- Hello, Ed! First of all, tell us how did your metal journey start? What were the first extreme metal bands that got your attention?
- My metal journey started in High School, playing guitar with some friends. The very first metal song I learned was "You got another thing coming" by Judas Priest. LOL We were learning Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Dokken, Ratt and Pink Floyd tunes as well. The first extreme band that caught and held my attention was Terrorizer, "The World Downfall" cassette rarely left my cassette player. It is 36 minutes of pure aggression, and some of the most powerful guitar riffs I had ever heard. Carcass was next, "The Necroticism Descanting The Insalubrious", and "Reek of Putrefaction" albums, Deicide "Deicide", Entombed, "Left Hand Path", and Napalm Death. As the genera exploded I listened to countless demos and albums. It seems like thousands, and probably was.
- Being a young metalhead, how could you describe your local metal underground? Which bands were among the most cult for you? Do you remember any local fanzines?
- At the time there was no extreme music scene in our area. We were in the far Northern suburbs of Chicago and we were it. There were Thrash bands everywhere, covering Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax. And everybody was a Slayer fan. But as far as the grind, blast beat, growling vocal style music goes, it was Broken Hope. Don't get me wrong though, Chicago had an expanding extreme music scene. I was speaking of our local area. I do not recall any local fanzines. You would probably have to ask Jeremy about that.
- In 1986 you were in a Thrash band Abstract. Tell us a bit about this period. How long did you stay in the band? Did you manage to come up with any tracks together?
- Abstract was a cover band, we played a couple Slayer tunes and had a few original ideas kicking around. Hard to say just how long that band lasted. I was still playing guitar at that point and was not quite sure what I wanted to do musically. I had rented a huge flat in downtown Waukegan Illinois, it was not zoned for residential but I slept there most nights. There were a couple local Thrash bands that would come and jam from time to time. But it started turning into nearly 200 people there or passing through when I had music nights. People were getting artistic on the walls with paint and markers, the landlord did not approve, I had to paint the whole place at my expense and vacate a.s.a.p. It was a fun time though, and it gave me a real taste of what the music scene was all about and I was hooked at 18 years old.
- So, how did you meet the guys from Broken Hope? When exactly did you join the band? In the previous band you were a guitar player, so why did you switched to bass?
- How did I meet Broken Hope? Well I did not actually meet Broken Hope. I met Joe and Jeremy through a friend. My friend took me to a local show where there were 4 or 5 bands playing. Joe and Jeremy had a gig with their band which consisted of some friends from High School, I'm not sure what the name of the band was. Joe was not doing the growling vox at the time and Jeremy's guitar was loud and kept falling out of tune. After they finished their set, I approached Jeremy and said something about his guitar falling out of tune. He said it was on account of the new strings. They were all or mostly original and quite different than the other bands playing that night. I walked away remembering their set that night. My friend that took me to the show that night knew Joe and Jeremy, and through the next several months I would run into them here and there. One day my friend and I went to the local mall to see his girlfriend, Joe and Jeremy were there. Joe approached me and said in a way that only Joe could: "Ed get a fucking bass, your playing bass for us now" and I left the mall with them haha... So at that point I was jamming with Joe and Jeremy, we called ourselves Crypt. Shortly after that the drummer said he had to stop playing for a while due to a knee injury. Somehow Jeremy found Ryan, Ryan joined and we began rehearsals at the Stanek house. The line up then was Joe, Jeremy, me, Ryan, and Dave(Duff). Ryan and Jeremy came up with the name and Broken Hope was born. This was the line up that recorded the first demo. Not long after that we played a multi-band show, Brian Griffin was in one of the other bands playing there that night called Prisoner. After that show, Brian joined Broken Hope and Dave Duff joined Prisoner. It was a guitar player swap meet ....The new line up with Brian on board is the line up that inked the record deals.
As far as why I started playing bass. Well at the time everybody and their brother was a guitar player and everybody and their brother needed a bass player for their band, so the switch was the quickest way to get into a working band.
- The first selftitled demo came up in 1990. Where did you record it? How many copies did you have? How did you distribute it? Who did the artwork?
