Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Nunslaughter is a name many of you that have been in the underground for a long time will remember. The band has a ton of releases out and after listening to the double disc set that Hells Headbangers recently put out I got in touch with found member Don and here is what he said to my questions:
MC: Don obviously the band has been around for a long time. Did you ever think when the band ever got together that it would be around this long? What are some of your favorite memories of the band up until this point?
DON: NunSlaughter has grown far beyond my expectations. I only expected to make on demo and it would be over. One of my favorite memories is recording the first demo and when we were handed our first 7" EP. Times like that I will never forget.
MC: What sort of kid were you growing up and did you come from a big or small family and did you grow up in PA or OH? At what age did you start getting into music?
DON: A small family that was not very close. I had one sister and my father dies when I was very young. I grew up in PA for the most part but I've lived in Ocean City MD, San Antonio TX, Richmond VA, Honolulu HI and now Cleveland OH. I got into 50's rock n roll very young. Listening to Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis as well as the Rolling Stones and CSNY. (crosby, stills, nash and young-cf)
MC: Now let's hear the story on you came to discover the wonderful world of underground metal music? Do you remember the 1st band that you heard and what did you think of this kind of music when you heard it?
DON: I’m not sure of the first band that I would consider underground but I did have a first tape with Hellhammer, Manowar, Mercyful Fate, Trouble and Fates Warning on it. That was the gateway for me. I purchased LPs based on the look and song titles. Venom and Possessed and Bathory were some of the first Death Metal LPs I ever purchased. Finally metal made for me and my dark side.
MC Did you do any tape trading early on and what were some of the 1st bands that you got into?
DON: The first demo tape I purchased was Fantom Warrior then Hatred and Poison. After that I began trading tapes and it is all a blur.
MC: Were you in any bands prior to the forming on Nunslaughter?
DON: Just one called Death Sentence. It was very bad thrash metal and I was trying to sing. Not the best combination but we were 15ish and just learning.
MC: Now let's go back, way back to 1986. At what point did you decide you wanted to form a band? Looking back was it easier or harder than you though it was going to be? Did you go through many early line-up changes before you went in and recorded a demo tape?
DON: It was at a show that we started talking about why Pittsburgh did not have death metal band. We discussed who would be involved and that’s about it. We had the line up at the show and we set out to record. There was no line-up change from conception to demo. Looking back starting the band was easy but keeping it going has been HARD beyond anything I can explain.
MC: The "Ritual of Darkness' demo came out in 1987. How many copies did you originally press up or did you just dub them off blank cassettes as needed? What was it like having a demo tape of your band in your hand? In assume you went out and sent the tape to every fanzine on earth at the time huh?
DON: We or should I say mainly Greg dubbed them off his stereo. I think we did about 100 total but it’s hard to remember. We were very excited and wanted to give it to everyone but we had very little money and only sent it out to a few zines. Most people heard it through tape trading.
MC: What were some early fanzines that you read and what were some of the reviews like for the band back then?
DON: Back then some of the big ones were Blackthorn, Slayer and Uni Force. Most reviews were not great but people heard potential. Personally I think the first demo sounds perfect.
MC: Did you start to get a decent amount of mail at this point? What did your parents think of you being in a band named "Nunslaughter"? Speaking of, how did you come up with the band name and logo?
DON: Hardly ever got lots of mail. Greg took care of the small amount we received. My mother did not care as long as I did not bother her and Greg’s parents tried to have us change the name to "none slaughter”. The name we came up with when we had the full line up chosen. The first few poorly drawn logos were drawn up by me. I have no talent for pen and paper.
MC: Did you manage to start to play shows at this point and what were some of the bands you shared the stage with? What were some of the early shows like?
DON: We never played any early shows except for one kind of show. We went up and yelled blasphemies and shit but not a real show. Our first official show was in 1999 and it has been released on the re-issue of Hells Unholy Fire.
