Retrospective and Recent Realities
CoC chats with Canada's Razor
by: Alain M. Gaudrault
A word of warning: the following article runs roughly 700 lines, attempting to catch up on several years of inactivity from an underground speed metal favourite, Canada's Razor. I'd been toying with the idea to seek out guitarist/songwriter/bandleader Dave Carlo to see if he'd agree to an interview to fill us in on what he'd been up to since the band's first official breakup in 1992, whether there were any plans to resurrect Razor, or even if there was another musical project brewing. I knew the band was originally from the neighboring city of Guelph, so I picked up the phone book and found a "D. Carlo". Couldn't believe my luck when he answered the phone. We spoke briefly, during which point he indicated there was indeed more Razor material in the works; he agreed to an interview, and we set a date. Turns out things had been in the works for some time; an album-full of songs had been written, recorded, and was in the process of final mixing and mastering; label interest (Canada's Hypnotic Records) had been secured, and an European and Far East release was forthcoming. So much for my insider knowledge. Admittedly, I've been a long-time fan, ever since the release of _Evil Invaders_ in 1985, so the thought of a one-on-one conversation with Carlo, coupled with the excitement of a new Razor record, _Decibels_ (review in this issue), had my mind racing. I figured the band, after a dozen years of dedication to the crafting of fine metal, deserved a bit of room here for a brief history of where they've been, what they've done, and where they're at now. For a more detailed account of their career span, check out their bio (yeah, yeah, I wrote it) on the band's official web site, http://www.caiw.nl/~craey/razor/. Should you decide to skip this chat with Razor's leading man, Dave Carlo, do read the _Decibels_ album review in this issue and consider seeking out a copy of this breathtaking piece. You'll even find an (albeit low-quality) excerpt in the "Sounds" page of their web site, though it doesn't begin to reveal what more is in store for those lucky enough to be graced with the full album, in all its glory. Enough, already; here's what he had to say.

CoC: What was the southern Ontario music scene like when you were first starting out in the early-to-mid-eighties?

Dave Carlo: It was pretty healthy in the sense that there wasn't a real explosion of bands at the time that we came out. We seemed to just be about a year ahead of that. We came out about mid-'84: that's when we started doing shows. Video wasn't really full-blown at that point. It had been around for about four years in a really serious way; it wasn't really necessary to make a dent in the music scene. You could still sell LPs and cassettes by issuing something, putting a decent cover on it, and having cool pictures on the back, that kind of thing. People used to go into record stores and look at the records, buying based on whether they liked the look of it or not. That kind of thing used to happen, but I don't think it happens much anymore, but that used to be how it worked back then. From our end, we were lucky in the sense that we were able to put out an independent recording and get attention just by sticking it in certain stores and going to university radio stations and getting them to play it for us. Overall, it was pretty good.

CoC: How have things progressed since then in your eyes?

DC: That goes back a long ways. Through the eighties, you had a lot of emphasis on video, which really started to kick in as an almost critical element if you wanted to really try and get a global audience, especially if you were looking at North America, so that's something that really changed. In about 1985, there was an explosion of speed, and thrash, and all those types of bands. About a year after we were on the scene, a ton of them started to come out. There was a lot more competition, if you want to call it that. Some of it was really good, but I'd say most of the music that came out from that period of time wasn't too bad, but with the glut of bands that started to come out, I don't think the quality of the music was being maintained all the way through. It got a lot more competitive, a lot more people were into it, and I don't think there was as many quality bands, it was tougher to find the good bands, I think, towards the end of the eighties. On through the nineties, well, the last five years, obviously, the flavour of the month has been more the alternative kind of thing, the Seattle thing, and I don't know where that is right now in terms of overall popularity. I haven't really followed the scene that much the last five years. I've just sort of been doing what I enjoy. If I hear something I like, I might pick up the CD, but I haven't gone out of my way to discover any bands. I like a lot of the bands that have been out in last five or six years, too, but I have a large cross-section of styles that I listen to, now.

CoC: _Evil Invaders_ (1985) was your most successful release, at least in terms of commercial sales. To what do you attribute its popularity?

DC: A couple of things: one was, the video [for "Evil Invaders"] was the first video done for a thrash metal song. We even preceded Slayer, or Metallica, or Anthrax, or any of the bands that were popular at that time that were playing fairly heavy. They didn't put a video out, and we actually did, and we got a little bit of advance publicity for that in different parts of the world, in the U.S., even, as well. We sold quite a few more copies of _Evil Invaders_ in the States than we did the other releases, simply because we got some airplay on quite a few local video shows. MTV ran it once or twice, but it really got played on a lot of local-type shows, and that seemed to be what helped it a lot.