- The First demo was recorded by Al Purvey at his home studio. LOL back in those days copies of the demo were made on a dual cassette recorder, no way to say how many copies were distributed. It started out as distributing to friends and family, then friends of friends, then the orders started coming in to the P.O. box... Funny , I am listening to it online right now, the question of it brought back some memories so I am youtubing it while I type. The artwork was done by the brother of my girlfriend, it is pencil art, we chose it to help an aspiring young artist...
-In 1991 you released your debut album "Swamped in Gore". Notably, that was the first ever digitally recorded Death Metal album, from start to finish. So, how did it happen? Were you a bit worried about the final result? How different was it for you from the analog recordings?
- Earlier I mentioned Brian Griffin joining the band. Well it turned out that Brian worked at a local recording studio called Opus, at the time, the name was later changed to Wave Digital Studios, so the guitar player exchange was ( not to take away from Dave) nothing but a win win for a young band hungry for a record deal. I might add that after Brian joined, we began all rehearsals at the studio. When it came time to discuss recording with Grind Core and Metal Blade we went with Wave Digital Studios. It was our home base, we were comfortable there, if there were a shower and a bed I may have never left the building LOL.
I don't think we were at all worried about the end result of digital recording. It did prove to be a bit more challenging than analog, with every little blurb and mistake shining through just as clear as the rest. But you simply do another take and nail it, or, one advantage of digital is you can "punch in" and "punch out" if there is a mistake and simply quick fix it .. But be sure to get it right on stage..
- Tell us about the recording sessions. How did it go? Did you face any difficulties? How long did it take you to write down all the material?
The recording sessions were pretty quick for us, we went in "ready", the songs were completely worked out during rehearsals start to finish. The main thing was tracking, getting solid basic tracks down, then layer them to fatten them, up add vocals, then guitar solos, backing vocals LOL Backing vocals, you ever try to growl like that? It is not easy. There were a few late nights finalizing a guitar solo or two but other than that I would call the Swamped sessions some of the best times of my life..
- You were one of the first bands singed up with Grind Core International. How did it happen? Did you receive any other offers? How did those guys treat you?
- Jeremy was doing all the leg work when it came to shopping our demos to record companies He sent out demo after demo to all kinds of record labels, we were rejected time and time again, there were no offers coming in at all. Finally one day Jeremy contacted all of us to say we had a meeting with a label in Chicago, they were small but at least it was an interest. So the five of us crammed into Jeremy's little Alliance, drove to the city to meet with them We left there pretty much a signed band. They treated us well, but as I said earlier we were young and hungry for success, and in the end we wanted more.
- What can you say about the cover? How did you meet the artist, Mitch Nawara? Did you work on the whole concept together? And what do you think about the one used by Metal Blade for the re-issue?
- The cover for Swamped was submitted by Mitch, I will not be able to get into very much detail about that. I have never met him in person, there is a story behind it. I guess I would have to say that you will need to talk to Jeremy about that one LOL. As far as the re-issue cover goes, I love it!!!
- After the album was released, how often did you play live? Did you have any following tour? Could you recall any gig that was the most important for you?
- Being an extreme metal band pretty much limited our places to play out to a minimum, a traditional bar gig was not an option. Our gigs were mostly metal festivals. We played a benefit at a local bar once, we were shut down after the second or third song. It was a fucking blast!!! You can't buy that kind of publicity... The Milwaukee Metal Fest was a regular stop in our demo days as well as after we were signed. I remember a small festival in Detroit that was a great time. The show that is important to me would be at the Mecca Arena in Milwaukee when King Diamond introduced us. It really made me feel as though the years of learning a musical instrument were starting to pay off. Here I was a kid born in North Carolina, standing on an arena stage in Milwaukee, being introduced by a metal music icon..
- In August 1993 you released your first work for Metal Blade Records, "Hobo Stew" EP. First of all, how did you get the contract with Metal Blade? And just a few words about this edition.
- The Hobo Stew EP.. The Green 7 inch. I still have it. I do not have a turntable to play it on but I still have it. If you still have it then Cheers to you !!! Earlier I mentioned Jeremy sending out demos. Well, Metal Blade got one of those demos and rejected us right along with the many other rejections. It was when they saw us live that changed their mind. We were offered a 6 album deal and we accepted it. I felt like a rock star LOL I mean fucking Metallica started out on Metal Blade Records, The GooGoo Dolls were signed to Metal Blade at the time, or at least they were being distributed by Metal Blade, whatever I didn't care I was right up there with the Metallica and the GooGoo dolls...
