Pillars of the 90s: An Interview with Ripping Corpse
[This is the 15th installment of the Pillars interview series. You can check out the rest here]
Artist: Ripping Corpse
Album: Dreaming with the Dead
Favorite Song: "Beyond Humanity"
The Bare Bones: Dreaming with the Dead is the first and only full length by New Jersey death metal band Ripping Corpse, made up of Shaune Kelley (later of Hate Eternal and Dim Mak), Brandon Thomas (Dim Mak), Scott Ruth (Dim Mak), Dave Bizzigotti (Helmer, Speed Kill Hate), and Eric Rutan (Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, Cannibal Corpse).
The Beating Heart: For some time I resisted the impulse of writing about the 90s since, being formed into my current form of metalheadom in that last decade of the previous millennium, I was afraid of tripping into the trap of drab nostalgia. I was then convinced it was permissible to engage with that decade once I established one central principle: that I would focus on the lingering influence of that decade on the current extreme music scene, and not solely on my own experiences.
Well, Ripping Corpse, and this interview with guitar wizard/demo Shaune Kelley, is perhaps the best manifestation of that idea. I didn't grow up listening to Ripping Corpse. Hell, I don't remember hearing about them. What I did notice, over the years, was how many of the musicians I admire and respect today look back to that New Jersey band of chaos for inspiration, both as younger people and today. Given that unmistakable admiration, and given my impulse to investigate the roots of today's brilliant music, I went back and dug in. What I found was what could only be described as unbridled energy and creativity, a bent, crooked, and yet in a paradoxical way harmonious explosion of crushing heaviness and relentless tenacity. Which is a long-winded way of saying: I got it.
Having gotten it, and haven listen to Dreaming with the Dead more times than is perhaps advisable, I then turned to the aforementioned Mr. Kelley – whose later projects include the amazingly sick Dim Mak, which, for a time, was a kind of Ripping Corpse incarnate – and tried to talk to him about the staying power of the music he made as, basically, a kid. It turned out to be one hell of a conversation with one hell of a musician. I hope you enjoy it.
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Basically I started this series to try and figure out what it was about the 90s and the bands from the 90s that made them so influential to today’s scene. Even bands like diSEMBOWELMENT or Winter, that were very short-lived.
Like Ripping Corpse. We didn’t last very long.
That’s right, exactly. And the 30 years there are all these bands that love Ripping Corpse or love Winter. I did that interview with Stephen from Winter and he said he just randomly got a call to do a festival and he was like: “Who the fuck is this? What do you want from me!?”
And he has no idea that Winter had become this thing.
I mean, the interview we’re doing right now. I’ve been in three bands after Ripping Corpse, and people still want to talk Corpse. So I get sucked back in.
Yeah, we’ll kind of get to that, I guess I just wanted to make it clear that I don’t want to go back down memory lane in that nostalgic way, although I guess that’s inevitable because it was a long time ago.
I call it “a curse” [laughs]
Why “a curse”?
I can’t move forward [laughs]. My new bands can’t compete. I made a classic by accident, the songs became this classic underground thing, and it’s impossible to re-grab that magic. Everything I do is still back to Corpse. So, to me it’s a slight curse. I am “the ripped corpse,” and that’s how I’ll go to the grave [laughs].
I think that’s a common thread for a lot of these bands. I think if you asked Stephen of Winter he would rather people listened to his new band or new album, and not keep asking about Winter.
I would be the same way. I love Winter, I would ask him to play me Winter and he would slap me [laughs]. I know why it is that people want to talk about Ripping Corpse, I know. It was exciting, it was this energetic metal, at the time it was more extreme than the rest of the fuckers out there. I get it. But, what are you going to do, it’s just how it is.
I actually love that we’re already in this, but I want to ask the question I usually start with, because I think it might fit well here, and that’s more about the music you loved or had a passion about. And so, do you remember when you had a moment with a band or an album or a song that really changed what you thought about music? That either scared you or rewired your brain in some way? Obviously this happens quite a bit, but I guess I’m looking for an early moment like that.
