When I heard the debut album of this band, I was addicted right away! Hard rock from the seventies with a metal edge. You will rarely hear something like that anymore in 2005. Responsible for this awesome CD are former members of DESTINY'S END (Perry Grayson- guitar & vocals) and the cult band of all cult bands in the metal scene CIRITH UNGOL (Greg Lindstrom - bass). Together with PALE DIVINE drummer Darin McCloskey, they form a new sensation on the metal map, in my eyes. All the more reason to ask Perry Grayson a few questions about their new band and very successful debut album....
When did you form FALCON and who were in the first line up of the band?
Perry Grayson: “I wanted to get FALCON going much earlier than I did, but a band like this needs just the right members, and I’m glad I waited until 2002 to get the ball rolling. That’s not to say I didn’t try to get it going earlier. I had one jam with my friend Mike Bear (bass) from ARTISAN and a drummer in 2001, while ARTISAN was drummerless, but that didn’t work out ’cause the drummer wasn’t into it. I’m glad actually, because it made me realize I needed to be more selective about who I got involved in FALCON. Enter Greg Lindstrom from CIRITH UNGOL! One of my all-time biggest music heroes and all-around cool guy. I’d been friends with Rob Garven, the drummer from CIRITH UNGOL for years before I met Greg. Though Rob no longer played drums, he kept saying that he thought Greg was itching to jam again, and he put me in touch with him. Initially, I met up with Greg to do an interview with him for Psychedelic Fanzine as a follow-up to the one I did with Rob. We got to showing each other some tunes on Greg’s axes and it was just very obvious that we’re both on the same page musicially. Greg’s unused UNGOL tunes fit very well with the FALCON originals I’d come up with over the years. I hit Darin McCloskey from PALE DIVINE up to play drums, because I’d been in touch with him for a while and I’m a big fan of his band. I knew Darin was every bit as much of a die-hard fan of late sixties and early seventies heavy rock as I am. Goes without saying that this is the music Greg loves and inspired him, Rob and Jerry Fogle to form CIRITH UNGOL in the first place. Me and Greg demoed two of my tunes with the aid of a drum machine in fall of 2002, then Darin came out to L.A. for proper demoing in late March of 2003.”
In which other bands did the band members of FALCON play before they joined the band, and how did you actually get together as a band?
Perry: “Well, we just talked a lot about that, actually. But I’ll elaborate a little more for those who aren’t familiar with us. Greg Lindstrom was a founding member of CIRITH UNGOL, and he was in the band from the very beginning in 1971-72 until after their first LP “Frost & Fire” was released (he left around ’82). He pretty much retired from the music biz after that until I badgered him into returning. Ha! I feel very fortunate to be in a band with Greg!! I was in DESTINY’S END from 1997 until 2003. Quite a different band from FALCON. Very technical power metal, verging on progressive at times. In DESTINY’S END, I just played guitar. After I left DESTINY’S END, I formed ARTISAN with my friends Mike Bear (bass/vocals) and Ana Greco (guitar/backing vox). ARTISAN got going because I thought Mike and I needed to work together in a band again. Mike and I had spent some time in a technical thrash band called STORMHAVEN together. STORMHAVEN never really got off the ground and broke up just before recording a demo. In ARTISAN I also tackled aggressive vocals. A lot of the stuff I did in ARTISAN sprang from my listening to bands like DEATH, SACRIFICE, SADUS, ANACRUSIS, CORONER, etc. a lot. The vocal style really got to me towards the end. Eventually, I started to really burn out on playing such super fast stuff, and I really wanted to explore new territory with FALCON, so I left ARTISAN in fall 2003 after playing a farewell gig opening for CATHEDRAL, STRAPPING YOPUNG LAD and SAMAEL. I still love Death and a lot of those bands, but heavy/bluesy rock was what made me want to play guitar in the first place, so I just had to concentrate on FALCON. Darin’s always been in PALE DIVINE. He’s the mastermind behind the lyrics and pretty much the direction PALE DIVINE took. Which is very admirable for a drummer. Not too many drummers get that involved in the songwriting process and Darin does!”
Who decided on the musical direction of the band, and why did you turn the clock back for about thirty years and come with a style that sounded like it was created in the very early seventies?
Perry: “A very simple question to answer. I knew what direction FALCON would take from day one, if it ever got off the ground. With Greg and Darin involved, two consummate pros, it became a reality. Like I said, Greg grew up listening to bands like THIN LIZZY, DUST, TRAPEZE, BUDGIE, CAPTAIN BEYOND, when the stuff was first released. CIRITH UNGOL sounded the way they did, because all the guys in the band listened to that kind of music. Stuff like AEROSMITH, RUSH, SCORPIONS, AC/DC and the like are what got me excited about guitar in the first place. The more obscure bands like HARD STUFF, TIN HOUSE, HAIRY CHAPTER, BULL ANGUS, TOAD, NIGHT SUN, etc. are the things Rob Garven and Greg Lindstrom were listening to back in the days. I stumbled on some of that obscure stuff, and it was blowing my mind even before I joined DESTINY’S END. Of course I loved BLACK SABBATH, BLUE OYSTER CULT and stuff, but my friend Rob Preston turned me onto some really rare and buried heavy psychedelic bands. I wasn’t at all surprised that these were the same records in Rob and Greg’s collections. You could tell that’s where their heads were at.”
