July 2008 - SLUGPUNCHER
Grief was a band that left footprints in the history of extreme heavy music like a dinosaur in muddy ground. I wil always miss this band, but on the other hand it's good to see when former members haven't lost their interest in making powerful superheavy music. In this case it's guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hayward, who was co-founder of Grief and drummer John Heidenrich, another ex-member of Grief and Noosebomb. SLUGPUNCHER is the name of the new beast and although they haven't released anything offical up to now I can assure that this is a great band. Due to Jeff's chainsaw-like vocals and his annihilating guitar sound one will always detect traces from his old band Grief here, but SLUGPUNCHER is different. Mixing thrash metal with a hint of crust punk and eardrum-bleeding heaviness this is the sound this two men were destined to make. I sent some questions to Jeff and of course not only his new band is one of the topics of this interview.
Hey Jeff! It's great to see and to hear, that you're back with a new band. This beast is called SLUGPUNCHER and your latest demo is simply awesome. Firstly, when did you form the band?
The band was formed just over a year ago. In march of 2007.
I was surprised, that there's no bassist in the line-up. Well, due to your massive guitarsound I don't miss any other player, but what's the reason for this decision?
When the band started, the original drummer, Rich Johnson, ex-Grief drummer and I were going to visit friends in Richmond, Virginia. My friend was booking shows at the time and asked if we wanted to play a show so we could make some gas money. We didn't even have a band at the time. He said just start something and I'll book it. So we started playing, wrote about 8 songs pretty quickly. Practiced for 2 months and went down in May to play and party with friends. So we basically had our first show booked before we even had the idea for the band. We did it as a 2 piece, people said it sounded fine so we just kept it that way.
It's not only that you haven given this group a real unique name, but all of your songs are named 'Slugweiser', 'Slug on the Rocks' and so on. When did you decide you form a band, which only sings about slugs, and is SLUGPUNCHER only a project dedicated to slugs or a real band?
Slugpuncher is definitley a real band. We have been writing songs like crazy. We now have 20. The song titles a just for fun, the songs are not really about slugs. Some are a little. I don't write lyrics for them, just improvise. Eventually lyrics develop over time. Singing for this band is like playing a guitar solo. I just wing it.
Have you played a lot of shows together with John and what can you report about the reaction from the audience?
John joined around November of 2007. We have only play a handful of shows up to this point. Spent a lot of time writing material over the winter. But we are ready to go. The crowd reaction so far has been real good. Everyone seems to like it. I have no complaints.
Usually I'm not really interested in asking musicians what kind of gear they're using, but in your case I'm always surprised about your typical skull-crushing sound. What for amps do you use and do you have a special tuning for your guitar?
I tune down to c. I run a mesa boogie f-100 amp through two 4 x 12 mesa guitar cabs. I also run a bogner guitar head through a peavey bass cab with one 18 inch speaker and two 10's. I use a boss super octave pedal and have just purchased a mxr phaser to add some effect. Guitar wise I primarily use a dean cadillac custom. It took a while to find my sound but i'm very pleased with it now.
When can we expect the first offical release from SLUGPUNCHER? What are the news? Is Bill T. Miller the producer and can I expect a tasteful artwork from Eric Harrison?
No definate plans for a release at this point. Bill Miller no longer records bands. He pretty much just does his own thing. The bass player for another band I'm in called Noosebomb recorded the demo. We did that quickly, didn't really spend much time on that at all. He mentioned to us the other day about recording a real album. We have more than enough material and really want to get the new songs done. And I would say there is a very good chance you'll see some of Eric Harrisons artwork on this as well.
You've been the guitarist and vocalist in GRIEF, a band that really needs no introduction. Why did the band broke-up in 2001 and what was the reason that the band reunited for a very short US-tour in 2005?
Grief broke up in 2001 because of constant problems keeping a solid drummer around. in ten years we probably jammed with ten different drummers. Some obviously worked out for up to five years at a time and some just didn't work out at all. It just got very frustrating and we decided to call it quits. In 2005 we got back together to originally play just one show, a two day fest in Boston. The show went better than I could have imagined. the reaction was overwhelming. After that we continued to get offers for shows. We were enjoying playing again so decided to keep it going. After a year or so the drummer left, again, it was just myself and Eric Harrison left as far as members from back in the day and felt it just wasn't Grief anymore and came to the decision to put it to rest for good. I must say in that year and a half or so we played again we played some of the best shows the band ever played. I was a good ride and have no regrets.
How do you remember the old days with this powerful and authentic band? When I take a look at the lyrics it seems as if most of the members have gone through endless valleys of depression, hate, misanthrophy and bleakness.....
