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Ron Quintana

I had the extreme honor one cold night a few months to go out into my car and call a person named Ron Quintana, who had done Metal Mania fanzine way back in the early 80’s and his zine along some of the earlier ones back then that I read from cover to cover. Having found him on Facebook I asked if he would be interested in doing and interview. He agreed and here is our conversation:

MC: Were you born out in the San Francisco area and is that where you have lived all your life?

RQ: Uh huh.

MC: What sort of kid were you growing up? Were into music and all that at a young age?

RQ: Yeah pretty early on. Music wise I started with AM & FM radio and then started getting into hard rock and Black Sabbath through my cousin and friends stuff. I started listening to Thin Lizzy and harder stuff in the 70’s.

MC: How did you get the gig doing Ramage Radio and was that your 1st gig doing something like that and did you have a big following for your show back in the early 80’s?

RQ: Well first I did the magazine “Metal Mania” in August of 81 and then the local radio station was mainly punk, KUSF, and a few of the DJ’s like some metal there was a real metal or hard rock stigma, because punk was being so worshipped in San Francisco. So they asked me and a friend to do some metal specials and then offered both of us a weekly show. Rampage started in March of 82.

MC: What sort of stuff were you playing on the radio back then and what bands did you get the most phone calls about or response to?

RQ: Venom. (we both laugh) God that 1st year we played tons of hard rock, everything from jazz fusion bands to punk. So we would mix it up with everything from Gary Moore’s “Coliseum 2” to some of the harder punk bands like Crucifix and more metal English bands like Discharge, but we would play hours of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and Rush and any of the newer bands we could find. In 1982 it was kind of tough to find any new American metal bands as there just weren’t that many.

MC: I agree with you totally.

RQ: It was a little tougher.

MC: So were you into any of the punk stuff at all, even though you played it on the radio, were you into bands like GBH, Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Ramones and bands like that back in the day.

RQ: Totally. Totally. Luckily a lot of them had really great riffs and weren’t the opposite of metal and that was the nice part and there was some great, fun live punks bands we had in the Bay Area of course. By 81 there was starting to be a lot more hardcore bands, that were even better, more closer to thrash and this was long before thrash was around, and there were some pretty intense bands. The lyrics were pretty political, which doesn’t excite a metalhead too much (we both laugh). The riffs were damn good.

MC: We are going to do some fanzine questions and we will move onto other things. What year did you start your fanzine and looking back now, what are your thoughts on your very 1st issue?

RQ: In August of 1981, I xeroxed off copies of the 1st issue of Metal Mania with Lemmy on the cover cause Motorhead finally played out here in 81 and a couple months earlier and so I was pretty excited about it and it really was a “fanzine” mainly written by me and I still don’t consider myself a great writer. I was very happy to solicit other friends, other writers from around the country and around the world soon after that to write anything about good bands for me. I was very happy to get other people’s writing. (laughs)

MC: Do you think your fanzine got better as you started putting out more issues, like 5, 6, and 7 and into the teens and so on?

RQ: Totally. My writing alone got better just it is good to practice and just write and you stop using the same ‘awesomes” and same words all the time. You try and find more interesting similar words you know and you generally get better and you also own it so there was a lot of crap and fluff in the earlier issues and it generally got better and better and we got more obnoxious and critical which made it even more fun later on. (we both laugh)

MC: Were there any other fanzines around at that time. I used to buy Flipside and Maximum Rock N Roll, but they were more punk and hardcore. Were there any other metal fanzines around at that time when you were doing yours early on?

RQ: Before mine I picked up the first few issues of Kerrang from England and Aardschok from Holland, which was really good and underground. We are talking 1980 and early 1981. There wasn’t much, there was nothing in America really. I was writing for Audio Trader, a tape trading magazine, I was doing metal articles for them in 1980 and stuff and they were generally about pop music. There wasn’t much. I think there was a couple fanzines from England in 1981 that got sent to me after I wrote them. I had a letter printed in Kerrang # 4 after I brought the 1st issue of Kerrang and wrote them begging for pen-pals and anybody into the NWOBHM, so that got me like a 100 letters from other Americans that were into similar music. Nothing that was getting reported in Creem or Circus magazines. We were all writing to English pen-pals trying to get Sounds Magazine, Melody Maker, New Music Express as they would pretty much put metal bands in along with everything else, like it was no big deal, but that didn’t happen in America.

MC: I remember Creem, Circus and Hit Parader back in the day. I even had a subscription to Circus at one point. How many issues did you end up putting out?

