- Hello, Alex! How did the metal journey start for you? What were your first metal bands? Do you remember your first concert?
- I guess as far as heavy music is concerned it was Hendrix and The Who. Then i heard Zeppelin, Sabbath, Purple and just went on from there. Then the whole heavy metal explosion with Priest, Motorhead and Iron Maiden.Those bands made me obsessed with this music and want to play it and i just never looked back. And my first concert was Queen in the late 70,s.
- How did you move to more extreme music? How did you discover death metal and grindcore?
- It was just a progression from hard rock/metal to hearing Venom,Metallica,Slayer,Celtic Frost etc. I was attracted to the aggression and darkness it had. I had found my calling. As far as death metal goes i was right there as it was becoming i guess a label to call it what we were expressing musically. Hearing Hellhammer/Frost,Bathory,Possessed and then i got a hold of the Death"Infernal Death" demo in late 86.That opened a whole new world to me. I dove right into the whole underground tape trading scene discovering bands like Death, Deathstrike/Master, Genocide/Repulsion, Insanity (Ca USA), Slaughter Lord etc.. All those bands had a big impact on me.
- Goreaphobia was formed in 1988, tell us, how did it happen? How did you meet Chris and Craig?
- I was in a band called Infamy with Chris,s older brother Frank Gamble as our drummer.He wanted to play more hardcore type of stuff and i wanted to stick to what we were doing and that was death metal. So i basically took the singer Kevin Brennen and asked Chris to come with me and form a new band so Chris and Kevin were also in Infamy. I basically took the whole band with me except for Frank and later Henry Piotrowski the rhythm guitarist came with me. So basically everyone that was in Infamy left with me to start Goreaphobia. We got our first drummer Mike through some mutual friends who played in the hardcore band No Reason and again i was faced with a drummer that did not want to play death metal but hardcore so we replaced him with Craig Smilowski in 1989. I met Chris on the street one day in my old Neighborhood i was drinking beer with some friends and Chris walked by wearing Celtic Frost painted on the back of his jacket and i had Destruction painted on mine so we just started talking because of the band logos on our jackets little did i know he was my drummer Franks brother and that is how he got into Infamy from me, He was all about the music i was into and that just started a friendship that led into two bands we were in together. Craig i met from a mutual friend Ann Bowman. She ran a local record store and became our manager eventually. Mike quit so we needed a new drummer so Ann recommended Craig to me. She told me he was great! I heard his bands demo that was straight up thrash metal so i think the transition for him playing our kind of music was a real new experience for him playing a more brutal and darker style. He fit right in and was a much better drummer then our previous drummer and he was super enthusiastic about playing with us. It was a real great time for the band because we knew with him we could take the band were we wanted it to go with no one holding us back.
- What was your first rehearsal place like? How long did you practice before your first show? Do you remember where and when did you play live for the first time?
- Our first rehearsal place was at our original drummer place. I guess we played around 3 times a week in the beginning. We played to live shows with the original line up of me on guitar Chris Gamble on bass Kevin Brennen on vocals and Mike on drums at a place called the Philly Cookbook in Philadelphia. We played with the hardcore band No Reason and some other thrash bands i cant remember but the shows went over well because we stuck out from all the bands and i think the audience was a little shocked by us. But i think we made a impression because they never heard anything like us.
- In general, at those times in Philadelphia, what was the situation with metal scene? How could you describe the local underground? Did you have many national acts visiting you?
- Well there was not much of a scene for us. It was glam and hardcore with some thrash metal bands.Most of the trash people did not like us aside from the Anvil Bitch guys. But at the same time a hated all those bands because they were playing this shitty Anthrax/Testament thing and i hated that stuff. I really liked being hated because we were the first to do what we were doing in our area. It was not until 1990 that people started to like us and i guess we started to inspire other people in our area to play more extreme. The thing is that we were not close with any of the bands in Philly all our friends were in New York and New Jersey like Immolation,Incantation,Putrefact,Mortician and Decay. We really were outcasts in our home town.
- In 1990 you released your first demo, "Morbidious Pathology". How and where did you record it? How did you distribute it? Who was responsible for the tape-trading in the band?
