Interview with Chris Deleo, Rob Garbarino, Eddie Klinger and John Scherer
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 28, 2012
New York's Thrash Metal patrol Caligula was a very short-lived act that only made a few demos during their brief existence. The band's last 5-track demo, Technical Aggression from 1987, was the one that created some serious fuss around this talented Thrash bunch. Sadly, after some attention, things started to go wrong. Eventually, Caligula faded with the guys going their separate ways.
The 4 ex-band members wanted to share a few thoughts with The Metal Crypt about Caligula's past days when they played gigs with bands like Whiplash, Agnostic Front, Department of Corruption and others. They shared their thoughts about how they tried to make an impact on metal heads during those days and plans for a Caligula reunion that, sadly, fizzled.
Here's a short excerpt taken from one review about the band's sort of cult-ish Technical Aggression demo that should whet your appetites to read this interview all the way through: "The Technical Aggression demo that contains 5 heavy, ear-nailing Thrash Metal songs from these N.Y. -based thrashers Caligula, was honestly one of the best Thrash demos I managed to become familiar with during the hottest boom of tape trading. To describe the demo with a few thoughts, in my opinion Caligula mixed the heaviness of Dark Angel – and with the technicality and sort of crossover feeling of Num Skull and DxRxIx, I would say. John (Scherer) on vocals, sounds quite much like Don Doty of Dark Angel, the riffs of Chris (Deleo) are huge and heavy sounding – basically coming from the same riff factory where Eric Meyer's and Brett Eriksen's riffs were invented, that made Dark Angel's sound so immensely heavy and crushing when they were still around, and pounding ruthlessly our ear drums the best they could – not mention in the same breath that Chris' leads are also exceptionally tastefully executed on this particular demo in question".
Ready? Good. Let's dive into the interview with the ex-members of Caligula then...
Luxi: I guess it's only reasonable to start this interview by asking one important question; what eventually killed Caligula? And I'm not talking about the third Roman Emperor, Gaius Iulius Caesar Germanicus, most commonly known as Caligula...
Chris: Personally, and I know this might sound crazy, but I just lost the drive to play shows. For me, playing live is a necessary evil to the whole band thing but I'm much happier behind the scenes, writing and recording. I could do that forever which is probably why I became interested in writing and filmmaking.
Rob: Probably due to lack of securing a record deal. Once it seemed like that wasn't going to happen, it was hard to move on and keep making demos. So this might have drained the enthusiasm for the project. Plus due to our age at the time we needed to start securing full time jobs and start thinking about our future.
Ed: As I remember when we broke up, it wasn't even a thing where we all looked at each other and said let's stop. We sort reached a point where the whole scene was starting to change a little bit, and as a band we weren't really getting better gigs or moving forward too much. The desire to continue doing gigs, etc. and all the other band stuff was not the same across the board. We were all really young when all this went down. I was like 15 when we started the band, the others a couple of years older, so you know, things can change quickly.
Luxi: It was actually your Technical Aggression demo that was released back in 1987 that brought you the attention you deserved. That demo gathered lots of positive responses from all around the world, plus Caligula got to play live with bands like Agnostic Front, Prong, Hallows Eve, Sick of It All, Biohazard, etc. It could be said that Caligula had quite a following, especially right after the release of the Technical Aggression demo, right?
Rob: The demo did garner a lot of positive reactions. We received a lot of mail from all over the world and it was exciting. Also the bands we were playing with were of a higher caliber than ever before. Ultimately, the job of a demo is to secure a record deal so, in this sense, it was a failure. From a musical standpoint the demo was a success because we got to put on tape the music that we wanted to without record label interference.
Ed: It was definitely the Technical Aggression demo that got us the most notice. We got responses from all over the world and did play shows with the bands you named, and more. Some others I can remember are Whiplash, Token Entry, Sheer Terror, Krakdown, Rest in Pieces, and Deathrash. We were in the pre-internet days and we didn't even have a good idea of how far our music had traveled; but through exposure in the 'zines, the demo tape, etc. we were getting letters from all over the world. There were also shows I remember where it didn't feel like we had much of a following! But those were some of the best shows too, with 20 or 30 people in a little bar going nuts.