Darin McCloskey: “Likewise for me. Rob Preston enlightened me to a lot of bands that I would've otherwise never known existed. I'm basically a child of the eighties, but I really began listening to music in the mid-seventies. So the stuff that I was exposed to early on (KISS, ALICE COOPER, BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN, etc) became the impetus for my style of playing... Granted the eighties had a lot of influence too, but it really pretty much only supplemented what had already been ingrained through those early influences during the seventies. Playing this style of music is not only enjoyable for me, it's also very natural.”
Was the name FALCON an obvious choice for your band or have you also thought of other names too, before you decided to call the band FALCON?
Perry: “No, FALCON was really the most fitting name I ever had in mind for a band like this. It was at the top of my list, when I was playing in a nameless rock cover band for a short while around 1993.”
You recorded a four track demo, before you released your self-titled debut album. Which songs are on this demo? And how were the reactions of the press on these four songs, or didn’t you use the demo for promotion towards the press?
Perry: “The songs were “Shelob’s Lair” (a CIRITH UNGOL tune, that was an intergral part of their set in ’75-’76), “Downer”, “The Crying Of Lot 246” and “On The Slab”. We did the demo both for ourselves to progress as a band and to get the word out that we existed. Sent tons of copies around to mags and webzines worldwide. I think we got like one or two reviews, that weren’t 100% positive. Other than that, the response was awesome, which is something I never expected and was really glad about!”
Darin: “I was a bit surprised by the response. The demo was more or less a rush job, and as Perry explains was more or less simply to let people know that the three of us had gotten together to jam and this is stuff we're going to be doing in the future. I think a large part of the postive response came from those die-hard CIRITH UNGOL fans, who were hungry for something new to sink their teeth into. Whether this material be in the form of CIRITH UNGOL or FALCON was really pretty inconsequential, as long as Greg Lindstrom was involved people were already psyched. The old CIRITH UNGOL diehards were and are the main fanbase for FALCON, I think. It's really cool that FALCON has attracted the interest of fans outside the CIRITH UNGOL fanbase, too and I think it's what we had all hoped for.”
Your album was released on Liquid Flames Records. Is this your own label?
Perry: “Liquid Flames is the label CIRITH UNGOL’s “Frost and Fire” was released on in 1981. It’s Rob Garven’s name, actually. We decided to resurrect the Liquid Flames name and give the FALCON album the piece code of LF002, since “Frost & Fire” was LF001. In this day and age it’s actually very cost effective for a band to both record and manufacture their own CDs. Granted we don’t have huge distribution at this point, but we’re in complete control. Which is better than getting screwed over by a even small label.”
You already played a few dates with bands like SMOKE, EARTHRIDE, SASQUATCH and FIREBALL MINISTRY. What was it like to play with these bands, and did you play with other bands in the meantime?
Perry: “All the gigs were great! I never expected FALCON would get a chance to play live. After all, Darin lives in Pennsylvania, which is 3,000 miles away. But we ended up getting Andrew Sample to play drums for us locally, and that enabled us to do these shows in Southern California. It was especially cool playing with EARTHRIDE, ’cause they really appreciate CIRITH UNGOL and... BANG! Sherman (vocals) from EARTHRIDE flipped, when he saw us covering BANG’s “Redman” live. Same goes for all the bands you mentioned. FIREBALL MINISTRY is awesome, and we’re very lucky to live in the same area as them. It was a blast to play with those guys-very cool people. SASQUATCH and SHAKEY MALLARD also did a gig with us. They’re good friends, who also play in a similar style to FALCON. A definite brotherhood of heavy rockers, who steer clear of Sunset Strip trendy nonsense!”
Which bands would you refer to as being the major influences for FALCON? You can refer to doom and stoner rock bands, but I believe that the influences go deeper into the past and I am more thinking about bands like THIN LIZZY, BUDGIE, DUST, and BLACK SABBATH to name a few.
Perry: “Definitely not current stoner rock bands. A lot of current bands were inspired to do what they do by listening to KYUSS. Not me. Good musicians, but not my fave band by any means. It does indeed go way back to the late sixties and early seventies, where FALCON’s concerned. Aside from the ones you mentioned, I’d have to say TRAPEZE, BUFFALO (Australia), HARD STUFF, MASTERS OF THE AIRWAVES, THE FROST, URSA MAJOR, PENTAGRAM, FRIJID PINK, NITZINGER, MOUNTAIN, CACTUS, ATOMIC ROOSTER, BLUE CHEER, RANDY HOLDEN, etc."
Darin: "...and let's not forget CAPTAIN BEYOND and GRAND FUNK! Basically, all the heavy duty hard rock and roll that came from the era is the inspiration for what we do. There's stoner rock bands around now, that play music also influenced by the groups we just mentioned, but I think their commitment to that style is more ‘tongue in cheek’ and less faithful than what we're doing.”
Greg Lindstrom: “OK, you guys didn’t leave me much, but STRAY DOG, early SCORPIONS, HIGHWAY ROBBERY, HEAD OVER HEELS, STRAY, early RUSH was a big influence and I gotta say that I still love some new wave and power pop stuff like THE CARS, 20/20, PLIMSOULS, etc. That stuff influenced a lot of the “Frost & Fire” material, for better or worse!”
How would you describe your music yourself, if stoner rock or doom metal won’t do the trick?
Perry: “I always just refer to FALCON as early seventies style heavy rock or vintage heavy rock. There are doom elements, as there were in CIRITH UNGOL, which pretty much all points back to BLACK SABBATH.”.
