The Percocettes


One fine day in early 2006, a determined Cole Della-Zucca picked up a guitar, and told her friends she was going to start a band, eventhough at the time she couldn’t sing or play the guitar. A bit later, Toothless George was playing Cole’s guitar at a party in her apartment. She grabbed the guitar out of his hands and played a song she had written. He was instantly blown away by her raw talent, and fell in love with her sound. Over the next six months, George gave her personal guitar and vocal lessons. They rearranged her song together, and were both stunned by how well it turned out. George made a call to his former band mate, Matt Fester, to see if he wanted to drum for this project. Once they heard the songs with his drumming, they knew that this band was going to be way better than they ever expected. For a year and a half, they rehearsed in secret, perfecting their craft, before going into the studio to record with the most respected engineers they knew: Nick Rotundo (None More Black, Boy Sets Fire, The Huntingtons) and Donnie Switchblade (The Queers, Teen Idols, The Eyeliners). On Friday the 13th of July 2007, they made their live performance debut (their C.D. release show) on one of the most coveted stages in Philadelphia; The Trocadero’s main stage! The Percocettes are enjoying their first year as a group. They continue to travel and perform, making new fans, loving what they do, and doing what they love...isn’t that what roc’ n’roll is all about?

I got to sit down with the Philadelphia based band at their show with Rancid at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA, to discuss their highs, lows, and being females in the male dominated punk scene.

Who's in your current line-up?

Cole: I'm the vocalist, Vita Stolichnaya is our bassist, Toothless George is our guitarist , and our drummer is Matt Fester.

How’d you get started?

Cole: Me and our old guitarist, Kristan something, started out to see how we'd do as a band. Then we saw George randomly this one night and he said, "You guys really have something here, you just need to work on it." So he started coming over every day, for like three hours a day, just going through vocals and guitar –just making our songs awesome. And that’s how it built into something bigger and better than we had expected. It was an old guitarist. Vita came in only a couple of months ago.

George: I think May was Vita’s first show. It was the Tritones show, and it’s been awesome ever since.

Vita, could you tell us where you’re from and how you got involved?

Vita: Well I was born in Estonia, which is Northern Europe; obviously I speak Russian--everyone seems to emphasize that. I moved here about eight years ago. George contacted me on myspace saying, "Hey we need a guitarist." Then I came to one of the shows and was like, "Yeah, I want to be in the band!" So I started practicing with George and going over songs and learning them. Then we had a whole band practice, and after a while, they said, "Yeah, you’re in." Then we played a show and went to Florida. And it has been awesome ever since.

Is there a big punk scene in Estonia?

Vita: Actually, no. It’s a very small country.

So you got more into punk when you came to America?

Vita: Yes, definitely.

Cole: Is Estonia where the Flintstones are from?

Encino Man!

Vita: Yes, Estonia is from the stone age. No.

Have you encountered any adversity with you being a female singer /guitarist? Is there anybody saying that you can’t cut it when you’re a chick?

Cole: The main reaction we get after we play is, "woah, you guys are actually decent. I thought you guys were going to suck" – thinking that we’re chicks and that we can’t do this shit at all. But that’s good, because if they have low expectations of us, it's easy to exceed their expectations. Other than that, it’s been pretty cool, and I get a lot more help with my equipment than I’m sure these guys do. That’s about it.

Vita: I think chicks in a band is hot.

But punk music is so dominated by males.

Vita: I don’t think it’s just punk, but rock music in general. There aren’t a lot of female rock chicks.

Are you inspired by Joan Jett?

Cole: Totally. There are a couple that I look up to, like Joan Jett and Marissa Awesomeheart. But then you got Courtney Love, she’s awesome, but probably not the best role model.

What is it that inspires you?

Cole: I just look for challenge, challenge inspires me. I like the idea that Vita and I are females, starting a punk band in a male dominated world. I think it’s awesome.

Why do you think the rock industry is so dominated by males.

Cole: When you think of punk, you don’t think of butterflies and rainbows. You think of blood, guts and sweat. When you go to a show, you get roughed up. God, my hair never stays in place!

George: I think that a lot of girls are afraid, because they don’t think that they can do it. They think that oh people are going to think that I’m a girl. I don’t know. I think anybody can do it. Music is non-sexist. I was going to say non-sexual--but that's not entirelly accurate. I think that a lot of girls think that they have to be a certain way because of society standards--but that’s bullshit.

Matt: Punk rock’s all about breaking social norms.

Do you have anything to say to girls who are trying to break into the punk scene?
Cole: Fucking do it! I love seeing sexy girls in my audience. It’s such a turn on. Like just now I got approached by some punk chick saying, "You guys fucking rule!" And I was like, "You rule. You rule." So yea, let me tell you, join us. I think it’s awesome to see more punk rock women musicians playing on stage and really going for it.

