Interview with vocalist and bassist Ron Royce
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 15, 2017
The crime scene investigation has been done. The cause of death needs to be determined. Let's call Switzerland's own coroners for this purpose, shall we?
Coroner, the semi-legendary Swiss tech thrashers that recorded such highly appreciated albums as Punishment for Decadence (1988) and No More Color (1989) decided to gather the troops in 2010 after being apart for 14 years. They performed some reunion shows and a tour in Australia in 2014. That year, the band's original drummer Marquis Marky decided to step away to focus on his other musical projects, family life, etc., making room for Diego Rapacchietti who was no stranger to the band.
As the reunion has lasted several years, Century Media Records thought it was a great idea to celebrate by collecting some rarities from Coroner's past and release a box set carrying the apt title Autopsy - The Years 1985-2014 in Pictures. Meanwhile, the band members have been working with some song ideas for their forthcoming album planned to be recorded sometime in 2017.
The Metal Crypt checked in with Coroner's headquarters to ask what's been going on in the band, the band's past relationship with Noise Records, plans for 2017 regarding upcoming festivals, recording and many other things. Read on...
Luxi: Good day Ron! How are things in your life at the moment?
Ron: Thank you, everything is fine in my life, especially when compared to the bad situation many people in other places in the world find themselves these days. Except for the fact that I feel a bit overwhelmed right now answering your interview questions in English as it is not my mother language and I am not at all fluent in it. But thankfully, my girlfriend is at my side and helping me. Ha ha ha...!!
RETURNING TO THE LIMELIGHT
Luxi: You guys decided to reform Coroner in June 2010, making fans of the band very happy. Did you have some set of standards for your "new coming" that made sense of digging the band out of its dusty coffin for both you and the fans? I'm sure it was not a light decision if this band was worth a second chance...
Ron: It was definitely worth a second chance. Even though in the beginning, I could hardly imagine being able to play all the complicated riffs again after so many years while simultaneously using my voice. I had always had the feeling that Coroner deserved a second shot. Luckily Tommy was very insistent, so Marky and I finally agreed.
Luxi: So, what has been happening in the six years since it was officially announced that Coroner was active again and would be playing some shows around the globe?
Ron: As you just mentioned, we originally planned on playing just a few gigs. Instead we ended up playing about 40 shows so far including a tour in 2014 with five shows in Australia and seven gigs in South America in 2015, two continents we had never toured before. The second very important event was the worldwide record deal we signed with Sony Music Intl. and Century Media records this year, which made it possible to release the Autopsy box set, including the documentary.
Luxi: What can you tell us about any new stuff that you may have completed or is currently in the works? Do you plan to follow the musical direction of one of your previous albums or would you rather like say you don't have a certain musical formula in mind at this time as it might have a negative and restrictive effect on your creativity?
Ron: We are still in the song-writing process right now. I have been gathering ideas for about two or three years now. Recently, Tommy showed me some of his ideas and I can tell you, it sounds very promising. I myself am curious what the end result will ultimately turn out to be. The situation is after all very different compared to 25 years ago, as we are all quite bit older and have evolved individually on many different levels. The fact that we have a new drummer with Diego Rapacchietti opens up a whole new range of possibilities.
Luxi: How do you personally keep things interesting for yourself as far as making new music for Coroner is concerned? Does nature provide a great source of inspiration for you, for instance?
Ron: Yes, nature is extremely important to me because I can withdraw, de-stress, switch off and find inner peace as nature is the only quiet refuge these days. Creating music and writing songs means expressing your innermost present state of emotions and thoughts. Music has always been my personal creative outlet and therefore I am also very grateful to have been given this second chance with Coroner.
Luxi: As you mentioned, you have Diego Rapacchietti on drums now who took Marquis Marky's place behind the skins. How did you find Diego and why wasn't Marquis able to continue in the band?
Ron: Diego is a professional drummer who has been working for Tommy in his Studio. He also was the drummer for 69 Chambers which involved Nina, Tommy's wife. Even I played with Diego for a musical project about 20 years ago! We are so fortunate to have him as our drummer. Marky always intended to only participate for a few reunion shows because he wanted to invest more time on his family. Plus, he wanted to explore other musical styles and possibilities within the wide range of the Metal genre. After Tommy and I decided to continue, Tommy approached Diego and it all fell into place quite smoothly.
Luxi: How would you describe the band chemistry in Coroner?
Ron: The band chemistry has always been good, right from the beginning. As young musicians, we were very ambitious and focused and we were pulling in the same direction musically. Due to the fact that it has always been just the three of us, there was never a long-term conflict of interests. If one of us did not agree with something, the other two convinced him in a short amount of time. This is still the situation these days.
ABOUT BEING ON NOISE RECORDS AND THE MUSICAL EVOLUTION OF CORONER
Luxi: All five of Coroner's studio albums were released on Noise Records back in the day. If you think back in time, how do you view your relationship with Noise Records? Do you have warm memories or did you have conflicts with the label's policies?