MC: I am not going to go through every one of your releases, as there is too many to even count ha ha. Do you have actual copies of each release? I am sure some are long gone out of print, but have you seen any of them pop up on Ebay every now and then? Is there any of them that you don't like much nowadays?
DON: I think I have copies of all of the releases but maybe not all versions. Most are out of print and they do show up on trader sites and ebay. I worship all of them as my children. Some are uglier than others but I love them the same.
MC: I notice you put out a ton of split 7" with a bunch of different bands and many Ep's? Why did you decide to do this? Was it easy at the time to find other bands to do split 7' with? Were most of these done on your own label or just different labels you worked with over the years? Have you ever had any big time problems with any labels over the years?
DON: I like the fact that we are united forever on vinyl. Plus I know when we started no one wanted to give us a break so this is a way to help other bands get notoriety. We have worked with so many labels over the years some are more difficult than others but most all have good intentions.
MC: Now by the time say 1990-1991 rolled around you were you getting a ton of mail and was it hard to keep up with it all? How much time in any given week was spent doing band related stuff at this time? Was it easy coming up with songs and were you playing many live shows at this point? What was the farthest you had gone out as far as playing shows?
DON: Almost no mail in the 90's we fell from grace and went even further underground. As a band we all scattered and there was little time to devote to the band because of my schooling. Still no live shows.
MC: Back in the day, how did you get the word out about the band? Did you print out flyers and pass them out in the mail and stuff? I remember a store in Pittsburgh called Edie's Record and Tapes? Did you go to this store at all and if you did what was it like going into a metal store back in the day since there wasn't much of an internet at all back then?
DON: That is exactly what we did. Lots of flyers and word of mouth. No internet back then so it was about making connections with people. Edie’s was a great record store in Pittsburgh and that was where lots of my metal knowledge came from. The old guys helped out a ton. Almost every weekend Greg and I would meet up to hang out and buy records.
MC: Now I know you have gone through a bunch of members over the years? Were any of the members, when they left was it ugly at all or was it just a parting of the ways so to speak? Do you still keep in contact with any of the band members?
DON: I have no hard feelings with any of the past members but I believe there is animosity towards me. I think past members overstate their importance and think that when they leave I am gonna give up. That is just the opposite it spurs me onward. I know where all of the past members are at and what they have been up to.
MC: Don through all the years was there any thought of breaking the band up at all or did you ever go through a period when the band sort of took some time off?
DON: Only one time did I officially call it quits. It was in 1989 or so. The Rotting Christ demos came out and people did not know what to think of such an extreme demo. I did some interviews where I mentioned the band was over but I received some mail over that and since I still had some un recorded songs I went and did Impale the Soul of Christ demo. Since then we have never stopped.
MC: Looking back, what are some of the highlights for and the lowlights for you? What has been some of your favorite shows that you have played to date?
DON: Highlights were having our first 7" in hand, then our first LP and the first European tour. Lowlights were realizing that no one cares about our music as much as we do and that I can’t do this forever. I had a blast in Zaragoza Spain in 2000, Tokyo Japan in 2005, Chicago Ill in 2011 and Sabaha Malaysia in 2012.
MC: I see your going overseas to play some shows. I know you played Japan and released a DVD of it. Do you feel the fans overseas are more passionate about the music and are more into that most fans are in the US?
DON: I would say that people are appreciative that a band travels so far to play for them. I mean I enjoy traveling but I am there 100% for the metal fans. People are spoiled in the USA. Not to say that is bad. Hell I like that I am spoiled
MC: Was there at any point that the band sort of got to the point where it was a bit overwhelming for you?
DON: About 2 years ago I was feeling it. I do everything myself so it is difficult finding time to have a life outside the band.
MC: Now still in the 90's you were doing and putting out demos. Was these still on cassettes or were they on CDs or both formats/ I know you must love vinyl, about how many pieces of vinyl do you think you own?
DON: It was all on tape format for the longest time. I do like records. I do not own many maybe less than 500 LP's and about the same in 7"s. I have only bootlegs and pic LP's.
