Interview with Reign of Terror
Interview conducted by Barbara Williams (Crowley)
Date online: July 1, 2003
This interview was conducted May 20, 2002 at Marc "The Engine's" garage where the band rehearses three times a week. Since then, Gil has left the band and ROT now continue as a trio and are diligently working on their fourth and soon available album, Satanic Upheaval. Keep your eyes open for it and check into The Metal Crypt for an upcoming review.
Why Reign of Terror? Who came up with the name? Were the initials for Reign of Terror (ROT) intended or just good luck?
Marc: [Laughs] That's funny. We went through the usual writing down of different names. There used to be a band here in town named Reign of Terror (like 10 yrs. ago or so), and they broke up. So Dave, our old singer, said, "Let's resurrect that name, Reign of Terror." And we're like, "Yeah! That sounds pretty good, pretty descriptive; not too much of a pigeonhole name like "Bleeding Nuns" or something like that. It is possible to get this on—not commercial—but it won't be censored. So let's do that." And that's what we agreed with.
CJ: We thought that name kinda described what we wanted to do. Me and Marc, at that time, wanted to play as fast as we could, and go faster and more brutal, and that seemed to fit what we wanted to do.
There is another Reign of Terror from Virginia. Who came first?
CJ: Actually, there is that band, and they are from Virginia (right, did you say?) and there's another Reign of Terror from Australia. We actually talked to the ones from Virginia; yeah, we traded CDs with them and the said, "we don't care that we have the same name. We just spread the Reign of Terror name. The thing is, though, one thing we have is that we have the name copyrighted in the Library of Congress. We are the only ones with the name copyrighted. As far as the song titles and lyrics go, the music and everything, we have both the poor man's copyright, which is to mail the stuff to yourself and it gets back, as well as the real one.
You have a combination of death, black and thrash metal members, and I see a pretty good influence of black metal in "Threnody of the Impaled." Who sets the standards for the sound for ROT and will we be hearing yet a greater influence of black metal in the future?
Rich: I think we're moving away from the black metal sound. "Inverted" was more black metal than "Threnody." I think on "Threnody" we're focusing on brutal death. It just seemed natural to write brutal death.
CJ: When we first started, we had our mix of black metal influences and our death metal influences. After our first CD "Traversing," we tried to concentrate more on the death metal aspect of it, but it will always be there because we're all black metal fans, too. Also, we want to have a real evil sound, so when we write riffs and melodies, we always want to have them dark, deep dark, and even though we concentrate on death metal, we want to be dark and evil sounding.
Marc: I think one of the biggest reasons our first CD was so black metal is that our old guitarist, Thorben Rathje (who is now again overseas), and Rich were so black metal. He [Thorben] left, and Gil joined. Gil had more of a death metal/thrash influence, so that melted (I think) better with our sound. But me and Rich love black metal so much, we have a black metal side project called Pyre, which we have one CD of. And we just finished recording the new Pyre, so that's where we get our black metal fix.
How do you get the inspiration for your writing?
ROT: I guess, we're a bunch of sick and creative guys, so we came up with sick scenarios. It's a mixture of things, everything from other bands to movies to whatever. Sometimes we get an idea of the subject, like, let's write about this (or this song seems like it should be about this), and then, ok, Rich-you do it. The song will have to do with the lyrics. If it's really violent (violent riffs), you wanna write something really bloody and violent and dark.
Do you write together or separately?
Marc: Music, for the most part together, I guess; especially the final product. The song will have been run through all of us. For example, CJ will say, "Dude, I have some great run riffs, man; let me write the lyrics for it." And when he says that, 98% of the time I'm like, "Alright; cool, whatever—then you do them." Pretty much, when anyone of us says, "I wanna write them; I wanna write them," then we just let that person write them.
CJ: Whoever has the idea will write them.
