Katon W. DePena - Hirax

November 15, 2004

You guys started out back in 1984.

Yes, we did. Right around the same time as bands like Slayer and Exodus and Megadeth. Bands like that. We played with some of those bands. Metallica, Slayer, Death Angel. The list goes on and on. Testament.

You spent a lot of time playing in San Francisco because the metal scene was weak in L.A.

Yeah, that's the truth. Back when we started out, there was only a handful of bands doing similar metal to what we were doing but there was a lot of the "poser" bands such as Motley Crue and Ratt and Poison. Bands like that. Warrant. Stuff like that. We didn't mind that stuff but it wasn't what we wanted to do and we found our niche when we started going up and playing San Francisco. We had a lot more in common with a lot of the Bay Area bands.

You guys started out on Metal Blade Records.

Yeah, our first record deal was with Metal Blade Records. Back then they were Metal Blade/Roadrunner Records.

Now they're two separate entities.

Yeah, what was going on was for the States we were on Metal Blade and then Europe it was Roadrunner/Metal Blade.

You've gone through quite a few line up changes during the years.

Yeah, what it really was, was more like people's lifestyles change. Some of the guys got married, had kids, bought homes, and just really couldn't afford to go out and just do the grassroots thing and tour and go across the country and also go over into Europe. It's just a really hard lifestyle and if you can't get away from those kind of responsibilities, it's really hard to be in a heavy ass thrash metal band.

You guys left Metal Blade and went to a different label.

Yeah, we were on Metal Blade and did two records. The first one was called Raging Violence. That was 1985. In 1986 we did a record called Hate, Fear, And Power. Basically after those records, the band was having so many problems with just the partying and stuff. As you know, back in the '80s everybody really partied a lot and I think with us, we partied more than most bands. We pretty much just drank ourselves under the table almost every night. I think it really affected the band in the aspect that we didn't realize that it's a big responsibility too. It's not just about partying. You have to be able to get up, go play concerts, tour, get in the van or get on the bus, and make sure you make it to the next shows. We weren't doing that. We basically disbanded right around '88 for quite a while. Actually it was probably the best thing we could have done because we learned a lot and then we learned also that we should really appreciate the fans we have. We have such a great fan base especially now that we're back together and out touring. We get to meet the fans every night and our fan base is just amazing.

I can't remember who said it but he said something to the effect that when you're young and find yourself with all this money, it just gets to head your a bit.

There's no doubt about that. Here you are spending your money on things that are stupid. You don't realize that money should be thought about instead of just going out and buying a bunch of booze and guitars. We were buying stupid things like more stereos than we needed. All you need is really one good stereo but we were buying one for every room including the bathroom. Like I said, you learn by your mistakes. Don't get me wrong. It's totally cool to be a young, wild kid but I'm more happy now being a little bit older and I really know what I'm doing. I'm enjoying playing heavy metal more than ever.

You gathered fans through underground tape trading. How do you feel about people being able to download music now. I think that's kind of replaced the tape trading thing.

Most definitely. Myself, no matter what happens and you can quote me on this, no matter how big the band gets I think it's great. Just like I thought that tape trading was incredible because there are kids that also want to get a taste of your music before they go buy your record. I think also any kind of fan is great because what they do is if they really get into a band, they want the record. They want the lyric sheet. They want to know what the band looks like. When people are trading stuff, that's one thing. Maybe there are some sales lost but I think there are a lot of sales gained because kids that would normally not be able to buy 10 records at one time, if they can go download a couple of tunes, they can decide if they want to buy the whole record. I really don't have a problem with it and I'll be honest with you, I download tunes all the time myself. I think it's a damn shame that originally Napster was incredible because I was really into that in the very beginning when it first got on the Internet. I think it was one of the greatest things ever because it was like a history lesson. If you wanted to check out Deep Purple or Venom, you could go download tunes like you wouldn't believe. Then some band which I won't mention went and screwed that whole thing up and I just think that a lot of stuff was lost. You were able to download records that were out of print and that will probably never be in print ever again. That was the really coolest thing. I thought sharing files was an amazing thing so I'm all for downloading music off the Internet. I think it's great.

