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History & Biography


Wrathchild America band
Ali “The Metallian” spoke with guitarist Jay Abbene and bassist Brad Divens of Wrathchild America on a warm summer day as the three sat on the group’s tour bus and spoke about the 3-D album, touring, movies and Atlantic Records. - 13.06.1991

METALLIAN: Let’s begin with the Wrathchild story. I believe you guys go back to 1983.
BRAD: Terry and Shannon started the band in 1981. They got me in ’83. We were a five-piece then. We played around the country for a while. We got Jay in ’84 and we continued to play all around the United States for the next four or five years before we finally got signed to Atlantic. We did cover songs, we did originals, we did clubs and we did anything we could just to spread our name around. You know, to draw people. We got signed in April of ’88 and Climbin’ The Walls came out in August of ’89. Then we did 3-D last summer and it came out this past February. And we are a smash hit success (smirks). No, actually….

METALLIAN: Your music is on the US heavy metal charts.
BRAD: Yeah.

METALLIAN: You guys have glam and hard rock influences. You were in Kix. Is that what you really like? Is that what you listen to? Is thrash a bandwagon for you to jump on or is it what Wrathchild America really all about?
BRAD: The style that we write right now is what the band is all about.
JAY: We were never into glam or anything like that! Never. We listen to anything and influenced by any kind of music.

METALLIAN: How do you describe your style?
JAY: We are just heavy metal.
BRAD: Metal with stuff in it.
JAY: (Feigns an English accent) Heavy metal, heavy metal! We’re heavy metal, okay? Just like your fucking brains!! Have you watched Bad News, the movie? It is hilarious!

METALLIAN: Which movies are you watching?
BRAD: Bad News.
JAY: Any horror flicks. Evil Dead II. Any Mel Brooks movie.
BRAD: Scarface.

METALLIAN: Jay, tell us about your side-project Kiddie Porn.
JAY: Wrathchild started as a five-piece. Kiddie Porn was an outlet. Wrathchild used to have a bassist who wrote all the songs. Kiddie Porn was a band that allowed us to be ourselves. To be creative. When the bassist was still in the band Kiddie Porn was on outlet to write aggressive music, you know? He wouldn’t use the lyrics that were too hardcore. This was five six years ago. We just kept the bass player for the longest time. All our friends were saying we should put out music, “just put it out,” so we made a tape. We would become history for six to eight months and then we would be back. It is humourous, you know?
BRAD: We shall return!
JAY: It is humourous-core! Not meant to be taken seriously at all.

METALLIAN: You guys are from Baltimore. Is that right? Do you guys have an exceptionally strong following there? How is the scene in Baltimore?
BRAD: It is hit and miss. Clubs open and close. Open and close.

METALLIAN: Sounds like Montreal story.
BRAD: Most bands play covers, which is a shame.

METALLIAN: Any bands you could recommend?
BRAD: Let’s see, Silence.
JAY: Silence… and Jackpot. (laughingly) that’s another side-project I have.

METALLIAN: Is that a serious thing?
JAY: No, It’s just fun. When I am off I have some friends who are jamming and they ask me to come and jam with them. ‘Sure, if I have the time I’ll come and jam.’

METALLIAN: Getting back to Wrathchild America, tell us about the new album and what’s in it that should urge people to go out and purchase it.
BRAD: The thing’s different, lots of different influences. It’s not just your straight thrash album. That’s kinda boring. You know, to me at least. It has some reggae, some jazz, some blues.
JAY: We like to throw in some influences aside from just metal and just thrash.

METALLIAN: What does the title, 3-D, stand for?
BRAD: Well, the music is what we consider to be multi-dimensional. Like we said, it has different influences so the name 3-D just fit it.
JAY: You know, you don’t listen to just one style of music like, say, just death metal and everything else sucks. You can find the heaviest heaviest things in any band. Like Janes Addiction. I listen to Napalm Death and then turn around and listen to Jane’s Addiction in the same breath. I listen to Sinatra and then to Fear, you know?

METALLIAN: I want to ask you about the Surrounded By Idiots video. It was amazing. Where was that filmed?
BRAD: it was filmed in New York City. We actually wanted to do the entire video in the mud.
JAY: The director’s George…
BRAD: They said, ‘welllll…’ so they took the lyrics and came up with all these snippets that they could use. It is done by George Seminara. He did some Ramones and Scatterbrain and Bad Brains. We wanted to do something tongue-in-cheek and with a sense of humour. We wanted to show that we are not such a serious band.
JAY: We wanted shit thrown at us, but they said, ‘nah, we better use mud.’

