- Hello, Tom! Tell us, how did you get involved into metal music? Do you remember when you first started thinking of playing the guitar? What bands did influence your choice of the instrument?
- I first wanted to play guitar after hearing the solo in “I don’t know” by Ozzy. It was the fall of 1980 and I was just starting high school. I had been playing trumpet since 4th grade (and continued through college) and my Mom played piano, so music was always a part of my life. My best friend Jeff, got a guitar and I wanted to play along with him. He had two older brothers and we raided his record collection that included Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, and Ten Years After. We gravitated toward the heavier bands and the guitar players in those bands. As a kid I was into Kiss, too. Once we started learning songs on guitar, we kept searching for the more extreme bands of the day like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and the Scorpions. We liked all music, really, and tried to play everything. I transcribed trumpet parts on guitar, and since I could read music, I figured out where the notes were on the guitar and played any sheet music we had. I was just crazy about guitar…so nothing particular, and everything in general influenced me. I would play all styles…Jazz, Classical, Country, Rock, and Metal.
- Num Skull was formed in 1985. How did it happen? How did you meet each other? And who came up with that name?
- I knew Jeff and Skip from High School. I had just come back to our area after seeing Accept in Wisconsin when I ran into Jeff and Skip at a small bar where they said they were putting a band together and asked if I’d be interested in playing guitar. That was July 1985. We finally got a jam spot and got together in September. Jeff or Skip came up with the name. We decided early on not to play gigs until we had a set of all original music. Of course, we started playing covers until we had a set of originals. We did some Slayer, Metallica, and Exodus tunes initially, and gradually phased them out. We had a few parties before we did any real gigs so our friends could hang out and have some fun.
- Do you remember your first rehearsal place? Did you start from doing some covers or was it like straight to the point, when you already wanted to create your own music? Do you remember the first ever written Num Skull track ?
- Our first place was in the basement of a store in Zion. We did some covers and wrote our own tunes right away. The first song we wrote was “Murder by the Minister.” As soon as we had four songs we booked time at Curved Air Studio and recorded those songs. The first session was on May 17, 1986. At that session we booked time for August 2, 1986 to record the next four songs. These eight songs became the “Num’s The Word” demo. We always took our time writing and working out the songs. These were the first eight songs we wrote. I don’t think we ever scrapped a song….we figured out a way to make something we liked out of our ideas. We worked hard, we rehearsed four nights a week and were often there on the other nights writing riffs and hanging out.
- At those days, what was your local metal community like? Did you have bands to hang out with? Something like your local metal brotherhood?
- Not really. There were some other band we were friendly with, like Wrath (which Jeff and Skip were in earlier). Many bands in our area were not doing the type of music we were playing and didn’t understand it. Most were jealous, too. We really didn’t care, we liked what we were playing and stuck to our guns and played our own stuff. We did a few shows with Wrath that were great. Most bands in our area at the time played popular rock covers.
- In 1986 you released your first demo, "Num's the Word". Where did you record it? How many copies did you have?
- It was recorded at Curved Air Studio in Crystal Lake IL. I don’t remember how many copies we put out…maybe 1000. We gave away more than we sold.
- Were you involved into tapetrading? Do you remember the first bands you exchanged the tapes with? Did you send any copies to Europe? Who was responsible in the band for this process?
- Yeah, we traded tapes with bands all over the world. Some of the first bands were Sadus, Shades of Grey, and others. I still have the DTP demo by Sadus, and I’m good friends with Pete from Shades Of Grey. In fact, I’m playing on his new Invasion disc.
- In 1988, you released your debut full-length, "Ritually Abused". Tell us about the recordings of this album. How long did it take you? Did you show up at the studio fully prepared or did you occasionally update some tracks or particular riffs, while recording?
- We recorded Ritually at Opus Recording studio in Gurnee IL. It was later renamed Wave digital. We were in the studio for 2 weeks. e were super prepared. We had demoed all the tracks in January of 1988 so we knew how we wanted them to sound. Like I said before, we rehearsed four nights a week and while preparing to record “Ritually,” we rehearsed every day. Everything was done before the clock was running. We didn’t fuck around at all.
- I was always wondering, why was the opening track called "The End"? And how did you record that one?
- Ok, we did fuck around in the studio a little. We wanted some sort of intro, and once the basic tracks were done we messed around with feedback and whammy bar shit. Skip got drunk and was talking random stuff into a mike one night and said “The end is near…” so we edited it and used made the intro. It was nothing more than messing around. We frequently did that at the rehearsal studio with a four track, we’d record random noises, flip the tape and record guitars and listen to backward shit while having too many beers.