MC: Now in 2000, you finally released your 1st full length. What took you so damn long ha ha? Why at that point did you decide to finally do a full length? Do you prefer putting out full lengths or EP’s better or you like both?
DON: We recorded it back in 1997 but had some problems with getting it out. Frankly it was not my goal to have an LP. It just did not occur to me someone had to suggest it to me. I like the 7"s because you can be more creative with them. Most big bands do not do 7"s because there is no money in making them but I don’t do this for a paycheck I do it for metal.
MC: Out of all your split 7", do you have a favorite or least favorite one?
DON: My favorite is our first KILLED BY THE CROSS.
MC; Do you work a regular type of job or is the band more of less your full time job? About how many hours in a given week is now spent doing band related stuff?
DON: I have a regular warehouse job. The band makes no money and what little we do is spent on tours and recordings. I spend about 10 + hours a week doing band stuff sometimes more when a tour is being set up.
MC: Do you ever plan or hope that a label one day would put all your stuff together in a big boxed set and put everything you ever recorded out? If this was to happen, how many CDs do you think it would take? Have you ever been asked to do something like that yet? Is there anything that you have recorded, but never released?
DON: That would be nice but it would not be affordable for people. Too much metal music to be contained in one box! Currently I have about 6 CDs of our 7"s material and about 15 CDs of rehearsals etc.
MC: I also notice you have a bunch of live album releases? Why is this and do you and the band feel comfortable on stage? How hard is it to come up with a set list nowadays? Are there any other live recordings that might see the light of day one day?
DON: We are better and more comfortable on stage. I’m not worried about perfection I want to make sure the crowd has a good time and we are memorable. I am always working on live 7"s and LPs for NunSlaughter.
MC: Do you sometimes miss the old days of the underground as things have obviously changed big time since the band first formed? Do you feel there are too many bands and labels nowadays that it makes it tough for bands to get noticed at all?
DON: I am always missing the old days. Too many bands not enough fans.
MC: Now when the internet came around and changed everything, did you embrace it at 1st or you didn't like it? What do you think of social sites like My Space and Facebook? Do you think they are a necessary evil in these times or do you like them outright?
DON: I embraced it because it makes it easier to get music. Technology is fine but it depends on how you use it. I like MySpace and Facebook it helps me stay connected to people.
MC: Now not too long ago all your demos were put out on a double cd. How did this come about and do you still have all the master tapes to all your music? What does your house or apartment look like? Is it chock full of metal stuff and I hope you have all your master tapes stored in a nice safe hiding space?
DON: The demos were talked about for many years and it took Hells Headbangers to finally get it together and released. I still hold all the original master tapes and they are safe. I have a modest home with metal in virtually room.
MC: How many different shirts do you think you have printed up over the years ha ha? Speaking of what merchandise does the band have for sale these days?
DON: We have had 50-60 different tees printed up including the tour tees. Currently we have no merchandise but Hells Headbangers sells everything for us.
MC: How much longer do you think the band will be around? Can you see yourself playing this kind of music when your say 60 years old?
DON: I ask myself the same question when each project is finished. I can’t do this when I’m 60 and now at 43 I am in my twilight.
MC: What is your opinion on bootlegs and have you ever seen any Nunslaughter bootlegs? Do you own any bootlegs yourself?
DON: There are a few bootlegs of NunSlaughter and I encourage more to be released. I only own bootleg LPs. no other LPs in my collection. I love LIVE SHOWS
MC; Have you ever gone on Ebay and sites like that just to see if any of your old stuff is on there and if there was, what was the most expensive thing you saw on there in regards to the band?
DON: There was a one of one LP out by HMSS and it went for 400+ I do not have one of those.
MC: Did the band ever get to play any of those Milwaukee Metalfests or the NJ ones back in the day? What was the biggest crowd you ever played for and do you ever get nervous before you play a show and does the band rehearse on a regular basis at all?