The old days of Grief were great. We played many shows with many great bands, too many to name. Also met some awesome people, many who I remain friends with till this day. I sometimes think the band formed 10 years too early. It seems that towards the end of Grief the doom scene was really starting to finally catch on. But what can you do, we formed when we formed. I personally am not and never was a depressed person. I can't speak for the others. Most of the lyrics I wrote were about things I disliked and pissed me off. Pretty much just a young kid venting his frustration through music. We weren't trying to send any great message or anything.
A lot of people characterize GRIEF as a metal band, but for my taste the band was also deep-rooted in Hardcore Punk. Do you think there's a musical and aesthetically connection between DISRUPT and GRIEF?
I agree, Grief was metal and also had some punk influence as well. Seeing that four of the original five members were also in Disrupt I guess that would explain that.
You're from Boston, a city which is know for its Hardcore history. Have you seen a lot of shows ion the 80's and what are your favourite bands?
Honestly i'm not a big hardcore fan at all. Back in the eighties I listened to mostly metal. The Boston hardcore scene was something I was not a part of. Back then there was a lot of tough guy bullshit going on in that scene. I remember going to see the Accused, one of my favorite bands. There where a bunch of skins constantly trying to start fights. The singer finally said if the shit didn't stop they would stop the show. Sure enough it didn't and they walked off stage. I certainly don't blame the band. but I did see some great bands back then. D.R.I., C.O.C., Voivod just to name a few.
Maybe that's a tough question, but what is your favourite GRIEF album and why?
Favorite Grief album, that's tough, but I guess I would have to say 'Come To Grief.' Not really sure why, it was just raw and heavy. I like all of them though. Later on the songs got a little more complex, we did a lot of guitar harmonies and shit like that. But 'Come To Grief' is pretty straight forward.
I mentioned DISRUPT, a bone-crunching Hardcore band which was strongly influenced by early DISCHARGE and from other Boston bands like SSD, NEGATIVE FX or D.Y.S..What I like about this band beside the music is their political attitude as well as the pro-animal rights lyrics. Are you vegetarian and have you been involved in the 'Disrupt Dead' box set and all the other re-issues, which have been released through Relapse Records?
I am not a vegetarian, never have been. Some people may be dissappointed to hear that but it is what it is. As far as the Relapse re-issues go, I am involved in all that. Pete and Jay handled most of the details but I still talk to them all the time and was kept up to date as far as what was happening with all that.
Jeff, you're a real busy musician, because you're also play in ABHORRED, REDRUM, UTOPIA BANISHED and NOOSEBOMB. Before this interview will be endless, let's only focus on NOOSEBOMB, where you also play together with John Heidenrich. I know, that you have released a new 7" thru Land O' Smiles records. What can you tell me about this 7"?
I was in all those bands except for Utopia Banished. Yeah we recorded 4 songs for that 7 inch a while back. The line-up then was different than it is now. John H. was playing bass at the time and I was the only guitar player. Our friend John Farley was doing vocals along with myself on that recording. He has since left the band and John H. has moved to 2nd. guitar & we added a new bass player, Eric. We had an opportunity to record for free so we took full advantage of that. Eric did all the recording himself at his school at the time. One song called "Union of Perversion" is on it which I'm happy about because it was one of the first songs I wrote for the band that never got recorded. There is also a song dedicated to my dog Ernie. He is a cardigan welch corgi. He fucking rules! I love that little guy. There is one part in the middle of the song where we recorded him howling and we put it on the recording. The coolest thing is it is a picture disc. The artwork was done by Eric Harrison who did all the Grief artwork. It looks amazing, I was blown away when I saw it. Land o Smiles did a great job.
From all the bands, which one do you like the most? What is your beloved baby?
I like all the bands I have been in and am currently in. I would have to say Grief is the one. Mostly because of the length of time I put into that band. 10 years straight and then came back for a couple more. I pretty much did everything in that band at one time or another. Did just vocals, played guitar and sang, played bass and sang and even played drums and did vocals for about a year when we couldn't find a drummer. Of all the members I'm the only one who can say I performed at every single show Grief ever played. I hope I don't sound like I'm bragging but that band was my baby for about a third of my life. And I'm pretty fucking old. Haha! Hey you never know we might be back. Keep your ears open.
That would be amazing, Jeff! At least, I would like to ask you about upcoming elections in the USA. What do you think about this procedure and do you think that this will change anything?
As far as the elections go, I don't follow politics. I don't vote, never have. Maybe my vote would make a difference but I doubt it. I'm pretty much convinced who ever runs this country is gonna screw it up onw way or another.
Jeff, thanks a lot. Have a good time and all the best!
Thanks Klaus, for the interview.