Absolutely. My very first concert, my aunt took me to see AC/DC in an arena. It was the For Those About to Rock tour with the cannons and Angus Young running everywhere on ramps and up in the rafters. I was like “That! I want to be that!” I wanted to be Angus Young. And then, of course, I heard Ozzy on the radio with “Flying High Again” and “Crazy Train” with Randy Rhodes. Those dudes just set me off into guitardom – Angus Young and Randy Rhodes. And later Van Halen.
Those are two very different experiences, right? Seeing Angus Young live with AC/DC…
That was the catalyst. I knew seeing AC/DC that night that I wanted to be a rock star, badass guitarist running around like that.
But did it also have to do with the music or with the show?
Both. At that point AC/DC was heavy, this was the 80s. Back and Black was pretty slammin’, hard-hitting rock. There wasn’t any metal around to be heavier, so it was heavy. They rocked me, and then the cannon were going off! I left that concert a freshly minted metal kid [laughs]. I learned my lesson on how to do it. AC/DC set me straight.
It’s like a baptism!
Yeah. It all fell in line with the rest of them later – Judas Priest, Iron Maiden. The same shit you listen to, I’m no different than any metal fan. Metallica, Anthrax, it’s just how it fell. I stumbled into death metal. But that’s a differently story. But, yeah. AC/DC, Ozzy, and Sabbath those created my ultimate desire to play guitar. And my father, he was actually in bands, so he was already playing guitars around the house. My dad had long hair, getting high and going out of the house all the time. Woodstock days, playing guitar in bands. All my magic, or anything that you might hear that makes me a little different, is from my dad. He’s got the magic still, still plays guitar at 75. He would blow you away [laughs].
I’m sure he would. But, what do you mean by “magic”? Or, what does he have that made you think you got it too?
Something that can’t be teached by a teacher. If you’re Jimi Hendrix’s son, that thing that he’s going to pass down to you that you’re not going to get in a lesson with a dude. He might be able to show you how to fake it or something. But, just music magic. Some people produce a song than anyone else, with a little magic. It’s hard to explain but it’s that little extra something to your musical knowledge.
OK, so I interviewed Eric Peterson of Testament for this series and he also has this very early memory having to do with AC/DC with Bon Scott in the late 70s, and Aerosmith. When I think of Testament, they were a pretty big band back in the day. Still are. And so when Eric tells me he idolized Joe Perry, I can easily see where that connection is, because Testament were kind of that kind of band – relatively big stages, big band, that sort of thing. And yet when we get to you, you’re playing death metal in front of much smaller crowds, you don’t have all the pyrotechnics or the stage show.
We didn’t even have leather jackets! [laughs]
Not even leather jackets!
We didn’t have anything [laughs].
So, my question would be that, given the impact AC/DC had on you and that you might want to recreate that effect, how do you do that without all the bells and whistles that come with being a stadium-rock band? How do you produce shock and awe while just wearing a t- shirt?
I don’t think you can, which is kind of the issue I’ve always had with it. I don’t think it’s great live music, a death metal act. It’s like mannequins on stage, they don’t even fucking move. The only thing you can do is to get a Red Bull or two in you, and try to perform at a higher level than a normal human bring. That’s what I always did, step up the performance to almost an athlete level, and do shit that’s just: “Wow, I can’t believe he can ever breathe for that long!” Physically blown them away. But I can’t say that for everybody, because a lot of them just stand there like mannequins.
I would just say that your performance better be really fiery, you got to impress the listener without needing the cannons. If you can do it without the cannons, blowing some guy away, then you might be doing something even better. “Go off hard!” was always our main goal. “Go harder than the rest of these guys!” [laughs]
That may not seem like a very complicated message, but it does seem to be a big part of Ripping Corpse’s legacy right? One of the reasons Ripping Corpse gets talked about as being ahead of its time is that you went harder than anyone.
