- Alright, let’s get back in time and talk about the very origin. The band was formed in 1991, could you recall how everything happened? How did you get the first line-up?
- Well, I got the original lineup together very old school style: I put up flyers in music stores, handed them out at shows and placed ads in music papers. I ended up getting a lot of phone calls and tried out a lot of different people until I found ones that I thought would work well with both my personality and musical ideas. It didn’t take long to get things together, because I received a lot of responses to the ads and flyers. I jammed with a lot of good people, but the lineup we eventually came up with was pretty killer. We all got alone really well and shared a lot of the same musical ideas.
- And the same year you released your “The One Dollar Demo”, heh. Did people really call it like that? Can you share the story behind this record’s moniker?
- A lot of people called it “The One Dollar Demo”, because that’s what we were calling. The idea for the demo came because one of our friends managed to find 200 cassette tapes in the trash at a local law school. When he brought the tapes to our studio, I hatched the idea to create a rehearsal tape, so we’d have something to sell at shows. We made a quick 4-track recording of some of our songs, made a crude photocopied cover, and off we went! We never wanted to charge more than a dollar for it, because we didn’t think people should pay more than a dollar for a rehearsal tape. We just wanted to get it in people’s hands. We were pretty surprised that people actually liked it. It was crude and very rough, yet it was also tight and catchy too — I guess that’s why people were attracted to it.
- Back in the day, the tape trading was the only way for the underground bands to spread the word. So, who in your band was in charge of “PR”? What can you say about those days? Do you remember the first bands you exchanged the tapes with? Anyone from Europe?
- I was in charge of most of the “PR” up until 94 or so; after that, Brian Hobbie and Frank Rini pitched in and took a big load off my shoulders. Some of the first bands I exchanged letters/music with were Damonancy, Timeghoul, and Judecca. It took a little while till things came over from Europe, and I don’t remember which were the first bands that contact us, but I do remember that once Shiver Records put us on compilation CD “Sometimes Death is Better,” things really exploded for us in Europe as far as mail and contacts were concerned. That compilation was a real milestone in our career, and truly proved the worth and value of how music spreads through the underground.
- And what about the fanzines? Could you describe how the whole process of doing interviews was back in the day? Was it difficult for you, a young band, to get some coverage?
- The process is much the same as doing interviews are today, except back then it was done through letters. Usually, I would type out my responses and print them out on my computer, since my handwriting is so damn awful. Once our second demo, “Invocation of Evil” came out, we really had no problem getting coverage. As a matter of fact, I’d say we were all over the place. We had more interviews “back in the day” than we receive today. People had really caught on to Internal Bleeding and our sound, so there was a good demand for interviews, etc. At one point, I think I was doing an interview a night for a year straight. I’d come home from work, sit up all night smoking cigarettes and doing interviews — good times!
- In 1995 you released your first album, “Voracious Contempt”. Say, have you thought of what would have happened to the band if you managed to release the debut LP somewhere in 1991 or 1992?
- Interesting question — I never really thought about it to be honest. I think if our album came out around 91 or 92 it would have probably disappeared in the first wave of death metal bands. What were were doing at the time didn’t really fit in with what much of the first wave of US and European bands were doing, so I am not quite sure it would have caught on with listeners. Even up until 1994, labels didn’t “get” what we were doing — I have the rejection letters to prove it. I think 1995 was probably the perfect time for the album to come out, too bad the production was awful. That’s what hurt us the most.
- Tell a bit more about the recordings of this album. It’s kind of a mix between some tracks from your previous demos and some new songs. Why did you decide to include those songs?
- Well, when it comes to this kind of music, there are two distinct audiences involved. There’s the underground, which is tuned into everything that is going on in the scene, and then there’s the mainstream, which really only listens to music that is put out by larger, more so-called respectable labels. That dichotomy still exists today. When we did our first album, it was only natural not to let the demo songs get wasted by omitting them from the album, which was going to reach the mainstream audience as well as the underground fanatics. On top of that, the songs were much more refined by that time and we wanted get them on the album to showcase the changes and let Frank Rini put his interpretation on them.
- Once I read that the original mix of the album is so different from the final version, done by Scott Burns. So, what was the main difference?
- It’s completely different. It sounds bigger, heavier and much more live than the Scott Burns version. On top of that, Scott screwed up the entire middle part of “Epoch of Barbarity”. None of this was Scott’s fault; he did what he could with what he had. He had zero direction from Pavement, and they wouldn’t pay for one of us to fly down to Morrisound and supervise the mixing, so it’s only natural that the results were lackluster. Things would have been much different if one of us had gone down there. I am really upset that Pavement was desperate to put a brand “name” on the album, because that really screwed things up and most probably permanently damaged our career. Makes me sick to this day.
