Dec 27, 2008

Joe From Borgo Pass

Borgo Pass are one of the best "Sludge Metal" bands around.In fact if you want to know what "Sludge Metal" is then you don't have to look much further than these guys.One hell of a hard working band with some killer gigs to their resume.People are always going on about "Down"etc but this band deserves to be right up there in the minds of "Sludge fans"everywhere.Hopefully this interview with Joe the drummer will inspire you to check them out.

1.First of all,tell everyone about the history on Borgo Pass and 12 Eyes.Both bands have been around a while.

 (( Borgo Pass started jamming in the mid '90s. We were a Black Sabbath cover band called "Slow Painful Death". Tom (guitar), YT (bass) and I were the lineup. Paul (guitar) played in my brother's band and when they parted ways, we grabbed him! We started writing originals, went through several singers, and after bringing in Ed (vox) we released our self titled cd in '97, followed by "Powered by Sludge" in '99. We parted ways with Ed and, after 30 auditions for singers, brought in Jimmy (vox). Jimmy's vocals are more aggressive than Ed's, so we turned up the energy level as well. We rushed into the studio again to record the "Slightly Damaged" ep, followed by "Nervosa" in '05. After YT left borgo, we recruited Joe Rega (bass) from 12 Eyes. We just finished our new self titled ep which is available at borgopass. com.

 12 Eyes started in 2005. Ryan (guitar, vox), Joe Rega (bass, vox) and I were in other bands, but we wanted to chill and write some stoner/ doom material. Ryan and I played in a punk/ psychobilly band with Kenny Bones (Negative Reaction) and Joe and I jammed out on doom stuff a few times, so I introduced these two and we've been writing like crazy. We released the "Mama Loves Sabbath" ep and we've been working on releasing a full length.

2.Borgo Pass are one hard working band,you seem to be always playing live.

 (( Onstage is where the band is at it's best. We try booking as many shows as we can to keep people interested and it encourages us to keep writing new material. We also dabble in cover tunes occasionally, keeps things fresh. But we've fucked up a few of those! Still, the best way to get to know our sound is to hear us live!

3.You have written some new tunes in the last few months,would you like to tell us about them?

 (( We've had some interested parties asking us for new material. We've been writing, but due to busy schedules we have not been in the studio in awhile. So upon request, we went into the studio with our producer (Chris Laybourne) and went through our new tunes, looking for the 3 strongest songs. "The Dogs Know Better" was more or less finished before we went in. "Bless" was coming along well, but once in the studio, it took a life all it's own! And "Of Flesh & Bone" was written almost entirely by Paul specifically for this ep. We added our ideas together, then Chris helps alot with tweaking the tunes to make them really stand out. He's great to work with.

4.Borgo Pass are a classic example of Sludge Metal,how do you think Sludge Metal differs from generic Metal. Of course its heavier than most forms of Metal,but is the attitude important?

 (( Sludge Metal.. That perfectly sums up what we do, thanks! I love sludge mostly because it's so damn heavy without being depressed or angry, which is what i DON'T like about metal nowadays. Attitude is important. Anybody that knows us can see that we're in this to have a great time, no to excersise demons or solve kid's problems...

5.You mixed up the styles a lot from Southern Rock,70's Hard Rock to Stoner Metal. Is this the direction the band will continue to go in?

 (( Absolutely! Over the years we've matured as musicians, but the sound is still Borgo.. we have a pretty wide variety of influences. Tom's into hardcore & 70's rock, Jimmy's into Down, Pantera, BLS, Van Halen , Joe & I are really into the stoner rock / doom metal scene and Paul's into it all.. thrash, grunge, stoner, you name it! and the one common thread here is Black Sabbath. Without them, who knows what metal might sound like!

6.Where did the name Borgo Pass come from?

 (( I found the name 'Borgo Pass' in a book called "Dracula- Prince of Many Faces". It's a book about the life of Vlad, The Impaler. The borgo pass was a passageway through the Carpathian Mountains, and Vlad's escape route from the Turks. I liked the ring of this name for some reason, so we went with it.

7.You also play in 12 Eyes,do you like one band more than the other?Dont want to get you into any trouble with this question.

