At what point in your life did the revelation take hold and you understood from there on in that "metal is the fucking law"?
Well, I was pretty much raised on classic rock and early metal. My mom was huge into Black Sabbath, Kiss, Rush, Zeppelin, etc etc. One of my uncles was huge into the late 70's punk scene which never really appealed to me for the most part but my other uncle was into King Diamond, Motorhead, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and way into NWoBHM bands. He was the one who really got me started down that path. He walked in on me sitting in his room listening to Guns n Roses when I was about 9 or so, handed me his copies of Master of Puppets and Piece of Mind and said "You like that? Well, listen to THIS." I was pretty much hooked from there.
How was the metal scene in Ohio growing up?
Amazing. I started going to local metal shows in late '92/early '93 at a venue called Flash Gordons (or just Flash's for short). That was a pivotal time for me for sure and it was by far the heyday for underground metal in Cleveland. The first show I remember going to was Embalmer, Rottrevore, Casket and fuck knows who else... I was already a pretty seasoned pothead at that point so the memory is a little hazy hahaha. Keep in mind, this wasn't a big label tour and these were all 100% underground bands. Promotion was still done by handing out physical flyers via other shows, record stores, mailing lists, etc., no internet and no Facebook but there were at least 800-900 people there, all going absolutely apeshit. Nowadays, you'd be lucky to see a turnout like that when a band like Cannibal Corpse or Deicide comes to town.
I understand that you were involved in not one but two legendary Ohio bands, Decrepit and Embalmer. Could you tell me how your involvement with both bands came to be?
That is a strange and sordid tale haha... I was a fan of both bands for many years and I had known Rick Fleming for quite some time through mutual friends. I ran into Rick on the bus in 2003 after not seeing him for a few years and he mentioned that he was looking for bass player for a new project he was starting. We exchanged contact info but I never heard back from him on that. About a year later, I got an email from someone claiming to be him, basically apologizing for never getting back to me about the afore-mentioned project but stating that he had "something much sicker in the works", going on to say that Embalmer were reforming after an 8 year hiatus and that he wanted me to fill the bass player position. About a month earlier, a dude we both knew from the old scene had stopped up at the bar where I was working at the time. We had spent a good hour talking about the old days and how great it would be if some of the old bands reformed, yada yada yada. He had mentioned that if Embalmer ever reformed, he would want to see me playing bass for them. I sort of laughed it off as really sick but highly unlikely scenario. Because of that, I sort of thought that someone was pranking me but I called the number anyways. It turned out to be legit and next thing I knew, I was the new bass player for Embalmer. About a year later, Mark and Jocko ended up leaving the band so we brought in Don Wolff (who I had worked with in Dislimb) and Duane Morris (who had been in Embalmer around the "Into the Oven" era) to fill the guitar positions. Not long after that, Duane got together with Chris Dora and Rob Molzan about reforming Decrepit and invited me to fill the bass position with them as well.
What led to your departure?
Well, Decrepit sort of just fizzled out after a bunch of lineup changes. Chris was the first to go and Matt (Sorg) followed shortly after. Not long after that, Rob seemed to lose interest and left as well. Duane and I wound up splitting the vocal duties 50/50 and ran through a couple fill-in drummers and guitarists, even going so far as moving me to guitar and bringing in a new bass player. It became harder and harder to keep a consistant drummer in the mix and eventually, we just kinda gave it up. With Embalmer, there was always some sort of conflict going on between members. If this guy and that guy weren't at odds, that guy and the other guy were. It got to the point where I was pissed off more often than not and I got sick of it. I left the band in 2008 and then rejoined on guitar in 2010. Things went a lot more smoothly for a while but part of me started getting bored with playing straightforward death metal. Then my daughter was born in 2011 and I decided that I wasn't willing to sacrifice time from my brand new kid for a band, especially one that I wasn't really that enthusiastic about anymore. Unfortunately, the split didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped but that's neither here nor there.
You were also involved in Necrotic Disgorgement with pukemaster extreme, Joe Wolfe. Could you tell me about your experiences during this time?
Haha... short lived but fun. Playing in Necrotic really forced me to up the ante on my bass playing. Keeping up with those guys was no easy feat, by any stretch of the imagination. Sadly though the car I was driving at the time took a shit on me and those guys live 150+ miles away from me. It was a good time for what little involvement I did have with the band, though.
