MEB: You guys wrapped up a tour with Bonded By Blood in North America a little while ago and recently were over in Europe. How has stuff been going?
Dan: We have had some pretty terrible luck over the past bit. The shows have been awesome, we sold more merch than we ever have on our North America tour, it’s just all the other stuff that has happened. We’ve had never-ending problems with our vehicle. In early February the trailer hitch just fell off our bus; we were driving down the freeway in the middle of a storm. Sparks were flying all over the freeway. Couple hundred dollars to fix, no problem.
Our next show we had was in Toronto. There was tons of traffic all around the venue. It came time for us to load in our gear and Alex (Lackner, guitar) sideswiped Bonded By Blood’s van with our trailer! Thank god the only thing that happened was we ruined one of their tires. We went out and jacked up the tire and replaced it. Alex went to go and put the jack in our mini-bus and he smelt something burning….underneath our bus was on fucking fire!! We were supposed to be on stage at this point but we’re outside trying to throw snow under the bus! It was nuts. Because of it, we then drove from Toronto to Cleveland with no lights working on our trailer.
We went to go and see what was up with the wiring in the trailer and we found out there was a fuel leak. We were already thousands of dollars in debt at this point. They told us we were lucky to be alive, and that they were surprised the bus didn’t explode. It was a fuel leak with an electric fire together. We could’ve all been dead.
Then we went over to Europe and got our van robbed in the U.K. We had to reach out to our fans for support and boy did they come through. Words cannot express how thankful I am that we have incredible fans. We couldn’t have finished our European tour without them. Simply amazing.
You released your latest album Black Rivers Flow in February of this year. This is in reference to the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Lyrically where were you coming from on this record?
There was a lot going on in 2010. The economy in the states right now is just terrible. You had world disasters like the oil spill going on as well. It’s an ode to struggle. The whole album and lyrical theme throughout is about struggling, and overcoming horrible things against the odds. My dad passed away, and Jeff (Paulick, lead vocals/bass) had his uncle pass away as well. I also had a few other family members die unexpectedly. It was just really, really tough. With all of this and the oil spill, it just seemed like the world was ending. That’s what we used to fuel the anger throughout the entire album.
Black Rivers Flow is a different sound for Lazarus A.D. when comparing it to The Onslaught. Before, you guys were being compared to a lot of other Thrash/Thrash revival bands, but not as much anymore. What were the major changes when it came to this and with this fan backlash, how do you feel about it?
I’m excited about it honestly. Yeah it’s still a thrash record, but I feel like being compared to some of the bands we were compared to was shortchanging us. A lot of those bands we were being compared to, I’m not going to mention any names, have the exact same style. They play as fast as they can and there is no differentiating them. You can hear a thrash band from the ’80s and a thrash band now and they sound exactly the same.
We’ve always had that groove element. I call it forcing you to headbang because it is so damn hard not to want to. We’ve always been huge fans of all different types of metal. When we got lumped in with all the other Thrash Revival stuff it kinda bummed us out. We felt personally we were different then all the bands we were being compared to. Yes, there are similar elements but we definitely have something else these other bands didn’t. That’s what we tried to showcase on Black Rivers Flow. We wanted to show what we could do. At the end of the day we don’t like bands who write the same record over and over. We like bands like Metallica and Pantera where you can definitely see the progression of their music over time. No one is going to sit there and say Kill ’em All and Ride The Lightning are the same record. That’s the kinda stuff we are trying to go with.
Definitely. This time around the riffs are heavier, the choruses are catchier, and Jeff’s vocals have also improved big time. It’s diversified the band greatly. I think it is also going to allow the band to tour with a broader group of metal bands and not just the thrash bands you have been grouped with.
Yeah man. The big story is that The Onslaught is a lot older then people think it is. It’s 4 years old, but it’s only been out for 2 years. If you look at the history of the other “Thrash Revival” bands, our record was written before long before any of those records came out. Plus, we’re from Wisconsin. We aren’t influenced by anyone but ourselves. (laughs)
If you listened to that record at the time it came out, there was nobody doing what we were doing, at least in our area. Maybe in California or certain areas on the East Coast. For us we were a bunch of kids who wanted to write music we weren’t hearing in the metal scene, and that is the reason why we really became a band.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is pretty much halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, is not a metal hotbed by any means?
(Laughs) Definitely not. Not really a hotbed for anything other than a massive consumption of alcohol (laughs). Most of the people who live in Kenosha either work in Milwaukee or Chicago. As much as I could bash it, it’s really awesome to know I can go to Milwaukee or Chicago in 45 minutes. There was a point where I was going to move to Milwaukee just because I would go up there 4 or 5 times a week to hang out. There are some people who live in Kenosha who would say they live in Milwaukee.
Talking more about the maturity the band has shown on this record, some tracks I feel really showcase the new album are songs like “Casting Forward” and “Eternal Vengeance.” I know you were originally going to go with James Murphy (former guitarist of Testament, and Death) in Florida but you decided to record with Chris Djuricic who also recorded The Onslaught. How pivotal was Chris in the outcome of the record?
Chris was great. He had converted a full house into a studio just before the recording of the record. A lot of bigger bands are starting to record there. When it comes to producing, I would say 90-95% was produced by us, and the other 5-10% by him. He had a lot of good ideas vocally, and sometimes little things with guitar, like playing a part in a certain way. We are a band that takes pride in having our songs ready before we get to the studio and knowing what we want to do. I’m a guy who doesn’t like people messing with my stuff (laughs). I love being the guy to map everything out. Chris is an awesome engineer and a great guy. I’d suggest any band to go with him if they had the opportunity to.
