to 20 times per month we had the cops in our house. Again and again it came to mischievous destruction and someone also broke into my apartment. It lasted, all in all, two years. Just four months ago, I finally got rid of those creatures. That's how songs like "Cloud Chamber" or "UV" came into being."
A real unique and trademark of the band are your vocals. If one visualises all the changes of mood within single songs, one might well get frightened. Aren't you afraid that sometimes you overdo things a little bit and run the risk of losing your voice one day?
"Well, I already started at 14 to practise in private, and continued to do so later on also at the college. Besides, a private teacher in San Diego gave me lessons in classical opera for five years, which has helped me a lot to handle my voice and breathing. Nevertheless, I have, of course, to be careful that I don't push things too far, as otherwise it may lead to irreparable damages especially in higher vocal ranges. So sometimes I've got to leave out a party, go to bed early and get enough sleep."
Up till now, unfortunately, you didn't make a short trip to Germany. Will this change in the foreseeable future?
"I'd like to come immediately. So tell your readers to flood our German company with letters. Seriously: I love Germany very much and I enjoyed my stay in Munich and Cologne very much. At that time I was 19, 20 and wanted to join Accept by all means."
"Hey, that's true. I had read that Udo, whom I honestly adore deeply, had left the band and I wanted to take his position by all means. At that time I lived in London and I got myself an address and a telephone number. Dennis followed then, I packed my things and together we went to Germany. Unfortunately they didn't give me a chance because I'm a woman (laughs). Though "Restless & Wild" is one of my ultimate fave albums. I never liked the second vocalist. I still do believe I would have done a better job. Is it actually true that Udo is back with them again?"
"And has Wolf (Hoffmann guitars) really had a bald head cut?"
Well, I think so.
(Breaks into utter laughter:)"He's funny!"
Hum, you seem to have a very special relation towards Germany.
"Yes, definitely. I like Holy Moses very much. Especially the vocalist. She inspires me to get more extreme. I think she is by far the best of her kind. And she's said to be pretty, too, is that true?"
One may say so. In any case prettier than Udo and Wolf, but this is probably a matter of taste.
LIVING AND DYING IN L.A. (Visions 11/94) (Originally in German)
The status of women in the genre of rock'n'roll has always been of a recessive nature. After all, it was mostly because of external charms that people paid attention to the female gender. Only in the course of the nineties this former male domain seems to break up. The self-appointed "bad girl", who goes about it no less provoking and wild than her male comrades, is not just gaining popularity in the minds of certain Hollywood-directors. Bands like L7, Bikini Kill or Lunachicks prove that as a woman you can rock hard, too.
To Dawn Crosby, vocalist of/with Fear Of God, this is yet nothing new, as she already knew to live up to these attributes in the middle of the eighties with her former combo Détente.
"The problems you've got to face as a woman in this male-dominated business haven't diminished up till now. Each time you've got to prove yourself anew", she reports from first hand. "The audience never takes me seriously at the beginning of a show, mostly it already starts with the soundcheck, where you've got to quarrel with the mixer. When I start off, though, the situation changes immediately. Only few expect me to get going with such intensity. But in the end, people pay respect to me." Occasions to prove this were sown rather sparsely in the past, though. Having a look at Dawn's musical career, complications nearly form part of everyday life.
Between her debut "Within The Veil" and the current album "Toxic Voodoo", about three years have passed, which strikes one as rather short compared to the '86 Détente-opus. "'Within The Veil' was released, as some might still recall, via Warner Brothers, with whom I'd signed a promising deal with the help of Megadeth. This gave us the opportunity to go to London in 1992 to record the second album together with Chris Tsangarides. Already beforehand, serious problems turned up among the former line-up, though. Guitarist Michael Carlino kept intriguing against me which culminated in his and Tsangarides' attempt to kick me out of the band. I watched this for a while and then eventually drew the line."
