The following interview was taken by Dávid László for the "Blood Of The Ancient"-Zine number 10.
Hi Laurent, how are you? How is the weather in France? I’ve heard that it`s very hot over there at the moment...!
I’m doing well... just being super busy here as a new headbanger baby has joined my family. The weather is okay, just being too hot for me but I guess it’s only the beginning of more to come unfortunately... Thanks to a greedy humanity. Damn too hot for me... but still not that fucked-up Florida weather with a lot of humidity thankfully!
You are a great supporter, a big fan of the Metal scene, so I think we should talk about yourself, your life, about Metal and of course about the „Snakepit” zine. I’m interested in your personality as well as your fanzine...
Thanks, Leslie! Well, Metal is just a part of me. It has been a part of myself since ’79 or so... It just runs in my blood and never left me unlike many, many people that I’ve seen over the years stating every time they could that they were the biggest Metallers and stuff and where are they now? Techno dudes, they don’t care about Metal anymore etc. So no, Metal is either deeply in your blood or it’s not but if not something superficial. I hate people that don’t breath Metal 24 hours a day.
When and where were you born, what is your zodiac? Do you believe in astrological matters or do you think this is just nonsense?
I was born in October 1967 in a city called Le Mans which used to be in the early ’80s a good city for shows when Hard Rock/H.M. bands were hitting France for numerous dates. Then by mid ’85 it was a dead city. I’m under the sign of balance which reflects quite well my personality, I think... but I can’t say I believe into that much more than what I’ve stated previously.
Are you married, do you have children and a wife? Is Metal music an important factor in your family life as well?
Yes, I am, I got two kids now, hopefully they’ll continue the Metal tradition here and my wife. It’s kinda hard in my case to conciliate both cos my wife doesn’t care about Metal but it’s okay...now it’s just gonna be more harder with my second daughter, less time to do „Snakepit” I guess.
What’s your job?
I work in a school where students learn how to work with different Metals. I don’t know the English terms but it’s industrial stuff so as you can see I never leave the Metal world, may it be at work or at home!!!
When and how did you get in touch with Metal music?
What made this kind of sound so attractive for you?
Well, back in ’79 I introduced myself to AC/DC music because I was seeing this band name written on school bags, so I said „what the hell is this?” and gave it a shot, ´Highway To Hell´ used to be my first experiences. At first I wasn’t convinced but I’m not the type of dude to give up easily so I did listen to it over and over and suddenly I was addicted... I bought TRUST, old SCORPIONS records, UFO etc. The music just moved me, it’s a feeling that only music can bring. It’s like when I listened to the first EXCITER or 1st SLAYER back then, it was just so HUGE and nowadays it’s still the same for me, it sends an unique vibe, the Metal vibe! I was lucky enough to meet a guy in school back then who introduced me to his brother and that was a new step for me as the guy had MSG, MOTÖRHEAD, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, DEF LEPPARD stuff...it was 1980/1981 and from then it went on until nowadays.
Did you also trade tapes back then? Did you have friends around the globe you traded tapes with? How did you experience the scene of that time?
Sure. I was in that new scene as well. I got introduced into it via „Metal Forces” back in 1983/1984, a brand new world.
I wish yong people now could have known how exciting the early stages of tape-trading were...it had nothing in common with the awful trading lists around nowadays, these are two different worlds! I may sound like an old fart but that’s the truth and anybody from the old school who had known both will say the same thing. Nowadays there’s nothing special in trading because it’s oversaturated, the lists are full of mistakes most of the time and shit like this. But back then, imagine getting the GENOCIDE`s ´Violent Death´ demo/rehearsal 21.10.85 or the NYC MAYHEM demo/rehearsal 15/3/85 or an ULYSSES SIREN rehearsal and you get the point. It was just amazing! I was fortunate enough to trade with people like Steve Main (an early SLAYER crew dude), Patrick Soppe (a great Dutch trader who’s still into the business), Shane Embury way before NAPALM DEATH (back in the WARHAMMER days), and tons others...
Are there any special Metal styles that you like very much or do you like simply love Metal music in general? Do you sometimes also listen to non-Metal-stuff? What kind of non-Metal-stuff do you prefer then?
