Interview with bassist Terry Butler
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: April 16, 2014
Floridian Death Metal veterans Massacre have made a grand return to the limelight with their comeback album, Back from Beyond. The album title not only flirts with the title of Massacre's classic debut, From Beyond, released in 1991, but also resurrects the sound they had on that album. Mercilessly crushing, heavy, old school Florida Death Metal, without compromise, is what Back from Beyond is all about, from start to finish.
Having added Edwin Webb on vocals and Mike Mazzonetto on drums, the Massacre killing machine is, once again, ready to conquer the fields of death again and add new victories when it comes time to tour new cities and countries.
Bassist Terry Butler (Obituary, ex-Death) kindly shared some of his thoughts about the band's revival, the new album and Massacre's future plans. Read on...
Luxi: How's it going, Terry? You must be feeling excited now that Massacre's comeback album, Back from Beyond, has been recorded and is ready to be unleashed on Century Media at the end of March, right?
Terry: It's going great here in Florida. It is exciting indeed. We've worked hard over the last year to get the songs written, recorded, and mixed. We took our time to get the product we wanted. I just want to hold a copy in my hand.
Luxi: I have had a chance to hear Back from Beyond 2-3 times in a row thus far, and I must admit, you captured that classic, brutal Massacre sound and I think this record is something Massacre fans should really look forward to. Are you happy with how the album turned out?
Terry: Yeah, we are very happy with how the album and artwork turned out. We wanted a raw, not over produced, mix. Musically, we took our time to write the songs we wanted. There was no rush. It's been 20+ years since From Beyond was released.
Luxi: One of the first things I noticed on Back from Beyond, is the very heavy sound of Rick's guitar parts and your bass that, together, create a firm backbone on this new Massacre album. I would guess you paid a lot of attention to maintaining the same, trademark Massacre elements that the fans expect to hear from you guys; heavy, brutal, punishing songs and 100% pure Massacre sound, right to the bone!
Terry: You've pretty much nailed it. We play classic Florida Death Metal; the same style and approach of From Beyond. We are not going to deviate from that formula. It's a writing style that Rick and I are used to. Rick wrote songs for Mantas and Death. It's the style that we had on Leprosy and Spiritual Healing. No need to change now. It's our style. We like riffs that people can remember.
Luxi: Another great thing about Back from Beyond is Rick's riff and lead work. I mean, one can recognize the Rick Rozz-type of lead work on this new record. I'm sure this was one of the goals for this album, correct?
Terry: Yes, exactly. Like I said, this is the style of writing of both Rick and Massacre; Crunchy, heavy, catchy riffs. With Rick's guitar tone, it is that much more brutal. Riffs, riffs, and even more riffs. That's what it's about!!!
Luxi: As for some other details about Back from Beyond, the intro, "The Ancient Ones", sounds extremely creepy and has this nice tendency to send cold shivers down the spine. Can you tell us a little more about this track?
Terry: We wanted a cool, creepy intro to start the record, so I contacted a friend of mine Andy Wallace. He has a cool studio and releases albums in Europe under the name Static Sector. We gave him the concept and he ran with it. I think it's the perfect intro for the record.
Luxi: The last song on Back from Beyond is called "Honor the Fallen," and is a tribute to Jeff Hanneman, who sadly passed away on May 2nd last year. Jeff had a huge influence on Metal musicians for decades, so remembering him through a song is a nice way show respect. What did Jeff mean to you as a musician and as a person?
Terry: Well, I never actually got to meet him but I've listened to his music countless times. I mean Slayer is one of the reasons that I picked up a bass. I can speak for thousands of other musicians that would tell you the same. So his influence on me is direct. It's a great loss for all of Metal.
Luxi: You used CGM Studios to record this new Massacre opus. Why did you choose that particular studio and have Tim Vazquez produce? Do you believe Tim was the guy that had the best understanding of the sound you guys were after?
Terry: Tim is a good friend of Rick and Mikey's. He recorded and mixed the Condemned to the Shadows EP, so we knew he was fully capable of doing the record. We liked what he did with the EP so we offered him the production job. He's very familiar with us and our sound so, yes, we felt he was the best for us.
Luxi: Maybe it's too early to ask, but I'm going to anyway : ) Do you have any favorite tracks off this comeback record of Massacre's?
Terry: Not too early at all. Some favorites include "Ascension of the Deceased," "False Revelation" and "The Evil Inside." These are good representations of the album's flavor, if you will.
Luxi: What can you tell us about the album artwork for Back from Beyond? Whose idea was it to reflect back to the times of your debut album, From Beyond?
Terry: The artwork was done by Toshiro Egawa. He's done work for Krisiun, Cryptopsy, etc. We gave him the idea and he ran with it. We are very happy with it. We wanted to bridge the gap from the past to the future. We've been in the shadows for 23 years, waiting for our chance. Now we've re-emerged and we are ready to destroy. The creature on the front is back as well. We thought this was the perfect title and concept to say we are back.
Luxi: If we go back in time just a little bit, the news of Massacre's reunion in 2011 really came out of the blue for many of us. When exactly did you start talking to each other about bringing Massacre back?
Terry: Yeah it was kind of out of nowhere. Basically, I was talking to Rick, one day in 2011, about doing a tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of From Beyond. He was receptive to the idea and we agreed that we would do it if we could find the right drummer and singer. We contacted Bill and he gave us his blessings to carry on. We felt that was only fair since it is his band.
Luxi: How did your deal with Century Media come about? Did you send some demo songs and inquire about their interest in signing Massacre? Was it that easy?