Do you Skate?

Cole: I skate, but when I go to FDR, there’s just a bunch of dudes--no girls. And I first I think that they’re going to try and scam on me, like it’ll be easy conversation. But no, you see them eyeing you and judging you, thinking that you can’t do it. Thinking: "Hey, what’s a chick doing over here." So, it’s intimidating--I think a lot of girls think it’s intimidating to skate or do anything 'male dominated' around so many males, but I encourage it.

Philly local, eh?

Cole: I’m not originally from Philly, but I live in South Philly now. I’m from Stanton Island.

George: I live in South Philly now, but I’m originally from West Chester PA. I skate, too.

You sound like you have a Southern accent when you’re on stage.

George: My mom and her side of the family are from the south. I don’t know why, because my brother doesn’t have it. And with me, it only really comes out when I’m drunk. I mean it really comes out heavy when I’m drunk. So if you heard it when I was on stage, then yeah… I wasn’t drunk, but I had a few in me. But it gets works. But yeah, I’m from South Philly. The South, haha.

Matt: I’m from Lancaster PA. It’s about an hour and half outside of Philly, depending on traffic; today it was about three hours because of the rain. I lived in Philly for about five years, and I always come down to Philly, so this is where I consider my roots.

You're touring with Rancid?

George: No, we’re just playing this one show with them. They may say later on tonight, hey we want you to do the rest of the tour with us, who knows, but that hasn’t happened yet. So as of right now, as of this interview, we’re not on tour with Rancid.

What’s it like opening for Rancid?

George: For me it’s a huge honor. First time I saw them, I think in 93, they were opening up for Fugazi. I had no idea who they were, and I was just like, "Wow, these guys are amazing." Yeah, so I’ve been with them from the beginning. Hopefully there’s some kid in this audience that sees us as the opening band, didn’t know who the hell we are, came to see Rancid, and are like, "Wow, I love that band!" And hopefully ten years down the road, or fifteen I think since they’ve started, they’ll be some kid that’s like, "Yeah, I saw you when, and they’ll open for us, and the cycle will keep going. It’s a huge honor to share the stage with Rancid.

Cole: When I walked out there and seen three thousand people looking at me, it was amazing. Like I’ve been nervous this whole week and all the nerves just went away just because it was such a beautiful moment. I didn’t want to be nervous, I just wanted to take every single second in. It was awesome.

How long have you been playing? How does this show rank in the shows you've played thusfar?

Matt: I’ve actually been doing this for a long time-- I’m thirty-two and I’ve been doing this since I was like fourteen. This is the crowning moment in my punk rock career. This is the best show that I’ve played with this band. This was probably our best show overall and at the same time to be doing this with one of my favorite bands that got me into punk rock in the first place is a pretty good honor.

George: It’s definitely amazing. Everything is very new to us.

What are your recording plans?

Cole: We are in the studio right now recording an eight song cd. It’s taking a little longer than expected. But we just want to make it perfect. It’s our baby, and we just want to make sure it’s not an ugly baby with a big head. We’re just taking our time with it, because I’ve seen some ugly babies, and that's never good.
Interview by Roya Butler


Metalocalypse CD/DVD review


Adult Swim has unleashed a CD of music by animated extreme metal band, Dethklok, entitled Dethalbum. The release features several full-length songs from the Metalocalypse series plus a few brand new ones. A deluxe CD edition of Dethalbum has also been released. The deluxe edition includes a second disc featuring seven more tracks, the animated video for the single “Bloodrocuted,” and the premiere episode from Season 2 of Metalocalypse.

Creator or Metalocalypse, Brendon Small (Home Movies) got together with famous metal drummer Gene Hoglan to record full-length tracks spawned from the minute or so clips that were on the show to create Dethalbum. For the album, Small played both lead and rhythm guitar, bass, and “growls” as the voice of Dethklok’s lead singer Nathan Explosion, while Hoglan provided the drum tracks for the album.

The album debuted at #21 on the Billboard 200 chart, and dominated the Loud Rock Radio charts, hitting #6 on CMJ, #11 on FMQB, and #1 on Mediaguide Metal Specialty. This makes Metalocalypse: Dethklok’s “The Dethalbum” the highest charting death metal album to date. With 33,740 copies sold in its first week, The Dethalbum was also streamed 45,000 times when it went live on AOL Music during the week of its release. It has so far sold over 100,000 copies.

Fans of Decide, Slayer, and Meshuggah (to name a few) would be remiss in failing to incorporate The Dethalbum into their metal album collection. The Dethalbum is ferociously powerful, with unabashed brutally unleashed in every song.

