We know you for your great horror show and wonderful debut album. What I miss is a major breakthrough after this great start, so what went wrong?
Sure beats me! Maybe it's because we've never had a real management company, that was going to back for us. Also, we had to do everything on our own with limited funds. We got a lot of risistance from American record labels because of the similarity in the name HA(E)LLOWEEN. HELLOWEEN from Germany and us (HALLOWEEN) are both aware of eachother. We drew up contracts between us that we're both OK with eachothers names and that we would help to dispel any confusion amongst booking agents, but even with those factors, the American record labels just were stubborn about it. They wouldn't sign us unless we would change our name. We have too much involved and at stake in the name to do that. We built up a solid reputation, a large fan base and we now have three albums out. We never give up the name HALLOWEEN. Even if this means, we may never become nationally famous to keep our integrity and ideals intact, well, so be it. We'll see what happens in the future.
Do you see the "No one Gets Out" CD as an official album or as a bootleg release?
As far as I'm concerned, "No One Gets Out" is the album I'm most proud of. My writing had developed into a level, where we branched out to include not only the realm of the super natural, but also to politcs and world events. We covered topics like global warming and war and nuclear war, like in the song "If I Die, You Die". The lyrics stated the shape the world's in with everybody's killing eachother and nobody caring about the environment. At the time we wrote it, there weren't as many environmental programs as there are now and I just felt like who's gonna be left? A song like "Miss Eerie's Child" is about child abuse and neglect; "Crawl To The Altar" was about corruption and religion, which was written by some friends of ours; "The Death Of Love" dealing with divorce and the break up of relationships; the song "Halloween" (I refered to earlier, which was a SEDUCE song) that was just in the Halloween realm; "Detroit Rock City" - we did that as a tribute to our heroes KISS and the fact that Detroit is our home town; "The Thing That Creeps" is basically a spooky song about awareness. Those songs meant so much to me. We only pressed 2.000 copies of that - a 1.000 on CD and a 1.000 on cassette. Shortly after that, the band broke up and we ended up back with the original members, so that whole project kinda died. It needed to be mastered a little better. The mix was great, but when we send it to the plant for mastering, it didn't come out as powerful as we would have liked it to. At the same time we recorded "No One Gets Out", we became involved with John Oliva from SAVATAGE and we drove to New York to totally re-record that entire album. In fact, we have demo recordings of most of the stuff on "No One Gets Out", which was produced by John Oliva. After travelling back and forth between studios in New Jersey and New York, it just wasn't coming out right. At that time, John was just in the studio with SAVATAGE to record the "Streets" album, so there was a time factor involved. We decided to put out the original recordings, which we'd done at RT audio here on an eight track system and that's why the quality is not as good as we would have liked it to have been.
Is "A.B.F.S." on "No One Gets Out" played backwards and what does it mean?
"A.B.F.S" stands for thirty or fourty different things. Originally, we came up with "Another Backwards Fucking Song", because we seemed to have a thing with putting something backwards on our albums. Then it also stood for "About Fourty Seconds" as well as anything you could come up with. We had a list of it, but I don't have the list handy right now. It really didn't mean anything - it was just a goof.
It also says "to be continued.." in the inlay. Tell me more. Can we expect a second version or a continuation to this song?
After we recorded "A.B.F.S" and heard it played back, the riff was so awesome to that song (I'm not gonna give away what it is, but it's actually a segment from another song on "No One Gets Out"), we learned the riff and wrote a new song from the riff of "A.B.F.S". We called the song "Wake Up Screaming". Right now, Donnie is teaching it to Rick over the next couple of weeks and that's one of the songs, we will record on the new album.
What did you guys do in-between "No One Gets Out" and the '97 release of "Victims Of The Night"? I read something about a band called ABANDON?
In '93, HALLOWEEN officially played their last show. We did it on Devil's Night at Harpo's, where we played every year. At the end of the show, I took a gun and shot myself in the head and we had a blood pack wrecked up and I just felt to the ground. We had people come out to carry me off the stage and that was officially the end of HALLOWEEN. We eneded with a song called "The End", which was Rick Craig on piano and myself on vocals. It was the only time we ever played the song out - it was never recorded or anything. I quit using my stage name of Brian Thomas and started using my real name Tommy or just the nickname 'T'. After we played our last show with HALLOWEEN, I joined the band CRUCIFIED NATION. They were a local melodic rock band, but we made it a little heavier. We started doing stuff more similar to PANTERA, FIGHT, MEGADETH and METALLICA. I joined in October of '93 and George Neal, the bassplayer joined in March of '94, so the two of us were together again - writing and playing out. ABANDON was incredible. We had some awesome songs, that I'm hoping to pick up with HALLOWEEN one day. I wrote a song called "In Darkness" for the movie "The Crow", which we tried to submit for the soundtrack, but it never made it on the album (probably because we were an unsigned band). I'm hoping that HALLOWEEN will do it someday. We're still in touch with the guys from the band we're planning on releasing a CD with ABANDON stuff, that never made it out. We went into the studio shortly before that band broke up, so that HALLOWEEN could get back together. We did some really cool stuff with ABANDON - George and I.