RQ: I put out 22 issues by 1986 and then I switched and started putting out 2 hour video magazine of bands that I videoed in concerts. From The Mentors to Attitude Adjustment, Sacrilege, Testament. We only got 2 issues of the video magazine in 1987 and then I started doing a local TV show. The TV show became “Media Mania”. I just put clips of bands on a local cable access show kinda like ‘Wayne’s World”, but it was just clips of metal, extreme metal. At the same time “Headbanger’s Ball” had started on MTV, so there was finally a lot of metal hitting the airways in America and stuff.

MC: At the when you put out your last issue did you know at the time it was gonna be your last issue and what led to you stop doing the “print fanzine” so to speak?

RQ: (laughs) Chris I was monthly for 2 issues and then that was enough. Monthly, that was a joke. It got to be too much work and it kinda just faded away as I was having so much fun editing videos together and at the time there was so many underground bands sending me videos and it was amazing seeing videos from underground bands around the world. The bands were too small to tour so it was a lot of fun putting that stuff together, which became our weekly TV show.

MC: Now as you started putting more and more issues out did your circulation start to go up and did you start getting more ads for it and stuff?

RQ: Yeah we started off at a couple hundred. What I would do is xerox off a hundred at a time, at least for the 1st issue and my mom used to tease me and she would xerox off some at work (laughs).

MC: I used to do the same with mine at work.

RQ: Moms are great aren’t they? Within a year though, we got over a 1000 and then we found this printer in Chinatown that was printing up the punk zines on newsprint. We rapidly moved to 5000 and within 2 years I had all these distributors that helped my move that many copies and I still have back issues as it was hard to get rid of all of them. I even went to the US Festival (1983) with Ozzy Osbourne and Triumph and I remember just giving out hundreds and hundreds of zines just trying to get promotion down in LA at the time. Then we became pretty regular putting out an issue every other month and distributors were asking for them and they was a very good distribution at work in America for smaller magazines and it was really well done. That gradually changed over the years and it was not what it was, but it made it fun and made it really easy to get your stuff out there cause it was uncommon and metal fanzines of course became much more common later and there became huge competition. There was so many good zines you know.

MC: I know the first few issues were done on a typewriter like mine was; now did you do every issue on a typewriter or were some done on a word processer? (a word processer was a step up from a typewriter and then they faded away as computers became the norm for typing up stuff-chris)

RQ: Yes (we both laugh) and if it still worked I’d still be using it (laughs).

MC: What was your favorite band that you ever interviewed and was there a band that you wanted to interview, but never got the chance to interview?

RQ: That is a tough one. It was always fun to interview El Duce from The Mentors. He was always surprising witty and often come up with some amazing funny comments. All kinds of people I wanted to interview. I met a lot of the musicians later, but at the time in the 80’s I always wanted to talk to Steven Tyler and Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi. The zine wasn’t that big you know so we never got around to doing those interviews that I would have like to do for the fanzine. There is only so much you can print.

MC: For any younger people that might be reading this interview, what are some bands from back in the day you think they should go out and search for?

RQ: Wow, oh my god, there is literally 1000’s, there was so many, that is the great thing about computers and You Tube and CD Revelation. The stuff we searched for and asked people about, there was no information until the 90’s and the computer age. You couldn’t hear any of these bands or see them or even find out any information about any of these bands, there was no way to even do it. Now kids, everybody has all this info at their fingertips and it is so awesome to go on You Tube and look up some of this amazing metal, I was looking at a French band today called Foggy (of Froggy-chris) they were punk band from 1980, but they were so obscure and I even asked for them when I was over in France in 82 and people over there had not even heard of them. They were an obscure hard rockin punk band and it’s really awesome for everybody now. You can find so much stuff on You Tube from the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s that are gone now, but you can still see them.

MC: In your eyes and ears so to speak what makes a good song to you? Is it the riff, the voice or a combo of both or a little bit of everything?

RQ: It is always the riff for me. I listen to instrumentals and singers are just another instrument I don’t care what the hell they are saying. (laughs) The riff is always the first thing that captures me. If there is a catchy, heavy guitar riff or unless the drummer is doing something crazy that always catches my attention as well.

MC: What are your thoughts on the music scene today and do you feel there are not enough good bands around and just too many bad bands and too many record labels?

RQ: There are so many bands and so much out there, it is really tough to try and listen to it all.

MC: I was going to ask you if you ever made it overseas and earlier you mentioned you went to France. How many times did you go over there and did you get a chance to see many shows when you were over there?