Marc: It's extremely rare where I say I write the lyrics (and then, of course, CJ is the vocalist) and he says, "let me change this word or let me change that"—‘cause me, personally, I don't like my stuff to me messed with. I had a vision of how the song's events or the action in the song is happening in my mind, and then I write it down. When you take something away or try to move this up here, it's just not gonna be the way I wrote it, and he's pretty much come to respect that. In fact, I've gotta hand it to him—he pretty much bends to my will as far as my lyrics go. Even sometimes he won't want to, like, "Dude, I can't sing all these words," and I say, "Dude, you can fucking…you just do it."
CJ: But a lot of times, too, if Richard or Marc are writing the lyrics, I tell them, "Ok, I'm gonna sing here, here and here, and here's the pattern," and 98% of the time they'll come up with the lyrics with that in mind (Marc: Yeah, that's true), knowing where they gonna go. So I don't really have to change too much—so it works out good.
I noticed quite a few intros. What gave you the idea and what do you hope to achieve by them?
CJ: The intros—we don't need them, but they just kinda add a little spice to the song. Usually, when we're watching movies or watching TV, we think, "hey, that sounds cool and maybe that would fit that song and set the mood." They are just a little icing, a little extra.
Marc: You know (and it doesn't always work out this way) when I hear a sample from a band, if I hear a girl being gutted and she's screaming or whatever, I'm gonna assume that the song is roughly about that. I like to think that samples can almost accurately match the theme of the song.
There have been many comments on your excellence on drums. To what do you contribute your talent?
Marc: [humbly looking down] Honestly, if anybody is good at anything, it's because they practice, but I can't emphasize this enough to anybody that does anything well—you gotta love it! I mean, I love playing the drums. I love to see drummers that are better than me because it just lights a fire below me to be at least as good as they are or better. I see other bands we've played with, and I look at the amazing drummer, and I have to be at least as good as that—not just for me, but for these guys. These guys write excellent riffs, you know, the way we all write lyrics, and I have responsibilities to live up to their awesomeness. I really believe that. Thank you for the compliment, I guess.
How would you describe (or categorize) your style of vocals? Who have been your role models?
CJ: I started singing because in my older bands I could never find a singer that I liked. So I just said, "Screw it; I'll do it myself." I guess, I taught myself and practiced my style. I try to be deep and aggressive or whatever, but kinda mix things up with the screams and I try to articulate the lyrics as much as I can. Dying Fetus is one of my favorite bands; they have two singers that are great—a low guy and a high guy—and that's one of my big influences. So I always thought I'm gonna try to do both styles, high and low, and I think I sort of accomplished that.
Besides Metal, what other types of music do you listen to?
Gil: I like to hear some Classical music—Beethoven, Mozart, stuff like that.
Rich: I like Dark Ambient, like Orcana, as well as some folk stuff.
CJ: I like some Classical, some Classic Rock, some Stoner Rock, old punk like Black Flag and some other weird shit and some Industrial.
Marc: The lines are blurring. I mean, literally, just noise. I like a lot of ambient stuff. But I also happen to enjoy a lot of music that is folk tinged (if not totally). I happen to really like fucking Stoner Rock. I like other forms of music, but it's totally unlike me, like Salsa music. But it's pretty safe to say none of us likes country or radio music. I think the genre is too contrive and it's ridiculous. I'm not trying to bash a whole genre-- and all these bands that have the same sound—the Angst-sounding vocals with the slight baritone like Creed (I hate that, man). Papa Roach—it has not soul. How deep are the lyrics? How serious are the lyrics? I'm getting pissed off. It's a shame. The music industry is just…it's sad. I mean, we'll never fucking get to hear the virtuosity of Necrophagist, the ex one-man band. He is one dude. He does everything. He is fucking awesome. He is excellent, man.
How is the music and being "ROT" connected with the person you are? Is your band image a reflection of you or completely separate?
