The following interview was originally featured in Snakepit issue 5 but until now, nothing has been worked out to get the unrealised album released despite the fact that Jean Pierre Fortin has gotten back the master tapes and would love to see it released, unfortunately despite several record labels offers, the whole thing can't see the light as there's a HUGE problem with the contract that ties ex D. DEALER manager/ record label boss with the band... If somebody has a solution to sort out that bullshit and think he knows how to release that album officially, then he's more than welcome because a truely INSANE REAL Metal gem (not a fake one like so many out today) is rotting in Canada right now!|
A TRIP INTO PERFECTION
DEAF DEALER...that's a name that I'm sure will sound familiar to most of you, SNAKEPIT readers. But how many of you do know that this Canadian cult Metal band have recorded another album after the incredible "Keeper Of The Flame" opus called "Journey Into Fear"?! Unfortunaly that recording have never been released for the reasons that you're gonna discover in the following interview that was done with bassist extraordinaire, Jean Pierre Fortin. But before going into that, I'd like to make clear that this unrealised album is simply ONE OF THE BEST HEAVY/ POWER METAL EVER RECORDED. So True Metallers, cross your fingers and pray that somebody will release that ultimate Metal masterpiece in the near future! I doubt somebody will resist to the assault of crunchers such as "Back To Gods Country", "Mind Games" or "Journey Into Fear" to name a few.
Okay, when and how DEAF DEALER was started?
"It started in Joncquiere, Quebec in 1983. We were all teenagers (laughs)...Well at that time, the line up was with the real names, not the names on the album, Yves Pednault on guitar, he was one of my friend and he was playing music with some other people but I wasn't playing any instrument at the time so I bought a bass and I asked them if they were interested in forming a band. They asked what kind of music that we would play and I said "Let's do some Hard Rock music" because at the time the bands that we were listening to were SAXON, ACCEPT, IRON MAIDEN, ANVIL and all that stuff. It started like that but at our first show, we already had nine songs of our own in the set. We were doing a thirty songs set but nine of them were original songs."
Which means that the other stuff were covers?!
"Those were covers from MOTORHEAD, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST and from bands of that period."
But who were in the band besides you and Yves?
"At that time, there was Andr‚ and Michel Larouche (singer and drummer respectively) who were on the first demo which have never been released and Gilles Bergeron, one of our friends who was the first guitarist in the band. That was the very first line up."
During 1983, you've recorded that 15 tracks demo which gave you the possibility to have a track featured on Metal Massacre vol. 4, how did that happen?
"One of our friend, who's dead now, Jean François Bourrasson was really into what we were doing, he sent a tape to Brian Slagel from Metal Blade Records and he got back to us quickly with a contract for a contribution on M.M. 4."
Did they choose the track featured on that compilation, "Cross My Way"?
"No, we had just sent them this track."
So you say that this demo had never been officially released?!
"No, because in 1984 we were ready to record an album, we were really enthusiastic but somebody in the band, Andr‚ wasn't ready to relocate from Joncquiere to Montreal so we finally came to Montreal but we changed the singer, then after one month spent in Montreal, his brother came back in Joncquiere so we had no drummer and no singer but with the conviction and strength that we had, we finally found new members, Michel Lalonde (vocals) and Daniel Gregoire (drums)."
Daniel Gregoire? That's the guy who plays on your solo album right?
"Exactly! He's still around. So after Metal Massacre, Polygram got in touch with us to sign a deal under the Mercury label and we went to the Montreal Sound Studios to record "Keeper Of The Flame"."
Okay. What were your influences when the demo was recorded back in 1983?
"SAXON, ACCEPT, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, MOTORHEAD, KROKUS also. There was tons of great bands around at the time, lots of choice musicalwise but we were going into a musical orientation which was on the Heavy Metal side, not really classical like Malsteen but still with a polished execution, maybe not that much with "Keeper..." because with that album, I can say we put the cards on the table but with the second album that you've got, that became clearer."
We definitively can say that! By the way I've noticed a certain MERCYFUL FATE influence, the way the leads are played on the songs of that demo, similar lead attack..
"Not really. We didn't like M.FATE. Musically they were good but we didn't like the singing, the Satanic stuff, the make up thing just like KISS. That kind of metal looked kind of farcical in our area. But the music was really interesting, that was really good, just like FATES WARNING also."
Also the track "Just A Victim" was really similar to SCORPIONS "The Zoo"...
"Yeah, that's definitively true! The singer was absolutely fantastic. There was a definite influence because we were listening to a lot of Metal before getting our own sound so were influenced by alot of stuff just like most of the bands."
Definitively! So since you were native of Quebec, was it more difficult for you to get known than if you were native of Ontario, Canada's English part like ANVIL, EXCITER...?
