- Hello, Ken! In the late 80s/early 90s the Chicago metal scene was pretty much very intense, with lots of great bands and gigs. What do you remember about the early days of the local underground?
-The Underground metal/music scene in Chicago was very diverse. There was so much influential talent throughout the 1980s with bands like Speckmann's DeathStike, Master, Funeral Bitch and Abomination, Zoetrope, Trouble, Thrust, Terminal Death, Macabre, Devastation, Mayhem Inc., Burnt Offering, Znowhite.... All paving the way and giving life to the next wave of new underground heavy music in Chicago.
The Plague, Sindrome, Oppressor, Broken Hope, Fleshold, Aftermath, Cyclone Temple, Susperia, Cianide (Chicago), Stonehenge, Stygian, Mortar and Demented Ted were playing shows everywhere possible in Chicago, the suburbs and throughout the Midwest.
The local underground scene was very connected. Most of us were friends or at least knew of each other and we supported the local scene by promoting ourselves heavily and attending the endless gigs throughout Chicagoland for years. Wherever there was live heavy music, speed, thrash, death, hardcore, punk, or crossover, we were there.
- Before joining Demented Ted, you've been playing live with Abomination. Tell us, how did you meet Paul Speckmann and joined the band? And later, how and where did you meet the guys from Demented Ted?
- I've known Paul Speckmann for nearly 30 years through mutual friends and the Chicago music scene since the days of DeathStike and Funeral Bitch. Dean Choles (RiP) and I were friends as well and after jamming together for a while Paul asked if I'd like to be the second guitarist for Abomination. We only played a couple shows together and during this time I was asked by my friend Chris Williams (Rising Up Angry) if I'd like to be the new bass player for Chicago's the Plague, known for their high energy, crossover style of music / live shows and fronted by the legendary Troy "ROACH" Coates (RiP). I pursued the bass position for the next year or so opening up for national acts such as D.R.I, Anacrusis, Annihilator, Reverend, and many shows with local icons Aftermath, Not-Us, Fleshold, Burnt Offering and Demented Ted which is how I met Mike Anderson and Eric Alvarez. I recall using Eric's bass rig at a show the Plague did with Demented Ted in Aurora, Illinois. Demented Ted was interested in adding a second guitarist at the time and after discovering I was an available guitarist, asked me to audition. I joined in early 1991 and quickly gave up my bass duties with the Plague.
- Tell us a bit about the early days of the band and your 91' Demo tape. Did you participate in the song-writing too? Where did you record it?
- When I first joined Demented Ted the lineup consisted of Mike Anderson (drums), Eric Alvarez (bass), Ron Janis (guitar) with Mike Dusek on Vocals. Dusek left the band after a couple gigs, the last being Delta Metal Fest in Delta Ohio. Ron took over on Vocals from there and immediately the 1991 Liquid Remains demo was recorded at Solid Sound Studios outside of Chicago. We tirelessly rehearsed, wrote new material and promoted ourselves with flyers, stickers, shirts and demo cassettes wherever there was an opportunity, earning us bigger and better shows with Pantera, Wrathchild America, White Zombie, Morbid Angel, our first Milwaukee Metal Fest and more throughout the year. We quickly gained a great following where ever we played, even winning over those who normally overlooked heavier music, which is when we began to steer away from the older speed/thrash style of music, dropping the older songs from the set list giving us a stronger sense of the band's future direction.
- Next year you released another demo, produced and engineered by Scott Burns. Who suggested to work with Scott? How could you describe this experience?
- In 1992 we recorded the four song Demo "Despair" at Morrisound Recording in Tampa Florida with Scott Burns. Scott was quickly becoming the go to guy for any Death Metal recorded in the USA. After some negotiating it was clear Scott was the key to the recorded sound we were interested in. We drove down to Tampa Florida where we spent nearly two weeks to work with Scott who was such an easy going, laid back kind of guy. We had some difficulty with Mike's kit and Scott suggested he use Alex Marquez's drums (Malevolent Creation, Solstice, etc) which were already setup at the studio from some other recordings they were working on, to record the demo. We couldn't have asked for more out of a demo recording. Scott's kick drum sound was great, clean and crunchy guitars and a killer bass tone! Still my favorite recording.
- By the way, where does the band's name come from? Have you ever asked the guys about the meaning and origins of that title?
- For years we were asked these questions...who is Ted? Where does the name originally come from? What does it mean? Etc... And for years we made up different ridiculous answers as a joke or completely avoided the question if possible... And although I know the real answer to this question I am only going to say this...
The name originated from a founding member and may have been a joke from the very beginning. If I revealed it I'm sure no one would believe it anyway, that's how ridiculous it is. So unless someone else believes they know and would like to share....it remains a mystery.
- So, in 1993 you released your only full-length, "Promises Impure". First of all, how did you get the deal with Pavement Music? Did you receive any other offers as well?