CoC: Why do you think _Malicious Intent_ was your last album on Viper (division of Attic Music Group, a major Canadian label)?

DC: I know why that was. We asked to be released from our recording contract at that time. I'll give you some straight information that we didn't really, at the time, make a point of telling people. We didn't really want it published at the time. Now, we don't care anymore. Around the time _Malicious Intent_ came out, the album was not as good as _Evil Invaders_, the drumming wasn't very good. Our drummer at the time, M-Bro, he's a great guy, he's still a friend of mine, but physically, he just wasn't up to the challenge anymore. He had some drug problems and some other problems. He wasn't able to, and I know he wouldn't be thrilled to hear me say this now, but he wasn't able to physically continue to play the kind of music that we were trying to play -- fast. He was just burning out, and his drumming style changed, and he didn't put in a good performance, and that hurt the record, and I think that was the number one thing that hurt the record more than anything else. _Malicious Intent_ only sold about twenty-five or twenty-six thousand copies, versus the fifty [thousand] of _Evil Invaders_, which was a disappointment for everybody, but Attic wanted to continue to deal with us simply because we recorded on a very tight budget for Attic. It didn't cost them very much to do Razor albums, so, if we sold ten thousand [copies of an album], they made a lot of money. So when we were selling fifty thousand and twenty thousand, they were making a lot of money. Attic had no reason to drop us, and didn't want to. We basically saw what was going on, the album didn't sell as well [as _Evil Invaders_], I was thinking at that time that I was going to have to make some changes in the lineup, but I didn't talk about that to anybody, including the members of the band, with whom I did another album, same lineup, but nonetheless, I sort of thought the thing was gonna wind down on us, that maybe we'd peaked and it wasn't gonna go where I wanted it to. So my next concern at that time became "Well, then, I want to make some money with this. If that's how it's gonna be, then let's get some money out of this thing." 'Cause we hadn't seen any money from Attic. They weren't ripping us off, it was a fair deal, on the up and up, it's just that in the record industry, unless you sell really big, you don't make a lot of money because, of course, these record companies are in business to make money, which they have a right to do, but nonetheless, you really have to sell some big numbers before you see any money as an artist. The artist is the toughest job in the music business, in term of making money, no question about it. Attic wasn't ripping us off or screwing us or anything, but the bottom line was that we weren't making any money and I thought if I cut an independent album and I license it myself, I can make money on this, I know I can, 'cause I'd just get a calculator out and figure, if I sell twenty-five thousand, and I can get this much per album, I can put this much in my pocket; you know, I did the math. So we did an album which was very experimental. My head wasn't really in the band at the time. To be quite honest with you, I was thinking about the money and not much more. I didn't even get involved in the production or anything else on that album. I wasn't happy with the recording at all, but nonetheless, it got put out, and I made more money on it than I had on any other album we'd ever done, without a question, but it was our worst album, _Custom Killing_. We released that independently, made a whole bunch of money on it, which I was happy about, but the record itself, you know, people were ringing the death knell for the band. That album followed our release from Attic, after I'd asked for our release from the label. I went to Attic and they said they wanted to do the next album, and the president of Attic made a very astute observation before I even did _Custom Killing_. He said "You know, Dave, if you ever want to put this band on the right course again, you're going to have to change the people in the band, because some of your members just can't do it anymore." And he was right, but I didn't discuss it with him. Anyway, to make a long story short, he was a good guy, he let me out of my contract. He didn't have to. He could have just said "Well, Dave, I make money with your records, I want to do the next one." He had a six-album deal, so he could have kept me under contract until 1990, and I couldn't have done a thing about it. But, he understood where my head was at, and he said "I know what you want to do. Good luck.", and he cut me loose. To this day, I have a lot of respect for Al Mair, that's the president of Attic. He certainly didn't do anything to hurt me.

CoC: _Custom Killing_, the follow-up to _Malicious Intent_, featured much longer, drawn out songs, less speed, and a flatter sound in vocal and guitar dynamics. Why the sudden change in sound?