Chris: What that demo did was to solidify, once and for all, the "sound" of Caligula. With John Scherer now on vocals, and Rob Garbarino writing more of his original music, we finally had something distinct. I think people took notice of this in a positive way.
Luxi: Speaking of playing live, were you ever able to play any shows in Europe, or did you get close to coming over here with some established band to support them?
Ed: No, we never did make it over there as a band, though I know we'd have liked to and I think we would have done well. I had a great experience touring over there much later with another band (An Albatross) and I'm sure it would have been the same had we made it there.
Chris: Never played in Europe. That would have awesome, though.
Rob: Unfortunately the opportunity was never offered but Europe is the place where our music would have been most appreciated.
Luxi: Is there a show (or shows) in particular that you did with Caligula you'll remember for the rest of your life and why?
Chris: I can remember being on tour with Department of Corruption. I remember the van breaking down in the freezing cold and having to push it out of a ditch. That was certainly a highlight. Playing CBGB's for the first time was amazing. I remember being concerned about the skinheads who I thought were going to ambush us "Metal" guys. It never happened. They were really accepting of the whole thing from what I remember.
Rob: Two shows that stand out were The Grunge Club show with Whiplash because it was the first time we became friends with a band after the show. It was a small show but we were really well received by the crowd and it was exciting. The second show was our first show at CBGB's. We weren't that well received but being able to play a club with the reputation of CB's was exciting in itself. The reason we weren't well received was because CB's was primarily a hardcore punk venue.
Ed: Two come to mind immediately. The first was a show we played with Whiplash and Hallows Eve, at a warehouse in Middletown, NY called the Grunge Club (this was 1986 and before 'grunge' was a style of music); it was a total low-budget, D.I.Y. kind of show and it was just a wild scene. It was also the 1st time we were playing out of NYC, I think maybe our 3rd or 4th show; On top of that, we were opening for one of our favorite bands, Whiplash, who turned out to be super cool guys and we ended up playing many shows together (R.I.P. Tony Bono). No one knew who we were and Tony Portaro took the mic to introduce us and got the crowd all fired up... I remember it being a great show and as a young band it was our 1st time really winning over a crowd with our music.
The second was opening for Agnostic Front at one of the legendary CBGB Sunday afternoon 'hardcore matinees'. In those days, it was unusual for a long-haired band of any kind to be playing on that bill; we happened to have the same manager at the time and we benefitted from that. The place was packed with hardcore skins of all stripes, and those were the days when you could get jumped just for being a longhair at the 'wrong show'. I wouldn't say we were loved, but I think we earned respect for the most part. We didn't get booed offstage, let's put it that way. I think it really captured a certain moment in time.
There are lots of others. The Chatterbox in Bayonne, New Jersey with Whiplash, shows in Morgantown, WV and Pittsburgh, PA with Dept. of Corruption and the Rogue Animals biker hall in Brooklyn.
Luxi: Caligula was formed in Queens, N.Y. in 1984. I'm curious to know what the Metal scene in N.Y. was like back in those days. Obviously the Hardcore-punk scene in New York was very strong when you started the band?
Rob: The Metal scene was strong in that we knew a lot of people who listened to the music and enjoyed Metal. It was kind of a cult following of metal heads in our area. But overall as far as clubs to play and opportunities for Thrash bands the pickings were slim. There wasn't a big scene or many commercial opportunities. Being in a heavy Thrash band was kind of like being in a very exclusive club, the people who enjoyed the music were dedicated to it but most people in the area didn't acknowledge it.
Ed: Back at that time, yeah the NY Hardcore and Thrash Metal scenes were vibrant and very much alive. Kind of fragmented, as I mentioned. But still, overall you're talking about a relatively small scene at that time, in terms of number of people. All of this was very much underground for a while... writing songs, playing shows, making demos, making friends with some of the other bands, going to each other's shows, getting written about in some of the 'zines, that's how we grew.
Chris: It was all very normal back then to be in a band... to play, write music etc. We were all friends... it was exciting to get together and jam and to tell people you were in a band. It was awesome on that level alone... the Metal scene was small in retrospect but at the time, all of our immediate friends were into Metal so it seemed much larger.