RQ: Let’s see I got to see the 1st Mercyful Fate show outside of Denmark. They were awesome and that was in Holland. I got to see Uli Roth early on after left the Scorpions and he did some amazing early solo stuff before he didn’t do such great stuff. Europe was just exploding with stuff in the early 80’s and England was already getting passé when I get there in 82 and English bands were just breaking up and moving on. Europe and the world they were becoming world metal instead of just the NWOFBHM and finally came to America and all these American bands started exploding and most of them got to tour and some East Coast bands got to come to the West Coast and vice versa for you, but there is always bands that you miss.

MC: Now what were some of the early shows that you saw back in the day, what bands did you see and was the Bay Area scene as wild and crazy as I have heard it was back then.

RQ: Ruthie’s Inn was a really fun place. (laughs) The punks had The Mob in San Francisco, but the metal scene was getting bigger in East Bay where Ruthie’s Inn is in Berkley, CA and those could be some of the craziest, most chaotic shows around. Oh my god there was Exodus, Blizzard, soon to be Possessed, Legacy became Testament and just about everybody would play Ruthie’s and everybody went to Ruthie’s and that was about the center of the metal universe for us out here.

MC: Did you do much tape trading back in the day and did you get a ton of mail everyday once your zine became established?

RQ: Before the zine I was a trade alcoholic in 80 and I was trading Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy and just more hard rock bands. We also trades more demos as more and more demos were coming out by 81. So when I got my letter published in Kerrang that was about the best thing that happened to me as I literally a 100 American music traders got a hold of and another 100 European traders. Everyday was like Christmas. (laughs). The mailman would climb the stairs with packages and envelopes and oh god was so fun and sometimes I would have to go to the post office and pick up other packages. Of course I had to spend a lot of money on mailing stuff, but it was so worth it. It was a whole different era when everything would arrive in the mail, it was so great. Records every day, it was so much fun to listen to. Tons of new stuff everyday to listen to.

MC: I remember those days.

RQ: Those were the days that record companies would send out promos. Most of it was crap, but there was always good stuff.

MC: Do you still have a copy of every issue you have put out and have you ever seen copies being sold on Ebay and places like that?

RQ: I remember issue # 6 sold for like $ 46 to some guy from Norway a few years back. I know they are hovering between 10, or 20 and forty dollars. I have copies of everything and I have multiples and if anybody wants one, they can contact me.

MC: What do you think of sites like My Space and Facebook?

RQ: Facebook has been really fun for me. My Space is great, it was great for bands, and it’s so hard to look at now. Facebook is good for fans, but it is not so good for music. It is a good way connecting with people and I use it everyday, it’s the only thing I really go to and I really don’t use My Space except to look up and listen to bands. It looks like Facebook it getting worse (yeah I hate the timeline thing-chris) and so maybe something will come along to be better. It is very useful though.

MC: Do you think 80, 81, and 82 if we had the internet and these social networking sites that some of these bands might have gotten bigger following?

RQ: Oh man, totally. Being from San Francisco and the bay area there were just bands that were amazing every night. They never had a chance, they never put out a record, they never got the records they put out brought because they were not from NY or from LA and that was where bands were getting the push that was where they put out the records in the 80’s. A lot of bands had to move to LA and Metallica was one of the few bands to buck that trend, but everybody else had to move to LA to make it big and then once they got down there, there was so much crap that was getting seen and they had no chance and I felt sorry for bands from Montana and Florida or anywhere cause it was so tough and that is where the internet is so amazing because you could be from Mongolia (laughs) and if your good you got a chance.

MC: Do you think in like 5 years from now almost all of the music will just be on the internet and that CD’s will go by the way of the cassette?

RQ: I don’t know that is tough. I have a record store and I sell records, tapes and Cds every day. Cassettes still sell because people still have them in their car because all of their cds got ripped off out of their car. (laughs). All technology is good, but to me cassettes sound better than any of this MP3 crap that squashes the sound. I think it will be a long time before the internet takes over everything.

MC: Speaking of record stores, what was the store The Record Vault like back in the day as I have heard lots of good stories about it.

RQ: I worked there the 2nd year they were open up until the last year they were open, I worked there from 1983 till 1989, but I got fired and quit a few times in the middle. (we both laugh). It could be amazing, I went to work one day they were humongous guys in suits guarding the door that I had never seen before (laughs) saying you can’t come in (laughs). We had times were Lemmy would drop by or King Diamond or any of the local bands like Metallica or Exodus or the Testament guys and they really open polices from selling everything from industrial to punk to metal so we were really lucky in that we got exposed to all kinds of good music and not just specifically metal. They store had a great variety and working they everyday was always entertaining.