Well, in my early stages, I went from AC/DC to TYGERS, then to the next step of brutality à la ACCEPT `Breaker` and TANK, then RAVEN, ANVIL, JAGUAR, that whole ’83 wave, then METALLICA, EXCITER, HAWAII for the sheer speed and that led me to SLAYER and Thrash in general – not that I’m not talking about Speedy Heavy Metal here à la EXUMER and stuff, just REAL THRASH and I sold everything that wasn’t Thrash so for like seven years from 1983-1990 as I was addicted to Thrash/Death stuff. I loved just the heavier, harder stuff and I had every Thrash/Death record out on this planet at the time but by 1991 when the scene got so oversaturated by Thrash and Death Metal, I had a thought about the whole thing and gave up on it because the newer stuff were just barking dogs on top of a bunch of riffs with no meaning, MORBID ANGEL, NAPALM DEATH and a couple of others being exceptions (and MASSACRE, early OBITUARY – not surprisingly the acts who had been around in the mid ’80s), so I sold all my shit and got back to my roots and fuck, it was a fuckin’ trip to rediscover EXCITER, METALLICA (no, METALLICA never were a Thrash act, guys, they used to offer Speed Metal, but not Thrash!), TROUBLE, HOLOCAUST, HEATHEN, ANVIL CHORUS etcetc., all the stuff I had grow with... So now I listen to Metal, and I don`t care if it’s Power Metal (OVERKILL, HAWAII, JAG PANZER), Speed Metal (AGENT STEEL), Thrash Metal (EXODUS, SLAYER), Death Metal (POSSESSED, HELLHAMMER, BATHORY), Heavy Metal (MOTÖRHEAD, RAVEN, ANVIL, BUFFFALO, SOLDIER) , Progressive (RUSH, POVERTY’s NO CRIME) etc... a bit of Hard Rock, too, even if that style bores the shit out of me for the most part, it was good when I was young to like FREE, BTO, BLUE CHEER and stuff but now I can’t stand most of the stuff. And I like THE GATHERING with Anneke A LOT! I hate the older stuff, but Anneke’s stuff RULES, so I don’t know if it’s Metal or not. I like some French variety artists also - Renaud, Souchon, Birkin mostly.
Did you already write for fanzines before you joined the „Snakepit” team? Did you perhaps even have an own mag?
Well, in fact I wasn't the one who started „D.O.D.”. It all started back in '84, I believe, around a guy called Ludovic Gluozko who had a great 'zine titled „Hardos Mag” and the guy was one of the first Thrashsters ever in France. He was one of the first involved into tape-trading something I had also discovered around the same time and somehow - probably after I wrote to Gil Tadic who was a killer writer in „Metal Attack” magazine and was also the brother of MORSURE's drummer. Gil had given my letters to Ludovic- we entered in touch and we both swapped tapes and started a great friendship as we were both badly into that new type of music, Thrash/Death Metal, and he had his own band, VIPER (who became ZOMBIE at the end). So at one point I offered him to do some interview for „Hardos Mag”, started with HIRAX (probably the easiest band at that time to interview since Katon was answering to everybody and even to the most ridiculous/childish interviews which included mine!) and that was late '85, I think. In the meantime Ludovic had forged some friendship with some guy from the south, in Marseille exactly (Ludovic was in the north) who was managing a bunch of newcomer acts such as DEATH NOISE, UHF, HELLFIRE etcetc. It was the one and only explosion in France at that time when it came to Thrash Metal. Those bands were nothing but HELLHAMMER's answers haha!!! Anyway, Jean Michel Attia (the manager) had decided that it was time to create the first Thrash Metal mag ever in France since that music was getting huge everywhere (except in France of course) so he offered me to become his associate in that adventure and next thing I got by early/ mid '86, I believe, was the first issue of „D.O.D. (Decibel Of Death)”. I had no interviews contributed to that issue, had nothing to do with that first issue as it had been started by Ludo and Attia, but I was hoping to help them out in future issues... However, it soon turned out to be a major rip-off since everybody who had sent payment to Attia for single copies or a bunch of copies (including the Danish „Blackthorn” guys) never got anything! And Attia couldn't be found anywhere... I don't know exactly if Ludovic had some of his bucks invested in that thing (the whole thing looked professional as it wasn't a photocopy but a printed thing with a somewhat glossy black and white cover). I loved that first issue because through Ludovic (and before he found out about the whole rip-off-thing) I had gotten a copy of that issue which featured stories of POISON, RUSSIAN WINTER, AGRESSION, interviews with MORSURE, VIOLENT FORCE, IRON ANGEL etcetc. Anyway, it soon turned out that Ludovic was all fed up with that thing and didn't want to be involved with anything related to that music or whatever for some time (and he was entering a prestigious school also, so it was hard for him to get both things going)... So next time I remember was that I told to my best friend (who later turned out to be MUTILATED/ABYSSALS singer/bass player: "Don't you think we should get „D.O.D.” going on?!". And he agreed, so by late '86 we started working on issue two - remember that I had never been involved with writing and stuff! So it was really a challenge... Issue two featured some pages that had been already done by Ludovic (as he planned to do a second issue, of course) and the rest was entirely done by me, my friend helping with the layout and doing photocopies (unlike for the first issue, we had no money to get it printed!). Issue three was done by 1987 and it looked much more professional in terms of writing (but it still sucked especially when I look at it nowadays) and for the layout aspect since I had got Michel "Nonos" Dumas from MUTILATOR (that I had started to praise in every way possible since that band always remained as being the ONLY REAL French Thrash/Death act EVER (followed by their new monikers, MUTILATED/ ABYSSALS)) helping me out with the artwork. The distribution was getting a bit bigger especially because I was starting to sell it overseas (yeah, issue three was written in English since I had found out that most of the French people were nothing but trend followers and had no interest into underground Metal), getting it in „Metal Forces”, „Blackthorn” and the likes. As I was often going to Belgium for shows since '86, I decided to have issue number seven printed over there, I believe, but the work wasn't that good. It was a big amount of money invested for not a good result but I still get going on with issue eight always offering readers unknown real underground bands most of the time because the scene wasn't yet overcrowded (even if it was becoming close!). By issue eight, seeing the not so impressive sales (200 copies, I think, each time) I decided to give up on that...I was getting fed up seeing so-called „underground Thrash 'zines” around done by people who were simply losing the THING since most of 'em were trend followers and their THRASH/DEATH Metal wasn't in the blood, plain and simple. So eight issues were made, the last ones were much better in terms of writing (especially because I had some people doing translations for me) but the printing work sucked and I tend to believe that photocopies were better (especially when machines were fucked up and some of the issues were horrible - all my excuses again to the readers from back then!). Then I did some writing for „The Wild Rag”, which was a real professional mag back then, featuring amazing interviews of Richard and Cosmo... and then I quit everything - end of the story!