"Victims Of The Night" - the lost album - is out now on Molten Metal. How does it sell and how are the press reactions at this moment?
It's kind of hard to know what to think of an album, that was recorded eleven years ago, when you feel you weren't at your peak, you know. I think we're playing and singing a lot better now than we did back then, but we mixed it in '97 and it came out good. It's a fun album and it's a decent reflection of where we were in '86, when it was recorded. It feels good to have it finally out. I don't have the latest figures, but Molten Metal just ordered a second pressing of it. We've gotten favourable response from magazines over in Europe. Thank God for that - it's nice to get some recognition for the hard work that you've done!
Who came up with the idea of releasing these previously unreleased tracks on your comeback CD?
They were already recorded and in the can. All we had to do is to mix them and get them out. That album was supposed to come out already back in '87, but it just never happened because of financial problems.
Is the intro on "Victims Of The Night" your original intro tape?
The intro of "Victim Of The Night" was written for the song "Victims Of The Night" and we performed that in the studio and yes, we used that as an opening for our stage show several times.
Have you ever thought of releasing your "Vicious" demo tape on CD sometime? It would be a great idea to put those songs out as bonus tracks on another interesting "lost album": "Don't Metal With Evil-Live". Sounds great to me, don't you think so?
The "Vicious" demo was done at a point of time, when we had our guitar player Billy Gray and drummer Tommy Scott. Some of the stuff on it was more bluesy and not that heavy, although "The Thing That Creeps" was written at that time. The songs on that demo were: "I Confess", "Vicious Lies", "Black Skies", "Agony" and "Evil Nation" (5 songs). We can't find the original recordings to those songs - all we have is a cassette - so it will be hard to put them out as bonus tracks. But if we can ever track down the original recordings, I'd love to put some of those songs out! John Drenning, the guitar player from CRIMSON GLORY and Warren Wyatt set up a show for us on Halloween night 1988 and we recorded a live video and live album. We played all the songs from "Don't metal with evil" live in concert and recorded it to right to 42 track recording. I still have those tapes. They were never mixed, because shortly afterwards the original band broke up. But hopefully someday, we'll re-release that. There were bonus tracks on it as well. We did five other live songs that night, that we'll mix and if there's anything good, we'll probably put those out as well.
You did a comeback show as support to the Great Gonzo: TED NUGENT. How did this show go and which songs did you play?
We played a comeback show on Halloween night of '97 at a club in the Detroit area. The show was sponsered by a radio station called 'The Bear 1027' and they play classic rock. TED NUGENT is the morning radio personality on this station. We had made enquiries trying to get Ted to come out and jam with us, because he's known to do that in the Detroit area. The guys learned "Scream Dream", but unfortunately Ted wasn't able to do it.
You have a fanclub right now. What can the fans expect, when they subscribe to this and who's behind it?
Right now, we don't actually have an official fanclub. We've tried several times in the past to put a fanclub together, but for one reason or another, they weren't able to answer some of our fans or get the mail to us. I don't know where the lack of communication actually came in. In fact, we've heard horror stories from some fans that sent money orders to us for t-shirts or albums or what and they never got anything back. I apologize for that. The managers, we've had, were just local people and they really didn't know what was going on with the business. We've been chasing our tails since day one and it's amazing that we got the popularity we did. Thank God for the fans out there that fell in love with the group and supported us. Again, we'd like to apologize to anybody that never got any reply from the fanclub. But you can get in touch with us through Molten Metal, 32 N.E. 7th Avenue, Rochester, MN 55906, USA. Hopefully some time soon, we'll be able to get a fanclub up and running. We just need to find the right loyal fan to run it.
When can we expect a new HALLOWEEN CD and how will it sound? Hopefully, you guys didn't listen too much to the new alternative scene.
HALLOWEEN has like a hundred and fifty songs dating all the way back to when we started out and there's so much great music that we never recorded. On top of the fact, Donnie, Rick, George and myself - we all write music, so it's like the waterfall has never shut off for us to write new songs and come up with new ideas. At the moment, we're trying to put together a set of music for live shows, because obviously we're hoping to have a show booked for Halloween this year. So, hopefully in the summer of 1999, we'll have something brandnew ready to go, but don't blame me if there isn't.