Luxi: When Caligula started out back in the early '80s, what bands were some of your inspirations or influences? I bet some Hardcore bands may even have had a greater influence on Caligula than some could imagine, correct?
Ed: I think on a personal level everyone's influences are probably a little different. The first band I loved and still do was Black Sabbath. Their early records were like my port-hole into the world of heavy music. As a band, I think we were all coming from the more classic Metal/Hard Rock stuff in our youth like that and Maiden, Priest, into the heavier/faster bands as they were emerging, like the early Slayer, Venom, Metallica, etc. Some other bands I was listening to were Motörhead, DRI, Nuclear Assault, Carnivore, Exciter, plus more Hardcore/Punk stuff like Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Sick of It All, Bad Brains, Minor Threat. Throw in some European bands like Mercyful Fate, Destruction, Bathory, Celtic Frost/ Hellhammer... I could go on. On top of that, we were or had been studying our instruments and were getting exposed to a lot of different things that way. I was always into classic Rock and 80's stuff like the Police, U2 and others. I know Rob was into a lot of Punk like The Exploited, GBH, Misfits, Reagan Youth and the hardcore stuff too. He turned me on to a lot of that. Especially in NYC, you couldn't ignore the Hardcore influence; there were many great bands at that time.
Chris: For me it was Slayer, Metallica and Iron Maiden. Those bands really changed the way I thought about music and guitar playing. For the first time in my life music was speaking directly to my aggression, my fears and my anxieties. And I completely agree with Rob in that Classical music and Jazz also played a large role in Caligula's sounds. I took Classical guitar lessons at the time and those complex scales and guitar runs definitely made their way into some of the music we were writing.
Rob: The heavy bands that influenced me the most were Venom, Metallica, Slayer, but you have to give credit as well to Black Sabbath for being the grandfather of that whole scene. On the flip side, Rush, Jazz and even classical music had an influence on Caligula's more technical aspects and made us more than just a pounding Metal band.
Luxi: Do you regret, at least a little that this band was so short-lived and you never got a chance to record an album?
Rob: Absolutely. It would have been nice to have a better document of the music and times.
Chris: Certainly I regret not ever having recorded an album. It would have been nice to have a product that was distributed professionally with a label behind it. A Caligula album/CD would have done well in the market, I think.
Ed: I would have loved to do an album, for sure, that would be the one regret. We were always writing, and there was more than enough good material. It would have been nice to at least get some studio recording of those newer songs.
Luxi: Was there label interest for Caligula and the Technical Aggression?
Ed: There was some interest here and there, obviously nothing came of it. We were talking with Carl Canedy at one point, who produced a bunch of albums I love, about doing a production deal; but there was never really a solid offer as I recall. I have to add, although there was a lot of good response from Technical Aggression and from the shows we were doing at the time, in NYC there were so many good bands that I remember finding it hard to get noticed sometimes.
Rob: We had some. We had dealings with different people, like Carl Canedy with the Rods. We had dinner with him one night but nothing emerged. But there was some interest for sure.
Luxi: How much did the line-up changes impact keeping the flag of Caligula high? When an old member decides to leave (or is kicked out), it always affects the chemistry of a band, both good and bad. When two former members of Caligula, Vinny (Vermette, vocals) and Tommy K (guitar) left the band sometime in 1986, did it leave any negative feelings for the remaining members of the band? I mean, did you even feel at one point as if Caligula had come to the end of the road after Vinny and Tommy made their decisions to leave? Supposedly it didn't feel too good at all when they were out the band all of a sudden...
Ed: Yes, I think you describe it pretty well. It was definitely painful on a friendship level, at least at first. I was pretty close with Vinny, and Tommy was one of the guys who kind of started the band; a whole other story. After all of that happened, the core of the group became Chris, Rob, and I. It was just the 3 of us rehearsing and writing, for a while. I don't think we had the idea to stop at those times. The idea was to try and make it the best it could be, that was the driving idea behind all of it.