 (( I know this sounds like a generic answer, but I enjoy both projects equally. We take Borgo seriously and out of it comes awesome shows. We've shared bills with great bands such as Alice in Chains, High on Fire, The Misfits, Heaven & Hell, Clutch, Superjoint Ritual, Alice Cooper, Anthrax and then some. 12 Eyes is still out to not take ourselves too seriously and have a blast chilling, drinking and writing new tunes, and we've gotten great shows as well.

8.How has been the reaction to the CD's,i have read some great reviews.

 (( The feedback we've gotten on our cd's has been awesome! The writing and recording process can be a pain in the ass! (especially recording, i hate mics) But the end result is always positive, so that will keep us recording.. as long as people care!

9.Have you been treated well by your local scene,Promoters,club owners etc.

 (( We've been treated with much respect in the music scene here. We've been doing this for awhile, so we get to pick & choose who we're going to work with. We get good offers and the promoters know that we'll deliver.

10.Any chance of a national tour and is this something you would like to do?

 (( We've done a southwest tour (New Orleans, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona) and we had a great time, my favorite show of that tour was SHOD 4 (Az). We've also done travel gigs (Los Ang, Las Vegas, Canada, Rochester, etc), so we're ready to play out anywhere... Unfortunately, because of work, families, homes,etc we haven't  had time to get back on the road for any extended period. We hope to hit the road again soon.. we'll see! I can tell ya that we're sloted to play SHOD X in Maryland in Sept '09.

 11. Do you and the rest of the band agree or disagree a lot?

 (( As I'm sure all bands do, we do bicker occasionally about song arangements, plans, etc. But for the most part, i'd say we're all on the same page musically. And we've been friends for a long time, so there's no problems there.

12.What is the long term plans for Borgo Pass and 12 Eyes?

 (( Borgo Pass plans to keep writing and recording 'till we're all old and fuckin sick of each other! We've been shopping the new cd and the feedback has been positive. As long as they care, we'll keep working.

 Ryan from 12 Eyes is moving to Az in mid '09, so that may mark the end of the ride for us.. although we've talked about continuing writing and emailing ideas, so ya never know. In the meantime, Joe & I will be jamming some drum / bass stuff.... Stay tuned!

13.What is your opinion on the downloading of music,lately i have been seeing some of my favorite albums up for free downloads.I find this to be nothing more than stealing.

 (( This whole download music deal really sux because look what it's done to the music industry! This is now a dead business, labels are falling and there's hardly a chance for new artists to break through. As douchy as Lars & Metallica seemed during the Napster deal, the fact is they were absolutely right! People were stealing right out of their pockets..

 So there's little hope for anyone in the business to progress.

14.What has been the highlights of your career so far,gigs etc

 (( The highlights of our career has always been the great gigs. Like I said, we've shared bills with some excellent bands, and not so geat bands (Vince Neil, Wasp, Dokken, Buck Cherry, etc) but the parties were always great and we met some awesome people along the way. Meeting and hearing new bands always keeps things interesting.

15.What is the easiest way for people to obtain the CD's?

 (( You can get any BORGO PASS cd by ordering from www. borgopass. com and check us out on www. myspace. com/borgopass 

  Cds from 12 EYES are available by writing to us. check out our page.. www. myspace. com/12eyes 

 Of course.... come to our shows to get the real experience!!!!!

16.Anything you would like to add?

 (( Thanks for checking out BORGO PASS & 12 EYES and show us, and the metal world in general, some support... especially now that the music world is dominated by hip hop, r&b, american idol, guitar hero and ringtones! metal still has a voice!!!!!!!


Dec 14, 2008

Interview With Tommy From Black Market Ministry

1.How and when did Black Market Ministry get together?

The band was kind of pieced together over a few months in mid '05 (actually our first gig was opening for Soilent Green on May 20th here in Monroe). Steven and Chris were just screwing around with a few ideas and wrote the first few Demo tracks. Chris asked Clay to jam and the same night ran into me at a local show, And asked me to play Bass. When we showed up for the first practice Gunta (who was in a band that shared our band room) asked if he could jam with us. We have been destroying our livers, lungs, ears together ever since.

