Once in a blue moon a band comes along that once again puts the awe of metal into perspective and reminds me why I love this particular form of art so damn much. The last time I had a chubby this big over a band was when I got the first Bronx Casket Company, the feeling returns with my discovery of THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG cds "Twilight of the Idols" and "Down among the Deadmen". WOW! These cds defy the genre labeling standards of metal nowadays. Not quite power metal, not quite thrash, not quite doom, Not quite something you heard before = HEAVY METAL the way it was meant to be; brilliant and genre shattering!! After playing both cds like a billion times I kept hearing a voice in the back my of my mind saying "Pester the mastermind behind Slough Feg Mike Scalzi, learn his wisdom!" So after the shock of my mind having a good idea wore off. I tracked down guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi and Pestered him with my stupid questions!
Prof.ManiC: Mind giving me some band history? Why the move from PA to Cal?
MIKE SCALZI: I was a kid in PA 11 years ago-20. It was not just the band that made me leave--I was sick of being around my family, and the same town all my life and all that shit. The band was the excuse to leave. I wanted to write books. I also wanted to make it in music and I thought California was the place--I was wrong, but I liked San Francisco alot cause you could drink on there street and get away with alot--I liked the atmosphere. Unfortunately there was alot of AIDS around so everyone was paranoid and none of us got laid at first. Back then it was me and Greg, and Chris, Greg's brother. Then we met Justin Phelps (bass) that was the first west coast line-up. It lasted for 5 years, then alot of changes happened around 96-7, but the music always stayed the same.
Prof.ManiC: Do you miss the great lakes region at all and why? Now that the Great Lakes Region is kinda a metal hotbed do you wish you would have stayed?
MIKE SCALZI: Well, I never thought of Pennsylvania as the Great Lakes Region, but I guess is does border Erie. I also wasn't aware that it was a hotbed for metal. every time I go there I never hear anything about metal, and the few bands who are there say it sucks, so I don't know. I don't really miss living there much, I hate the cold, but I have visited a bunch--I get around the country quite a bit in fact, I 'm leaving in three days for the east coast, and then down to Texas. I don't like to stay in one place alot.
Prof.ManiC: The first thing I noticed when getting "Twilight of the Idols" is the art makes it look like an old school Dungeons and Dragons module ('Palace of the silver princess' really jumps to my mind) ...was this preplanned or just kinda happened? Was/Is D&D a hobby of yours?
MIKE SCALZI: Well, it was quite pre-planned if you know who the artist is. Erol Otus did alot of the early 80's and late 70's D&D art. Did you know that? he may have even done the one you just mentioned. he did Deities and Demi-gods, and a bunch of the modules and all the basic and expert sets.So that's why--and yes I did play, quite a bit in the eighties. I was a major Dungeon Master--got all the punks and metal heads to play when they thought it was only for nerds----It kinds is, and I'm the biggest one! I liked the real basic, low level stuff, in my campaigns people got killed alot. No one ever made it past 3rd level. I liked adventures where the characters wake up as slaves in loincloths and have to play dice games to win daggers and leather--!!
Prof.ManiC:

Why do a song on "Bi Polar Disorder"? Do you suffer from it? Do you accept it as part of your personality? Or do just think its another label to use one people?

MIKE SCALZI: Uh, well it's something that runs in my family. Its a situation where you have big mood swings or rapid changes in your evergy level. I personally have only two setting. on and off. i am either full blast or dead tired. and when i'm full blast I can bike for thirty miles or lift 250 pounds. when I'm off I can hardly get out of bed. It gets in the way, but if you work with it and stay in shape its not so bad. the label I could take or leave, people got to call it something so they don't have to feel like they're alone, like no on else suffers from it. It makes them feel better, not so Isolated. that's all.
Prof.ManiC: On "Life in the dark age".. Why the 14,235 beers? Just sounded good or is there math behind it? What "Uninspired wretches are living your dreams?"
MIKE SCALZI: That is an estimated number that has been consumed by the band in the seven or eight years up to that point. The 'Uninspired wretches' line is an honest admission of jealousy for those who chose to sell out and play shit, and as a result get to tour the world and have huge records like we always wished we could. Its nice to be underground, but lets face it, it sucks ass working a shit job everyday while so phony bastards are parading around the world in nice hotels. Its great to stick to your guns, but easy for fans to tell you how much they want you to keep going, and meanwhile you're slaving away as a janitor or cafe' worker trying to pay for your next album!!
Prof.ManiC: On to "Down Among the Deadmen" How did the guitar work for "Warrior Dawn" come about? Is it all whammy bar stuff or hammer-ons or did you use another style? (Im still a guitar newbie so if this a dumb question don't laugh too much =-) ) What inspired you to do a song about the forgotten Native Americans? Do you miss the old days when If you weren't strong enough to survive you didn't reproduce? Do you think we are destroying ourselves from within Since we just fuck and have kids now since there is nothing else to do! Are we destroying "natural selection"? (if I'm reading too much into the song just slap me! )
MIKE SCALZI: Well, for the guitar stuff, there's no whammy bars on that album, or any slough feg album--we use Gibson Les pauls--there are some hammer-ons on that song though. I wrote the song ten years ago, the first or second year we were in San Francisco. It's about American Indians, but in a very 'cowboys and Indians' movieish kind of way. There is no real message there, its like playing Indians from a little kids point of view. When I was a kid I always wanted the Indians to win and thought it was dumb that they were always the bad guys--but that's all, just a fun song about the Indians winning against the Cavalry----I suppose a painting I saw about Custard's last stand when I was real small played a role in the images for that song--it showed a big battle, and the Indians were scalping the Cavalry--really brutal.