In terms of mixing James Murphy did it. I honestly think this is the best mix he has ever done. I think he really honed his skills on our record. Every time I put in the record I can’t believe it’s my band. It’s incredible.
When it comes to some influences in this change of sound, who are some bands you’ve listened to a lot and gotten ideas from?
It stayed the same from the last record for the most part- Testament, Metallica, and Pantera, that kind of stuff. Devildriver was also a big influence. They were probably the biggest influence in terms of a newer band. In the past few years I’ve really gotten into them. Just something that is groovy, fast riffs. If I listed all my favorite bands the most common thing is just awesome riffs.
For anyone who has never seen Lazarus A.D., why should they come out and see you?
It sounds really awkward and funny to say but we are a band who just lets our nuts hang out (laughs). No matter the size of the show, we just bring it every single night. We fire on all cylinders and are relentless. A no survivors-type attitude. We are going to come in and slaughter fans night in and night out and give them all the energy we possibly have. To the point it is undeniable and you want to see us again and again.
We’ve only been around for a couple years but we have a die-hard fan base; people who drive hours to see us or find out we are on tour and take a week off work to follow us. It’s fucking nuts man. It is so overwhelming and awesome. I think it is because of that let your nuts hang out attitude.
Metal is definitely different then any other types of music. It isn’t about getting popular super-quick and rising to the top in 2 or 3 years. It’s all about longevity and staying consistent. Unlike any other type of music today, you see these metal bands that have been together and toured for 15-20 years.
Absolutely. It’s that endurance. That’s what people see too. It’s the passion. Metal bands write all their own music. They all pick their own producer. We don’t have producers sitting in the studio with money writing our songs and telling us what to do. We dig into the dirt just to reach the surface. I think the best metal bands are the ones that have really grasped that concept: that you need to progress on a consistent basis to become a better band. You can’t get comfortable.
We used to tape every single show we ever did. We’d go back to my house after and watch it to critique it. We wanted to make sure everything was perfect.
When you used to record your first shows, did any funny shit happen where you look back and think “what the hell were we thinking?”
Let’s just say Jeff wasn’t born a frontman, (laughs) he definitely needed to grow into it. We played a bar in our town before we were anywhere near being able to drink. He was on stage trying to pump people up but he was insulting the crowd! He was calling them names. We all just kinda hid behind our amps and pretended we were tuning our guitars when he was doing this (laughs). He used to say the cheesiest, stupidest shit. When The Onslaught came out he once said something to the effect of “Pick our new CD up at the merch table, it’s hot off the Lazarus press.” Shit Screech from Saved By The Bell would say (laughs).
The metal scene right now is in quite a weird stage. You have so-called “metal” bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine getting radioplay. The whole metalcore genre has taken off and now some of these bands are playing 4-5,000 cap venues. The kids are just eating it up. There are just so many sub-genres of metal as well. How do you feel about the current state of things?
I think the biggest problem in metal right now and the reason it is in kinda that weird, awkward stage and has all these sub-genres is because people are way too fucking concerned with what genre a certain band belongs to. “This sounds too metalcore.” “This sounds too progressive.” Just listen to the fucking song! That’s what I think. It’s to the point that people are fooling themselves and saying they only listen to a certain sub-genre of metal. People are becoming more close-minded. They need to put the CD in and just enjoy the music.
Besides metal, are there any other bands or types of music you really dig?
If I only listened to metal music while only touring with metal bands, I’d fucking lose my mind! I like a lot of reggae and acoustic stuff. Honestly though, I’m into a lot of hardcore gangster rap. Fuckin’ West Coast shit like Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. I LOVE The Game. I love his shit. It’s so gangster. The beats remind me of old Snoop and Dre. When I put on that stuff I feel like I’m in a really terrible neighborhood with a machine gun next to me (laughs). All he raps about is smoking weed and selling drugs. Just some straight-up pot smoking music (laughs).
Gotta ask then, ‘Pac or Biggie?
Oh maaaaaan. I gotta say live and die in L.A.! ‘Pac baby! You feel me? (laughs)
I went and stayed in Compton on a trip out to L.A. back in 2008. Only white kid in the neighborhood besides my friends. Nice family, house, and people but not a nice place.
That must have been nuts. The worst place I’ve ever been in the States by far is Detroit. That is a scary fucking city. You do not want to leave the area you are in. We played a venue there called Harpo’s. Big venue there. There was literally a security guy cruising around the venue with an AK47. He would say “Do not leave the parking lot. Do not hang out on your bus. If you leave the area I can’t protect you.” Security guards have been shot point blank there. Just the craziest shit.
Going into the summer of 2011, what does Lazarus A.D. have planned?
We are going to wait and see. We are hoping to get on one of the summer festival tours. If not, we are going to stay at home and write. If you don’t get on a summer festival tour in metal, you are pretty much fucked. In this economy metal fans can’t afford to go to Mayhem, Summer Slaughter, plus probably another big headliner like Slayer, Iron Maiden or Metallica doing a tour. The last summer run we did was with Testament and that was really awesome. We did a smaller run after that tour and it wasn’t very good.
Lastly, something I do with the bands that I interview is I get them to pick a song from their catalogue they want listeners to hear and then a song by any other band they want listeners to check out.
Lazarus A.D.– “The Ultimate Sacrifice”
Devildriver– “Before the Hangman’s Noose”