December 2007 - IRON MAN
IRON MAN aren't only a band, but also an instituion in the Maryland Heavy Rock/Doom community. They belong to the first wave of bands, who showed their very own interpretation of what was once started by the almighty Black Sabbath in the very late 60's. Like most of you, I discovered IRON MAN in the early 90's, when the legendary German label Hellhound Records signed some of the best Heavy Rock/Doom bands from the East-Coast of the USA. Needless to write, that I became a huge fan of IRON MAN, after I heard the first crushing tones of 'Black Knight', which has been their first album. More than ten years have passed since this magic moment, and finally I have the change in doing an interview with founder Alfred Morris III as well as with Louis Strachan, the new bass-player of IRON MAN, who also played in several heavy bands from Maryland. So, there are enough themes for an interesting interview, and Alfred and Louis have been kind enough to answer my questions. Here we go!
Hello Alfred, hello Louis! It's a honor for me to welcome you here at Cosmic Lava. Firstly, it's good to know that IRON MAN are back. Before we talk about the new release 'Submission', I would like to know what happened with the band after 'Generation Void'. As far as I remember, there have been plans for a second release on Brainticket Records entitled 'Afterlife'. Why did it never saw the light of day?
After the Generation Void release, Iron Man started a US tour in January 2000. About 2 weeks into the tour Dan and Vic were unhappy with the venues so they left the band and returned home.They returned to the band in February of 2000 just to play 2 more shows, Youngstown and Cincinnati, Ohio. Iron Man continued touring in March with replacements, Jadd on vocals(from Meteor City) and Jared on drums(from Tampa, Florida)and did 20 cities before having to stop on April 1st. At this point, I had to rebuild the band with new people. This was not easy. I had thought to hire a drummer and get Dan back to sing for a recording session for AfterLife in November 2002. Dan pushed the recording dates back a few times until he just changed his mind about the project. Between 2002 and 2005, I had tried various combinations to try and get Iron Man playing again. Things would come together for a few weeks and then interest would suddenly fade. In April of 2006, I met a drummer and recorded some demo tracks. I could not find a vocalist that could write lyrics that fit the songs! Iron Man was on hold again!
As so often in the long history of the band, you have recruited a new line-up. How did you get together with vocalist Joe Donnelly and Louis Strachan?
In May of 2006, Louis contacted me about him and Gus Basilika joining Iron Man. On June 6, 2006, I got together with Gus and Louis to jam on some new material, things finally came together!! After a few vocalist tryouts failed, my manager(Michael Lindenauer) pursued getting Joe Donnely to sing for Iron Man. At that time Joe was singing in Sabra Cadabra, a Black Sabbath tribute. Joe was interested in Iron Man and was able to sing in both bands with no problems!!
Louis, some of the readers know, that you have been in LIFE BEYOND, before you joined IRON MAN. I think, LIFE BEYOND was an excellent band, but you only released one MCD and a full-length. Suddenly the band split-up. What were the reasons for it?
First, THANK YOU for the kind words! Yeah, I thought LIFE BEYOND was a great band too (and not just because I was in it!). I thought that we brought a lot of different musical elements to the table. We were listed as a doom band, but we would always mix it up with hard / melodic rock, stoner, groove, and occasionally speed metal. The band came to a semi-end when our singer / guitarist Danny Kenyon had a dream opportunity to move his family to 100 acres of land in Virginia. We were really happy for him but the band as a whole took a hiatus, because he was now 7 hours away from us. We were in the process of writing for the new CD entitled 'TOMBSTONE' and had at least half of the songs done. One of the new songs called 'Rising Sunn' wound up on the Crucial Blast MD / DC Doom Capital Compilation CD in 2004. So, we tried to keep things together but the long distance between us finally won the battle. But hopefully one day we'll all get together, go in the studio, record the songs, and release 'TOMBSTONE', and the lost LIFE BEYOND tracks!!
Louis, I noticed that LIFE BEYOND's 'Ancient Worlds' EP will be re-released. What about the album?
Oh yeah, the 'ANCIENT WORLDS EP', that's where it all started, man! We sold outta that thang sooooo damn fast, dude!! We couldn't make 'em fast enough back in the day! There has always been an interest in that EP/CD, it's like it never died. And now, thanks to F.J. and the wonderful people at BLOOD & IRON RECORDS, it will see the light of day again with bonus studio and live tracks! It all came about when I was surfing hellridemusic.com and saw that someone had a post about LIFE BEYOND and a where are they now kinda thang. A bunch of cats were chiming in on the subject and one of them was F.J. from BLOOD & IRON RECORDS. He was like me trying to get a hold of somebody from LIFE BEYOND because I wanna re-release their first EP/CD! So, I made contact with him and the rest is history. It's gonna come with brand new packaging, photos and everything. It should be out in early 2008
Alfred, in my opinion the vocalists of IRON MAN have always been very unique singers, but not always the ones who really fit to the music. But in Joe Donnelly, the new man on the mic, you have found a very powerful and charismatic singer. What do you think about it?