- Few months later, you released your second full-length, "The Bowels of Repugnance". What was your main vision of the new album? Was your song-writing process anyhow different from the "Swamped in Gore" period?
- The main vision of the "Bowels of Repugnance" album was to be as sick and heavy as possible, we wanted to be faster and darker but still retain the Broken Hope mosh pit energy. Thinking back, we treated most of our rehearsal time as though it were stage time, we never wanted to lose the energy. The song writing process was a little different for the "Bowels" album, "Swamped" had been for the most part entirely written by Jeremy. He would come to rehearsal and show us songs that were almost entirely written musically, when we would add drums. Things would sometimes change a little or a lot, but he had pretty much full songs. When we signed to Metal Blade I think it gave us all a chance to be heard so to speak. Not that we were not being given that chance, but being under a Six album deal is a lot of work to say the least. So at some point, in down time, Brian, Ryan and I would set up and play in a back room at Wave. We would hash out small parts of songs that we individually felt needed improvement, and then it became kind of a free form jam. It was during those sessions that several of the tunes on the "Bowels" album were born. The three of us would then bring these ideas to rehearsal. Jeremy often added a part and we had a song ready to be recorded.
s far as recording processes go. If you listen to the two albums you can hear the difference in clarity between them, "Swamped" I think has a more compressed sound to it, whereas "Bowels" is far more crisp and clear. And to go even further on the recording processes, once again we worked all the tunes out during rehearsals so we went into the studio "ready" to record.
- Who came up with the idea of acoustic intros? Who suggested to invite Ravicka Von Bottom to perform the violin?
- I believe that the whole acoustic intro thing was spawned from an acoustic side thing that Ryan and I did during the early Broken Hope days. It was just for fun, we were called Pegleg. We both had acoustic guitars and he was a big fan of the Beatles so we would hang out and bounce Beatles riffs off of each other. One day one of us plays some dark little riff and at some point it is suggested that we use it as an intro to a song, everyone agreed , and the acoustic intros were added. As far as the intro to the album goes, that one is Jeremy's, and Ravicka Von Bottom was the wife of Jeremy's guitar tech at the time. She is a multi instrumentalist...
- Tell us about the recording time. What do you remember about the hours you spent in the studio? As I understand, you chose the same place, Wave Digital Studios, with Brian Griffin being your engineer and producer. Didn't you want to try something else?
- The one thing about hours spent in the studio is that you hear the songs over and over tweaking them during the mixing process. You can spend hours mixing then walk away for the night, come back the next day and it sounds a little different for some reason. And knowing that your music will be available around the world puts some pressure on you to make it the best it can be.. Both albums were recorded at Wave with Brian producing because we simply felt comfortable there, it was our home base, Brian worked there, we all lived within 15 minutes. I think we did briefly consider going to Florida to record though....
- So, why did you leave the band? Since then, did you have any other musical experience? What do you think now about those years spent in the band?
- I left the band because I felt that it was time to move on. Once we signed to Metal Blade our egos began to clash a little. The disfunctions of young rock star attitudes kind of got in the way, no one in particular, but all of us. I have never harbored any bad feelings. There are a few things that could have been done a little differently, but it is all water next to the bridge now hahaha.. I saw Jeremy at Ryan's funeral services, we had not seen or spoken to each other in 20 some odd years. We talked about recording an acoustic piece as a tribute to Joe and Ryan, that was over a year ago and I have not heard from him.. To talk about my years in the band, I would say that I am honored to be a founding member and happy to see that Jeremy still has the band going. They were some of the best years of my life, I got to be a signed artist, a dream fulfilled, and if you read this Jeremy, I'm still open to play again, I promote the hell out of Broken Hope everywhere I go...
- Since Broken Hope re-united recently, what can you about their stuff now? Did you listen to "Omen of Disease"?
- The new Broken Hope has not really strayed that far from the original broken Hope. The music is fast heavy and intense... I watched some YouTube vids not long ago, good to hear a mix of old and new.
- Thank you very much for this interview, Ed. Would you like to add anything in the end?
- Thank you for you interest Dima, and for being a fan, and to all the Broken Hope fans out there old and new, Thank you from the bottom of our hearts...