Interview with vocalist Rich Noonan and bassist Matt Grassberger
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: October 19, 2013
Were you old enough back then to experience the blooming underground Death Metal scene of the late 80s/early 90s that spawned bands such as Death, Morbid Angel, Nocturnus, Autopsy, Fatal, Nihilist/Entombed, Morgoth, Asphyx, Funebre, and hundreds of similar acts? The tape-trading scene made it all possible and connected underground bands to underground Metal fans the world over. Ah, the days before the Internet.
There was one Death Metal band, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that managed to create quite a stir back then; Dr. Shrinker. Dr. Shrinker released cult demos, like Wedding the Grotesque and The Eponym, which were traded frequently during the heyday of tape trading. The band was nearly signed to a well known, and still existing, Metal label. Dr. Shrinker had their own unique twist on uncompromising Death Metal and they sounded like no other band on the face of the earth. It's a pity that things ended a bit too soon.
In January 2013 the band officially reformed and on September 28th 2013, Dr. Shrinker performed their first official gig since calling it a day in 1991. 2014 will mark the 25th anniversary of the legendary Wedding the Grotesque demo.
The following interview, with original members Rich Noonan (vocals) and Matt Grassberger (bass), was done just a few days prior to Dr. Shrinker's first official live appearance in their home town Milwaukee, at the Club Garibaldi. Rich reveals his feelings about that crucial gig, why they decided to split up and what made him decide to re-animate the old shredding corpse. But there are even more interesting and detailed things to be found in this interview with Rich and Matt, about the past and present of Dr. Shrinker. Read on...
Luxi: How's it going, Rich? Life has been a bit busier for you now that Dr. Shrinker is about to make its first OFFICIAL live appearance in, how many years, 24 or 25 years, huh? The reunion show is at Club Garibaldi's in Milwaukee on September 28th and you'll be sharing the stage with some special guests (Burning Sons, Face of Oblivion, Morta Skuld and The Cold Beyond). What are your feelings about that gig? Are you nervous or are you confident it will be a successful event for you and Dr. Shrinker?
Rich: Luxi, life is pretty darn good. I have my health, which is great, and things in general are very positive for me. I am always busy with something, but yes indeed, now with the Dr. Shrinker adventure going on again this has definitely ratcheted things up and that is keeping me and the rest of the guys (Matt, Jim and Jesse) in the band very busy. We had one small gig last May in a basement show. Matt's girlfriend has yearly band parties at her home, so Matt felt that it was a good opportunity for everybody in the band get at least one gig under their belts and, since the show was low key, it would be a good way to feel the live experience again. Our last official shows were in December 1990. One of those shows was Milwaukee Metal Fest 5, which featured Sepultura, Obituary, Sadus, Immolation, Suffocation (US), Dr. Shrinker and a few other bands. That show was early in December of that year and then we played a small local gig at a bar and I believe we may have been the only band that played. So, officially, this show is just a few (3) months shy of 23 years since the last "official" Dr. Shrinker gig.
I have a few mixed emotions but I am super-excited. If we can generate the same intensity and aura that we have been generating in our practices over the last five weeks, then I believe we are going to make a lot of people very happy to see us back up on stage. In the last month we have really stepped it up and started to gel as a unit and I have lots of confidence it will be a success. That being said, I am definitely nervous, since this is going to be the first time in 23 years that I will be up in front of people doing this crazy stuff again. I hope the butterflies are out of my system once we get through the first few songs. I am that way about many things I do, confident yet nervous about the unknown, so this show is no exception. But, like I said above, I have huge amounts of confidence in the guys and myself, so even if we have a glitch or two we are going to be just fine.
A year ago at this time, even as late as early November 2012, I was saying there was no way this reunion would ever be true. I did not think I had the chops to do vocals like I did and I was not sure if there was any interest from anyone in our return. Now, I am glad we made this decision to get back together. This is definitely going to be big show for us; sort of a launching pad into whatever the future holds.
