Danny Lilker - Nuclear Assault

November 10, 2005


Photo Credit: www.spvusa.com

Hi, how are you?

Okay, how are you?

I'm spiffy. Having a Heineken.

Oh, right on. I just had my after dinner bong hit.

All right.

I'm not having a Heineken. Still I have to go to work tomorrow. I still have to have a crappy job. I'll have one tomorrow night though. Although I could have Labatt Blue because I live in Rochester and those are really easy to get over here even though it's considered an import. I'll have some kind of beer.

I just got off my crappy job so I know what you mean. Tell me about Nuclear Assault.

We're a thrash metal band that originally formed back in 1984 and we had our shit together a couple of years later. We signed to Combat Records and put out a bunch of records, the first of which was called Game Over which came out in 1986. We just put out more records and toured and made a couple of videos and got to go to lots of cool different places all over this planet. I left the band in '92 because I was no longer into playing thrash. It was kind of boring for me, that genre. I love to play more intense stuff like death metal and grindcore which I did with Brutal Truth. They broke up a year after I left in '92. In 2002, 10 years after I split, we reformed. We've been at it ever since and it's not going to go on forever. It's not going to be another 10 years but still it's quite enjoyable at the moment.

What led to the decision to get back together?

Well, the funny thing is it's not even somebody who was in the band. The dude is like our biggest fan ever. There's this guy whose name is Eric Paone and he's from New Hampshire and he's been in a band for ages called Candy Striper Death Orgy. He was just the biggest fan ever. Just the most hardcore Nuclear Assault fan. Every day he would have a different Nuclear Assault shirt to wear to work or something. He would call me up every two or three years since I left the band in '92 and he's from New Hampshire so he's got that really Yankee accent and he'd be like "hey Danny, how you doing? You want to do a show with the band?" I'd always have to say "nah, dude I can't. I'm busy doing shit with Brutal Truth." Brutal Truth broke up in '98 and then SOD which I was in during the '80s started doing more stuff right around then, putting out our second studio record ever and doing stuff for a few years. That tied me up too so finally after 2000, I met who was going to be my wife, Heather, and we got married in 2001 and in 2002 moved up here to Rochester because I'm from New York. By the time Eric called me in 2002 with his biennial call I'd settled in and I was happily married and just didn't have so much going on band wise that I couldn't do it so I said sure if you want to do a show. The other thing is after 10 years, playing fresh is fun again. I'd played in other bands through those 10 years that had a lot of the aspects of thrash like The Ravenous and when SOD did stuff again. Both those bands, if you don't know a lot about me it's going to get real confusing because I've been in a million bands, but the point being that over the course of those 10 years I'd played in the thrash style again with other bands. It kind of relit the fire for me if you will where playing thrash was fun again. I said sure. To make a long story short which is probably too late, I said sure, I'll do a show and the other guys were down to do it too so to answer your original question, it really wasn't even somebody who was in the band who got us back into it again. It was just due to Eric.

Bless those biggest fans for getting the shit rolling again.

Yeah, that's the real irony of it that it took him because I just would have sat on my ass forever. I'm a stoner. I like sitting on the couch and watching TV. I would have gladly done that but I had to end up doing this shit. Just kidding. It's enjoyable. So anyway, here we are.

Yes, we certainly are. You guys have a long history.

Yeah, we certainly do.

You guys put out a record called Third World Genocide. Tell us about the record like what inspired it and shit.

Well first of all, it's the first studio record that the band did. They did do one record after me in '93 but if you want the fucking "classic lineup" then it's the first studio record with the original members for like 15 years so that in itself is definitely something wild. What inspired it was musically, we just do what the hell we do as far as writing the music we do and stuff. We were inspired by the fact as far as doing an album at all after all this time because when we started doing all those shows and coming back in 2002, we had a very positive reaction from people coming up and going "are you guys back for good? You guys going to do a record?" As far as you can say, that was an inspiration for us just seeing that unbridled enthusiasm people seem to have for it. If you talk about more like artistic inspiration then musically it's plain rocket science if you've been doing it as long as we have. We just did what we do best which is me and John the guitar player and vocalist sitting in a room with a bunch of beer and some equipment and something to tape it with and writing music. Lyrically, it's the usual socio political stuff with some humor thrown in. I'm not really a lyricist though so I feel a little hesitant going into what exactly inspired John to write what he did but I did contribute a couple of ideas about things I felt would be cool to write a song about like one being all these pedophile priests that have come out. I mean that apparently has been going on for a while but once the shit hits the fan then you hear about "yes, well also in 1968..." You're like "hmm, it's been going on that long huh?" I've probably said enough.