Yeah, Metallica wrecked that.

You had to go to it, didn't you? I'm glad you did. It's a bummer because that band was one of the bands that originally loved for people to trade their tapes. They were totally supportive of tape trading but then years later, they're against sharing files and MP3s. Kind of a hypocritical thing to do.

Absolutely. I'm pretty straight up about stuff.

I think that's great. It's too bad more people aren't like that. Yeah, even on our website, www.hirax.org, we give away free MP3s every day. Every hour of the day there are always kids downloading our music that we have on there for free. That's a thank you to the fans anyway. Some kids haven't heard the older tunes because we have some of the older music on there but we also have some of the new tracks from the new album on there. We try to give people a fair shake because they support what we do and we appreciate it.

You also had a little band called Phantasm.

Yeah, it's funny because it was a little band but it's gotten bigger than I thought it would ever get. It was cool because it was me and a bunch of my beer drinking buddies at the time. It was me, Gene Hoglan from Dark Angel and Death and he was also in Testament and now he's in Strapping Young Lad, and Ron McGovney the original bass player for Metallica. It was a really cool project because we just got together and put together a real heavy band and it was a little bit more technical than the other stuff that we'd been doing at the time. To this day I'm really amazed how that Phantasm record was done because we did a demo and it got so popular years later, finally it got pressed onto vinyl and CD and now it's available. It's called Phantasm Wreckage and it's just amazing because we get orders for it every day on our website and it's amazing that people even know about it. It was really just a side project. We'd only played a few shows and we did a short tour with Nuclear Assault back in 1987 but for some reason more and more people are finding out about Phantasm. I'm really proud of it because it was a great thing and when people hear the record they're really surprised. It's really good stuff.

Was it kind of in the same vein as Hirax?

Yeah, similar but at the same time it was a little bit more progressive. It had all the elements because we had guys like Ron McGovney in the band so it had a little bit of a Metallica feel but early, early Metallica. More like Kill 'Em All but then it also had a little bit more of this technical feel like bands like Testament and Megadeth. When you have guys like Gene Hoglan in the band who is such a great drummer that we took on a little bit more of a progressive slant, it's a very good record. It's one of those things that I think the more and more it gets out there, more people will probably be paying to tribute to it. It was a good band. I'm really proud of it. Obviously Hirax is totally my baby but at the same time the Phantasm thing is a great memory and I'm glad that it was recorded and documented.

You left Hirax at the end of 1988. What did you do after that?

I never really left music. I was always either in a band or behind the scenes helping out other bands. I dig music so much I try to help out other musician friends. I was working at record labels or even at record stores. I worked for the heaviest punk metal store in southern California years ago. We carried everything from Venom to Motorhead to Black Flag to Black Sabbath. It was great working there because you also got to work more hands on hand with the people that are involved in the music scene and the underground scene. It was really cool but for some reason I could never really get away from Hirax. Not that I really wanted to but people would either come into the store and go "hey, you're the singer from Hirax" or we kept getting mail. For years even when the band was broken up and 13 years we were broken up, that whole time we kept getting fan mail and one day I just thought well why not try to put this thing back together and I started that in 2000. Before I knew it, we got such a great response. In 2003 we appeared at this festival in Germany called Bang Your Head and it was incredible because we played with Twisted Sister and Dio and just all these great bands. People just came out of the woodwork to see us. Since that point on it's been crazy and now it's 2004 and the new album, The New Age Of Terror, has just been released worldwide and it's going off. We're keeping so busy, it's the busiest we've ever been.

Apparently you had the 10 A.M. slot at the Bang Your Head festival.

Yeah, it was amazing because even the festival organizers came up to us after the show and they said in the history of the festival, they've never had that many people here that early to see any band. It was amazing. We were playing and we could see guys from Overkill out in the crowd and stuff like that because even some of the bands who never even get up that early came out to catch our set. It was phenomenal. It was one of the best shows we've ever done. The shows continue to always get better but that's definitely a highlight in the history of the band.

