Interview with John Ricci
by Francisco “Topocation”
from the Militia Zine, Mexico
Used under permission.
SIDE HEAVY SIDE METAL
In anybody own´s life, no matter who you are, there is stuff that leaves a deep dent in existence. Stuff which is hard to forget, things we will take with us to the grave. You name it: a fight, a girl, a new baby born, a loved person´s death, your first smoke, being busted by cops, Frank Sinatra´s songs... (this intro was taken from Metal Command Fanzine issue 3, March 2001). In my own experience, this dent comes after listening to THIS band and having been in touch with them (and of course some others bands and zines too) that fueled my urges to seek, find and listen to some truly metallic bands. I feel proud to introduce to you the following interview with Mr. John Ricci, die hard metalhead, guitarist and mastermind behind who has had to endure a bunch of SHIT to keep up and on rocking and banging all this years. He was waaay cool to answer some candid questions and even cooler to include it in the band´s official website! Thank you a lot for that man!, and thanks to D.F. and to Ivan "Lic. Metálico" for helping me out with this. If you are a headbanger and you enjoy music made with violence and force, you for sure care about .... LONG LIVE THE LOUD!...
By: Francisco “Topocation”
Correction: David Fernandez
MZ.-How you doing John? Thanks a lot for finding the time to answer this interview. It seems it’s been a long time since someone from Mexico interviewed you. What are you and the band up to?
JR.-Everything is all good Francisco thanks for asking. Right now we are in the process of writing new songs for the next album and also revising our set list for live concerts. We are also getting prepared to play a show in Chicago at a venue called Reggie`s Rock Club on Nov.18.
MZ.-You guys recently toured South America with a great response. How did the gigs go? Which are your impressions on the fan base there? Where exactly did you play and do you feel you learned something when playing there?
JR.-When we played our mini-tour
of South America back in March it was a fantastic experience. The first
show was in Buenos Aires, Argentina at The Roxy Live club which was very
well attended; the promoter was very good with us and treated us with respect.
The second show was in Santiago, Chile and this time the venue was Caupolican
(a small theatre) which we co-headlined with another Canadian band VOI
VOD. The attendance I was told by the promoter was about 1000 people. You
can actually view our performance on YouTube if you Google
live in Chile. The last show was at Caricoa club in Sao Paulo, Brazil and
I believe the attendance was bout 250. Ironically, the opening local band
cancelled on short notice so we played the whole without a support band
(which was fine with us!) the longer we play for an audience the more we
thrash out with the crowd! It`s like a big metal party!!!
It was the first time has toured South America and I think we made a positive impression even though we are not the original line-up and we have continued to write new classics which audiences really seemed to enjoy
MZ.-It’s been a year since “Death Machine” was released. How´s the response been so far? Do you think that album is an advanced step for the band or is it just more like a way of telling the world you are still alive and kicking?
JR.-The sales for Death
Machine have been respectable considering today`s economy. I don`t think
any reputable or long standing metal band do a lot of sales as compared
to 20 years ago. The internet and downloading changed the whole music industry.
The reviews for the most part have been good.
As I mentioned before I think `s new material is equally as influential as the early album from the 80`s. Yes, I think fans will treasure all albums (old and new) for years to come.
MZ.-Your music has always been powerful, straight and catchy. It gets attached to our minds easily and makes us headbang. I remember the first time I ever heard your music; I was hit with a “Sudden Impact”. I really think you are like AC/DC on speed, haha…You have always kept personality and style. What do you think makes your music special or different?
musical style was originally made of 2 elements, Dan Beehler`s screaming
vocal style and fast and pounding double bass drum playing in addition
to my intense no compromise speed guitar riffs. In the early material I
wrote most of the riffs and Dan did the vocal melodies and lyrics. But
since 1996 when I formed the new
I made an effort to retain the same formula as in the 80`s and not change
After all when fans buy an record they have certain expectations and we try not to disappoint. I think the new has kept the same originality as the old . I think myself,Rik,Clammy and Kenny deliver a more exciting live show than the original ever did. We don`t sound like any other band,
we are not a shredder band. When we write songs we try to write songs that we think the audience will enjoy and not write songs where there are long dragged out boring solos.
