October 2009 - UNORTHODOX
This interview was like a heavy birth. Perhaps the most problematic interview in the history of Cosmic Lava. To be quite frank, I'm not really satisfied with the result, if there wouldn't have been drummer Ron Kalimon whose answers are the reasons why this interview became more interesting. Unfortunately, Dale Flood was in no mood to give useful answers. Those who were useful can be read here. Altogether it's not my problem, because it's not my band. So that was just a brief explanation. Back to the music. Founded in the very early 80's under the name ASYLUM, UNORTHODOX belong to the first bands who emerged from the legendary Maryland heavy rock scene. In contrast to THE OBSESSED, this band was more influenced by progressive rock bands like Rush, but of course groups like early BLACK SABBATH left its mark in the heavy sound of ASYLUM/UNORTHODOX. It was in the year 1992 when Hellhound Records released the first album 'Asylum' followed by 'Balance of Power' in 1995. In the early 90's UNORTHODOX came over to Germany and played some unforgotten shows. After the end of Hellhound Records it has become very calm around one of Maryland's finest bands. We certainly missed the band. Then, finally, The Church Within Records released the third album 'Awaken' in 2008. 'Awaken' carried on seamlessly from the old times and proves once more that Dale Flood is definitely one of the most under-appreciated guitarplayers in the world of heavy rock. In closing, I would like to thank Oliver Richling (The Church Within Records) for his help and support.
Hello Dale, Hello Ron, at first I like to tell you how glad I’m, that finally a new UNORTHODOX album is out! There have been years when I thought that this would never happen. You were still playing shows in the USA, but it seems that you had no interest in recording a new album. What was the reason that it took fourteen years until you went back in the studio again? Have you ever thought about the end of the band?
Ronnie: Guten Abend Klaus! Thank you.
Dale: The band never stopped, the music never stopped. Its been evolving. It just got "fucked" because the people who weren't creating it fucked it. But now there is salvation thru Doom Dealer/The Church Within Records..
Bruce Falkinburg engineered the album and supported you in the process of mixing and producing. Did you record 'Awaken' in his own studio?
Dale: Yes, we hit his studio in the process of making this album and I'm glad its out.
The cover artwork looks like a modification of M.C. Escher's picture 'The Eye'. Can you agree, and who came up with the idea?
Dale: I guess it is......but Gary came up with idea and Oli had an artist trick it out. You'd have to ask Gary where the inspiration came from. I think both interpretations are cool.
It seems as if you have a preference for German record labels. In the 90's it was Hellhound Records and now you've signed with The Church Within Records. What's the reason for your decision?
Ronnie: It just seems that Germany and Europe had a bigger interest in our music. Hellhound had heard about our local music scene in Maryland and pursued many of the local bands. It is much more difficult to break through in America. Such a large country with so many bands.
Dale: Interest, plain and simple. The Germans have always seemed to resonate with the doom music. We are all kindred......
Shortly after the release of the new album, drummer Gary Isom and bassist Mark Ammen left the band. It was a surprise, because I think that the chemistry wasn't that bad. What happened?
Dale: We made a great album. The rekindling of playing with Ronnie was so amazing, he was part of the inception, the figurdo. It seemed only natural to bring in Jon Blank (R.I.P.). He's the glue that holds it together.
Ronnie: I don't think it was so much left the band than cordially asked to go. After the ASYLUM reunion with Dale, Earl and myself in 2007, Dale and I continued to play music together. At the same time he was playing with the UNORTHODOX line up. After a while we were getting tight again with the late Jon Blank (we love and miss you) and it did not seem to make sense to have both bands. I am pretty sure Gary and Mark are happy where they are now. We were confident of our sound with Jon. His loss was devastating. Mark Laue (Ex-Obsessed) has filled in nicely with us.
Ron, it's so great that you're back. Befored you teamed up with ASYLUM in the early 80's, you've been in a band named MELANGE together with Earl Schreyer, the first bassist in ASYLUM. When did you begin to play drums and how did you get together with Dale? Do you have formed the band together?
Ronnie: Danke schon Klaus! I don't know how you know that! I bet no one in our old school would remember that! MELANGE was my first serious band. Brett Kreider was the guitarist. He and Earl lived down the street from each other. Brett and I knew each other from school and asked if I would play in the band. We played Rush, Yes a lot of prog rock. That will teach you fast. Playing prog rock. That is where my roots are. We were kids. It was great and a lot of fun. Earl and Dale were friends from their old neighborhood. Dale heard of MELANGE and came to see. He said "I like this rhythm section". Dale talked us into joining him. The MELANGE days were very memorable. I like Brett but he wasn't happy Earl and I left.
Dale: I met Ronnie in High School. I saw him playing in a band and was blown open. I knew that I had to make music with him and the rest was organic. I really missed playing with him and the rest manifested itself.
Dale, when I did an interview with Victor Griffin (click here) in 2002, he told me that you, Victor, Wino and Joe Lally shared a House in Rockville in 1984. I suppose that this was a very excessive period, but also a very creative time. How do you remember these days in the early 80's?
Dale: Death Row/Pentagram, The Obsessed rehearsing 5 nights a week right next to my bedroom, use your imagination! Two of my favorite band (then and today) having Wino and Victor as roommates, never a dull moment. As for ASYLUM, we were younger and dubbed by Wino as "little monsters".
Ronnie: Excessive then? You should see him now! Watch out! The party train is rolling into the Bahnhoff!