- Nowadays being considered one the pioneer of the genre, why do you think this album didn’t get a proper recognition when it was released?
There’s two primary reasons for this:
The production is terrible: In my opinion, Scott Burns really didn’t put a lot of effort into doing a good job, I don’t blame him though. I think Pavement gave him a minimal amount of money and he just ran it through a “template” of sorts without paying much attention to the details. Add to that no one from the band was down there to discuss it with him, and you have a recipe for the disaster that was Voracious Contempt.
People just didn’t get it (and still don’t): As with anything new, a lot of people (including the press) had zero clue as to what we were doing. Some would just slag it off as a bad version of Suffocation, which to me is lazy as fuck answer, and some thought it was just terrible sounding, and didn’t give it the time it deserved.
I think too many people missed the point that the album is groovy as fuck and filled with very little blasting and lots of grooves that were directly inspired by the NY hip-hop and hardcore scenes. There were no bands truly focused doing it at the time (some came close, but no one was as relentless about groove than we were), no one was using the word “slam” except us, so it was alien to a lot of people’s ears.
Now you look around the world and see everyone writing these riffs and beats, using the word “slam” and sometimes just blatantly lifting our riffs, and they have no clue who the hell we are. It really used to burn Bill (my he rest in peace) up and he’d go on long rants about it. Perhaps one day, it will get the recognition it deserves, but I am not holding my breath. Music is all about luck and timing — and our luck and timing sucked.
- In 1997, you came out with the following album “The Extinction of Benevolence”. Developing and exploring the sound and the ideas of its predecessor, this album turned out to be even heavier. What can you say about this record? Was the public reaction any different on this one?
- Well, you hit the nail on the head. We purposely tried to make this album as obscenely heavy as possible, to the point of being just completely ridiculous. Personally speaking, I love the material on this album much more than I like the songs on “Voracious.” Sadly, there was very little public reaction to this album, because when it came out, Pavement had no money for promotion, lost a lot of their distribution and didn’t do anything to help it get out there. We didn’t do any touring for it, and to compound the problems, Frank had left the band, which left us in a bind. Again — timing and luck conspired against us.
- After a short hiatus, in 1999 you released the “Driven to Conquer” album, and it was a turning point for you. First of all, tell a bit about the line-up changes, you’ve got a new guitarist and vocalist. Why did you part ways with Anthony Miola and Frank Rini?
- The period between 1997-1999 was pretty crazy. Frank had left the band to pursue his career, which really left us floundering and confused. I am glad that his departure was friendly and I must tell you that Frank Rini is a stand up human being. Instead of weaseling out of the band, he confronted his choice head on and discussed it with us. There was no ill will when he left. I was actually happy for him because he was getting his future started. As for Anthony, that was a sad story. He got involved with heavy drugs, and his playing, live performance and creativity all went completely downhill. The hardest thing I had to do was pick up the phone and fire him. It broke my heart. He was such a talented guy and just let it all go to waste.
Fortunately for us though, Guy Marchais stepped in and brought new enthusiasm and ideas to the band. Him and I would work together long into the night writing riffs and playing together. His amazing guitar playing abilities had such a positive effect on my playing, it literally elevated by playing ability 100%. He was a great fit and he came along at the perfect time. Then we brought Ray in to the band on vocals. And we gave him strict instructions to be clean, understandable and angry at the same time. He really stepped up, and his vocals were just awesome. By 1999 we wanted to explore a different vocal approach, we had grown a bit tired of the overly-guttural vocals and wanted to try something new, something more angry sounding, and Ray fit the bill perfectly.
- So, this album determined the new era for Internal Bleeding. How could you comment on those style changes? Was it also due to the new members and especially Guy Marchais? How did you fans react to such a change?
- The style changes weren’t that dramatic when you think about it deeply, I think we just managed to bring more focus to the songs and spent more time making sure the arrangements were perfect. We did speed up a little and add a bit more melody without sacrificing groove and slam riffs. We tried to simply evolve our style, since what we were doing previously was being done by a lot of bands by the time 1998/1999 rolled around. The biggest change I think was in the vocals, which I explained our approach to them in the previous question.
Fan reaction was generally very positive, and we were really happy with the reaction – especially when we took these songs into a live format. They fit in perfectly with our older material, but added new dimensions of intensity to our love shows.