Human beings are sexual animals. I think any time anybody tries to cut themselves off from any kind of human contact or sex, it can't happen. You have to have another human being. You just have to. That's the way human beings are.

I agree totally. I could go on for hours about that. About the way the Catholic church just encourages a repression of natural urges and it's true. It's unnatural and eventually the dam bursts and it's a shame that it has to happen in such an unhealthy and horrifying way. Yes, that's pretty much why the whole thing is so disturbing. They won't even let priests marry. That just was one of the things that was being drummed about in the Vatican apparently having one of their conferences and talking about whether they want to get any more progressive and the two things were priests cannot marry and women cannot be priests. It's business as usual and if that works for them, whatever, but apparently it isn't if shit like that is happening.

Exactly.

The whole thing was that kind of deep rooted religion. It's all about guilt and fear and shame and it is. It's just unhealthy and that's why people flip the fuck out.

That's one of the reasons why I'm not into religion because I don't feel like I'm a fucked up person. I don't feel like I'm sinful and I sure as hell am not going to walk around fearing some imaginary invisible whatever.

Yeah, it's the same thing with me. I would consider myself an atheist. I was brought up like a lot of people in New York in the Jewish religion and I had a Bar Mitzvah but my parents were what is known as Reformed Jews which is the most casual Jew you can be. That was almost more like I had the Bar Mitzvah because that's what everybody else, their friends and family, expected me to do.

It's also an excuse for a party.

Yeah, well also with Reformed Jews, you don't have a lot of that real brutal guilt and shit hanging over your head. Maybe with the Orthodox Jews they get a little crazy. You'll see it in a lot of people that are "liberal". Every time you see an interview with somebody with the ACLU or something, you see a lot of these people with Jewish last names and then of course certain conservative assholes "yeah, them liberal Jew pinko whatever." I think a lot of that is directly related to the fact that a lot of Jewish people are not brought up with shit shoved down their throats and they grow up with more of an open mind because of it. I'm not saying that in any kind of pro-Jewish way because I'm an atheist but it seems to be a sociological fact. To respond to what you were saying, definitely. I don't feel like I'm a bad person. I think I have good karma. I'm not very spiritual. I'm a little too realistic. I definitely don't believe in any big higher power but I respect other people if they do. I don't get in other people's faces so I don't like it when they get in my face. You get people who are so stupid they're like "you don't believe in God? Well then you must be a Satanist!" That's a bright fucking assumption, right?

Yeah, because if I don't believe in God then I sure as hell don't believe in Satan either.

Exactly.

Satanists do believe in God. They just think that Satan is more powerful than God.

Right. There is also so many different types of what people would call Satanism too. You got the LeVay Satanism and then you've got a lot of other people that just view Satan as just a force of nature. Just a powerful source that sounds almost pagan to me. I stay away from most of that shit but I'm basically a good person. I've got good karma and I don't think I need to be saved and I'm not going to go to some confession booth. That's pretty creepy. Just sitting in some dark little cubbyhole talking to some dude through a sliding door and telling him how you jerked off or something. For Christ sake.

I'm Choctaw so I'm more of a spiritual person but I respect the earth and it pisses me off to see what people are doing to it.

That's another whole thing. These people, the super conservative right wing Christians, are also the same people who feather their own bed with Bush and the oil companies and all this stuff. Drilling here and drilling there. Those people certainly don't really seem to give a shit about the earth because they keep building over it and plundering it.

Indeed. Are there any particular songs on the album that you like playing live?

