It is August of 1991 and Toronto’s Sacrifice is playing a show at Montreal’s La Brique. It is an opportunity to interview the Canadian thrashers for the second time following the release of 1990’s superlative album. My interview partners are singer and guitarist Rob Urbinati and guitarist Joe Rico. – Ali “The Metallian”
METALLIAN: Welcoming back Sacrifice to Montreal (multiple cheers erupt from the band) leads to my first question. The last time we spoke you guys were off to getting signed to Metal Blade Records. How did that go?
ROB: Well, actually, this album that came out, Soldiers Of Misfortune, was Fringe’s record. Then we were not signed to Metal Blade. So our deal hasn’t really started. We got our advance for the next album so the next one will be Metal Blade’s.
METALLIAN: So, the touring you have been doing has been supported by Metal Blade Records.
JOE: Not much of it! Most of it got canned.
ROB: Yeah, we were supposed to go out with a band called Slaughter House from somewhere in the States and two days before we were due to leave they cancelled out of it.
JOE: … 25 dates or something like that. We would still be playing right now, but they cancelled out so we missed a lot.
METALLIAN: Whose fault was it?
JOE: Their fault
METALLIAN: What went wrong?
JOE: They weren’t making enough money or something. They were being little babies.
METALLIAN: Slaughter House is not that big either so…
JOE: I guess not. I had not even heard of them before we were supposed to play with them.
METALLIAN: Are you laying any new tunes tonight?
ROB: No, we used to do that while ago. We would play a couple of new tunes, unreleased stuff, but we find that usually doing that… people not really… the response isn’t that great. People want to hear songs they know already. It is different live too because, if you have a noisy mix or something, you cannot pick up what songs sound like half the time. So, we usually stick to what’s out and what’s available on record.
METALLIAN: Nevertheless, do you have new tunes already written?
ROB: We have half our album done. So, I think, we will probably end up going in to record around the end of the year, December or January. We should have it finished by the end of January.
METALLIAN: Compare your last album and the upcoming album for me back-to-back.
ROB: I guess the songs are more like Existence Within Eternity and Soldiers Of Misfortune (from the Soldiers Of Misfortune album). We have trouble coming up with the faster stuff. I don’t know there is a block… a lot of that stuff… no one’s doing anything. So, if we have ideas for fast stuff we would use it, but it has to sound different. A lot of stuff sounds like Slayer or whatever.
METALLIAN: Do you see yourself going towards a slower direction? Is that the story?
JOE: I don’t know if it is slower or not. There will be slower tunes, but there will always be fast stuff.
ROB: You know it is still heavy. We will always be a heavy band, but now we don’t have a lot of ideas for the fast stuff. The best ideas we have are for the slower stuff.
JOE: So far, but give us time (laughs). That’s for sure.
METALLIAN: Tell me about The Milwaukee Metal Festival and how you got on that bill. I believe you were the first Canadian band to play there.
JOE: We were the only Canadian band to ever play down there. We had played the first one. We had played the very first Milwaukee Metal Festival, which turned out very good. I guess Metal Blade got us this show. I don’t know if we were asked directly. It turned out rally good. 3,000 plus people, which is really good.
METALLIAN: Only? 3,000 people for that many bands?
JOE: If you were in the building then you know it was packed. Three thousand is a lot for that building. It is over 3,000. I don’t know exactly what it was.
METALLIAN: Weren’t twenty bands playing?
ROB: (Jokingly) we got only about 10 minutes to play. What’s the point?
METALLIAN: I guess the exposure and the press and stuff. How did your show go down?
ROB: It went good. We were tenth from the top, I guess. We did pretty good. It was a good show. Except for the headliner, everybody is using the same equipment so it takes away from your show.
METALLIAN: Who had the best response? I know earlier you mentioned Deicide.
ROB: Yeah, they got a big response. That death metal stuff is really big down there. Sacred Reich was pretty good. I saw their show and they went over really good.
METALLIAN: The whole package of New Titans On The Block, which was in Canada ten days ago had gone down. How do you see yourself in that context of all these new bands? There are heavier bands, Satanic bands, et cetra how do you see yourself? Where do you fit in?