Having Joe on vocals is incredible!! He has a powerful vocal style and can write great lyrics!! There are no boundaries to what we can create for the future!!!
'Submission' is a brilliant new recording, which contains all the trademarks of the band. Especially your crushing guitarsound is in best shape, but the other guys have also given their best and the overall chemistry works excellent. This is really fresh blood for the band. Are all five songs brandnew or have you exhumed a bunch of unreleased tracks?
The songs are brand new except for 'Among The Filth and Slime'. The music was from an old Force song called 'Emerald Green', from around 1979. It was recorded at a practice session only one time back then. I thought it would be a different type of song to have Joe write lyrics for. I also wanted to use my Yamaha 'Strat' to do some Uli Roth style solos on it!
This time, you worked together with producer Chris Kozlowski, one of best addresses in Maryland for heavy doom-drenched power rock. In former times, you recorded at Hit & Run studios. What was the reason for entering Chris' Polar Bear Lair Studio?
The idea now is to take Iron Man to the next level. Working with Chris Kozlowski gave Iron Man the experience of working with a producer that has an established reputation in music. He had wanted to work with Iron Man for years and finally it happened!
Currently, IRON MAN are an unsigned band, and 'Submission' is a self-financed EP. Why didn't you record a full-length, and when can we expect an album? Do you still wait for a good offer from any interesting label?
We have material for a full length CD and are writing more at this time. We wanted to get some new material to our fans as quickly as possible, so we released Submission ourselves. We have material for a full length CD and are writing more at this time. Michael is currently working on a New Label deal for Iron Man. Iron Man should have a Deal and full length CD by Spring 2008. If we had waited for a deal to be finalized, too much time would have passed since playing at the Doom or Be Doomed festival. A new release might have taken a year for a new label to put out!
Maryland was always a good ground for heavy music and in the meantime a lot has happened there as for example the Doom Or Be Doomed Festival, where IRON MAN did play, too. New bands have been formed like Chowder or Tarpit, just to name a few. Please, give us a short insight report about the current activities.
The scene seems to stay alive in Maryland, thanks to new bands forming and some of the older bands are still playing!! They stay true to the Doom roots and keep it HEAVY! This is the kind of activity that keeps a style of music evolving and establishes Maryland as the center of Doom in America.
Your musical lifeline goes back to the 70's, and one of your first bands was FORCE. Have you ever thought about a proper release of the FORCE material? All the fans would really appreciate an album, which isn't over-priced and that contains some rare photos and more.
Plans are in the works for releasing remastered Force material. The recording equipment used in those days is out dated so everything must be converted to digital format. When that process is completed, the CDs will hopefully be ready by Summer 2008.
The Japanese label Leaf Hound Record will re-release both Hellhound albums, which are now rare gems and hard to find. Have you been involved into the process of re-releasing and did you get in contact with Toreno, the owner of Leaf Hound?
Yes, we have been involved and in contact with Toreno and he has done an incredible job on both releases!!!! The fans will be very pleased with these CDs and Vinyl LPs!!!
What are you doing, when you don't think about riffs, which crumble everything in sight? Have you a regular job and a family?
Actually, I think about riffs at work also!!! I work in the Aerospace Industry and have a wife and daughter. I also have a Samoyed named Wolfgang. I am able to live a regular life and the life of a musician. I have some speaker designs that I would like to have built at some point. I design mostly for bass guitar and Home Theater speaker systems. It's a hobby that may come to light one day.
It's no secret, that you're one of the biggest BLACK SABBATH fans of all times. What do you think about the re-union of the BLACK SABBATH line up Mk. III? Have you seen one of their shows?
I like the idea to bring back Ronnie James to tour. It is a good way to close that chapter of Black Sabbath. They have a very good live perfomance set. I remember standing in front of Tony back in February 1974. I was at the edge of the stage watching everything he played. I heard the sound coming right out of his amplifiers, not the PA system!! As you see now, that night changed my life!!!
May you can imagine, that a lot of IRON MAN fans still waiting for the band's first tour here in Germany. I know, that it can be very tough for a band like yours, which is without any label support and so on. Despite this sad facts, what are your thoughts about it? The next Doom Shall Rise festival here in Germany is in 2009, and this would be an excellent venue to present the amazing new line-up as well as causing some real ear-gasms!
We would be honored to play Doom Shall Rise!! At this time, along with a Label Deal, Michael is making arrangements now to put some 2008 tour dates together for Europe and Japan. We had planned on coming over with or without Label tour support. The release of the Submission CDEP is making a big buzz about Iron Man around the world!! It is making it easier to work out some tour plans.
That's it, tough I could ask a dozen more questions. Thanks so much for doing an interview with me! Any last words?