I sat down for a one on one with Cleveland Ohio’s Infamous Don of The Dead from Nunslaughter after they decimated Los Angeles with two exclusive Southern California appearances. If you are familiar with Nunslaughter then you are indeed well aware that this group is celebrated and recognized as the Forefathers of “Devil Metal.” Formed in 1987 by Don of The Dead, the band has had numerous line up changes and has released throughout the decades an enormous amount of EP’S, Split EP’S, Compilation Albums,and just a handful of Full Length LP’S, including the world renowned classics “ Hell’s Unholy Fire, Goat, and Hex.” So Let’s catch up with Don of The Dead and find out what is going on with Nunslaughter in 2012.
Bulldozer: Don of The Dead, Welcome Back to Sunny, Warm, Traffic Infested, Smoggy, Earthquake prone, Los Angeles. Two Exclusive Southern California Dates how is it going so far?
Don of The Dead: Well I am really exhausted, leaving at 6:00am from Cleveland Ohio and arriving in Los Angeles 10:00am, and staying up till 3:00 am, not to mention playing to a packed house of crazy metal heads will do that to you.
Bulldozer: Oh Yeah, Last night you got to experience first hand how rabid your fans in Los Angeles can truly be.
Don of The Dead: Last Nights Show went really well, Lots of Crazy People out Here! We were able to get in touch with “Old” fans and friends and met some “New” friends and fans, good times had by all.
Bulldozer: Nunslaughter is by far one of the few Underground Death Metal bands that have stood the test of time, from 1987 to present. Does it blow your mind how devoutly loyal your fan legion has been throughout the decades? And how your fan legion has grown from generation to generation?
Don of The Dead: Well I got to tell you Jimmy, I am actually really impressed with our fans. We were in Germany a few years back and we met a guy who was in his late 60’s who didn’t speak any English. His Son who spoke English translated for his father and told us that Nun Slaughter was his father’s favorite band. He had brought with him all these records, around 50 records or so for us to autograph. That was the first time that I realized that we had such a loyal following of multiple generations, it is indeed very touching to think that people are still listening to Nun Slaughter and passing our band down to the next generation.
Bulldozer: It must not only be flattering to say the least but also rewarding correct? What do you think is the reason for the longevity of Nunslaughter?
Don of The Dead: To be perfectly honest with you Jimmy, I have no idea?
Bulldozer: Do you think that it’s the fact that the band from day one till the present has embraced the extremity of Death Metal? There has never been a curve ball in the Nunslaughter catalog. Nun Slaughter has always been straight forward with the lyrical subject matter, Loyal and dedicated to the Nun Slaugher sound musically and there has never been any so-called “Experimental phases” ext. I strongly believe that your fan base is aware of that fact and appreciates that. What is your opinion?
Don of The Dead: I think that the plus and the minus of it is, we have retained some fans for a very long time, but the minus of it is, some people are unwilling to listen to the band because they think we might sound like we were back from the 80’s, playing 80’s American Death Metal. It seems that the longer you are around and the more you keep drilling it in people’s heads that this is what you sound like, and this is what you do. People are starting to really come around and give Nun Slaughter the benefit of the doubt. They are actually starting to listen to the bands music.
Bulldozer: The Longevity of the band is well documented in your catalog, my god it is immense! How have you been able to retain the integrity factor in Nunslaughter without straying musically or following past or current musical trends after all these decades? And where do you go from here musically and lyrically?
Don of The Dead: Both Jim and I make a very conscience effort to write within the style or confines of what we think Nunslaughter should sound like. We do throw out a lot of riffs, some songs that we work on we get as far as 90% done and when we listen back we say to ourselves “This is not going to work.” We might keep one riff here or there but most of the time we end up ditching the whole song. I think that we just have a clear sense of what we want to do. To be Frank, Jim and I enjoy doing what we do and do not intent to stop now. Sometimes it is more difficult as others, like for example we get criticized heavily because we do not release a lot of studio albums but we do a lot of 7inches or split EP’S. My favorites are split 7inches because we get to share vinyl with another bands. We will continue to put out more 7inches, we will continue writing in the same musical style, and hopefully we can attract a new fan base that will accept Nunslaughter for what it is.
