Interview with drummer Kevin Kuzma
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: March 2, 2013
New Jersey's Blood Feast was one of those Thrash Metal bands that never really made it big. The band's debut album, Kill for Pleasure, and the EP Face Fate, released on New Renaissance Records in 1987, have become semi-classics among Thrash fans.
Blood Feast broke up in 1991 but reformed in 1999 with a different line-up to do a one-time-only gig at the March Metal Meltdown festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Kevin Kuzma on drums and Adam Tranquilli on guitar were the only ones left from the original Blood Feast line-up. In 2007 Blood Feast came back again, still with original members Kevin and Adam, to play a show in Brooklyn NY on December 8th 2008 with Obituary, Incantation and others, that show fueling their desire to go on.
Drummer Kevin Kuzma was kind enough to enlighten us about the recent happenings with Blood Feast.
Luxi: What does the world look like in New Jersey now, after the end of the world on Dec. 21st 2012 was cancelled?
Kevin: Well, I guess a little different after Super Storm Sandy, but for the most part still the same.
Luxi: There's been some talk about re-releasing Blood Feast's three studio albums, with new mastering and packaging. How do things stand at the moment?
Kevin: We have talked about it a few times and I think we are going to try to do it to coincide with our appearance at Headbangers Open Air this year in Germany.
Luxi: There's been a huge demand from the fans for all the past Blood Feast releases for quite some time. Do you feel it's important to get the reissues out because all the other versions are pretty hard to come by these days?
Kevin: I think now is a good time to re-release them. I still see quite a few on eBay and such places but in the general public not so much.
Luxi: Blood Feast's third album, Chopping Block Blues, was released in February of 1990, but unfortunately the band broke up soon afterward. What caused that split-up of the band?
Kevin: After Chopping was released Mike was the first to leave. Soon after that Gary left. I think it was complete frustration because we had so many opportunities to do things like tour, videos, etc. and just none of it came to pass. After they both left, Louie and I kept the band together. We replaced Mike with Mike Frank and started writing and playing shows with him. We also replaced Gary. We were even offered a long term contract by Maze Records, a label from Canada. We were fine-tuning the contract when, all of a sudden, the label went under. Things like that just kept happening. After that we just hung it up.
Luxi: Blood Feast returned back in the limelight in March 1999, when the band was invited to play at March Metal Meltdown Asbury Park, New Jersey. This was just a one-time-only gig for the band, even if there were lots of rumors circulating that it might mean Blood Feast's comeback was imminent, which proved to be untrue, sadly. Did you feel the time just wasn't right?
Kevin: When I approached everyone with the idea of doing the show, the first thing everyone said to me was this is just going to be a one-time thing. Some people were just not into playing anymore and others had other projects going on. It would have been nice to carry the momentum on to doing other things but it just wasn't going to happen.
Luxi: Then, on December 8th 2008, almost 10 years after your appearance at March Metal Meltdown in 1999, Blood Feast shared the stage in Brooklyn, NY, with bands like Obituary, Merauder, Incantation, etc.. From that moment, did you know deep down that if Blood Feast were ever to have a reunion, it would start with this show?
Kevin: For years after we broke up we would still get asked to play shows, fans would still buy merchandise and support us and people would ask if there was any chance of the band getting back together. I was still playing and so was Adam so I asked him what he thought of getting back together to do some shows. That's how it started. It was a good line-up for that show, too.
Luxi: The band line-up you had back then, in 2008, isn't the same you have in Blood Feast these days. Both vocalist Tony Stanziano and bassist Karl Oderwalder have been replaced; by Chris Natalini (vocals) and Tom Lorenzo (bass). What went wrong with both Tony's and Karl's relatively short stints, as a part of Blood Feast's line-up?
Kevin: Tony and Karl just didn't want to play Blood Feast songs. At the time we were all in Annunaki together and they felt that Blood Feast was taking away from doing Annunaki. I didn't see a problem with it, but oh well.
Luxi: How did you find Chris and Tom to complete the Blood Feast line-up? Were they recommendations from friends or is the story behind finding these guys a bit longer?
Kevin: Tom was playing with Adam for years in Without End and Chris was referred to us by a friend of the band.
Luxi: How would you say roles have changed in the band, i.e. who is responsible for songwriting and other band-related matters?
Kevin: I take care of most things for the band. We really haven't reached a point yet with songwriting and things like that but we have two really good guitar players that will come up with killer stuff.
Luxi: Is there anything you can tell us about any new Blood Feast material you might be working on??
Kevin: Not really much to tell. So far we only have one new song called "I.N.R.I". We keep talking about getting to writing new stuff but it just never seems to happen. Everyone is so busy with life that getting together is the hardest thing lately. It's going to be a real SLOW process if it every really happens.