When did you decide to join „Snakepit”, who used to be the „main man” behind it before you joined respectively how many issues were released without you?
Originally Frank Stöver (who used to be DESTRUCTION manager, „Horror Infernal”, „Rock Hard” writer etcetc.) started it back in '97 or so and as I was so impressed by the mag (it has been seven years I haven't seen such a great zine, in fact since the day of „Metal Forces”), so I offered Frank to help him out with interviews as I knew I could get some ones in the way he had them... so it worked out and by issue four, Frank was fed up by a lot of things (money invested, over-crowded Heavy Metal scene etc.) and decided to end up the mag. I couldn't live any longer with the idea to see it disappear, so with two other „Snakepit” writers I decided to go on with that awesome mag (remember, Frank, if you read this, you are GOD!!!!), to keep the same formula because it was the RIGHT formula for all of us and now we have issue eleven ready to go... Now we have a coloured cover, a better worldwide distribution (but WE STILL NEED TO IMPROVE IT CONSIDERABLY, especially in North America and South America!!!). With „Snakepit” we cover Heavy/Speed/Thrash heroes of the past, future and present; we want to have extremely-in-depth-interviews with bands that have disappeared yeaaarrrssss ago or from newcomers - from ANVIL CHRORUS to Z-LOT-Z, I would say!!! You can check it out at www.truemetal.org/snakepit/ , to all the old timers who loved the '80s I promised you will love it!!! Remember early „Metal Forces”, „Kick Ass Monthly”, „Rock Brigade” etc.??? – Well, „Snakepit” brings you the same!
For a start, did you only write some reviews for them or did you even contribute some interviews?
Like I said before, I started as a reader of this great mag, then offered to help with interviews which I did with POSSESSED, H-BOMB, SORTILEGE etc... and I did a couple of reviews as Frank asked me to do some. So yeah, I loved the mag from day one!!! A dream zine it was for the lost Metal head I was!
Who did „Snakepit” before you joined them, how many people worked on these issues all in all?
Frank Stöver did everything. He had a couple of writers, none of them still write in „Snakepit”... One is well known being Leif Jensen from the killer DEW-SCENTED – hail Leif, if you read this! - You rule, bro!
As far as I know the „boss” of the fanzine used to be Heinz Konzett, an Austrian guy. Do you know him personally, why did he stop doing „Snakepit”?
No, Heinz wasn’t the boss. The bosses were Heinz and myself and supposedly one dude from the USA was supposed to be the 3rd boss and develop our activities over there. However, unfortunately it didn’t take long before we saw that all he knew to do was a lot of blahblah and promises but no work, so „Snakepit” never received the recognition it should have got over there. BUT now that I’m alone doing the mag, Heinz having left the boat for personal reasons – no musical or personal differences here- I have found a GODLY HELP in the states with Yosuyuke from NUCLEAR WAR NOW! PRODUCTIONS: 1,000 copies of issue # 14 were printed, that’s what should have been done by that 3rd boss originally if the guy had been serious, but better late than never! I finally found a great person to help there. Now U.S. people must buy it if you want to see this happening again. What’s kinda funny, so to speak, is the fact that „Snakepit” is again professional printed in the States while in Europe it’s still photocopied... but I can’t afford to go back to the printed format again, so... sad but true!
Do you perhaps know what the zine title „Snakepit” refers to?