Luxi: As you mentioned, you have already played an "unofficial" basement show in June, which obviously let you test the waters a bit and see how well your first show might go. I'm sure you also wanted to find out if playing together again would be a pleasure for each of and if would want to carry on with the band - and we already know what happened, don't we? ;o)
Rich: You got it right. The show in May was as we intended it to be; dust off the cobwebs and see how we would perform the old songs in front of others. It was basically an invite-only party with around 30-50 people, including band members, and there were several other bands that played. It was pretty cool because the basement is cramped and the viewing is obstructed, in areas, so it really felt like a laid back atmosphere; almost like just sitting around in a room playing records. This show was for me, more than anything, because the other guys have been in other bands over the years so, even though it was a "test" gig, it was important to see how we would play in front of others and how I would react to my first public vocal insanity in close to a quarter of a century. Based on the reactions from people, during and after the show, things went well. There were/are a couple of recordings of it and we were satisfied with the show. As we examined the show later we knew there were several screw-ups in songs but that was okay since it was only a fun party basement gig. The sound was good but I was told by many people the vocals were too low in the mix, which ultimately was okay for me. We were all pretty relaxed and since there was not much room to move, we all just kind of stood in our spots (as you can see by the video to "Mesmirization (of a Corpse)"' from that show). I am really glad we did it because it felt like an old school show. Lots of old fans and friends were there and a handful of those who had not heard us before. During and after the show I had a burning feeling in my stomach but I know that was from being nervous and really belting out as much ferocity as I could when singing.
I would love to do basement shows more, they are low key and it reminds me of the old days of Punk Rock/Hardcore shows I would go to when I was in high school and college prior to being in Shrinker. Shrinker also played a few house shows way back then, but this basement show really harkened back to the old school days of shows in houses and or basements.
Luxi: You have a couple of other shows scheduled for Dr. Shrinker this year and next. There's a local fest called November Coming Fire 11 on November 8th and 9th, 2013 and Dr. Shrinker can be seen and heard at NYDM Milwaukee Spring Bash 2014 fest on April 25th and 26th, 2014, where bands like Possessed, Internal Bleeding, Morbid Saint, Viogression, Prime Evil and many other bands will also be performing. Getting into the festival mood already?
Rich: The gig in November is the second year that the November Coming Fire Fest is going on. As far back as in May, the dude running it, Jason Ellis, asked Matt if we would play the show for him. Jason is a really cool guy and we knew it would be an entertaining gig to play. We have the honor to get to play with Cardiac Arrest, from Chicago, on the Friday of that festival. We are all really looking forward to it. The second day has Absu and False (from Minnesota), so I am making sure I am there to see them. That should be a super fun weekend. We also think that this is a show where we will be performing for a lot of kids who may not know us from the old days, so it will be nice opportunity to expand our horizons.
The Spring Bash is like the fourth or fifth one. This is another show we said as far back as May we would play if we felt we would be able to. We are playing the first night, April 25, 2014 with Internal Bleeding and a ton of other bands. Possessed, Morbid Saint and Viogression are playing on Saturday with a ton of other bands. I am not sure which day Prime Evil is scheduled to play.
So, as it turns out, besides setting up our reunion/return show, the only other local shows that we have been asked to play are these two festivals. We felt September was a good launching time for us and would evaluate then if we thought we would be ready and able to do anything after that, locally and then out of state. The big test is this Saturday's show (September 28th, 2013) and we have to prove that that is a success before we can really think beyond that.
As a side note, when Jim, Matt and I decided to once again start up this whole Dr. Shrinker thing in 2013, it was the day of the Super Bowl (early February). We agreed to see where we were in a year if we are still having fun then we will continue. I think we can now say we will be going beyond that one year mark as long things keep going the way they are now; having fun.
Luxi: 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of your classic demo, Wedding the Grotesque. Will you celebrate by booking gigs for Dr. Shrinker throughout the States and, if the circumstances are ideal, internationally as well?
Rich: I think I answered that question a bit earlier, but yes, in 2014, we hope to play elsewhere in the States and are working out logistics and details to get some things booked. There are not many right now but there are a few.
There are definitely commitments for all of us, mainly related to work. I would say it will be a challenge to commit to anything long distance (such as overseas). We are taking the approach that we will be weekend warriors, when we are able, so, most likely, there will be mainly Saturday gigs and probably some Fridays, here and there. Personally, I am centered on the band not interfering with work so for me and the others, it's going to be a Monday-Friday work life and then, where we can, we will play shows for anyone who would like to see us in their town.
Addressing another point in your question, I think 2014 falls in line with 1989 and it being 25 years later, but we really hadn't thought of it as an anniversary but more trying to regurgitate the songs from the Dr. Shrinker arsenal, stuff from all 3 demos, and, hopefully, it being enjoyable for not only us but many others out there. A 25th anniversary celebration does have a nice ring to it, though.