Darin: “There's so many misconceptions centering around specific labels. I think it's better to just go by heavy rock as Perry said and let the listeners decide what they want to call it.”
Why do you have a drummer for your live shows (Andrew Sample), and a drummer for the recordings (Darin McCloskey)?
Perry: “Again, ’cause me and Greg live in Los Angeles and Darin is in Pennsylvania. The logistics for playing gigs in L.A. with Darin are impossible. But we’ll finally be playing some gigs with Darin on the drum throne in April, when we go to Europe with RISING DUST (France) and PALE DIVINE.”.
Darin: “Yeah, as Perry just said because of our locations, it's simply impossible for me to play with FALCON on a regular basis, so they recruited Andrew Sample to play with them. From what I understand the shows have gone very well and the most important thing is that the music gets out there so it's all good.”
Who writes the lyrics for FALCON and what are they about?
Perry: “You can see from the FALCON album that me and Greg are the writers in the band, both the music and lyrics. It’s pretty much split right down the middle. While I’ve written fantasy inspired songs before, I’ve pretty much been concentrating on real life issues with the FALCON material. Stuff that I feel strongly about, whether it’s the more politically oriented “Downer” (a pessimistic view of how overzealous conservatives try to take away people’s inherent freedoms) or the environmental stance of “The Crying Of Lot 246”. Greg’s contributions to this first FALCON disc were all old CIRITH UNGOL tunes, stuff he wrote when he was much younger. Lots of fantasy inspired stuff, whether you’re talking the post-apocalyptic visions of “Half Past Human”, the demonic road tune “Route 666” or the J.R.R. Tolkien inspired “Shelob’s Lair”. Oh, and “High Speed Love” came out of Greg’s love for Ferraris and other high performance sports cars. Ha! I have a fantasy inspired song called “Elfland’s Daughter”, that’ll be on the next FALCON album. Like “Idle City/The Fortress Unvanquishable” in DESTINY’S END, I wrote this one while under the spell of Lord Dunsany’s stories.”
Do you have a certain way in how you get a new song together. Please tell us a bit more about how new FALCON songs are born?
Perry: “For my stuff I’ll usually write all of the music on my own at home, then throw the riffs on a CD-R for Greg to come up with bass lines. Sometimes I have an identity for a song before the lyrics are written, a title. Other times I don’t. Sometimes I actually have some lyrics written before I have the music. After Greg gets the CD-R I either send a CD-R or upload an MP3 to Darin and Andrew, so they can start thinking about the drum parts. A lot of Greg’s material for Falcon is old stuff that never got properly recorded by CIRITH UNGOL. Most recently, Greg came up with a totally original tune, called “Everything You Need To Know...” Greg will either give me an old CIRITH UNGOL rehearsal or demo recording or a new guitar (or guitar and bass) only of him playing the parts to learn ’em. A lot of times the UNGOL tapes were only instrumental, so I have to come up with vocal melodies based on where Greg tells me the vocals were placed in the song.”
What’s your favorite FALCON song and why? Our choice would be the tribute to Phil Lynott “On The Slab” and “Route 666” (great title, by the way!)
Perry: “All of ’em, really. FALCON is the first thing I’ve done, where I actually like all of the tunes 100%. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Greg’s one of my fave songwriters. His stuff speaks so directly to me. But if I had to choose a fave tune, it’d either be “Shelob’s Lair” or “Route 666”. Greg’s a master!”
Darin: “That really is a tough call, since they all seem to flow so well together. Off the top of my head "Half Past Human" stands out. There’s just a real cool vibe to that one. Likewise "Shelob's Lair" is a fave too, kinda simple in some respects but very strong overall and great riffs! I also have to say "The Crying Of Lot 246" is a favorite of mine as well.”
Greg: “My favourite FALCON song is usually the newest song that we’re working on. I tend to like Perry’s songs better than my own, “On The Slab” really captures that THIN LIZZY vibe, and “Castle Peak” gives us a chance to get in a Southern rock kinda groove, something we never attempted in CIRITH UNGOL.”
Let’s have a closer look at your live shows if we may. Are you able to play many gigs in America, or is it still difficult to tour for metal bands?
Perry: “It’s really tough out here. Which is why we’re going to hit Europe first, I think. The climate is definitely very hostile towards a heavy rock band like us. It’s all nu-metal out there on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Pay-to-play bullshit is still running rampant here in Hollywood and a few other areas. So, we stay away from there and play places like Silver Lake. Outside of Southern California there are definitely good places to play, and I hope we’ll get around to that later. Places that aren’t as trend driven.”
Do you also play ‘covers’ (of your previous bands maybe) or do you stick to the own written FALCON material only during your live shows?
Perry: “We love to play BANG’s “Redman” live. It’s an integral part of our sets. We throw in some improv jamming at the end most of the time to give folks more of a taste of that old loose seventies vibe. If we start jammin’ other covers, we’ll throw some of those in too sometimes. We’ve been doing CIRITH UNGOL’s “Edge of a Knife” off “Frost and Fire” a lot live, too.”
Greg: “I’ve been pushing for us to do an old ERIC BELL period THIN LIZZY tune like “Gonna Creep Up On You” or “Return Of The Farmer’s Son”.”
Are there any bands with which you want to tour in the future?
Perry: “Definitely! It would be great to tour with a band with a similar sound, someone we’re friends with. PALE DIVINE, INTERNAL VOID, EARTHRIDE, PENTAGRAM, FIREBALL MINISTRY, SHAKEY MALLARD, SASQUATCH, ORODRUIN or SLOUGH FEG. There are other cool acts here in the U.S. like DIXIE WITCH, OGRE and the like. Overseas, I’d like to mention WARNING, FIREBIRD, MINOTAURI and MORNINGSTAR.”