Just remember a New Jersey based act who was a three-piece and had a drummer who went with SLAYER, LUDICHRIST, and tons others after one album? Well, it refers to a song written by this threesome.
Until now 14 issues of „Snakepit” have been released and I only own the last mag. Could you please tell us very detailed about each „Snakepit” issue? How often is it released a year?
Well, issue one till issue four were done by Frank, semi-pro-printed, black and white, tons of old heroes inside them. hen we took over with issue five starting with professional printing but still black and white until issue seven when a coloured cover appeared, we were starting to reach good sales, almost 1,000 copies. Then it went on until issue eleven that way, very professional looking, full of Metal heroes. Then the three bosses –well, two actually - went their way and I decided to go on, but as a photocopied thing still with a coloured cover, so that’s how it is since issue twelve until now. – It`s still Metal to the bone! It was released twice a year until now, but now I believe it will be only once a year from now, I just don’t have enough time to keep up considering the work it represents.
„Snakepit” basically concentrates on old school bands/the ancient scene: How would you personally characterise the character of this zine?
Well, yeah, maybe to a certain extent cos like we like to say it, we cover Metal heroes from the past, present and future, so there are newer acts also covered in each issue. But it’s true that old stuff has the biggest place... nostalgia.... but fuck I’ll never change my mind on this, old Metal was the best!
Do you believe that the content, the style, the quality etc. of „Snakepit” change due to the fact that you joined this zine?
Well, it’s hard for me to say, that’s a question you should ask to the readers, if they saw a big difference since I joined and since I do it by myself entirely - that’s all I can say here... I try to maintain a high standard of quality that’s for sure, I mean the quality of writing. The way „Snakepit” looks is another thing, what matters is the content, not the look!
Would you label the „Snakepit” as underground fanzine? What does the underground respectively to be underground mean to you personally?
Yes, of course! I mean, at this point only 400/600 copies are sold, so it’s nothing, it’s totally underground! The underground is everything, being respected by the underground is the biggest gift that can be given to me!
You are doing very long in-depth-interviews that are very enjoyable, I really like reading them! How do you get in touch with the bands? From where the fuck do you have so much information and knowledge about these groups?
I get in touch with the bands either cos I used to know them back in the day, or via researches, help by bands to get in touch with other acts, help from readers... yeah that’s how it works. Information? - That’s often asked to me... Well, it all comes from dedication, the 26 years of dedication to Metal behind me and memory, nothing else. I don’t have any books here with plenty of shit written on them to remember all those juicy details, no way, it`s all just memory and dedication!
What are criterions for choosing the bands to feature in „Snakepit”? I think that for example issue #14 has a very strong and interesting content...
Hmm, mostly I get in touch with those acts that I like to listen to, so don’t expect stuff I don’t like in „Snakepit”! If it happens – well, it happens - then it comes from other writers, these are their choices and that’s cool. I don’t like HOLY TERROR at all, but they got featured two times because a lot of people like them. But I won’t myself cover a band I don’t like just because I don’t know shit on them as I never cared about them... Well, it happened one time with KUBLAI KHAN still and the interview ended up elsewhere. That’s an exception! So yeah, it just comes from my tastes, from nowhere else!
How many copies of all these single issues were sold at all? Do you have permanent authors/contributors and do you also trade with other fanzine writers around? How many copies are/were printed from each issue?
Well, as I said before, when „Snakepit” was at its best sales-wise with issue eleven it was 1,000 issues - just in Europe and a couple in Japan/USA, now as I don’t have the old distro, it’s only like 400 copies here, but issue 14 was printed with 1,000 copies more for the States. I don’t do any trades, sorry, as I can’t afford this nowadays.
In which countries is „Snakepit” distributed? How are the reactions of all maniacs around?
Well, Europe, Japan, USA, that’s about all. A few copies go to Slovenia, Australia and stuff, but it’s very few. All the issues sold well, it was a bit hard when we took over with number five and number six, but after it grew with every new issue until the fall with issue eleven. I don’t know if people like it or not, I don’t get much feedback which is bad, I’d love to receive more mail about it, complaining and stuff, whatever... But it seems people don’t care about giving their opinions, which is too bad!
It`s obvious that there aren`t too many reviews in „Snakepit”, what is the reason for this? Don’t you like writing reviews, do you prefer doing interviews?
Well, I hate doing reviews first, then I review what I receive – well, only what fits the mag’s content - and I review what I buy, so it’s not a lot but it’s way enough for me cos I hate doing reviews these days. I prefer doing interviews anyday over reviews, fuck yeah, Leslie!
Are you in touch with many labels at the moment, how often do record companies send promos to you? What are your favourite labels nowadadays and why?