- Mike Anderson and I first met Lorraine Margala(Pavement) at a couple local clubs outside Chicago. At this time she was still working for Red Light Records in Des Plaines Illinois. She asked us to bring our Liquid Remains demo to her office and although she liked it very much, Redlight Records was focused mainly on hair metal/hard rock which was briefly popular in Chicago. Soon after joining forces with Mark Nawara and creating Pavement Music which was signing heavy music such as Crowbar, Lorraine and Mark revisited the Liquid Remains demo and contacted us. Having since recorded our Despair demo, we presented the new recordings and we were offered a 1 + 4 deal with Pavement Music Which we accepted. This meant 1 record and up to 4 more depending on sales. We continued playing more shows, opening in Chicago for Death, Sacrifice, Gorefest, Obituary, Fear Factory and countless bands at Milwaukee Metal Fest and writing more new material most of which is on the Pavement release "Promises Impure".
- You recorded that material at the Pro Media Studios, with Mark Pinske, who also worked with Atheist and Malevolent Creation. Why did you decide to cooperate with him, and not continue working with Scott Burns?
- Our original plans were to return to Morrisound Recording in Tampa Florida with Scott Burns to record "Promises Impure".
Pavement had heard about Malevolent Creation and Atheist working with Mark Pinske at Pro Media Studios in Gainesville Florida. After negotiating, we were given an entire month studio time at Pro Media with Mark Pinske.
Although not as well known as Scott Burns, Mark Pinske had an impressive resume as an engineer and producer having worked with Frank Zappa on over 30 projects and multiple recordings with Steve Vai.
- Tell us about the whole recording sessions. How did it go in general? How much time did it take you finish the album? Do you have any funny or weird story that happened to you while the recordings?
- We flew to Orlando early October 1993 to begin recording for our first and only full length release "Promises Impure". Pavement put us up in an all but abandoned roach hotel in Gainesville right across the street from the vacant steak and shake where a disgruntled employee killed five employees and locked them in the freezer. Although a big college town, University of Florida, Gainesville was one of the most boring places I've ever been. Having next to no money and transportation only to and from the studio, we didn't have much in the way of extracurricular activities. To make things worse, while we were recording, River Phoenix died on October 31. He lived in Gainesville and was friends with nearly everyone at Pro Media Studios and collaborated musically with staff that was working directly with Demented Ted.
Pro Media Studios shut down for the next week extending our stay in Gainesville to five weeks.
All in all it was a great experience working with everyone at Pro Media. David Smadbeck, Javid, Sasa, Bambu and Eric were always there for anything we needed.
I believe Mark had our sound dialed in quite well and should have been an improved overall recording vs The Despair demo. However, per Mark Pinske, the recording was to be mastered at Monsterdisc studios whom he had worked with for years. This didn't happen! Pavement sent the recordings to Acme studios which did a very poor job of mastering this CD! Although the CD sounds good in general, it could have been much better....
- Jerry Derbyshire did the cover for this album. So, who was that guy? And personally, how do you interpret that picture?
- The cover art for "Promises Impure" is actually a photograph. I found this photo in a book called "The Water Planet - A Celebration of the Wonder of Water’ - The story of water’s role in earth’s creation" at the library. The photo is of an ice cave in Alaska which was taken by Jerry Derbyshire.
The books concept and photos seemed a perfect match for the lyrical content of "Promises Impure"... Liquid Remains... "A frozen world of hate"
- So, what happened next? Why did you split up? Did you actually manage to tour a bit in support of the release? What are your best memories related to the live shows?
- April and May of 1994 we supported Unleashed and Broken Hope on a USA and Canadian tour. Two months of great shows acquiring new fans everywhere we went. It was a great experience to travel with our friends in Broken Hope, one that I'll never forget. Back in Chicago we began working on new material, playing some local gigs and preparing for a European tour in 1995. Unfortunately, some disagreements and poor, selfish and ignorant management (Ron Janis Sr. / Ron James management) disassembled Demented Ted before this happened. It was the same type of ignorance that resulted in Eric Alvarez's temporary departure from the band giving Mark Kolar a free trip to Florida and nothing more. Mark was Never a part of Demented Ted... Eric Alvarez was the Only Bass Player Demented Ted ever had.
- Recently, there was a re-issue of "Promises Impure", done by Repulsive Echo. What do you think about the edition? Was it Kostas who contacted you with that idea? What were your thoughts regarding this?
- My friend Jason Mitchell from the band "Ulcer" sent me a some pics and a link to the Repulsive Echo Facebook page a couple months back. This was the first time I heard anything about the re-release of "Promises Impure". Kostas Vaxevanos and his team really put together a nice package, arguably better than the original. His artist reproduced the logo letter by letter and revamped the artwork on their own without any assistance from Pavement. I think it all looks killer and I'm very impressed with the results. Repulsive Echo is putting out some other really cool stuff from the 90's on and it's awesome to see that over twenty years later there is still tons of interest in this era of music.
- What are you up to now? Are you still in contact with the rest of the band?
- Today I'm employed full time and have been in the construction industry for many years. I've played bass on a couple of projects over the past ten years or so with my good friend Jason Welebny. Most notably the band Sic/All is Lost and a progressive instrumental project called Mournings Hope.
My only contact with anyone over the years has been with Mike Anderson and Eric Alvarez through Facebook. I moved to south Florida nearly 15 years ago and lost touch with many of my friends from Chicago including
- Thank you very much for this interview, Ken! Would you like to say anything in the end?
- Thank you Tough Riffs Magazine. It's amazing to know that this era of metal lives on and is not Forgotten!