Matt Grassberger: Hey Luxi, Matt here. Rich sent me a copy of the interview and I would like to add a few things. The 25th Anniversary IS something I have had in mind for a few years. I have been working on a vinyl-only release of all of the recordings of the past and things that did not make it onto the CD compilation put out in 2004 as well as a slightly better mix of what was released on that disc. This task has lasted over a year and we are far from finished. Hopefully, it sees the light of day next year. At the time, I never thought we would be where we are today with it!! I thought, maybe one gig, get together, jam some tunes; but things are moving along nicely and most importantly, we are having fun with it. I am currently in school trying to get a better paying job and the rest of us do have work obligations, of course. We are in the mindset of one gig at a time right now though we have set no limits.
Luxi: The current Dr. Shrinker line-up is you on vocals, Matt Grassberger on bass, Jim Potter on guitar and JJ Blaze on drums. In other words, 3 of the 5 members that recorded the band's legendary Wedding the Grotesque demo are still in the band. Was it easy to capture the same chemistry and enthusiasm that you had 20 years ago?
Rich: Ha! First, Jesse Kehoe (our drummer) said "JJ Blaze" is a name reserved for his other band, Sexual Atrocities (they used to be called Screaming Afterbirth). I told him a few weeks ago, when I added him to Encyclopaedia Metallium, that the site defaulted to his nickname and that is how it reads in the lineup. He said, "nah, in Shrinker, I am Jesse Kehoe."
It has been super easy to get back into the groove with Matt and Jim. We are much more mature now and I think, with all the experience that Matt and Jim have had since 1990 with the bands they have been and so forth, that has made the reformation seamless. There definitely has been enthusiasm, especially since we had to relearn every single song. It took from February to July to relearn all the songs we wanted to play during the show on September 28, and it is fun to know that there are 2-5 more old songs that we still will want to get locked and loaded into our repertoire. It is amazing to think about all the effort we put in to relearning everything and then adding the touch of 2013 to them to minimally modernize and tweak them; hopefully to add flavor to them that everyone else will enjoy and accept.
There is definitely unfinished business from back then, but that is just the past. As I have said all along this is to have fun; as long as I have fun then I will continue on with this rebirth. I know there were things we may have left on the table back then, but that is okay. The opportunities we have now, with so many more people knowing who we are and it being easier for new people to hear us is very exciting and definitely keeps us enthusiastic about everything.
Luxi: You have this "new guy" Jesse Kehoe, a.k.a. JJ Blaze, on drums in the current lineup. He replaced Brian Rehak when the decision was made to play some gigs around. Why was Brian replaced in the first place, and how did you find Jesse to take over behind the drum set?
Rich: Well, even though it was not the specific question, I am going to bundle the answer in with this longer answer. Even as late as early November 2012 I still did not want to do a Dr. Shrinker reunion and neither did Jim. Plus, I only wanted it to only be members from the very last Dr. Shrinker line-up from 1991 or, possibly, one of the earlier members. Jim and I thought, "let's just let it be." Jim was in a side band that did horror movie type music, Matt had been living in Germany for 5 years and James and Chad were/are in Portland. Sometime in late November I met a buddy at a bar just to hang out and he asked me if I would guest sing for another local band that was considering some Dr. Shrinker covers. I said I would be interested. My buddy also asked me to ask Jim if he would want to play guitars with the band, as a guest. When I approached Jim he said, "why do guest spots in another band doing covers of Shrinker, why not just reform Shrinker?" The only problems were 1.) Matt was in Germany and I only wanted to do a reunion with all members from the band from back in the day and 2.) James Mayer and Chad Hensel were living in Portland. I had been hanging out with Jim at his house watching some Sunday football games throughout the fall. After we talked I thought "you know what, if we can talk with Matt to see what is up, maybe there is the chance of getting back together." Matt had been the person all these years still putting the Shrinker name out and he was heavily involved with the Grotesque Wedlock release and the 7-inch split release with Nun Slaughter that featured "Our Necropsy." Both Jim and I had talked with Matt and Matt had said how he kind of wanted to get back to the States.
