Planetmosh have the pleasure of chatting to Halloween’s vocalist Brian Thomas on the release of their new album ‘Terrortory’.
The new album ‘Terrortory’ is due for release any day now, how pleased are you to finally get it out there to the masses considering how much time and effort you’ve put into it?
BRIAN: We are so happy that this CD is finally getting released, for a while we wondered if it would get done at all. We had so many issues come up during the recording, it was all a little overwhelming. We worked really hard on it and are pretty happy with the way it turned out.
The album comes in at a whopping 72 minutes, how difficult was it to pick tracks for the final cut?
BRIAN: We always try to give our fans as much as we can for their money. Maybe because we are all poor boys too, we know the value of the dollar to our fans and we want them to feel like they did not get ripped off. We do the same with our live show, as big as possible and with plenty of twists and turns. We don’t want people to be able to say… ” oh yeah Halloween, seen ’em a couple of times and it was the same old thing” we would rather that people say…”Halloween… You DON’T Want to miss a Single Show because you might miss something you don’t want to miss!” (just because we are always changing things around, Stage set-ups and Set-Lists). For this record we had a lot of songs to pick from… we decided on the ones we did because it showed our true diversity and a nice slice of the bands history. ‘Caught In The Webs’ was written in 1983-84ish (Before most of the songs on Don’t Metal With Evil) and is one of the oldest Halloween songs we have. ‘Say Your Prayers’, ‘Not One’ and ‘Images Quite Horrible’ are from the early 90’s when Donny Allen, Tim Wright and “BA” (Billy Adams) were in the band. The rest of the songs were all relativley new. It wasn’t hard to pick the songs, it was hard to pick songs to leave off of the CD, so we didn’t.
Musically the album is really diverse in styles, from the epic ‘Not One’ to ballads such as ‘Dead On…’ to name but two, was there a conscious decision to mix things up or was it just the way things fell into place?
BRIAN: We have always been comfortable releasing albums that represent the band and where we are at any given point in time, and in doing this we have always been pretty diverse. Different players are obviously going to produce different sounding styles and results, but somehow it all seems to work out. We don’t follow a formula or rules for writing and recording, we just write what makes sense to us and hope that our fans will like it. It has worked well for us so far, and you know what they say… “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Sorry if that bothers anyone, but I always thought Heavy Metal was all about rebelling and anti-conformity, so why follow rules?
The artwork for the album is really stunning, who did you get to do it and how did you come up with the idea?
BRIAN: Timo Wuerz from Germany did the cover, he was recommended by our German Label PURE STEEL and we couldn’t be happier, He did an amazing cover and people really love it. I think it is one of the best Heavy Metal covers ever, It could become iconic. We told him through email the idea that we had and he fired a rough draft back a few hours later and then the final version within a few days. Simply Incredible. The idea was pretty simple we wanted something that highlighted the cemetery scene that we often use in our stage show. We wanted our mascot Jack hovering over our cemetery gate that reads ‘Garden Of Decay’. And that’s exactly what we got…magic!
Since the release of the anthemic ‘Don’t Metal With Evil’ in 1985 the band has had it’s fair share of ups and downs. You must be really pleased to finally have what looks like a stable line up, how did the present incarnation get together?
BRIAN: Yes the ups and downs with this band are never ending and I don’t know if things will ever be “Stable”, we are more like a sports team with players coming and going, being traded and all. But yes right now things seem to be really good. It’s alright that things change from time to time, people have things that come up in life and they can’t be avoided. Change keeps us fresh and on our toes, the part that sucks is the amount of time that is spent getting new people up to speed. HALLOWEEN is bigger than any of us that make up it’s DNA, this was and is a great ‘idea’ for a musical vehicle and show spectacle. Here in the US people love the Holiday Halloween (it’s second only to Christmas in popularity and commercial success), people love to have parties and what better reason for a party than Halloween. People love to dress up and have fun, and we fit right into that as well, and people love to be scared… PERFECT we are your band!! The latest and current line-up is very strong and we all get along really well. We are looking forward to playing shows and then writing a new album together. Our Drummer is Rob Brug, who played on HORROR FIRE and E.VIL P.IECES Rob also played with us at the Headbangers Open Air festival in Germany in 2007. On Guitar is Don Guerrier who plays 1/3 of the solos on the new record and came to Andernach, Germany with us for the SWORD BROTHERS FESTIVAL in 2009. Don was also a fan of our original guitarist Rick Craig, so our sound now, is very reminiscent of the old days, when it needs to be, which is awesome for our long time fans. Also on Guitar, is the newest and youngest member of the band TJ Richardson, who also plays with me in 2 of my side-project bands Acoustic Hell and A.S.S. (Anti Suicide Squad). I found him on Craigs List and he just fit in so good we had to give him the job. Rounding out the line-up are the old stand-bys… George Neal on Bass, my long time friend and writing and performing partner, and Myself on Vocals.
The world of Metal in general has gone through many changes since the days of ’Don’t Metal…’, how hard has it been to get your material out there without having to change your core musical values?
BRIAN: We don’t change (not on purpose), we just do what we do… If changes do happen it is only because of the circumstances surrounding us. The styles around us change and sometimes parts of that will influence us when writing, but when it’s all said and done it always feels and sounds like Halloween to us. Our core musical values are always intact, our approach is simple do what we love and don’t compromise. It has never been easy getting our stuff out to our fans with a limited budget and resources, but we do our best and hopefully the pride that goes into it shows when you hear it, but the difficulty is never with the music, that comes to us like magic. We have been very lucky to have great writers in the band through the years.
Coming back to the new album ’Terrortory’ what are the bands immediate plans post release, have you any live dates lined up?
BRIAN: We are working on booking shows right now, we were so busy getting the CD done we didn’t look past the CD release party. Now we are ready to go. We also want to do videos for some of the songs. And we are planning to come back to Europe in the Fall, if everything works out.
And when does the process of writing new material begin again, are there any ideas floating around yet?
BRIAN: We are already thinking about the next CD, we have a title and many ideas, George and I have several songs that are well underway and TJ, Don and Rob all have great new ideas as well. With some luck this time it won’t take long for the next one. We also still have older Halloween songs that have never been recorded that could work their way on to the next one as well. We love opening the vault and reaching into the cobwebs for the gems almost as much as we love to write new ones. But first things first, let’s see how this one does first… hopefully this record will get us to the next step, we have so much more that we want to do… soon.
Finally, if anyone needed any more reasons to listen to the new album other than the fact that it’s bloody good, what would your message be?
BRIAN: There are a ton of great new bands out there putting out new music and also a bunch of veterens making new classics. We have been at it for a while now I think we are different from a lot of other bands and we think we have a really good record here and we would love for all of our fans to check it out and let us know what you think. Leave us a message on our website www.halloweentheband.com or on facebook or myspace. If you like it… Then we LOVE you… If you don’t… maybe next time, we will have another one on the way soon and we will ask you again. But we really hope you like them ALL…
Thanks Brian for your time, and we look forward to seeing you and the guys raising the roof of many a venue in Europe in the very near future.