DON: We never did get invited to any of those fests.
I think the largest crowd was maybe 2000 people at a fest in Germany or at the Maryland Deathfest. I do not get nervous before I get on stage. It is what I do and it is just a really good time for me. Exhilarating not nervous. We rehearse every week. We almost never miss
MC: For someone who has never heard the band, what would you say the band sounds like and do you think your sound has changed much over the years?
DON: The sound has changed a little bit over the years but mainly we are a punk band playing death metal. Short songs with a hook and no guitar solos.
MC: Is there any band or bands that you would like to do a split 7' in with or a split cd with? Do you have any advice for anybody that wants to start up a band?
DON: We did splits with some of the greats like Agathocles and Sabbat at this point it would be cool to do a split with VENOM! My advice about starting a band is that if you do it put your whole heart into to it but before you do be interested in the kind of music that you are gonna play.
MC: When you look at the whole career of the band, do you ever sit back and say "holy shit" what the fuck was I thinking at times?
DON: Dude I just did that about a week ago.
MC: What are the best and words things about being in a band?
DON: The best is traveling and meeting people that your music and influenced and inspired. The worst for me is spending time with my band mates.
MC: How does a song come together and then how about the lyrics? Do you do all that stuff by yourself or is a team effort? Where is the weirdest place you can think of that you got a song idea?
DON: I stay out of the music writing process more and more but I do write almost all the lyrics for the songs. I was having a discussion with a band mate about hating the church because they baptized me without my consent. He mentioned that it would be great to be unbaptized so I wrote the songs Unbaptized. That was while we were in to studio recording the LP HEX.
MC: Have you ever gotten any shit over the years over the band name? In your eyes and ears what makes a good song?
DON: The band takes a hit all the time with the name but it is an original name and there is no one that came claim it except NS. Songs, good songs need hooks. A reason to listen again. It is built around the riff and the starts and stops a song has. Writing a song is easy but writing a good song is fucking hard.
MC: What are some of the most overrated metal bands in your opinion?
DON: I’m not into pointing fingers but there are so many bands that don’t have it in their hearts.
MC: When the band finally calls it a day what would you like them to be remembered for?
DON: That we had some very good songs and we did it for the right reasons.
MC: How have you seen the metal scene change over the years and how about the metal scene in PA and OH and what were some of your favorite clubs that you played at in your area?
DON: Blind Lemon and the Phantasy in Cleveland and Kopecs and the Smiling Moose in Pittsburg
MC: Do you listen to any non metal music and if so what bands and what type of music?
DON: I listen to a lot of Zappa.
MC: What is a typical day like for you nowadays? Do you get a bunch of email and stuff to answer pretty much every day?
DON: Lots of emails to answer mostly. I do a ton of layout and design work and audio restoration. I try to manage NunSlaughter as best I can but there is only so much I can do in a day.
MC: Looking back, would you have done anything differently with the band or do you take the approach that things happen for a reason?
DON: I would have done most things differently. Hind sight is 20/20
MC: Tell me a little bit about each band member in the band now and do you think this line-up will stick around for a while?
DON: I don’t really know the band members. We don’t hang together outside the band.
MC: Anything new in the works we can expect from the band in the coming year and beyond?
DON: We are gonna try to do a new LP but that is still a ways off. Just more cool tours and more 7"s.
MC: Have you ever met any fan of the band that has been there since the beginning in 1987 or that has ever release you have ever done? Is there many people still in the scene where you are based out of that have been around since the 80's?
DON: Yes there are a few but most of the people I knew back then are dead. More die every year. I do know a few people that have nearly everything and a few that have more than me.
MC: Please plug any websites you have.
DON: www.nunslaughter.com and www.hellsheadbangers.com
MC: Don thanks for doing this massive long interview and the band has been around almost as long as Metal Core. Any last words and horns up for the interview.
DON: METAL IS DEATH DEATH IS METAL NUNSLAUGHTER DEATH METAL