DC: I don't want to be too negative because there are some things about that album I'm proud of, and I think it was kinda neat that a band like that could even hold 11-minute songs together. We just couldn't identify at the time what the problem was, why we didn't sell as many records of _Malicious Intent_ as we did with _Evil Invaders_, you know? The drumming thing wasn't that clear to us at that time, we were brain dead on that. The drumming wasn't that good, he (former drummer, Mike Embro aka M-Bro) wasn't playing as good as he did in the past, but we didn't identify that as the key cause to why the album didn't sell that well, and I think that was it. I don't know that everybody who did or didn't like that album would tell you that was the reason, but they would probably tell you that it was just something not as intense about _Malicious Intent_ as there was about _Evil Invaders_. And what it was, was the drumming. That's my opinion, and I think that's what's different between those two albums, the drumming is a lot different. As a result, the same thing on _Custom Killing_. What happened was, we decided to take a different direction with the music thinking that maybe that would be something that might pick up some fans. That was the thought behind it. So, instead of saying, "We need to get back to the _Evil Invaders_ kind of sound", we were sort of sitting around watching Metallica, and watching... and Metallica at one time, hard to believe, were like neck and neck with us, at a time when we were mentioned in the same sentence as them, and you see where they are, now. We toured with Slayer, we shared cockroach-ridden hotel rooms with Slayer on some tours, so it isn't like we couldn't have been there, we felt we could have, but nonetheless, it didn't happen for us. We tried a different musical direction there and it didn't work out, but that was the reasoning behind it. We thought it might help sales, we thought it might at least get people talking about the band.

CoC: After the recording of _Custom Killing_, did Mike Campagnolo (bass) and Mike Embro (drums) leave the band or were they let go?

DC: It was a little bit of both. It was more like I had a little bit of a plan in mind as to what I was gonna do with the band, and I knew they wouldn't like it. They were good friends of mine, I grew up with those guys, went to high school with them and everything else. What I did was, I basically presented to them what my plans were for the future, and I knew, us being friends, I knew where they were coming from, I knew they wouldn't like what I wanted to do, so I sort of forced their hand. I never really officially said "You guys are gone", I said this is what I'm gonna do, and this is how I'm gonna do it, and these are my plans, and this is what I think the band needs to do, and I knew it was stuff they couldn't handle, basically, the more intense music. You know what the next album (_Violent Restitution_) was like, so you know that M-Bro wasn't gonna be able to handle it. I proposed that to him, I said this is where I'm going with this, and this is the kind of drumming I expect, and I when I said that to him, he knew he couldn't do it and I let him think about it for a week or two. Mike Campagnolo was getting involved with a woman who's now his wife, he's got a couple of kids and wife and everything now, but this was the woman he was with, he met her in '87, he was spending all kinds of time with her and his head was not really in the band anymore, he was thinking was he was going to do with his life. I knew the two of those guys would move on. It was a mutual thing. I gave them a little bit of a push, but they made the decisions to go themselves.

CoC: I recall being told long ago that Stace McLaren had convinced the band to go on after the poorly received _Custom Killing_.

DC: He did, he convinced me to go on. I was ready to just say forget it, I'm going to do something else, and Stace talked me into continuing.

CoC: The move resulted in one of your strongest efforts at the time, _Violent Restitution_.

DC: Yeah, and it still stands up, too. He didn't want me to quit, and I was gonna quit. I figured, there's half the band gone, I'll do something else. I wasn't really going to give up the music business at the time. I was still gonna do music, but I was gonna put something new together, and Stace said let's work as Razor, and if we don't make a million dollars, who cares?

CoC: But when you made the change of plans, knowing that the other two members would leave, did you not also consider that you would be putting out more material if they did end up leaving the group?

DC: I knew that I would put out more material, but I didn't know that I would put out more Razor material. I did not write _Violent Restitution_ until after Stace convinced me to keep going. I wasn't even sure in what direction I was going to proceed in, although the type of music I do on _Violent Restitution_ is the type I like best, but I didn't know if I was going to move in that direction or not, because you have to remember, the scene at that time, the bands were making money at it -- and I mean, money's not the only thing to think about -- but you look at some other bands and you want to achieve the same. I was looking at Slayer, and they were doing stuff like _South of Heaven_ and -- what was the name of the one after that? -- two lightweight albums that really don't sound like Slayer at all to me, but that's what they were doing, and they were doing pretty well with those albums. And it's like nobody likes fast music anymore. What the Hell? I might as well think about maybe doing something else if people aren't into the speed thing even though I was into it. I wasn't sure what direction I was going to after _Custom Killing_, but Stace was telling me "No, let's do Razor. If we're gonna go down, let's go down with a good album, let's not go down with something we're not happy with." Although I have to be honest with you, Stace thought _Violent Restitution_ was too heavy, I had to force it on him. You'll notice when you look on the record who wrote all the music and lyrics. I pretty much wrote most of it, Stace wrote one tune.