Dethklok’s fans are diehard, keeping in line with the Metalocalypse sense of humor; one fan hails: “if you took the Sun, and gave all of its power to a whale, which you then gave armor made from asteroids collected from the deepest reaches of black space and a staff which could alter the curvature of space time itself, and then took that whale, put it in a blender, dried the whale puree, and formed the powder into a pill which you then gave to a grizzly bear, the amount of power that bear now has is how much I love Dethklok.”

Brendon Small, creator of Metalocalypse, joked about the success of Dethklok’s Dethalbum: “It feels great to finally be recognized as the serious cartoon musician that I know that I am. I feel vindicated to have surpassed the sales of ‘Jem and the Holograms’ and ‘The Archies’. You have no idea how many cartoon groupies this will get me.”

The Metalocalypse two disc DVD box set has been released with the entirety of Season 1, and the deluxe special edition, adding in seven episodes from season two, including “Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle.”

In this episode, the band does a concert up in Batsfjord, Norway and does only one song, a jingle for the Duncan Hills Coffee company. They are there to make coffee “metal,” blacker than the blackest-black times infinity! Metalocalypse is known for random deaths in each episode. This episode makes no exception, burning off fan’s faces with the hot coffee raining upon them.

The series is addictive, filled with non-stop wit, while leaving the audience awestruck.

By Roya Butler


Dethklok exclusive interview with Brendon Small


The co-creation of comedic geniuses Brendon Small (creator of Adult Swim’s Home Movies) and Tommy Blacha (writer of Late Nite with Conan O'Brien & Ali G), Metalocalypse is the most brutal metal cartoon to date. The show is about the metal band Dethklok, the most famous and influential band in the world. So influential, in fact, that Dethklok fans commit mass suicide when Dethklok album releases are delayed. Regardless of knowing that thousands of people die at Dethklok concerts, the fans still attend for the mere opportunity to be a part of history. Dethklok is held as the twelfth largest economy in the world (just above Belgium). Meanwhile, a secret government organization strategizes tirelessly to thwart Dethklok’s rise, but keeps their efforts low key, so as to avoid a massive revolt by Dethklok’s fans.

I had the opportunity to witness two live performances by Dethklok: at The Nokia Center in NYC, and the TLA in Philadelphia.
Most, if not all, of the shows on the tour were sold out, and every piece of merchandise was sold (only one box of merchandise was left for the last show of 4000 people).The band, consisting of lead guitarist and vocalist Brendon Small, rhythm guitarist Mike Keneally, bassist Bryan Beller, and drummer Gene Hoglan, played in the dark affront a giant projection screen which played clips from the Metalocalypse cartoon (with lyrics so the fans could sing along). The band incorporated interaction with the cartoons on the screen, including intervals where the band would leave the stage and the audience was left to watch the cartoon for a few minutes until the band returned. The cartoon excerpts were witty leaving the fans laughing, and cheering the band on as they would return to the stage.

This Adult Swim cartoon band has a following that is unsurpassed in Death Metal. We were lucky to have the opportunity to sit down with Brendon Small, co-creator (and most of the character voices) and Gene Hoglan (legendary Metal Drummer). We asked Small what he thinks about Metal, how this idea was conceived, and how it feels to be the voice of the most popular cartoon Death Metal lead vocalist (Nathan Explosion) in the world.

You started playing guitar at 13 and graduated from Berklee College of music in '97, then started writing comedy, which eventually evolved into Home Movies…

Small: yea, I went to school in Boston, Berkee College of music. I got into comedy there, and started doing stand up, and that’s how I got into animation and all that stuff. I grew up in Salinas, California. Other great men from Salinas: John Steinbeck --Steinbeck Country. Other great men from Springfield, Illinois: President Lincoln – the Great Emancipator. Soooo, you can see why I got into cartoons… following in the footsteps of genius giants.

How did you use these experiences to conceptualize and co-create Metalocalypse with Tommy Blacha?

Small: Tommy Blancha was the only guy in the comedy world who would go out and see metal shows with me. So we’d go out and see all these scary guys like Cannibal Corpse and Nile, and a bunch of fun Death Metal shows. Before Dethklok (Metalocalypse), I had a TV show called Home Movies; it had kids in it, and it was very dry--very dialogue driven—a very mannerism-based comedy. Home Movies got cancelled, so I wanted to use everything that I learned to not get this show cancelled. I got to write all the music on the other show, and so I wanted to continue to write a lot of music on this show; the whole idea was to do a new song on every episode, and then at the end of a season, put out a CD and be able to tour. I got in touch with Gene Hoglan, an amazing drummer with a great sense of humor; we got in the studio and started banging out songs (I’m just going over all the broad strokes of what this whole thing was). Then the opportunity came up to do a tour/live show. I wanted the whole concert to be like a Disneyland ride, with a big movie theater size projection screen behind us--and just make the whole show interactive and fun—METAL—and have great musicians playing with me like Gene Hoglan, Brian Beller and Mike Keneally.