2.Out of all the bands i have found on Myspace you guys are one of the more diverse bands.From Doom to flat out aggressive Hardcore Punk.Did this come about by accident or what it a planned thing?

No it is not a planned thing by any means. Each one of us has bands that we are into as individuals that influence our styles or technique. There are also a lot of bands that all of us are into, and I think that really shapes the sound of the band. You know like Black Sabbath, eyehategod, Acid Bath, Bongzilla, Soilent Green, Goatwhore, Electric Wizard, Sleep, Black Flag, THE MISFITS, Danzig, (old) Suicidal Tendencies...and so so so many more. Really any good music I've ever heard has influenced me in some way.

3.What bands and music did you listen to growing up?

The greatest thing my mother ever did for me was introduce me to Black Sabbath. Black Market Ministry members have a question that we ask all people upon meeting them, and that is... Do you like Black Sabbath? ... If the answer to that question is anything but yes; you automatically get the douche stamp and we instantly know that we will have nothing in common. Now having said that there are so many bands that have had an inpact on me over the years. lets see Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Hendrix, The Misfits, The Cramps, D.R.I., Suicidal Tendencies, Sepultura, Grave, Entombed, Acid Bath, eyehategod, C.O.C., Bongzilla, Weedeater. I could go on for days.

4.The band is real aggressive in the vocal department,is there any secret to maintaining that aggression?

Man Clay is just one pissed off little dude. I call his writing style two parts Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth) one part Dax Riggs (Acid Bath).Clay listens to alot of grindcore and death metal. That really his favorite genre. So I guess when you listen to some the most aggressive music on earth it comes out in the music you write.

5.There seems to be a pretty strong Metal scene around your area,how do you see the scene down there?

Well I don't know if I would say there is a really strong metal scene here in Monroe. It comes and goes it comes when a bar opens that will allow metal bands to play it goes when they close down over politics. However there are so many good bands within a few hours of us that there is always someone playing that is totally bad-ass. I mean New Orleans has eyehategod, Hawg Jaw, Soilent Green, Goatwhore, Southern Whiskey Rebellion, Suplecs, Flesh Parade, Down, A Hanging, Spickle. Little Rock has Rwake, Deadbird, Seahag, The Witches' Tit, Shitfire, HelenKeller. Vicksburg has Buzzardstein. Shreveport has Crackfight, Ketea, Power Pellut. Lafayette has Devil and the Sea. and then there is all the great bands that have stopped through while on tour... So yes if you are willing to make a short drive then there is an amazing scene.

6.How many songs has the band written and how hard is it to write stuff?

Writing consists of whiskey, weed, pills, beer and about 1000 watts of feedback. Chris or gunta will have a riff or something and we'll blaze up and go for it and 9 times out of ten we walk away with pretty good idea of were the song is going. Chris and Gunta can write so easily together. They wrote half of the tracks on the disk blacked out on Methadone. Officially we have I think we have 15 songs.

7.Does the weed help in this regard?


8.What is planned in the future with recordings and live gigs?Any tours?

We have the CD coming very soon everything has gone to press except for the cover art there has been a hold-up on that. As soon as the cover art issue is resolved then the cd will get printed. Like I said it will have 10 tracks and an "interlude". We are also recording some tracks for a comp CD for Choking Hazard Records out of Canada. If you haven't heard of them check them out some really good stuff. As well as a Cassette with some exclusive tracks, a Cover song and some live tracks from when we opened for eyehategod.

9.What would be the ultimate live show for Black Market Ministry?

We have been fortunate enough to have already played quite a few shows with some amazing bands that we really respect and admire. eyehategod, Hawg Jaw, Weedeater, Soilent Green, Valume Nob, Sourvein, K. Lloyd (Kirk Fisher from Buzz*oven), Southern Whiskey Rebellion, Seahag, Buzzardstein, Seawitch, Subrig Destroyer, Ketea, Crackfight, Devil and the Sea, Bowel, The Flood, Canyon of the Skull, Mala Suerte, Pillcrusher, Blood Ov..., Vasteburai, Music hates You, Nux Vomica I'm sure I'm forgetting some but I'm very high. The point is we have already played quite a few ultimate shows.