While we were in limbo with this decision, my buddy, who I talked with at the bar, had me meet up with Brian Rehak. It was Brian's band that would maybe do Shrinker covers and Brian was always a huge Shrinker fan. Brian told me his band would be on hiatus for a bit but if Shrinker needed a drummer he would definitely help out. So now, instead of doing covers, the three of us (Jim, Matt and I) agreed to see what would happen if we started up Dr. Shrinker again (when we reached the time where it was possible) and we also had someone who would help out on drums. Matt's plan was to move back to the States in September 2013 and Jim and I figured we would just wait until then. Then Matt changed his mind and decided to come back in January 2013. He got back, the three of us met up for the Super Bowl and discussed things and the next week we talked with Brian to start jamming.
I do not really want to discuss the reasons for replacing Brian. Brian is a great guy and he was very important to us during all of these months of getting back into the groove. The three of us, Jim, Matt and I, made a conscious decision that we knew we needed to explore new avenues to achieve the level of what we expected to achieve with this revival. In August, the opportunity arose where Matt, at his birthday party, asked Jesse if he had any interest in playing in other bands besides Sexual Atrocities. He wondered if Jesse would be interested in drumming for Shrinker, and as is obvious now, Jesse said yes.
Jesse's first (audition) practice with us was on my birthday. Best birthday present I could have asked for, that is for sure!! Best birthday present I have had in a long time. The first time I heard Jesse at the practice room I was walking upstairs to get something and I heard Jesse slamming away on the drums. Jesse and Matt were already in the practice room. I had an enormous smile on my face and I knew this is what we needed; this is what we were looking for to reach the level we knew could reach. There was an instant bond with Jesse and these weeks leading up to the show have been a grind and a lot of work for us but now I can tell you the lynch pin that we needed to make this 2013 version of Dr. Shrinker flow is there.
Luxi: Have you been surprised by all the support from your fans, both old and new? I bet the response has been very overwhelming and heart-warming so far, hasn't it?
Rich: Yes it has been really cool to hear or read how people are very excited that we are back together again. It blows me away that I have been told by a handful of people that we are one of their favorite bands. That just is really awesome to me; it is not something I would have ever expected to hear. I have read a few different times where someone says that The Eponym is one of the best demos ever or that a song like "Germ Farm" is one of the best songs ever. Obviously, it is only a handful of people making those statements but it is pretty cool. Something that also amazes me is that our show on September 28th was not originally a show that had presale tickets but there was enough demand the promoters made sure there were presale tickets, mainly for the out-of-towners coming to the show. That is just really cool to know there is that kind of buzz/interest.
It is also neat to hook back up with all friends and fans (both local and in other parts of the united states and the world) who are happy Shrinker is back but also to hear from people who were not around back in the day to say they are Shrinker fans now. Yes, it is very surprising to me. I mean, I knew there was a underground fan base, but the positive feedback we have already received online is damn cool.
Luxi: Dr. Shrinker's last official recording, the 2-track The Eponym demo released in 1990, contained stuff that was quite different from Dr. Shrinker's previously released material. The songs "Tighten the Tourniquet" and "Germ Farm" showed Dr. Shrinker in a whole new light back in the day. These songs were more sophisticated, in terms of complex song structures, and had more depth. What are your thoughts about that demo, 23 years after it was released?
Rich: I always felt these two songs, and "Our Necropsy," were head-and-shoulders better than anything we had done before. Now don't get me wrong, I am proud of what we did with Wedding the Grotesque and that demo was our niche in the Death Metal scene, besides our introduction with the Recognition demo, but I think this is where we started to expand our horizons and develop a unique flavor to our music. The guys were definitely showing their advancement and talents for writing music. We finally had a chance to get into a nice professional studio and the guys who worked in the studios really did a good job. In all the years since I left the band, this demo was the one I listened to most, along with "Our Necropsy." Even with the Grotesque Wedlock CD that compiled all the demos on it, I still found myself listening to "Tighten the Tourniquet" and "Germ Farm" the most, by far.
The Eponym definitely signaled what Dr. Shrinker was going to be from then on out. It was pretty cool going to practice and having the guys bring new riffs and even new songs. Those two songs were a part of that. There definitely is a line between the Wedding the Grotesque and the The Eponym phase.
The Eponym definitely gets the most positive feedback from our archive of songs. There are riffs in "Germ Farm" that are my favorite Shrinker riffs. It is a lot of fun doing that song.