MC: What are your thoughts on death and black metal?

RQ: I like extreme bands so I like so of it, most of it, like any type of music, most of it is boring and recycled, similar riffs and the vocalist not saying much, it is tough to be a band that is standing out, you really gotta be kinda special and luckily there is still some amazing bands coming out that I like. I like the more technical side of thrash, in the more experimental side like Cynic, the weirder stuff personally cause it tries to different and there is a million bands trying to be the same. So there are always too many posers. (laughs)

MC: Do you still go to many shows and have there been any shows that you have seen lately that impressed ya?

RQ: Boy that is a tough one. I am getting ready to go see a Metallica show and a Death Angel show. I still get surprised by young and old bands.

MC: Has there any bands that have impressed you lately.

RQ: Nothing I can think of lately.

MC: Way back in the day, when you went to shows, did you ever stage dive and get into the mosh pit or were you more of the kinda guy that stayed off in the back or the side of the stage and just headbanged.

RQ: No luckily I did not crush my body too many times. I was afraid of heights and didn’t like stage diving to much and I would headbang along with the bands. Messiah at Candlemass, a 250 pound singer, suddenly at a show did a sudden stage dive and I looked up the last minute and that was the end. That was the only time I have been knocked out at a show I must say. Quite amusing. Seeing Mayhem throwing out bloody skulls and knocking out my friends. Seeing crazed singers doing huge stage dives. We had Toby Rage and we Andy Anderson doing amazing jumps off the tallest stacks imaginable. I safely got away.

MC: What did you end up meeting Lars Urlich and what did you think of him the 1st time that you met him?

RQ: We thought he was a pretty funny talking foreign guy; we made a lot of fun of him. He had a lot of cool patches and buttons of bands we had only heard about and we haven’t even heard. He was pretty fun to talk to, pretty impressive.

MC: When Lars was putting Metallica together did you think in a million years they would be as big as they are today?

RQ: Nobody did and I bet he didn’t, I bet he is still surprised and know James is and Kirk and Robert to be in that band and it is Kirk’s birthday tomorrow as a matter of fact and I am looking forward to seeing them in a few weeks. Nobody in their right mind would have ever imagined that they when they did the ‘Black” album that it would blow up as big as it did. We are still hoping they do something as good as that ever again. (laughs)

MC: When the thrash metal scene exploded with all the Bay Area bands and out on the East Coast with Anthrax and Overkill, did you ever think at any time it was gonna get really big or did think it was gonna stay underground. I mean at one time you had Overkill, Exodus, Testament, Slayer, etc all on major labels.

RQ: We never thought these types of bands would sell millions of records and it is always amazing and that MTV would be playing their videos, even thought they were played just once in a while. Bay Area radio was never really that good and never into that heavier metal bands. NY is a whole different story. I have listened to many old tapes of all the great radio stations out there and they were more hardcore than the Bay Area and they would play a lot better metal and stuff. America was buying that stuff and that always impressed me cause we always seemed separated in a small little area and we never had any great radio out here and we had to make our own and that was the only way you could get metal played on the radio.

MC: What are your thoughts on Slayer and do you think ‘Reign in Blood” is the best speed/thrash metal album of all time?

RQ: Yeah, I don’t know. That is up there. I am still partial to “Bonded By Blood” (Exodus).

MC: I read somewhere when you were talking with Lars about possible names for your fanzine and he had “Metal Mania” and “Metallica” in his head and he convinced you to use “Metal Mania” and he used ‘Metallica”. Has he ever apologized for doing that ha ha?

RQ: I was happy to give it to him. I was a metal maniac and so when I named “Metal Mania”, I named “Metal Mania” before he used Metallica’s name because I didn’t want to use it, there was already encyclopedia metallica, which is a good name, but for me I thought “Metal Mania” was better

and so when he told me he was gonna use the name (Metallica) for his upcoming project, I said good (laughs) doing something with it.

MC: What did you think of “Kill Em All” when it came out cause I was blown away by it?

RQ: We had been hearing all the demos and we had been complaining about it, we all said the demos were better. (laughs)

MC: Now back in the day did Lars play you Diamondhead until you couldn’t stand Diamondhead any more?