Is “On The Slab” also on the setlist? And who does the vocals of Bobby Liebling (PENTAGRAM) when you play this song live?
Perry: “I sang it on the demo and also in the studio. Wasn’t 100% satisfied with my performance, so we decided to let Bobby have a crack at it. We haven’t been playing it live, but we will, and I’ll be handling the vocals. Unless of course we get to play with PENTAGRAM or just in the D.C. area, in which case I’ll invite Bobby up on stage!”
How did you actually get in touch with him, and how did he manage it to sing this great song on your album?
Perry: “The possibility of having Bobby sing a tune on the FALCON album was brought up by Darin McCloskey, and I think all three of us were up for it. But we had a very limited time to get the recording done. It was towards the end of our fifth and last day of recording when I went back to try to sing “On The Slab” again. While I felt I was doing better at it than I had the day before, it was still the one song that we thought could be a bit better. So, Chris Kozlowski again brought up Bobby, and we all jumped at the chance. I left a brief note and the lyrics for Bobby with my phone number. Greg and I flew back to L.A., and Bobby called me about two days later to say how floored he was by the track. Which in turn just blew my mind, ’cause I really admire Bobby as a songwriter. He was thrilled to be able to pay tribute to his (and our) hero, Phil Lynott. When he said how much “On The Slab” nailed THIN LIZZY’s style, I was just speechless. To this day I’ve never met Bobby, but we had some good long talks on the phone, and I hope to see him the next time I’m in the Maryland/D.C./Virginia area.”
When can we see FALCON play over here in Europe?
Perry: “Ah! There’s the biggest FALCON news to come in recent months. FALCON will be touring Germany, Belgium and Holland in mid-April with PALE DIVINE and RISING DUST. This originally started as just PALE DIVINE and RISING DUST. Darin called me up and asked if it might be possible for me to fill in for their bassist, Jim Corl, since Jim couldn’t make the tour. Up to that point I didn’t consider myself a bassist, although I’ve played bass pretty much since my formative guitar playing years. But I jumped at the opportunity, because I love PALE DIVINE and Darin is such a good friend. I love challenges like that. I’ve always plunked around on basses, even borrowed friends 4-strings on occasion. It wasn’t more than several days after Darin inquired that I went out and grabbed myself a Fender Jazz bass and started to learn some PD tunes. There aren’t many bands I’d consider doing this for. I consider myself primarily a songwriter, and to not really be contributing to something in a very creative way, I really have to be a die-hard fan of the material (as I was with Rich Walker’s music that he wrote for ISEN TORR). We were unsure at first whether Greg Lindstrom would be able to make it, seeing as his wife, Angela, was due to give birth in November. Although it was on Darin’s and my mind to get the other one third of FALCON over to Europe on this trek, we didn’t ask Greg until a short while after I picked up my bass.”
Darin: “Funny how things sorta fell into place here with this! Perry was kind enough to accept my offer to play in PALE DIVINE, when our bassist quit. After we had confirmed, that PALE DIVINE would play the Doom Shall Rise III fest, as well as about a handful of shows to follow, it seemed like a pretty obvious thing to ask Greg Lindstrom, if he'd be into playing with Perry and I as FALCON. Greg agreed and we're pretty psyched up about it. I've personally never played (or have ever been) overseas, so this is going to be a real blast for me. Perry and I will be playing two sets a night. something I'm pretty sure that neither one of us has ever done before, so that adds a bit of a challenge for us that makes it even more exciting.”
Let’s take a few, short sidesteps to the past here, if we may. Let’s start with your drummer Darin McCloskey, who plays in PALE DIVINE. Does this band still exist?
Darin: “PALE DIVINE does still very much exist and like FALCON (usually) we're comprised of three members. Though at this point in time I guess it's more accurate to say, that it's Greg Diener on guitar and vocals and me on the drums.”
I believe that there will also be a new album coming out of PALE DIVINE? When will it be released and how will it sound?
Darin: “Eternity Revealed was released on Sept.28th, as far as how it sounds? Well, there's also a bit of a seventies influence in there as well but PALE DIVINE differs from FALCON in that there's more of a traditional doom metal sound similar to bands like TROUBLE, THE OBSESSED and of course PENTAGRAM.”
Don’t you envy Andrew Sample, that he can play with FALCON on stage during their shows?
Darin: “With all due respect, I wouldn't say I envy him. It would certainly be cool to play more shows with FALCON, but obviously the distance between us is a huge factor preventing that from happening. Andrew is a very cool guy and a solid drummer. I'm happy that he's playing with the guys and more power to him. It's only understandable that Perry and Greg want to play out as often as they can and having Andrew there behind the kit allows them to do so. It's all about the music.”
Greg Lindstrom, you're the former bass player of cult metal band CIRITH UNGOL. How come you never came to Europe to tour here? I believe that you had a strong bond with your European fans here, especially in Holland?
Greg: “We certainly wanted to play in Europe, but we could never get hooked up with any assistance from our record company, and we couldn’t afford to do it ourselves.”
I even heard that the band sometimes made phone calls with their fans in Europe. That’s really something special. Were the fans of the band so special to you all?
Greg: “I consider all our fans to be special, because they tend to be serious and very musically knowledgeable, not just your casual trend followers.”
