Okay. Anything in particular?
Just whatever strikes your mind.
My mind is just a big blank. No it's kind of one of those things. Where to start. Let's start with the band. Basically what happened was, I started this project. I guess it was maybe around late '95, early '96 with A. J. the singer who initially was playing drums. We were both in different projects and decided that we wanted to get together and try something a little bit different. Make something that was a lot heavier. 'Cause at the time there wasn't a lot of that going around on the local scene and just something that we wanted to do. We started jamming and basically it evolved. A. J. decided he wanted to get up front and start singing so we brought in Shane to play drums and he brought some amazing drum skills to the band. It's allowing us to do some different things musically and change the format up a bit. We got a little more technical and when Rich came in it was a full fledged band. Basically we've just been playing around the scene in Los Angeles for a few years, then we did a couple of demos and eventually decided "let's make a record". It took a lot to get it out but here it is. So far the response has been very positive.
How did you come up with the name for the band?
I wanted to call it something very simple and powerful that was kind of striking. Sort of conveyed the vibe that we wanted to give so we called it Diesel initially. The kind of stuff that we were writing back in the early formations was actually a lot slower and a lot heavier. There's a couple of songs that we actually kept around and made the record like "Rage" is a good example of that. It's just that low gear heavy machinery vibe. There were rumors of other bands called Diesel and we actually did a name search and I think there were 70 disco bands ironically of the same name. We just decided to keep that and just sort of expand upon it to set ourselves apart.
Yeah there was a band called Diesel that performed at Deep Ellum Live here in Dallas. Who are some of your musical influences?
Musical influences. That's pretty vast. For this band I have to say bands like Black Sabbath, Crowbar. Maybe some of the more extreme bands like Meshuggah definitely. We listen to a little bit of everything. We all have pretty vast influences but I think the heavier the better for us. Also listening to some of the newer bands that are coming out right now too. Some of the more progressive Swedish bands kind of following in the footsteps of Meshuggah but a lot of them are more melodic like one of my favorites is Soilwork. I also like what some of the newer bands are doing right now like Slipknot, Mudvein. Very aggressive.
You guys seem to have an allstar lineup. How did you guys find the time to get together and put a record out?
It is difficult. Everybody's doing their own thing but typically when you say allstar it means you're probably playing with other people. In a way that's cool to be able to do that. I play with Rob Halford and Shane has played with some major players himself. Basically we wanted to do something that was our own and there's a lack of creative control I think when you get a lot of other people involved and you're sort of not top employee. In this thing it's 100 percent organic. We get to do whatever we want to do and obviously it sounds a lot different than the other projects that we work on. It's a lot more gratifying I guess. Self-indulgent if you will.
I had heard of all the bands they said you guys were with. That's pretty killer.
Not a bad little resume.
No not at all. You perform with Rob Halford. How long have you been working with him and what's it like to work with him?
It's actually pretty cool. I think Rob's a great guy. Amazing musician. Ironically I think that was the first concert I ever saw was Judas Priest and "Screaming For Vengeance". I guess it was kind of life changing. I said "I wanna do that". Sort of ironic that I would wind up on the same stage as him.
That's happened to a few people now. Ryan Roxie with Alice Cooper. Eric Singer with Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, and the whole nine yards. People who actually got to perform with bands that they enjoyed when they were younger. You guys hosted the VH-1 Rock Show back in April. How did that go? That was pretty cool. I didn't get to play any Diesel Machine songs or anything but it was fun. It's always a good experience. There's some good people over there.
I've always envisioned VH-1 at the Barry Manilow channel. It surprised me that they such heavy acts on that channel now.
I think musically the climate is changing in America now. I think radio stations have expanded quite a bit and you see a lot more heavy music. Unfortunately in Los Angeles we don't have the benefit of a metal station although there are I think 9 or 10 million people in this city. For some reason they haven't provided us with an outlet for heavy music. I think overall internationally heavy music is getting more and more acceptable and in some cases even more mainstream with bands like Metallica sort of crossing over into mainstream America. A little bizarre but I think that started reflecting in MTV and VH-1 as well. VH-1, they've been pretty consistent with the Rock Show. They haven't gone into any extreme programming but these things take time in the corporate world.
I definitely wish MTV would bring back Headbangers Ball because there's so many bands out there that would be so awesome on that show and I think that you guys could come up with some really cool videos for some of your songs.
I think we could. I think we'd probably frighten people.
But that's good.
I think we're scary enough just listening to us. Oh well.
Diesel Machine did "The Thing That Should Not Be" for the Metallica tribute record. How did you guys get involved with that?
That was an opportunity that presented itself through our pals over there at Dwell Records and that was a cool experience. I mean that was something that I thought would be really cool and we just happened to find just the right song. I think that was very, very fitting of the band. It sort of had that definite slow grinding kind of vibe to it already so I think it was a pretty accurate reproduction. We sort of stylized it by playing just a little bit slower and a little more tuned out.
