USURPER   BLACK THRASH METAL FROM USA Band Questions answer by RICK SCYTHE    
Please introduce yourself and the band members briefly?     RS: I'm Rick Scythe, guitarist / founder of Usurper. Joe Warlord is the drummer/co-founder, Dan Tyrantor is our long time vocalist and Scott Maelstrom, (bassist) is the new guy.   What does the band name mean and how do you get it?     RS: It was a cool name at the time we formed. Inspired by "Conan the Usurper" as well as the song "The Usurper" by Celtic Frost.   Where and how was the band founded?     RS: Founded in 1993 out of the desire to bring back the old ways of metal that was disappearing. By the mid 90's, death metal bands were moving away from the classic sounds, images and themes of mid 80's black/death/thrash bands. Around this time, many original mid 80's bands either broke up or changed their style. The so-called "Big 4" started to do some horrible things. Metallica cut their hair, started to dress all fancy, changed their logo and went alternative. Anthrax started wearing flannel shirts, changed their logo to some modern type font and were verbally denouncing metal. Megadeth was trying to go commercial and mainstream radio friendly, and Slayer went "nu-metal". We were proud to be ultra metal in a time when people were proclaiming that metal was dead. We were proud to bring back the ways of classic mid 80's underground extreme metal when no one else was doing this.   Have you played in other bands before? RS: Yes, we all have been in different bands before Usurper and we were all in various bands after Usurper broke up in 2007. The last non-Usurper band I was in was my solo project called, "Scythe" I did 2 albums during the years Usurper broke up. Now that Usurper is back, I am focusing only on Usurper.   Was it hard to find suitable band members who fit musically and humanely with the band?   RS: Musically, no. Humanly: I am still looking for at least one human. But in the meantime, I will settle on my fellow sub-human apes I am stuck with... Seriously, Joe and I formed this band in 1993. Joe stepped away to take care of some personal matters in 1996, but the band kept rolling. Through the years we went through a lot of different members. Joe rejoined in 2003, Dan Tyrantor joined in 2003 and us three have had a tight bond and common objective ever since. This core of us three have played a lot of high profile shows in different countries and have helped elevate the status of Usurper. Our newest member Scott Maelstrom, (bass) was jamming in a band with Joe, yet he was a huge Usurper fan since the mid 90's. He had every album and was at every Usurper show we ever played in Chicago. He knew how to play many old songs just from listening to them so much. Because of this, he was a perfect choice to join the band.   What does the band name mean? It means "one who Usurps power". To certain idiots it means "You-Slurp- Beer".   What are the lyrics about and who of you is writing them ? RS: Back when we began, our first singer wrote the words and I just structured the lyric patterns. It was mainly good vs. evil type lyrics, as well as ancient battles and some witchcraft stuff. In 1997 when we began writing for Skeletal Season, the singer wasn't into writing words as much, so I took over. I wrote many of the lyrics and and came up with concepts for albums after that too. I started writing about topics that interested me. Things I was reading about: Werewolf tales, interdenominational beings, cryptozoology, strange entities, monster folklore, lost civilizations, conspiracy topics. I would tend to write more vague and not so much as a linear story. Once Dan Tyrantor joined the band, we collaborated together. He was interested in many of the same topics I was into, and he has his own angle that I really dig. He is great at getting crowds fired up, and he can pen a great metal anthem too.   Which bands inspired you and how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard a sound from you? RS: The mid 80's thrash/black/underground metal bands inspired us the most. Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, Sodom, Bathory, Slaughter, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, old Kreator, as well as traditional metal like Manowar, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Trouble and some straight forward 70's hard rock like Van Halen, and Ted Nugent. Then some weird stuff like Samhain, Goblin. I say Usurper's backbone is mid 80's black/thrash, delivered with the anthemic quality of traditional heavy metal, and the basic headbangability of 70's hard rock, with some weird, melodic atmosphere intertwined.   Why should people listen to our music? RS: It's up to them. I'm a bad salesman. If what I described appeals to you, then listen to Usurper. If not, listen to something else.   In 2015, after eight years of absence, why did you decide to make music together again in 2015? RS: We were supposed to reunite in 2013 for a 20th anniversary reunion show. Myself and Joe Warlord actually began discussing this in 2012. Our first rehearsal was the week after the 2013 Super Bowl. But we ran into some problems. Dan was seriously ill. He was living in Colorado and needed a liver transplant, so he couldn't do it. The other singer and bassist both agreed to do it, then backed out, so we ended up not playing.   