Hi Andy! I have hunted on the internet after your e-mail address and fortunate I have found it. My goal is to do with you an interview. Are you in the mood to answer my questions? Lead us in the story of SORROW!
“Sure, I’ll answer anything I can remember. It has been such a long time since the days of SORROW and I haven’t really been in the scene for just as long. I’m glad you were able to find me.”
I know, you have came from New York. Tell me please about the scene of New York, when the band was established!
“Yes, Long Island, NY actually. SORROW actually started as “APPARITION” in 1988. We were a 5 piece thrash band back then. The scene in NY? Well, it seemed that people in NY only really came to your shows if you were a signed act. I think we enjoyed the shows out of state more than in our hometown. Maybe because we had a bigger crowd out of state. Or maybe it was because we could drink or the fact that I could smoke cigarettes and not have to worry about getting caught by my parents outside of NY.”
How was the underground, which bands have taken part on it, with which bands were you in connection, what kind of shows/gigs did you see etc.? Tell us please detailed!
“The underground scene in NY in ’88 was pretty much flooded with thrash bands. I remember lots of young people working their asses off trying to promote it by putting out these “zines” that were very supportive of us and other bands they liked. We would send them demo tapes in exchange for reviews and promotion ads. It was really taken for granted back then. Now with the internet, “zines” are a thing of the past. If you lucky, you might find a fan who has a website dedicated to a certain band or certain style of music and you might find an email address. But anyway, thrash was huge back then and I guess you could say we just jumped on the wagon and started playing it with our own background musical influences thrown in there. I was into “Poser” music as well as thrash and lots of other stuff and Brett and Mike were into hardcore and other stuff as well. So you could find some of that thrown in there with the riffs I was ripping off from TESTAMENT in our songs and that made up our little “APPARITION” sound. Some bands I remember were PRIME EVIL, EVICTION, MAELSTORM, IMMOLATION, HALLOWS MIST, SUFFOCATION, GORGUTS, MALEVOLENT CREATION, and a few others that eventually got signed. We had contact with some of those bands. SUFFOCATION were our friends. I wasn’t really into going to shows myself for some reason. I guess because I got nervous in big crowds. I’m kind of shy actually. But you probably would never know that by looking at me…. I think our biggest show was opening for Cronos of VENOM up in Boston. I remember that stage being huge and we got a great response that night. I also remember our guitars got stolen that night.. LOL!!!!”
Was at that time New York the centre of the hardcore and thrash movement, wasn’t it?
“Yes. That actually became a problem for some of us back then. Because people were into both styles, but there would be fights at shows all of the time between skinheads and thrashers. I remember Brett getting his nose broken by a punch from a skinhead just before we did the pictures for our 2nd demo. You could see his swollen nose in the picture.”
When, how, by whom was SORROW established?
“As I said before, SORROW, was actually “APPARITION” in March 1988 and the band was the idea of Brett and Mike. I was brought on board by the original bassist, Rich Figlia. That’s a funny story actually. Because Rich was friends with both Bill and I. But I think he brought me to try out in the band because maybe I was hanging out with him that night. Otherwise, he would have brought Bill. Rob Hernandez was actually the lead singer on our 1st demo. Rob got booted, so Rich and I split vocal duties on the 2nd demo. Later on before Bill joined the band, Chris Richards, prior to joining SUFFOCATION, jammed with us for a while.”
Did you play in several bands before you joined forces?
“Yes, I was in about 3 before SORROW. I sent a demo tape of my guitar playing to Chuck Schuldiner of DEATH just after James or after “Spiritual Healing” came out. It was just before we got signed. I know Bill was in a few other bands, but I couldn’t name of them. I’m pretty sure it was Bretts 1st band, but not Mikes’ 1st band.”
Did you know earlier each other?
“Mike and I were in the same grade in the same school, but we hung out with totally opposite crowds and I don’t think we would have ever been friends if it werent for SORROW. Brett was in the same school also, but a grade older. Same non-friend deal with me and Brett but I think he may have been friends with Mike. Bill, I met through Rich, but again, probably never would have crossed paths with him either.”
Which bands have had an effect on you? How years old were you at that time?
“I’m guessing you mean my personal influences. I started playing guitar when I was 7 years old and back then it was ALICE COOPER, TED NUGENT, BLACK SABBATH and KISS. For guitar playing, ACE FREHLEY was a HUGE influence on me. Later on, I would start listening to more “poser” style music. Warren DiMartini of RATT, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, JASON BECKER, etc. Bandwise later on it was FATES WARNING, TESTAMENT, DEATH, QUEENSRYCHE. I could go on for hours with this…. But we were all either 17 or 18 years old in the beginning of APPARITION.”
Tell us please your rehearses! How many times did you rehearse a week? How was your your rehearsal room?
“I remember we would rehearse 2-3 times a week for about 1 1 hours per session and we would mainly rehearse only the songs that we were playing out in our live set. The rehearsal room was in the basement on Mikes moms house until rich was moshing around and jumped into a wall down there, breaking the sheetrock. To this date I don’t think it’s been repaired…LOL!!!! We got kicked out of there and recorded our 2nd demo in a basement rental that was a real shithole. But it was alarmed so we made it a 2nd home. After that, we somehow managed to start jamming in Mikes Moms’ basement again.”
How many demos did you record?