10.Have you got a favorite place to play?

Man hands down Little Rock. Downtown music is such a cool place to play. the bands are always good. The people really seem to dig the style of music that we play and we get to hang with our boys from Seahag. In a close second place would anywhere where the guys from Buzzardstein are they bring the ruckus and that always makes for a good time.

11.Do you hate mainstream Metal as much as i do,i dont know its just whenever i watch a generic Metal show on TV i find it kind of embarrassing.

Dude I don't even bother watching the music channels anymore. It is all garbage. I figure if it is good I sure as shit won't hear it on MTV. I say mainstream metal is a myth, metal is not supposed to be liked by the masses. Once it reaches a point where it is acceptable by mainstream audiences then it ceases to be metal. Same thing goes for punk.Long Live the Underground. Your not gonna get on TV unless someone can make money on you. Meanwhile there a so many amazing bands that fall by the wayside because they cannot afford to support themselves and play music.So I pick up CD's at shows or order them online directly from the bands as often as I can.

12.What has been the reaction to the band.Do you get much interest from labels and if so which ones?

There is really only two ways that people take hearing Black Market Ministry. They either love us or they think we are satanic sex-obsessed drug addicts who are using our music to summon the devil himself to devour the soul of their only virgin daughter. And both opinions are correct. As far as labels there has been a couple of small labels contact us but never really follow through. We are releasing the first disc on Leaf Lust records and we'll see what happens from there..

13.I know you have played Dallas Doom Daze and big festival type events,do you like these you do you prefer the smaller gigs?

We have played quite a few festivals.. most all of them were nightmares. Dallas Doom Daze was the exception. Even though the turn-out was not as good as some of the other fests we have played. The management and the line-up were second to none. We got the chance to hear and talk with 20 something amazing bands.

14.Anything you want to add?

Yeah support the underground man it is where all the best music is. Check out some bands that you haven't heard before. When you hear something that is great pass it on cause we in the underground only have word of mouth to get any recognition. When you go to shows buy cd's and t-shirts that is how some of us getting home. and last but not least if you ever come to hear Black Market Ministry lIve Bring drugs. DOOM ON!! Diego Dirtbag BMM

Dec 8, 2008


Retro Grave was born from Jeff Olson, a percussion artist from the international doom metal band, Trouble. The release of Trouble's debut, Psalm 9, in 1984 and the The Skull following in 1985 soon led to the departure of Olson to pursue teaching music while simultaneously writing musical scores, recording and releasing on his own label, Upland Recording, and later receiving a BM degree in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music while still participating in all of Trouble's future albums with the exception of "Manic Frustration" recorded in 1992."

Olson has toured internationally with Trouble, off and on since 1979, headlining shows throughout the US and performing at numerous music festivals throughout Europe that included the infamous 1995 Dynamo Open Air Festival in front of a staggering record high audience for Dynamo of over 118,000 people. Olson's last show with Trouble was at "The End" in Nashville, Tennessee in July 2008.

The debut, self-titled (self-released) Retro Grave EP was released on June 5 2007. The EP was written, recorded and performed in its entirety by Olson. Currently, Retro Grave music is selling directly through the Retro Grave website at Retro Grave and mail order sites throughout Europe as well as the United States.

The latest additons to the Retro Grave camp are Mike Schermuly, J. Cortes and Rob Zimmermann. With the line-up now complete, Retro Grave will begin recording their debut full length, "Again," in 2008. Stay tuned for a release date and tour news for both the USA and Europe.
1.Most people would have first heard about you in your role as drummer for Trouble but what was your musical upbringing before that?

Well, I toured with Drum and Bugle Corps as a teenager and listened to all genres of music. My first instruments were piano, trumpet, guitar and lastly to percussion. I like playing drums but I also enjoy the opportunity to play brass sometimes. For example, it was fun to play french horn for the rendition
of Ride the Sky on Trouble's last record.

2.How did Trouble get together,where did you all meet?