Who was Nathan modeled after?

Small: George Corpse Grinder from Cannibal Corpse meets Conan the Barbarian was kind of what we were going for, looks-wise; the way he’d move on stage was definitely all Cannibal Corpse stuff. But attitude-wise, I don’t think its George, because I hadn’t met him at the time. It was kind of our own idea about how he behaved and acted, and what his sensibilities were. The rest of the characters were drawn by a guy who didn’t really know a lot about metal, so everything else was coincidental. So there you go. There are half of your questions gone right there.

How do you feel Dethklok’s live show compares to the Gorillaz live show/Was the Dethklok live show inspired by the Gorillaz live show?

Small: It was a cool jumping off point.
Gorillaz projects animation onto scrims and the musicians play the show behind the scrims. I watched the DVD and thought the concept was really cool, and the animation and musicians were great. But the one thing that I want to see when I go to a show is the guys playing the music--even if they’re back-lit – even if there’s some mystery there. In Metal, the music is so tough to play; you want to see how they’re doing it –the fast guitar solos, the banging of the drums (because they’re like Olympic athletes doing that stuff). I wanted to make sure that element was in the live show; I wanted us to connect enough with our audience in our show, and still have the animation be the star of it.

The song "Thunderhorse" was also featured on the hit video game Guitar Hero II? Tell us how that came about.

Small: I’d posted some blog on a site, right when I was in early development of this show. I think it was the last blog that I ever posted on my website. I said, “Hey, I’m gonna put out this show called Dethklok.” And I put up a very rough version of the theme song. Then a guy who was a fan of my old show, Home Movies, read that and said, “Hey we’re putting this game together, it’s called Guitar Hero. We just got done doing the first version, can I send you a copy? I heard the music for the Dethklok theme song, and I know you’re still in early development and are going to have more music on it; send it to me and we’ll try to get it on Guitar Hero II.” And that was it. So I sent them a few songs and they picked Thunder Horse. It has got a lot of notes and stuff--it’s kind of hard to play on the Guitar Hero game, but when we play it live on tour every night the kids go crazy, because they recognize it from that game--it’s pretty nuts.

And you play the guitar on it?

Small: Yes.

Oh, wow. That’s amazing because Skwisgaar Skwigelf plays that guitar and he’s like the fastest guitarist in the world.

Small: Haha, the only reason people know that is because I said that somewhere in an article. He’s not the fastest. There are faster guitarists, but he’s pretty fast.

On the show he’s the fastest.

Small: Yeah, yeah, and I play the guitar on the show, and on the record. It’s just Gene Hoglan and I, basically that did the whole record. For the TV show, what I’ll do is I’ll play the guitar and I’ll record it, and layer harmonies on it, and do rhythm guitars at the same time. And then I’ll do vocals from time to time. But live, I can only do my guitar part and the vocals. Then we have Mike Keneally in there to harmonize all the fast stuff and to double on the rhythm guitars. It’s fun--tonight you’ll see, we’ll be trading back and forth and doing all that stuff.

And the bassist isn’t really mixed out of every song?

Small: Yeah, we joke about it a lot. Brian Beller basically will act like a rhythm guitarist a lot of the time--he’s got this really powerful thunderous sound coming out of his bass, and he’s pretty much covering what the rhythm guitarist would be doing. Because there are two guitarists on the record, I sometimes will have the guitar and do a harmonizing layer over that. When we have three people doing the guitar parts, I’ll have to do the harmonizing solos and he’ll have to play the rhythm guitar parts on the bass, and just have this thunderous thing that fills up all this area. He’s sounds huge, and he’s a huge part of the show – though we love to make fun of Murderface on the show.

How did you get the name Metalocalypse and Dethklok?

Small: Well, I wanted to call the show Dethklok, but there was this legal thing that was all confusing and stupid and that I don’t want to get into. So they told us that we couldn’t call the show Dethklok. So that’s how we got Metalocalypse--I decided that I’m just going to come out with a name that is so stupid and hard to pronounce that people just call it Dethklok anyway. Tommy and I had written down a whole bunch of names on a paper, and I think that Tommy had written down Dethklok. I saw it and just thought, that’s cool, two syllables, you can chant it, it’s great. There are so many Metal bands out there with these big long sentence names, and it’s hard to chant.

Hoglan: Intestinal Strangulation…there’s a band in LA called Intestinal Strangulation. Chanting that name….

Small: In-tes-tin-al Stran-gu-la-tion. That’s nine syllables. Yeah, so that’s why. Two syllables--you can chant it better, it sounds better in a big stadium: Dethklok!

Metalocalypse…are you alluding to the future apocalypse?