ROB: Well, we have tried to distance ourselves from grindcore and stuff like that. When we started out we were death metal or whatever, but we got bored of that stuff back then in ’85 or whatever. We were getting bored of it then and now it is getting really big again. We already got bored of it six years ago. You know, some stuff the musician stuff is cool, but a lot of the singer just sound the same and it is redundant. When you get a bunch of bands playing together they sound the same to me.
METALLIAN: As for my next question, a big deal was made of your video being played on MTV. Is it that big a deal? Does that affect your album sales?
ROB: Oh yeah, for sure. A lot of people who don’t live in major urban centres if they see it on MTV that is the only place where they find out about new bands. Getting played there sells albums for sure.
METALLIAN: Last time we spoke you told me about a new video. What came out of that?
JOE: It’s done now. It’s for As The World Burns. We did one edit and they decided to do it again to make it better or whatnot. It should be out in a month or so…
ROB: We are not really sure if we are going to use it yet. I didn’t come out how we thought it would.
METALLIAN: What went wrong and what was the concept?
ROB: Well, ummm, I don't know. It didn’t look… It is not as good as Soldiers Of Misfortune. It is a different type of video. Some of the effects in the video didn’t come out right. We got to see the reedited version. If that looks OK then we will use it.
METALLIAN: The last one was done by someone from Montreal, wasn’t it?
JOE: Yes, John who works at Musique Plus. It was he and two cameramen. I forget their names.
METALLIAN: Did you use the same crew for the new video?
ROB: No, they were from Toronto. They got a grant to do it and it didn’t work out as great as I hoped. If it turns out cool then we got another video. If not then ‘oh well.’
METALLIAN: Concerning the future and Sacrifice what are your plans now? You are not touring it seems. Are you going to settle down and write the other half of the upcoming album?
ROB: Well, we are not really sure. There is still the possibility that we may be able to hook up with a couple of other bands in a couple of months. We are going on tour across Western Canada in September. We are going to do that and if we can get something happening in the States we will do it, but if not we will just get our tunes together and get it out as soon as we can.
METALLIAN: How is the drummer situation? Is the band tight and are you happy with the drumming?
ROB: Yeah, definitely definitely. We have known Mike (Rosenthal – new drummer) for so long. We used to jam with him years ago. He is working out great. It’s not like we changed drummer except he is better, I think. He picked up the tunes so quick. The first couple of times, actually, the first time we jammed with him he had the tunes down almost. He is working out great.
METALLIAN: How is your relationship with former drummer Gus. Do you still hang out?
ROB: We have not talked to him since October
JOE: Since about December.
METALLIAN: I thought you were still friends with him…
JOE: I don’t know. No comment…
METALLIAN: Do you get the feeling that you didn’t back this album the way you should?
ROB: Yeah… well, apparently this year is really bad for bands going out on tour. Many of the bigger tours going around are not doing good at all. When our tour was cancelled people were saying ‘maybe it’s a good thing you guys didn’t go.’ People are not putting up the money to go see bands right now. There is a recession in the States too. We would have liked to get out on tour, but it has always been hard for us to get a tour happening…
JOE: …especially in the States. All the American bands seem to go around easy. Canada is easy, but States is hard.
METALLIAN: Does your contract with Metal Blade include tour support? Does it look better than the Fringe thing?
ROB: Yeah, we would have gotten tour support for that tour we were going to do, but… Fringe tour support is really nothing.
JOE: They are not that big of a company so they cannot really dish out a lot of money. Metal Blade, sure we will get some from them, they said they would, but it has to be a really good tour.
METALLIAN: So, is your next album coming out on Warner Brothers here as distributors?
JOE: Yes, it will be on WEA Canada so it will be everywhere.
METALLIAN: Do you expect your sales to rocket after that? Is it that different with major distribution or again is it the touring and your own support?
JOE: It is a combination of both.
ROB: For a record company to do things for you you’d have to get out and tour and be behind it yourself. It is just really hard for us to get a tour. We are dying to get out on the road and we were really disappointed when that thing got cancelled, but it is hard for us to hook up with an agent in the States.
METALLIAN: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?
ROB: Thanks for picking up our album if you got it. If not, go out and buy it or we will kill you.
JOE: Come and see us!
This interview was originally broadcast on CRSG cable radio in Montreal.
If you enjoyed this, read Assassin