When you put out a good product and then you slip away, people miss that.

It's really cool. Even here in the United States, we're starting to notice that but one thing about Europe is they really hold on to their metal. They don't forget about you. They're really, really big fans of heavy metal especially in Germany and the fans there are just unbelievable. Even when we flew in to do the festival, there were kids waiting for us at the airport. It just blew our minds so we're pretty grateful. It's good that people still love this kind of music and it seems to me that even in the United States, it's starting to really come back. It's like a thrash metal/heavy metal explosion all over again.

We're force fed so much shit on the radio and Clear Channel is buying up all these rock stations and turning them into classic rock or Spanish music stations.

Yeah, it's a bummer. I thought that everything should be fair like there should be enough for headbangers as well. I think you're right. We're force fed so much bullshit but at the same time I think people are starting to see through that. Fortunately there are people that are so supportive of our music and heavy metal music that now the word is starting to get back out there and like I said, we appreciate everything. Your support too. Thank you so much.

I was a teenager in the early '80s and that's when I started getting into heavier music. That's been the love of my life for my entire adult life.

I hear you. I'm right with you sister.

In 2004 you guys went to the Speed Semen Clove Factory. Where do people get these names?

The guy who owns the studio is a maniac and that's pretty much where the title came from. North Hollywood, California. We went there and he basically locked us in the studio. What's funny is the record is like a record timing recording. We did it in four days probably because the producer was so hard on us that he brought out the best in us. He made us go in for four days. No screwing around, no partying, none of that crap. The most partying we did was with coffee. We were in there and he just made us concentrate and we did. The record came out the way we wanted it to. Straight up in your face heavy metal. Like I said, we're really proud of it. It's just amazing that people are coming out and supporting what we do. We knew that it was going to be good but we didn't expect it to be as crazy as it's been. Like I said, since the record's been out it's just been nonstop and now we're basically getting ready to start touring to go out and support it. We're going to be touring all through 2005 and that includes the United States as well as Europe and South America and Canada.

What's the longest it's taken you to record an album?

Believe it or not, this new record is the longest. We never had the luxury like all these other bands. I can't believe they can record for two or three months. That's amazing. I think the difference with us though is even if we could, I don't think we would because we'd rather be touring. Get in there, get serious. Don't be oversaturating your music to where it starts sounding weak. The main thing is to make heavy ass kickass metal. That's really what we concentrate on doing but at the same time, it's really important for us to get on the road and go see the fans. That's what the shit is all about. We wouldn't have it any other way. When we go to any of the places we've been to like Chicago. We're getting ready to do the East coast. We're also finally getting ready to come to Texas where we have not. Coming to Texas, get your asses ready. We've already started working on that. I know for sure that there's going to be Austin and they're talking about Corpus Christi and I think Dallas. We're going to get our asses out there and see what the headbangers are like in Texas. I know they're good though because we've always gotten mail from Texas. It's just a matter of finally getting there and that's going to happen right after the beginning of the year 2005.

We love our metal.

Yeah, you guys kick ass. What's really great is we get these letters from there and these people really know their metal. It's not just like where you get these letters where they'll tell you about their favorite bands as well. We're mixed in with the best. What makes me feel good is when these people know their shit.

I did a really kickass interview with Mille from Kreator.

Yeah, he's a great guy. Such good people. We get along with Kreator really well. They're a great thrash metal band. They're one of the best German bands. I tip my hat to those guys. Great people.

You kind of resurrected the band in '97 to do a 7".

Yeah, what's funny is we had these people call us and we were so out of it. We were like "you want a song for a 7"?" Yeah, whatever, if anybody cares. We didn't think anybody would care. We gave them the song and right away they sold 5,000 of these 7" which nobody does that anymore because it's vinyl. How many people have turntables?

Me!