Small: It’s going to be an apocalypse of Metal, yes. It all starts in the last show of the first season. Twenty episodes, and then we go on to the next season, brilliant.

Does it have to do with the Mayan calendar and 2012 being the apocalypse?

Small: There isn’t too much of that. I don’t know about that, so no. 2012--The Mayan Apocalypse? Maybe that’s how many seasons we’ll do--whether we want to or not.

There are a lot of ocean themes (Blood Ocean, Mermaider, Go into the Water), why is that?

Small: In the first season, there’s a whole under-water-themed record-- that was the thing that made Dethklok even bigger than they were in the first season. And it’s just the whole way the world’s working with the polar ice caps melting; it’s going to be a water world with Kevin Costner. So we just kept going back to this water theme. There’s just something about the whole idea of the earth being consumed by water, and humans devolving back into fish. That’s what “Go into the Water” is all about; it’s about becoming single-celled bacteria again. We’ve evolved, but now it’s time to regress and turn into animals again. So that was the whole idea. It’s kind of all not terribly serious, but it was just a theme that we kept thinking about, and going back to. I don’t think there’s any really great way to explain that. But it was just themes. There’s a lot of water. In movies there’s always some kind of… I’ll stop there, because I got nothing to say.

Your album, The Deathalbum, debuted at #21 in the Billboard 200, making it the highest charting death metal album ever. Did you foresee that?

Small: It’s better than the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, by the Beatles. I’ll go on record saying that.

Metalocalypse premiered on Aug 6, 2006. You posed naked holding a medieval
flail and metal shield for a humor-themed Playgirl pictorial in April 2006. Was that to promote Dethklok?

Small: It was a comedy issue, and I think that I look like a sweaty car-salesman. They asked me to do something and to appear nude, and I said, “Yeah, no, I don’t think you want that, but I will.” So I accepted the challenge. I said, “The only way I’m going to do it is if I can paint my dick to look like King Daimond.” And then I chickened out at the last minute. I’m not going to do that, my last show was about kids and stuff like that, now I’m showing my dick in Play Girl? I don’t know. It was a comedy issue, so it was in no way serious--I think you can tell that from the photos.

The guys in the show seem like they are so detached from the world that they can't do anything for themselves.

Small: That whole thing comes from celebrities. When we are putting the show together, the whole thing is about celebrities first, and Metal second. In the last ten years of television, it’s all been reality shows, and we’ve had people like Paris Hilton who don’t know how a phone works, or how a doorknob works, or what day it is--they’re not the brightest people around. So we thought what if we took the biggest celebrities in the world and made them a Death Metal band? We got to put in all the stuff that we loved about Death Metal, and all the stuff to make fun of celebrities. So that was the whole idea. They’re celebrities, so that means that they don’t know how to make their own dinner. There are just a lot of things that they’re not capable of doing for themselves--they’re celebrities, and they’re being babied all the time. But they can negotiate a contract like nobody’s business, and they know how to order off the menu in a fancy restaurant (and stuff like that – like a celebrity would).

Why does Dethklok hate their fans?

Small: It’s just funnier for them to hate their fans. It wouldn’t be that funny if they were all about their fans. The point is that they don’t care about anyone—nor do they care who dies.

How does it feel to be the lead singer of the most popular cartoon death metal band in the world?

Small: I’m not the lead singer.

You are the voice of Nathan Explosion.

Small: Here’s the thing. We do all these shows, and we’ve been really lucky and spoiled rotten, because all these shows have been selling out at every single venue. And the feeling is really weird because you get off stage and the people are chanting “Dethklok! Dethklok!” The way that this show is done is that it’s not about us or what we look like. It’s about what we sound like, and we’re supposed to sound like Dethklok. You’ll see tonight that we’re back-lit. We’re these anonymous shadows. You can see that we’re holding the instruments and we’re playing them and you can watch Gene drumming like crazy. But when we get off stage, they’re cheering for this guy Nathan Explosion and his band, and that’s not me. That’s the fun part about animation is that you can be anonymous to a degree. We do kinda show the audience who we are at some point through the night and say, “Hey we were here the whole show, how you doing?” But I think that everyone’s looking above us, so it’s not about us, it’s about what’s up there. We’re a pit band to a musical that’s happening above us; I think that you gotta keep that kind of mystery going on. Sure I do the voice, and I write the music, but it’s not my band. It’s Dethklok, it’s THEIR band. That’s how I feel.

Interview with Brendon Small by Roya Butler


Legendary death metal drummer Gene Hoglan


Branded the most brutal metal drummer of our time, Eugene "Gene" Victor Hoglan II, has been consistently acclaimed for his creativity in drum arrangements, including usage of odd devices for percussion effects and his trademark lengthy double-kick drum rhythms. His highly technical precision of playing increasingly fast and challenging tempos, with extreme accuracy, earned him the nickname "The Atomic Clock". He is best known for his works with the bands Death, Strapping Young Lad and Testament.