RQ: No no. We were both Diamond Head fanatics early on and he broke my cassette deck playing this live show from London, England in 1980 from them over and over and broke my deck and it was an amazing show, they play ‘Dead Reckoning” and all this early obscure Diamond Head stuff. That is why we got along because he liked them as much as I did, nobody else liked them because they weren’t thrashy enough at that time and more people were into Motorhead and most of the punkier stuff. I liked the dramatic ness of Diamond Head and the classic epics stuff they did, you know the early stuff. Lars did too and “Kill Em All” isn’t at all like that. That is why I enjoyed that they did do “Ride The Lighting” and more epic material later on, up to a point. (laughs)

MC: What are your thoughts on Metallica these days? I am sure you still talk to some of the band members. What are your thoughts on their last couple releases since they moved away from their thrash roots?

RQ: Yeah I am still a fan, but I really don’t listen to anything after the ‘Black” album. I generally don’t listen to anything after “And Justice For All”. The later stuff some of it I like, but it is not my favorite stuff.

MC: I feel the same way you do about Metallica. I know you’re in the ‘Get Thrashed’ DVD. What do you think of the DVD as a whole and do you think it pretty much tells the story of thrash metal and how it got started?

RQ” I thought it was amazing. (I love it as well-chris) I really enjoyed and learned some stuff watched “Get Thrashed” and I hope there is more like it. I hope somebody does a follow-up to it too.

MC: When somebody talks about the “good ole days” what kind of stuff rolls through your head is it Ruthie’s Inn, is it Exodus, early Metallica shows?

RQ: All that and The Waldoff was a good place for Metal Mondays and every Monday and was the place where it started in April of 82. We didn’t even know any of these bands existed a few months before and suddenly there was 3 to 6 bands playing a week playing at just the old Waldoff and they were metal and some of them were thrash. By 1983 the heavier and faster ones all played at Ruthie’s Inn, so my god within a year and half from seeing maybe one metal show a month, maybe some big touring band would come through or some high school band to almost every night there were shows that were thrash and metal. It blossomed quick between Dec of 81 and mid 83. There was so many bands coming out of the woodwork around here in the Bay Area.

MC: Do you have a favorite band or a favorite release by a particular band and why are they your favorite band or why is it your favorite release?

RQ: (laughs) The first 7 Black Sabbath releases. (we both laugh) I can still listen to each one anytime and listen to the whole entire album and still want more. They are still my favorite band personally because they have a variety of songs and just amazing riffs. For me as much as a Led Zeppelin fan as I am and for Thin Lizzy for the twin guitars and Judas Priest for their twin guitars, Sabbath still is number 1 for me.

MC: What do you think about the original line-up getting back together? (this was done before all the stuff with Bill Ward and Toni Iommi’s health issues).

RQ: It is cool. I haven’t been excited about anything they have done since the 1983 release “Born Again” with Ian Gillian on vocals. That was the full album that I really enjoyed. I am glad Toni Iommi is doing it, it is gonna be cool that Bill Ward and Ozzy are doing it cause Bill is awesome and Ozzy can be awesome ya know. I am looking forward to seeing that show.

MC: Is there anything that came out you would like see re-released? I know a band named “Anvil Chorus” is a band I hear a lot about. Would that be a band you might like to see on CD so people can check them out?

RQ: Oh my god, there is so many great bootleg underground demo stuff that still hasn’t come out. The 1st 3 Metal Church songs, instrumentals, I tried to get Lars to try out for their band as they were looking for a drummer in 1981. Lars chickened out and didn’t show up for the rehearsal. Their 1st 3 songs by them are amazing. The actual 3 song demo from 1980 is cutting edge and I don’t think has still been released and some of those guys became Anvil Chorus and Kurt went up to Seattle, WA to start up the real Metal Church. None of those bands compare to that very 1st Metal Church stuff and that was recording in San Francisco. Oh man there is so many great demos, but that is the great thing about the internet and Cd’s, some of this stuff never came out on record, it is still coming out of the woodworks, so many demos, outtakes and B-sides and rehearsals and hopefully the music industry is wising up and releasing some of this stuff cause they better do something good because most of their stock is pretty generic and easy to access. They have to really extra hard, which they never had to do before.

MC: Ron it was an honor to interview you and do you have any last words to wrap this up and if somebody wanted to contact you, how would they go about it?

RQ: I am on Facebook every day and they can always write Ron Quintana on Facebook and find me there and I am still doing my record store in Grass Valley and I am still doing Rampage Radio and we are on every week and we have a great stable of DJ’s and every Saturday night from 2am till 8am (laughs). It is the insane witching hour as Cronus or Tom Araya might say. It is 6 hours of metal every Saturday night and we are still doing it on KUFS in Exile and we are still hoping to get our station back, but even if we don’t, were are going to be on the internet forever hopefully.