It has been quiet around ATTACKER for a couple of years. However, after the release of their comeback album "Soul Taker" in 2004 and a couple of sweltering shows throughout Europe, the band is definately back where they belong! During one of these gigs, we got in touch with vocalist Bob Mitchell and drummer Mike Sabatanni to talk about their band reunion, recent CD and of course their excellent live shows on the European continent. Shows, that proved, ATTACKER is back and stronger than ever!!!
When did Attacker get together, and how did you guys actually get in touch with each other?
Mike Sabatini: “Here we go: while I was in college I met a guy by the name of Dominic Spina. We started talking music and he said he played guitar and I told him I played drums. He was playing at the time with Pat Marinelli and we got together and jammed. I knew Bob already from the town we grew up in and I invited him to come down and check out the band. The bass player John Joseph was a friend of Pat and Dominics’. Jim Mooney replaced Dominic after our 1st show. Jim was a friend of Pat and came in to completed the line-up. This all took place in 1983.”
At first the band was called WARLOC. Did you have to change your name because Doro Pesch also started a band called WARLOCK over here in Germany, or did you change it for other reasons?
Mike: “After we started seeing stuff in magazines about the German band WARLOCK, we knew we had to change it because we were just a demo band at the time and they were signed already. We definitely did not want to confuse our band with anyone elses’. That wound up helping us become ATTACKER. That name was actually suggested to my by Lou Ciarlo, who was in HADES at the time and would later join us.”
Why did Dominic Spina leave the band so quickly?
Mike: “That’s a bit of a mystery. We never really knew why he quit, but he did us a favor. After we played our first show (which went very well), he just called us and said he did not want to be in the band anymore. If he didn’t leave, we would have not gotten Jim Mooney, so it was our gain and his loss!”
Which bands can we see as the major influences of Attacker, and maybe you can also point at some influences of each band member individually?
Mike: “I would have to say that we all have the same influences. IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, SCORPIONS, ACCEPT, ANVIL, RIOT, MERCYFUL FATE, SAXON, MICHAEL SCHENKER, old METALLICA, LOUDNESS. I believe that everything you listen to and like has an influence on you either directly or indirectly. We just had a love of all things metal!”
How did you get in touch with Metal Blade, who put you on the well-known Metal Massacre compilation #5, with “Call On (The Attacker)”?
Mike: “After we did our first demo, we sent it out to various labels. Some were big and some small. Metal Blade came along and offered us a spot on the “Metal Massacre 5”. Needless to say, we were very excited and took the offer. Brian Slagel then offered us a full album deal after we got very positive reviews from the “Metal Massacre” compilation album.”
John Joseph went to HADES, just before your debut album “Battle At Helms Deep” (cult classic!!) was released. Is it true that the original bass lines, recorded by Jimmy Schulman with the band for this album, were overdubbed by the new bass player Lou Ciarlo?
Mike: “No, John Joseph was let go when we got the full Metal Blade deal and he was not seen or heard from again. He was just on the “Metal Massacre” album, that’s it. He was never in HADES. Yes, it’s true that Jimmy Schulman recorded the whole album with us and was then replaced in the band and on the “Battle..” album by Lou Ciarlo. We realized that Jimmy’s playing was just too busy for our style and had to let him go.”
Lou Ciarlo, surprisingly came from a band called …..HADES. Can we talk about a switch of bass players, or was this just a coincidence?
Mike: “We had met HADES early on and had done a lot of shows together. Lou and I incidentally met in college also and became good friends. He always liked ATTACKER and when he heard the album with Jimmy, he didn’t like it and said he could do a better job and fit our style more. Jimmy later joined HADES about a year later. I’m not sure how he met those guys, but it was a coincidence that we seemed to have traded bass players.”
The troubles were not over yet then, if I am not mistaken. I heard that there were also some mixing problems with this new album, and Metal Blade even rejected the design of the cover of your album. What did this original cover sleeve look like, and who cale with the cover concept that you used for the release of the album?
Mike: “There were no mixing problems other than having to re-record the bass with Lou and then re-mix the record. We were told by Metal Blade that the distributor rejected the cover, but we heard from the FATES WARNING, that they saw our cover in the Metal Blade office and it looked like something happened to it and it was basically ruined. The original was in the vein of the second one, but it was a hand painted where as the second was airbrushed and looks cartoon like. The original looked like real artwork.”