Driven to Conquer is an interesting album in that it helps define our fans. By that I mean there are a great deal of fans who were with us at the beginning, and Driven to Conquer helped us gather a whole new crop of fans who never heard the previous albums. When I talk to fans they either tell me they got into us when they heard “Voracious” or when they heard “Driven.”
- Alright, I have to ask it, “Anthem for a Doomed Youth”, the closing track and its thanks list. How did you come up with that idea? Looks like you had lots of fun recording it! And man, all those sounds and noises on the background, hah!
- Anthem for a Doomed Youth was a really fun song to put together. At first we just played that opening bass line once, then when into the song, but Guy and I kept playing around with it and decided to extend it, add some guitar flourishes to it and make it more of an actual piece of the song as opposed to just a bass intro. Brian Griffin, our producer helped a lot by scouring his VHS collection for the perfect war movie quotes to put over that bass line. It really came out fantastic. Very moody with a dark foreboding vibe to it.
As for the thank you list, we were just having fun. We knew we wanted to do an audio thanks list, so we just let the tape literally roll as we thanked people. After we listened to it, we just decided to make it really funny by adding all those stupid noises to it. We thought it would be a nice contrast to all the seriousness that was on the album. We were cracking up the whole time we were adding those noises.
- The next album was recorded with a bit surprising line-up, having only Bill from the original members. So, what happened? However, I still think that the material is really good on it, and the whole album is pretty solid. What are your thoughts about it? And how did Terrance Hobbs get involved into production?
- I had literally “checked out” by that time, and left the band to Jerry and Bill. Most of the songs on the album Guy and I had written, but some don’t even have me or Guy’s fingerprints on them. I think it’s a killer album and it foreshadowed a lot of music of today. It was just a little ahead of it’s time. I cannot do a lot of commenting about it, because I really wasn’t involved with the band at the time. I needed a break. I was exhausted, and in the midst of starting my own business. Terrance got involved through Joe Cincotta, who owns Full Force Studios.
- Ok, back to the more recent events. Following the tragic death of Bill Tolley, it was touching to see such a warm response from the metal community worldwide. Since first of all Bill was your friend, could you recall when you first met? Maybe share any great story that always makes you smile?
- The response has been completely overwhelming. It’s almost surreal! When we were on our last tour, the amount of people who came up to us to offer support and condolences was overwhelming. Sometimes it was just too much for me, and I’d just have to hide somewhere and cry because I just couldn’t deal with it all. I am thankful that he had such a great impact and will be remembered for a long time.
I remember the first time we met. It was out our first studio, and Bill came rolling up in his beat up Chevy Nova and pulled out his chrome Pearl Drums. We got along immediately and literally started within laughing 10 minutes. Bill and I were inseparable. We’d speak every single day on the phone and we were both very involved with each other’s lives. I have so many good memories of him, and trying to describe to you what he did that made me smile is kind of hard to do, because you just had to be there, in the moment. Bill was extremely quick-witted and would come out with stuff that would just have you on the floor laughing your ass off. He always knew when to say the right things to make you laugh; that was his genius.
- And once again, the band went through some more line-up changes. Could you present the current members of IB?
Chris Pervelis: Guitar, Chris McCarthy: Guitar, Joe Marchese: Vocals, Kyle Eddy: Drums and Shaun Kennedy: Bass.
- The latest single video “Final Justice” was dedicated to the memory of Bill. Do you keep working on the new full-length? How is it going so far? Will it be also dedicated to Bill?
- Indeed we keep working on the new material! As a matter of fact, at this time, we’re about 3/4 of the way done with the album. It’s going to be called CORRUPTING INFLUENCE, and we’re really excited to get this recorded. I think with this upcoming album, timing and luck are going to finally be on our side! The album will naturally be dedicated to Bill, and as a matter of fact, all forthcoming albums will be dedicated to Bill. He may not be here physically, but his spirit is infused with the band. He will always be loved and remembered by us. I cannot even begin to tell how important Bill is to the IB legacy, so it’s only natural to make sure that everything we do from now on is dedicated to preserving his legacy. Anyway, some new songs on the album include these titles: “Surrounded from the Inside”, “Litany of Insincerity”, “Fatal Dependency”, “Corrupting Influence” and “Ocular18”, which is going to be a re-do of “Ocular Introspection”.
- Thank you for the interview, Chris. Would you like to add anything in the end?
- Thank you once again for the wonderful interview! All of us in IB appreciate your support. Thank you to all our fans who have stayed with us all these years. Make sure to like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/internalbleeding) and we’ll hopefully see some of you on tour. Stay heavy my brother!