Ron: Back then, when we were a lot younger we sometimes did not agree with some of their decisions and found ourselves upset at times. But these days, we feel a lot more OK with it, as it is also understandable that record companies want to have their say. After all, we consider ourselves very fortunate to have a record deal at all and many bands these days would be absolutely elated about this.
Luxi: Talking about those five albums in terms of musical progression, development or experimentation, to me it seemed like with every album Coroner took a small but brave step away from the sound of your previous album, bringing something fresh, new and unexpected to your fans while still maintaining the special Coroner sound. Was there some purpose behind all this musical progression or was it simply a question of not repeating the same album over and over again?
Ron: The demand for originality is one of the most important matters to me when it comes to creating music, which also means every album should set itself apart from the preceding one. Another factor was that each one of us had been and continuously is evolving on a personal and artistic level, thus shaping and molding the end result.
Luxi: The time from when Coroner split up back in 1996 until reforming again in 2010 brought a whole new generation of metal heads that missed the band completely. How do you believe this generation of metal heads has felt about Coroner, from your own point of view? Obviously all the modern technology that we have nowadays has made it possible for kids to dig into the past and find some of the gems like Coroner. What's your take on this?
Ron: Yes, it is exactly as you say. I could not agree more. However, despite the massive impact of the new social media platforms, I have come to realize that mouth to mouth propaganda is still effective to this day.
AUTOPSY - THE YEARS 1985-2014 IN PICTURES
Luxi: We already crossed this next topic a bit. Century Media Records and the band did an amazing job getting this huge treat out to all Coroner fans around the world; a box set named Autopsy - The Years 1985-2014 in Pictures. What was the process like going through your archives and going through all those rare interviews, live video clips, etc., to form this early X-mas present?
Ron: I collected every interview and review published from the start. That was my humble contribution. Also, I brought along the camera that my father gave me and filmed worthy moments during our first go around. My band mates contributed much more than me; Marky did all the artwork, Tommy all the sound mixing and Daniel did all the visual editing. By far the most effort and time investment came from Bruno Amstutz, the director of the documentary and Lukas Ruettimann, a journalist and longtime fan who had done all the interviews with the other musicians. The two of them invested an enormous amount of lifeblood and time in this documentary.
Luxi: What makes this box set even more special, besides the vinyl + Blu-ray thing and limited run of 3,000 copies, was each was signed by all three of you. How many pencils did you destroy signing them all? Did you count them?
Ron: Not as many as I had expected before the signing session. Maybe about four or five. It took us a total of two sessions of four hours each to sign them all. After doing about 700 signatures, my arm simply did not cooperate anymore. One funny detail is that we had to wear blue latex gloves just like real coroners, in order to protect the covers while signing them.
Luxi: As you are on Century Media Records these days, what are some of your personal hopes regarding this co-operation between the label and Coroner? Knowing your deal with Noise Records wasn't so much about "glory, fame and financial success" I have to believe you have become more cautious and vigilant as to what kind of papers you put your signature on, right? Do you believe there's a mutual understanding between the label and Coroner, one with sincerity, honesty and transparency?
Ron: Yes, this time around the situation is a lot better for us; we were even able to negotiate some of the details in the contract we did not initially agree upon. I have a feeling that it is based on a more friendly level and it also gives us a lot of freedom.
2017 MEANS FESTIVALS AND A NEW ALBUM
Luxi: You have already started booking some shows for Coroner in 2017. You will do Metalmania festival in Katowice, Poland in April 2017 and hopefully have some others in the works, which perhaps you cannot speak about as of yet. Do you believe that 2017 will most likely be the year of festivals for Coroner and perhaps get your next album recorded?
Ron: Yes, we were also given the opportunity to play at the Hellfest in Clisson in June 2017 and another festival in August that will bring us to Romania for the first time. But I do not think that this is going to be the year of festivals as we have to invest a lot of time working on the new album and the recordings next year.
Luxi: One last question and then we are done. Metal heads naturally can appreciate all that creativity that you have poured into Coroner over the years and they know deep down that you have blessed them with hours and hours of great music. My question is how grateful are you for all this support that your fans have given to you over the years and do you feel that you are blessed for having so many great fans that have never turned their backs on you?
Ron: Actually the most rewarding thing to me is to see how grateful the fans are and how much they express this towards us. To see their enthusiastic faces after our shows, during the signing sessions or on the "Meet 'n' Greets" makes me happy and proud to see how loyal the metal crowd is, spanning several generations. Some of our older fans even bring their grown-up offspring to our concerts.
Luxi: Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions Ron and all the best with all your future endeavors with Coroner. Now it's time for your last words to wrap this interview up properly...
Ron: Thank you very much for your interesting questions and your support. And last, but not least, I wanted to mention that we only played once in Finland at a festival in Oulu. After the release of our new album, I hope we will have the chance to come to Finland again and that the fans are patient till then.
|Other information about Coroner on this site|
|Review: No More Color|
Copyright © 1999-2019, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.