Chris: It really came down to personal differences. There may have some hard feelings but over time things smoothed out naturally. The direction of Caligula kept moving forward despite the initial line-up changes and the addition of John Scherer was for us, the right decision. John captured the mood of the times with his aggressive, almost hardcore style vocals and incredible stage presence. He opened the way for us to become more accepted within the hardcore community.
Rob: Caligula was always primarily a strong unit between Chris, Eddie and me. That unit was always strong until John Scherer joined and that was the missing piece we were looking for all along. After that we had a line-up that we considered to always be the band.
Luxi: After Vinny and Tommy left, Tony Portaro from the mighty NY-based Speed/Thrash masters Whiplash joined Caligula for a short time. Were you looking for a guy who could handle both vocals and play guitar or was it more or less a co-incidence that Tony (Portaro) was available (because his band mate, Tony Scaglione, left Whiplash to join Slayer)?
Chris: I was a huge fan of Whiplash, and Tony Portaro's guitar playing in particular. I still remember the first time we officially met Tony. He's was such a down to earth guy, we all became friends instantly. This was a thrill for me. A total thrill. So you have to imagine that when Tony started coming down to play with us, it was like a fantasy for me. It would have been great to have recorded something him. There may be a rehearsal tape or two floating around out there somewhere. I'd love to hear it if anyone has one.
Ed: Well, both in a way. We did want someone who could play 2nd guitar and sing at that time and when the whole thing went down with Tony Scaglione and Slayer, I think it was actually Tony's idea that he stop Whiplash and join Caligula. So it was a perfect coincidence, and unbelievably great, that he was going to be joining us. He was one of the best out there in guitar, singing and songwriting and we had really been looking to take it to that next level.
Rob: It was partially coincidence but we were looking for someone with Tony's type of voice.
Luxi: What kind of experience was it for Caligula to have him as a part of the line-up? Did Tony try to change Caligula's musical orientation to something similar to Whiplash, or did he join the band with an open mind?
Rob: The experience was very short-lived but Tony was very open-minded about the whole thing.
Chris: It was a thrilling experience to have worked with Tony. It was a short period of time but still, playing side by side with Tony in our rehearsal space was amazing. We learned Whiplash songs and he learned Caligula songs and together it all seemed to mesh.
Ed: The idea was to do both, really, for Tony to learn our songs and to also incorporate Whiplash songs. This was after Power and Pain and before Ticket to Mayhem so, we were doing "Stagedive" and "Red Bomb" at rehearsals along with some tunes from Technical Aggression and some of our newer stuff. I also remember Tony bringing down a few of the songs that ended up being on Ticket, that we learned, that became "Spiral of Violence" and "Eternal Eyes." There are recordings of those rehearsals floating around though I haven't heard them in a long time. It only lasted for a few months, but as you can see the intention was to do all of it. As we all know Tony ended up re-forming Whiplash with Joe Cangelosi on drums, who is an awesome drummer and a friend.
Luxi: After Tony's short stint in Caligula, you added John Scherer, from Deathrash, on vocals, and recorded the demo Caligula has become mostly known for, Technical Aggression. There's no denying that he did a fabulous job on that demo. Was John your first choice or did you have some other candidates in mind to fill Vinny's boots?
Ed: We had tried out a few people, trying to find a 2nd guitar/singer, but I do remember that John was someone we had always liked as a singer and front man since we had first seen him with Deathrash. I don't remember what the situation was with Deathrash at that time but I know we were able to get him to come down. Once we played together it was pretty obvious he was the guy. John was only in the band for a very short time when he recorded his parts on Technical Aggression. We hadn't played live with him and I think he had the lyrics in front of him on some of the tunes; he was still learning them and had written some new lyrics of his own. He really put his stamp on our sound right away.
Chris: From what I remember, we found John rather quickly and once we did, there was really no need to continue looking. John was perfect in every way.
Rob: We had no other candidates and John just worked out perfectly.
Luxi: How much can you, John, remember about joining Caligula as vocalist, replacing Vinny Vermette? Was it an easy decision? I mean your previous band Deathrash split up in March 1987, but obviously things would have been very different if Deathrash had continued as a band, right?
