Was the time of coronavirus the opportunity to write a full-length album? More time maybe? How do you feel that you cannot play live and how is the band affected that waits to see their fans but also take some income from tickets and merch?
I THINK THE VIRUS GAVE A LOT OF ARTISTS A CHANCE TO WORK. MORE THAN THEY WOULD HAVE IF THEY WERE HOLDING DOWN THEIR DAY JOB for sure. The songs for the album were mostly written already. I ended up writing quite a bit though and some of the newer songs are replacing the original set… so yes to both questions. Not playing is terrible. We all miss live music more than anything I know I do…On both sides as a performer but also as a fan. I’d kill to go to a show. Financially it’s not good either right? We are a small business, losing direct revenue and long-term interest in us is all potentially very negative. The virus sucks man but I guess you have to make the best of what you are handed… I feel like we are doing that as a band and personally. We are on fire and as soon as the doors open back up????? We will be ready.
What is your opinion about what we see happening lately in your homeland America with the elections but also with the whole background of the coronavirus, telework, vaccinations, closed shops, etc. Many musicians avoid answering but because Toxik has always had socio-political lyrics I would be interested to hear your opinion…
I think politically, here in the U.S.? Τhere’s almost too much to talk about and I hate that the virus was politicized. I get the paranoia and the obvious dystopian overtones of being forced to wear a mask etc… But that’s a juvenile way of looking at the situation. I am totally prepared for this to have been a weapon that either intentionally or accidentally (wink wink) was released…for some greater agenda 21 type shit… but, … before we get crazy with all that, practically speaking putting on a mask and not spreading this fucking thing makes good sense? And because it was politicized along a fault line of stupidity Americans became a global pariah… we can’t go anywhere NOW because of it and that again directly affects my industry and my income etc. IT’S A TESTIMONIAL to American exceptionalism…to be exceptionally stupid.
What is the lineup for the new album and after three EPs what is the goal? What would you like to achieve with the new album?
James DeMaria on Drums, Shane Boulos bass, Eric Van Druten 2nd guitars and Ron Iglesias vocals, classical guitar (on the album so far, there may be more) These guys are a solid and cool unit, plus we’ve toured together now, the core group of James, me and Shane for several years. Eric and Ron are newer but even Ron is at the 3-year mark and Eric guitar teched for us for the last 5 years so no one is new. The original Toxik lineup was only around for a few years and the second one the same. I have been with James longer than almost anyone in out of the band. We have had a lot of people come and go.
The eps are really great and I am proud of what they are. Artistically they represent a series of incarnations and iterations of a band and artist on its way to this point in time…which answers the second part of the question: I really wanted to capture this lineup at a peak in its relationship. We are close friends and work very well together so it’s a band recording, not me writing a bunch of shit and throwing it at the dudes I’m currently jamming with. This has a contextual continuity …oh shit yes I just wrote that lol. Ron coming in made a huge difference in morale and overall cohesion…as a unit we’ve always traveled well but now we have a unity I think people will hear in these recordings and on the new LP. That’s what I as a writer would like to see this album do for our little band called Toxik.
As a very talented guitarist has it ever crossed your mind to write a solo album or even do a great collaboration with musicians of a similar level like Chuck Schuldiner with CONTROL DENIED?
Sure all the time… I am working on a solo album sort of as I am finishing Toxik right now. It will be some shred some funk and jazz too, gonna be the kitchen sink. I have a prog record in the can as well that I have been dusting off. Lots of music coming.
You have given several live performances, I would like you to tell me what is it that can stress you out, make you feel uncomfortable during a live or a tour, and respectively what is it that can excite you and make you feel great?
Ahh, great question. Truth? These days nothing ruffles me or knocks me off my game live. It’s been a lot of years and a lot of gigging. It never loses its thrill and I never feel like one show borrows from another like I don’t write it in I always strive for the best performance I can but I don’t get freaked out or anxious before shows. I just warm up get my head into my hands and go on. To be sure there have been ups and downs over the last few years with our lineups and the shows but that’s the way it is. You know with youtube life is honest. What you hear is what you hear and when it’s on its own when it’s not it’s regrettable but I don’t dwell and since we started touring with Ron, not one show has been off…like we are consistent as hell now. I think a lot of our waffling especially in 2017 was due to a lack of chemistry between the band and the singer live. That is about as close as I get to anxious about our performances. Again I never want to deliver a bad show I hope we get to go out again this coming year
I am very lucky and grateful for listening to 5 demo tracks from the brand new material, is really very strong, and with pluralism in ideas. How many in total to wait .. are there lyrics, titles ready?
10-12 songs 50-55 min material. Yes, all songs are written lyrics get final finish ups at the recording stage, but that’s our working method and we are quick with it …so yes it’s all ready to go, and thank you brother that is very kind I am glad you are liking it so far.
The fans we listen to technical groups we many times spend a little time catching some difficult parts with many changes and we need to listen to them again and again to the point of wondering, but how the hell do they remember them and play by heart? Haha
Rehearsal and home study…playing a song a few hundred times will make it permanent in your brain so it’s really a matter of dusting off the material and then forming it into an interesting set… once you have your live sets worked out they take on a life of their own. It’s pretty wild how you go on autopilot and let the muscle memory take over.
You were one of the pioneers of this sound especially in America, in Europe there were Coroner as well, was it difficult at that time to play hard to digest songs; Sure you had a fan base but RR then gave their attention in death metal that which was also abandoned afterward. Was that one reason the band rested in 1992 or was it something else?
It was hard to find an audience with a label that was not 100% behind the band. I think to this day we are a challenge for labels. They don’t like our vocals they aren’t sure about the politics maybe I am hard to work with I don’t know whatever it is we as a band have always been true to what we were., Even now we still do what comes to us and I as a writer compose for the people I play with so the music that I am writing now is for these guys and again you can hear that friendship…I feel like the labels don’t get what we do and how tight it has to be to work and the level of artisanry you need to pull it off well. Too bad it’s a misunderstood art form and deserves way more respect in the music industry and community in general.
Which musicians, bands influenced you to play this alloy of thrash, power, progressive that finally became your identity?
I am an old Rush and UK fan, Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull but of course Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Priest and Scorpions then the next wave hit, and I sort of took from that new angle on my beloved power metal and ran with it. Toxik initially was sped up power metal but It evolved and became its own idiom as time went on. There were almost no other proggy thrash bands …honestly on WC I was not aware of any, I felt that record was quite original for its time. Songs like Voices, World Circus, and Door to Hell were completely unique in the genre and that scares labels who are usually looking for safe money. I am still sort of answering the previous question here because they connect.
I would like you to tell us some of the countries that you loved playing live either for the crowd or for their culture and also which ones do you have in mind that you would like to play metal for the fans there or that you would like to visit and you do not have it done still?
There is nowhere we play I don’t enjoy the experience. I love the Netherlands it’s basically Toxik’s home-base our guitar player is from there our TM our booking agent our current label… so obviously Toxik and Holland go way back but all of Europe is home Latin America is amazing… there’s nowhere that isn’t. We will play Greece eventually we have always had a following there and look forward to bringing the circus there with Up The Hammers… to be announced
We hope you soon headline that show which was canceled in Greece …