With Ciarlo’s bass parts captured on tape, you released your debut album “Battle At Helms Deep”. A killer album, if you’d ask my opinion. How did the rest of the press react on this album?
Mike: “I seem to like your opinion! We got excellent reviews for the album from all around the world. I’m sure some people did not like the album, but for the most part we were very happy with the feedback we received. Reviews depend on what type of metal the reviewer likes. I’ve seen guys who like death metal reviewing classic metal albums say the band is terrible and then say cannibal corpse is the greatest, so bad reviews should not be taken to heart. If I reviewed CD’s I would be a very tough critic.”
Let’s take a closer look at the cover, if we may. The drawing is being made by Ken Pontac. Why did you choose for this great, colourful fantasy drawing?
Mike: “We actually had no say in that cover or who painted it. Metal Blade hired that guy and we did not even see it until the completed album was delivered to us. At first we were not happy about it since we really liked the original cover we had painted, but now looking back it is one of those classic early eighties covers, that people remember fondly.”
On the back of the cover it says: “No thanks to certain bands who tried to keep us down”. Can we talk about any rivalty between any bands in your surroundings, or don’t you want to say anything about this?
Mike: “Back in the old days, we were the first local band to get signed and many other locals were very jealous and had nothing but bad things to say about us and other bands, so that was for them. Honestly though, that was along time ago when we were very young, now I don’t care about that sort of stuff anymore. That was just us showing our youth!”
Between your debut album and the second release is a time interval of three long years, in which some line up changes occur. Tom D’Amico replaced Jim Mooney on guitar. Why did Jim leave the band?
Mike: “That’s kind of a weird story. One day at rehearsal while doing a song where John Leone did a scream in unison with one of Jim’s solos, Jim freaked out about John singing on his solo and just quit right there. He then packed his gear up and left. I did not see or speak to Jim for three years after that. No real explanation was ever given.”
Before the new album was released, you appeared on the “L’Amour Rocks” compilation album with a song called “Emanon”. How did this happen?
Mike: “We had played at L’Amour and found out about their compilation that they were putting out. We submitted a tape to them and were subsequently picked to be on the album, which was released on Mercenary Records. It was a three song demo with EMANON, LORDS OF THUNDER and ZERO HOUR. They picked EMANON for inclusion on the compilation.”
It’s quite a shame, that the club closed their doors, isn’t it?
Mike: “Yeah, my friends and I spent many a night at L’Amour. But when the scene changed, it obviously affected the clubs drawing power. May it rest in peace!”
Can you tell us which bands you saw there, in the good old days?
Mike: “There are a lot to name. I remember seeing QUEENSRYCHE, LOUDNESS, METALLICA, MANOWAR, TWISTED SISTER, CANDLEMASS, FATES WARNING, OVERKILL, ARMORED SAINT, ANTHRAX, ACCEPT, MOTORHEAD, SAXON, SLAYER, MEGADETH, METAL CHURCH. I could sit here for days and name bands I saw at L’Amour.”
Anyway, back to the history of ATTACKER. We are at the release of “The Second Coming”, which was released by a rather unknown label called Merceneray Records. What happened to the deal you had with Metal Blade?
Mike: “We, in our infinite wisdom and worldly experience decided that Metal Blade was not doing enough for us and wanted to look for a new deal. Now we know that we should have stayed with Metal Blade and built the band instead of having to wait three years for our next album and having the scene change more towards thrash. Mercenary turned out to be a shitty label in the long run.”
In which way did “The Second Coming” differ from “Battle At Helms Deep”?
Mike: “Battle…” was a traditional metal album where as “The Second Coming” was a more straight forward power metal album. Even though they are different types of albums, they are both still ATTACKER, in my opinion. If bands write the same album twice, it tends to get boring very fast. Sometimes fans don’t like when bands grow and mature, but from a band point of view it is hard to write the same one year as you do the next as things and life experiences change and influence you.”
Why didn’t you use the original name that you had chosen for the album, namely “The Deadly Blessing”?
Mike: “You know, I really don’t know why we changed the title. It’s just one of those things that happened.”
How did the album sell, in comparison to your debut album?