Tell us about your record Torture Test.
What would you like to know?
Just whatever enters your mind.
Essentially when we started making demos, the heavy music scene in Los Angeles was pretty limited. Record labels were telling us "oh you guys are too heavy" and "there's no melody on these tapes". Basically we said, if you don't mind me saying, "fuck you. We're just going to do it ourselves". What we started doing was recording and get access to some good gear and some good people to help us out and basically started doing it ourselves. Recorded it and brought it in to have it mixed with Pat Regan who really made it come to life. Then we just licensed it. It was nice having creative control. We didn't have a record company saying "oh you've gotta have it done by this time and you've gotta put these songs on it". That can be sort of problematic for a lot of bands. We just did what we wanted and we did it our way and we said "here you go. Here it is. Put it out".
There seems to be more corporate bullshit than there is creativity.
Yeah that's unfortunate that record companies have to stifle the creativity of the bands sometimes.
And that isn't even supposed to be the point.
Yeah I think typically it's more true of major labels because of the investment that they put in. They're shooting for pure commercial benefit and mass marketing. I guess that's in their best interest but I think it cheapens the vision of the artist.
You got to work with producer Pat Regan who's worked with KISS and Deep Purple. How did you get hooked up with him?
I think what happened was Shane our drummer was working on another project. I think it was just a side gig, like a recording project, and Pat was producing the record and as a favor I think he said "would you mind working with my band"? He said yeah sounded cool. Brought him some demos. I think it was kind of a challenge for him. I don't think he's ever done anything that heavy so he was into the music and said "yeah I'll do it". We're extremely pleased with the results.
You co-wrote six tracks on Halford's album Resurrection. Did you write all the tracks on Torture Test?
Yeah, pretty much. I'm busy. Got a lot of ideas and of course idle hands do the devil's work so I have to stay busy.
What's your inspiration for such brutal material?
I think that's multi-faceted actually. First of all, being in the business for ten years in Los Angeles alone, I mean started playing guitar when I was about 12, but trying to suffer through this business is aggravating and fuel for a lot of angst I think. Unfortunately that's what most musicians have to live through. There's a very small percentage of people that make a living at it. Secondly, I was into martial arts quite heavily. Some of that is influenced by the emotions that you experience I guess in that realm. What else? I think just in general, the world sort of affects me when I write. Watching the news can be quite morbid and the things that happen on a daily basis. They affect me in a profound way so I just sort of write what I see.
Kind of like this one show I saw last night. I forget what it was called but it had all these stunning reproductions of film footage of people croaking.
A little odd isn't it?
Yes. It's on prime time TV now.
Yeah. I guess in a nutshell our music is kind of a reflection of society.
People seem to be pretty used to this sort of stuff now. Which tracks on your album stand out the most to you?
Wow. That's a tough one. I think the most recent tracks, probably the last two that we wrote, are the most advanced musically. It's so tough. It's like pets or a kid. It's tough to have a favorite but usually the last thing you create you're most proud of because it's the newest and it's fresh in your mind. "Torture Test" stands out. I think that's why it became the lead track and "Black Box" I think really showcases the style that we've been shooting for. Both those songs have a lot of odd type time signatures and parts and arranging. It's more advanced on those. I think that's kinda what we were going for with those tracks. Trying to progress as songwriters.
You guys have been playing around Los Angeles. Are there any plans to tour around the country?
Essentially that's a very high priority for us. Scheduling is a definite problem at the moment because of my commitment to the Halford organization. There's a lot of things going on musically with the entire band. We're trying. Definitely trying to schedule something. I'd like to have the opportunity for people to see us. We want to perform definitely because we are a live band. It's tough to really capture the energy that goes into the music on a CD. We did as good a job as we can but I think we're actually better than Torture Test may sonically capture.
When you perform live there's more of a vibe.
Exactly. You want the energy to come across visually as well as sonically.
Have you been getting any radio airplay?
Actually yeah quite a bit. Ironically the same that's working the Halford records is working Torture Test. We've been charting very well.
Any other comments?
Basically I think we've covered all the good stuff. Definitely check out the website which is www.dieselmachine.net and everybody who is having trouble finding the disc because of distribution problems, go to your local store and demand it. Demand that they order it. You can also buy it online of course at CD Now, Amazon, and all that stuff.
So you're hooked up with CD Now and Amazon? That's a good deal. They've been definitely putting out a lot of records that are hard to find.
There's so much stuff out there that it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. Especially for metal bands. They get drowned out by Britny Spears and NSYNC. If you can't find it sometimes you have to resort to other methods. I think the best thing to do is to go to your record store and go "hey! Get this for me". Demand your metal.