John: Yes, Things would have been different if Deathrash stayed together. I wouldn't have had the time to be in two bands. If I remember correctly, it took me two hours to get to the Caligula rehearsal space. So after taking a bus to the train, I would stay every weekend. But joining Caligula was a no brainer for me. I thought they were an awesome band. Deathrash and Caligula had played a few shows together, so I was familiar with their music. I enjoyed seeing them. I liked some of the things Vinny did, but when I would see or listen to them I always thought about what I would do with them.
Luxi: Did you have to adjust your vocal style? Both bands had their own musical style; Caligula being more of a pure Thrash Metal band while Deathrash also had quite a lot of elements from Hardcore-Punk's side?
John: Although the bands were different, I didn't have to adjust my style very much. We were all into the crossover scene. And they liked me for what I had done in Deathrash. We had a lot of the same influences ( Slayer, Exodus, DRI, Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front ). Our manager had a few of the best hardcore bands in his roster so the transition was seamless, and the fit was like a glove.
Luxi: Caligula's Technical Aggression 5-song demo undoubtedly is one of most underrated gems of underground Thrash Metal, and it's a screaming crime that Caligula never made it any further than that. That demo has everything what one can expect from a top-notch Thrash Metal demo; the songs were heavy, aggressive, catchy, filled with nice hooks and they were topped with your absolutely killer vocal lines. What can you remember from the recording sessions, and especially your vocal performance on the Technical Aggression demo? Did the other guys pressure you at all about how they wanted your vocals to sound?
John: Thanks. When I joined the band, they already had the music recorded. The only pressure I felt was to learn the songs so we could get the recording out. Listening back to it, my performance and execution of the songs had evolved after the recording. I don't think what I recorded was bad. But, had we recorded a full-length after the demo my performance would have been more cohesive. I specifically remember Eddie wanting me to put a "Lockjaw" type of scream in one of the songs. He was right and it sounded great. Also at the end of the song Caligula I hold out a long scream "seeds of death were sown---------------" I held that last note out so long, I passed out. I woke up on the floor of the studio with the head phones twisted on my face. The guys were standing over me asking me what was wrong. I felt like I was waking up from a dream that I had joined the band. It was a very surreal moment I will never forget. I remember Rob telling me he thought I was pissed off.
Luxi: Besides this demo, you also did some other songs that never got recorded as Caligula split up before that. What can you tell us about those songs, and what was your involvement in the writing process?
John: Caligula had a solid set of songs under their belt. Some of the best songs can only be found on live bootleg recordings. Unfortunately, on the ones I've heard my voice sounds like dogshit, but let me explain. Back then, it was tough to find places to play. People would have shows in abandoned warehouses, in the basements of churches. Everything was low budget and the PA usually was not as important as the free beer that came with the price of admission. So vocalists always blew their voices out because they couldn't hear themselves on stage. As far as my involvement in the songwriting, most of the stuff was already written. But I always had a hand in the creative process. Sometimes there would be a few lines missing from a song, sometimes I would write a verse or two but they always had a pretty complete template of the song.
Luxi: You also played some shows with Caligula after joining the band. Do you still have some juicy recollections from those shows you did with them, how people welcomed you as the band's new vocalist?
John: Sometimes audiences were standoffish. But I think I was well received by their fans and audiences in general. Vinny decided to leave the band so there was really no drama due to his departure. And I was already known in the scene so it wasn't like I was a total newbie. I do remember a few wild moments. I remember our band getting into a scuffle with about 75 punks. It was after a show. I'm not sure how it started, but they were on one side of a chain link fence and we were on the other. No one was backing down. The cops showed up and they ran. We played a few shows with Agnostic Front. Those shows were always great. They were packed and the audiences always loved us. The mosh pits were sick. Another time we were on the road with Department of Corruption, in what was basically a stolen van that was on its last legs. I think that tour pretty much broke us. Nine guys plus equipment in a van; we were a bit naive. We were cramped to say the least. I talked my way out of trouble with the law when we got pulled over. We slid off the road when we got into a town in West Virginia and had to be towed away. I think we walked to the club in the snow. Then on the way home we had a blowout, Chris was driving, and we almost got creamed by a tractor trailer. I'm glad he was driving otherwise we might be dead. I remember him saying he was gonna take a bus home and we could leave his gear on the side of the road. As we sat there, waiting for the wrecker, we were talking about what we had been through and what we were gonna do and if anyone else wanted to split. We asked Ray, the singer for Dept. C, what he was gonna do, after all he had brought the van. He said he was gonna go down with the ship. Fucking hilarious...