As a note: Two of the songs we still need to relearn and will be doing soon are "Tighten the Tourniquet" and "Our Necropsy". Right now they are not part of the playlist but "Tighten" will be soon.
Luxi: According to some sources, Scott McKillop (bass) and Tony Brandt (drums), both (hired) from Phantasm, were not easy to work with back then. Were they ever considered for Dr. Shrinker on a permanent basis, or were they more or less just "hired guns" on that recording?
Rich: It's funny because I have also heard this and I am not quite sure who passed on this information. Back in the day, I may have been a bit bitter in some fanzine interviews but I am not quite sure I ever said they were hard to work with. I do know that Scott and Tony were in Phantasm and that was, first and foremost, their main band. But they were involved in the The Eponym demo and that is something that can never be taken away from them. They were part of something very special and important to Dr. Shrinker. I had even been told by Matt recently that when he approached us after being away from the band for a few months, back in the day, that he heard things were not going so well with them (but that is something I don't quite remember). I do know that it would have been impossible to keep one of the guys in the band and not the other and, at the time, we were practicing at Scott's house so, if there were any issues it had to be a package deal in our change of musicians. I remember once, at Scott's house, both Matt and James (Mayer) came to our practice, but I don't know if that was when we making the decision to get Matt back into the fold and add James. James was already in another band with Matt, the band Feck, which they were still in when Shrinker broke up (and Jim eventually jointed that band). They were together for 6-8 years after that. I do not quite remember, but I do know when Shrinker played the Day of Death show in September 1990 that we had known we were going to bring Matt and James into the band. What surprises me is that Day of Death was that late in the year, I had thought it was earlier. When we did boot Tony and Scott out they were somewhat angry with us but they were okay soon after (because they attended our very last show in December, I remember that). I just do not remember what the issues were that prompted the change.
That last 5-piece Shrinker line-up was something special, though. All of these guys, Matt, Jim, Chad (Hensel) and James (Mayer) were there at the pinnacle of what we had back then. It's a shame we never found out what the potential may have been.
As a note: We talked with Tony Brandt back in January, but he is so busy with work that he was not able to commit to drumming.
Luxi: Did their participation change or modify Dr. Shrinker's sound in any specific way?
Rich: I think the sound/music was still dictated by Jim and Chad. Of course Tony and Scott added the extremely important drums and bass, but it was definitely Jim and Chad who defined the musical direction. From what I remember, they fit in well with the sound of the band (as you can hear on the unreleased practice session songs that are on YouTube), but I just don't remember the particular reasons for replacing them.
Luxi: After the The Eponym demo, you also recorded another 2-song demo that was meant for Earache Records. It's been said that Dr. Shrinker were heading towards even more interesting musical territories. One of the songs that you recorded for Earache, "Our Necropsy," in my opinion, followed the musical direction that began on the The Eponym demo. This song was meant to appear on an Earache compilation album, but it unfortunately never did. What happened?
Rich: Actually, we only recorded "Our Necropsy" and that was it. My guess is we recorded that in late October or November. This definitely followed in the footsteps of what we had done on The Eponym. We must have had this song in our playlist for a while because it was also part of the practice session recordings. I don't know how long we knew ahead of time that we would be recording "Our Necropsy." Yes, it was due to appear on a compilation for Necrosis Records, but I think it was already known by December of 1990 that the label was no longer in existence, BUT I may be wrong about that. I do know that The Eponym songs were recorded for Earache and "Our Necropsy" was for Necrosis. Unfortunately, neither happened. "Germ Farm" appeared on a compilation several years later called The History of Things to Come. It's funny but I did not know until about 5 years after that release that "Germ Farm" actually made it onto a compilation. It was kind of disheartening that this second deal fell through and I know it was one of several things that made my decision, in January 1991, to quit the band and go back to school to get my bachelor's degree very easy. "Our Necropsy," as you say, was an "interesting" direction. Many times I feel it was a good thing that the band broke up; that way we never ventured too far from our roots and did not fall into a pit of experimentation that we would have later regretted. I am very happy with "Our Necropsy" and, like I said before, it is one of my favorite songs we did. Ultimately, it was a good ending to our recordings and leaves it a mystery of what may have been in those years.
It would have been super cool to have been a part of Necrosis and/or Earache. It just never came to be and that is okay. I think those events help with the mystique that Dr. Shrinker offered the Death Metal world in those years. Everything turned out just fine and I would not change a thing.