Yeah, it was just a higher level of performance, we were counting more. Now everybody uses click tracks and they’re counting the math up, like Necrophagist, counting the parts. “If I divide that part by this much that would sound really fucking cool.” But we’ve been doing that since the 90s, by ear. Part of the magic my old man showed me was loops, how you hear things, where to start, where someone might be listening and you go away from that, deflection, deception, different listening techniques. Hard to explain a lot of it, I just call it “magic” [laughs]. You’re either pretty kick ass at it, or you’re not.
I think I know it from…. I’m a writer…
Same thing. You could probably write magic.
Yeah, that’s your art.
Yeah. I mean, when I write for this, for instance, it’s really important for me to be true to what Shaune is saying and being faithful to that. So in that kind of writing, I don’t really see a lot of my personal self in it, other than the fact that it’s my choice to talk to you or how I talk to you. But when I write for me, when I “write write” I really relate to what you’re talking about. That once you, so to speak “catch a groove,” then it’s very important not to get addicted to that feeling and so something different.
I’m trying to teach my new drummer just what you said. You gotta loop but get out of that loop and get into another. And then another, and loops chained together. Now he’s getting what I was talking about, it took him a while to understand because he’s not used to math being thrown at him all the time. I tell him: “We’re going to start on three, not on one” and throw him off like that all the time [laughs].
Anyhow. Getting to Corpse. When you guys came up…. I know some of you guys were in The Beast prior to that, which was a much more traditional heavy metal/thrashy band.
Yeah, that was the local band around here.
So when you [and Scott] transitioned into Ripping Corpse, was there a feeling that you were operating as part of a scene? Like-minded bands doing stuff together, or more operating by yourself? Did you feel like you didn’t belong? How did that work out for you?
We didn’t feel like we belonged, it was the exact opposite. Everything else, even The Beast, like you said, were playing the regular speed-metal thing. But at that point I was listening to more Kreator and Destruction, and Slayer’s Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood, that evil shit. I didn’t know why it was that that happened, but I was getting into harder, evil shit. Metallica and all that just started to get pushed aside. Not that I hated it or anything, but I just stopped listening to the bigger bands.
I wanted there to be more extremity, not so much Scott at first, he sang for The Beast. That band exploded, by the way. We had a big fight and it blew up. And the very next day I said: “I’ve got a new idea for a band, Ripping Corpse.” The name came from the Kreator song, I loved Pleasure to Kill. I bought it when it came out, I was just devastated by everything – the art, the songs, the sound, the raw force. It was not AC/DC [laughs].
Was that a very common thing? For a guy in New Jersey to have a Kreator album?
Probably not. I was buying any metal album based on artwork. You go to the record store, look at the covers. In the late 80s and 90s it was all cover art, so I just took a gamble on the fucker. Hit or miss, basically. You could end up with Stryper in your collection, but it was because you supported all metal. Just give me it! Whatever! But with Kreator it was the sound, more than anything. Pulverizing Metallica or anything else we had over in the States. Sodom, Destruction, and Kreator really changed my mind on how to play. I would have ended up sounding like Metallica or Anthrax or Testament. Slayer kicked me off that path, because I was like: “These motherfuckers seem a little more evil!” Something about Slayer is twisted, and I loved it. But it was basically just wanting to be more extreme than the rest of the New Jersey Bon Jovi wannabees, posers. A lot of posers at that point. Twisted Sisters. “We can’t be that!” kind of an attitude.
In terms of local bands, so what was that like? Twisted Sister-wannabees?
There weren't that many local bands. There were only about five New Jersey bands when I was growing up. There was Exxplorer, who were a little more Iron Maiden. Symphonies of Steel – you might even know the record. It’s still kind of big. I was their roadie until I got started playing. And you had The Beast, which was a little more hardcore/speed metal. But there wasn’t that much other shit. You had Life of Agony, but they were almost in New York. Just scattered crap all around, not very much of a scene at all. We were just making that scene.
Even when Ripping Corpse got going, we could pack the club, but there wasn’t a scene. They just came to our how [laughs]. They didn’t go to any other show. We were able to get them all out.