That's the funny part. We've only played one or two of them live so far because the album got postponed a bunch. By the time it finally came out in late August, all we had booked were just a few weekend things. The closest we got to you was we played in Austin which isn't that close but considering I'm calling you from New York. In September we played The Backroom in Austin. It's a cool town. I've played at The Backroom a bunch of times. As far as what I would want to play live and enjoy playing live, it would probably be the title track because it's real heavy and brooding. There's a song called "Eroded Liberty" which I wrote most of and it's a real fast, real old school thrash song. Almost all the way through fast and just real energetic. That's always really good live. There's a song called "Exoskeletal". I've no idea what the fuck the lyrics to that are about. That would be fine live. Those would be fun. When you play thrash metal live, it's always better to have the faster stuff because it's very energetic music and it just goes naturally. It's natural to emphasize the more velocity driven aspects of your music I guess. Sounds rather lofty but it's just fun to play fast.

I thought it was kind of cool that you have some rather serious shit on here but at the same time you also have some very humorous shit.

Well, that's always what we've been about. If you're doom and gloomy all the time, you get to be depressing. There is shit that needs to be brought up. See the thing is, when you're a metal band especially like metal bands in the '80s, it seemed like the whole image thing where you had to be a tough guy and stand there with sunglasses on and a leather jacket with your arms folded. When you meet the people that were in these pictures and when you played with them, they're just like "hey dude, how's it going man? You want to go burn one?" They're just all normal people so it just seems kind of silly to try to be something you're not just to have some cool looking image. We always had kind of humorous stuff because that's how we are and we didn't see any reason to keep that out of our music for fear that somebody is going to think we're goofballs. That just reflects who we are as people.

Yeah, all these pictures of people standing there with their arms crossed and this really mean frowning look on their faces and I'm like damn, lighten up a little in the photos why don't you?

Yeah, that's funny because you're from Dallas too because I always used to call these pictures the Pantera squint. Obviously I was really fucking sad to find out what happened to Darrell. I'm just talking about a few years before that when the band was still together. You'd see pictures of them and him and Rex and the other guys and they had their arms folded and they'd kind of squint a little bit. It makes you look tough and I'm just saying that in fun. We would have a laugh about that. Standing there like they're real cool regular people. It's always funny because we'd see a picture and you're like "those people are crazy."

Then it turns out they're perfectly normal.,p> Right. Are you familiar with all the black metal shit in Norway?

Yeah, I love that shit.

I know all those people. I've been listening to that shit for a long time and you see pictures of them and you read interviews with them and you're like "oh God, these guys are freaks." Then those guys are some of the coolest, funniest people I know. They're just real fucking normal and I guess if you're going to play very brutal, abrasive music like that you can't sit there smiling and wearing shorts in your pictures. I understand that.

I did an interview with Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir and when he's on stage, he's this really gothic evil looking guy growling and all this shit. When you do an interview with him, you practically have to put your ear to his mouth because he's so soft spoken.

Yeah, I know that guy. Definitely. He glares and all that stuff on stage. The Norwegians as a whole, not to generalize too much, are very quiet, well behaved people. Before black metal nobody gave a fuck about Norway. Never even thought about it except for skiing or something.

Yeah, it's like "he's from Norway" and you're like "where?"

Yeah, I've been there a few times and my wife Heather and I are going there for vacation in February to hang out with all those people. Just have a good time. When you live in Rochester, you think going to Norway it's going to be cold. It's actually going to be warmer there than it would be here. It's no problem. We get the lake effect here. In Rochester you're right by Lake Ontario and you get some real special weather that's going to be coming up in about a month and lasting until about mid April. You want to talk about grim fucking frostbitten, oh yeah we've got it. That's good because when the snow's piling down like that I can sit in this room I'm sitting in right here in my apartment which is just the smoking room. Cigarettes, weed, whatever. It's got my computer. Sit there and smoke weed and watch the snow fall. Listen to music. It's cool. Don't get too much of that in Dallas I reckon.

No, in fact today we're having a little cool weather. Yesterday it was 80.

There was hail this morning when I woke up. That's okay. We're getting ready for it. We've all got our winter jackets out and we're waiting. We're all right with it.

You were talking about how you work a regular job. Do you guys have any touring plans coming up?