METALLIAN: What was the reaction to that video from the passers-by?
JAY: We had street people come up to us saying (mimics a goofy tone), ‘I’ve gotta a guitar. Let me play with you guys.’
BRAD: People were standing around to watch. You know, checking it out. At one point we were playing the song very very slowly so when playing back it looks partially fast, but we were actually at the same time playing the chords. It was strange with the song going half a mile an hour.
JAY: It sounded like an old 45 playing at 33 and 1/3.
BRAD: It was funny and trying to stay with that and trying to stay slow with that and figure out the chords with that like ‘is the chord here?’ And the sound coming at you is like blllluuaaaaaaaaghhh.

METALLIAN: How is Atlantic Records? Are they nice to you? Is it fun to be on a major label?
BRAD: Well…
JAY: it sucks in ways and it is great in ways.

JAY: For distribution it is great because they have you everywhere in the world, but for the personal feel… it is definitely corporate. We are lost with a million other bands. If you are on a minor label they seem to care more about the band like publicity-wise and promotion-wise. When you are on a major label you have ten or fifteen or even twenty other bands all trying to divide up the money and there is always the band that sells the most that gets the most money. Then it goes down the line to us who sell the least. We are not slagging our label or anything, but there are so many people on it.
BRAD: basically, it doesn’t sound like we are very happy with our label, does it? We are not.
JAY: Nothing against anyone in particular at the label.
BRAD: They are all good people. It is just that they are not pushing us the way we feel we need to be pushed.

METALIAN: Which is?
JAY: Mo money, mo money, mo money.

METALLIAN: I am seeing the distribution. I am seeing the video. What is lacking?
BRAD: Mainly, publicity. They are dragging their heels on the publicity. When we needed to get it done there was nobody there to do it for us.

METALLIAN: So what about this tour?
BRAD: We started on April 10th in the States.

METALLIAN: Going to?
BRAD: Everywhere! That ended June 8th. We are continuing now again until August.

METALLIAN: Are you going to Europe?
BRAD: Europe will be in the fall hopefully. That depends on the label too.

METALLIAN: How was Pantera by the way? I read a quote from them saying they are the heaviest band on earth, on the planet.
JAY: They think they are.
BRAD: They’re heavy. Good guys, good band.

METALLIAN: Tell me about the QPD Festival. How was that?
BRAD: What’s that?

METALLIAN: Weren’t you playing the QPD festival with Sacred Reich and Pantera?
BRAD: Oh yeah, that was Phoenix! That was Chandler stadium.
JAY: Flotsam & Jetsam were headlining.

METALLIAN: Was Chris Poland there?
Jay: Yeah!

METALLIAN: So, it is not called the QPD Festival?
BRAD: I don’t know what it’s called!
JAY: We just play!
BRAD: It was actually for a charity. It was for, eh,… muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis….

METALLIAN: How was the response there?
JAY: Knock on wood, it was pretty good.

METALLIAN: How many people showed up?
BRAD: Seven or eight thousand.

METALLIAN: I want to ask you about cover versions. I know you have covered Time by Pink Floyd. Do you play covers live? What is the point?
BRAD: We do time now and then. We do I Ain’t Drunk for an encore every now and then. It depends on the crowd. If they want to hear it or not. Time is something we did at the time. We wanted to do it. We wanted to record it and put it on a record.
JAY: Covers are fun to play. I am not into releasing covers as your main thing off an album to make money. We don’t believe in that. It is fun to play. It is fun to record and people see how you do covers. As long as you leave it as a cover on the album instead of making it the song…. Your first single. It is not my idea of smart.

METALLIAN: The way I see it – I am not knocking you or anything – is that every band is coming out with cover versions and I am paying for Wrathchild America and not Pink Floyd for example.
BRAD: I understand. That’s why we did not include I Ain’t Drunk on everything. It is just on the CD.
JAY: It is just on the CD.
BRAD: We were in the studio, got drunk and jammed on it and said, ‘let’s put it on the CD as a title bonus.’ Actually, we were thinking on the B side of a single… but the label wanted us to stick it on so we just put it on the CD.
JAY: Are you still getting vinyl up here?

METALLIAN: No, it is CD and tape and that is bad. How is it in the States?
JAY: Same thing.
BRAD: maybe vinyl is still in Europe.

METALLIAN: What is happening here is they are importing vinyl from Europe and people are paying $22 to buy vinyl. Because metal fans… is there anything you like to add or tell us? Perhaps your future plans?
JAY: Keep playing!
BRAD: Recycle.

METALLIAN: Recycle. What sort of a reaction are you expecting tonight at the Backstreet?
BRAD: Haven’t the slightest!

METALLIAN: OK, let’s end with a message for the fans.
BRAD: Be there!
JAY: Don’t get your hair all in a twist.

Wrathchild America was amiable Jay Abbene, sincere Brad Divens, singer and guitarist Terry Carter and drummer Shannon Larkin.

If you enjoyed this, read Sacrifice

Wrathchild America