Was there any crossover with the hardcore scene? With the New Jersey hardcore scene or the New York hardcore scene?
Yeah, there was. There were a few hardcore bands. I didn’t like them, or didn’t listen to them that much, so I couldn’t tell you very much about them. There were five to ten hardcore bands around. And they would throw us on a show, with mixed reactions. But we got along fine, we always put on a good show. They would put us in CBGB’s and it would be us, Madball, a funk band and it would be all kinds of mixed-up crap.
How did the crowd react when you guys played in those kinds of shows?
They didn’t like us at all. Hardcore kinds did not like the long-hairs back then. There were fights…. If you could break through and make them slam dance in a couple of parts then they usually weren’t that hard on you, but usually there was a collision there. We got booed off stage. We played with the Crumsuckers with Ripping Corpse, and the Crumsuckers came out and said some some shit like: “Satan’s here tonight!” and the whole crowd booed us off stage.
So any of the hardcore that might have ended up influencing Ripping Corpse was more a case of that influencing the bands that were influencing you? So, not that you listened to punk and hardcore but that maybe Kreator did?
No, it was really from Scott and our time with The Beast, kicking it back with some good ole speed metal, and just dragged into death metal. I mean, I dug a little bit of punk, like The Misfits and a few of the heavier acts, like Disrupt, Cro-Mags, Carnivore. But, we all liked speed metal.
When you guys got ready to record Dreaming with the Dead, after you’ve already done the demos…. Before that, confession time. There’s this thing I’ve encountered when interviewing death metal bands, which is that I ask about how they got to a certain sound or why they went as hard as they did when they did, and nine times out of ten the answer is: “Because it felt good” or “because we wanted to crush someone!” [laughs] or “Because we wanted to be the most brutal” or something like that. And I get that, I get being a young person who just wants to go super hard and produce the most radical experience possible…
It’s still that for me. Whenever you want, I’m still ready to go off [laughs]. Fuckin’ apeshit anarchy.
At any second. Right now, if you want [laughs].
You could! But, looking back, because you are a different musician now, you do things that are, for instance, more technical and less blunt force….. I mean, there’s a lot of smart stuff going on there, and maybe it was the case that all you wanted to do is crush some skulls, but there is a lot of very clever stuff in there. So, can you at the very least look back and maybe get a better understanding of what it was you guys were going for?
Kind of. At that point I knew what I was doing. You know who Paul Gilbert is?
Yeah, of course.
So, I learned the Paul Gilbert method, even before Ripping Corpse, from a guy who took the whole course and then taught it to me. And I was on that Paul Gilbert mentality of a guitar shredder underneath the Ripping Corpse thing. I didn’t get to shred much, I just kind of showed you a little hint of what I could really do. So, I knew what I was doing, I thought it was going to have an effect, which it obviously did, people can’t shut up about it [laughs], but we all knew what we were doing. We were just doubling up on the performance level, on the riffing tactic, on the picking and the drumming. It was advanced. Like what Meshuggah does now. When you hear a Meshuggah song now you go: “Wow, that timing, what?!” It was that, then. Different timings, different loops of time, grooves.
But we knew what we were doing, and I’m not going to lie to you, because I’m doing it more now with the new bands. We’re doing it twice as hard as Ripping Corpse. If you sat down and analyzed it you wouldn’t be asking about Ripping Corpse. It’s harder, and more fierce, and more accurate. It’s like Bruce Lee when he got better. But, people don’t want to hear that, and I’m just going to have to deal with it. It’s the curse! [laughs]
I think people do want to hear it, but there’s a lot of psychology in how a band….. I actually wanted to get to this later, but Ripping Corpse didn’t last very long. You had the one album, you went away basically and life went on. And I suspect that none of you had any fucking idea that Dreaming with the Dead would come back to haunt you to the extent that it did. It was just an album that you as kids, right?