Right on. They sold 5,000 of them. Before we knew it we were getting even more mail. Especially another audience of kids. We always have the old school metal people which we'll always have that because we never forget our roots. It's also good that these new kids are waking up and catching on to real metal. That 7" resparked a bunch of stuff for us and from that moment on, it started getting crazy and then I couldn't even keep the band down any longer. Not that I wanted to but it was '97 and by 2000 I had to put the band back together because of all the hype. It was just crazy.

When you guys were recording The New Age Of Terror, you did it the old school way using 24 track studio analog. Apparently you're not into the Pro-Tools generation.

Yeah, well with all kinds of new recordings there's a bit of that stuff going on and that's fine. I'm not saying that we will never because who knows what's going to happen. One day they might outlaw two inch tape. Who knows? We were still fortunate enough to be able to record like that and we thought it would be cool. We went into a studio and it was nice. The feeling of it. The thing about two inch tape is it's really warm sounding. You really get that punch and so we just wanted to do it that way. It wasn't really like one of those things that we really sat around and thought about. A lot of bands try to think about trying to get these certain sounds but this is just the way we grew up. We grew up playing this kind of music. We couldn't play it any other way even if we tried. If we tried to be one of those nu-metal bands, we'd suck. It wouldn't even work. We don't want to do that anyway. That's not the kind of music we like. Even in our own private time when we're at home listening to the heaviest shit but it's old school shit because that's what we like. At the same time, I know it's old school but we don't consider it that because we recorded it in 2000. We feel that it's new to the kids that have never heard this shit before. I think it is new to them because they're tripping. You got these kids like these younger kids might have started off listening to this nu-metal stuff but then they want to go heavier. if they want to go heavier, bands like us are the perfect band for that and a lot of kids are starting to catch on. You never know, they might burn their records that suck. They might get rid of all the crappy records and start buying Iron Maiden records and Motorhead and Manowar records. Who knows, there could be hope for the new kids.

These bands are still putting out new material and still performing. I think that there are definitely certain types of music that are going to stand the test of time and certain types that 20 years from now will be like Slipknot who?

Yeah, I think what's cool too is that these kids will see past that. Like you said, the stuff that stands the test of time or the stuff that rises to the top. The cream of the crop. That will happen and I think that's why Maiden and bands like that are still relevant because they're still performing and they're still putting out pretty damn good records. It's been inspiring for us as well because we've been over to Europe and we've toured with those bands and bands like The Scorpions and Judas Priest. We played this festival in Sweden called Sweden Rock and it was so incredible to be playing with Judas Priest and Y&T and just all these great heavy metal bands. The torch is still being lit. I think that the fire is only going to burn brighter and I think that people will really respect heavy metal again. It really went to a bad place for quite a while. Like you said, there's so much crap being forced down people's throats but now I think people have an option.

I saw The Scorpions this past week and the place was packed.

Right on, that's good to hear. What's funny is we played with them in Germany and it seemed like it was a brand new day for metal. There were 40,000 people there. I think America is almost ready for it again. I think it takes time sometimes because the industry controls so much crap. You brought up Clear Channel. At the same time, the underground movement in heavy metal music, you can't keep it down. I think people are going to embrace it all again.

I love being part of that underground scene because I think everything in this country is so fucking corporate these days and it's getting worse. I don't think you can corporatize the underground thing too much.

You're right. You're totally right. That's the beautiful thing about it. We're part of something very special.

Tell me a little bit about The New Age Of Terror.