Luxi: Were there any other labels that showed interest in Dr. Shrinker?
Rich: There was no other interest that I remember. I think that may have been one of the things that bummed me out and probably the other guys, as well. We wondered why we didn't get an offer. Sure, there were politics here and there that may have held us back, but in actuality no label ever approached us other than Earache and Necrosis. Those were the big ones and it would have ruled to be on either one, but I never received any mail or phone calls or interest from other labels, not even after I left that band. Those are more reasons I never really knew how good we were or what impact we had. I felt so many other bands out there had deals going, there must have been a reason why we didn't.
But like I said before, that's cool; it is what it is and it was what it was. I am ultimately happy with how everything turned out.
Luxi: Before Dr. Shrinker vanished from the underground Metal scene, a bunch of new material was recorded by you, Matt, Chad and James. Songs like "Tracheotomy," "In Body and Soul," "Repulsive Habits" and a couple of other unnamed songs were recorded during those last sessions. These songs were some of the best, most complex material Dr. Shrinker had ever penned. It would be a pity to leave those songs untouched by this current Dr. Shrinker lineup, but I guess that's the case, right?
Rich: The immediate answer to that question is that the recordings of those songs will be the best they will ever be. The quality of those recordings make it difficult to pick out stuff so, musically, I am sure we will never try to relearn them. Plus, and this really sucks, after I left the band, I never thought I would need the lyrics again so any I had written were tossed in the garbage. So I don't even know what I am singing in these songs except for some of the few obvious parts.
The songs were actually recorded in practice sessions when we still had Tony and Scott in the band, but I do know, after we added Matt and James, that we continued on with them. It's interesting to note that I must have sent these recordings to a few people in the last few months of our existence because I discovered the cassette tape they were on 3-4 years ago and I also stumbled upon one or two of these songs on YouTube that were uploaded by someone else. So at some time I must have been including it with demo(s) we sent out.
We won't be doing those songs anymore, but there may be a chance we would include them as extras on a future release. Besides the songs you mentioned there was also a song called "Grotesque Wedlock" and a new version of "Bacterial Encroachment." Grotesque Wedlock was going to be the name of the album that we never released, and that is why the compilation release in 2004 was entitled Grotesque Wedlock, as an acknowledgement of that.
There is some neat stuff going on in those songs. The recordings are rough and there are mess-ups, but it is definitely cool that copies of them exist. It was about a year ago that I uploaded several of them to YouTube (a song or two had already been uploaded by someone else in the past). There are also practice session recordings of "Germ Farm," "Tighten the Tourniquet" and "Our Necropsy" but I didn't think it was necessary to put them out there.
Luxi: Dr. Shrinker existed at the time when the underground tape-trading scene was huge, and the interaction between the bands and the fans was simply amazing; everyone was really supportive toward each other. How much would you say the tape traders helped to get Dr. Shrinker's name spread all around the world?
Rich: Yeah, everyone who was around back in the "glorious times" of the mid-to-late 80s and early '90s in the Death Metal (and other underground Metal) scene know exactly how important tape trading was. I always figure between the 3 demos we recorded, we sold maybe 500 and I am probably exaggerating. I would say I sent out free copies of the demos (and other live recordings and practice sessions) to fanzines and other bands (via tape trading) and that would account for probably another couple hundred. Ultimately, tape trading and sending away tapes to fanzines and bands is what made the underground what it was and it is what helped bands from that era to thrive. Tape trading was definitely one of the top reasons that most people even knew who are band was; tape trading was the underground internet well before the actual Internet. I mean, shoot, I cannot even remember all of the tapes that I got from others that helped me discover new bands I would have never heard of had it not been for trading. We had a "live demo" that we sent out for a short time back then. I vaguely remembered it and then, one day, I was asked about it from a guy through email asking me if it was a "legit" original copy he was buying. It blew me away because I hardly even remember it.
It would really be fun back then to find new presents every week in the mail from other bands and tape traders and fanzines. Everybody helped each other. Again, to quote the book; what "Glorious Times" they were.
Luxi: What are some of your fondest memories from the heydays of underground tape trading scene?