I mean, at that point we were the local hot-shit guys. Everybody was talking about us, and we started to get that little cocky ego you get when you’re 21, like: “Oh shit, people are noticing me!” So, we all knew that. We had a manager that was powerful. Good enough to get us a deal with Earache. We had five contracts on the table in one day. I was like: “Whoa, what the fuck?” Just everything was going for us. We started to get that local buzz, like the Wu Tang Clan did, they got the buzz and capitalized on it. So, we knew. And it was tech metal, which, no matter how you slice it, is hard stuff.
So, did I think it was going to be good? Yes. I tried really hard. I took lessons out of my ass, the Paul GIlbert method, trying things – inventing things even! We have what’s called as “Corpse picking” now, a technique I just used to practice, to warm my arm up. And it became that sounds. It’s a thing now. I planned, and I hoped, and it came true. But I didn’t make any money or anything. It stayed “cult classics.”
Yeah, what I meant by that was…. Obviously you worked very hard at it and did well. But you didn’t really have an idea of what kind of impact it would have down the line. So when it did, didn’t you feel like going: “Wait, where were all these people, idolizing my band, when I was in my band?”
Every second of the day. I say that to my fans: “Where the hell were you when I needed you?” Or “Why are you asking me about Ripping Corpse, 35 years later, when I’ve made nine albums past it? I was in Hate Eternal, Flesh Consumed, Dim Mak, I had four fucking albums with other bands, and you want to go back to when I was 15, a dummy, just learning guitar, and tell me I was better then!?” Arghh! But, I get it. The songs are good, we were good young guys. Just that extra exuberance to us, that’s really all it was.
We didn’t plan anything like that. We didn’t think “We’re going to be stars in a couple of years and we’ll be touring the world with Morbid Angel.” That wasn’t the plan. We thought “Anybody who likes sick shit might like this stuff, because we’re doing a top-of-the-line version of sick shit” [laughs].
Yeah, but that’s really interesting, because…. Well, there’s a lot of stuff that’s unique about your experience. One of them is the European influence. Not a lot of people are listening to European metal at that time in the States, and European metal is nastier….
Yeah, we found out that even the amps that they used had stronger tubes in them. So that’s why they were crunchier. And so I learned to get EL34’s for the Ripping Corpse album. They had the fucking power.
So, there’s that too. But that also has to do with you going through the evolution of “OK, I like AC/DC. OK, I like Slayer. OK, I like Kreator” much faster than most people. Because most people in the late 80s were just fine with Metallica. But you were like: “I need heavier, I need faster.” And that in a way anticipated what the metal scene would do.
And then I heard Obituary, and then I heard Macabre. Macabre was superior double-bass speed, in 1987. It still holds up today. So, that along with Obituary’s sheer, dense heaviness. I just said: “I can’t go back from this to Megadeth and Metallica. Fuck Peace Sells, man. And fuck And Justice for All, too.
Never say “fuck Peace Sells,” that’s kind of my favorite album of all time [laughs], but I see what you mean.
Yeah [laughs], I meant the concept. No peace, I’m not into peace [laughs].
Just heavier, and heavier, and heavier. Everything around us was getting heavier. Even stuff like “Extreme Doritos! Extreme Pepsi! Get the Extreme Big Mac!” Everything. Car tires were “Extreme!” Wrestling was “Extreme!” I think it was in us all. So the metal got extreme too. Just be the sickest fucking monster truck.
OK, great. So, on that note, I think a lot of the people who cite you as an influence are talking about a lot of the things we just discussed: brutal, extreme, performance – more than. But there are parts in the album that aren’t you going full throttle at 9,000 MPH. And so I want to point to two specific moments. One is the end of “Beyond Humanity,” which has this prog rock, weird transition with the bass floating in the back. That’s not Slayer. That’s something else.