Completely self-taught, Hoglan got his first drum kit when he was 13. He began his music career in the early 80s, playing drums during concert sound checks for legendary metal band, Slayer, and working as their lights engineer on tour. He also formed the well known Thrash band, War God, with Michelle Meldrum.

At the end of the same year he was asked to drum for the thrash metal band Dark Angel, and wrote most of the lyrics for their next three albums. He achieved even greater notoriety during the 1990s playing with Death, recording an album with the thrash metal band Testament, and making the acquaintance of Canadian multi-instrumentalist Devin Townsend, forging a lasting friendship. He has since recorded several albums with Townsend, both as part of the speed/industrial/death metal band Strapping Young Lad and Townsend's solo albums.

Hoglan recently played on The Dethalbum, for Adult Swim’s animated TV show Metalocalypse. The Deathalbum, debuted at #21 in the Billboard 200, making it the highest charting death metal album in history. He just finished touring with Dethklok, selling out shows in every city.

Sincerely humble and incredibly kind, Hoglan sat down with Hannah and I, and told us about the Dethklok tour, various percussion instruments he created, and the recent loss of his dear friend and band mate Michelle Meldrum.

Interview with Gene Hoglan by Roya Butler

You have been highly acclaimed for your creativity in drum arrangements. Can you tell us about some of the odd devices for percussion effects that you’ve used?

Hoglan: Let me see. I’ve always said that I’ll play anything on stage; if it’s big and metal and clang-y and horrible sounding, I’ll play the hell out of it. I started playing a lot of ash trays when we were over in Europe--I’d find these really cool ash trays to play; I’d just stick a cymbal stand through them (to mount them). Then I found this huge brass three-pronged boat propeller, and every time I’d hit it, it would spin and I’d get three different tones out of it. I’ve played on an M14 shell, and now I’ve got a Howitzer shell that I just picked up. Mounting is always the hardest part about playing weird procession devices on stage--it’s a canon shell, it’s made for killing people, not mounting on a drum set.

Tell me about your nickname “The Atomic Clock”?

Hoglan: The atomic clock is the most precise clock on the planet. They just kind of dubbed me that, because I keep pretty good time, I suppose.

How was it working with the bands Death, Strapping Young Lad and Testament?

Hoglan: Death was killer metal that helped create a genre--as was Strapping Young Lad, which was my favorite band I’ve ever been in. I did the Demonic album with Testament--God, we were listening to that on the drive up the other day--it’s been a while since I’ve heard that record. It was pretty stormy album, and it was the least Testament sounding album. I always like it when a band evolves and just comes out with something so ball-crushingly-heavy; when they come out wielding a fully heavy slab of metal after being around for a long time, I think that’s really cool. The new one out, The Formation of Damnation, is incredible; it’s the best album those guys have ever put out.

How do your previous experiences, like the sense of humor in Strapping Young Lad, compare to playing with Dethklok?

Hoglan: Well, I’ve been extremely fortunate to be involved in three very humorous bands: Strapping Young Lad, Zimmer’s Hole, and Dethklok. Zimmer’s Hole has been around since ’92--it was the first band to ever start poking fun at metal. I’d been trying to get into Zimmer’s Hole for the past ten years, but they wouldn’t let me in the band, because I did not share their same love of ACDC. So my audition was like, “Hey, Byron! I love ACDC now!” With that, he said, “Cool, you’re in.” I like being involved in humorous bands, and if anyone doesn’t like it, then get a sense of humor you dick! It’s one thing to get your crowd to make the “grr face”--that ugly metal face. But when you’ve got them smiling, laughing, and then cracking up, while you’re assaulting them with vicious metal, that’s really cool. Dethklok is great, Brendon is a stand-up comedian by trade; he’s just a really fun, humorous dude, and it’s a good time to be on tour with him and all the other guys. If you can play a live show and have a great time, all while playing totally vicious metal, what else can you ask for?

You’ve worked not only with many famous metal bands, touring extensively, but also as a session drummer. Do you prefer studio work or live performance?

Hoglan: Fortunately, I get enough of both so that I don’t burn out on either. In 2007, I recorded 10-12 records. I remember recording five albums, back to back, in the early part of that year. Then I felt the itch to go on tour. I ended up getting a call from Unearth, who had lost their drummer on the middle of their tour. The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. At the time, I hated being in the studio--the studio was just the bullshit you had to go through before you got to go on tour. But now I don’t mind it. If I’m lucky, I get the songs a week in advance, so that when I get into the studio I can track the songs as I go; I like rehearsing material, but I rarely get to. For example, on the Dethklok album, they said: “here’s the song, learn it and play it”. So the drumming on Dethklok album is unrehearsed—we laid the tracks down right away—the first time I’m ever playing those songs. But, that’s a pretty common occurrence in the industry. It’s always nice when you get to rehearse, because then you get to sit with the song and work out the parts a little bit instead of coming up with an entire album’s worth of insane drumming on the fly. So, rehearsing with a band is a lot more fun than getting in there and bashing it out, but you can get 10-15 albums done in a year if you don’t rehearse too much.