Mike: “It probably did about half as well sales wise, because it was not released in Europe back in the eighties. Not until the re-releases on Sentinel Steel did it get to Europe.”
The cover of the album is absolutely way different than the fantasy art cover of the debut album. Why?
Mike: “Again, I really don’t remember how that cover came about. It was Lou’s idea, since he did the album lyrically and had his ideas for it. I personally don’t like that cover today.”
Did you still feel a kind of tension between Russia and America? On the front cover we see two riffles, while on the back cover there are the national flags of America and Russia, I simply connected them, but I can imagine that there was a deeper meaning behind the cover. Also because you thanked the US veterans, and POW/MIA for defending the right to live in freedom in a great nation like America, in your thanks list of the album inlay.
Mike: “No, not at all. Back then there was still a bit of what was called “the cold war” lingering between Russia and the U.S. and that inspired Lou and the cover which was actually a Russian gun and an American gun. We have a great deal of respect and admiration for those, who put their lives in harms way for us and that was our way of showing our appreciation for the veterans and POW/MIA’s.”
I love to read the ‘thanks lists’, and I saw some interesting names that I want to ask you about namely Jon Drenning (assuming that this is the CRIMSON GLORY guitarplayer), Randy Rhoads (he was deceased for six years already at that given time, as a matter of fact he is one of my all-time heroes as well!!), and Ronald & Nancy Reagan. Why was it worth mentioning these people, in what way were they important to ATTACKER?
Mike: “Tom D’amico was friends with Jon Drenning when he lived in Florida, before he joined ATTACKER and Randy Rhoads was a big influence on Tom’s playing. As for Ronald & Nancy Reagan, I really liked him as president. He did not take shit from anyone. That’s what leaders do, they lead a country, not follow others.”
“The Second Coming” is another great example of the exciting US metal scene of these days, another classic in my private record collection. We see that former RAVEN drummer Rob Hunter was the assistant engineer of this album. How did you get in contact with Rob ‘Wacko’ Hunter?
Mike: “Rob was already working with producer/engineer Alex Perialas at Pyramid Studios, when we recorded there. It was just luck that he was working there. We got along great with him, he is a very cool guy. I was actually a little bit nervous having to play in front of him, but when I started playing my nervousness subsided. It was probably good to have him there, it made me want to play better.”
Why did you never get to cooperate with Par Records, who intentionally wanted to release your second album?
Mike: “Dan Johnson, who owned and ran Par Records decided to put the label on hold, therefore it put us on the shelf also and we ultimately signed with Mercenary.”
You and Lou Ciarlo left the band almost right after the release of “The Second Coming” to form JERSEY DOGS. Leaving Pat Marinelli behind as the only remaining original member of the band. Did Pat never think about renaming the band, because so many people had left the original ATTACKER already?
Mike: “I think at that point, Pat was ready to move on as well. Without most of the original members, it would not have been feasible at that time to try and continue ATTACKER.”
In 1994, John Leone dies. What happened?
Mike: “Unfortunately for John, he died of cancer. Cancer ran in his family, he had lost both his mother and father to cancer. I found out after he had already died and sadly we were not able to pay our respects or attend his funeral.”
How did the line up of ATTACKER of today come back together again?
Bob Mitchell: “First off, let me say thank you so much for this opportunity. I know it took awhile to get back to you but I was in between computers. Great to be back. Anyhow, I was involved in two other projects before deciding to make ammends and attempt to bring ATTACKER back to life again. This was back in March of 2003. So one day, I just e-mailed Mike and I said 'Hey brother, miss you'. He e-mailed me right back and then we started talking regularly and then it dawned on me to suggest reforming the band again. So, long and short, Mike had a CD of some demo stuff that eventually became the 'Soul Taker' album. On the first listen it felt right, very natural to me. Shortly thereafter, I met with the rest of the band and we then played some of the old stuff and it really just fell into place and we proceeded foward and I'm proud to say that I have finally come home. From that first rehearsal to this very moment, it has been great ride and there's no stopping us. The chemistry is there, the intensity is there. I look foward to greater and bigger prospects in our future. I'll say this, if it ends now I would have no regrets.”
Okay, you got together again as ATTACKER, and you decide to record a new album together. Was the magic there again from the start, or did it take a while until the flame started burning again?