Did you form ASYLUM shortly after that time, and have you played in other bands before? Is it true that OBSTINATION was the forerunner of ASYLUM?
Ronnie: We started after MELANGE. That was actually 1981. We covered Sabbath, Motorhead, Steppenwolf, etc.. We did call ourselves OBSTINATION to begin with. Shortly after we called ourselves ASYLUM.
It's really impressive that you developed your own style very soon. I hope that you're well aware of the fact, that you influenced a lot of bands and guitarists. Even on the first demo you have your unmistakable and emotional guitarsound, which can't be compared with any other guitarist. When did you start playing guitar, and what was an influence for you? Do you like bands as King Crimson or Rush?
Dale: We are all individuals so we all have our own styles. Its a transmutation of influences. Thank the gods it equals more music! I was born with a guitar in my hands. We've jammed as a family forever. Our house was always filled with music. We actually made an album of my fathers songs titled 'Dick Flood And the Flood Brothers' in 2003. My father just released an album where he invoked the spirit of Johnny Cash.
What do you think about the worse and overpriced bootlegs, which have been released of your band? Have you ever received some money from the sales?
Ronnie: There is one person we know that is famous for bootlegging. He gets banned from ebay for ripping people off but probably just changes his user name shortly after. Put it this way, if I relied on music to pay my bills I'd be homeless. Dale, any input?
In the meantime Shadow Kingdom Records did a proper and offical release of your first demo 'The Earth Is The Insane Asylum Of The Universe'. When was the idea born to unearth this jewel? Have you ever thought about re-releasing more demo recordings?
Ronnie: Dale was approached by Tim McGrogan about the idea. Unfortunately Chris Kozlowski was not contacted for the original recording. We have many demo's and, yes, more could be released. Dale and I are also talking about re-recording some of the "oldies".
Dale: I've always wanted Tim to release the ASYLUM demo.
It was in 1992 when Hellhound Records released your debut full-length 'Asylum'. Why didn't you release an album in the second half of the 80's? Didn't you find a record label which was interested in ASYLUM or what was the reason?
Ronnie: It is not easy to be signed in the US. Again, so many bands. We just went with the flow. We did recordings but really no interest. I don't think we really pushed ourselves either in the 80's. We did play a lot of clubs. It seems we were always playing. It was very memorable to play with Trouble in Baltimore in 1985.
UNORTHODOX played a lot of shows in the 90's here in Germany, that are in my best memory. I remember when I drove to Cologne to see you at the Popkomm. You also played at the Forum Enger and at other venues. What do you think about these tours after all the years? Do you have some good memories and is there something you would like to share with us? Any interesting stories?
Ronnie: I always loved playing music but am also very domesticated, meaning I love the comforts of home. I was reserved at first going overseas. Not long after I got home I realized what a great time I had and told my wife Selina how cordial the German people are. They are now great memories. People would say Schultheiss (the local beer) is shit. Compared to shit over here it was like nectar. There was also a little bakery near where we stayed in Berlin. Great pastries. In Koln, we stayed above the club. People partied past when we went up to our place. There was this drunk guy trying to get it on with this girl on the street below. Poor fellow kept getting turned away. Before we came home I went to the grocery and bought one of every different kind of beer I could fit in my suitcase. When I got home I had one a night to remember my trip.
I would love to see you again here in Germany? Do you have any plans to do another tour here?
Ronnie: Danke schon. If others would like to see us we would be happy to play in Deutchland again. I have a business that is seasonal. If a tour happened I would be available Nov.- March.
Dale, you've been involved into a project named Los Tres Pesados, featuring Dave Sherman and Jean Paul Gaster. The only song I know is the one from the 'Doom Capitol' compilation on Crucial Blast. Did you only record this single song or have you written more material?
Dale: That song was just for that record - We had a blast!
Speaking of other projects and bands, Ron you were also in the line-up of Iron Man and Internal Void, two more phenomenal bands from Maryland. Tell me more about that period in your life. What are your memories and why did leave both band?
Ronnie: Iron Man was a lot of fun. We played New years eve in upstate NY with Blue Oyster Cult. It was great. It came down to one band or the other. I was in both at the same time (Unorthodox & Iron Man). After Dale and I split in 1994, Internal Void (in '95) asked if I would join them (I guess they already asked every other drummer and I was the only one left). Come about 2003 more things seemed to be happening in my life outside of music. We were also having a tough time drawing new people to our shows and the late nights were affecting other stuff I had going on. I never left IM or IV for personal reasons. I still talk to a lot of them.
Now we have talked a lot about your music and the band, I would like to know more about the person Dale Flood. What are you doing, when you don't play a show or spend time in the rehearsal room? Do you have a job or a family?
Dale: I have a beautiful baby girl. Her name if Lily Alma Flood. She has been on this planet for 3 years 4 months and she ROCKS! Looking forward to the future
Thanks a lot for your time and interest. I think that's all I have to ask you for now. At least I wish you all the best and I keep my fingers crossed that UNORTHODOX will make a tour here as soon as possible!
Ronnie: Thank you! I hope we have more music to offer soon. We have started a web site. It is new so there is not much on it yet. We have T-shirts available. Anyone can email us at unorthodoxdc (at) verizon (dot) net through the site. We hope to make merchandise easier to purchase soon. The address is: unorthodoxasylum.com
Dale: Cheers and Thanks.