I am wondering if there ever were any videos shot at your live shows, because CIRITH UNGOL is one of the very few metal bands from which I’ve never seen any live footage on video?
Greg: “There was one concert video that one of our friends shot in 1981 with the “Frost & Fire” line up at a small club in L.A. doing most of the “Frost & Fire” songs, as well as ‘Route 666’ and ‘Maybe That’s Why’ with me singing (!), but unfortunately, no one that I know has a copy. There was also an amateurish music video made of ‘Join the Legion’ right before CIRITH UNGOL broke up in 1992. Jimmy Barraza had quit by then, so Rob had to grab a guy off the street to be the guitar player!”
You also have a nice collection of bass guitars, as I could see on the website and on one of the pictures on there. Please tell us a bit more about the different instruments that you have, and is there any special instrument that you like the best?
Greg: “Being an engineer, I’m kind of an equipment geek, so I love talking about guitars! My basses are: a Fender Custom Shop Relic ‘62 Jazz bass in Candy Apple Red, a ’67 Rickenbacker 4000 in Fireglow, a sunburst ’69 Gibson Thunderbird II (one of twenty-seven made that year), a ’72 Acoustic Black Widow bass (black of course), a ’75 Greco Suzi Quattro Signature bass, a ’83 Hondo II Longhorn bass, a newer Epiphone Jack Casady Signature bass, and an Ampeg Dan Armstrong reissue bass. Live, I play through an Orange Custom Shop AD 140B head and a couple of Ashdown 4 x 10 cabinets. The Jazz bass is really my main workhorse for playing live, but I’ve had the Rick and the Tbird for the longest time and they would be very hard to replace. For guitars, I have a Gibson Les Paul Gary Moore Signature, a Gibson Custom Shop Pete Townsend SG Special, and a Fender Telecaster ’52 Reissue. For keyboards, a Hammond XK-2 and a Novation K Station synth.”
I also noticed you were wearing a ‘YESTERDAY AND TODAY’ t-shirt on some pics. Is that an original t-shirt from one of their tours maybe, and if yes when did you see them play then under that original name???
Greg: “I saw them play at least five or six times as YESTERDAY AND TODAY from 1976 to 1980 and probably close to twenty times over the years as ‘Y & T’. They’re from Oakland, near San Francisco, so they were always touring up and down the California coast. They’re such a great live band. The first time we (Rob, Jerry, Tim, and myself) saw them was in early 1976 on the first BOSTON tour, and Y & T totally blew us away (and BOSTON, too!) I remember searching far and wide for their first LP. The shirt is a promotional item from their original record company, London Records, that I snagged from a friend who worked at a record store at the time. It’s almost like a religious artifact, so I have to wash it very carefully!”
What would be your favorite CIRITH UNGOL song, and why?
Greg: “I’m Alive” is a favourite of mine, because the music and lyrics of “I’m Alive” really combine to evoke a melancholy mood, and “Edge Of A Knife” , ‘cause it’s a little more upbeat than most of the CIRITH UNGOL stuff. And the Chaos trilogy on “Paradise Lost” is great stuff.”
The CIRITH UNGOL logo with the two kneeling skeletons was re-designed for FALCON use (they now have little wings) and I think it looks absolutely cool. Who came up with this great idea?
Perry: “Ha! I’ll take the credit for that one. I’m such an enormous CIRITH UNGOL fan, and have always dug the kneeling skeletons and bizarre font of the CIRITH UNGOL logo. Even though it’s very simplistic and Greg got the skeletons out of a clip art book, I still love them to death. I think Greg would actually like to tape my mouth shut on this particular answer. Hahahaha! He gets a little tired of the skeletons sometimes. After all, FALCON is its own band and has its own identity, although we do owe much to CIRITH UNGOL. Even though Greg would rather distance us from the praying skeletons, I had to at least throw that graphic up on the website, complete with the falcons perched on their shoulders!”
Do you have any inspirations being a graphic designer or am I asking a stupid question here?
Perry: “I’ll take credit only for selecting the font that is used and the effects that were put on the lettering. As far as the amazing skull in winged helmet goes, that’s a small piece of a brilliant pen and ink sketch done by Virgil Finlay in the late 1930s. Finlay was a master. I’m not an artist, but I do know what I like to see art-wise. I could never passively sit back and let the artwork for one of my recordings be chosen by people outside the band. Artwork and packaging have a lot to do with how a band’s perceived, and I need to make sure that people get the right idea about what FALCON (or anything else I’m involved with) is about. A friend of mine at work, Quinn Diep, did the layout and some design. Quinn helped me achieve exactly what we wanted out of the FALCON CD packaging.”
The songs on the FALCON that were written by you, have got this special CIRITH UNGOL like atmosphere, while they also have a certain FALCON feeling. Is it difficult to let the spirit of your old band disappear? And do you know what your former band mates think about the new music that you’re making?
Greg: “My four songs on the FALCON CD are actually old CIRITH UNGOL songs, and having played the songs with both bands, I can say that the main difference is that Darin and Perry play with more of a groove than Rob and Jerry did, so the overall feel is a little less intense, but more soulful. I know Rob likes the album a lot, and some of our old comrades like Kevin Sage (CIRITH UNGOL’s old road manager) loves it.”
Are you still in contact with your old mates of CIRITH UNGOL, and are they still active in the music scene? It would be a crying shame if the vocals of Tim Baker would never be used again, he is the best heavy metal vocalist ever for me!!!! And I’ve heard zillions of good vocalists!!!!
