Interview with vocalist Kyle Thomas
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 3, 2017
It was recently announced, on November 15, 2017, that legendary New Orleans thrashers Exhorder are back for a series of well-selected shows. The band's core unit of Kyle Thomas on vocals and Vinnie LaBella on guitar has recruited three seasoned musicians to complete the reunion lineup; bassist Jason Viebrooks (Heathen, etc.), drummer Sasha Horn (Forbidden, etc.) and guitarist Marzi Montazeri, who earned his stripes playing in a couple of Mr. Anselmo's bands.
Back in the early 90s Exhorder made a name for themselves with two excellent albums; Slaughter in the Vatican (1990) and its follow-up, The Law (1992). Exhorder put groove into Thrash Metal and sounded totally different from most other Thrash bands back in those days.
Exhorder split up in 1992 and have tried a few reunions but times were never favorable for one reason or another. The band's last attempt to reunite was short-lived due to the passing of bassist Frankie Sparcello in March 2011.
Well, Exhorder is back. The Metal Crypt contacted the band's vocalist Kyle Thomas and he kindly took some time to answer our questions about the band's latest incarnation plus some other things as well... Read on!
Luxi: First of all, thanks for accepting my interview invitation, Kyle. How's it going?
Kyle: Thanks for having me! I'm doing just fine. It's been pretty busy lately, but in a good way.
Luxi: Exhorder are back, at least for a couple of special reunion shows on February 9 and 10, 2018 at the Saint Vitus Bar in New York. What will make this event even more special is that you are playing both of your albums in their entirety; Slaughter... the first night and then The Law the next night. It sounds like a completely sold-out two-day event already. Was it easy to give the fans what they want, a chance to see Exhorder live again after six long years?
Kyle: It's NEVER easy for Exhorder to do anything, haha! We've managed to stick around, kind of like mold. It's going to grow if everything sits long enough. We're just happy to be at it again.
Luxi: Guitarist Vinnie LaBella and you are the only original members of the band's core lineup left. When did you decide Exhorder would be worth one more try?
Kyle: It's really kind of odd how it happened. We had been gradually talking again after many years of not seeing each other too much, and one night we were at a Corey Feldman concert of all places! It just kind of popped up where we were like, "Do you want to?" and the other guy said, "Yeah, sure." It was just about that boring!
Luxi: The current Exhorder lineup consists of some seasoned musicians; you have Jason Viebrooks (Heathen, etc.) on bass, Sasha Horn (Forbidden, etc.) on drums and Marzi Montazeri (ex-Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, etc.) on second guitar. Could you tell us how you found these guys?
Kyle: Jason has been a friend of ours since the 90s, and he has a long history of being involved with Exhorder. It always seemed like he was around right before we broke up, so maybe he is the problem, haha! Seriously though, Jason and Vinnie started Year of the Tyrant with Sasha Horn, which Dan Nelson has now joined. Marzi invited me to collaborate with him in Heavy as Texas and we played one show last year. We are currently recording an album together. Marzi jumped on board recently, and the two bands kind of merged into an Exhorder reformation! Weird, but it will be amazing.
Luxi: Would you say that Jason, Sasha and Marzi have looked up to Exhorder, considering the band as in influence on their musical careers?
Kyle: I don't know about Sasha because we really haven't gotten to know each other, but I know Jason likes Exhorder and Marzi has told me that he always dug our stuff. It's cool to work with pro guys that have a long-time respect and admiration for Exhorder, kind of like I always had for Trouble even before I joined them.
Luxi: In the same breath I have to ask how quickly have they learned to play the old Exhorder material and are they ready to play the shows in Feb 2018? I guess you are all getting there, little by little...
Kyle: Exhorder material is very complex and difficult. Really, my job is the easiest. These guys are all pro-level, though. They will be fine, but I know they are screaming because it's like learning something new that is difficult. I don't know of anyone that could easily learn this material. It's no joke.
Luxi: Do you feel like all of you are on the same page and understand what it takes to keep Exhorder on its feet so that it might be possible to get the band to different places around the world? I am sure the fans, both old and new, would be delighted to have a chance to see Exhorder at least once in their lifetimes, me included, of course...?
Kyle: I would say yes. The experience level of all parties involved understand that there is a certain expectation that Exhorder fans have. I am not worried. We will deliver a quality product to many that have either never seen us before, or have not seen us for many years.