Then in 2015 Dan was getting healthy again after receiving a liver transplant and decided to move back to Chicago. Myself and Joe assembled the band and we played a few fests. The response was great, so we decided to release a new album: "Lords of the Permafrost"   Your debut album Diabolosis ... from the year 1995 was very influenced by hellhammer and celtic frost. How do you like the album from today's perspective and what is your favorite song on it? RS: I still like it. I love the guitar tone and production. We're much better musicians now, but the overall feel and heaviness is still pretty kick ass. "Blood Passion" might be my favorite track from that album, but we don't play that anymore. The only 2 songs we really play are "Diabolosis" and "Full Moon Harvest", so I will say "Full Moon Harvest" is my favorite track from that album.   Another question about the debut album which reminiscence do you have of the genesis and which thoughts are in your head when you first had the album in your hand? RS: In all honesty, I was pissed when we first got it. The spine of the CD was misprinted and said: "UNSURPER". Head Not Found/Voices of Wonder fucked up. They actually returned the CD's and corrected it. So there are only around 100 "UNsurper" CD's out there. I still have one. But besides that, it brings me back to 1995. We recorded at this guy's home studio; Eaton Records with producer Brian Eaton. We loved this guy, he was like a wise older brother to us. He was really into progressive stuff like YES, and really got the most out of our performances. I loved his production. Raw, but still clear. Heaviest guitar tone I ever got.   Skeletal Season was released in 1999. How long have you been working on your second album? RS: we released the EP/Mini CD "Threshold of the Usurper" in 1996, so it wasn't as long of a wait between the first and second full length. I had a lot of those Skeletal Season songs written in 1996. There is actually a cassette tape I found recently which has Joe Warlord playing a few Skeletal Season songs. Joe had to leave to take care of some personal obligations in 1996, so we recorded Skeletal Season with Dave "Hellstorm" Chiarella (ex- Funeral Nation). Dave was a great guy, but a much different drummer than Joe. He was a lot older than us and insisted recording on this old Ludwig drum kit. We thought it would be cool, but the drum sound gave us some problems. It kind of made the foundation of the album pretty loose and muddy. Some people love that dirty sound on that album, but it wasn't really intentional. It is considered a classic album, but it is hard for me to listen to.   Juha Vuorma also drew this cover like some of you. How have you been satisfied with the work and how have you got in contact with him since then? RS: Back in 1996 or 1997 we used to do a lot of traditional snail-mail type correspondence. Back then before the internet, bands, fanzines and things like that would send these little quarter page flyers to each other and then it would get distributed everywhere. I remember we received some flyers with Juha's work. We liked it. I contacted him and described what I was looking for for Skeletal Season. I gave him a detailed sketch and he sent me this huge painting. I still have it. Through the years we worked together and when we were doing Lords of the Permafrost I thought it would be perfect to have him do the cover art. I actually do a lot of painting and drawing too, but my stuff isn't really album cover type paintings. But I have included some of my artwork inside the booklet, so it works out well.   Necronemesis was released in 2000 and featured two guest singers, king diamond and Proscriptor McGovern and others. How have you got in touch with the two and how have you been working with the two musicians?   RS: in 1999 we had a larger budget to record with. Our label at the time asked what studio we wanted to go to. Two albums we were listening to at the time were King Diamond "The Graveyard" and Absu "The Eyes of Ioldanach". We noticed both were produced at Nomad Studios in Texas with producer Kol Marshall, so we said, "That's where we want to record". The label arranged everything, we contacted Proscriptor and asked if he would be interested in doing some backing vocals, he agreed, so that was cool. We were huge Absu fans.   Then we got a call from the label owner and he said, "we have a problem. King Diamond is finishing mixing his album and he needs another day. He said if you guys bump your schedule, he will do some vocals for you". We jumped at that opportunity. Sounded like a great deal to us! It was surreal showing him my handwritten words and explaining the concept. His performance was mind bending! To this day it is a highlight of my career!   How proud you have been that you have made one of your few guest appearances to you king diamond ? RS: Again, it was surreal! We have covered King Diamond and Mercyful Fate songs in the past. His music has always been a HUGE influence on Usurper. So to be standing there in the studio and explaining the type of vocals to sing and where to sing them is something I will never forget. We also got to hang out quite a bit and talk during that recording session throughout the week.   