Greg: “Rob and I are still great friends, although we probably spend more time talking about Ferraris and racing than about music. Rob is still very bitter about the way that CIRITH UNGOL got handled by the music industry. He sold off his drum kits a long time ago, and now he lives for his Ferrari 308GT4. I haven’t talked to Tim or Flint in probably ten years, neither of them have shown any interest in a CIRITH UNGOL reunion. And to be honest, I think that twenty-five years of cigarette smoking has taken its toll on Tim’s voice.”
I heard that an underground label is working on a CIRITH UNGOL tribute CD for future release. Which band(s) would be suitable to play a CIRITH UNGOL song in your opinion? And do you know about any bands, besides the Italian metalband DOOMSWORD, who covered any CIRITH UNGOL songs on their albums or demos? (DOOMSWORD played “Nadsokor” on their debut album, by the way!)
Greg: “Bart Gabriel, who runs the official CIRITH UNGOL website, is the man behind that project. There are around ten bands signed up right now, and I can’t say that I’m familiar with most of them, but it’s really gratifying to know that so many fellow musicians are into CIRITH UNGOL. I’ve heard DOOMSWORD’s version of “Nadsokor” and they did a great job. By the way, FALCON is planning to be on the CIRITH UNGOL tribute as well, possibly with “Edge Of A Knife” or a different version of “Half Past Human”. I would love to hear PENTAGRAM do “I’m Alive”. I think Bobby singing would really add some poignancy to the lyrics.”
We know that it’s impossible to reform CIRITH UNGOL, simply because Jerry Fogle passed away a couple of years ago. But is there still a possibility that this band would do some kind of a reunion tour in Europe somehow in the future?? The hope of many fans is still there, that it will happen!!
Greg: “I never say never!”
What do you think of the fact that people are still asking you questions about the time that you played with CIRITH UNGOL?
Greg: “I’m really touched and honoured when people tell me how much CIRITH UNGOL’s music has meant to them, everyone from sixteen years old to 50+. But it’s bands like ours that attract lifelong fans, because they’re into the music itself and not something trendy to impress their friends.”
Maybe we can set up an interview about the CIRITH UNGOL days in the future, I have so many questions that I want to ask to you and/or any other ex band member. But since this is an interview about FALCON I would like to close this short flashback section with the request of telling us one or two nice stories about the rich (touring) history of this band?
Greg: “Maybe we can save the CIRITH UNGOL stories for the interview. Instead, I can tell you about the time we saw Rush and Moxy play at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Hollywood in front of about fifty people. It was about six months after RUSH’s first album was released and Neil Peart had just joined the band. We were talking to Geddy Lee after the show and telling him how much we loved stuff like “Working Man” and “What You’re Doing” but Geddy’s favourite band was GENESIS, and he wanted the band to be playing more progressive stuff. Sure enough, that’s what happened. And we saw them last summer at the Hollywood Bowl on their 30th Anniversary tour and they were fantastic. Still playing “Working Man” too!”
Perry, you played at the Wacken Open Air festival with DESTINY’S END in 1999. What was this experience like? How did you like the European metal public?
Perry: “Wacken was the coolest live experience I’ve ever had. Not that I was there, but I can only compare it to the original Woodstock. Except in this case it’s thousands of metalheads all gathered to enjoy the music they love. I didn’t encounter any bullshit there. It was a very genuine vibe. I love playing in Europe and visiting there. I think the fans are more die-hard and they’re less concerned with what’s trendy. Nothing has compared to playing Wacken, though, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to do that.”
Did you see any other bands playing that weekend, and are there any bands that you liked a lot?
Perry: “Hell, yeah! SOLITUDE AETURNUS played shortly after DESTINY’S END with Lyle Steadham on bass! I’d been waiting to see them since like ’94 when they were on tour with MERCYFUL FATE. They had to cancel their L.A. date ’cause KING DIAMOND was ill. I missed JAGUAR, but got to see MEMORY GARDEN from Sweden and also RAZOR.”
What was it like working with James Rivera, who we recently saw playing with HELSTAR at the Keep It True Festival in Germany? (Great show, in my opinion!)
Perry: “Hmm... A lot tougher than working with the folks in ARTISAN, ISEN TORR or FALCON. I didn’t know James well when I joined DESTINY’S END., and as time passed it was clear we didn’t belong in the same band together.”
Why did you actually leave DESTINY’S END?
Perry: “Drug and ego problems were making things turn south in DESTINY’S END. Before things got really ugly, I decided to bail out. I quit. I was asked repeatedly if I’d reconsider and come back, but to do that would’ve been extremely counterproductive for me. People can’t think clearly and lots of unnecessary drama is created by the drugs (which feed the ego). Typical band bullshit that you hear about time and again. It was really starting to intrude on the scene when we were on tour in the U.S. and when we were in the studio finishing up “Transition”. I knew I’d be happier in a band with my friends, so I left.”
You also released an album with ISEN TORR in the beginning of this year. Is the band still alive, and are you working on any new material maybe?
Perry: “The ISEN TORR “Mighty And Superior” EP, yeah. We haven’t started working on another EP yet, but hopefully we will this year. I’ve been talking to Rich Walker about it.”
How would you describe the sound of this band?
Perry: “It’s like NWOBHM with more down-tuned guitars and tons of traditional Celtic/English melodies.”
Maybe you can also tell our readers one or two nice (touring) stories about your time with DESTINY’S END?