Rich: I think personalities in general are very—multifaceted. You can't just say, "That guy is just fucking evil. He's evil every day. He's evil when he eats breakfast. He's evil when he takes a shower. Even when he has sex [laughs]. So, speaking for myself, ROT is like my dark emotions coming up, my aggressions coming up, my stress. [Makes fisting gestures; laughs]. I've to say that's my dark side.
CJ: People from my work have come to see us and they're like, "Oh, my God, you are like a different person. I'm not a different person. That's just another side of me: that other side of us. Just like anybody, we can be the nicest guys in the world, and we can be the biggest assholes in the world. And anybody's like that. When we're on stage, that's our fucking aggression; that's our, I guess, dark side of us.
Marc: As far as I'm concerned, I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I think my band persona is probably the closest to any of us; I'm almost always the same way on stage as I am in everyday life. I'm always getting into trouble at school [he teaches] for dressing the way I do and having these [tattoos], and my truck has all the stickers. I was banned from parking in the school parking lot by the principal because of all the stickers and the parents are complaining about the satanic stickers and this and that and it's always been a big battle because I hate for people to tell me what to do and I'm not afraid to just do what I want, regardless. Of course, as I've grown older, I've learned that I do have to acquiesce here and there to norms and laws and whatever, but even given that, this is just everything for me and that's how I think, how I live, and how I am. And it's gotten me in trouble a lot. I think that I should probably learn how to separate the two personas better like these guys, but I'm really stubborn.
Rich: It's not like, "ok, we're gonna play tonight, let's try to be evil." We're not trying to be; we're playing—that's real; that's us. It's not like we're trying—ok, I need to stick my tongue out here and make a mean face there, or whatever.
Which songs do you like most playing Live?
Marc: The easy ones. (Laughter). The complex ones we have to fucking study to play. (Laughter) We have an ongoing joke where CJ will say, "yeah, dude, let's play a grind and death song" and everyone will be like, "oh yeah, since we don't have enough of those!" CJ always wants to go fast, as do we all, but me being the drummer, sometimes I'm like...(exhaustion gestures.) "Sado-Sadomite Communion" I'd say is cool. We really play almost all of our songs. Yeah, we have to. There are some songs that are a little trickier to play live than others, ‘cause they're just really a bear. We either stopped playing them or we hardly play them.
Any video releases in the planning?
CJ: Yeah, actually. A friend of mine some time this summer is gonna make a video for one of our songs and we'll probably release it. It's gonna be straight up. It's gonna be a video of us playing, both jamming and playing Live. A lot of videos you see on MTV—you don't even see the musician.
Outside of playing Metal, what kinds of things do you enjoy doing?
Marc: Oh, I happen to love comics and stuff as you can see. I personally love all that shit.
Rich: Listening to metal.
Marc: Metal's gotta be it, dude!
Rich: Drinking alcohol and having sex whenever I can (ha ha).
Marc: Beautiful women–we're connoisseurs of beautiful women.
Gil: I'm a computer nerd. I like to do the designing, surf the net, burn CDs
CJ: Outside of the band, I guess drinking and I play pool, and my job. I like my job, so takes up a lot of my time.
Marc: Oh, shit! I happen to listen to fucking metal all the time, man. I can't be in my truck, going anywhere, down to the store down the street, without putting a fucking tape on in my truck. I'm an Aquariast. I love fish. I have three fish tanks. I have an over 8 feet Columbian Redtail, a collection of action figures and shit like that.
Since one of your former band members is from Germany, are there any plans to go on tour over there?
Rich: Oh, man! If I could fulfill that, I'd die happy as far as a musician [goes]. Having the tour paid for in Europe that would be...that's bigger than, you know, vast riches. Seems like Europe... they are more appreciative of metal and also in South America, Mexico and Central America and Japan, except here.
Thank you, guys, for your detailed and honest answers and good luck in all that you do.
|Other information about Reign Of Terror on this site|
|Review: Threnody Of The Impaled|
Copyright © 1999-2017, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.