CoC: Is that why he decided to leave the band after the recording of _Violent Restitution_?

DC: No, he was replaced. Stace, I got rid of. We're still friends, that's one thing. The one thing about Razor that's really quite funny is that I haven't made a single enemy in all the years I did it. I'm friends with everybody to some degree, I have no resentment or animosity towards anybody. Stace had to go because he got to a point where he wasn't putting the effort into doing the music. He was on stage, forgetting lyrics, getting on stage drunk and not able to perform properly. He just wasn't taking it seriously anymore. In the early days, in '84 and '85 when we were starting out and starting to get successful, he was a great frontman and he was always taking things seriously, putting a hundred percent into the show, and making sure that were doing everything in a professional way. He was excellent. He went from that to being a guy who was just doing it because the chicks liked him, the guys thought he was cool, and he made some money. That's what he was in it for, towards the end. So the main reason he talked me into staying wasn't some noble cause that he wanted to do an amazing album, it was simply because the chicks liked him and he was making money and the guys thought he was cool. That's what he was into. He figured if Dave disbands Razor, I don't have that anymore. When we got on stage for _Violent Restitution_, he wasn't a believer in that album, it was a little too heavy for him. We got on stage when we started touring for that album and man, the band was amazing behind him, best band I've ever played with, my brother [Adam, bass] and Rob [Mills, drums], just an amazing band. We were so tight, and everything was so powerful, the old stuff came to life even better with those guys, so I had the band I'd always wanted. We had this incredible band, with this terrible frontman, he was just messing up. I couldn't handle it. Me and Adam and Rob, we were working to make the band amazing, and Stace would come in and act like he could care less, and the fans noticed. The fans noticed, and that's what really set it off. We had some shows where he was so bad, people would come to us after the show and go "What's he doing? You guys are amazing but what's going on with the vocals?" I can't have that. I gave him an ultimatum, wise up or you're gone. And the funny thing was, I gave him that ultimatum right on stage, not in front of people, I whispered it in his ear while I was doing the lead solo at one show. I told him "Tonight, you're fucking up terrible on. Stace, you'd better sing good the rest of the evening or this is your last show." I said that to him on stage in Toronto. And then after the song was over, he comes over and says I'm gonna get it right, don't worry. We gave him a couple of months, he did tour with me for a couple more months, and he did get his act together the last couple of months, but by then, I was sour on him. He'd blown it. I was looking for his replacement, so I had my eye on Bob Reid six months before I got rid of Stace. I had Bob pretty much lined up.

CoC: How did you picture Bob's vocals fitting in, seeing as they were quite different to McLaren's?

DC: Yeah, they are! Well, I looked at Bob's voice -- he had SFH, his other band, he'd done demos -- he sent me his demos, and in fact, he opened for Razor for a bunch of shows. In fact, the show that I'd told you I'd told Stace he was gonna be gone after the show? Bob Reid's band opened for us at that show. Thing was, I knew from Bob's vocal style that this guy resembled more where I wanted to take the band. I figured if I had this guy singing, I could heavy the band up a bit, and make it even more intense, possibly as intense as people are ever going to hear a band play. You'll notice, with _Shotgun Justice_, the music was written for Bob. It wasn't a case of me writing songs and he was just the singer. This was an album that I wrote for this man to sing, and everything we've done with Bob was written for Bob.

CoC: Interesting that you should say that, as that was to be my next question, whether or not you'd changed your approach to suit his style, or whether you wrote the music and let him fend for himself.

DC: The truth is, I did change my musical approach to suit Bob, but I changed it the way I wanted it to be anyway. At the time, that's what I wanted to do, and when you hear the new album, you're going to be really surprised at what a great singer Bob is because Bob never really got a chance to demonstrate that on _Shotgun Justice_. I mean, he just came in as intense as he could be and as fast as he could, but having worked with Bob, who's had a longer association with me musically than Stace or any of those other guys, now. Bob and I have been working together on and off for ten years, and even though Razor's done nothing for four or five, Bob and I have gotten together over those four or five years and worked together on stuff. Bob and I know each other really well and I can assure everybody that when they hear the new recording, they'll be very impressed and very surprised at what Bob's capable of.

CoC: Purely out of curiosity, on the _Open Hostility_ album, is that Rob Mills playing drums, or is that a drum machine?

