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Sacrificial Blood

Sacrificial Blood are crushing death/thrash band and after seeing the band live a few times recently and armed with a total kick ass CD I figured it was time to do an interview with Mike Keller of the band so here it is:

MC: What sort of boy were you growing up? Did you come from a big or small family and have you lived in NJ all your life?

MK: Ha, I grew up in a fairly wild family, my parents both worked, my mother was a flight attendant and my father was a businessman, so we were often left with babysitters for days/weeks at times, which was cool for the fact that most of them were in their late teens/early 20's and into things we found cool. We also had problems with authority figures of any kind though so it had its ups and downs, we were definitely the kids parents didn't want their kids hanging out with because we were left fairly unattended and as I said we had quite a wild streak. I was born in White Plains, NY and lived in various towns around Westchester County for most of my childhood, we moved to NJ when I was 11 years old....

MC: What sort of things were you into at a young age and what did you want to be when you grew up?

MK: Music almost immediately hit me, my mother to this day likes to remind me of when I would dance around the living room to the Muppet Show before I could even talk, haha. Also at the age of 3 we moved to our second house in NY which had cable, I found MTV immediately (back when it was all music all the time), and was instantly hooked. I also had my toys, GI Joes and such, and did other things, rode skateboards, little league, etc. Always wanted to be a musician from when I was little, it's one of a very few things I've been completely sure of my entire life.....

MC: When did music start to become part of your life? What were some of the early bands that you listened to?

MK: Again as I said at the age of 3 I saw MTV which hooked me in, Nickelodeon in those days would also play music videos and they had a great show called Live Wire that had bands perform on it (Manowar and Twisted Sister most notably!!!), it was pretty much there for taking for me and I loved it. We got our first stereo for the living room around that time and my older brother and I got to pick out an album to play on it, I got Asia's debut and he got Survivor's Eye Of The Tiger (still love both I might add). Def Leppard was an early one for me, I didn't get to buy many albums on my own so I pretty much had to rely on friends and relatives during holidays and birthdays for that sort of thing, so my tastes were pretty broad and eclectic, I also got stuck with a lot of albums I maybe played one song off of then never listened to again that way hahaha.....

MC: When did you first discover metal music? What were some of the 1st bands that you heard? What did you think of that style of music when you first heard it?

MK: We had been aware of bands like Def Leppard and Twisted Sister from TV and friends of ours at school. My cousin was a huge Motley Crue fan around the time of Shout At The Devil so he used to play that for us when we'd see each other. But it started for real when I was around 8 and my older brother was 12. He started buying albums of the above mentioned and his favorite band at that time was Guns N' Roses, I followed suit but quickly gravitated toward the bigger name Thrash and Heavy Metal bands, by the age of 10 I was hooked on Metallica, Metal Church, Anthrax, Megadeth, Suicidal Tendencies, Motorhead, Slayer, and various others. When I moved to NJ I started reading about the Death Metal bands in the magazines, saw some vids on Headbanger's Ball, and found WSOU on the radio who were playing lots of that stuff at the time. When I got to middle school I happened to be in classes and got friendly with Scott Ruth from Ripping Corpse's nephew, and Dave Witte from Human Remains's cousin, so they told me about the local scene. There were stickers for these bands and other ones like Damonacy all over the area, and the place I took drum lessons at always had flyers up for the shows these bands were playing, so whenever there was a weekend all ages matinee at the Stone Pony I would go. There was also a Death Metal band at the high school here called Inebriation I got in touch with, and I got to go to their practices and hang out with them sometimes.....

MC: At what point to you want to start playing drums? Did you take lessons and fast did playing the drums seem natural to you?

MK: I remember I was in second grade and desperately wanted to take guitar lessons, so my parents asked the music teacher at school if they knew of anybody. She said my hands were too small so I probably wouldn't be able to do it, the following summer they were having a program at my school to learn a school band instrument and drums was the only "cool" instrument really so I signed up for that. Took to it like a duck to water, and by the end of the summer I was able to pick up on what I was listening to and play at least dumbed down versions of the songs, if not the actual song itself, and the teacher told my parents I needed to start taking private lessons immediately.....

MC: At one point did you start playing drums and start to sing? Is it hard doing both or what it hard in the beginning and now it is no problem?

MK: The first year of S.B. (2003) was just spent jamming and making the first 2 demos, so I didn't really have to sing the songs unless we were recording them. I had been involved in the local Punk scene during my late teens but had a major falling out with most of the people due to some personal issues I was having at the time, so I really had no option for us to get gigs that first year. Second year a friend of mine from those days in South Jersey started a crossover band and wanted to book us, so we spent 2 months practicing with me singing and playing, getting it tight, and by the time of that first show we were ready to roll, we killed it and made a major impression on everyone at the gig, and it just went from there really.....

MC: Were you in any bands before Sacrificial Blood? If so what bands were they?