Luxi: Caligula was a pretty short-lived act, like your previous band Deathrash. I assume you would have loved to see this band go somewhere (as all the other members in the band at that time do). From your point of view, why did things start to fall apart for Caligula in the end?
John: From what I remember, that last tour really did it. Chris was pretty shaken up. They told me they were gonna hang it up. I went back to New Jersey and joined Gruesome Task, a band my brother was in. I also started playing drums in a band that would become Subcommittee.
Luxi: As you were the vocalist both in Deathrash (thanks for resurrecting this band, by the way - Luxi) and Caligula, could you tell what lessons you learned from being in both of these fine bands? Never give up and believe 100% in what you do, otherwise you won't ever go anywhere with your dreams, perhaps?
John: When a band first breaks up, you think you wasted your time. You put in all this time, energy and emotion and now there is nothing left but an empty hole. Kinda like how you feel when a relationship with a girl breaks up. You realize it's over. It's kinda depressing really. But you look for another (band) that turns you on, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try to strengthen whatever weaknesses you have in yourself. Look for other players that you click with, work your ass off and do it for the music. You are what you do. In the end, Caligula was a great experience. Had I lived closer to those guys, maybe things would have been different. Long distance relationships are tough.
Luxi: How do you feel about Deathrash being activate again after being on hiatus for 18 long years, and unleashing their debut album, Thrash Beyond Death? I guess John couldn't be more excited than he is right now...
Ed: I spoke to John a while back and I know he was excited about Deathrash. I'm sure it's fun for all of them, we were pretty good friends with them back in the day though we haven't stayed in touch too much. We had a lot of good times with all of those guys! I still have my copy of their demo tape somewhere, probably in the same place as those Caligula rehearsals. Pretty cool that the 'debut' album is finally out and I hope to make it to a show sometime...
Rob: It's exciting news. John's a great guy and we wish him all the best.
Chris: John's a truly nice guy... I wish him well and hope he has lots of success with the new CD.
Luxi: You (Chris) told me that you tried to bring Caligula back to its feet again with Rob Garbarino some years ago, but that attempt eventually failed. What went wrong? Why didn't Caligula's "2nd coming" get enough air under its wings?
Ed: Well, we've always kind of been in touch to varying degrees. Chris contacted me with the idea to get Caligula together again a few years ago. Honestly, I was pretty surprised by the whole thing, both those guys had pretty much kind of given up playing and at the time I was busy with other projects, not to mention we were all pretty far from one another. I had been in another band with them in some of those intervening years (Q-South), and had already been through that band breaking apart as well. So it was pretty surprising to hear about reforming Caligula, and although the idea of doing music old and/or new with those guys was intriguing, I didn't think it was something I could really take on. I know Chris and Rob did do something for a little bit.
Rob: Eddie and John couldn't do the project and without them it wouldn't be Caligula.
Chris: Rob and I entertained the idea of a Caligula reunion but when we started practicing it became clear we had new music to write and explore. So the 'Caligula project' quickly evolved into something totally new and different for us. Unfortunately, we don't live near each other. It became difficult to commute back and forth. Rob and I did however manage to write a few new songs. We got a female singer and a friend from the old days to play drums. I have some rehearsal tapes, but that's as far as we got.
Luxi: Did you ever finish any new songs after you had recorded the Technical Aggression demo, or did you even have any new songs in the works that never got finished, for some reason or the other?
Chris: Yes, there were many songs that never got recorded. A couple of live performances floating around out there reveal several songs which we would have loved to have recorded professionally. Unfortunately Caligula as a band did not last long enough. There was a certain maturity in those later songs and it would have been interesting to hear how they would have been handled in a professional recording studio.
Rob: We had more than a full set list, probably around twenty songs.