- The album cover still looks outstanding. Did you cooperate together with the artist, Scott Jackson?
- Yeah, we told him exactly what we wanted. It sort of resembles the Church I used to go to as a lid.
- Did you have any tour to support your new release? How helpful were the guys from Medusa Records? Did you manage to play abroad as well?
- We had nothing. They were not helpful at all. We were supposed to get a lyric sleeve, and they printed the lyrics on the back cover. There were misspelled names (mine included). We never played abroad.
- Before we start talking about the "Future - Our Terror" record, tell us, what was happening within the band during 3 years?
- We had multiple personal changes. At one point it was just Jeff, Skip, and myself. We finally had a stable lineup by Jan 1989, but that didn’t last long. We recorded the 1991 promo in 1990. In Sept or Oct 1990 Jeff and Skip left the band, and there were just two of us, bassist Rob and me. We decided to put his vocals on the 1991 promo an stay as a three piece with Scott Creekmore on drums.
- Actually, in 1991, you released "Future..." and another Promo, which included 1 more track, "Insane Butchery". So what came first? And what happened to that song?
- Insane Butchery was always on the 1991 promo. You may have a bootleg copy.
- So, "Future - Our Terror". It was supposed to be your second full-length, but the actual release never happened. What was the story behind it?
- People left to join cover bands. It’s a ton of work breaking in a new member. We didn’t have many places to play and new members didn’t realize the work involved to be a good band. We were very serious and didn’t mess around. New guys would be cool for a few weeks and then show up to rehearsal drunk or not willing to work on the small details. So, we’d be back to square one. Looking for someone else….
- How did it finally get to the hands of your fans? Did you distribute it somehow? How many copies did you actually have? Did anybody help you to copy them?
- We gave most of them away. We’d trade, or send them to zines.
- Shortly after that Num Skull was broken up. What was the reason for it?
- We didn’t break up. We went through many members before the lineup on “When Suffering Comes.” We played as often as we could….there weren’t many places to play in our area, so we wrote a bunch of songs. We also started working on our own studio at Scott’s house. It now is Mercenary Digital. Scott is an awesome engineer and producer. We started with an 8 track cassette recorder, moved to ADAT, and now he’s full digital.
- And in 1995 you came back, with slightly updated line-up. At what conditions did you reunite the band? And what can you say about the first demo, released in 1995?
- That might have been some tunes we recorded in 1994. We all had full time jobs in addition to the band. I was also teaching guitar 3 days a week. We were all pretty busy.
- In 1996 you released your last album, "When Suffering Comes". And it was pure Death Metal. So what actually influenced you so much? How can you comment on that play-style development?
- I’ve always liked the extreme side of metal. We really got into Entombed and Napalm Death, as well as other extreme styles like hardcore. Around that time I was involved in a side project called “American Hate” with some friends who were in a local band called Masada.
- Tell us a bit about the recording process. Considering the fact you changed your style, how different was it for you to accomplish those sessions?
- It was no different. We worked our asses off and had the tunes down before we went in the studio. We really enjoyed the pre-production process. We were learning about recording during this time.
- What did happen after the release? What kind of feedback did you receive from your fans? Did you have any following tour?
- We continued writing and recording. Of course, some members thought we should be making a ton of money and were disappointed to learn the reality that you need a job to keep this going. You can’t sit back and be lazy and just collect royalty checks without putting any additional effort. The response was mixed…some loved it, and some didn’t like it. But we didn’t care...we liked it. We didn’t tour, but we played as much as we could locally.
- What was the reason for the split-up this time? Do you know what was happening with Num Skull after 2000?
- We just got tired of replacing members. We did our last show in 2001 in Milwaukee.
- Tell us about Lupara band. How this project was born? So far you have only one album, released in 2006. What is the current band's status?
- Lupara was my buddy Jeremy’s (Broken Hope) project. His bass player quit and he had a bunch of shows booked. Jeremy asked me to play bass, so I did. After the gigs were done, Jeremy asked if I’d play guitar along with him. So we recruited Scott Creekmore to play drums and started working on new songs. During the next few years we played in Mexico at the Monterey Metal fest 2 with Motorhead as well as toured in Texas for a few weeks. We put out a video for “No Pity on the Ants’ which was aired on Headbangers ball and made the top 20 videos of 2007. We have no plans for any new material. Jeremy has since reformed Broken Hope and is pretty busy with that as well as writing his novels.
GET YOUR COPY
OF THE NEW ISSUE