Perry: “SACRED STEEL saved the day for us at Wacken ’99. Our gear didn’t make it on the same flight as we did, and Metal Blade flew us out on the same day we were to perform only a few hours before we were supposed to hit the stage. SACRED STEEL loaned us their guitars for that day. I lucked out, ’cause Oli Grosshans has a B.C. Rich Mockingbird that’s very similar to the one I own. Thanks a million, Oli!!!”
You also played in a band called ARTISAN, which is an unknown band to me. What kind of music did you play with this band, and what else do we need to know about ARTISAN?
Perry: “ARTISAN was/is by nature a strictly regimented metal band with a much more modern style than FALCON or ISEN TORR. ARTISAN blends elements of technical thrash, death and even some power metal, with a mix of clean and aggressive vocals. For me the impetus to get ARTISAN going came mainly from listening to DEATH, CARCASS, SADUS, SACRIFICE, CORONER, CYNIC, WATCHTOWER and of course CONTROL DENIED (Chuck Schuldiner was a mastermind!). I felt the need to explore that heavier, faster and more progressive territory with my old pal Mike Bear, with us collaborating on the songwriting. I formed Artisan with Mike Bear (bass) in 2000 just after I left DESTINY’S END. Our good friend Ana Greco came aboard immediately as the other guitarist. It took us a long time to find a drummer, which was very frustrating for everybody. But we spent tons of time writing material and practicing with the aid of a drum machine. Matt Conley from Rockford, Illinois-based VIGILANCE joined in 2001 as our first drummer. We played a bunch of gigs with Matt-alongside other metal acts like ONWARD, ENGINE, DREAMS OF DAMNATION and PROTOTYPE. With Matt we recorded a four song demo that never got properly released, although it’s still available for download on the Artisan site. I had gotten FALCON going while I was still full-time in ARTISAN. Gradually I just started burning out on playing such super technical, fast and aggressive stuff. The more I worked with Greg Lindstrom on the FALCON stuff, the more I realized that’s where my energy should really be concentrated. I knew I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t give Falcon the attention I wanted to. So, I gave ARTISAN advance notice that I’d be leaving, and even offered to do a farewell gig with them. We had a big ARTISAN meeting about my departure just before I left to record the ISEN TORR “Mighty & Superior” EP in July 2003. When I came back I played my final gig with ARTISAN at the Whisky in Hollywood, opening for CATHDRAL, SAMAEL and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD. I’m still very good friends with all my old ARTISAN bandmates, and I’m really happy they’ve kept the band going. They got my good pal Ed Laing to fill my shoes, and I have to say they couldn’t have picked a better man for the job. Ed rules! He’s not only an amazing player, he’s also a damned fine guitar builder and tech.”
Back to FALCON now guys. How were the reactions on your great, self title album? And how do you deal with any negative reactions, if there were any?
Perry: “The reaction has been awesome, and I could never have expected it to be this killer. Everyone’s been really positive, and that really puts a smile on my face. We got some negative comments from one or two places about the demo, but I think that owed a bit to the limited resources we had to demo with.”
The album was recorded in five days. My jaws drop to the floor now. How can you record such a monster record in five freaking days, and only three days of mixing?
Perry: “All I can say is Greg and Darin are total pros, and they’ve got all the chops necessary to tackle such a recording with a minimum of rehearsal. There was only one way we could record with FALCON, and that’s with the three of us jamming together in the same room at the same time. Basic tracks live, just the way they used to do it in the sixties and seventies, with a minimum of overdubs and punch-ins. As for mixing? We knew exactly how we wanted this thing to sound, and if not for the capable Chris Kozlowski engineering and mixing the album, I don’t think we would’ve achieved that vision.”
Darin: “Actually all the reviews I've read have all been positive, I haven't actually seen one negative review yet. If there were to be any negative reactions...I suppose I'd take it with a grain of salt. Music is a personal thing, not everyone s going to like everything they hear. The thing is to try to understand that and not be discouraged, because someone doesn't care for what you do. It's like the saying goes: "Different strokes for different folks".”
“Redman” is a cover of a band called BANG, who originally recorded it in 1971. I am afraid that I’ve never heard about this band. Maybe you can give us a short update about how you heard about this song, and why you recorded it?
Perry: “An old friend, Rob Preston (Doomed Planet Records main-man) introduced me to BANG a decade ago. I was mesmerized by their cool combination of heavy riffs and catchy song arrangements. Several years after I first got into them I discovered BANG had reunited and started a website. I hooked an interview up with original drummer Tony D’Iorio and managed to land that feature with Metal Maniacs in the U.S. and also Psychedelic Fanzine and Slow Ride. It was especially cool for me to get to know Tony, Frank Ferrara and Frankie Gilcken. I met them a few times when they came out to L.A., so there’s definitely a personal connection there. They’re one of those bands from the seventies that I’m just such a nut for. I couldn’t believe that they’d decided to get back together, much less that I’d have a chance to meet them and show my appreciation for the killer music they’d committed to vinyl!”
I always like to read the ‘thanks lists’ of the albums. It’s always great to read some of the curious names that were obviously a big help or a big influence to some of the band members. Looking at the ‘thanks list’ on this album I came to a few interesting names as well. I hope that you can give a short reaction to them please, like Mel Sisneros (NEW EDEN, SINERGY, THE IRON MAIDENS), Mark Shelton (MANILLA ROAD) and Chuck Schuldiner (DEATH).