It's our new baby. We're proud of it. It's almost 40 minutes long. It's about 37 something and we put 11 tracks on it that we're really happy with. We believe in no filler. That's our big thing especially in the studio. If it sucks, get it out of here because people don't deserve crap. They deserve a record that's chock full of good tunes because if they're going to buy it, they should get their money's worth. We just went in and bang, we were just nailing songs. Obviously it would have been nice if we could have done everything in one take but that doesn't always happen. It was great because we have a really strong lineup. It's Glenn Rogers on guitar and Dave Watson on guitar. Angelo Espino on bass and Jorge Iacobellis on drums. The record starts off with a bang and it doesn't let up until the very end. We just wanted to make sure that people got it right. We just really wanted to give people the riff again like there's the title track to The New Age Of Terror. We wanted to make sure that these riffs would be riffs that would be memorable because a lot of the newer bands, they down tune and that's fine if they want to do that because they're trying to sound heavier, but we've never had to do that. That's one thing I'm proud of. We're still very, very heavy. As heavy as any band and we don't do all that down tuning because we don't need to. We don't need seven string guitars or any of that shit because we grew up on heavy metal so we know how to do it. It's a record from the heart. There are songs like "Unleash The Dogs Of War". Songs like "Kill Switch", "El Diablo Negro", "Hell On Earth", stuff like that. It's one of those records where there are moments all through it that are defining moments. I think the more it gets out there because now we were just informed that Century Media has picked up the record for distribution in America. The kids are going to be able to get the record a lot easier. I don't know what else to say. We're just proud and we're going to be out there touring just to bring the record to people live.

You said you had two themes in mind when you wrote. One being that a journalist described your sound as being "the new age of terror".

Yeah, it was a great write-up where this lady who was just raving about the record but where she came up with her sound for the record, she said it sounded like the new age of terror. That was one of the first things that made me start thinking about that title. I kind of agreed. That was one point but there was also the point of what's going on in this world. Just like you, I'm one of those people that really has something to say and I'm not afraid to say it. I don't believe in people being killed for the hell of it. That's just wrong. Also as being a musician and being involved in music and underground music especially, I think we should be trying to bring people together no matter what the hell they look like. Obviously if you look at pictures of our band, we're all over the map but we love heavy metal and that's what brings us together. I just think that we have something to do and if you have a voice like we do have because our music is heard all over the world. We should be saying something. Don't get me wrong. We support our troops because they're just doing their job. What can you do if you're in the service and you're told to go serve your country. You will but at the same time we don't agree with the war because as people we should be able to have other solutions besides killing each other.

I've always felt that war has never really been a satisfactory solution because a lot of times it's either tit for tat between politicians and governments or it has to do with taking people's natural resources without paying for them. One of my neighbors told me that if you look deep under every war that has ever been fought, power and money are always at the bottom of it. The sad thing is that people get used to do the dirty work of the politicians and it's mostly innocent people who die. Why the hell in the 21st century it's still that way, I don't know.

It's total bullshit but at the same time, I'm proud to be American. It's a hard line to walk but at the same time, I do have the right as an American to speak my mind and I just think that we should be trying to figure out other ways. There has to be a better way.

There definitely has to be. People don't really work hard enough to try to find those ways.

That's why people like us have to say something.

Absolutely. Tell me about the song "El Dia De Los Muertos".

It was just one of those things that was a dedication. Really it's deeper than it even sounds. The Day of the Dead but we have a lot of musician friends that have passed away over the years like Paul Baloff from Exodus. A good friend of ours. Another friend of ours that was a great guy, Chuck Schuldinger from Death. We've lost some metal warriors. Even earlier guys. Even the old school like Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy, Bon Scott from AC/DC, and an incredible metal god by the name of Clifford Burton. That song is pretty much dedicated to those guys. When you really listen to it, it's best to actually sit down in your room but whatever you're into, kick back, turn down the lights, and when that tune comes on, turn it up. Really think about those heavy metal gods. Then you'll understand that tune a lot more. It's got that feel.

"El Diablo Negro".

That's actually another musician friend song. It's about the dark evils of being in bands and ending up dying from doing drugs. it's really a bummer. Don't get me wrong. We party. Don't get me wrong. The band Hirax does party. We keep it to a minimum because we do like living. When you start neglecting your body and doing stuff that can just kill you, that's the black devil and that's really what "El Diablo Negro" is. It's the black devil and it's like the grim reaper that has taken so many people that just didn't realize that you should take it a little easy. When you're at a party and you see somebody going a little too far, you say "hey, take it a little easy." The record is really a deep record. Once you start looking through the lyric sheet because that's one of the reasons we include it. The lyrics with Hirax are always included in every record but a lot of the tunes like "El Diablo Negro" are really deep. Once you hear the story like what I'm telling you now, it makes you understand it more. I appreciate you even asking those questions. That means you really are diving into the record and that's really what our music is about. You want to look beneath the surface. Crank the metal. Don't get me wrong, crank that shit up. Look beneath the surface and check out what we're trying to say. That's pretty much what those tunes are about.