Mike: “When Jim Mooney passed away, that was our inspiration to do the new album.Yes, right from the beginning, we had a good feeling and were having fun writing good old fashioned metal songs again. This is the most fun I’ve had musically speaking in a very long time.”
When did you play your first show together as ATTACKER again, and how was that feeling to be together on stage again?
Mike: “We played our reunion show on Dec. 13th 2003 at a club, called Maxwells in our home town of Hoboken, New Jersey. The club only holds two hundred people and we had hundred and ninety people which for a metal show in 2003 in New Jersey just made us feel great. The crowd was really into the show and that response gave us the motivation to continue. We were originally only going to do that reunion show and then retire again.”
Bob: “Our first performance as ATTACKER took place on December 13th of 2003 in our hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey. We played to a packed house and OCTOBER 31 opened the show for us. They did an incredibly great job at setting the tone for the rest of the night. The crowd reaction was very enthusiastic and loud, I mean they were as loud as we were. They especially got into it when we did songs from the 'Battle…' album and then it really got emotional at that point. The fans sang every word along with us. It was one of the great moments of my life and I think its a safe bet to say that the rest of the band feels the same way. Toine, December 13th 2003 is a date I will never forget, my life truly changed, for the better, after that.”
What do you think about the new album “Soul Taker” yourself? I think it’s a real killer album, and it sounds like it was written in the early eighties. To be honest, it really blew me away!!!!
Mike: “I was very happy with the songs and production of the album. We really wanted to capture the magic of the old days and not disappoint the old fans with a nu-metal sounding album. I think we have accomplished our objective.”
Bob: “I absolutely love this album. It was fun writing it, rehearsing it as well as recording it. I mean everything about this album is special. In a live setting, the songs have really caught on with our fans. To come back after fourteen years of non-activity and put out a strong album like this, to me, is an accomplishment to be proud of.”
Must we see “Soul Taker” as a sort of tribute to John Leone and Jim Mooney?
Mike: “Definitely! Because we would not have done this reunion if not especially for Jim’s passing. John dying was bad enough, but when Jim died, that one hit us hard as we we’re still in contact with Jim right up until his death. I had not seen or spoken to John for some time before his death.”
Were the songs that we can hear on “Soul Taker” written by the ATTACKER without Bob, that already existed for some time, and from which we know that they have a lot of songs written together already, or are these all new songs? And if this is the case, what happened to all these songs that were written already by that time, did they disappear in the bin?
Mike: “All the songs were new except “ Until We Meet Again” which was written by Lou Ciarlo, when my father passed away in 1991. We felt that song was a fitting one for the record due to it’s subject matter. Everything was done before Bob came back, but he took what was written and molded into his own style and we really liked the results. A lot of people think they were written in the eighties, but that just means we did our job and delivered a classic sounding album.”
Why did Felix Torres replace Lou Ciarlo, before you recorded this new CD?
Mike: “Lou became to busy with his family life and his job. Luckily, I had played with Felix in a few things and we were friends since the mid eighites. He was a logical choice because of his playing style, which is exactly the ATTACKER style. He has done an amazing job for the band and we are glad to have him.”
What’s your all time favorite ATTACKER song and why?
Mike: “I would have to say “(Call On) The Attacker”, because it was our first song on record and it’s our anthem from which we pulled the ATTACKER name.”
Bob: “My favorite song is “Disciple”. It's the first song Jim (Mooney- late guitarist) and I wrote together and it's really a crowd favorite as well.”
What’s the most difficult ATTACKER song to play, and why?
Mike: “I guess it would be “Zero Hour” or “The Madness”, since they have the fastest double bass stuff, I’m not getting any younger, you know!! If I thought twenty years ago that I would still be doing this, I would have played simpler drum parts.”
Bob: “I don't recall, if ever, having had a difficult time with any our music. I mean when we first got together again, I think we were nervous but after the first couple of tries, it just all fell in place. Now the songs just fly right out. Very fluent and very tight. No problems at all. Although I must say, that I had to obviously learn the lyrics again but once I stared singing them, the memories and chemistry of our music just shot right back in me.”
Is there any particular song, that you want to mention as being a favorite song of the audience?
Mike: “That would definitely be ‘The Hermit”. Most everyone says that is their absolute favorite ATTACKER song, so who am I to disagree!”