DC: That's a drum machine. You'll notice on the back of _Open Hostility_, there's no credits. Well, that's part of the reason. Not everybody picks up that it's a drum machine. A lot of people have asked me if there were drum samples that Rob plays, because you can do that, too. I could take a drum kit, and I can trigger samples in the studio that sound just like that, and you'll get that electronic sound, but I might not have had a sequencer, but no, I programmed the drums to play all that, and I programmed it to play a lot like Rob. There's a couple of moments that are almost insane, and probably couldn't have been achieved by Rob.

CoC: This begs the question, then: why wasn't Mills playing on _Open Hostility_?

DC: Couple of reasons. One was Rob couldn't play that way. He couldn't play that way at that time because, Rob was a great drummer, but in 1990, just before we did _Shotgun Justice_, Rob had an accident where he got one of his knees, I think it was his right knee, sandwiched between two cars, a terrible accident, and he had a leg brace on for eight weeks, and he couldn't walk for about four weeks after he got the brace off. So he had three or four months where he couldn't do anything. That's when I started messing around with drum machines, because I had all this time. That's when I started messing around with it. Rob never played the same again. Rob's legs used to be great, and his arms were incredible, and I still think he's got the best arms of any drummer I've ever seen, but his legs suffered after that accident, so he never got it back. He didn't play the type of drums I wanted, songs like "Road Gunner", "In Protest", and other ones on [_Open Hostility_] that had some pretty good double bass drumming, he just couldn't do them, not for the length of time that was required. He couldn't handle "Road Gunner", although I thought no other drummer could do "Road Gunner", but you know what? Some drummers since then that I've jammed with played "Road Gunner" for me. I can't believe it. There's this one guy I played with in Toronto, he was a young guy, about twenty years old, he had these big, heavy boots on, steel-toed boots that weigh like a hundred pounds each, he was playing "Road Gunner" wearing those boots! I couldn't believe it! Some drummers are just unbelievable. These days, I think the talent level just goes up and up and up. You've got guys now that can do stuff that ten years ago, they'd've been heroes. I the time I recorded _Open Hostility_ and I programmed the machine to play like that, I thought nobody could do this, except maybe Dave Lombardo and Charlie Benante. I was all impressed that I could record something with that kind of drumming, and I have to admit, I didn't know as much about using those types of drum things at that time than I do now. I wanted to make it sound almost like it might be a machine. I wasn't really concerned with people knowing whether it was or wasn't a machine. Because there are places where it's a dead giveaway if you know anything about recorded music, you know that if it's not a machine, then it's samples, it's not a real drum kit. But you know what, when we played live, Rob did all those tunes. When we played live on that tour, we didn't do "Road Gunner". In Rob's defense, Rob did play "In Protest", so it wasn't like he couldn't do that one on the tour. He did it, but he struggled with it and he hated doing it, he hated me putting it in the set. If you take a song like "The Pugilist" off _Shotgun Justice_, we had to do that one quite a few times in the studio to get Rob to play it right because that was a tough one for his feet as well, and it was a challenge for him because of the accident. It was a problem and he never overcame it.

CoC: There were noticeably few songs from _Malicious Intent_ and _Custom Killing_ on the _Exhumed_ compilation, and a heavy penchant for tracks from the last three albums. Was this your decision?

DC: Yeah, it was, for right or for wrong. I've gotten letters from people who wish they had more of the early stuff, and that's the stuff that they can't find on the CDs. When Ben Hoffman, the president of Fringe [Product, major indie Canadian label and distro] asked me to select the tunes, he said Dave, I want a cross section of the band's history. I'm the most proud of the last three albums I did, I think they're the best. I think they're the best, and I know there are a lot of sentimental people who are my age, in their early thirties, they remember '85 and '84, going to our shows and all that kind of stuff. They wish that I had more of the _Evil Invaders_ and _Executioner's Song_ stuff on there, but my best work is my last three CDs, and those are the three that I think ten years from now, I can still listen to and really get off on. I have to be honest with you, I can't listen to my old stuff as much as I can the last three. The last three I can listen to anytime. _Violent Restitution_ is over ten years old now as a release, and yet here I am, I can still listen to it. But when I listen to _Evil Invaders_, I always have this feeling in my head that I play so much better now than I did back then, we play so much better. I can't believe that was acceptable to me. You do those things just because... it's like anything... if you think of something you did fifteen years ago and you go and see it now... Even if you look at your handwriting, you'll see even your handwriting was sloppier fifteen years ago than it is today, you do everything better. So I listen to my record and I'm not really comfortable listening to that really early stuff. I can hear exactly how limited everybody was, how limited we are as musicians, and a lot of people may not realize that if they don't play instruments, they don't realize the technical difference between the kind of playing that on _Open Hostility_ versus what's on _Evil Invaders_. There may be a lot of people that like _Evil Invaders_ better, but the amount of effort and thought and creativeness that went into the records, I mean _Open Hostility_ took a lot more effort to put together than _Evil Invaders_ did.