MK: Quite a few. When I became aware of the Death Metal scene in the area I managed to form my first band Aneurysm when I was in 7th grade with some friends from school, we were pretty horrible but it got me into writing to bands doing tape trading, and we got to do a few shows with Inebriation. Most people laughed at us due to our age and lack of skill but we didn't care, we loved doing it and were happy enough to be included when they would book us. When I got to high school the Death Metal scene died out completely and I got into Punk for a few years, played in quite a few local Punk bands at the time including The Die-Versions, Stock Street Mob, Terroristic Threats, and Society's Failure who actually managed to release a 7" and play with most of the big bands in the Punk scene at that time. As I said those were pretty dark days for me though, S.F. was pretty much hated by all the locals because we were WAY into drugs, booze, raising hell, etc. So we were seen as troublemakers and a bit of a liability for those who made the mistake of getting involved with us haha.....

MC: How did the band come to be and how many line-up changes did you go through before you got to the current line-up and how is in the band right now?

MK: I always liked Metal even during my Punk years, which wasn't very cool in the eyes of the Punk scene at that time, so when we fell out with those people my friends and I just went back to Metal, but I couldn't find anyone in the area who were into the bands I liked, so I was a free agent from about 2000-2002 just jammed with anyone who came my way, didn't really matter to me at that time what music I was playing so long as I was doing something. I eventually met the original guitarist Pete in December 2002 and we had the first lineup together by January. That stayed together long enough to record the first demo, then I got Ian on bass and a second guitarist named Ross. That lineup lasted about a year, then Ross split after the first show. We then stayed a three piece for the next 2 years until Pete flaked out in early 2006. Took a while but we eventually got Spencer in the fall of that year, got right back to business, then Arnie joined in the summer of 2007. That worked for 2 more years before the first official breakup in June 2009. I moved to the West Coast for a year that fall, but flew back for a weekend in July 2010 to record the full length. I ended moving back that September and by November me, Ian, and Arnie were jamming again. That lasted until last summer when we went on another hiatus. The current lineup is me, Arnie, and our new bassist Brian "Lumberjack" Smith and we've been at it since December 2011......

MC: Does all the band members get along pretty well and tell me a bit about the other members?

MK: Yes we do, for maybe the first time ever haha. We're all pretty much regular guys, work jobs, collect records, have fun etc. Arnie lives down near Philly and he's very involved in the scene down there, plays in a band called Casket down that way that are excellent Old School styled Death Metal. He also goes to college, plays sports, works, has a girlfriend, etc. Lumberjack is the "kid" of the band at 21 even though he's twice our size and looks our age haha. He has a project he does called Maxiumum Oversatan that's classic Venom/Sodom styled black thrash, he also does alot of random projects with friends of his (too many for me to remember really haha), and is looking for work. I at 32 am the elderly statesman of the band, and I'm pretty much domesticated ha, live with my girlfriend, work my job, etc. I also play in the reactivated early 90's Jersey band Grim Legion, and I write for a CT based fanzine called Deathrasher that's been in operation since 1984.....

MC: For those who have never heard the band, what would you say you sound like and do you think you’re an original band?

MK: Old school styled Death/Thrash with Heavy Metal influences. And to a degree yes, I wouldn't say we're musical pioneers or anything like that but I think we have a sound that encompasses everything we like, I've always tried to make it a point to not be like the retro bands who just copy their favorites, I want us to have our own sound and vision, and I think we pull that off......

MC: How does a song usually come together? Is it a band effort or do one or 2 members write and play most of the stuff? What is more harder, putting a song together or writing the lyrics? What was the weirdest place where a song or lyrics just hit ya?

MK: The lyrics I generally write on my own with no music in mind, and it hits at the most random places. Sometimes at work, sometimes when I can't sleep at night, there's not really a formula I follow or any particular thing that inspires me, just kinda comes to mind then I write it down. The other members have always come up with the riffs, though sometimes I'll make suggestions about the particular style I want the song to be in, then they make riffs based off of that.....

MC: Tell me a bit about each release you have out currently and is everything you release still for sale and how did the split cd come about and would you want to do something like that again and how has the response been to it?

MK: The first 2 demos were good in the fact that I was enjoying for the first time in years the music I was playing and everything at that time seemed to be going off more or less without a hitch. We then did a split cassette with a local band who went to high school with my younger brother called Demonic Mortuary who have been broken up for quite a few years now, haven't heard from any of those guys in a long time. The split cd you speak of came after that in 2006, the band Zombie was a band from California who were in touch with me during that time, they then changed their name to Warbringer and I think everyone knows what happened to them ha. After that we did a demo in 2007 with 3 originals and a few covers, tracks from that were used for split 7"s with Trasher from Philly and Deceased and a few compilation albums in 2008. The full length was recorded in the summer of 2010 and then released in February 2011. In the classic tradition too all labels who have done S.B. releases are now out of business hahaha. I have copies of the full length and if you dig around you can still find the splits on ebay and various distros around the world.....

MC: Do you think being a band from NJ has helped or hurt the band and have you ever been to that killer store Vintage Vinyl?