"No that was the same. There was no discrimination because we were singing in English so there was no problem in Canada. Discrimination doesn't exist in Metal at least! In other styles of music, that could be the case (laughs)."
Also how do you explain that the Joncquiere area have generated most of the Quebec Metal bands with D. DEALER, VOIVOD, MESSIAH FORCE, VOOR...
"That was kind of particular...most of the Metal bands that we listened to at that time were mostly unknown in Montreal. The record stores in our areas were just incredible comparing to those in Montreal! Bands like SAXON which were very wellknown in our area were almost totally unknown in Montreal, they played in front of 70 persons in Montreal or something like that in the beginning! Of course later they've come back to the Spectrum with LOUDNESS for a bigger show."
While we're talking about the Canada's Metal scene, why do you think that there's almost no Canadian bands which have made it big despite the incredible quality of the bands?
"I think some bands have been ripped off by the musical industry."
Yeah but that's kind of crazy. I mean Canada is close to the USA so...
"Yes, but it's different. Canada and USA are two different countries, the States have an absolutely incredible protectionist system, for example a band like SUPERTRAMP which were huge in Canada had almost no impact in the States, that has always been like that. The States doesn't really help Canadians. They prefer to promote their own stuff but that's something as old as the world, and it's not only towards Canadians, they have that kind of attitude towards everybody. They find no advantage in promoting a Canadian band so they don't do it. They' like to be involved in something when they can find advantages (laughs)."
You were part of that new Metal approach that took place during the early Eighties with the tape trading circuit, the whole underground thing, a brand new world I should say...
"That's right, a brand new world... We had the chance to have clubs, dancing clubs and most of the stuff which was played there was Metal! Can you imagine how it was? You had a song from David Bowie and then a METALLICA cruncher! Those were great nights! Without sounding nostalgic, every person I met, who was involved in that particular period of time said that they were lucky to have been part of that. We were animated by a sort of rebellion feeling...Thrash, stage diving wasn't around at that time so the atmosphere was really good. Having nowadays 200 persons dancing on that music would be difficult (laughs)."
But what do you think has caused that new Metal movement at that time? I mean tons of small bands have popped up from everywhere around the world and things like that...
"I think two bands are responsible of that, JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN which had an incredible sound, a different culture...just after stuff like LED ZEPPELIN which was a band influenced mainly by Blues and Rock and with that Heavy Metal sound there was different structures, the picking, the way musicians played guitar, new kinds of distorsion sounds...each time there's a brand new musical approach, there's a new sound, like after Metal, we had the Grunge style. But I think that somewhere, a form of rebellion was attached to Heavy Metal. Then METALLICA came after that first wave which was composed by the likes of JUDAS PRIEST, MOTORHEAD, even HOLOCAUST I don't know if you knew them..."
HOLOCAUST?! I love that old stuff!
""Heavy Metal Mania"...those were incredible hits! And what was even more fantastic with that, was to see that all kinds of social classes were into that, no secregation, we were all united by Metal! There was no kind of fashion associated with that. Everybody was gathered around that."
James Rivera, ex HELSTAR singer was saying not so long ago that it was like religion thing, I can only agree with that...
"Yeah and there was solidarity between us. Like we went to see shows in Montreal in a bus and we were 40-60 persons in the bus. Each time it was an event!"
Let's go back to that demo once again. The fact that it was never officially released but that demo has been spreaded everywhere through the tape trading circuit, how do you feel about that?
"That was really strange because we were getting mail and we were asking to ourselves how it could happen. I guess it was traded around the world, I don't know if some sales were made on that but we never heard something about that (laughs)."
I always thought that this tape was officially released you know?!
"No. We didn't want because it refered to the past, to the two members who had left the band and we didn't want that. We just wanted to forget all that stuff and go fordward."
I think you had plans to release a single after that demo around 1984...
"Yes. I think we planed to do "Just Until The Day" (which became later "Just One More Day"). But there was so many problems inside the band...some of the guys just wanted limited success, just being successful in our area, I was going for international success, know what I mean?! So a lot of times, there was rifts between us. I wanted to go outside Canada, going in different countries something I achieved now since I went to Japan and other countries but that's something I had in myself for a long time, I just didn't want to die in that small town! So there was always quarrels in the band, like some guys wanted to control the small success we had in our area but that didn't mean nothing for me, I wanted to go further, achieve international success. By the way for the first DEAF DEALER, we had licenses in 16 countries and part of my goal was kind of achieved. Yves and Marc had the same opinion, it's like only half of the band was working."
So what did the Metal Massacre appearence bring to the band? I think it's fair to say that M.M. vol. 4 is certainly the best compilation that they have issued!
"It gave us a deal with Banzai records from Montreal which was a subsidiary of Polygram. They got us the deal with Mercury which was at the time the label of SCORPIONS, KISS & BON JOVI in Canada."
So the original pressing of the album is on Banzai?