Well, there are not many companies that send some stuff to me... NUCLEAR BLAST and CENTURY MEDIA should be mentioned cos I have people in the offices there who love „Snakepit”. NEAT METAL as well, BRENNUS sometimes... that’s about all. There’s a few more but I don’t care about their stuff as it doesn’t fit into „Snakepit”. METAL BLADE gave up on me for unknown reasons, I don’t care, their stuff nowadays sucks except of BRAINSTORM, so... I do get some promos from time to time, thanks again to the two aforementioned labels. My favourite record company these days? - Probably MARQUEE RECORDS...
Why didn’t you write any demo and vinyl reviews? Do you often get demos and rehearsals from underground groups?
I do!!! Some reviews are demos and some are vinyls, man!!! Like the SOLDIER ´Murderous...´ 7”, it’s a 7”!!! I love vinyl as well, so why shouldn’t I write vinyl reviews? I don’t get many demos these days which is cool because the stuff around bores me. It’s very rare these days that I find a good new band - LEGION, ETERNAL REIGN, SKULLVIEW, THORGEN being exceptions...
„Snakepit” has also a website, who`s running it and how often is it updated? Are there any interviews included on this page that weren’t released in the paper zine already before?
Well, nowadays it’s a cool reader named Peer Wandiger who takes care of it which is cool because for years the site wasn’t running like it should have, so... I hope it’s gonna continue!!! Now I hope more people are gonna join the board to get it running - on the site there are no interviews that weren’t featured in the printed edition before, no.
What do you think about downloads and mp3s? Do you support this way of collecting music? Do you often download music from the internet?
The internet is ruining the whole thing, that’s all I can say. I won’t got into developments because that has been done by other people before me but it’s just a joke what the whole thing is becoming. Soon people won’t even buy CDs anymore... How cool is that to not own original stuff? Just download shit, listening to it like if they were eating then erasing it for more bullshit...fuck that crap! I don’t download stuff, of course!
What do you think about webzines, do you sometimes read them? What do you think are differences and similarities when you compare paper zines and online "mags"? Which webzines are the best in your opinion?
I don’t like this, I’m from the old school. It’s consuming stuff like eating, then you throw it away. When you have a printed Metal mag, you keep it for eternity! So webzines don’t do anything for me. Nothing is better than having a real book in your hands!
You`re also contributing articles to the "Voices From The Darkside", which is a webzine as well. Why do you do this (especially considering your opinion about this kind of publicism) and do you know Frank Stöver personally?
It’s an okay webzine. I mean I find interviews that interrest me, so... that’s okay. But I still prefer the printed version but Frank didn’t have any other choice cos less and less people are buying printed stuff, so... Sure I know Frank for like seven years now, he`s a super cool guy! I really hope one day we’ll finally meet up together. He comes from the old school like myself and that’s super cool!
I also contribute articles to the "Voices From The Darkside" webzine, did you already read some of my interviews?
Yeah it happens. I read quite a few actually, but like I told you before, Leslie, I don’t like some stuff in the way you are doing the interviews. I mean you take the same scheme every time starting, for example „hello it’s Leslie...” - you should change this radically! Also you should work on your English; I know it’s not easy but it has to be improved. However, keep up the good work!
Which fanzines do you enjoy reading nowadays, what mags are your favourite ones? Are you also in touch with fanzine editors like i.e. Metalion ("Slayer" zine) or Nathaniel Colas ("Mutilating Process" zine)?
I write for "Slayer" mag, so I know it. It’s about the only mag I read this days, nothing else. I`m just jumping back on my old "Kick Ass Monthly", "Blackthorn", "Metal Forces", "Thrash And Burn" copies, that’s about all. I met Nathaniel in Nancy, France last October. He`s a cool dude, but the stuff he covers doesn’t interest me, it`s too recent!
Do you think that fanzines play an important role in the Metal scene? How can mags support the career of bands?
It used to be the case, now I don’t know. But in the mid ’80s zines used to build the career of numerous acts. They helped building a fan-base for bands like VIO-LENCE, TESTAMENT, EXODUS, DEATH, HIRAX and the likes...now with such an oversaturated scene I don’t think it’s the case anymore...
You are living in France. What do you think which role France played/plays in the international Metal world? Could you please speak very detailed about the scene of your country? I personally only know MASSACRA, LOUDBLAST, TREPPONEM PAL and SORTILEGE...