That’s part of the magic. Of natural grooves, feeling it out, not even in the process of “let’s do this riffs” but you just do it. Like when Pink Floyd would just jam. They’re not even thinking about it, it’s just happening. That’s what that was. Brendan [Thomas] was able to do those natural drum grooves, without needing metronomes and shit. He would keep a steady loop forever. He had a natural human musical timing talent. So, some were no effort at all, some were a lot of effort. It’s hard to explain, but the music was half and half – half magic and Jimi Hendrix natural flow, and half trying really fucking hard to blow you away [laughs].
Yeah, but I think that it’s that combination which makes you so interesting for a lot of people today. Because, to me – since I can’t be every listener since 1991, I can only be me – the brutal parts are there and locked in. So you’re in it, you’re riding the train and it’s going faster and faster. But when a moment like that at the end of “Beyond Humanity” happens, it’s like the train is floating in the sky.
Also, don’t forget, there were drugs involved [laughs].
A lot of acid! [laughs] A lot of it.
That is very important!
A lot of it
Weeks on end with that shit. “Beyond Humanity” was basically about From Beyond, the movie? And we used to fuck with acid in public like it was fucking beer [laughs]. Trip for weeks straight and write this weird music. That helped any weirdness you might hear. We were also smoking a lot of pot, drinking a lot of beer. All of us.
That actually matters a lot. I mean, just by the fact that you mentioned Pink Floyd and jamming, that’s not on every death metal mind.
Yeah. My dad was a hippie, a straight hippie. Weed all over the house, always. I’m still kind of like that, only “EXTEME satanic fucking person.”
Like a Stone Cold Steve Austin version of a hippie.
Stone Cold is my idol, basically. All my friends are hippies and potheads, though.
So, the Pink Floyd stuff and the narcotic-induced stuff…
It’s all for the drugged-out motherfuckers. If you’re real fucking high then you hear a little something extra. You hear some of the magic I’m talking about [laughs].
What I meant to say earlier is that when I hit that part in “Beyond Humanity,” or the very sludgy mid part in “Rift of Hate,” it just comes out of nowhere and the song suddenly becomes super slow. So, when I listen to that, my brain – not in a conscious way – goes: “These guys are smart.” Even if it is coincidental, even if it’s because of nine week of acid. Doesn’t matter. The effect of it in the music feels like not an accident.
That album was played live, by the way. I mean, it was played mostly live, with a couple of overdubs, like the solos I did on top. But it was played live, which is why I think it has that train vibe you’re talking about. It’s like you were at a show that was good. The show where you went: “Whoa, they were good tonight!” We tried to catch that and record it. That live vibe, and then overdub it with sick solos on top. That definitely helped.
So, I’ll ask a weird question. Death metal has gone several different ways, with even a lot of retro stuff going on, and some older bands too.
Yeah, I’m not into that, believe it or not. I’m more into the guys not doing that [laughs]. I’m trying to keep up with the younger guys.
On top of younger guys trying to sound like the older bands.
Yeah, there’s a whole pack of that – younger guys trying to sound like the 90s. With the exception of the couple of them that are cool, that got the right vibe. But it’s not my choice of music. I want to hear some fire!
But do you think that some of the things you guys did to make your music raw, or live, or loose, be it the drugs, the playing live, the stuff you got from your dad, do you think those elements are being neglected for the sake of the more technical aspect of it? To the “math” of it?
It’s even less than that. It’s like you’re in a store or in a bar, and you’re just caught bopping your head to some pop hit because of the beat. It’s just a natural reaction.
So, something base-level? Simple?
Base-level. I was just telling my drummer. He’s been having a hard time with my timings. Usually you count to four, and I keep asking him to start later or come in at an angle. And it throws him off, it’s like he can’t breathe. And I go: “No, no. It’s not that hard. Just do the math in your brain and you’ll get it.” So there’s that natural trap of a 4-count that sucks your straight in. And so if I’m in a store with a guitar and I want to blow some random stranger away, all you’ve got to do is a Metallica riff, because it’s a trap. Just that four-count and that stranger will go: “Hey dude! That was fucking awesome!” and I didn’t really do anything.
How do you avoid writing traps? How do you stay away from that, as a writer? How do you prevent yourself from being trapped? I mean, people react to that shit because it’s easy to react to, and so maybe there’s a temptation to write that way as well.