"No. It's on Mercury. It's just an agreement between Banzai and Mercury."
But did you get an offer from Metal Blade?
"We had a deal with Metal Blade also. We had 8 licenses for 16 countries..."
Yeah for the licenses. But what I want to know is if you got an offer from Metal Blade to release an album.
"No, because there was the language barrier, so it was very difficult. We were primarily French-speaking and we didn't speak English that much. Even if the singer sang in English, you can write the English lyrics but speaking English fluently is very hard."
So "Keeper.." was released about four years after the Metal Massacre compilation, so what happened during that long time?
"We did like 100 shows which were successful everywhere we played. Even if it was in a very small place, even if there was only 50 persons, it was always an event..."
But always in the Quebec area? You never did any shows outside of Quebec like in Ontario?
"Yeah, only in the Quebec part. We spent a lot of time practicing the songs, like eight hours a day, lots of rigour. We wanted a perfect execution live, no mistakes...lots of tightness, I think we were the only Heavy Metal band who didn't use drugs. Everything was based on practicing, working on music because we knew that we could go far if we were working a lot on that."
So the line up changes have occured at that time...
The new line up was Marc Brassard (guitar), Michel Lalonde, Daniel Gregoire, Yves Pednault and you. Let's talk about the other changes that happened like the names of the members on the album...
"Yeah, we did agree more or less about that. The management wanted that change."
It looked more English like...
"It looked more English like, that's right. By the way the sound engineer on that album, Guy Bidmead, he was working with MOTORHEAD at the time and also with YES. A fantastic guy!"
I did know that he had worked with MOTORHEAD and also with EXCITER but not with YES. There's also the bandname's change from DEATH DEALER to DEAF DEALER.
"Oh yeah! There was so many communication problems in the band...every single question became a philosophical debate for months! So it was DEATH DEALER at first but we had problems because the record company didn't really want to sign us due to the name..."
They wanted it softer...
"Yeah softer but that new name didn't have much meaning either. Even Malcom Dome from Kerrang laughed at us in one of his articles. He wrote Malcom "Deaf Dealer" Dome!(laughs)"
There was also a number of changes concerning the song titles like" Sherryl" becoming "Free And Easy", "Cross My Way" becoming "Don't Get In My way"....
"That's right. It happened because a new person had worked on the lyrics. The original lyrics were French lyrics translated in English and grammatically, it wasn't right."
So when you reworked them, you've jumped at the opportunity to change the titles, right?
"Yes. And also the themes."
Also the track "No Colors" became "On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat", an instrumentral track because "No Colors" had lyrics at first...
"No Colors" had no meaning either! Lots of English neologisms."
I'm also surprised to see that you have used lots of old tracks for that album when you had four years to come up with new material...
"Yeah, but like I told you, we were limited for writing in English so there's an outsider who had etablished himself to do that. It was like a split because it doesn't really reflects what we wanted...but we couldn't write ourselves the lyrics with perfect English."
Yeah, but musicwise, you had lots of time to come up with something new...I mean almost all those tracks were written in 1983!
"Right, right. But we had an agreement with the Larouche brothers. We had said that when we would be ready to do the album, the old stuff would be included. It was like dedicated to the old members as they were still friends with us."
How do you explain that the album didn't get any promotion in Europe and even elsewhere?
"There was no promotion but the Heavy Metal market at the time was more like by a word of mouth thing. Like METALLICA they had no radio broadcast for their first three albums..."
But don't you think that maybe it came out at the wrong time, because in 1987 thrash was the big thing and almost nobody cared about traditional Heavy Metal so if that album had been released like in 1985 with the fresh sound that your album had, the response would have been greater maybe..
"Considering that point of view, that's correct. There's always the timing problem. If it had came out one or two years ealier, that would have been probably better...but you never know. What's important is that we had our vision of the things and we put it in execution."
What do you think of that album 12 years later?
"It could have been ten times better!"
Would you change something if you could nowadays?
"Not really change something but using our own ideas because our ideas were good but we let ourselves being persuaded by some people but I don't want to go in that deeper, not the best memories for the band but it altered our potential. It's like giving a Formula 1 to somebody who can't drive! We had the strength inside us but we let it go to others. That's life, you have to learn."
But you still consider that this album is very good...
"Sure. I think the production could have been better. If it had been well produced, it would have been a killer... like the second which had an incredible production!"
Let's go into that one now. You recorded in 1987 an album called "Journey Into Fear" but it has never been released, why? And was it supposed to be also on Polygram?
"Well, at one time we had a meeting with Polygram for reasons that I don't want to get into, the split happened between them and us."
So the contract was terminated but the album has been recorded.
"Yeah, the recording costs...the album has been recorded with Dan Johnson, mixed in Florida at Morrisound studio so that's the people from Morrisound who have the rights of the album."