The French scene was terrible back then, no matter which scene it was. Heavy Metal bands from the 2nd generation were dying (SORTILEGE, H-BOMB...) and I had no interest in them at that time since Thrash had outgrown them in terms of intensity and speed (what a loser I was thinking that!) and the only worthy Thrash acts around were VIPER, MUTILATOR who started early '86, the Marseille bands I mentioned before and AGRESSOR (whom I met at a KREATOR/DESTRUCTION gig in Belgium in September '86). Of course there was LOUDBLAST in '85 but it soon became apparent that the assholes behind that didn't know a shit about what a Thrash Metal riff was and all they could write was "speed up Heavy Metal" (which of course doesn't mean Thrash!!!) and this bunch did nothing in their career but delivering trendy/crappy stuff all the way (always surfing on the next trend around from Thrash to Death to atmospheric music - original, huh?). Of course considering how trendy was France (and still is), there's a bunch of newer acts who appeared like MASSACRE (absolutely crappy), DEATH POWER, AGGRESSIVE AGRICULTOR... totally false, crappy bands who didn't know a shit about real Metal and how a Metal riff no matter if it's a Speed/Heavy/Thrash or Death riff must sound like! So yeah, the only band worthy of support was MUTILATOR (VIPER/ZOMBIE had broken up when Ludovic stopped D.O.D.) and from the first rehearsal I heard it was clear those guys had nothing in common with other French acts... who would have got the guts to cover RAZOR or SODOM songs at the time??? Nobody except 'em... So put them in touch with Alex from AGRESSOR (I was helping them out also because their first demo was a very enjoyable debut effort à la early KREATOR/ SODOM, but by the second demo it was becoming more and more clear that Alex` song writing was not that impressive at all and I was confronted with that feeling in years to come so it was another lost hope) and they went down south at Alex's home to record their first demo. They immediately expanded their name and decided to move (they were a new act by then) near where I lived in a house me and my friend Philippe Herbaut had found for them. It was a cool time, they were rehearsing, writing new stuff but they didn't have any work and stuff, so life was quite hard for them and soon differences between 'em and me showed up for some reasons that were rather stupid... They still managed to record their first MUTILATED demo ´Psychodeath Lunatics´ in a studio around here and the thing was extremely impressive along the lines of MORBID ANGEL/POSSESSED... still around late '88/early '89, I believe, they moved back to their original area with Philippe joining them as bassist and later as singer. By '92 they finally started doing gigs in their area in the south (Marseille), and finally ended up changing their name to ABYSSALS for a new demo mid '94... another totally awesome effort which simply killed every single Death Metal band around except M. ANGEL! For some reasons they never got signed, probably because they weren't there at the right time, right place (especially when you see assholes/totally untalented acts such as LOUDBLAST/MASSACRA who ended up signed). In recent years, Michel Dumas was seen with WINDS OF SIRIUS (wondering what he does with that outfit...) and it seems the two other guys have retired from music. This sucks because France has never seen and will never see a Death/Thrash band as killer and mind-blowing as MUTILATOR/MUTILATED/ABYSSALS... This simply used to be the best European act ever (yeah, better than the 1st ENTOMBED or last POISON demo or even R.U. DEAD`s great material!). If you ask me about the scene worldwide, well, from '83 til '89 it was simply GOD, then everything got overcrowded, people and bands were jumping from one trend to another.
I personally consider MASSACRA as one of the best French bandsever, ´Enjoy The Violence´ is one of my all-time-favourite records, a brutal masterpiece! I guess you won`t agree with me, right?
No, MASSACRA was a bunch of shit, it used to be pseudo Thrash! For anybody who grew up with Metal, they know the difference between Real Thrash and pseudo Thrash aka Speedheavymetal, that’s what those dudes were playing. You want real French Thrash? - Check out MUTILATOR`s ´Omens...´demo, the VIPER rehearsals or even early OUTBURST, HELLFIRE, and you’ll see what’s Thrash! It`s definitely not crap like MASSACRA and LOUDBLAST!
You used to experience the formation of the Metal scene since 1979, so I believe you were able to get through a lot of great things. You banged your head during the ’80s, which was doubtlessly the golden age of Metal. Nowadays we are writing the year 2005: Please sum up your thoughts about how the Metal scene changed compared to the late ’70s/’80s! What do you think about the present scene and about the Nu Metal/Metalcore-wave? To sum it up, please tell us about the development of the Metal scene from 1979 till 2005!
Well, I think that until now I have explained rather well my views on what was the Metal before and how I consider Metal nowadays... I’m sorry but I live mostly in the past! Not that I don’t wanna see the talent around nowadays, it’s just that it doesn’t jump on you like it used to be the case back then. Nu Metal??? - This is a bunch of crap and assholes like SLAYER or Rob Flynn are dumb enough having jumped on that bandwagon...fuck those dicks! They can eat shit forever having betrayed their roots, not mentioning those rat asses like Cavalera and SEPULTURA, Locicero and people like this. That shows how real Metal they were in the first place, I guess... even Juan Garcia... Now people celebrate A. STEEL everywhere but they should remember that he was part of TERROR, a dumb Nu shit crap Metal act. And suddenly he’s back into real Metal, which is kind of funny, if you ask me.
Is Metal a way of life or just business?