Luxi: The band reunited back in 2008 and managed to play at some well-known festivals, from Maryland Deathfest to Rock Hard and many others. It was very sad this reunion ended so quickly due to the passing of your original bassist Frank Sparcello, Jr. It surely was a huge blow to Exhorder and left deep emotional scars behind. Obviously, all you thought back then was, "OK, this is it - the end of Exhorder". I guess time has healed some of those wounds... I mean, who would have guessed it? Exhorder is back!
Kyle: Frankie is definitely missed. He was a good, funny guy. His loss as a person is far more important than the loss as a band mate. We went on as long as we could after he passed and Frankie really didn't write for Exhorder, so the band could continue musically without him. I think on a personal level that his death may have just kind of been a large part of everything starting to go downhill at that period of time in our history.
Luxi: For those fans who never got a chance to meet Frank in person, can you tell us what he was like as a person?
Kyle: We are all pretty silly for the most part in our daily lives, and Frankie was as silly and fun-loving as anyone I've ever known. He would do crazier things the more we laughed, which is what the class clown typically does. Frank was mostly nice as I recall, I don't remember him being terribly ugly or cruel to anyone after we all grew up. In the 90s we were all kinds of assholes, but that was part of our way of life back then. He could play guitar and his skills playing Thrash Metal bass were really top notch. I miss the ol' boy, I can promise you.
Luxi: Okay, let's move on. Is the band's main purpose at this time to play as many gigs a possible then see how far it might bring Exhorder (even up to recording Exhorder album no. 3)?
Kyle: That's a pretty fair assessment. We are going to gauge the interest level before we go crazy booking a lot of shows, but the more we get into this, the more it seems likely that a lot will happen with new material eventually surfacing. It's pretty exciting having it unfold before our eyes.
Luxi: Would recording a new Exhorder album with completely new material be totally out of question? This is something that has been asked a lot I'm sure and as there's still Vinnie and you left from the original lineup, I am 100% positive it would very much sound like Exhorder, not like any Bullet for My Valentine type of s**t, that's for sure...
Kyle: We would want it to be deserving of the Exhorder logo on the front of anything we release. We owe that to the Exhorder fan base. We owe that to ourselves, also. I have a pretty good feeling it will not disappoint. And to be fair, I really don't know anything about that band you mentioned. I'm just an old guy that listens to Humble Pie, old Scorpions and the Beatles these days!
Luxi: Exhorder's whole musical legacy is well documented and valued among the Metal community all round the world. You guys were really on the top of your game in the first half of the nineties, loved by thousands and thousands of fans worldwide. The band sounded like no other at that time. All the groove that you had in your sound was something unexpected and totally unique. Could you tell us how on earth you were able to create such an original and unique sound? What were some of your (band) influences?
Kyle: I don't know, we were just pissed off kids, really. We didn't set out to change the world, that's for sure. We just wanted to jam and be heard. We were either Metal kids learning Punk Rock or Punk Rock kids learning Metal. Eventually it all came out in the music, and being from New Orleans, the Blues and Jazz roots snuck their way in. I know for me the bands that defined Crossover at the time really were my favorites when we started Exhorder. Metallica, Slayer, C.O.C., D.R.I., Agnostic Front, GBH, Exodus- I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Luxi: I remember when I got this advance tape of Slaughter in the Vatican through one of my tape-trading friends and I was truly blown away, becoming a fan of the band instantly. I was wondering if you guys in Exhorder let certain people hear your debut album before its actual release date and how on earth did it slip into such wide circulation in the underground tape trading scene back in those days, some 35 years ago?
Kyle: Well, we recorded the demo for Slaughter in the Vatican between 1987 and 1988. Eventually, we began the album version, which was started and redone several times before it was completed. It's kind of like a Frankenstein session. The promos probably weren't even the finished version. Tape trading was a big deal back then though, and that was the equivalent to YouTube and social media today. Without it, we had no means of getting heard, really.
Luxi: OK, I guess I have taken enough of your time Kyle, thanks so much for making this interview happen and may 2018 be successful regarding Exhorder's future. You are entitled to the last comments...
Kyle: Thank you so much, Luxi and The Metal Crypt! We are looking forward to making big things happen next year. We hope to see everyone soon going crazy during an Exhorder show in your town!
|Other information about Exhorder on this site|
|Review: Slaughter in the Vatican|
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