Bob: “Well, without question, anything we do from the 'Battle…' album gets over in a big, big way. However, we get the same enthusiastic reaction to all of our songs. Besides, it's not fair for me to say since our fans have their favorites, so I think that question should be asked of the fans not us.”
With the new line up you also decided to play Europe. Why did you actually never get to play there before?
Mike: “We just had too many problems in the line-up in the past and never got the band to just continue without having to stop and change members. I really wish we could have played Europe in the eighties, but doing it now has made it even more special to us.”
Bob: “That's an easy one. Back then, we had no support for anything and we really didn't have the fan base we have now. So when we announced our comeback, Germany was the first to call which brought us to the KIT 2 festival. Brother, the reception we got was just great! It was a dream come true for us. For me personally, it is a goal I have always wanted to achieve and I did it because of ATTACKER and our fans.”
Before we’re gonna have a talk about these gigs, I want to know a little more about the live shows that you did in the eighties. A flashback, so to say. With which bands did you share the stage in these days?
Mike: “We played with SAXON, MOTORHEAD, METAL CHURCH, SAVATAGE, OVERKILL, FATES WARNING HADES, GOTHIC SLAM, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, CHASTAIN… That’s who I can think off the top of my head.”
Bob: “In the early days, we played with a lot of great bands. We shared billing status with FATES WARNING, HADES (USA), TT QUICK, MOTORHEAD, OVERKILL, BLACK LACE, METAL CHURCH, SAXON, SAVATAGE, OBSESSION. Great times, great shows!”
Did you use any show elements during your live shows, or was it just pure metal and loads of sweat?
Mike: “We only use one show type thing, which is the sing-along in “Kick your Face”. The guitarists come together when they do their double leads or harmony parts, but for the most part, it’s just take it as it goes.”
Did you play any covers during your live shows, or did you stick to your own penned material? And if you played any covers, please tell us which songs you covered and why you liked to play these songs in particular?
Mike: “Very rarely do we play cover live, we usually stick to our own material. But we have done MERCYFUL FATE’s ”A Dangerous Meeting” at a show or two. We just love them and figured that a lot of people don’t do FATE covers, so it was a natural choice for us considering Bob’s vocal style.”
Bob: “In our early days, we did both covers and originals. Let's see...... We covered bands like ACCEPT, BODINE, MSG, SAXON, ANVIL, RIOT, some JUDAS PRIEST and early IRON MAIDEN. We even covered bands like BOW WOW and THE RODS. As for which songs we did? Wow, we did quite a bit of material . Let me see.... The songs that now come mind are “Motorcycle Man” (SAXON); “Rock Machine” (BODINE); “Tyrant” (JUDAS PRIEST); “Breaker” (ACCEPT) and “Invaders” (IRON MAIDEN). There's more, but those were the stand outs for me. Quite simply, they were great songs and, I believe, it really helped with our writing style and sound. To this day we really enjoy doing covers. Recently, we covered “A Dangerous Meeting” by MERCYFUL FATE and it was great fun and our fans loved it.”
I believe that you must have some nice, interesting or funny stories to tell to your fans about the days on the road and the bands that you played with. Would you be so kind to share some of these memories with us?
Mike: “My best memories are the times we played with FATES WARNING. They would all stay at my house after shows in area and my mom would make everyone breakfast (two or three shifts of course due to all the people) in the morning. They were just great guys and we always had a blast with them. I do remember when we opened MOTORHEAD, that the crowd was spitting at us. MOTORHEAD fans were a rough crowd back then. We just did our set and got off the stage as fast as we could, so did FATES WARNING!!”
What’s the biggest diference between the fans of today and the fans in the eighties? In other words, did the metal scene change a lot over the years?
Mike: “The old fans used to just hang out and headbang to a favorite band. Today it’s much violent with the nu-metal or death metal fans. You can’t stand near the stage without getting banged around. I prefer the old days of being able to watch a band from right up front. The scene here in the U.S. really sucks, unless you are an older band that was really big in the eighties. Then maybe you can pack a big club.”
Okay, so we step into a time machine now and we land in Germany 2004, where you played at the Keep It True Festival. This must have been one helluva experience for you. For me you were one of the best bands of that festival, together with Halloween, who are one of my all time US Metal bands by the way. Please tell us how you experienced this day?