We were going to be doing a few shows in January but that didn't work out because our manager told us that trying to get promoters to pay for shows in January right after they blew all their money on the holidays isn't going to work. Our drummer lives in Florida. We're all spread out. We used to be all from the New York and New Jersey areas and now everybody is more spread out so in order for us to do shows, people have to fly in and shit. It's going to get postponed until March when we get back from Norway and there's supposed to be a festival in Spain. There is also supposed to be a bunch of shows they're going to be setting up in the U.S. and maybe a festival in Portugal too. We will be busy once the winter breaks.

That's a cool deal.

Yeah, I've been to Spain a few times and Spain is really cool. The people there are really cool and the last time I was there I had a great time. People really kick back and smoke some weed there, I'll tell you that.

That's the cool thing that people know how to have fun. It seems to me like ever since Bush got into power in 2000, fun is something you sneer at with contempt. Embrace seriousness and warfare and chaos.

Well, there's good chaos and bad chaos. After 9/11 shit just blew up and then that gave Bush an excuse to go into Iraq and look at what you've got going now. Fucking Cheney trying to legitimize torture through the CIA and all sorts of wacky shit. No one could find him by the way. I was just watching the news right before I called you and they're like "where is Vice President Cheney?"

Dick always hides out. No one ever knows where the fuck Dick is but every once in a while Dick raises his ugly head and roars out some fucked up shit. At least we know Dick is still alive where ever the fuck Dick is.

It's kind of funny because those people are all laying on the moral values ticket and that dude looks like one evil motherfucker. I don't see much moral about this one. He's the guy who told somebody on the Senate floor to go fuck himself or something.

Yeah, someone disagreed with him on something and he told the guy to go fuck himself. The guy is an evil looking fucker and quite honestly I don't think there's anything moral about bombing the shit out of people. You're pissed at Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein but who the fuck are you bombing? You're not bombing them. You're bombing folks who never left their country or cow villages.

Yeah, it's pretty fucking ridiculous. Their moral values seem to begin and end with being anti-abortion and anti-homosexual and everything else is fine.

Yeah, like torture. What's so cool about torturing people? Didn't we used to point fingers at other people who did that and now we're trying to legitimize it? What is this? If we do it, it's all right and if someone else does it, it isn't?

Yeah, and also in the early days of the war when there's like fucking journalists getting beheaded, everybody was all aghast. When you're torturing people, that's really almost no fucking different. You may not be killing them outright but you're still doing something that's a fucking atrocity.

People are going to react to that.

People are going to react to it as far as it's going to make the States look like shit and it's also going to be if we God forbid have fucking POWs, if Johnny from fucking Texas is being held somewhere fucking deep in Iraq with electrodes on his fucking balls, are people going to be all horrified and "oh, that's fucking wrong?" If we're doing it to other people, we have no right to complain if it's done to us. That's what John McCain is trying to tell people. Bush and Cheney have never been in a fucking war. He was a POW for fucking years. He's going "guys, guys, we can't torture people. Trust me." They just roll right over him if they can.

What really got me was the kind of torture these people were doing. Here we are espousing morals and motherhood and apple pie and we've got people like Lyndie England and this Granger guy and it was the stuff they were doing. It was all this sexual shit. Everything revolving around sex. It was so weird.

Well, let's think about that. How Cheney's daughter is a lesbian. How deeply ashamed he must be of that and God knows what kind of shit he's got going on in his fucking head. Yeah, it's all weird shit like that. A lot of that stuff they were doing, that Abu Ghraib stuff, a lot of stuff is specifically done to fucking humiliate and embarrass Muslims because they're very strict about stuff like that. About being naked or shit like that. For them it's not only embarrassing, it's completely sacrilegious.

I would never disrespect someone else like that. I wore the uniform myself and I feel that what those people did disrespected the uniform and it disrespected someone elseís culture and beliefs. I donít believe in that.

Yeah, absolutely. If youíre there for a certain job and of course you feel to defend your country even itís in that case for the wrong reason, then thatís one thing. But to go stepping outside the zone and just doing stuff that completely fucking infantile too. Worthy of some kind of college hazing, then thatís pretty fucking scary.

Yeah, it sure is.

Go there and do your job and try to get the fuck out.

And donít embarrass your fellow veterans.

Yeah, youíre like oh great, now people are going to fucking think that everybody in the military did shit like that.

When I was in the military it wouldnít have even occurred to me to do shit like that.