There were some songs that really caught my attention. Another one was "Unleash The Dogs Of War".

Yeah, well obviously I'm a young man that's been affected by all this stuff. I have to admit I'm almost a news junkie some days but we're affected by all the stuff that's gone on in the last few years and at the same time we send so much firepower. That's what "Unleash The Dogs Of War" is. Our government, sometimes you wonder how much firepower they have. We go out and we tell all these other countries "hey, no nuclear weapons." Look at the shit America has.

We have the most.

It's like a kid with dominos. He doesn't want to give any dominoes up because he doesn't want the other kids to have any dominoes. That's where "Unleash The Dogs Of War" comes from.

I hate to say this but as long as we threaten people with nuclear warfare, they're not going to do away with their arsenals.

Hell no. Would you? You're like "look at the big dog down the street. He's getting pretty big. I better get big." That's what really goes on whether it's North Korea and Iran. Those countries are just trying to prepare themselves. Being a stubborn person, anybody, you don't want to have somebody bully you around either. I don't even know what to say what's right anymore but I do know that at the same time, America in a lot of the same ways is just as guilty as other countries.

It's insane man. The world is falling apart.

Don't get me wrong. I love America. I'm proud to be from America but I think as being an American, you should be proud enough to speak your mind. That's one of our Constitutional rights.

Both my parents and I myself have served in the military. I think part of loving your country is not only serving it but also to realize that there are things that are wrong and to say something about it. Criticism is just as important as praise.

Look at Spain when they got bombed. The train bombing. That whole nation stood up and said "hey, the President, you're out of here." How come in America we can't stand up if we don't like something? To me that's the worst thing. The only thing that I'm really bummed out about being in America is that I think that the people should be able to take it back like that. If we don't like something then we all stand up and say no more. It's a bummer when you see other countries like Spain doing that and why can't America do that?

You have people who believe everything the politicians tell them and they're actually afraid to question anything. After 9/11, government officials basically told people "don't question us." When I'm told not to question things, that's when I question things.

I'm the same as you. I was a service kid myself. My dad was in the Navy for 30 years so I totally hear you. I think we have to speak up. At the same time, I can't say this enough but I love being from America and I'll speak my mind and if there's one thing that's great about being in Hirax, we speak our minds. The new record, The New Age Of Terror, speaks loud and clear as far as I'm concerned.

I always tell people who disagree with me that they have a right to their opinion and I'll put my life on the line to defend their right to voice it. That's how I feel.

I totally agree with you. That's the other thing that I think is great about this country. I have friends who say stuff all the time that I don't totally agree with. I do agree that they should be able to say it.

Absolutely. You guys did the Seattle Metal Fest back in October.

Check this out. This is crazy. It's coming up. It's great that you brought that up. The venue which they knew was going to be totally sold out, the fire marshal went in there and found all kinds of stuff that wasn't right. He shut it down. They just knew that they'd have too many bodies in the room so they had to make all these adjustments. The festival was postponed until December 4th. We're actually in pre-production of getting ready for the show. We've got another two and a half to three weeks to rehearse and then we're leaving for Seattle on December 4th. We'll be flying in to headline the Seattle Metal Fest. That's what's going on with that. The fire marshal which is classic. You always hear about fire marshals but he went in the venue and shut it down until all the repairs were fixed so the Seattle Metal Fest with Hirax is Saturday, December 4th.

I think Rhode Island is still on everybody's mind.

