DEMOLITION HAMMER - USA
Epidemic Of Violence - 1992 - Century Media
Time Bomb - 1994 - Century Media
MembersS= STEVE REYNOLDS
G= James Reilly>>Deviate N.Y. - DEREK SYKES
B= STEVE REYNOLDS
D= Vinny Daze [Vincent Civitano]>>Deviate N.Y. - Solstice, Malevolent Creation, Resurrection>>Alex Marquez>>Anger, Sargon
HistoryDemolition Hammer managed a good reputation in the underground with the Skull Fracturing Nightmare demo of 1988 and the Necrology demo of 1989. After coming to the attention of Robert Kampf of Century Media through a writer at Rock Hard magazine, the NY thrashers entered Morrisound Studio and recorded a strong first album with producer Scott Burns. The album was issued in Germany in 1990 and in USA and Canada in 1991. Two European tours and one Canadian/USA tour ensued. Recording at Normandy Sound Studio to stray from the Morrisound sound, the band's follow-up was no less vicious and convincing. A tour with Deicide and Cancer followed. James Reilly was absent and replaced by former Prime Evil man Mike Usifer. Reilly would end up out of the band.
For album number three, which saw a reorientation towards Pantera, the band's new line-up (original tattoo artist Daze and guitarist Reilly were gone) saw less of a demand for its new style and faded from sight. Reilly and Daze (the latter was roadieing for bands like Deicide) tried their hands at a new true thrash band called Deviate N.Y. which was led by Daze, but the latter's demise cuts all plans short. Deviate N.Y. had a 1995 demo. Daze's death was rumoured by some to be the result of a poison picked up during an African trip! The truth was more likely that he passed away because of an undiagnosed genetic heart condition.
The band had their three albums receive the ‘best-of’ treatment in 2008. Necrology: A Complete Anthology was out through Century Media.
In 2016, Demolition Hammer reformed and scheduled a concert for Friday, June 17th at St. Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York. The band was original members Steve Reynolds (vocals and bass) and guitarists James Reilly and Derek Sykes. New to the line-up was drummer Angel Cotte (Immortal Flesh, Eyes Like Cyanide, etc.). The band would appear at The Maryland Deathfest on May 29th. Demolition Hammer would commemorate the 25th anniversary of its Epidemic Of Violence album by performing it in its entirety June 24 2017 at the Gramercy Theater in New York City, USA. A reformed Demolition Hammer played at the Keep It True festival in Germany on April 28 2017. Demolition Hammer played at the Heavy Montreal festival in Montreal, Canada on July 28th 2019.
It is October of 1992 and Demolition Hammer’s second album Epidemic Of Violence, which is the follow-up to Tortured Existence, has been out for six months. The band is touring North America with Cancer and Deicide when Ali “The Metallian” and the band’s drummer Vinny Daze sat down at La Brique in Montreal, Canada for an interview. The show was being opened by Crypt Keeper. Demolition Hammer is rounded out by singer and bassist Steve Reynolds, guitarists Derek Sykes and James Reilly. The last man is absent for this tour and replaced by former Prime Evil guitarist Mike Usifer. Read on for details. – 06.10.1992
METALLIAN: Thanks for the interview, Vinny. Let us rewind for a year. How did Tortured Existence do sales-wise?
DAZE: Sales-wise? They say… I mean, we don’t have actual numbers, but it did fairly well in Europe and about as equal in the States. I would say maybe we sold 60 or 80 thousand copies worldwide. We did not break a 100 (thousand) copies. It is not a lot of sales, but it is pretty good for an underground band and for us from New York.
METALLIAN: Are you saying that 60 to 80 thousand copies sold are not good?
DAZE: Er… I like to see more, but I think that is a lot for our type of music and where we are from. That is the total now. The second album is out already. When the first album came out there were many bands’ records coming out. The new Testament came out, the new Judas Priest, Painkiller, about the same time Obituary’s album came out, Megadeth… everybody came out at the same time as us so it was a little bit hard at the beginning. So the figures were jumping from low to high, but I think we have sold close to 60,000.
METALLIAN: How does the new album Epidemic Of Violence compare to the first album as far as the band is concerned?
DAZE: The fast parts are faster and the slow parts, the mosh parts, are slower. The production is a lot cleaner. We went up to Normandy Sound to work with Tom Soares who did Leeway, Cro-Mags and, what else did he do, he did Wargasm and stuff like that. The production is a lot clearer, you can hear what is going on more and it’s just a polished production. I like it. I like it a lot. The drums came out great, the guitars have a nice sound and the vocals came out excellent.
METALLIAN: While we are on the topic of the sound, why did you not return to Morrisound to record as you did with the debut album?
