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Lethal Aggression 

Here is an interview with singer John Saltz of the incredible band Lethal Aggression. I interviewed the band way back in issue # 1 back in 1987 and here I am interviewing them in 2007. Look for some stuff from this band in 2007.

MC: What made the band get back together and how many members are original members and how did you find the new members and how has the response to the band been so far?

JS: When Relapsed reissued our demo, along with the unreleased album Godservation in 2001, I thought it would be fun to do a show or two so I called some of the guys to see if they were into it. The first guitar player (Rob D) and bass player (Spencer) weren't interested. Kenny the drummer was up for it so I called Dave G our second guitar player and he wanted to do it also. George Yeck who played bass on both those recordings was living in Tennessee and didn't have the time to play so one of our old friends (Todd) who was there for the whole Lethal thing said he would play bass. Lethal has had several different incarnations, I am the only member consistent from the very beginning. It was so much fun that we decided to keep playing. Todd couldn't keep doing shows so our friend Rob eventually joined but before he was officially playing with us this guy Charlie we met at the 2001 metalfest filled in on some shows. By 2004 the line-up became Me and Charlies former bandmates in an Ohio hardcore band called In Defiance. They were all Lethal fans and understood the whole crossover thing. This has been the most consistent version of Lethal since it's inception. We have been playing all around the country and the response keeps getting warmer and warmer.

MC: What led to the band breaking up in the 1st place? Do you remember your last show and did you guys know that was your last show?

JS: The band fell apart in 91, Kenny and George were doing some light metal project with there old singer from the early the early 80's and me and Dave got disgusted with them. Instead of being patient we just tried a new bassist and drummer. We did 1 gig and it was a disaster. The PA never arrived the show was very unorganized and I felt in my heart it was over. I had a child on the way and it just seemed like a good time to put it down. The years following we all had independent projects and everybody went there own way for a while.

MC: How did the band 1st form and did you guys all come from different bands at the time?

JS: Rob had a band called Fallen Angel and they had been trying to go in a different direction but there singer was very much focused on power metal. They weren't doing anything and we all used to hang out on this place we called the hill getting drunk and fucked up every night. At one point Spencer came up with the name (I am pretty sure it was him) and they were gonna need a singer to fit the idea they had in there heads. we talked about it for a few weeks and as soon got around to trying to put some ideas together and do an actual practice/writing session. the moment we all wrote vodka vodka we knew Lethal Aggression was different and we were really excited.

MC: Was it easy writing songs back then and what were some of the band's early influences?

JS: Songs came by fast and often. We threw a lot of ideas away but we were writing a few songs a week for a while. At the time we were all pretty much listening to AOD, Agnostic Front, Anthrax, Hellhammer, DRI, COC, Misfits, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Metallica, Slayer, Venom, Possesed. This is the era before the Cro-Mags and S.O.D. so we had an even mix of classic metal still in our blood but were buggin out to shit like Black Flag and AF. It was such a fresh time musically that there were literally dozens and dozens of band we were listening too. I just listed the popular ones.

MC: I know the band is from Brick, NJ. Do you guys go down to Seaside Heights and hang out much and what are some of your memories of playing places like The Fast Lane, Club Pizazz, etc?

JS: We pretty much used Seaside Heights as our stomping grounds every summer. I didn't really work a lot so I sold acid and angel dust on the boardwalk. I had a good bulk mescaline operation goin up there also. We played a show on a wrestling ring on one of the piers in seaside, as a matter of fact Billy Milano was there and he sang "Anarcheology" with me that day. I never liked the Fastlane it was always an unorganized nickel/dime operation that tried to act like it was a pretentiously big mid level club like Lamours. Stupid people with bad ideas (just my opinion). We played Pizazz I think that was in philly by some train levels or something. I think it was with Nuclear Assault and Chroninc Fear. Seemed unorganized but fuck it the let us make some noise.

MC: I know you also played Lamour's in Brooklyn, NY and I think I saw you open for Anthrax on their Spreading the Disease tour if I am correct. You had a diving board you had fans dive off of. Were all your live shows like that?

JS: Our live shows were always insane. You got to remember we were a bunch of drug addicted brats who really didn't give a fuck about anyone, anyplace, or anything. We had no respect for ourselves so God forbid the poor bastards who tried to control us. Now mind you we aren't talkin GG Allin type shit but there was always a level of danger where you never really knew what us or the crowd was capable of. One problem that always plagued us were cops and fights, there were always fights and 9 out of 10 times cops showed up and stopped shows. I don't know how or why it would end up like this but it did more often then not!