Your two albums Twilight Dominion 2003 and Cryptobeast 2005 appeared on the English label Earache Records. How have you been satisfied with her work from today's point of view, and how did you get in contact with the label back then? RS: Earache was interested in Usurper after they saw us play at Milwaukee Metalfest. It was great to be on a big label, have huge recording budgets and to have our albums in retail stores, but it was also disappointing. They didn't really push us. They didn't help with getting on tours and I got the feeling they weren't really fans of the band. It sucked they never released those albums on vinyl either. But no regrets. We are happier now being on Soulseller Records.   The new album Lords of the Permafrost will be released in March at the Dutch label Soulseller Records. what are your expectations for the label? RS: If it sells less than Metallica's black album I will be disappointed.   What were your high points and deep points in the history of usurper?   RS: High points: •Recording with King Diamond •Headlining main stage / Day One of 2006 Inferno Fest in Oslo Norway •Getting to tour all over Europe and North America with bands like Cradle of Filth and Manowar •Headlining festivals and shows in US, Canada, Mexico and Europe •Recording two albums with Neil Kernon Low Points: •Earache refusing to have us record and release our 3rd album for them •Touring with Enslaved in the US in 2002. Enslaved were/are KICK ASS and we had fun with them. They are a great band and great guys, but the tour was put together at the last minute, it was poorly organized and not really promoted well, so there were some embarrassingly low turn outs. We played Cleveland on a Monday night and there were literally 7 paying audience members in attendance. No joke, more people in the bands than people in the crowd. •Breaking up in 2007   What was your first concert as a fan? And what memory do you have of it? RS: Aerosmith with Ted Nugent opening in 1985. Ted Nugent blew Aerosmith off the stage.   What were your live highlights and with which bands did you play? RS: Our first tour was 1997 supporting Dark Funeral in America. In 1998 we toured Europe with Enthroned and Hecate Enthroned. In 1999 we toured US and Canada supporting Cradle of Filth. In 2000 Cradle of Filth took us to Europe to support them on a large, month long tour. In 2002 We toured with Enslaved. In 2003 we toured with Manowar. Then after that we did some various headlining shows in the US, Canada, Europe. We played some pretty big fests such as Milwaukee Metal Fest, Worcester Hardcore Metalfest, Expo of the Extreme, LA Metal Fest,   California Death Fest, Maryland Death Fest, and headlined the main stage/day one of the 2006 Inferno Fest in Norway.   Have already resulted in friendship ?   RS: Yes. I am still in contact with some of the guys in Hecate Enthroned,I consider those guys friends. Dylan, the bassist and Dean the old vocalist are two of the most genuine people I ever met in the business.   Which band would you like to play live with and why? RS: anyone, anywhere. It never mattered to me. Usurper is an odd-ball band. Like I said we played with extreme black metal bands, traditional metal bands and various underground bands and we fit in just fine with anyone.   With what do you earn your money except with the music? RS: I keep that stuff private, but I will say this, we all have high paying jobs which is great because we feel no need to have to sell out or conform to trends in order to sell albums. Usurper can't be pushed around, because we don't need the band to do anything to make a living. We do what we want, play what we want.   How important are social media for you as a band? RS: I know it's important, but I hate it. I have access to the Usurper facebag page, and that explains why it is hardly ever updated. Usurper's YouTube page is run by someone outside the band. I sent him a bunch of old Usurper VHS tapes and had him upload everything and run it. I have no control over it, I don't want to be bothered with it, so don't try to contact us through that because I will never see it and I will never read the comments. Scott our bassist started a Usurper Twitter and Instagram. I have no idea what's on there. I always thought Twitter and Instagram was for idiots into the Kardshians or people posting picture of food. I was told metal bands have these, so whatever.   What would you (her) want to achieve with the band? RS: What would I want "her" to achieve with the band? Not sure, just a bunch of idiot dudes in this band.   What do you think about the Chicago Metal scene in general? RS: Ehhh, I never leave my house unless I am playing a show.   Maybe you can recommend some bands from your area? RS: I don't know any new ones. I'm sure there are great bands, but I'm very reclusive so I don't go to shows. I like all the classic bands from Chicago: Master, Trouble, Macabre, Devastation...   PERSONAL QUESTIONS !
© 2019 by Haschi`s Metal Corner
▲