Mike: “That was no doubt the greatest moment for us as a band. It was great to see people, who appreciate our music and all the work we’ve put into it. We could never get that kind of response at home and that’s a shame. We will never forget how the European fans greeted us.”
Bob: “It was an event I will never ever forget. I thank you for the compliment. The fans were just great and very emotional. They sang every song and in between songs they chanted our band name. We've played in front of some great crowds in the past year but our experience at the KIT 2 truly became the re-birth of ATTACKER.”
Which bands did you like the most that day, and what bands didn’t you like too much?
Mike: “I really enjoyed ELIXIR, HALLOWEEN, MANILLA ROAD, MAJESTY and WIZARD. I thought all the bands did well though. There was not really anyone, I did not like. It was such a breath of fresh air for me to see so many cool metal bands on one stage!!”
A few months later you also played at the Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival in Hoorn, where you performed another great show. Although I must admit that I liked the show of ELIXIR (UK) better that day! What was this experience like for you and the band?
Mike: “I must say that I admire your honesty about that show! We had a great time at this show. Everyone was very cool to us. Stefan and Gerald from the Heavy Metal Maniacs did an excellent job and treated very well as did the fans at the show. The other bands were also very friendly, we got along great with all of them: ELIXIR, SOLITAIRE, CONQUESTADOR, and METAL INQUISITOR.”
Was the fogmachine the reason why the Dutch fans didn’t receive an encore, because it must’ve ruined your throat in the beginning of the set!?
Bob: “My throat was fine, however my eyes were burning like hell though. So as you remember, I yelled at the effects guy from the stage and he pretty much shut it off, I was fine after that. As for encores, we don't do them, because we were never asked. Besides, we performed seventeen songs and we threw in the MERCYFUL FATE cover, so according to the feedback after the event, the fans were more than satisfied.”
Mike: “Encores are for bigger bands like the IRON MAIDENs’ and JUDAS PRIESTs’ of the metal world. It’s also probably because here in the U.S. people usually walk out right after the band end and we have this fear that we save a song for an encore and people leave before we come back out! I guess maybe we should do an encore next time, so the fans don’t think that we did not appreciate them. We appreciate them 110%!!!”
What did you think of the other bands that evening?
Mike: “I really only saw a little of the other bands that night, I was running around talking to many people that night and then preparing for our show. What I did see of each band was very good in my opinion.”
And what did you think of the organisation of both events?
Mike: “The promoters of both shows were very professional. The shows ran very smoothly, no major troubles, which is a testament to dedication and love of putting on good Heavy Metal shows. I applaud them!”
I believe that you also visited Amsterdam, before you played that show. That must have been something else too? Please tell us some more, I guess you must have been visiting the ‘red light district’ also?
Mike: “On Friday night, Stefan from the HMM, rented a bus for the bands to go into Amsterdam. He took us on a little tour through the city which included the Red Light District (you did not think we would miss that!!!) and walk around the town, where we ended up at a metal pub, called the Cave. At the Cave, we all drank and sang along with some of our favorite classic metal songs! That was a great time that we will never forget!!”
Bob: “Yes, Amsterdam is very beautiful and the people were very friendly. We were treated by the crew from Heavy Metal Maniacs and they pulled no punches as far as accomodating us and making us feel like part of their family. Anytime that HMM need us, just call! They are great fans of Metal and the nicest group of people I have ever had the pleasure of doing business with. I look foward to working with them again in the future.”
What’t the biggest difference between the European fans and the American metal fans?
Mike: “I think American fans are less tolerant of bands that they may not know well. The Europeans seem to embrace bands easier and are more willing to give a band they don’t know more of a chance. Europe now is more like the U.S. used to be in terms of seeing people with leather jackets and denim jackets with all the patches, I guess in Europe that has never stopped that, but it’s rare to see that here in America. It’s just too trendy here.”
Bob: “Europe is truest of all as far as tradition, respect and loyalty they show for their bands. Again, I can't tell you enough how honorably we were treated in both Germany and Holland. Fans in America will like you for the moment you are there and of course, America is so damned trendy. We play in America and, don't get me wrong, we do well fan wise, but Europe held on to us for all these years and they let us know how much they cared by the reception we got when we arrived there.”
Did you play any other gigs than these two?