CoC: I thought the guitar work on "End of the War" (last song from their last studio album, _Open Hostility_) was particularly interesting, and a bit of a departure from the straight-ahead power chord attack, more of a harmony to it, a sound I'm hoping to see developed further.

DC: Oh yeah, you're going to see it developed further. Wait'll you hear the new stuff. You're going to be hearing a lot more of that kind of stuff. There's some really interesting, I think very original, you're-not-gonna-hear-it-from-anybody-except- -from-Razor kind of stuff here, because that kind of stuff where you're hearing this melodic, but this real pounding going on behind it, there's probably already four or five songs like that on this album. And they're smoking, they're heavy, and yet there isn't a person alive who's gonna say they're not melodic, because they are. And this is what I'm talking about with Bob's vocals and everything. You're just gonna see a serious maturity there, yet none of the intensity is being compromised.

CoC: Getting to the subject of the upcoming album, how did this project come about?

DC: Most of the material has been written over a three- or four-year period. Not that we needed that much time, because we didn't. The basis of the tunes was written in about six to eight months a couple of years back. Then Bob and I spent the last couple of years just refining it, getting together and saying we like this, we don't like this, we want this, and then Bob started improving what he could do with the vocals, and all this kind of stuff. It evolved over a few years, although to be honest with you, to do a subsequent album wouldn't take anywhere near as long. It came together because... I really hadn't planned to record it, I sort of had in the back of my mind that one day, I'd probably lay this stuff down, but it's not urgent. I didn't feel it was urgent, but Bob said, 'You know Dave, if I can get record company interest from somebody decent, do you want to release it?' And I said it has to be something decent, and I'm not knocking Fringe or anything, but Fringe didn't do anything for me, so I don't want to do another album with Fringe. I have another career outside of this, too, that I make good money at, so I don't need money, it has nothing to do with money. I don't want to put it out in a cheap, cheesy cover, and having it in one out of every seventy-five record stores. I didn't want to do that kind of thing, I just didn't feel like it. I'd rather make a good demo and listen to it for my own personal pleasure, and make a few copies for my friends. So that's how I wanted to do it, but Bob lined up this thing with Tom Tremeuth. We actually got three offers to do this record and that was cool. Bob did all the work. I just said find somebody and I'll do it, and he found three people, two of which were no good right off the bat because there wasn't enough money involved, and when I say money, you would have had to have offered me one of two things: either money or distribution. So what we got was... we didn't get money, we got a very good deal in terms of the people we're dealing with. They're reputable, they've got connections, we're gonna get good distribution, we're gonna get all the kinds of things that we never really had with Razor before. And that's why we're doing it now. This thing could actually sell, not just because it's a good album, but because there are a lot of people who are gonna get a chance to be exposed to it because of the people we're dealing with. Well, not in North America, unfortunately. The album's not coming out in North America. It's only coming out in Europe and in the Far East.

CoC: When is it to be released?

DC: We're in mixing right now, and mixing is supposed to be done in the middle of May, but we've been working on it since February. The album's just about done. Everything's coming together right now, so I would say that this thing will probably be released mid-summer. [The album has subsequently been delayed until August 30th in Europe, with a September release in Japan.]

CoC: Is the musical direction of _Decibels_ still speed, still guitar-centric?

DC: We don't categorize the music anymore in terms of calling it speed metal or thrash metal or metal or anything, not because we're trying to sound like Metallica, who always go "we're just Metallica, that's all we are." That's what they always say whenever you ask them any questions, you know? Not that I like them, 'cause I don't, that's another thing altogether. We just call the music Razor music anyway, because the truth is it's unique as far as we're concerned. Is it fast? Yes. Is all of it fast? No. Is most of it fast? Yes. Seventy-five percent of this album is fast. When I say fast, it's not quite as fast as the stuff on _Open Hostility_ was. It's close to being as fast as that, but it's a little bit less fast. Are you familiar with Slayer?

CoC: Yes.