We met through an ad that Rick placed in a newspaper, The Illinois Entertainer, back in 1979 in Chicago.
3.I remember when i first heard Trouble in around 83,a friend had a live tape.The band sounded so fresh compared to a lot of other Metal bands that were around at the time.Did you know the band would become such a worldwide influence?

We didn't jam with the intent to influence people, but we knew we were good.

4.You left and re-joined Trouble 3 times if i remember right,what the reasons behind all that?

I left the first time to pursue an education. I first attended bible college, which is were the rumor started about me leaving to become a preacher. That wasn't the case. I studied theology for a bit then I was asked to come back and work on Run To The Light playing keys, but I decided to leave once again because I was accepted to Berklee College of Music. I returned to the band after graduation when both Dennis and Barry didn't work out. I left the thi
rd time because the band was suffering from internal band and label problems so I had to choose between steady work at home or a band with a risky future.

5.I also read somewhere that you learn piano first and then the trumpet,how did go from that to playing the drums?

I started playing trumpet in drum and bugle corps, but I decided to changed instruments when I heard the incredible sounds of percussion on the drum line.

6.I also found out that you graduated from Berklee College of music in 92 and got a degree in film scoring. Was that something you always wanted to do?

I chose film scoring so that I could be equipped to write any kind of music and the degree formally trained me in arranging and composition. I didn't want to sit in a cubicle in LA, however, but rather to use those skills for a theater company that I worked for in Chicago.. that was fun and would do it again if I was commissioned to do so.

7.You also have done some teaching,how did that come together?
Well, I made a living at it when the band wasn't on tour and I enjoyed that too. I helped my own craft as well because as I instructed people, my own skills were being=2

8.I know you have some work with other bands as well.What has been the highlight of those ventures?

I liked meeting new people and exploring the talents of others. I'm still into doing that.
9.The debut Retro Grave came out last year,what was the reaction like to that?

It was a good reaction. I got a lot of good feedback from people during the last Trouble tour. I was selling the EP during that tour and people responded nicely to it but, on the other hand, some people are also interested in hearing Retro Grave with the new line up (the EP was a solo effort).
10.You got some other guys in to complete the line-up,how did you meet them?

I placed an ad on my website because I was curious to hear some fresh talent that might be a good fit for me. They sent in press kits and my manager narrowed down several for me to listen to. I would have liked to have jammed with others, but location was a factor for me. However, I did choose a string player from Holland (Rob Zimmermann) but the rest are from the New England area. Mike Schermuly is the youngest in the band and will bring something fresh and youthful
to the group while J. Cortes is around my age and brings many years of experience to the band. I like his Peruvian background that will bring exciting bilingual vocals to the new record.

11.Tell us about the new album that is coming out,it must be getting close to a release date.

This album is a collage type album. All the songs are recorded differently in different places with different amps and instruments. If this album were a beer style, it would be a Belgian Lambic. That's because the Belgian Lambic takes a year to mature and develop all kinds of interesting character.
12.What is the long term plans of the retro grave?Tours on the horizon?
Lots of recording and development of the band which will hopefully bring some festival opportunities for us dedicated to stoner doom and hard rock festivals. I loved playing at Roadburn this year so that festival is something that I would like to do again. Also, I had the chance to speak to some bands that I played with on the last Trouble tour like Blood of The Sun and Danava and we were already talking about jamming together with Retro Grave. So yes, I would like to do a tour, but without a label that will probably be tricky.

13.You got married recently,congrats for that.Thats not really a question just thought i throw that one in there!
Thank you!

14.What was your main influences in music growing up?
There are far too many to mention for rock music from the 60's and 70's, but ELP, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd are probably by biggest influences. I also like jazz and modern orchestral music.

15.How do you see the Metal scene these days,so much has changed since the early 80's.Has it progressed in your view?
Music always progresses and that makes it interesting. There was an article in the New York Times called "Heady Metal" that revealed two branches with one starting with the slower groove and psychedelic influences like Trouble and the other camp being the speed and thrash influences of Metallica and Anthrax. Then, the article went on to list the evolutions of both branches showing blast beets to drone doom. It shows that heavy metal is an art form. It's not just Rock and Roll.
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