MC: Why did you name your demo 'From The Cunt To The Fuckin Whore" and did
you get a bunch of shot for it? Did you sell many copies of it and I still have my original copy he he?

JS: I just wanted to be offensive and piss people off. I think the most awkwardness was explaining the title to family! We were never very organized so I don't know what we sold. Whenever we needed money we would steal some blank tapes, go to a department store, make hi speed dubs in all there tape decks until the threw us out, ride to the city and sell them at shows and record stores. Each guy in the band had there own little scam for milking a couple of dollars from that tape!

MC: Where did you record it and was the recording process easy or hard for you guys and did anybody really not like the demo?

JS: We recorded in a garage studio in Hoboken (i think it was hoboken). I found an add in a music paper and it said record a demo for $10.00 an hr. We figured we had 15 minutes of music so we could do it for maybe $8-$15. We learned that it would take a little bit longer so I think we booked 3 hours. On the way up there I bumped into a friend on the highway and he had some opium so we bought some (we also bumped into the band fishbone while we were in the rest stop smoking some of that stuff it was pretty random). When we got to the guys house we almost pulled away because we thought we were going to like a real studio or something and it was this shitty little house on a crowded residential street. We were so high we just sat there for like 10 minutes and then said fuck it and went in. I think everybody was pissed at me because I booked it but once we went inside it wasn't half bad. We shot the whole thing pretty muck in one take and loved what it sounded like. It was forever my thought that the sound we had that day was the sound of Lethal Aggression the problem was we were so high on opium we really didn't pay much attention to what we were doing. By the time we were done we didn't have the $ to buy the tape (nobody had explained that we needed to purchase the reel when I booked the time). I am sure a few weeks later that session was erased over to put some other bands demo tracks on! We loved the finished product and played it constantly for weeks. The first people to hear that tape after us were 2 cute Puerto Rican chicks that we met in a McDonalds on the way home. I don't think they gave to shits about the music we were just horny and were tryin to get laid.

MC: Did you get to play out of town a lot and what was the response to the band when you did?

JS: Lethal never played lots and lots of shows back in the day. If you dot count our European tour with Y.O.T. I bet we only played like 30-40 shows. Baltimore went completely crazy and ape shit for us the first time we played there and every time after. When we went down to Texas to played a string of shows with DRI on there dealing with it tour we gave them a pretty good run for there money. If anybody doesn't take my word on that I have a good recording from the first date we played that tour I can burn a copy for a small fee and send it to you. We played so fuckin fast that we were breakin new ground for a live show!

MC: I know you released an album on Funhouse Records cause I have a copy on vinyl. How did get a deal with them and how come no US release for that release and will it be re-released anytime soon?

JS: Because we were a bunch of lazy drug addicts that took the first deal that promised they would take care of all the things necessary to get us over to Europe. We were very naive and to confused to really look at what else we could do. They were supposed to have that record distributed through SPV America but something weir happened. We had a meeting with relativity (this was after the combatcore tax right off and at the beginning of the next right off called in-effect) and they wouldn't touch it cause we didn't understand our contract with Funhouse and roadrunner met with us but I got the impression the didn't like us. Once again a label from Europe will be handling the re-issue. Xtreem music from Spain is doing a real nice package. 12 page booklet 2 7" ep's our new demo and track from the very first lethal show. This time around a lot of people approached me but the guy who owns the label, Dave Rotten from the death metal band Avulsed won me over because he is a true fan and new all our material. Fuck the guy has a logo for his own name that is an exact copy of the L.A. logo skull and all!

MC: I know you mentioned something come out from the band soon, is it a new release of is it the Funhouse release plus some other goodies?

JS: See last answer

MC: How long was the band together and what lead to you breaking up the 1st time and was it a bad and nasty break up and do you still talk to any of the ex-members that are not in the band now?

JS: See first question

MC: I know Relapse recently released your demo on CD with some other tracks. What led to this coming out and were you at all surprised that a label would want to release your stuff on CD after all these years?