It`s a way of life, of course! For some it’s surely a business, too, which is sad but true. It has become a huge business - there are too many bands, labels and zines instead of staying listeners. - That’s how a scene gets ruined! Who needs billions of bands who can’t write shit to save their ass? - That`s surely not for me! We need acts that can offer deadly/effective stuff, groups that can bring vibes and emotions through their tunes, no matter if it’s Death, Thrash, Speed or Heavy Metal...!
I can imagine you have a very big CD/LP/tapes/etc.-collection at home, so how large is this collection? Do you nowadays still search for rare and/or new stuff? Do you agree with me that the absolute cult format for Metal music is vinyl?
I really don’t know. I’m not into collecting for the sake of it, read my intro for the S. XSTROYES interview, it says everything on that collecting thing around... I still collect tapes, LPs and CDs, videos, DVDs... I don’t care if these are "old" formats for some. I’m not after what’s "in" and what’s not. Vinyl rules over everything else, that’s so true, Leslie! I wish CDs would have never existed, to be honest. And we come back to the download thing and stuff...
Do you also own many picture discs? What do you think is the rarest/most important record in your collection?
Oh, I do have rare shit, rare SLAYER stuff, the original S. XTROYES album, stuff like this...not for the sake of collecting, just cos I like the music REALLY!
I think you have lots of videos and videoclips as well…
Yeah, quite a bit, that’s why musicians ask me for copies cos they know I have the stuff, haha!!! Watch out for an ATHEIST-DVD hopefully in 2006!
Nowadays DVDs became very popular, what do you think must be the reasons for this? What do you personally prefer - DVDs or good old videos?
Because people are just sheep, the mass medias present this as the perfection, so people who are sheep dig what they say. But for DVD s it’s not like CDs, in this case I would prefer the DVD format cos it should hopefully last longer.
I bet your collection contains mostly originals, so do you like CD-Rs and copied tapes?
I have many copied tapes cos I was into trading, a lot of originals also, of course, but not CD-Rs. I just got a few cos I prefer tapes again here. Furthermore I got no albums taped on CD-R, I only own original albums on CD or nothing!!!
How many bootlegs can be found in your collection, what do you think about this stuff in general? Are bootlegs made for the die-hard-fans or are they mostly there for the sake of making money?
No idea again, many for sure are there for money-making. When I’m into a band I COLLECT EVERYTHING until they start becoming a shitty act à la EXODUS, SLAYER, FORBIDDEN etc. Oh, bootlegs are a long story - people have different ideas on this, it depends on where you sit... Some are made for die-hard-fans but many are made for business purposes. It`s hard to say if that’s good or not...
Didn’t you ever think about establishing an own label? If you would have an own label, which bands would you sign?
Oh, I thought about it and I’d love to... I would do many re-issues first. Well, many has been done now, so I wouldn’t have much choice but I would have done ULYSSES SIREN, WARNING SF, SKULLVIEW, ETERNAL REIGN, SACRIFICE, REALM, REDRUM etc., stuff like this... lack of money is the reason why I never did something like this.
How does the ideal connection between label and musician look like, what do you think?
Well, the best is when it’s a Metal fan who runs the label like Laurent Merle from LISTENABLE RECORDS - I think that’s the best.
If you would have the opportunity to establish an all-time-super-group, which musicians would take part in this "project"?
Waouh, this is a very, very difficult question here! I guess it would be Lee Altus/Rand Burkey on guitars, Paul Bostaph on drums, Brian Ross on vocals, and Doug Keyser on bass now that Roger Patterson is no more.
In May unfortunately Mike „Yaz” Jestremski (HEATHEN) and David Wayne (METAL CHURCH) died and their deaths was a great loss for the scene. Your comment, please…!
Well, as for Yaz it wasn’t surprising, just like it was for Paul Baloff: Those two guys lived every minute of their life the Rock’N’Roll-style with all the abuses to it, so... it’s sad... Yaz was full of talent, just remember ´Flight Of The Griffin´, which rules! I wish I could have interviewed him before he passed away. David Wayne was a great loss, too... people should remember Roger Patterson as well which was one of the best bass players Metal has ever known!
Meanwhile many great ’80s bands returned, like i.e. ONSLAUGHT (whose reunion unfortunately never really came to terms actually - Christian Wachter), DEATH ANGEL, EXODUS, AGENT STEEL or NASTY SAVAGE. What do you think are the reasons for these comebacks? Does it make sense to return after 14/15 years of silence? Have you already listened to the comeback albums of EXODUS, DEATH ANGEL and AGENT STEEL?
Well, some are honest like i.e. DEATH ANGEL, HEATHEN or NASTY SAVAGE. You feel that the guys are here for the fun of doing music, not for the money, some others are questionable... I only think of EXODUS, AGENT STEEL and ONSLAUGFHT - who fuckin’ needs ONSLAUGHT after the crap they’ve issued? But as every day passes I encounter a new unbelievable reformation. Now we get BLOODCUM, REDRUM, KAOS, P. THREAT, what’s next? - Fuckin’ PAPSMEAR out of Las Vegas? Fuckin’ ATROCITY out of Massassuchets? Fuckin’ XYSTER out of YUK? Come on....