Ed: Yes, there were a lot of new songs after Technical Aggression and more in the works when we stopped. A lot of the songs that we finished after Technical Aggression we were doing live. You can hear them on the live CDs. Definitely would have liked to have some of those recorded. "Social Insecurity", "Splinter of the Mind" and "Hidden Corruption" are a few that come to mind.
Luxi: How did it feel to go back to all of those old Caligula songs (like "Crippled Youth", "Paralysis", "Euthanasia", etc.) and bring them back to live after so many years? I guess playing all those old songs brought back good memories and besides, its always lots of fun to go back to the old stuff and try to figure out how this or that riff was played, or how to jump from a fast rhythm section straight to a blazing solo part, and so on and so on?
Chris: I went back and re-learned all the stuff from the demo, even though I have to admit it was tough for me to play that style. My fingers don't move the way they used to. But it felt good to play those songs after 20 years. And, like I mentioned, Rob and I wanted to write new material, which we did.
Rob: It was fun to look back on those songs and surprisingly to know how difficult some of it was to play after all those years.
Ed: Well, it actually never got that far. It never made it, for me, past the talking stage... but, it's always been fun for me to go back to the songs after some time has passed. I still enjoy listening to them... I'm sure it would be fun to play them again too - and challenging.
Luxi: What's your take on today's Metal scene? Do you think kids are too dependent on things like the internet nowadays and not going to concerts to check out new bands, but rather staying at their cozy homes and making some discoveries through the internet? Back in the day, it used to be different though, in fact, much different...
Rob: There are a lot of really good bands expanding on what Metal is considered. The technological end of it opens up opportunities that didn't exist when we playing.
Ed: I can't speak too much about the bands themselves, I don't really follow too many of the newer ones. I kind of draw inspiration from a lot of different music these days, so I'm not really focused into one 'scene.' Absolutely the internet has changed everything. I think it would have been great to have the internet at that time, as it would have been so much easier to connect with fans. Still, the whole tape-trading and fanzine scene from back then was great fun. It was a way of finding new bands that doesn't really exist anymore now that you can look up anyone's Facebook page or whatever. I don't think it has killed the live concert experience though, if anything I think kids are finding bands on the internet and it's easier to follow them, find out where they are playing and all that. I think the internet has been a huge reason for the resurgence in the popularity of the bands from Caligula's day.
Chris: I don't listen to much new music these days but from what I hear it all still comes across very heavy and intense, just like when we were growing. I still believe Slayer were very far ahead of their time and you could put on any track from Reign in Blood and still get the same charge you would get from any modern Thrash song. Technology makes a lot of things easier, like mailing out hundreds of show invites with the click of a button. Way back then, we had to lick, seal and stamp every envelope then walk it all down to the mail box.
Luxi: So, could you tell us what Caligula members are up to nowadays? What do you do for living, and do you have any Metal-related projects going on? I already happen to know that Chris has his first independent feature film in the works, called Mnemonica, in which Rob plays an interesting character and also some Caligula's music off the Technical Aggression demo will be used as a soundtrack for it as well. Sounds like a very interesting package all in all, I gotta admit. Anything else you'd like to share with our readers about the activities of other ex-Caligula members?
Chris: I'm working on getting distribution for my first feature length film titled, Mnemonica. Rob Garbarino plays a character named Crusher. I am also working on securing a distribution for a documentary I co-produced titled, Tarology. The film explores the work of Enrique Enriquez, a tarot card reader and poet from NYC. I earn my living as a professional magician.
Rob: I'm married and live in upstate New York. I work as a New York State Corrections Officer. I enjoy traveling and my various hobbies.
Ed: Outside of music, I've got a day job that is real-estate related. More importantly, I'm married to my lovely wife Katie and have two boys, Colin age 6 and Luke age 3, who are just amazing and with two little boys running around I've definitely got my hands full. Musically- I never stopped playing drums- over the years I've been in a number of interesting projects. Chris, Rob and I started an Alternative Rock band called Q-South in 1991 and it lasted in various line-ups until 1998, another history unto itself; we had a couple of releases and some small tours, and a pretty good following in NYC for a while.