Mike: “No, those were the only two gigs we have ever done in Europe. We definitely want more though!!!”
Bob: “Oh last year we did quite a bit of shows. We did the Classic Metal Fest (Chicago Il), Metal Meltdown (Irvington, New Jersey), Milwaukee Metal Fest (Milwaukee, Wisconssin), Don Hill's (New York City) and a few local select shows around our home state. The fans were great, but pale in comparison to what we experienced in Europe. We can't wait to go back.”
I believe that you’re also on the bill for the upcoming Headbangers Open Air Festival in 2005. May I conclude from this appearance, that you love to play in Europe?
Mike: “Yes, that’s correct. We absolutely love playing for the European fans. We are working on some other shows also while we are there for the Headbangers Open Air 2005, so we can get the most out of our trip since are not able to come over as much as we would like.”
Bob: “Yes, we will be at the Headbangers Open Air! We will also be at this years Thrash Til Death festival. In between the two festivals, we are hoping to have at least three more shows during that same week. To reiderate to you and your readers: yes, we love performing in Europe, because our fans are true to the bone!!”
In Hoorn we got a three song demo CD, a pre-taste of the new material. I really like it a lot. When can we expect a new album, and will you release it again on Iron Glory records this time?
Mike: “Thanks, I’m glad you like it. We are hoping to have the new record out by the time we come back for the Headbangers Open Air gig. We are currently talking to a few different labels as Iron Glory is no longer in existence. Andi Preisig split with his partner Jorg Knittel and dissolved the label. Hopefully, we can get it out before that time.”
Bob: “Well, progress on the new album, which is titled "The Unknown" is moving along and we're right on schedule. We have been commited to an intense schedule in our private studio here in New Jersey and the results, thus far, have been tremendous. In the coming weeks, we will be previewing tracks on our website, as well as the new artwork, which, by the way, is being designed by Jowita Kaminska. She's an incredible artist. She's done cover art for EXODUS, DECEASED, METAL INQUISITOR and many others, so we're happy to have commisioned her for the job. So here is the track listing (although it must be noted that this is NOT the final running order) for ATTACKER's next album: “This Is Power”; “I Am Sin”; “Nail It Down”; “Blessed With This Curse”; “Anger Aggression”; “The Unknown”; “Waste Not Want Not”; “Tieneblas (A Dark Interlude)”; “Fear Of Disgrace”; “In Your Own World” & “Brainshake”. The label Iron Glory was a one album deal.We have been getting offers, however, so we're just waiting to see which offer will meet our expectations.”
We were very surprised to see that Michael had stayed in Europe in the time between the Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival and the third edition of the Keep It True Festival. Besides the many socialising, you must have seen some of the bands as well there, I think. And at the end of the festival Michael even became our room mate for one night, before his plain left from Frankfurt airport. Which bands did you like the most this time, and which band didn’t you like at all??
Mike: “I am a big metal fan, so it was a definite that I attend the KIT III, since I was already in Europe. I had a great time meeting some of the people again that were at the KIT II when we played. I would like to thank you again for your hospitality in letting me share a room, so I did not have to sleep in a car!! Band wise, I liked RAM from the warm-up show, they were great. I also liked HELSTAR, TYRANTS REIGN, JAGUAR, METAL INQUISITOR. I was really disappointed by HALLOWS EVE. I thought they were just terrible, a wall of noise!”
To what music do you listen to nowadays, and maybe you can tell us which bands you like the most, old or new??
Mike: “My favorite bands right now are CAGE and WOLF from Sweden. I’ve been listening to them a lot. I am not up on as many new bands these days as I used to be, but I try. With respect to old bands, I still love JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, SAXON, SCORPIONS, ACCEPT, MANOWAR, to name a few. There are so many great classic bands and it’s tough to name them all. I’m probably leaving out a ton of awesome bands.”