The return connected with it was meant to last but a short time, though, because "while I was staying in London I got the offer to play a few shows in Holland, which, of course, sounded very interesting." Thus Dawn recruited without much ado the guys of Wrathchild America (now Souls At Zero) and found in Rob Michael a new bass player. "The guys had time to spare because they had no deal at that point of time, and moreover, they are old friends of mine. Thereupon we made a short trip for five shows, among others at the "Aardschokdag" where we played together with Sepultura. It was a lot of fun and gave me the strength to get over the nightmare with the old line-up!"
In order to leave those events entirely behind Dawn took the decision to turn her back on Los Angeles and return to her former home, Maryland. "In retrospect I can but welcome this step. As far as music is concerned, LA is absolutely not my cup of tea. In Maryland I still have a lot of old friends and live in my parents' house. Today I've got entirely different ways to unfold myself. I do a lot of sports and I'm totally content with myself, which, of course, has a positive effect on the band climate, too." With regard to the latter, Dawn didn't always belong to the most pleasant members of the human species. Those who once got to experience this lady under the influence of alcohol have to admit that sometimes things could turn pretty psychopathic. Thus I wouldn't say the aforementioned and following stories were mere allegations by others.
Confronted with this, my conversation-partner plays down: "I suppose you're hinting at some slips which were but single incidents. I'm actually a very nice girl who just on stage turns into a beast." Should there even be hope that the slogan "Fear Of Dawn" will be marked off in the future and that several failures in the drug department belong to the past once and for all? "You Europeans always have to let fall such nasty comments. The matter with drugs is very serious for me, which the title "Toxic Voodoo" is also meant to show. Long since I only smoke pot, because I've had too much bad experience with other stuff." Now let's put an end to the grilling and get to a different, by far more pleasant point. While on the last opus the vocalist was also responsible for some parts of the music besides the lyrics , this time her internal role is confined to the former. "For my part I can only say that my lyrics are the best in the world. It's the only thing I'm really content with."
Which she immediately underlines in a self-portraying scenario: "If you image them as poems without the music, one could think they were grind songs, because the message appears to be simply massive. To me it is one of the nicest feelings to let it all out. At the moment there are quite a lot of people doing this death metal thing which comes across in a tremendously negative way. I see myself indeed as a negative person, but I emphasise that my ideas do possess expressiveness. That's where the quality of the album does result from." This is at the same time a hint that there are certain reservations on the part of the front woman with regard to the musical performance. "To be honest, I've actually never been content with my albums. In this case the problem is that my contribution to the music equals zero. The guys wrote all the material on their own, thus underlining above all their preference for death metal. I can identify myself with this just to a certain extent, the more so because I basically prefer harmonies in connection with a brutal song structure. However, this way I like it much better than the wimpy touch on "Within The Veil". The new album represents some kind of bridge and I assure you already now that the next one will bear a much stronger mark from my side."
Does this allow to conclude that the current line-up will at the same time be the first one with whom you'll record two albums one after the other? "Yes, why not", she replies somewhat reproachfully. "Eventually I've known the guys for about two years during which we mastered a lot of problems. Sometimes we had to huddle together very tightly, because the financial situation of the band is anything else but rosy, yet this tied us together. Besides, in a few days we'll start a tour of 41 dates together with Grave, which also proves our relation-ship. My innermost wish would be to finally demonstrate this to you." Dawn does indeed not stand alone with this wish. Even though her status in the European underground is now still nearly unbroken, the sales of "Toxic Voodoo" will have the final say. In this regard one can indeed not count anymore on the support of the media-giant Warner, but the new "home" at Pavement will guarantee at least a solid building. These guys already proved to have a hand with Crowbar and Scatterbrain. "They were the only ones to make us a definite offer", declares Dawn dryly. "I don't want to complain and I try to stay away as far as possible from the business. Yet when I occasionally come to New York and can't find the record anywhere I get really upset. But it seems you've got to live with this on an American indie."