DC: The earlier Slayer recordings, there's this album called _Hell Awaits_ and there's another album called _Reign in Blood_. It's somewhere in between those two in terms of the speed. It's a nice pace, it's a really heavy, fast pace, there's no question. That's where most of it is as far as the overall flavour of it. There's some different types of tunes in there, too, that people aren't used to hearing from Razor that are there, too, but nothing cheesy, there's no such thing as anything like a ballad. There's nothing like that, it's all butt-kickin' heavy.

CoC: Keyboards?

DC: There are some keyboards in places, but none during the song. There are some keyboard fills that are very cool, and just a couple of things.

CoC: Lyrical direction?

DC: Bob wrote all the lyrics. This was the deal: it was a fifty-fifty deal, partnership between Bob and me. I wrote all the music, Bob wrote all the lyrics. As far as the lyrics and the lyrical direction, the political thing is pretty much gone, that was my trip. This new album, the titles of the songs, there's songs like "Decibels", "Life Sentence", one's called "Liar", one's called "Great White Lie", it's about cocaine abuse. There's a song called "Open Hostility", which is actually quite funny, "Jimi the Fly", which is a Mafia song. See, he writes about stuff like this. "Violence... Gun Control" is about the ability to control a gun, <laughs> a song called "Goof Soup", which is a revenge-type song. Gee, what a surprise, eh? I think Bob sings a lot about raw deals and getting screwed around and that kind of stuff. It's all done in a... there's not a real seriousness about the thing we're doing here. You can tell when you listen to this that we're having a good time, we enjoyed making this and that it's fun, it's a lot of fun, there's not a lot of pressure on us to make this record. That's one thing about it, it didn't sound like it's a forced record, it's done exactly the way we wanted, to our taste. This is the first time I can really say that with complete conviction.

CoC: So who else is in the band besides Bob Reid and yourself?

DC: Basically, it's just SFH (Bob Reid's other act). Do you know SFH?

CoC: Yes.

DC: It's basically Jon Armstrong and Rich Oosterbosch from SFH hooking up with us. The band didn't continue over the years, just me and Bob writing, did. When the time came to do this, Bob just said "Dave, I have a band for you", 'cause I said we need a band. He says "I'll just give you a band. Just use my band." Those guys are always off and on, and they wanted to work with me anyway. Jon was the [bassist] on _Open Hostility_. Jon didn't get credit on _Open Hostility_. Jon joined up and toured with us for _Open Hostility_. He was in Razor in 1991, he toured across Canada with me and Rob Mills. Adam was in another band, Adam was doing some other projects. So Rich is the only guy left, the only former member of SFH who's never worked with Razor, and so now he's working with Razor, too!

CoC: Is SFH on hold?

DC: It isn't on hold, really, they're just doing both. I told him, if we go on tour, what we'll do is, you can open up the show, and then I'll just join you on the guitar and do Razor! <laughs> And Rich says, "That's good, I'll just need to eat twenty pounds of food before the show!"

CoC: Did the other members help in the songwriting process?

DC: It's just me and Bob. These are great guys, and the reason they're great guys is because they just want to play with Bob and I, that's it. Bob and I need that, we're those kind of guys. Bob and I are both leaders, it's not a matter of me being a leader, and Bob not being one. Bob is totally a leader type of guy, and between the two of us, Bob has his side and I have my side, and we made a deal. Bob says I really respect your music and everything else, and I said I really respect your vocals and your lyric writing and everything else, you do that, and I'll do this and we'll work together. And the other two guys just want to work with us. They leave us to do everything and when the time comes, they just say "What do we do?"

CoC: You indicated in _Exhumed_ that you felt you had achieved everything you could through Razor. How did you come to using the old moniker?

DC: We did think that and I still do. I achieved as much as I was going to. I have to qualify that by saying I have achieved everything I can with Razor at this time and part of the reason why I say that is because we only had limited record company interest. The only types of record company that wanted to deal with us weren't going to be able to do more for us than Fringe, so I didn't think there was going to be a chance to do any more. The second thing is that Razor needed to go away for awhile for it to be as interesting to so many people when it's coming back. One thing I've noticed, I've got a lot of people calling me and sending me stuff in the mail, they're talking to me about this new recording. The interest is really there because the band was gone for five years. At the time I wrote the note for _Exhumed_, we needed to be away for a long time. We needed to be disappearing for a long while. And really, to be honest with you, for North America, we still are gone, we're gone for life in North America, because North America has never really gotten into us like the people in Europe and in the Far East have. That's always been the case, we've always done better in Europe by far, and the Far East, we only did one release there, which is _Open Hostility_, and it did very well over there. From that, Tom Tremeuth gathered, "I don't want to do you guys in North America, I think it's a waste of time." We decided to release is as Razor because Tom wanted it that way. We would have done it as Razor anyway, but Tom Tremeuth was interested and enthusiastic about this recording and he wanted it to be Razor. He said that the name Razor means something in the Far East, and it means something in Europe, but it doesn't mean anything here. He had a lot more doors open for him if it was Razor, so that's why it's Razor. And [the music] is, anyway, it is Razor.