After that, I began playing freelance with all kinds of musicians around NYC and have played pretty much everything from Metal to alternative to Jazz to African music and most everything in between at some point.
In 2004 I joined the Pennsylvania Noise/Punk group An Albatross; in 04/05 we toured the US and Europe and had a few releases. Playing with those guys was fantastic; I left the group in 2006 but still collaborate and play with them when possible. I also recorded an album of my own music called Ace in the Hole somewhere during that time.
I still play freelance around NYC with all kinds of artists... one I recorded with a few years ago is Fischel's Beast, which was started by Barry Fischel ex-member of Sentinel Beast. We recorded 5 songs that were supposed to be part of their never-recorded 2nd album.
Coincidentally, I ended up doing a couple of auditions with Slayer in 2002, right before Dave Lombardo returned permanently and they were conducting an open search for drummers. That is a whole story unto itself, but I thought worth a mention here with the whole Whiplash-Slayer connection and how it intersected with Caligula for a minute.
Another interesting project that never really was, back around 2002 or 2003 I think, I played for a while in a project with Bobby Hambel (Biohazard); it didn't really take off but we did record a demo that is out there somewhere, and he is a truly great guy and I was really happy to see him hook up with Biohazard again after all that went down. By chance I ran into him in London in 2007, he was playing with the Biohazard 'reunion' and I was playing with An Albatross.
Outside of Metal/Hardcore etc., I've played with a number of well-known African and Caribbean artists, and also play the steel pan. I've had so many great experiences there it would take too long here to describe and I love taking on new projects and styles as they command my interest. More recently, I've been listening to and writing orchestral music and would maybe like to score films or video, who knows.
Luxi: Have you ever thought of releasing all Caligula's stuff on one CD or LP (or both), and make it available for anyone who'd like to take a peak into Caligula's world of Thrash?
Ed: Yes, we have thought about it. We only have the 5 songs from the Technical Aggression demo 'properly' recorded, maybe we could add some live stuff to that to make a full CD, I am all for letting anyone who cares to check it out, check it out. At this point, it's very nice to know that anyone would still be finding out about it or looking for it; if there is a chance to put something out that'd be great.
Chris: Would love to, sounds like a great idea. If there's an audience who'll have us, I'm all for it.
Luxi: Now about being completely sincere and honest, what's your own favorite Caligula song of all times and why? What makes it so special for you, personally?
Chris: "Euthanasia" is my personal favorite. The middle section of that song still gives me chills and makes me want to go crazy. John's chilling scream is something fierce and memorable. The song has one of the all times best mosh parts. Overall "Euthanasia" is a very mature, very intense and complex piece of music with a deep, philosophical message.
Rob: "Euthanasia". All aspects of the band seemed to come together in that song. Everything worked as a whole and not individually.
Ed: I am still partial to "Paralysis" and "The Killing of Time". When they were written I know we felt like we were starting to really find our sound, and I think they still hold up. They were also favorites at the live shows too, judging by reactions.
Luxi: I want to thank all of you for your time to dig up the past times of Caligula and make us realize again how important Caligula was for the underground Metal community back in the day. So thanks again, guys, and if there's still something you would like to reveal either about Caligula or yourself, then feel free to do so to conclude this interview session for The Metal-Crypt...
Ed: I would like to thank YOU for such a thorough, well thought-out and well-written interview! You've asked questions that I haven't thought about in years, and I really had to jog my memory on some of them. I appreciate your kind words about Caligula, it is nice to know that the music still means something to anyone besides us -- and I thank you for helping a whole new generation of fans find out about our band all these years later.
Rob: I would like to thank you for taking an interest after all these years. It's good to know that someone still remembers the band and the music.
Chris: Thanks. It's such an honor to be remembered over twenty-five years later. Caligula was our youth. The music we created during that period and the friends we made will always be cherished. We look fondly on those years with no regrets over anything we created. It would be incredible if someone were to come along and offer to finance a re-release of the original Technical Aggression Demo, either on LP or CD or both. That would be so amazing and honestly, the music would hold up for today's younger Thrash audience. It would be very satisfying to have this happen.
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