What do you think about the new ASSASSIN record ´The Club´? In my opinion it used to be total nonsense to release this album, it doesn`t have got anything to do with this act`s original outputs...
Well, I never cared about their early albums even if I owned them as it was Thrash stuff, so even without having heard that new opus, I can imagine how it sounds like. That`s all pathetic stuff as far as I’m concerned...!
Do you have some hobbies beside Metal music, what are you interested in besides Metal? Do you like cooking or doing crosswords for example?
Hobbies? Waouh? Having vegetables growing in my garden, haha!!! That’s Metal, right? Yeah, I like walking, doping, lots of walking with my older daughter - these are the greatest things on earth...!
Do you like sports, do you know any famous French sportsmen like i.e. Michel Platini, Alain Girresse, Bernhard Hinault etc.? France was European soccer champion in 1984 and 2000 as well as world champion in 1998...
I don’t care about sports at all! I used to like Formula 1 when Senna was around but that’s all. Poh, yeah, I liked tennis when McEnroe and stuff were around but besides this I hate sports!
Are you interested in the Olympic Games?
No, well, sometimes I watch some competitions, but not much...
Have you ever heard about the peace-treaty of Trianon? It was on the 04. 06. 1921, do you know what that was all about?
Oh, I heard about that, but honestly I can’t say what it’s all about right now. I’m getting tired after having typed for four hours, Leslie, haha!!!
Alright, Laurent, please name us your first ten all-time-favourite...
That`s hard to say - RUSH ´Moving Pictures´, ´Permanent Waves´, ATHEIST ´U. Presence´, M. ANGEL ´Domination´, HEATHEN ´Breaking...´, ´Victims...´, ARTILLERY ´By Inheritance´, EXCITER ´HM Maniac´, SLAYER ´Show No Mercy´, ´Hell Awaits´...
Waouh, that`s fuckin’ hard! ´Face The Slayer´ by SLAYER, ´Death Of A Dream´ and ´Guitarmony´ by ANVIL CHORUS, ´Witchhunt´, ´Natural Science´ and hundred others from RUSH, ´Mistress Of Evil´, ´Cry Of The Banshee´ and ´Heavy Metal Maniac´ by EXCITER, ´In The Trash´ by ARTILLERY, ´Fear Of The Unknown´, ´Breaking The Silence´ by HEATHEN etcetc...
Jon Torres, Lee Altus, Rob Urbinati, Kelly Schaefer, Brian Ross, Neil Peart, Paul Bostaph, Geddy Lee, Roger Patterson, Lips.
HEATHEN, WARNING SF, ARTILLERY, RUSH, old EXCITER, old EXODUS, old SLAYER, NYC MAYHEM, ATHEIST, ANVIL CHORUS.
METALLICA/VENOM - February 1984, SLAYER - Belgium/Zürich 1987, SLAYER - Milwaukee 1994 , MALEDICTION - 2004, MORDRED - Paris 1991, ATHEIST - Tampa 1990, DEATH - Belgium/Paris 1993, M. ANGEL - Milwaukee 1994, ANVIL - Belgium 1993, TROUBLE - Belgium 1993.
HEATHEN, WARNING, TROUBLE, ANVIL CHORUS, REALM and certainly others I don’t remember...ACID...
Are there bands you`ve missed out to do an interview with yet? Who would you like to interview in future?
John Cyris most notably, that was my biggest disappointment, but he’s such a dick, which is not surprising after all... I have 100 questions to ask as he had been in like eight bands...! Kurt Vanderhoof somehow as I wanted to ask him about the early days of M. CHURCH in S.F. in 1981, that’s about all... P. ALTAR, which are strange dudes...
Now I want to interview Araya - they have been my fave band from ’83 til 1996 before they became crap. That’s my dream, but I guess it’ll never happen...
Alright, Laurent, thanks for answering my questions, thanks for your patience, I hope you don’t get bored during this interview. I wish you all the best and good luck, Cheers!
Now I know how the musicians feel when they receive my interviews...!!! Holy hell, it was hard, but I thank you for taking the time to do this, Leslie...this is the way interviews should be conducted, in depth, that’s the only real thing! So you readers out there, enjoy reading this, hopefully you won’t get too bored after this!!! And check out "Snakepit" mag if you want to discover or rediscover old shit that paved the way for all the stuff around nowadays at www.truemetal.org/snakepit/ 5 Euros only for one copy...what’s 5 euros when you love your shit HEAVY!!!! METAL FOREVER! DEATH to those who are one day Metal heads and the next day some trendy followers of another style. Either Metal is in your blood forever or not but it’s not a half-assed thing!