JS: Matt Jacobsen the founder of Relapse wanted to put the demo on a 7" back when he lived in Colorado and was just starting Relapse. Every couple of years he would call and say lets do it and then I wouldn't here from him for awhile. Eventually the label got bigger and he partnered with another aquaitnence of mine Bill Yurkiwetz of Exit 13. I sent Bill some tapes a just said if you guys ever get around to it do it but stop asking and then not doing it. I was hoping they would release the unreleased album for us as an official release. Matt and Bill split up and Matt wound up releasing it a few years later. Its funny because I got into some trouble and when I got out of jail I did a search on the internet to see if anybody still remembered Lethal in 2001 and I saw that Relapse finally got around to us when the no longer could find me. It was cool and I was grateful but I always felt most of the decision makers at the label were embarrassed of the release. They didn't support in any press and they never placed any tracks on any of there dozens of sampler CD's. We didn't get any cash and just 10% of the first pressing in CD's after I finally got in touch with Matt again. When I asked for more copies I was told it would be $6 each, whatever!

MC: What would you say you sound like to anybody that has never heard your music?

JS: I don't have a fuckin clue what to tell people when they ask me that. If they know underground music it's a little easier to find a reference point. If they don't have a clue (like people you work with or if the subject comes up) its futile to try and explain it because know matter how many things you explain and how many things they say back nothing ever comes close to a close match that the would understand.

MC: What was your favorite show and worst show in your opinion?

JS: Favorites would be the first Baltimore show we ever played. It was us and some local band Rancid Decay. We were just getting out there and it was a crazy ass show with a lot of intense kids going fuckin nuts. All the shows we did with DRI in Texas and New Orleans will be some of my fondest Lethal Memories! We fuckin worshipped those guys and to be asked to support some shows in 86 was like a dream come true. As far as worst shows as much as I have to say I loved mostly every show we did in Europe and it was the best band experience of my life we had to share the stage with those fuckin cock lovin hypocrites Youth of Today so the experience was bittersweet. You know it's funny i really like YOT's music but after spending so much time with them they were so far from there pseudo posi message that I just felt like holding a pillow over there faces every nite.

MC: Does the band have a website and what is the URL and what will people find when they get there? Any merchandise for sale?

JS: Just www.myspace.com/lethalaggression click on thrashing metal merch in our friends if you want or are looking for a shirt to wear.

MC: Do you feel your music still holds up well today?

JS: I really feel the old stuff from the demo still holds up well everything after that has a dated feel to it but it's still good. Not to sound cocky but FTCOTFW has a timeless essence to it! The material we are writing know and the upcoming album are gonna surprise a lot of people. Not only are we more relevant now but I truly feel its the best material we have written since 1986.

MC: NJ had a healthy scene back in the day and I used to see 600 people at shows to see Ripping Corpse, Deranged, Social Decay, etc. What do you think killed off the scene?

JS: I don't remember crowds like that too often but then again our history is filled with basements and bad decisions. I think once these metal and hardcore kids started taking hip-hop to seriously things all started going downhill and then the once united scene split into too may factions. It was all over by 1988 and it died a year later. Fuck its the same thing now you got all these splinter scenes! The funniest of all is thrash is back which I find awesome and you got these emo kids fillin the cockrockers shoes only these kids are too scared of girls, what the fuck! The spooge has returned!

MC: Do you think if we had the internet and stuff back in the 80's that the underground scene would be bigger and better than it is today?

JS: I think its too instantly gratifying which leads to boredom when the rush wears off. Fuck man I would wait 2 weeks sometimes checkin the mail everyday just to get a practice or demo tape off someone.

MC: Do you like any new bands or do you think like me that most are shit playing all this nu metal jump shit?

JS: I love Violater from Brazil, Magrudergrind are some great speedcore kids from the Baltimore area, there's a lot of cool crossover bands poppin up too.

MC: How did you come up with the name of the band and was anything else considered?

JS: Spencer came up with it and we loved it!

MC: What would you like to see the band remembered by?

JS: I would love for someone to be so inspired by our music that they would do something the would help to destroy the current monetary and class structure fucking up this corporate world but I don't think that will happen so just remembering us as that crossover band with the real big cocks works for me!

MC: Did you think in a million years that I would be interviewing you again as I interviewed back for my 1st issue, which came out in 1986!

JS: I thought I would be dead by 87!

MC: Any last words. Horns up for the interview.

JS:Go back to room 12!