Luxi: Have you been discussing when and where you might record a new album and are there any potential candidates to produce it?
Kevin: Nothing of the sort yet.
Luxi: Are you afraid, at least a little bit, that you won't be able to capture the same sound and vibe that Blood Feast used to have back in the day? It's been 23 long years since Blood Feast's previous album, Chopping Block Blues, so obviously there are some pressures there.
Kevin: We talked about it but we aren't focused on recreating what we did before. I think with Adam's writing you are going to get that Blood Feast style. John has a totally different style and I think a mix of both will be killer. The new song we have does feel like a Blood Feast song. It's Thrash for sure and you can walk away singing it after the first listen. I feel that way about all our stuff so I am happy so far.
Luxi: For the fans, it's the debut album, Kill for Pleasure, or the Face Fate EP that is considered to be Blood Feast's best work. What are some of the things, from your point of view, that made these two releases such classics? Was it partly because 1987 was pretty much the peak for Thrash Metal?
Kevin: Yeah, I think it was the year what we were listening to all that stuff. Back then all of it was new. You got to find new bands and hear new things every day. It was all new and exciting. A great time for music and a great time for Thrash!!
Luxi: How did you feel about the Grunge movement? Do you think that it wiped out most Thrash Metal bands or was it just a scapegoat and something else that pretty much killed the Thrash Metal scene?
Kevin: I don't think the Thrash Metal scene every really went away. It went more underground maybe but it has always been there. Music is the sign of the times. I really believe that. Grunge is one of those things that came at a certain time when people felt a certain way. It was different at the time as far as music went. It was there for years but never at the level had it gone to. Because it got so big of course some bands are going to try and follow the trend and some are going to do what they do. It changed the music business at the time as far as what labels were looking for. In the end it's still there just like Thrash is and always will be. What we do is called underground for a reason. Fans of this music are so loyal and love it so much it will never really die. It's not a fad or a trend. You either like it or you don't.
Luxi: Back to the present for a moment. Thrash is back with both once-disbanded groups getting back together and whole new generation of retro bands adding their own twists to Thrash Metal, which is great! Any favorite bands out of this new pack that you think capture the essential vibe and feeling of the old days?
Kevin: I don't really know. I haven't found myself listening to a lot of new Thrash acts. Not for any reason. I listen to a lot of new music but the Thrash stuff I find myself just going back to the classics. I think it's because it's from my time, what I grew up on, what I know and love.
Luxi: Do you think when Thrash Metal has fully been resurrected from the dead it will stay with us until the next end of the world scenario?
Kevin: I don't think it's going anywhere! No matter how big it gets or more underground it goes. It will always have its following.
Luxi: Many kids, who have formed their own Thrash groups, mention Blood Feast as one of their main influences. I think it's always a big honor to hear something like that, making you feel that you have done at least a few things right in the past, would you agree?
Kevin: For sure!! We just wanted to play music we liked. We never thought it would last this long or be called an influence.
Luxi: What would you tell kids if they wanted to form their own old school Thrash Metal bands? What kind of things they should pay attention to in order to make it sound right?
Kevin: Play how you feel. You can't force something that's not there. I think if you are really influenced by Thrash it will come out in your playing. If you aren't, it won't.
Luxi: How much has the Internet changed the way Blood Feast gets promoted around the world? When Blood Feast started there was no Internet, just the tape trading scene, tons of letter writing and stuff like that as you remember...
Kevin: You can reach so many more people via the Internet now. I think we are still making new fans because of it. People get to hear your music without leaving their house or going to a show or even having to buy a CD (that's not good) but that's the way it is now.
Luxi: Remnants: The Last Remains, a collection of rare demos, live tracks and unreleased songs was released on your own label, Militia Records. Have you any plans to re-release it, perhaps with extensive liner notes, rare never-seen Blood Feast pictures and stuff like that?
Kevin: That CD is still available. You can get that plus some killer new merch from our site, www.Drinktheblood.com
Luxi: I am pretty sure the fans have been asking for a Blood Feast DVD. Do you have enough footage, old and new, available for such a project?
Kevin: I do; some really good stuff. It is something to think about, for sure.
Luxi: What are you hoping 2013 will bring for Blood Feast?
Kevin: I really hope we can start writing some new stuff and get it out there.
Luxi: Well, I guess that's it for the time being. Thank you so much for doing this interview for The Metal Crypt. I want to wish you all the best with your future endeavors with Blood Feast. Any closing comments to wrap this chat up properly, perhaps?
Kevin: A big HAILZ to all that have supported us from the beginning and into the future. THX for the interview. RAGE ON!
Copyright © 1999-2018, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.