Perry: “Mel’s been a friend for years. A big supporter of the local SoCal metal scene, a talented bassist and a very down-to-earth lady. Of course Mel has been lending hand to Dan DeLucie from DESTINY’S END in his new band, CRESCENT SHIELD, too.”
“Mark Shelton? One of my metal heroes and a big influence. I’ve exchanged some emails with him and Bryan Patrick over the past several years. Cool guys and an absolutely awesome band! The Shark has to be one of the smartest dudes in metal. And also one of the most distinctive vocalists and guitarists. Love the horror and epic fantasy elements of Shelton’s lyrics!”
Chuck Schuldiner wins, hands down, as my biggest hero in the more aggressive realms of metal. He was just such an original and had such artistic integrity. Chuck really believed in the metal tradition, and it showed. He loved vinyl and all the old cult bands, and if it wasn’t for his list of personal influences, I don’t think I would’ve discovered stuff like SORTILEGE or HEAVY LOAD as early as I did. I met Chuck in 1998 when DEATH was in California. Got to spend lots of time when they were here hanging out with Chuck, Shannon Hamm and Scott Clendenin. All cool guys. It was magical sitting there before soundcheck watching Chuck play his B.C. Rich Stealth without anyone else around. I’ll never forget that. He was such a gifted musician, and he didn’t deserve to die so young. A friend of mine, Joey Severance, was working for Metal Blade at the time and had handed Chuck a DESTINY’S END CD at the Milwaukee Metal Fest. Chuck and I were talking on the bus just before they were gonna leave Ventura, CA, and the possibility of DESTINY’S END and CONTROL DENIED hooking up for a tour was just something I’d dreamed of before that talk. Unfortunately, just after Chuck got off the road he discovered that he had cancer. And though the CONTROL DENIED album “The Fragile Art Of Existence” did get released, there was no tour. Chuck was a down-to-earth and funny guy. Just before I left that night he pointed to a box of tissues that was made by the “James River” company and considered adding an “a” with the pen he was signing people’s stuff with.”
Do you have any touring plans already? And will these plans also bring you over to Europe this time?
Perry: “Can’t wait to get over there in April to play in Europe, especially in Holland with FALCON and PALE DIVINE (on tour with RISING DUST)!”
What do you think of the metal scene in general, or don’t you consider yourself part of the metal scene nowadays?
Perry: “I think to a certain extent that a lot of metal bands have forgotten how to rock, that a lot of them are just not paying attention to history. Facts are facts, and if it hadn’t been for BLUE CHEER and BLACK SABBATH, none of the stuff we call metal would’ve evolved to where it is today. Even black metal bands got their appearance from somewhere!? ALICE COOPER, KISS and IGGY POP did the makeup thing years before any of those guys were crapping in their diapers. I consider myself to be a very metal dude, but I guess what some people call metal is open to interpretation these days. I remember having a good friendly argument with Vince Levalois from PROTOTYPE, when we were recording the ARTISAN demo about whether FALCON was metal or not. Though I consider FALCON to be primarily a heavy rock band, I still think that if you consider BLACK SABBATH, early JUDAS PRIEST and CIRITH UNGOL metal, then we’re metal.”
Are there any new bands of the new scene that you really like a lot?
Perry: “WITCHCRAFT (Sweden), OGRE, SHAKEY MALLARD, RISING DUST, THE HIDDEN HAND, PLACE OF SKULLS... A lot of veteran musicians in new acts, but a few new bands.”
Are you recording any new material at the moment and can you tell us how it will sound? Maybe you can already give us some song titles too already?
Perry: “We demoed a tune months ago, one of Greg’s. It’s called “Bad Scene”, and it too was once a CIRITH UNGOL song. (Back when the CIRITH UNGOL guys were playing this tune, they were about eighteen-nineteen, and it was called “Tight Teen”.) We expect to demo more before we record another full-length, but the plan is to record another album in 2005. Some of the song titles I’ve got already are “Elfland’s Daughter”, “Careless”, “Corporate Whore” and “Falcon”. Greg’s got an completely new track called “Everything You Need To Know...”, which I love, plus we’ll probably also do some more of his old stuff like “Show You All” and maybe “Flesh Dart” or something.”
What are the future plans for FALCON- short and long term, please?
Perry: “Tour Europe in April for a couple of weeks, finish arranging new material for the second album and record it sometime in 2005. Hopefully do some gigs on the east coast with Darin playing drums and more out here on the west coast with Andrew.”
there something that you would like to add to this interview. Maybe there is something that slipped through my mind while making these questions, that is essential enough to mention here?
Perry: “Toine, I think you did a pretty exhaustive and job with these questions!!! You definitely did your homework. No, there’s nothing more I can add!”
Do you have any personal messages for our readers?
Perry: “Hmm... Hope to see you all in Holland in April!”
The last words in this interview are for you Perry, Greg and Darin....
Perry: “Thanks Toine, for givin’ us the space to rant and for supporting FALCON! To the European fans: a massive thank you for buying our CDs and spreading the word about the band! It all gives us a lot of encouragement to continue with FALCON.”
Darin: “I just really want to thank everyone for all the kind words and support since the release of the FALCON CD. It's really reassuring to hear that people are into what we're doing. It personally gets me psyched up for the next one!”
Greg: “I can only repeat what Perry and Darin have said and add my thanks and appreciation to the hundreds of CIRITH UNGOL fans, that have told me how much that band has meant to them.”
Interview by: Toine van Poorten, for Headache magazine/March-April 2005