How did your involvement in Nunslaughter come about and could you shed some light on your time with that band?
In short: surreal. Nunslaughter was the first band I ever went out of Cleveland with and to this date, most of the touring I did with them remains among the strangest times of my life. I got in contact with them through an ad in the musicians wanted section of a local arts and entertainment newspaper. I knew I was in for a strange ride when Don came to pick me up and when we were loading my gear into the back of his car, a bunch of animal bones fell out into my driveway. If I even tried to give you the most minimal details, we could write a book.
You were also involved in Chimaira. How did this come about and what was the extent of your presence in the band?
They had a room down the hall from one of my old bands. Their bass player was leaving the band to go to college and I guess they heard me playing by myself in my room. Their first demo was total early Fear Factory worship, which I'm still into this day so when they asked, I said "why not?" It didn't take long to see that I wasn't really the right guy for the job, nor were they really the right band for me. They started adding more "numetal" influences which I really didn't dig... On top of that, I just came from a totally different background on a personal level and simply did not click with a couple of those guys. I've been given some flak here and there from people about my involvement with Chimaira but honestly, it doesn't bother me. I've never been a "if it isn't underground, it sucks" kind of guy even though 75% of my musical tastes are centered around underground extreme metal. I've never been one to shun experimentation and I've never been one to shy away from expanding my horizons. In this particular case though, I found that it really wasn't what I wanted to do.
Could you tell me about the mighty Dislimb?
I'm still trying to figure out why the fuck anyone liked us hahahaha... I dunno, it was one of those things that just sort of happened and kinda was whatever the hell it was. There was rarely, if ever, a real plan. We started off just trying to write the sickest shit we could and let it mutate on its own.
What were the circumstances that led to the band's sudden dissolvement?
This was another band plagued with connstant lineup changes and I just got tired of having to start over from scratch. Ryan ended up doing one final lineup a few years ago with some pretty solid dudes on board but that only lasted about a year. We all just sort of moved on and left it for dead.
I understand that you are involved in a new band, Order 66. Any thoughts on the near future and what can we expect?
This is pretty much the band I've always wanted to do. There is a definite death metal influence but it's really more thrash/hardcore oriented. Add some minor doom influences, a little melodic death/black metal influence and that pretty much sums it up. We just released out first demo and so far the response has been very encouraging, people seem to be digging it. We're working on new material right now to put towards a full length that we hope to record this fall. Having kids and all I really don't plan on ever making a career out of this band but I'd like to keep this going on a regional level as long as we're able to. Gigging out on weekends, putting out releases when we can, maybe short regional tours here and there. Really, this is strictly for the love of playing. There is no expectation of "success" here, it's just five dudes from varying metal backgrounds having fun trying to see how we can mesh our different influences together.
Three albums you can't live without:
Three... ahh, I can't do three. I'll give you five: 1 Dissection - Storm of the Lights Bane, 2 Obituary - Cause of Death, 3 At The Gates - Slaughter of the Soul, 4 Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss and 5, Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf.
With the access to the internet at an all time high, it would appear that death metal has been enjoying a "new renaissance", so to speak. What are your thoughts on the current state of death metal and are there any new bands out there that have caught your ear?
Honestly, I just don't give a shit about 99.9999999999999999999999999999999% of newer death metal. Here's the thing: it's been done. To death. This sound was perfected in 1992. Everything coming out now is either a clone of a clone of a clone, so retardedly over the top that it's barely even music or just absolute garbage. I don't need to hear yet another Suffocation clone or another Autopsy clone or another bunch of 18 year olds trying to recreate the late 80's/early 90's Swedish death metal sound and thinking they know something about it because the figured out how to recreate that guitar tone with a Boss Heavy Metal pedal. I've really just been sticking to the classics as far as death metal is concerned. Lately I'm more into hardcore, old thrash, doom and classic rock but as far as modern death metal is concerned, I'm just not interested anymore.
Alright Rob, many thanks for taking time out to do this. Any last words for the dying and the damned?
No problem, man. Thanks for the interview! See you all in Hell.
Check out Order 66 at Reverbnation and Facebook