Bob: “I just got the new JUDAS PRIEST and it is incredible! ANVIL's new album is great! JON OLIVA's new album "Tage Mahal" is a classic! I also got the new TRUIMPH DVD "A Night Of Triumph". They (Triumph) were a great live band, so it's a great DVD to have and I also purchased the new IRON MAIDEN "The Early Days" DVD and thus far, it is the best DVD out there. I'm also looking foward to the new EXCITER album. I heard, that they are working on new stuff.. So I still very much listen to Metal but during quiet times, I listen to Dean Martin, who is my idol, Frank Sinatra, he's from my hometown, along with other great singers like Bobby Darin, Tom Jones and Perry Como. It is because of these great artists that I wanted to become a singer. Besides them I also love Ian Gillan and Paul Rodgers. My metal influences are UDO, David Wayne, Jon Oliva, John Gallagher, Paul Di'Anno and Rob Halford. As for anything current, as far as newer bands that is, there's nothing that I'm interested at all.”
Besides the new album, that will come out soon I hope, what else is on the calendar for ATTACKER?
Mike: “Right now, we are just working on the new stuff and will record in the spring. We will start playing live again in May at the Classic Metal Fest in Chicago, I believe it’s on the 13th and 14th of May. Then we come to Europe again in July. That’s pretty much what’s happening right now on the ATTACKER homefront.”
Bob: “Right now, it's the new album we are concentrating on and as I said, it's coming along great. We're planning on putting out an EP of cover songs, but that'll be later in the year. We will resume filming our DVD this coming May. It's on hold right now cause we're having a blast with this new album. If you liked that demo we gave you, well wait till you hear this new album!”
What’s the metalscene of New Jersey like nowadays. Are there many clubs in your neighbourhood where you can play live, or is the scene destroyed by death metal, nu-metal and dance and disco nowadays?
Mike: “There is really no scene at all to speak of. There are a few clubs to play, but the scene does not support the bands well. People will come to a show, watch the one band that they came to see and then leave, not knowing if they are missing any really great bands. There is just no real support. For older metal. The SLIPKNOT type bands do. Well, but that’s not my scene, I really don’t like all this nu-crap!!!”
Bob: “Pallie, you just answered your own question. In America, we only do festivals. Not much in the offering here and that's all I'll say about it.”
Inbetween the time that I prepare this interview, I heard that Dimebag Darryl (ex-PANTERA guitarist, now active in DAMAGE PLAN) was killed by a fan and several other people were also killed during this shooting. Do these messages frighten you to play live at a small local club?
Mike: “No, not at all. That was a terrible thing that happened! I loved PANTERA and thought Dime was an amazing musician, but it was an isolated incident by a person, who was obviously not a rational person. Normal fans don’t kill bands for breaking up!”
Which other metal bands come from your region, and are you also in touch with them?
Mike: “Let’s see, we have SEVEN WITCHES, I have known Jack Frost since the mid eighties. GOTHIC KNIGHTS, I know John the guitar player. Then there is OVERLORDE. Mark is a cool guy as well. There are not that many good old style metal ands around here and I don’t follow the nu-metal bands, so that’s about it for me.”
Are there any good video footage availabale from any old shows of ATTACKER? It would be a cool idea to make some kind of a DVD compilation, now the interest in Attacker has grown again?
Mike: “Unfortunately, we have no footage from when the original line-up with Bob and Jim Mooney was playing. But we do have a bunch of stuff from the “Second Coming” line-up with John Leone and Tom D’amico on guitar. We are hoping to put that together with some new footage (as long as we get some good quality stuff) for a DVD, but we will have to wait and see how it plays out.”
Bob: “We have a alot of footage that we shot from last year. As far as the early days? I believe, Mike has live footage of John Leone, so that footage will be included in our DVD. John was a great singer and a great frontman. So any ATTACKER fan will surely want to check it out.”
Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview. Maybe there is something that I forgot to mention here, that is essential for the story of ATTACKER?
Mike: “That’s pretty much the ATTACKER story, you have captured the essence of the bands history.”
Do you have any personal messages for our readers?
Mike: “On behalf of everyone in ATTACKER, I would like to thank all the great people we had the pleasure of meeting on our limited trips to Europe and we look forward seeing you all again!”
Bob: “I cannot thank you enough. Our comback was the talk of the Metal scene and it's because of you, our fans and your loyal readers of Headache magazine! I certainly look foward to visiting all of you again this coming summer. Check our website often for updates regarding our next album, live appearances and official merchandise. Toine, you rule and thank you so much for waiting. You are a friend!”
The last words here are for you....
Mike: “See you on stage in 2005!!!!!!!!!”
Interview by: Toine van Poorten, for Headache magazine NL/May-June 2005