Bulldozer: I believe that your fan base past and present truly appreciate your integrity and that is why you have such a loyal following. What is your opinion on the influence that Nunslaughter has had on The Death Metal Scene as a whole especially with some of the bands that and I say this will all due respect, but the bands that have had more of a commercial success doing what you originally inspired? Does it bother you that these artists due not give you the proper credit or Iconic recognition that Nun Slaughter truly deserves?
Don of The Dead: Well Thank you for the kind words, I have thought about that before.
Bulldozer: That is a fact by the way! That is not merely my opinion. Nunslaughter has had an enormous creative and musical influence on The Death Metal Scene.
Don of The Dead: There are bands that have had what I would call the right breaks, especially in the music industry, a lot of it has to do with getting the right breaks, knowing the right people, being at the right place at the right time. Let’s face it we are getting along here with age and with all the responsibility that comes with being a grown adult. There are younger kids who are in bands that do not have the same responsibilities, they do not have a mortgage, they do not have a car payment, and they do not have children to support or an ex-wife ect. That type of responsibility can some what shackle and chain a band down like ourselves for example. It does not necessarily bother me but when I meet somebody that is very enthusiastic about Nunslaughter and I have witnessed how far they have taken their own band that we have influenced, it gives me a little bit of a satisfaction knowing that I played a little part in their success. It reminds me of my heroes that influenced me like Death, Mantas, and Hell Hammer, that have inspired me to go ahead and make music and continue to make music. So I take great pride that hopefully Nunslaughter is doing that for those people and those other bands.
Bulldozer: You mentioned the age factor, being that I witnessed one of the two exclusive Nunslaughter Southern California Iron Room dates, you do not in any way let age hinder your live performances. Your performance last night was truly Brutal, Energetic and Entertaining. I would say done right in the “Old School “way of doing things. Is that something that you put a great deal of thought into while preparing for your live performances? Or is it plain and simply that Nunslaughter are just a “Old School” Band that knows how to do things correctly especially when it comes to live performances?
Don of The Dead: Well Thank You, I am glad you enjoyed our show last night. I think that we are a much better band to see live than to listen to our records. I enjoy the records as well but I believe that people will get it more if they come and see our live shows. We have been very fortunate to open and play with much bigger bands and have had the audience approach us later and say “ You were the best live band of the night” Granted the other bands are bigger, they have more of fan base, they are more popular, and the fans are more familiar with their music, but the audience seems to enjoy and appreciate our live show more. It seems that they recognize the energy that we try our best to bring to each and every performance that we play.
Bulldozer: What is going on with Nunslaughter in 2012? I am aware that you will be touring Singapore soon, aside from these two exclusive Iron Room Southern California dates but what else? Is there a U.S.A. tour planned? Are you writing new material? Will you be recording new material? Fill us in?
Don of The Dead: We are writing an entire new studio record, this would be our 4th full length album, once it is completed.
Bulldozer: That is exciting news in deed, you do know that your past and present Nunslaughter fans will be excited to hear this news!
Don of The Dead: We are Excited as well! We have about eight new completed songs written already and hopefully when we return from our Asia tour we plan on writing another 4 to 6 songs for the new album. We plan hopefully by the end of the year we will have all this material recorded. I do not know at the moment who will put it out, I know that Hells HeadBangers Records is interested in releasing it but we have not recorded any of the material yet so we do not know who else is interested in putting it out, but as far as more live shows these two Southern California dates will probably be the last live shows in The United States for this year. Our Bass player is leaving the band after concluding our Asia Tour, and then once we start finishing writing the record I do not know if we will have enough time to schedule any more shows. The only thing that we have discussed is possibly doing some dates in South America early next year, so we might do a show in late December to prepare us for our dates in South America.
Bulldozer: Normally when one of the members of the band leaves the group this has a devastating and crippling effect on the band, Not with Nunslaughter this is definitely familiar territory for you correct?
Don of The Dead: Most definitely! We have had overall about 23 to 24 former past Nunslaughter band members. This is pretty funny; the guy leaving his name in the band is “The Deserter.” He has left the band two other times in the past but we do not have any hard feelings towards Sean (The Deserter) and he is more than welcome to come back whenever he wants. If we ever found ourselves in a pinch where we needed someone we would definitely give him a call and I am sure he would be there for us.
Bulldozer: It is kind of like a “Nunslaughter” Brotherhood correct? Even though they have ventured on their own way they are and will always be part of The Nunslaughter family correct ?
