One of the many privileges of being an author for one of the most historic zines, Metal Invader, is the opportunity to talk with people you never thought you would. Like ever. Either they are big stars of the scene or they come from our precious and beloved underground. In today’s case, I had the chance of exchanging a few words with Danny Nelson of legendary Malignancy, who, contrary to those gits reeking boredom, eagerly answered to all of my questions with honesty and geniality. Take a look, meet one of the most historic Death Metal Acts of New York.
Hello and welcome to Metal Invader! It’s truly a delight to have you with us. I’ve been a fan for quite a long time so, I feel honoured, hehe! So, to start with, how are things flowing? Is life treating you well these days?
Cheers Elpida! Thanks for the interview and your support of Malignancy! As far as flow, things are well. 2018 will mark a new full length release for us. I have not decided on a title yet and what label will release it. I can tell you that we have 8 brand new tunes written. We just need to record. We are hoping it will start in March.
You’ve been around since 1992; Malignancy is one of the longest standing Death Metal acts of New York. Reflecting on the past, why did you decide to dedicate yourselves to Death Metal and what was that one thing that make you start the band?
It will be 26 years in February and I still cannot believe we are still at it. I was in high school when death metal really started to gain momentum. Being a thrash fan it seemed like the perfect progression! A high school buddy, Javier Velez, and I decided to try and start a death metal band. The first “rehearsal” still exists on an old cassette. We had no idea what to do so it was more of a jam session.
What were your influences back then and how did you manage to filter them in order to create your own identity and sound?
Vocally I was influenced by Death, Sepultura, Napalm Death, etc so my style was a bit higher than the style I eventually used for our demos. Musically we just tried to write songs. One thing we definitely did not want to do was to clone what was already done before. First demo was a test run to see if we could actually write anything. Line up changes and progression brought on the later incarnations of the band that brought out the sound I had always wanted.
How have things changed in the course of time in the scene, the labels, the underground since 1992? What’s the most striking difference between 1992 and 2018?
The biggest difference is the internet. Back in 1992, cassettes still dominated the demo circuit. So there was a lot more work to do. Photocopying covers, dubbing demos, labeling, mailing and of course buying black tapes. Money was a big problem because we all had shit jobs, so you really had to practice before you went into a studio to record. We found that out when we tried recording a follow up to “Eaten Out From Within” in 1994. We went in to track 3 songs and ended up with only 1, Rotten Seed.
In 2018 you can track, mix and master a whole album on your laptop, send it to a press plant and have a finished product in your mailbox in about 2 weeks. Then the release can be made available for immediate download. It’s crazy, seems like the 90’s were the stone age compared to today. But I would not ever change it, loved it.
On a more personal level, how has time affected Malignancy as a band?
The older you get the more responsibility you have so the band sometimes has to take a backseat. One thing I realized at a young age, you will never make money playing this style of music. I made sure I secured a career first and the band is always secondary. When the band isn’t fun anymore that’s when you stop. We are still having fun kicking our own asses on stage, so no plans to stop yet.
When you first started the band, what were your initial goals? Did you ever anticipate to be alive and kicking in 2018 with still a loyal fanbase by your side?
The first goal was to write songs and record a demo tape. Next goal was to play live gigs. There was some band member shuffling before we could achieve those. At the time I just wanted to be signed to a major label and have Dan Seagrave paint our cover. I never gave it much thought, the band has been a constant for more than half my life. We are lucky we have a great fan base!!
At first, you were formed as Carcinogen; what made you change your name?
Carcinogen just didn’t sound as brutal as Malignancy. My uncle named the band without hearing any music. I am thankful for that.
There have been quite a few lineup changes noted, though Malignancy’s solid character remained intact. Why the changes and how did you manage to cope with them?
In a band setting, it is difficult to please everyone and some people cannot commit. There are a lot of trials and tribulations that go along with being a member of a band. Lots and lots of hours spent jamming, playing gigs, traveling. It’s like a relationship, you get out of it what you put in.
The changes Malignancy went through were necessary and played an integral part in the bands growth and progression.
Well, enough with the dive in the past! Let’s focus on the most recent days of the band. Your last full-length album entitled “Eugenics” was released in 2012 and it was your first concept album, as far as I know – correct me if I’m wrong. What led you to this decision? Will your next album be a concept one as well?
Yes, Eugenics was the first concept album. I wanted to do something that was not in my comfort zone. The majority of lyrics I wrote prior to Eugenics where about disease and mutations. Writing another ten songs about those subjects didn’t seem appealing to me. I love concept albums especially the early works King Diamond created. Eugenics is not written in the same vein as King’s material. I didn’t create characters with names like he did. They read more like text book documentation, hahah. I think there was one concept record in me and that is it. There may be the same subject matter that is revisited as the new progresses.
I felt “Eugenics” had a more technical approach to it that fitted you well. Will you keep things this way with your new material?
Well, to be honest, we probably tamed down on the tech for Eugenics. Inhuman Grotesqueries was a much more technical album. Just my opinion. Eugenics is an easier listen perhaps. You can get into the songs more than the tunes on Inhuman. Malignant Future style is what will be prominent on the next full length.
“Eugenics”, I believe, was your best release so far production – wise. Your sound was clearer, with the instruments having enough room to breathe the way they should. Will you trust the same producer / engineer again?
Eugenics was definitely our clearest release up to that point. I believe the EP beats it hands down. We will be working with the same engineer/producer, Eliot Geller. He is the man and I love working with him.
Your last EP “Malignant Future” was released in 2016. When should we wait for a new full-length album to strike? Are you actually working on any new material these days?
Yes indeed, Malignant Future was just a taste of whats to come. We have had about eight new songs written for a while now. Scheduling has been difficult for us to get into the studio and record this damn thing. Fingers crossed, drum tracking will start in March 2018. Perhaps an end of summer release date.
“Malignant Future” was released on cassette by Repulsive Echo, whose mastermind is a dear friend of mine and probably holds one of the truest labels out there. First of all, how did you come in contact with Repulsive Echo, what made you collaborate with the label and will there be any other releases via R.E. ?
Yes it is available on cassette through Repulsive Echo. Kostas is an awesome dude. I believe we met through a mutual friend online. We just started emailing back and forth and it seemed like I have known him for years. We would like to collaborate with RE in the future! Looking forward to it!
Are there any changes for Malignancy to visit our Greek lands in the future? Should we anticipate an attack??
Greece is one place we would all love to play. Unfortunately we have never been approached to play there. Some day soon I hope! Promoters, get in touch! \m/
Alright, that’s all from me for now! Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! Would you like to send any messages to all the Metal Invaders out there?
Thanks for the killer interview, it was a pleasure to answer these questions. Thank you for putting us in Metal Invader. Cheers to all our fans, new and old, that have stuck by the band all these years!! Stay Malignant!