If the real people who are responsible like Rumsfeld arenít going to get in trouble for it because theyíre fucking sneaks then thatís really what itís about. They know how to get out of something. They just go ďoh I didnít know or say anything about that. I donít know what youíre talking about.Ē Lie their fucking asses off and get away with it. Other people fall on their swords for them. Thatís how it works. Although it is starting to fucking really corrode within the Republican party as a whole. When you saw the shit that happened since yesterday with the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia much more than New Jersey. New Jersey has always been kind of a blue state but with Virginia pretty much a Republican stronghold and then the day before the election, Bush appears with the dude and then he loses. Who knows if he was going to lose anyway. Thereís a lot of naive stupid motherfuckers in this country which is obvious because they reelected George Bush but I think now too late because we still have three years of the fucker and people are starting to realize, because if his approval ratings are any fucking guess, then some people are going ďoh, man.Ē But then again a lot of those people tell me they didnít see anything in John Kerry so what can they do. I think the Democrats really need to get their shit together in the next three years and put somebody up. I didnít think Kerry was that bad but other people did. Democrats in there too.

I think what we really need to do is introduce more political parties and have more representation for everybody. Not everybody is a conservative or a liberal. Not everybody is a Democrat or a Republican. Youíre not representing everyone and weíre supposed to be all about representation. Why not have some more parties and get some more fresh blood in there and actually start representing everybody? Give people choices. I donít like having a choice between hardcore and hardcore light.

There was actually a poll on that. It was the World News with Brian Williams and that Tim Ressert guy and he was talking about all these things. Bushís approval ratings and then at the end he had this weird thing where a whole bunch of people said that if there was a third political party theyíd be interested in checking it out.

Look at what we had a choice between. We had a choice between Bush and Kerry. I had a choice between a guy and his distant cousin. John Kerry is his fucking cousin. What kind of stupid shit is that?

His cousin?

John Kerry is Bushís distant cousin.

I didnít know that. How many times removed?

I donít know but both their families all appear at the same weddings and theyíre like third or fourth cousins. Theyíre related.

Shit, I never knew that. That is interesting.

The strange things you find out.

Yeah, no shit. That is fucking really interesting. I had no idea about that. It does make the point that it would be nice if you could be represented a little more with a little more variety but I canít see that happening any time in the near future. Itís really that you end up with a dilemma and you choose the lesser of two evils and thatís how it tends to work.

And thatís not what I really consider democracy. I donít consider democracy having to choose the lesser of two evils.

Thatís what itís turned into unfortunately.

You can have that anywhere. You can have that in a fucking dictatorship. You can have some fucking jackass running and some other fucking jackass running whoís less of a fucking jackass.

Yeah, that is a good point. Itís fucking scary whatís going on. That that many people are that gullible that voted for him and fucking kept him in power regardless of who the fucking other candidate was. I would have fucking voted for Popeye. There you go. Have Popeye for President.

Hell, maybe I ought to run for office.

I always tell people Iíll legalize murder and marijuana. Youíll be too stoned to kill anybody anyway so itíll be all right.

Absolutely. You guys had this record out since August. Are you guys thinking about doing another one anytime soon?

Not anytime soon but itís definitely going to be part of the plan eventually. When we first came out back in the Ď80s it was like you had a certain schedule to keep just like everybody else did. You put out records and then you toured and then you wrote more songs and you put out another record and you toured more. Thatís because youíre establishing yourself. Now people know who we are and they want to see us come back and weíre back and thatís cool. Now we can do things at our own pace. We donít have to rush plus everybodyís got more obligations and responsibilities because weíre all older than we used to be and people are married with kids. I donít have any children. I just have a couple of cats.

Thatís like having kids.

Yeah, itís not the same but we treat them like our kids.

Thatís the closest to children that I want to get. Furry critters.

Yeah, thatís pretty much where Iím at. Thatís what we did. Weíre content with our cats and that will be that.

Any other thoughts or comments?

We express our appreciation to the people who have invited us back to do stuff. If we came back and nobody cared itís like throwing a party and nobody shows up. You feel like a loser. Thanks to all the people who have supported metal and us specifically. Keep it up and weíll try to get out as much as we can and play for everybody. Stay metal and all that shit.

Nuclear Assault