DAZE: It has nothing to do with Scott Burns (who produced the debut). We are good friends with Scott Burns. He is a really cool guy. It wasn’t our sound, you know? We were just plunged in with all the other death metal bands. It really wasn’t our sound. We were just trying to reach out to other studios and find our sound, which is good for us.
METALLIAN: Actually, many people including myself, thought the first album’s production was sort of a depressing perhaps because you did the vampire shift, as you told me once. Moving on, the title for your first demo, 1988’s Skull Fracturing Nightmare, became a song title on the new record. How did that happen?
DAZE: Mmmmm… the song was actually supposed to be called Necrotized. We just… I don’t know… Steve takes care of all the titles and lyrics and he wanted to change it in the last minute. Skull Fracturing Nightmare seemed pretty cool. I like that, but Skull Fracturing Nightmare was the name of the first demo though, you are right. The song on the album has nothing to do with the songs from the demo.
METALLIAN: Do you feel Demolition Hammer is getting lost in the shuffle of Century Media bands? Looking from outside…
DAZE: … (Laughs)
METALLIAN: I don’t want to get you in trouble…
DAZE: …No no not at all go ahead.
METALLIAN: Looking from the outside, it seems like Century Media has this thing going on with Cro-Mags who, I think, split up, but Demolition Hammer is not getting that much attention.
DAZE: Yeah, we kind of got lost in the pile of bands that started signing. The Cro-Mags are a good band, they used to be a good band or whatever, but now they don’t do anything for me. They sank a lot of money into the Cro-Mags and I don’t know what is happening now. We are not getting any tour support for this tour we are on. It is kinda messed up. Whatever we are getting is very little from what I understand. They are going through their money like water and if only they would budget everything a little more properly… it is like Cro-Mags suck all the money up and we had to put all the money up for the bus that we are in now!
METALLIAN: The band put its own money up to tour.
DAZE: Yeah, I mean, it’s the band’s money. All the money from shows goes into one pot. We don’t have wads of money in our pockets. We are not Deicide and not getting paid mega-money to play. It is a ‘bread and cheese’ tour (laughs).
METALLIAN: Are you getting the feeling that you are not getting as much attention as bands like Cannibal Corpse or Deicide solely because of the image aspect regardless of whether the music is good or bad?
DAZE: Yeah, I mean they are getting the extra attention because of the Satan thing or whatever… Cannibal Corpse has the crazy mutilated, butchered at birth and eaten everybody thing… I like these bands. Deicide is really great guys. They are cool, man. Glen (Tipton of Deicide) is really Cool. Cannibal Corpse, I met them once when we played in New York at The Ritz and those guys were really cool. They are cool to talk to, but we are just not as extreme as them. We are getting enough attention to be out there and be recognized. Everyone really digs us. We are really energetic. We have a lot of energy on stage. We go off of the people. You get back what you give to the people. But, as far as the death metal thing, we are not death metal. We are just not death metal. We are right on the border. We are brutal thrash. It is not like broggghhh (makes a growling noise) brutal. It is just a fine line between the death thing and the thrash thing. It is really hard. We are just hanging by a thread, but we are there and people like us.
METALLIAN: You think that has hurt you? The fact that you are not death metal.
DAZE: To a certain extent. It does hurt us, I think. It makes me think ‘what do I want to do?’ Do I want to get into a death metal band or what? Do I want to leave? Whatever! I don’t know. I mean death metal is cool, but there are too many death metal bands right now so I am happy that we are thrash and not death because it is just too flooded. There are too many bands. Everybody that was thrash has turned into death. They cross over. We are still on that thrash line, which is alright.
METALLIAN: I think your music is impressive enough.
DAZE: I mean we have proved ourselves to death metal crowds. We have toured with Obituary and Morgoth and got excellent responses. We toured with Dark Angel and compared to us they are pretty even. They are thrashy and fast. Just speed metal, which is what we are. A thrash and speed metal, but like all the death metal tours that we have done, this one too, the response has been really good. I am sure tonight Canada will be excellent. The last time we played we had a really good time.
METALLIAN: I want to change the subject now. The next question pertains to the commitment of various members to Demolition Hammer. You have a guitarist missing tonight. The ex-guitarist of Prime Evil is with you tonight. What is the story behind that? Is the line-up change permanent?
DAZE: (Pauses) Erm… James… James… We found out about the tour and James didn’t want to…. He wanted to get a better job, make money… he is married now and he is totally not into it as much. We know that he wants to be here with us, but he couldn’t do it for personal reasons and shit like that.