Thus it's probably going to take a while until you'll be better off financially, isn't it? "At Warner they paid us enough advance to live off it. Yet in retrospect I've got to say that it didn't do me much good to sit at home with the dough. At the moment I've got two quite interesting jobs which are much more fun. I've got a job as a carpenter and I also work in a Halloween-shop. There I have to disguise myself each time. Today I'll dress as a nun, for example. It's really funny, because the shop is located directly in a pedestrian zone." Will this possibly have any effect on your show? "Hey, this would be something to think about. I'll bring along a photo to the guys, because with time it really gets boring to wear army shorts and boots all the time." One thing's for sure, Dawn is still always good for a surprise... "For me there's nothing comparable to it. Besides, I don't mind proving myself each time anew because the people have already forgotten the last album. One look at daily life is enough to know which way is the right one. Music allows my creativity as much space as possible to unfold itself."
THE ART OF A RECORD PRODUCER
Adrian Pertout speaks with producer Ross Robinson from Amsterdam about the art of hard rock production, and his work with Sepultura and Machine Head.
Engineer/producer Ross Robinson's initial assault on the music scene came about as guitarist in a thrash metal band with ex-Machine Head skin master Dave McClain, and as a consequence of his eventual recording excursions together was ultimately taken captive by the seductive art of studio production. The career that was then set in motion eventually delivered a series of gold and platinum albums to his credit, later culminating in an award by New York's NY VIBE Magazine, pronouncing him as 'Hard Rock Producer of the Year' in 1999. Today, Ross Robinson has a clientele list that includes Korn, Limp Bizkit, Sepultura, Deftones, Soulfly, Vanilla Ice, Fear Factory, Cold, House of Pain, Human Waste Project, and his current projects that feature forthcoming releases by Machine Head, Amen, Slipknot and Phunk Junkeez. Ross also recently signed an eminent deal with Roadrunner Records that officially casts him as A&R scout/in-house producer, which essentially gives him the power to 'discover' and produce the debut albums of three new acts per year through the Roadrunner imprint label 'I AM Records'.
How did you initially start out as a record producer?
RR: "I was the guitar player in a thrash metal band with the drummer from Machine Head, he's my best friend, I actually got to record his last record recently, but our band broke up, and I got offered to play with another band, so he took off. And at that point, having been in the studio and seeing what a producer does, it was like I then knew that way beyond playing an instrument, this was my calling, and what I really wanted to do. So being in that studio environment completely transformed my whole way of thinking about music."
What do you consider to be the magic in your approach to sound in the studio? What are the main ingredients of a good record producer?
RR: "The main ingredient is definitely capturing the soul of the artist, the spirit side, not necessarily the tones or perfect pitch and all that, it's definitely peer spirit on tape. And as long as my focus stays concentrated on that I can usually score out a gold or platinum record (laughs). You know, 'cause I think that the listener communicates more with the heart and accepts it more, because it's personal. I feel that we all have like one soul on the whole planet, and that when that one soul is communicating to itself, in complete honesty, it like changes people, and it also sells a lot of records, luckily for me (chuckles)."
Tell me about the set up in your working studio of 'Indigo Ranch' in Malibu, California.
RR: "The owner's name is Richard Kaplan, and I sometimes also work with Richard engineering. He was my main engineer on the first Korn record and on Sepultura 'Roots', but the latest ones I've done with Chuck Johnson. And Chuck is very much a vibe guy, he's totally into the vibe, so he's not really a technical, knobs tweeker kind of dude. The studio was built in '73 by the Moody Blues, and Richard was part of that organization and kept the studio. And fortunately the gear stayed completely intact, it was left alone. All the gear is vintage, and there are just endless amounts of extremely great stuff. You know, there's like over six hundred guitar pedals alone, and an assortment of microphones that is better than any studio in the whole LA area, maybe the world!"
What sort of recording gear do you have there?
RR: "The tape machine is like a '75 or '77 3M tape machine, it has big knobs on it, and leaves holes when you punch out, but it's so fat, it's the fattest sound. And the console is a Dean Jensen custom board. He's like this electronics genius guy from the 70s that killed himself in the early 80s. But all the crossovers are hand-wired, and you can pretty much stand anywhere in the room and have a great window of sound, so you don't have to be in one spot to hear it. The outboard gear is like the normal excellent old school type stuff. And you know, I use like weird battleship mikes from World War II (chuckles), and lots of other weird things to get creative with. I also do a lot of vocals through old ribbon mikes, which have that old Disney cartoon sound. You know, like those voices you hear like on Cinderella. Yeah, I like that sound."