MZ.-The band has changed
its lineup a few times, even a couple of singers. They both had high pitched
vocals that fit 's
style. What´s your opinion on new vocalist Kenny Winter and his input
for the band? What is necessary in a singer to be a part of your band?
JR.-First of all, if someone is interested to sing for they must know the history of the band and where we came from. Secondly, they must like the music we play. Thirdly, they must sing in a high screaming register. Kenny, our current singer has all these qualities plus the fact that he is an excellent frontman.Kenny`s contribution is essential because he interprets the vocal melodies that I write.
MZ.- has shared the stage with great metal bands like MOTORHEAD, MANOWAR, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, ACCEPT and also with MERCYFUL FATE on their first U.S.A. tour. The all have made it big and live off their music and playing. ´s story has been quite different. You are as good (or better) than any of those bands I mentioned, but the band, so far, has not been able to survive and make a living off music only. What have you been missing? What does it take to reach that level? Do you think now you are on a better stage with a very loyal following and the popularity level of an underground cult band?
JR.-The reasons we have failed in high levels of success is because of the following:
-We are from Canada, so the support for metal bands in this country doesn`t exist from the Canadian music industry. Unless you are a pop band you get no support and no air play from any radio stations (aside from university or internet stations).
-We never had proper management and every time we tried to get a manager in Canada or the USA we were told our music was shit and we wouldn`t get anywhere.
-In the 80`s when we first got started we made some very bad business decisions and people who did work with us during this period just wanted to `cash in` on our popularity and were not really interested in dedicating themselves to promoting for the long term.
-In the 80`s there was a lot of disagreements between the band members which created a lot of tension and arguments and clouded our judgment when business decisions were supposed to be made to further our career.
These are just a few reasons why we never made it big but I agree with you Francisco the fans have definitely not let fade away and die and we appreciate this very, very much.
MZ.-John, you are very aware that today´s metal scene has changed a lot through the years. New comers to Metal are in direct touch with technology and this takes a different approach to this music. Do you think that the heavy metal scene is better now or was it better back then when you first started and you didn’t have all tech tools available nowadays.
JR.-In today`s metal scene I think there is the good and the bad. What I mean by this is that recording technology is so advanced the vision for a particular sound is easy to achieve in the studio with today’s music software. The only negative thing about today’s metal bands is that they lack originality, sometimes I can`t tell one band from another. They should try to focus on the most original factor of the band if they want to stand out from the rest.
MZ.-Today´s metal scene and market are flooded
with extreme “brutal” genres or –on the other hand-
with soft bands and mellow music. Those styles are the big sellers and are an easy catch for a young metalhead because it is available and mainstream. Do you think can have any appeal to these young kids from the new generation of metalheads?
JR.-Yes, the new generation of metal fans I think like `s more classic style because we are different and we focus on energy and intenseness and originality. Don`t get me wrong there are a lot of new exciting bands and the have all these traits but the lack ORIGINALITY!
MZ.-Your country, Canada, has given the world a great deal on high quality metal bands. ANVIL, RAZOR, SACRIFICE, INFERNAL MAJESTY and obviously . What makes Canada special to breed these cool bands?
JR.-I don`t know why Canadian
metal bands sound so different, maybe it`s the cold climate we have here
in the winter, he ! he !.
A lot of us started in the late 70` early 80`s and we were listening to 60`s and 70`s rock, so maybe our influences are derived from this era and as a result we (Canadian bands) blended originality with British influences such as BLACK SABBATH and MOTORHEAD. I really don`t know why Canadian metal bands sound so different from the rest of the world.
MZ.-How was the Canadian scene back then when you first started? How did you get along with other bands? Can you tell us a story from the old days?