Did the comeback of KISS with the original members and their stageshow contribute to your decision to reform HALLOWEEN in any way? After all, there's quite a lot of similarities between HALLOWEEN and KISS.
I won't say that it didn't have any influence on us, but the main thing that got us back together was Molten Metal, that has been persuading me for years and years. I got to know about places that bootlegged our album "Don't Metal With Evil" (in Italy) and we'd no idea. I guess we're really popular over in Indonesia, like Singapore and Malaysia and places like that. We put out "No One Gets Out" over there and it did really well. Just the fact, we found out people were still interested in us and over the years we still managed to stay together as friends, it seemed like the music scene was open once again. People like MARILYN MANSON coming out with it and doing the whole make up thing, the fact KING DIAMOND has stuck around and KISS came back, all those factors contributed to us saying "why are we wasting time sitting here and doing nothing, we could be out there doing what we did as well".
Here's a question you already expected, I guess. Is there any chance we'll ever get to see the Heavy Metal Horror Show in Europe?
We would love to! If anybody over there would be interested in bringing us over and helping us financially to get our show to Europe or get us on a tour with another band, we would love to come. Europe has supported us so much over the years. We feel like we owe it to our fans in Europe to come over and play there."
What's the difference between HALLOWEEN 1983 and the HALLOWEEN anno 1998?
I think, my vocals have come a long way from back in those days. Back then, we weren't getting any sleep, weren't hardly eating and some of us messed around or experimented with drugs (we never ever had any drugs problems, though). There were a ton of things going on. I was constantly worried about the stage show and getting the band up in time for a gig or whatever, than I was about my singing. And believe me, I have tapes of live shows to go back and reflect on how bad I think I was back then. But the fans loved it anyway. Now my singing has improved, we have all four original members plus Donnie Allen who played guitar on "No One Gets Out", so it's like we've opened up a whole new can of worms. We can do any song that HALLOWEEN has ever recorded or written. Rick Craig and Donnie Allen work so well together as a guitar team - they're as good as Michael Wilton and Chris DiGarmo of QUEENSRYCHE. They compliment eachother and their tone is awesome. Also, Bill Whyte is back and he's playing the drums like never before. This band is ready to do some awesome new material! It's just a matter of making time available from our daily grind and our day jobs to get back into the studio and record some of the songs that are already written as well as some that we've been working on. We have a new song, called "The Crush", that just does crush! I think fans really gonna like it.
What are your future plans with HALLOWEEN? Can you tell us anything about the next steps you're taking? For example, did you already write any new songs for your new CD?
(a huge sigh!!). We want to keep on recording and keep putting our music out. We want to be able to make our fans happy with our music. As long as we're putting out good music, we'll stay together and keep on doing that. We're trying to get the "Don't Metal With Evil" CD out officially and we're trying to get the funding to re-release "No One Gets Out" possibly with a bonus track. George and I are trying to get the ABANDON stuff out in some form and obviously right away, we'd like to write and record songs for a brandnew HALLOWEEN album.
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?
We love you and thank you for your support over the years! Thank you so much for being interested in HALLOWEEN!!! We can't wait to go into the new millennium and bring the HALLOWEEN of the future! Just a little hint about the working title we have for our new album. We want to call it: HALLOWEEN - "The Future Of Fear". We want to take the stage show and the appearance of the band into a futuristic dimension and bring the horror concept into that. Who knows down the road, it may change, but right now that's the working concept. Thanks again for your interest and see ya!
Well, thank you very much, Brian and Molten Metal, for getting this interview done and for the time you took to get us so much information on HALLOWEEN. I look forward to talking to you guys again really soon. Take care!!
Interview by: Toine van Poorten
(originally appeared in SNAKEPIT, issue #4, 1998.)
HALLOWEEN's "Don't Metal With Evil" CD will be officially released and available at the '15th Anniversary HALLOWEEN Blowout Bash' on October 31st. The band will bring their infamous Detroit Horror Show Live at Halloween Night 1998!! The CD has lavish packaging and is remastered for killer sound and will be sure to please all die hard HALLOWEEN fans!!!! Available exclusively from Molten Metal, U.S.A.
"Don't Metal With Evil" (MCM Records 1985)
"Trick Or Treat" (MCM Records 1984)
"No One Gets Out!" (MCM Records 1991)
"Don't Metal With Evil" (Reborn Classics 1994; bootleg release)
"Victims Of The Night" (Molten Metal 1997)
"Trick Or Treat" ("Motor City Rocks" LP WLLZ 1985)
"Come And Get It" ("L'Amour Rocks" LP Mercinary Records 1987)