You are obviously still very much an analogue devotee. So how do you see the digital versus analogue question in the style of music that you mainly produce?
RR: "I think that the people that are like throwing loops together, sort of like the White Zombie style or like these bands that are coming out and putting electronics in, they're gonna sound very outdated in like maybe one or two years. To me, the digital realm is very trendy, and it's not a very permanent sound, it's just too synthetic, it doesn't come from flesh and blood. It's like, when I mix, I mix with my hands, I don't use automation, it's a feeling, in that you're actually playing the song again. So I'm very, very into keeping it pure and real. All the albums that you hear from the 70s stand up today. You know, the sound of early Beatles albums is still up to date. And this sound will always stand the test of time, where I don't think the digital sound will."
The Sepultura 'Roots' album was certainly innovating both from a musical and sonic perspective. What were some of the special recording techniques utilized?
RR: "Just doing it pure and real."
I mean, that was a fat sound!
RR: "Yeah, it was very fat, and I think the main fatness came from the big toms that Igor played. Also, Paulo had this Musicman bass that was very magical, that thing sounded great. As far as the low end, that's what made it really happen, the drums, the bass guitar, and also Max's vocals (chuckles). You know, all those things, low tuned guitars, everything pushing together like that made the sound. And just getting the sound from the equipment first and putting it to tape without messing with it."
So you recorded everything flat basically.
RR: "Yeah, because if I crave something in a sound, I'll try to like move the mike around or change the mike. Also, the piece of gear might not be right that the band is playing through. And Indigo is so transparent, in that you get what you hear in that room onto tape, so it doesn't like compress or change sounds, and that's what is so special about Indigo. But that album was such a real sounding album, and those guys had so much power when they played, it was just so full on for us."
How would you say that your general approach has differed with the forthcoming Machine Head album?
RR: "The brand new Machine Head album is very heart felt, and it's way, way more personal, compared to the first two. The whole band has just opened up on more of a spiritual level, you can just feel their hearts wide open, there's so much fire on that album, and the singing is so good. Rob has turned into a great, great singer, and there's excellent melody. And the songs are very, very lyric-based, where each band member knew exactly where the lyrics were written, why they were written, and what exactly they're about. And the spirit of the song formed through each instrument, it was about the song and the meaning of it. And with Sepultura there was just incredible amounts of energy through the music, and I wanted to basically create a pyramid, something that would last for centuries. And that's basically what I went for with those guys, it was a very I would say God-based album, not a religious thing but a spiritual thing, because Max and I connected so much in that area. But with Machine Head it was about breaking down the walls, actually that's some of the lyrics (chuckles). It was literally about breaking down walls and getting to the core of those guys, whereas Sepultura's core was already exposed."
What does your official association with Roadrunner Records mean with regards to the future of Ross Robinson?
RR: "I have an imprint label deal with them, where I find bands that I really like, and get to produce them with no heat from a record company. They trust me to do exactly what I'm doing, and I'm very grateful to be able to do it that way. And I've done it before with no compromise, but it was a battle sometimes, you know, of bullshit. But with Roadrunner there will be no bullshit, and I can instantly get a band signed without having to shop them. Had I had this record deal before, I would have had Deftones, Korn, Limp Bizkit and Cold, all these brand new bands that have gold and platinum selling records. And so I find things before anybody else gets it, or knows it's good (chuckles). So it was a natural progression. And I love Australian artists, 'Dead Can Dance' is one of my all-time favourites, Nick Cave is like my hero, and I got to see this very special band recently in LA, 'Powderfinger', I really like them a lot too. So it's a special place, I'd really like to come out and like hunt for a band. So if somebody wants me to hear their band they can send a tape to Roadrunner care of me, it will makes it's way to the US, and I'll get it. So yeah, hook me up, and I will hopefully find a great Australian band that will maybe change the world."
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