- We recorded the demo at Snugfit Studios with John Lovrich engineering. He was a great engineer and i think did a amazing job capturing the rawness and aggression of the band at the time. We recorded the demo with me on all guitars because we let Henry ago about a week before the recording. So it was done as a 3 piece with me on guitar Chris Gamble bass and vocals and Craig Smilowski on drums. It is still one of my favorite recordings. It was distributed by word of mouth through the underground. Myself and Chris were tape trading for a couple of years so we already had friends who new about us worldwide so news spread real fast about the demo with great feedback. We sold a lot of demos and things really started taking off for us.
- By the time of your next release, "Omen of Masochism" EP, your line-up has been changed. Why did you have to hire new drummer and an additional guitar player?
- Craig had left to do the Dawn of Possession record with Immolation so for a while we were rehearsing together with Immolation and it just got to be too much for us having Craig in both bands so we decided to get a new drummer so we a friend of mine John Verica introduced us to Kenny Masteller. He picked the songs up real quick and for the past year we had John Arcucci on second guitar. So that was teh line up myself Chris Kenny and John to to the ep.
- That EP was released by Relapse, how did you get that deal? Did you discuss any other release through Relapse but that EP?
- Matt Jacobson the owner of Relapse got in touch with me about signing the band to his new label. I knew of him because he did a zine in Colorado and he was partners with Bill from the band Exit 13 who i also knew and he had only Incantation and Deceased at the time. We were almost signed to Roadrunner but Monte Conner decided on Suffocation instead of us. He thought they were more commercial sounding as he told me then. And we had now interest from Nuclear Blast but decided on Relapse because they really seemed to want to push us on there label and really seemed to have there act together so at the time it seemed like a no brainer to sign with Relapse since they wanted to make us a priority. We were originally set to record our debut in Sweden at Sunlight Studios. we would have been the first American band to record there. We like the rawness and atmoshere that came out there. I hated the whole Morrisound sound and we had nothing in common with those type of bands.But also at the same time there was a lot of fighting between me and the guitar player and that put a end to all our plans.
- After that you left the band. Why did you decide to leave? What have you been doing all this time?
- There was just huge egos with all of us especially between me and the guitarist John. He wanted to write but i would turn down his ideas i thought his stuff was like Death Spiritual Healing and i was not about that kind of thing. I was about the evil and darkness and he wanted to be more like that. To be honest he was real sneaky and just did a lot of stuff behind my back and that led to em leaving. I decided to start a new band called Ancient and Relapse was going to sign my new band i had Bob Vigna and Craig from Immolation helping me out playing with me but that eventually fell apart i really got more and more into drinking, It really crippled my focus and judgement for years until i gave it up and became my old self again more improved and focused to really do music seriously again.
- In 2009 you released your debut album, "Mortal Repulsion". So, how was it like to release it almost 20 years since the band's creation? And by the way, it was recorded almost with the original line-up.
- It was a great time! The album was recorded with myself on all guitars and Chris Gamble on bass/vocals and Jim Roe ex Incantation on drums. Almost original because me and Chris have always been the core of the band. It was better then the early days because we were all on real good terms with each other and Jim is just a amazing drummer and has always been one of my faves we really worked well together making Mortal repulsion. We also had John McEntee still in the band at that time but he never made it to record the record. He left the band not too long after we recorded the album. It was just too much for him being in 3 bands at the same time.
- When did you first start working on the new material? How could you describe musical evolution of the band? Where did you record it?
- I started writing the music around 2007 and then finished in 2008 right before we recorded it. Most of the music was written and arranged by me and Jim. And Chris wrote all the lyrics as he always has done. But the music is a step further of course even darker then before as it should be. we recorded the record at Jim Roe,s studio Neanderthal Studios with Jim recording and engineering the album.
- The next album was not long to wait, and in 2011 "Apocalyptic Necromancy" was released. In my opinion, this album sounds different from the previous, rawer and more evil, showing what Goreaphobia is like. What can you say about this album?
- I think its the best thing the band ever had done.And it is also for me the best line up ever for Goreaphobia myself Chris,Jim and we enlisted VJS (Nightbringer/Sargiest) on second guitar. It was a real band effort.Very inspirational to the best we could with it. Everyone contributed and i think the diversity is what makes it so good. Im really proud of this album.