He fucked us hard because we were stuck with nobody playing guitar. We looked for a replacement and we got Mike from Prime Evil. He really stepped in. He learnt all the songs really quickly. We didn’t have much time to rehearse before this tour. We had three and a half to four weeks to go over ten songs. He had to learn how to headbang with the songs and learn them. We were practicing like five nights a week before we left for the tour. James is not coming back. I really don’t think. I hate to say it, but…
METALLIAN: ….Is that his decision or yours?
DAZE: Yeah, it is kinda our decision because if you do something like that to your band, ‘fuck you, I am not gonna come on this tour’ how could you be in the same room and start writing new material (with that person) and feel the same? You don’t feel the same anymore. We feel like that. I do anyway. Mike is working in really well. I like to see him become a permanent member. We will sort that out when we go back home. See what happens because we did start writing material for the third album and then this happened with James. Then we had to put everything on hold with the little bit of songs we had put together. I guess maybe Mike will come in and add his input. Maybe the sound of the band, the riffs and the songs will be different. Maybe it is a good thing. We don’t know yet.
METALLIAN: How many concerts have you played on this tour already?
DAZE: This is the sixth show.
METALLIAN: How has Mike been working out?
DAZE: Excellent. Excellent. I think you will see tonight. He fits in. People think that he is James! I mean… he hates to hear this, but he looks like him a little bit (laughs). Some people don’t even know that James is gone. It is funny, but it’s true. He moves really well. He does good headbanging. He is a maniac on stage. He totally fits in. He is alright!
METALLIAN: What about commitment on the part of the other band members? For example, I had an interview set up with the band for when the album was coming out and it was cancelled because, per the representative at Century Media, Steve had to work. How much time are you putting into the band and how serious is this?
DAZE: Well, I don’t know what happened with that interview, but when the album came out everything was hectic and we all have to work too when we are home. We are not making a lot of money off the band. I have it a little easy because I do the tattoos, but that is not always steady. We have to have jobs to make money to pay rent for the studio and stuff like that. We put a lot of commitment into it. We practice five nights a week. We put up our own money out of our pockets for this tour. Mike’s girlfriend drives him down because he lives in Middleton, New York, which is an hour and a half or two hours away from us. Then he goes back home at two or three in the morning. We put a lot, a lot of commitment into the band. We get it done though. It takes a little bit. We missed a couple of interviews here and there. You have to. It is not like we are Guns N’ Roses.
DAZE: Yeah, really.
METALLIAN: OK, tell me about the tour so far. How is it with Deicide? Any wild stories?
DAZE: Not yet. Not yet. We didn’t know what to expect when you go on a tour with a band as big as Deicide. I’d say it’s been a blast so far. It has been a lot better than we thought … (At this point the interview is interrupted by the sound of Deicide beginning their sound check and we decamp further back.)
METALLIAN: What about your slot as the third band on the tour behind Cancer and Deicide?
DAZE: We don’t mind. We are easy. We play our 40-minute set and sometimes we go over. It is just the way the tour happened. Cancer gets cut short when we go over a little. We are just going to keep playing if people want more.
We have no qualms. Cancer is cool to us. We know them. We should be second. This is their first American tour while this is our second. That is the only thing I don’t like about it, but it’s just the way it is. Maybe we could change it for some of the shows, but tonight there is a local band that is going on first.
METALLIAN: Perhaps if you had James Murphy (Cancer’s guest guitarist) play backing bass for you…
DAZE: Yeah, we’ll be headlining (laughs). Hey, this is good. This is good.
METALLIAN: And that was a free advertisement for Labatt beer.
DAZE: That was a free ad for a draft something. (Looks at the bottle in his hand)… Labatt! Killer, killer beer.
METALLIAN: You were talking about writing songs for the next album. How are they shaping up?
DAZE: They are a lot heavier and more like songs like Neanderthal (off Tortured Existence) and Human Dissection (off Epidemic Of Violence) put together. They are brutally heavy. Not so fast, fast. We are going to slow down a little bit and be more … heavier. We are still brutal with the lyrics. There will be fast parts, but most of the songs will be so you can slam to and mosh to. Everything right now is so fast it flies right by you. We want to do another record where we are all happy and it is easier on everybody. Making everything just a little bit slower.
METALLIAN: Any titles to give us?
DAZE: No, I have no titles! We only have three or four songs put together and Steve takes care of all that anyway. It is hard to get information from Steve! I try to milk out everything I can from him little by little and he holds back.
METALLIAN: I am done. Any message for the Canadian fans?
DAZE: Go out and check out the Epidemic Of Violence. It’s really brutal and I am sure that everybody who has Tortured Existence will dig on the new record. If you know about the show you will be here screaming your heads off or banging. Keep tuned to what’s going to happen next. I am sure we will come out with another record and we will be back in Canada next year.
If you enjoyed this, read Assassin