So you just finished up touring with Dethklok, tell us about that.

Hoglan: It was about thirty cities--all sell-outs. It was pretty cool to have a sell-out tour. People love their cartoon Death metal! All jokes aside, it was a great time; we all got along well, and being on stage with Brendon Small (creator, vocalist and guitarist of Dethklok) was pretty cool. Definitely doing sound checks with these guys was cool, because there are some serious players in this band: Brian Beller on bass, Mike Keneally and Brendon Small on guitar, and me on the drums.

How do u compare to Pickles, the cartoon drummer of Dethklok?

Hoglan: That guy’s a fucking cartoon character, man! That guy can’t play drums! This goes back to what I was saying about not being able to rehearse and stuff like that. It actually kind of troubled me in the studio that I wasn’t familiar with Pickles’ style when I was going in there. I would have given him more of his own style, instead of just pulling out a whole bunch of Gene Hoglan licks. The album sounds more like its Gene Hoglan playing on it, than it does Pickles. But now that I’ve got Pickles down a little better, on the next album I can emulate his style a lot better.

What is Pickle’s style like?

Hoglan: Spastic and drunk. He’s just too damn drunk, man. He’s gotta learn how to play drums.

Although having drummed since age 13, you got your foot in the door as lights engineer for Slayer. Tell us about that.

Hoglan: I used to go see Slayer all the time as a kid. Growing up I used to go see all those LA cock-rock thrash bands in all the clubs--when they were club bands; I saw Metallica’s first few shows and I used to go see Dark Angel, as well. Slayer was a band I used to go see all the time; I really loved that band, and used to think: “No one will ever get this band, because they’re just way too heavy.” They’d be playing for thirty or fifty people at places like Woodstock or Radio City, places like that in and around LA. I became friends with them, and then one night Tom asked me to do the lights. So I went on the road with them; I was about sixteen at the time--the worst roadie ever--I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Around that time I met Michelle Meldrum, and we put together the thrash metal band War God.

Tell us about the album you’re now recording with the band Meldrum.

Hoglan: My guitarist from the band, Michelle Meldrum, passed away on May 21st. Her passing was devastating to us all, and we’re still pretty shattered by it. We’re playing strong, though, to keep her spirit alive, and going in a heavier direction. We’re not returning to the thrash roots or anything, but we definitely have Thrash and lots more Metal going on in the writing of the latest album. It’s coming out pretty good, it’s really heavy. We’ve got a new line up for it. We’ve got Michele Madden from Australian band Tourettes; she’s about the most amazing, wielding vocalist on the planet--she’s also an awesome lyricist. On bass we have Laura Christine from San Diego; she’s actually doing guitar and bass tracks on the album.

Can u tell us about Michelle Meldrum’s passing? The metal community has lost a groundbreaking female musician.

Hoglan: She had a cyst on her brain that we weren’t aware of. The last month of her life she was having a lot of headaches, which we were attributing to a possible sinus condition. She just basically went to sleep one afternoon and never woke up; she took a nap and never came out of it. Her loss is something that we think about every day. There’s not minute that goes by where we don’t think of her, and that’s why we’re here doing this right now. We’re trying to keep her spirit alive, and she’s there right next to us. It isn’t easy, I’ll tell you that.

Tell us about the tribute concert for Michelle Meldrum.

Hoglan: We’re still trying to settle on a good date. It was such a shock, so un-timely, that trying to get something together so soon is tough. I think we all need more time to come to peace with her passing. I’m hoping to have the concert on May 21st of next year, so everyone could get involved that would want to get involved. The concert will be a tribute to Michelle to celebrate her life and her music. She was a progenitor in music; Phantom Blue was the first all chick Shredder band with Shredding leads. Back then the only known chick bands sounded like The Bangles, The Go-Gos, and Vixen--Horse shit top 40 pop, nothing that meant anything. Michelle came along with Phantom Blue and really turned some heads, showing that chicks can shred on the guitar and belt strong vocals.

What can the metal community do as a whole to keep her spirit alive?

Hoglan: Buy the new Meldrum album (keep a look out for the Feburary 2009 record release date), and definitely just crank her music.