It will never be forgotten, trust me. I hope to God that nothing like that ever happens but I'll tell you one thing. That's probably the biggest travesty to ever happen in every rock history especially in a club where that many people perished. It was the saddest day in music to me. Whether you like Great White or not, you can't help but feel sorry for those guys. You know how many bands have played shitty clubs or clubs that weren't totally safe? All of us have. When that happened, it was a bummer. I remember waking up and watching the news and just going "holy shit." I just wish those guys the best of luck. They're actually a California band, Great White. I wish them the best of luck. I feel sorry for Jack Russell and that whole band. They even lost a band member in the fire. God bless them. Sorry to hear about that. It affected music in every club throughout America. When that happened, all the regulations changed and I think also even for fans of music. When you went to clubs, you really looked at the club a lot differently.

I'm a long time Great White fan and I've always loved those guys. I had the opportunity to talk to Jack and he is a changed man. It really broke my heart.

It's too bad. We grew up around those guys. They were one of the hard rock bands that was a little bit before us. We'd see them around and we caught their early shows. Back then they were actually called Dante Fox.

They sounded almost like Judas Priest.

Yeah, they were. When we saw them, they were doing covers of "Ripper". You rock. You know your rock history lady. To see all the stuff that that band's been through and then when that happened. I remember seeing the footage on TV and just being blown away. It was crazy. I'll never forget it. Not just Great White and Jack got changed. I think everybody got changed.

Every time I go into a night club, and this was way before the Rhode Island thing, the first thing I check for is fire exits because you never know what crazy shit people start. Then my second location is the bathroom and the third one is where the beer is.

You've got a good kickass attitude. Even now, I'm even worse. We're actually going to see Girlschool because they're coming through on Wednesday. It's also to go pay tribute because if you're a heavy metal fan, I respect Girlschool. They were one of the first girl bands that really kicked ass. If people think that bands like The Donnas are good, they should have seen Girlschool or they should go out and buy a Girlschool record. We're going to see them and I know that I'll be checking out every exit walking into the club. Yeah, the Rhode Island thing is definitely something that's heavily still on everybody's mind.

You guys will start touring soon.

Yeah, probably the last show for the year will be December 4th up at the Seattle Metal Fest but then right away we're getting ready to leave 2005. It will probably be Frebruary. We're supposed to go back to Europe to do about 40 shows including Greece and Poland and stuff like. It's going to be a really extensive tour. The biggest one we've done in Europe yet. Then we come back and it's either going to be Canada but I know we're doing the U.S. That's going to be what's going to be great. We're actually hitting areas of the U.S. that we've never played before. We've never played Texas so we're going there. We're going to be back on the East coast doing New York, Boston, all that stuff. It's going to be one hell of a heavy metal year for us. I can't wait. We're actually waiting for the tour itinerary to get finished. Just right now weíre practicing, doing a lot of rehearsals, and just getting ready for the New Year. Itís good timing because the record now hasnít been out for too long. Itís still a very brand new record but itís starting to get out there and get in all the stores and get reviewed. A lot of interviews and all that stuff are going on so right after the New Year, the Hirax tour starts.

I guess you never expected to be carrying on this long.

Over 20 years? I thought Iíd be out of this shit by now. Itís funny, you canít get out of heavy metal. Youíre in it for life. Thatís just the way it is.

I go to a lot of concerts and kids are like ďwhy are all these old people here?Ē I tell them once a metalhead, always a metalhead.

Exactly. Youíre a proud metalhead. Those kids should be taking notes and asking questions if you ask me because the history is so great. The thing is you can only learn from the older metalheads. For me when I was a kid, I used to hang out with all the older metalhead people because I wanted to find out about other great bands because there are so many bands from around the world. In New York you had Riot which was one of my favorite bands and I learned about them from an older guy. Even when I was really young, Judas Priest. My friendís brother got me into Judas Priest. He was like ďdude, youíve got to hear Hell Bent For Leather.Ē You can only learn. The kids are actually getting deeper than I thought. A lot of the newer fans that we have, Iím amazed at what these kids are into. Theyíre into Venom, theyíre into Angel Witch, theyíre into good hard rock bands like Blue Oyster Cult, Montrose, and itís just like ďkid, you know who Montrose is?Ē These kids are like 15 years old. I think the kids are hipper than we probably give them credit and so we have to give them a little more credit. Itís definitely going to be where now things are going to be great for heavy rock again. I think like we were talking about earlier in this interview, a lot of people are tired of the shitty music. They want that good shit again. When I was 15 I saw Black Sabbath. That changed my whole life.