CoC: Where was _Decibels_ recorded, and who produced it?

DC: It was recorded in Hamilton, Ontario, in a studio called The Tube, which is a studio that's owned by Tom Tremeuth; it's a nice studio. Producers are myself and Bob Reid, with Tom being the executive producer, which basically means he can come in and say I spent all this money on this and "I am..." or "I'm not happy with it." That's basically what executive producers are, the guys with the money. That's what he is, and he's been in it a few times. He's very happy with the recording, he's listening to it. Do you know Tom's track record, what he's done?

CoC: I recall a lot of Canadian bands, Brighton Rock, Honeymoon Suite...

DC: He's got a lot of gold records on his wall; Honeymoon Suite; the most successful Helix albums; he's worked with Platinum Blonde; he's got a track record. We didn't want to deal with a Mickey Mouse guy. We wanted to deal with somebody who, at the very least, had contacts within Canada and outside Canada.

CoC: Any touring plans?

DC: Not so much. Like I've said, I've got my own career. Believe it or not, I work as an automotive engineer, which is kind of a strange twist, and I make very good money at it. I haven't been interested in worrying about how much of my personal time has to be invested in this. I will do something if Tom has already said, "If I can get you guys over to Japan or Europe, I need you to be able to go, can you go or not?" He almost asked us that before we signed the deal, and I told him "Tom, I can do that, but it has to be done in such a way that everything's coordinated in like a month and half, it's all done at once. I can't drop it and leave, I'm not going to bail out on a career that makes me some serious money just to dabble in this and then two years down the road I've got nothing else." So, touring plans, well, will you see us in Canada or the USA? I wouldn't hold my breath.

CoC: What about album availability?

DC: It will be available [in North America] as an import, and I would suggest strongly that people buy the Japanese version if they can because the Japanese version includes two old Razor songs re-recorded. "Instant Death" and "Rebel Onslaught" are re-done for the Japanese version, [but] they won't be on the European version. The Japanese always want something extra, that's just the way they work. Part of their record industry is they always want to offer the people in Japan something more than what the rest of the world gets. That's just how it works, so when we signed the arrangement, it's with Panasonic over there, they basically said, "We need some bonus tunes."

CoC: What other labels are involved?

DC: In Europe, it's EMI. It's a good arrangement, and that's why we decided to do it.

CoC: Finally, where have you drawn inspiration for the new songs?

DC: What it came to was that over the last couple of years, I realized one day -- I don't know if it was one day or not -- hey, I'm a way better guitar player than I used to be. And I don't mean just because I can do an Eddie Van Halen solo, because that's not what I mean: I can't do an Eddie Van Halen solo, I still can't. It's not like that. I'm a way better guitar player in terms of knowing the instrument better; I know more about melody, I know more about different types of chords, I know more about music theory. I know all kinds of stuff, and I want to put it in the music. So that's how you get stuff like "End of the War" (from _Open Hostility_). It has more to do with understanding the instrument better and being able to write songs you couldn't have written ten years ago 'cause you didn't have the musical knowledge to do it, and that's really where this has come from. I'm taking what I know now and putting it into my music, which isn't something that we did in the past as much. In the past, I had one focus, and it was be intense, be heavy, be heavier than everybody else, and that was it. Now my focus is just make the best music you can and do whatever you got to do to make it that way, and that's where this sound is coming from.

[I'd like to thank Dave Carlo for his time and his music. -- Alain]

(article submitted 5/2/1997)


ALBUMS
2/5/1997 A Gaudrault 8.5 Razor - Decibels
GIGS
1/14/2002 A Wasylyk Nitemare / Razor / Reckon With One Cutting Through the Shit
RSS Feed RSS   Facebook Facebook   Twitter Twitter  ::  Mobile : Text  ::  HTML : CSS  ::  Sitemap

All contents copyright 1995-2018 their individual creators.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission.

All opinions expressed in Chronicles of Chaos are opinions held at the time of writing by the individuals expressing them.
They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, past or present.