For me, I just treat each part of the song like a micro-song. So there can be eight songs in one song. Eight little timings, eight little loops that have in the end that one big thing you're looking for. So it isn’t going to be exactly what you thought it would be. It’s the same with my drummer. He goes: “Oh, you want the cymbal there?” and I say: “Yeah, I want it there,” and he says: “My mind doesn’t say ‘go there’” and I say: “Well, it’s going there. That’s the art. Your mind needs to go there.” It’s a trick, it makes something happen that hits you in the ear holes differently. It makes something like a time shift.
I’ve been annoyingly consistent in saying that Peace Sells is so great because Gar Samuelson is such as great drummer in always making you feel as if he’s not on time. Taking away a sense of security and then bringing it back. That’s such a big part of music feeling alive. Like a living thing [[Incidentally, this is a major issue discussed in this interview with Chris Reifert from Autopsy, MM]]
Exactly. It’s almost as if you’re coming in during the motion. It’s got to feel like it’s already in motion when you start. Not just “1-2-3-go!” Be rolling! Like the train. It’s all tricks and tactics. We almost treat it like a martial art, like a sport. Sport metal!
Because you’re going off, and your arm is sore by the end of the show. Like “Damn, I went off tonight!” You just feel tired, like you let it out. Like a bodybuilder goes for an hour and does his thing. That boost, whatever it is. Just letting that rage out. But, why? I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a New Jersey thing. We’re just crazy.
Everyone’s just zapping around like a mad man [laughs]. I don’t have to work anymore, so I just chill and make music. But when I go out to the store I see these fucking people [making zapping noises]. What the fuck are in such a rush about!? I feel like saying: “Slow the fuck down!”
They’re doing it EXTREME!
They’re doing the rat race, EXTREME!
Exactly. OK, one last question. Is there one thing about Dreaming with the Dead that you’re especially proud or happy about? It can be a song, the cover art, the production, how much acid you took, the whole thing. Whatever. Despite the fact that people can’t shut up about something you did 30 years ago, of course.
For me just the fact that we were able to make it. The sickness level. Just that we got away with it. I remember there was a review in Guitar World magazine – it was my dream to get into Guitar World. And all they had to say was “This is going to be a cult classic.” That’s it. Nothing about the riffs or anything. But they said that, and it is. But the fact that we were able to kick that sickness door open for so many metal bands that wanted to go past being Cinderella, that wanted to go that extra EXTREME. To the next level.
So, just the fact that you did it?
Yeah. That we were able to achieve that sickness with all the drugs and the chaos going on. The band exploded, half of us aren’t even friends anymore. It was a combustible time. So, just the fact that we got a record out makes me very happy. And that people appreciate the level of sickness on it, which really is what people love about it. It’s not about that it’s some technical masterpiece. Just well-played, executed sick metal.
A while back I interviewed Dave from Discordance Axis and Municipal Waste. He’s from New Jersey too.
Yeah, Dave’s a good friend.
And when I asked him about the album that changed his life, he has zero hesitation that it was Ripping Corpse. And when I asked him why, he said: “They just went harder than everybody.”
That actually reminds me. When we used to play live, we used to stand on stage, spread our legs as far down as we could, so much so that you could almost bang your head off of the floor. We did that back in the 80s. So when we see dudes just standing there, I can’t take it. “Go off, man! Go apeshit!” I don’t know why, but we went wild as fuck on stage. Headbanging way too much. But it’s just like I said: extra excitement, extra energy.
But Dave added one other thing, which I thought was interesting, that it gave him a lot of pride to know that the sickest band on earth was from New Jersey. So there’s something to the fact that you guys didn’t care that you didn’t come from a big city or big scene. It makes the legend of Ripping Corpse even bigger, because you’re basically a local band.
And there’s not a lot to see, not a lot of videos of us out there.
But I keep telling people: “I’m still here man. I’ve got bands, I’m still going!”