So Polygram have nothing to do with that album?
"No! I got in touch recently with the people from Morrisound and maybe soon I'm gonna go there to get the masters."
But there was no possibility at the time to get a deal with another label?
"Yeah but the band was so discouraged...we tried to keep the band going but too much bullshit happened so it was the end. We were getting older, we had no jobs, so we were financially dependent on music, there was no shows. So it was just a big amount of problems and at one time it was insurmountable and the band broke up."
On this album, there's more harmonies...I can even say that it's different comparing to the first album, the second has something indescriptable...
"We had the desire to be successful. You can feel that there's lots of work involved in it. Lots, lots of practicing...that was kind of crazy! But we wanted perfection...when we were playing live, that was the first word you could hear, perfection. We didn't want mistakes...that's important. The only band that I've seen which was as tight as DEAF DEALER was PANTERA, they were tight as hell! Even if it was Thrash stuf, you could feel that there was rigour, at least during the "Vulgar Display Of Power" period, after that I don't know."
Well as far as I'm concerned, that's noise. This is one of the bands I hate! I just hate that mordern sounding stuff... Anyway, concerning the songwriting, I think you had a big hand on it for that album.
"I took part in the themes development but it was mainly on the musical side. I wrote like 60% of the album...with Yves and Marc also. I brought the structures and they brought the details..."
But how did you come up with such tracks?! I mean it can sounds naive but this is the ultimate perfection!
"We've spent some months in a summer cottage in the North of Canada, totally isolated from the rest of the world, somebody was bringing us food but we stayed in that place to work, to write the songs."
To write stuff that would reach perfection...I mean each riff is just perfect... I mean in every album except a few, you always have some not so good stuff...
"We wanted to reach... it was done on purpose because we wanted to get out so much of... I mean we could feel the danger coming and we wanted to avoid it so much so we thought that if we'd put out an interesting album with tight execution, we could get back on the rails but it didn't go that way."
Have you thought about including on that album old unrealised songs like "Occident Tale", "Far And Away"...
"Maybe "Far And Away" would have been cool to do but "Occident Tale" and "Just One More Day" sounded too different from the other stuff on the album. The critics would have said that it was done with a commercial purpose if we had recorded that."
But the three tracks that you have recorded me as bonus, "Doctor Doctor" (KILLER U.F.O./M.S.G. cover!), "Just One More Day" and "Leaders And Dreamers" (formerly "The Screamer"), have you recorded those tracks at the same session?
"Yeah but it was just done for fun. You can hear that the sound quality is just ordinary, this was just one take stuff done altogether."
So let's go into an important question now. If somebody, even a small label was interested in releasing that album right now, would you be interested?
"Sure! We also think about releasing it by ourselves because it's something that has to be heard..."
No really? Fuck it's just one of the BEST HEAVY METAL ALBUM OF ALL TIME!
"But there's a risk with that because the costs for the rights of that album are high, maybe I'll have the possibility in six or seven months but..."
Yeah, but if you get a good offer from a label...
"Sure if they buy the rights, but the problem is that they have to buy them from Morrisound Studios. They have the master tape. They can't put it out either."
So the band broke up after that recording...
"Yeah, that was a real hard period. At one time, we wanted to get back our equipment and the doors were closed, everything was seizured... wasn't a wonderful period."
And since that period from 1987-1988, no reunions or reformation have happened?
"No. Yves went back to Joncquiere. Marc stayed in Montreal with me... I started to play guitar to write more stuff, I had an album project but it's on stand by. It might be released someday."
It was a Heavy Metal project?
"That would have been more Rock sounding...Heavy music was great at that time, I still listen to some but I discovered other things..."
But there's no hope to see DEAF DEALER being back together even for one show?
"Impossible! That would be like old lovers getting back together. The passion is like scattered in the universe (laughs). We have already thought about that but...I think the band unity wasn't strong enough to be able to do that now."
Are you still in touch with what's going on in the Metal scene?
"Here, it has deteriorated quite alot. There's almost nothing going on here but I'm connected to Internet so I see what's going on with MAIDEN, Rob Halford and JUDAS PRIEST...I still listen to IRON MAIDEN alot, I still play some of their stuff on my bass. I still play as fast as before with my fingers and since I do triathlon now, I listen to alot of Heavy Metal when I do my training! I listen to old AC/DC "Back In Black", I like alot "Killers" from I.M., I listen to a bit of PANTERA, ACCEPT, SAXON, RIOT "Fire Down Under"...on my next solo album, I'm gonna play a Blues song with the beginning of "Fire Down Under", that's gonna be great! It's gonna be mixed with a rhythm Blues ala Robert Johnson...I'm gonna thank Mark Reale for the inspiration (laughs). I think that band was incredible, that album "Fire Down Under", it's a bomb! Also I still listen to alot of MOTORHEAD!"