American Speedway


American Speedway is a high-energy, heavy rock and roll band out of Philadelphia, conceived in February 2007. The band has since earned their mark as live, powerhouse rock and roll band that reminds listeners why they fell in love with music in the first place. The energy brought by the band during their live show cannot be compared to the sounds on their album, they must be seen live in concert. The band “brings it” loud, heavy and fast, something that seems to be missing in today’s modern rock music.

American Speedway has enjoyed much success already in less than a year together. For one, the band has quickly established a growing, loyal fan base by traveling feverishly and performing in various cities on the east coast (Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Winston-Salem, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cleveland, etc.) and constantly winning over not only new fans, but also club owners.

In Late-Summer 2007, the band caught the eye of Prophase Music; an independent record label based on the outskirts of Philadelphia, and offered them a pressing and distribution arrangement to release the band’s debut album “Ship of Fools”. Prophase is exclusively distributed by MVD Entertainment Group (MVD), and will be releasing their debut record “Ship of Fools” on Vinyl (limited edition). In October 2007, American Speedway was picked up by the music marketing powerhouse, The Syndicate, who will be pushing the band’s debut release to radio and press, while using its street teams for added band awareness.

The main philosophy of the band is real simple and that’s to play what THEY like and that’s “real” rock and roll. American Speedway is not here to reinvent the wheel. They are not here to earn scene points, win musician competitions, nor be the next biggest thing. The band is here to write and record songs THEY like, and have a great time playing live on stage. Loud, fast, and watch out for the beer spray.

I got the chance to talk to Michael Thursby Speedway, lead vocalist of American Speedway.

Tell us about The Welfareline.

Speedway: Well, The Welfareline is a recording studio that I started about 10 years ago. It’s located in a 19th century church in a quaint little suburb of Philadelphia. I basically started it to fill the void of professional recording facilities that were also affordable to younger bands.

Tell us about the metamorphosis from studio engineer to lead singer of American Speedway.

Speedway: I was always in bands from early High School on through my mid 20s. In every band there was usually one guy who had to take the duty of recording the demos and such, so in reality being in a band morphed me into being a studio owner. When my other band broke up in about 2001 the studio was busy as hell and I pretty much thought I wasn't gonna join another band again, and I was fine with that...but then this situation arose to play with these guys so I decided to come out or early retirement.

Tell us how u conceived the name of your band --American Speedway--(any underlying meanings, or special meanings to you.)

Speedway: I was the last person to join the band so i actually had nothing to do with the band name, which was probably a good thing. I do dig the name though, it’s simple, sounds bad ass and fast, which is pretty much what we're all about.

Who’s in the band?

Speedway: Johnny Griswold- Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals, Billy Angry- Bass, Backing Vocals, Chris Callahan- Drums, and me (Michael Thursby Speedway) - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar.

How did u find your band mates?

Speedway: I knew John and Bill since i was about 15, they used to come into the bar that i cooked in. Later when I was about 18, I was in a band (the Griswolds) with both of them. After that band ended John moved out to southern California for a couple years. That’s when Billy started hanging out and playing with Callihan. After a bit, Bill and John would communicate via email and phone and trade song ideas. Eventually John moved back, him and Bill and Callihan started writing and playing. When Bill told me that John was back and what they have been working on I asked if I could join in the fun, and basically that’s how it went.

Tell us about your new album, Ship of Fools.

Speedway: It was recorded in about 2 weeks at The Welfareline. It's loud; it's fast and its rock and roll. All killer no filler, grind em' till ya find 'em, ya know--anything that you can think of that is completely bad ass, which pretty much describes the album.

Tell us about your tour.

Speedway: We've been doing a ridiculous amount of shows in support of the album--from New Jersey to California--just pretty much playing at any place that will have us and blowing the doors off of every one.

Tell us about your #1 song on Sirrus (One Foot In, One Foot Out)

Speedway: I think we could all agree that we never imagined we would have any song on the radio alone a number one song on a radio station. I really have to thank all the PR people and guys over at pro phase. They work their asses off so we basically have to just show up and do our thing. But anyway, yeah its shocking/cool thing that none of us expected.

Who are your musical influences?

Speedway: It’s kinda different for all of us, and not wanting to speak for the other guys, I’ll just run the general ones down. I think we all can agree with Motorhead, Speeddealer, Peterpan Speedrock and such. There’s also a hefty dose of The Stooges and Murder City Devils.

Do u feel u have an edge over other local bands, seeing as you have been on the production side of the music industry (with Welfareline)?

Speedway: I wouldn’t call it an edge, but being that we all have been through this thing before there’s not really any surprises thrown at us. It does come in handy to have use of the studio at anytime to demo things and it makes it really easy when people’s schedules are tight and we need to get some recording done.

Your music seems pure rock and roll, with a little metal and punk edge. Tell us about that.

Speedway: That’s basically most of our backgrounds, we were all in punk bands, and we all like rock and roll, and shit, Iron Maiden rules.