Don of The Dead: Yes Absolutely! We are not even going to look for a replacement until the end of the year because Sean will end up playing on the new album. He helped write some of the material and he is familiar with the new music. So he will go ahead and probably record on the new record. Eventually we will try to find somebody to replace him, if not, when we go to South America we will either ask him to join us or one of our old bass players “Reaper” He said that he would sign on to do the tour.
Bulldozer: This question is in regards to the new material that you are writing. You have to up to this moment been able to retain the creative nucleus of what your audience expects from a Nunslaughter album, but do you find yourself in a position where you fear being repetitive? And at the same time how do you not stray and not break the Nunslaughter mold that has made you these legions of fans? Or is not a factor at all?
Don of The Dead: It is actually a big factor, Jim and I try our best to keep an eye on that issue. We do not want to keep writing the same material, or being repetitive as you put it.
Bulldozer: You are aware that that is why you are so respected in the Underground Death Metal Scene because you as of yet have been able to avoid that pit fall but at the same time there are critics and other artists that are constantly looking for that so they can knit pick and TALK SHIT! That is what is so remarkable about Nunslaughter is that the criticism that you receive is in reality a compliment! For example the average complaint I have read or heard is always “FUCK Another Nunslaughter Split?” That is the first time I personally have seen critics talk shit about a productive band. Do you agree? What is your opinion on this issue?
Don of The Dead: That is exactly what I think as well. Sometimes people do not like the idea that a lot of our recordings vary in sound quality. Something that Jim and I have in common is that we like to work with different people and different studios. If we find somebody that we like working with, we usually record a couple of things with them but unfortunately the thing that is common with this industry is that when we seek out these individuals to work with them again they tend to disappear. It is very difficult to find an engineer or a producer that you feel comfortable working with and that you can trust. We actually make a conscience effort to try not to repeat ourselves. As I stated prior there have been times in the past in the writing process that we get to about 90% percent through a song and then we realize that we are repeating ourselves or that this sounds too similar to another one of our songs so we either scrap it or change the riff. There may have been some of our songs that may have slipped through the cracks but we do make a conscience effort to write fresh new music without losing the Nunslaughter feel.
Bulldozer: Are there any working titles for this new Nunslaughter release that you can reveal to our readers?
Don of The Dead: None what’s so ever, we are going to probably make it up on the fly as we start to solidify the song titles and the lyrics. Like with our album “Hex” for example, we had all the songs and the titles complete but we lacked a title for the album until I found a piece of artwork by George Higham, that is how I decided upon the title “ Hex” because I admired and really liked his artwork. That is probably how this new album will be named as well unplanned and spontaneous.
Bulldozer: You and I are similar in age and we both have experienced first hand the P.M.R.C. Right Wing Conservative Morality Era along with the full on attack on “Metal” or “Extreme Music“ in the early to late eighties by Conservative Religious leaders and their Organizations or by Politicians who ignore our 1st Amendment rights to free speech and take it upon themselves to use their political power to try implement so called “Morality Laws.” Artist in the past like yourself have been forced to take this issue to court due to the fact that these Politicians, Moral Leaders, or Organizations, take it upon themselves to label that artists music as obscene. What is your opinion on this topic since in the current political realm this topic of “Morality and Obscene Art” has again resurfaced and is the topic of discussion in 2012? How do you view this and do you feel that it will in any way effect Nun Slaughters Music or Artistic Freedom?
Don of The Dead: Are you referring to Rick Santorum?
Bulldozer: Correct! Just one of many to surface lately.
Don of The Dead: That guy is Dangerous! You cannot have that guy in The White House. Mitt Romney I don’t know about a Mormon being in that position of power either. Any politician who makes decisions based on faith is pretty stupid if you ask me. I am not necessarily concerned for “Nunslaughter” although I am concerned about the movement as a whole. You can see where it goes once they start binding an artist’s hands. The thing that was very interesting about The P.M.R.C. is that they went around The Constitutional issue, they imposed sanctions which if you recall was the rating system. A sticker was applied to your artistic product being your record and then that label would signify that your album was labeled obscene therefore the commercial places that purchase units would in most cases not carry your album in their stores. In The end it was a different form of censorship. That is something that all of us have to be conscience of, people trying to take away any of our freedoms, especially Freedom of speech and artistic freedom.
Interview by Jimmy Cabbs
Photo: Frank Mendez