Prof.ManiC: Is "Troll Pack" your anti Power metal song?? I mean all these Power metal bands sing about The brave hobbits (laugh) and knights and are saving Humanity from the evil monsters and you go and make a song that tells the other side of the story. That those same "heros" are invading someone's home!! Are you trying to say that "monsters" and "heroes" just depend on the perspective? Why do that song the way you did it?
MIKE SCALZI: Now I think you are reading a little too much into that one. Its just a silly little song about Trolls told from their point of view, living in caves and playing soccer with the heads of little Dwarves--and eating humans who come in the cave. A really fun one, and I'm very pleased with the way it came out--but no messages to humanity--maybe if I ever meet a real Troll I can engage n a conversation about Troll Rights though. That is an interesting perspective to 'deadmen' though, I never thought of it until now, but the album does tell some stories with a little roll reversal from the standard fantasy perspective. I don't think I did that consciously, but maybe it is the way I've always told stories.
Prof.ManiC: Is there any other hidden messages in any of your Songs that you would like to point out? What are those? Messages and why make them subtle?
MIKE SCALZI: There really aren't many messages other than the music itself and its intensity. Its mostly just fun stories. I suppose the songs on "twilight' have a little message about commercialism and playing music that you want to play rather than what the media wants you to, but that's it. Its much more about attitude for me, the attitude, the feeling of the music is the message--the intensity it creates in you , that's the purpose of it.
Prof.ManiC: Is there anymore projects/guest appearance that you or the band are part of? Can you describe them for me?
MIKE SCALZI: Hammers of misfortune, a weird metal-opera written mostly by John Cobbett (guitar) came out six months ago on Tumult (SF) records. He wrote it years ago, and I do alot of singing and some guitar playing on it---check out the Hammers of Misforune.com website for more details
Prof.ManiC: Whats the word on the next cd? What can I look forward too? DO you think it will be more like "Twilight " or "Deadmen"? When will it be out? Will it also be on DragonHeart?
MIKE SCALZI: No, it will be differeent. Deadmen and Twilight are pretty similar, this one is going to be all sci-fi songs. a concept album called 'Traveller' (name is from science fiction game). it will come out on DragonHeart around January--all the songs sort of go together--the story is about genetic wars and cloning in the far future--its just less primitive, more sci-fi.
Prof.ManiC: What are some of the songs gonna be like on the next cd? Any ones that you wanna rave about now?
MIKE SCALZI: not really, you'll have to see for yourself--it will be very weird, as usual. there's alot of arguing going on in it between characters--the mad genetic scientist, the space pirate--and the aliens who dissect humans and take their genes
Prof.ManiC: As I mentioned before society likes to label stuff way too much. Do you think that Slough Feg really can't be labeled as true metal, power metal or any type of metal besides plain old HEAVY METAL that it puts you at a disadvantage with labels and being promoted? Do you think genres of metal make people narrow minded to the big picture of HEAVY METAL?
MIKE SCALZI: Well, being labeled doesn't hurt promotion, in fact all promotion is labels, they call you something that sells, and you sell, they say that you are 'power metal' and you sell to a power metal audience--they call you death metal, and you sell in the USA--if they don't--you don't sell. Sales is all bout labels--promotion just means putting you in a package whether you fir into it or not. RECORDS DO NOT SELL BECAUSE THEY ARE GOOD> they sell because they sound like some other band that is already successful. and YES, genres make people very narrow minded and stupid--even if there are no defining characteristics of that Genre--people will buy anything if other people are buying it ands say its cool--you could record the noises made in someone's bathroom when they are taking a shit and call it metal--and people would buy it--in fact half the death metal albums that come out sound like that anyway!! and people buy those!
Prof.ManiC: What guitarists, artists and writers inspire your sound and your thinking process? Why?
MIKE SCALZI: Well, obviously Black Sabbath, Maiden and Priest are all there and always have been--most other metal bands are breakdowns or mixtures of these three elements. I also was very inspired by Queen, Thin Lizzy, St. Vitus, Black Flag--and a huge list of non- metal stuff too. I read all kinds of books, but I never read fantasy books. alot of science fiction, philosophy, fiction, classics, history, mythology. I find fantasy books boring, I prefer movies of that sort, but history and mythology provides the inspiration for alot of my songs
Prof.ManiC: When you depressed or pissed off what do you do to free your mind of the poison? What do you try to do to prevent those feeling from arising?
MIKE SCALZI: I don't. I can't. I get pissed, I get depressed, that the way it is. Actually i'm really pissed as hell most of the time. My life's a torn curtain. Sometimes I start doing something productive and it slowly makes me feel better, like if I'm depressed that my life is a mess, I do something to make it more organized. I left weights, that helps, I ride my bike in the mountains, that helps. I sleep--that really helps. You have to do anything you can to get around these things, alot of people develop self-destructive habits as a result, I am thankful that I'm not one of them, I don't feel like drinking when I'm really depressed and scared---I lie to drink when I feel good. I'm lucky I have discipline, but no one is born with discipline, it has to be taught to you when you're young, I was fortunate to have parents who forced me to be disciplined and didn't let me get away with any shit. Allot of people don't have that these days and I think its a huge problem in this country--lazy irresponsible bastards everywhere!! No human spirit at all!! And once you're an adult it's too late!! Sometimes I think this country does need to be destroyed cause half the people here are so apathetic and lame--but then when it comes to me and people I care about being destroyed I start to feel alot different. I don't know---the best thing you can do when your depressed is realize that no matter how bad you've been fucked over in your life--its your problem to get yourself out of your problems--no one elses! So there's my little soap-box speech for the day........
Prof.ManiC: Any final comments? Or bitches about this interview?
MIKE SCALZI: No , this was interesting, good, non-standard questions. thanks