- Wanted to ask about "White Wind Spectre" song. Who came up with the idea of such unusual approach for the track?
- I wrote the music for that song. I did not think everyone in the band would like it but i played it for all of them and they loved and said we need to put it on the record. It is really not a metal song but more of a dark new wave type of vibe. It is very dark and dramatic! The only thing that could make it metal is Chris,s vocals. It is my favorite song on the album.
- The same year you joined Incantation. Tell us, how did it happen? For how long have you been knowing John McEntee? Where did you meet him?
- No i joined Incantation in 2007.In 2007 John was kind of in a bad place with the band not knowing what the future of Incantation was. Kyle had recently left so John had people like Jim Roe and Craig Smilowski filling in for touring commitments and also i started helping him out live. It just came out of us jamming and talking about music and i think our respect for each other it just made sense we should be in a band together. We have been friends for about 26 years now so there is a long history with us. I think it was meant to be because i believe we both rejuvenated each other gave each other new life to move forward. He actually joined Goreaphobia at the same time in 2007. He is one of my best friends and im real proud of the music we have made together. Its hard to remember so long ago but i believe i met John from the Immolation guys. Thats when we were the elitist to rid the word of false death metal haha.
- How did the recordings of "Vanquish in Vengeance" go? How was it for you to work in the band? Did you feel the complete involvement into the song-writing processes?
- I have good memories of the recording of this record. We were all working together as a team. It was a real band effort and there was some good vibes with us for a common goal. I contributed alot musically to the album. My songs and ideas were always welcomed and encouraged. I was very satisfied with the album.I think its one of the best Incantation records.
- To promote this album you went to the European Tour. How did it go for you? Actually, in Paris you played in a legendary club "Gibus", do you remember this show?
- Europe is always great! It is my favorite play to play and yes i remember that place very well on that tour, It was a great show and great night because a few of my French friends were also there that night. But unfortunately at the end of our show i walked off stage to find out Jeff Hanneman had passed away. R.I.P. Jeff
- In 2014 you recorded "Dirges of Elysium". Truly, I think it's one of the best Incantation's albums. Tell us, what the song-writing process like? Do you have your personal favourites from this CD?
- Thank You! Im glad you like it! By the time this album was coming together my personal life was a mess and i was feeling more distant from the band and was not really happy with things and decisions made in the band. I was really distancing myself from them and it just became a real bad situation for all of us being real close friends. I also felt that there was a lot of limitations for me artistically. It was inevitable that eventually i would leave at that time. It was not a team effort as the previous record. I think the album could have been so much better if i was more involved in it. Thats the only thing i regret. But i did write the music for the songs Debauchery,Bastion of a Plagued Soul and the last song on the album Elysium. I left towards the end of the album.
- So, what are your plans for now so far? Do you have any news from Goreaphobia? Maybe, you'll continue with Incantation? Besides that, what's about your new band Ruinous?
- Now i think i am writing the best music i have ever written and i am more inspired then ever. I am in just in a much better place now in my life. I needed to start from scratch again so there are no limits for myself. No news for Goreaphobia i think the band ran its course but you never know what the universe has in store for you. As far as Incantation again you never know. But think we are all much happier now doing our own things. They have moved forward like i have. But im sure i will make music with John again in some form i dont think we are done being creative together with some kind of project. And yes Ruinous my new band with ex Funebrarum members Matt Medeiros and Shawn Eldridge and my friend Julian Lawrence. It is pure crushing death metal. We just recorded our debut record for Dark Descent Records that will come out early 2016. I am super proud and excited for this record i really think the death metal world is going to love it. And we are planning to start gigging soon and crush some skulls.
I also have the band Eturnus that has been long in the making. It is completely different then anything i have done before, Very dark heavy metal. Very musical and deep stuff. This band is very personal to me and some amazing musicians are involved. 2016 i will have some of my best work ever. So im super stoked for all of this.
- Thank you for this interview, Alex! Would you like to say anything to your fans?
- Thank you Dima for the interview and many thanks to all the fans of my music over the years i appreciate you all and look forward to seeing you all live in 2016.
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