Every year I go to Ozzfest because I love that whole festival. We had the reunited Judas Priest with Rob Halford and Black Sabbath. This kid was standing next to me tripping on all this shit and asking me all these questions. I got a kick out of that kid having such a great time and I was able to answer a lot of his questions. He was tripping on the whole thing. I never expected to see Rob back with Priest but heís back where he belongs and he needs to stay there.

Yeah, I would have to agree with you. Iíve seen him as Halford and I saw him back with Priest because we played with them in Sweden. He definitely should stay put. Thatís his band and their his band. What the hell is he doing without Glenn and K.K. Those are his shadows.

I thought Ripper did a good job too.

Yeah, youíve got to give the kid credit. I think actually it was really too big a shoes to fill. Ripperís a great singer but for anybody, come on, weíre talking about Rob Halford. A lot of people donít realize you have to go back if you really want to get into Priestís history. British Steel or Hell Bent For Leather. I could keep going on. The guy has put together an impressive catalog of vocals. Just exercises. I donít think people realize he should be in the top three of all time greatest heavy metal singers.

I liked seeing Ripper with Iced Earth. I saw that show recently. That was cool.

Iím actually happy for Ripper. I was like go man. Thatís cool. You lose a gig like Judas Priest which is one of the greatest gigs you can get especially if youíre a young musician, you find out youíre the new singer in Judas Priest. To go into Iced Earth is definitely a good gig. I hope heís staying put there too. I hope Rob stays in Priest and I hope Ripper stays in Iced Earth and they all have good careers. They all deserve it. I know how it is. Iím in a band myself that does pretty well and itís a lot of work. People donít realize there are a lot of hours spent in the studio being there for mix down, mastering, and all that stuff. Thatís not including getting the record out and then going out on tour and dealing with all the business crap. I wish those guys the best of luck just as well as I wish myself the best of luck.

When you left Hirax at the end of Ď88 you were replaced by Paul Baloff from Exodus and for some reason that didnít work out too well.

Yeah, I think what it is, Paul is a different kind of guy. God bless his soul because he passed away but heís one of those guys that are the same way as Rob Halford. If Paul were still alive, heíd be in Exodus because heís really the guy. I love Zetro Steve. Heís a great guy. A really good friend and a great guy. The guy is amazing but when you really look at it, if you listen to the first Exodus record, that really is Exodus. Paul Baloff, thereís nobody like him. Letís just leave it at that. Thereís nobody like Paul Baloff. Yeah, he wasnít right for Hirax and thank God for me, I am right for the band and thatís my baby. I love doing this band and Iím glad Iím still doing it. Look out world.

Iím glad youíre still doing it too.

Thank you so much. Itís going to be a good media. Weíre really excited and getting ready. All I can say is right now, itís just a lot of hard work and practice because we want to give people a great live show. We already do very well. The shows are always really great but weíre preparing for this new tour. Itís going to be amazing. If you can keep your eyes on everything because the band is like five Angus Youngs even including the drummer. Itís going to be a lot of fun.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Thanks for the kickass interview. This one has been great. Itís been very enlightening because youíve talked about stuff that a lot of people are afraid to talk about. I try not to be Mr. Super Political but I do speak my mind if stuff comes up. Iím proud of what I do and Iím proud of the country that I come from but when you go to other countries, like we tour Europe, the people over there are great. We have a lot of respect for Europe and all the fans from around the world that we get mail from. Itís just a dream come true, this whole thing. All the new people also besides the old schoolers, fists held high to all the old schoolers but even the new kids, if they need to check out the band's stuff and they have a computer, just go on to the Internet and go to www.hirax.org and it has all the tour dates as well as merchandise. All the other good shit. We appreciate the support from you as well and weíll definitely keep in touch. Definitely stay metal.

Hirax