Rich: One that stands out is actually being able to trade a Shrinker demo for an Autopsy demo. I had already bought one of them but I was able to trade for the other one. That is like a true honor. Tape trading is where I first heard about Nihilist/Entombed, Paradise Lost, Impetigo and countless others I cannot remember. Another great memory I have from tape trading and sending our demos to 'zines was back in 1988 or 1989. I went with a couple guys (Jim from the band and a couple of others) to the Carcass, Pestilence and another band I can't remember, show down in Chicago. I am sitting around waiting for one of the bands and I see a guy with a Dr. Shrinker shirt on. I knew the ONLY way that person could have that is that they traded for it or bought it through me. Went up to that person and said "hey man, nice shirt" He said "thanks" and I said "I sing for that band." He says no way, "what's up, Rich Noonan?" It was Mark from Impetigo and Uniforce fanzine. That was just really cool. I may have forgotten about many things back then but that is one memory I still have.
Luxi: Have you been keeping in touch with ex-Dr. Shrinker members Dave Priem and Chad Hensel?
Rich: Yep, I keep in contact with those guys. Since Chad Hensel and James Mayer live in Portland, I do not get to see them but I do keep in touch with them on Facebook. James is in Archeology and Chad fixes woodwind instruments and so forth (I think I have what he does for a living correct. Dave Priem is on Facebook but I have not heard from him in almost a year. I had not heard from Dave since left Shrinker until about year ago. I am not sure what he does for a living now.
Matt: Chad and James are both really into the outdoors, climbing mountains and rock faces, getting away from 'society' as much as possible and challenging themselves in the outdoor world. Both of those guys still play music and have continued to dabble in bands, but nothing too serious. Chad has written quite a lot in the jazz genre, composing for all instruments and performed with a variety of groups out there in Oregon. It is Very textural stuff, all instrumental.
Luxi: I assume Dr. Shrinker will take things one step at a time, to see how they develop. Good feedback and support from fans is a vital element for all bands. If things go well is it possible that Dr. Shrinker might be locked in a studio some day so you can bless those fans with a full-length studio album?
Rich: Yes, that would really be cool. Once we get past this major step of playing the return gig and then hopefully several other shows, both local and out of state, and if there is enough interest from fans then maybe, who knows, that would lead to finally doing a studio album. It is definitely a good goal to strive for. As you said its really going to be determined based on the fan support and positive feedback we receive that will determine our steps in the near future.
Matt: Likely and probable!
Luxi: What about DVD plans? Obviously there's some good quality live footage available on VHS tape that could be used for a possible DVD release, along with new live footage from the 2013 DR. Shrinker line-up. Have you talked about this? Undoubtedly, Dr. Shrinker fans would be excited about this kind of news...
Rich: I will defer this to Matt, but I am sure there will be some stuff uploaded to YouTube and so forth from this show and others. I just hope it is worthwhile, positive and cool and that stuff looks and sounds good.
Matt: There are only two videos that I know of from back in the late 80's and only one has usable footage. I would consider that with any new footage we might get but I don't know that there is a priority, much less any demand, for that! It is a luxury to think about at this point.
Luxi: 2014 might be a big year for Dr. Shrinker, you just never know. I am curious to know what you expect and/or hope from the next year as far as Dr. Shrinker is concerned.
Rich: Well, when we one year of being together again, in February, that is one goal I want to achieve. As I have stressed before, I hope I am happy with everything regarding the band. That is the driving force behind all the potential positive stuff that could be out there to obtain, do and achieve. I am looking forward to playing shows and it will be cool to get a chance to play with old school bands we never played with before along with many of the bands that have flourished since the old school days. It will just be awesome to get out play and hopefully generate positive interest and feedback from both old and new fans.
Matt: We would like to take it as far as we can with this lineup. If we get together and write new material that doesn't fit in with what we consider to be "Dr. Shrinker" then I think we will leave it as it was, just do some shows and maybe document the songs we relearned. On the other hand, if it does fall under the umbrella of "Gore Core" or whatever you would call our style, then I think it is very possible you will see and hear some new music very soon.
Luxi: That's all I had in mind regarding Dr. Shrinker, so I want to sincerely thank you, Rich and Matt, for bringing this old shredding corpse back to life again, and all the best with all of your future endeavors with the Doctors. If you want to throw out some last comments, then by all means, free feel to do so...
Rich: Luxi, thanks for taking the time to write up questions and having Matt and myself do an interview. It's Tuesday September 24, 2013 right now, at approximately 11:30 pm. The big return gig is in four days and it is amazing that the day is arriving and will happen. It's going to be cool to get back into the thick of things.
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