JR.-All the bands we`ve
toured with to date have been great. We get along with everyone. One funny
moment, was in 1985 when we toured with MOTORHEAD. The last date of the
North American tour was in Montreal, Canada and we were staying at the
same hotel as MOTORHEAD. When we checked in our room we discovered the
mini-bar was not locked and it was full of beer, Jack Daniels,Jaggermester
etc. ( usually the mini-bar is locked and if you want it open you have
to call the hotel staff to open it and the hotel will added to your hotel
bill). We decided to start drinking the alcohol anyway without the hotel
staff being notified. We called Lemmy and Phil Campbell to join us for
some drinks and they did and we drank the complete mini-bar dry!!!
When we checked out of the hotel and went to the venue, the hotel had called the police because we had checked out without paying the mini-bar bill.
The police showed up at the venue and were looking for me because my name was on the hotel reservation. In the end we paid the bill and everything was ok. Good memory! And a hell of a good time by all!!!
MZ.-Do you think you have ever made a mistake related to the band?, Would you change something? Is there anything you would like to achieve?
JR.-I don`t think musically speaking we have made any mistakes. We are playing the music we like to play and we are playing the musical style that made us what we are today. I wouldn`t change anything.
MZ.-Are you married?, Do you have kids? How old are you? What does your family think about your lifestyle of playing music and touring all these years?
JR.-I have been divorced
since 1994 and I`m currently single but I do have a 21-year old daughter
from my marriage. I am 55 years old. I am the only one in my family that
has persuaded music for so many years. Many times I`ve had comments from
relatives and friends to give up music and get a “real” job.
But my heart is in metal music and that’s what I want to do nothing else. I also have a regular day job; I work a salesman in a music store here in Ottawa (Fleet Pro Sound and Lighting).
MZ.-You have been playing for more than 30 years
now. I was not even born and you were already rocking.
You have a handful of great classic albums under your belt. How long do you think the band will go on? (I hope many, many years more!)
JR.-As I mentioned will continue to write anthem head thrashing music. I don`t know what drives me. I think there is aggression in me that still has to evolve.
MZ.-How did you get involved with Metal? Which are your favorite records and bands? Which bands are an influence for you and ?
JR.-When I wrote the early riffs like World War III and Heavy Metal Maniac I was just trying to copy British metal bands like SAXON, MOTORHEAD, JUDAS PRIEST, and BLACK SABBATH. These are my favorite all-time bands. Even though the final results sounded nothing like these bands
MZ.-Do you think you will ever come to MEXICO to play? Do you know anything about the Mexican metal scene?
JR.-I`m not familiar with the metal scene in Mexico. We`ve had many invites to play Mexico but unfortunately we could not make a deal with various promoters.
MZ.-You are on your 50´s, what is your advice
for a young metalhead willing to start a band?
What is the secret for endurance and longevity?
JR.-The best advice is if
you are going perused any career is not to give up on your dream. Many
successful careers are based on a dream and inspiration.
Also, you must offer something that has not been done before (which is hard to do in today’s music scene). Keep going because eventually something positive will happen.
MZ.-Do you think you will ever reunite with ex member Dan Beehler?
JR.-A re-union with myself
and Dan Beehler will never happen. I`ve been with the current
line-up since 1996 and Dan Beehler has been out of the band since 1993.Afterall,
(in 93`) and told me he didn`t want to play anymore, he told me he had
enough of the music industry. That`s all I know.
I`ve continued without him and has continued to get record deals and travel the world. I kept the dream going and started from scratch again in 1996 and believe me it was hard work. I`m in a much happier place now and that’s where I want to stay.
MZ.-John, as a fan of your band, it is been an
honor to run this interview. Thank you a lot for your time.
Any final words to your fans in MEXICO?
JR.-Thank you so much Francisco for the opportunity to appear in your publication. Very hopefully we will play Mexico sometime in the near future!!!
Hail To All Metal Crusaders!!!
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