Mk: Eh, in the sense that yeah maybe if we lived in a city or had been from California like all those retro bands we might have had an easier time, but I think we've done ok all things considering. The local scene has never really recovered from my teenage years so it was always pretty much a nonpoint to even try, we've done a few local shows but the turnouts were lousy and I really don't care for the morale that people in the scene have around here. Philly has, and probably always will be, our city to play in. We play packed shows every time we play there (usually headlining!), younger people there now tell me how they've grown up listening to us, it seems that we made a pretty good dent down there, and yes me and the Mrs. go to Vintage Vinyl regularly. I have since I've lived in NJ, I remember getting my first copy of Metal Core with Mass Psychosis on the cover when I was 13 at the old one in Oakhurst before they combined the stores in Fords....(damn that was quite a bit ago-chris)

MC: I know you have played live a few times. What has been your favorite shows so far and who have you shared the stage with and do you think you’re a good live band?

MK: Few times is the understatement of the year haha. We've done like a million shows over the years. Favorite hands down was the first time we played Philly, we were basically nobodies beyond our underground contacts, didn't really think anyone would know who we were, we KILLED it and got the hero's welcome, it was just total gangbusters. I've pretty much enjoyed every show we ever played, good or bad, and I think anyway, with all the lineups and everything else, we've delivered the goods every single time besides one when one of the ex-members got too drunk and I cut it short after like 2 songs, I myself always play to utmost intensity and aggression, and the band has to follow the drummer right? haha, so yeah I think we fire on all cylinders and I've never heard a complaint or gotten a bad crowd response, so I'd assume anyway that's decent indication.. The last one with Artillery and Deceased you were at was a killer as well!!!! Over the years we've played with all kinds of bands including BSOM, Hessian, Savage Skull, Casket, Bludwulf, Toxic Holocaust, Merciless Death, Midnight, Blood Feast, Deceased, October 31, Sadistic Intent, Possessed, At War, Call The Paramedics, Horrifier, so damn many no way I can remember them all!!!!

MC: What are your future plans and how would you like to see the band go?

MK: Just keep doing what we do as long as we can I guess, I'll never give it up if I don't have to. Also as I said previously the new lineup is going great and we are functioning semi-normally for perhaps the first time ever, and though we've always done well we've never been the hip band to like, we've gotten fairly lousy reviews besides you and a few other people, so I don't think there's very far to take this, as long as there's people to play for somewhere we'll be there. Maybe get to do a full U.S. tour or go to Europe would be cool, we're doing the first week of August with a cool band from Buffalo NY called Cain and we're hitting all the areas around here, VA, MD, Pittsburgh, MI, hopefully OH, and Buffalo too, should be fun!!!!

MC: How much time each week is spent doing band related stuff? Does it ever overwhelm you at times?

MK: Due to our distance we practice once a week unless one of us is busy with our other bands or has prior commitments. We play shows as often as possible and like I say function normally considering our circumstances. Never overwhelms me, I love it!!!

MC: Have you sent any of your stuff to record labels or do you plan to in the very near future?

MK: We've worked with Rusty Axe Records and Witches Brew in the past, who were both cool labels and kept up their end the entire time we worked with them, unfortunately both are out of business now. The next release we are funding and will be released through HPGD Productions from Philly. Don't really shop to labels too much, used to but we always got turned down, anyone with a label reading this get in touch!!!!

MC: We are about halfway through 2012, when can we expect any new music from the band?

MK: We recorded a new 6 song EP in March that will be released by HPGD soon as we get the cash together. Hopefully before the end of the summer....

MC: Plug any websites you have and what merchandise do you have for sale?

MK: http://www.reverbnation.com/sacrificialblood has all the upcoming show dates posted and is probably the best place for any info you need

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sacrificial-Blood/106953582665049 is where I do most of my interactions and people can contact me directly through there

http://www.myspace.com/sacrificialblood for anyone that still uses that, I don't check this one too often but again it's there if ya need it....

[email protected] email contact

I got black and white shirts coming next week, all sizes, $10, I also got copies of the full length on CD for $10, or get the CD and shirt together for $15, should hopefully have some embroidered patches also relatively soon, anyone who wants any of those can contact me at the above links....

MC: How did you come up with the name and were any other names considered?

MK: It just came to me really, thought it sounded cool, someone told me later it was mentioned in the Lords Of Chaos book as the name of some fanzine so though I may have seen it in there, it didn't resonate from that book, just came to me and I thought it sounded cool. Also the fact that I couldn't find any other band who ever had the name sealed the deal.....

MC: Do you think there is way too many bands in the underground and that it just makes it harder for good or great bands, like yourselves, to get noticed?

MK: To a point yes, I think there are an overwhelming amount of bands compared to the number of fans but I also think that people are scared of giving unheard of bands a chance, they have their favorites, they like bands that sound like that, and they tend to not branch out too far from that. Maybe it's just me but I like bands that sound different and I like different moods with music other than just one particular feeling or sound. I want to be challenged when I'm hearing something I haven't heard before, and my favorites always tend to be bands who did a bunch of different things over the base of their career.....

MC: Any last words and horns up for the interview.

MK: Thank you for the interview man, always a pleasure. You've been one of our biggest supporters since practically day 1, I appreciate it very much. Thanks to anyone who read this, everyone who's stuck with us all these years, it's what keeps me doing this, cheers all around!!!!