Terry: Well, it's funny how things work out. I was driving for my friends in Grave in late 2011 for their North American tour. When they played L.A. Jens Prueter from Century Media was riding with us. I told him that Massacre was planning on writing a new album and that we were looking for a label. A few months later, we played the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise. Jens and Robert from Century Media were there and heard us play a new song. From this performance, they signed us. They were impressed with the new song and how the new guys sounded. They saw that we meant business and were serious. Fate, I suppose.
Luxi: Once the news of the reunion of Massacre got out how many other labels showed interest in signing the band? What made you decide in favor of Century Media?
Terry: We never inquired with any other labels. The way it played out from the cruise was a sign to us. If Century Media has that much faith in us we have faith in them.
Luxi: The band line-up that you have today is 50% of the line-up that recorded Massacre's most legendary recording to date, From Beyond. Were you able to recapture the chemistry from that iconic album on the comeback record?
Terry: I believe we have found that chemistry and maybe even more so now. The songs on From Beyond were all demo tracks that we wrote in'86. When we reformed in '91, we went right in the studio to record the old songs to get a record out. It shows the strength of those songs. For us to put out Back From Beyond in 2014 shows that there is a lot of chemistry between not only Rick and I but also between the whole band. We are a tight unit and we all want the same thing.
Luxi: What was the process you used to find Mike and Edwin to complete the Massacre line-up? Did you arrange any auditions to fill the vacant spots or were they recommendations from close friends?
Terry: Mikey was already working with Rick in a band they were doing called M. Inc. They opened for Obituary once and I heard Mikey play and was impressed. So when Rick mentioned Mikey I knew he was a great drummer. Rick, Mikey and I rehearsed a few times and I sounded great. We just needed a singer.
Rick mentioned Ed Webb; he saw him play a show in Orlando and was impressed with him. I've seen him play several times over the years in Tampa and knew he was a good vocalist. We set up a rehearsal and as soon as he started singing we knew he was in. It sounded better than ever.
Luxi: The two "new" guys in Massacre, Mike Mazzonetto on drums and Edwin Webb on vocals, are experienced musicians. Did they have input on the songwriting for Back from Beyond or was it you and Rick who eventually hammered out the musical direction for the songs on this comeback album?
Terry: Ed and Mikey are veterans of the scene. Ed was in and has toured with Diabolic and Mikey was in and has toured with Pain Principal. They both had an immediate impact. Ed wrote the lyrics and Mikey contributed some rhythms and killer beats. Rick and I didn't get together and write before the band reformed; we wanted to write as a band. Massacre is a democracy. No dictators here.
Luxi: How has Ed been received as the band's new vocalist by the fans? I'm sure it was a tall task filling Kam Lee's big boots.
Terry: The reception has been overwhelmingly positive for Ed. He did a great job on the record and is a great front man. His vocals are very powerful and he has great range. We understand some diehards want to hear the former vocalist but in the last 22 years all he did was destroy his relationship with Rick, Bill and I so much the damage is too much to overlook. If he had been part of this reformation it would have collapsed a few years ago. Ed is making his own footprints with his own boots!!!
Luxi: All of you have other active bands and/or project, so I was just wondering what kind of priority Massacre will have? Will Massacre be your main band from now on or do you have to balance your other bands, to the best of your abilities?
Terry: Ed has Generichrist and Destined to Ruin, I have Obituary and Denial Fiend, Rick and Mikey have M.Inc. For everyone, Massacre is a priority, obviously. My situation is a bit more stressful because Obituary is very active and Massacre wants to be very active, so I have to juggle things around a bit more. Maybe there will be some shows or tours with both bands playing. That's a win-win situation for the fans.
Luxi: One of the first shows that Massacre played, after the reunion, was at The Brass Mug in Tampa, FL on January 14th in 2012. How did the audience greet this new Massacre line-up? I bet you got an overwhelming response from the crowd, from both old and new fans.
Terry: Yeah. It felt great to be playing with Rick as Massacre again. The crowd response was amazing. They were very supportive and yes there was a mix of new and old, which is very encouraging.
Over all the years that I've been playing and touring people always asked me what was up with the band and said they loved From Beyond, so I knew if we could reform, and do it properly, it would work.
Luxi: One of the highlights for you guys must have been Massacre's first ever performance at the famous Wacken Open Air festival in Germany in August 4th 2012; the biggest Metal festival on the globe. Did you feel nervous playing for thousands and thousands of people that had come to see Massacre's live performance? You had actually been at Wacken in 2008 with a different Massacre line-up, so different was 2012 compared to your earlier performance in 2008?
Trry: Please don't remind me of that ill-fated 2008 show lol!!! That incarnation of Massacre should never have happened. Long story for another day. The 2012 show was very special because it was done properly and professionally. The band had put out the Condemned to the Shadows EP and had already signed to Century Media. I wasn't nervous and the rest of the band was cool as a cucumber, as well. We are pretty focused as a band. Hopefully we can make it back there soon.
Luxi: 2014 seems to be full of gigs and festival appearances for Massacre. What are some of your personal expectations this year, with Massacre as well as non-Massacre related activities?
Terry: We have a tour starting at the Neurotic Death Fest on May 2nd so that's very exciting for us. It's a short run but it's perfect for us to get our feet wet. We want to play as much as we can this year. 2015 will be the big festival season for us.
Luxi: That was it, Terry, so I would like to thank you for taking some time to get this interview done. I also want to wish you all the best with your future endeavors with Massacre. If there's anything you'd like to add to conclude this interview, feel free...
Terry: Thank you for the interview, thanks to all the fans, new and old, for your support through the years!!! Look for us in a town near you!!!
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