“Actual releases - 2 demo cassettes and 1 vinyl EP.”
Which songs were on them?
“1988 APPARITION demo contained 3 songs. 1-“Final warning”, 2-“Vicious Kill”, 3- “Misled Soul”. 1989 APPARITION “Human Fear” demo contained 3 songs. 1-“Hidden Fear”, 2-“Narcissistic World”, 3-“Human Error”. 1990’s APPARITION vinyl EP released “Eternally forgotten” and “Curse the sunrise” on Relapse records. They were 2 of the 4 songs found on the “Forgotten Sunrise” Roadrunner Records EP. 4 songs were recorded at the time of that release, but we could only fit 2 on the Relapse EP. The difference between the Relapse and Roadrunner versions is Relapse had the original mixes of those 2 songs.”
In what kind of reception were the demos by the fans and by the press participated?
“I think the joke was that we got excellent reviews, but nobody came to our shows. I don’t really recall though, but it was a weird response. I remember that. We were always confused by that.”
Did you send from the demos to several labels?
“Yes, we sent our demos to many labels with no bites. It was a very frustrating time.”
Do you remember about, how and when did you get in touch with Roadrunner?
“We were guests of SUFFOCATION at a Roadrunner Records christmas party. The story goes like this. While Mike was chatting it up with Monte, the A&R guy at Roadrunner, I slipped our 4 song cassette tape, later titled “Forgotten Sunrise”, into the sound system that everybody was listening to that night. Mike said to Monte, “this is my band playing now….” And Monte said, “come back on Monday and we’ll talk about a contract”.
At that time was Roadrunner an underground label, wasn’t it?
“Yes, they were an underground independent label. They have gotten so big over the years.”
In my opinion they have had very good bands like DEICIDE, SEPULTURA, DEFIANCE, EXHORDER, OBITUARY mainly death and thrash bands.
“I agree that they have made some good decisions with some of their bands. Their problem was that they flooded the scene with too many bands at one time and only a few of those bands survived. We obviously were not one of them.”
By whom were the SORROW songs (music and lyrics) written?
“Brett and/or I would come up with the riffs in the songs. We would show the riffs to the other guys in the band and then everybody would play their parts and add their own little “spices” to what they played. It usually made the songs sound different in the end. It was always good. We never had problems with that. Towards the end of Sorrow, Brett would spend almost months recording the parts to a new song onto a cassette, hand the cassette to Mike and I and then Mike would write his drum parts. Then the next time or so that we jammed, we’d give the new tune a try. In the beginning, like Brett, I would write the lyrics to my own songs. But later, my songs were done a bit different. On the 2nd album after my carbon monoxied accident, I had problems getting thoughts together to write lyrics and I realized I didn’t like writing them anymore. So Mike would write lyrics and hand them to me and then I would put music to his lyrics. It’s was a bad habit to get into and I havent been able to break it since.”
What were all about the lyrics?
“Our lyrics were definitely NOT about satan and demons and things like that. Maybe in the beginning they were but not later on. During SORROW days, lyrics were about social and government topics. The hardcaore influence really started coming out in our lyrics. Things like AIDS, freedom of speech, religion, personal struggle. Things that really meant something to us.”
I ask you to speak detailed about your releases! I mean, about the recordings, songs, cover, sound – in a word, about the whole production! Your first release was a three track EP „Forgotten sunrise” (1991).
“Forgotten Sunrise” was a 4-song EP. We just went along with whatever the guy behind the sound-board said. The only thing I remember from that recording was that Brett re-recorded some guitar parts and I can still hear those little differences. We were also supposed to go in and record some more songs, but because of my accident, I was unable to play guitar and to “keep the momentum going”, we released that as a mini-LP. But we did have material for more songs. We always had songs to record the album after the album we were currently recording. What else…. That is Bretts eye on the cover and some of the european releases came with a scratch and sniff rear photo for his ass. LOL!!! I’m only joking…..”
It was followed by „Hatred and disgust” (1992).
“On the “Hatred and disgust” album, all I can tell you is we felt a lot more freedom as far as the music went and I felt a lot more comfortable singing and had developed my own singing style. But Monte at Roadrunner suggested we use Scott Burns for production and a Dan SeaGrave album cover like all the other death metal bands were doing. We wanted to be different from everyone else so we refused and I guess that was a bad thing to do judging by the outcome. We weren’t really being pushed by Roadrunner with ads and we weren’t placed on any tours. So basically, we screwed ourselves. But at least we got to use the cover from the 2nd demo as the cover for “Hatred”. It actually came out looking really cool and Monte really liked it. He liked the fact that we were able to record cheaply. So any sales that the album made meant profit for the label. So they pushed us minimally and they had nothing to lose. I guess we became a tax write-off. We didn’t really tour. I think we refused a european tour with a bigger act because some of the guys didn’t want to miss a semester at college or something like that. But it was a cool experience to get a pay-check from album sales and have 2 albums that were basically, released all over the world. It is really pretty amazing. Also, in the 1st song on “Hatred”, the song “Insatiable”, if you listen closely , you can hear me say “lets get this party going tough guy….” Just as the song starts picking up. LOL!!! I thought it was pretty funny at the time.”
As far as the name of the band and the title of the albums, to what did they refer? Were you pessimist?
“The name change was brought on by Roadrunner. APPARITION didn’t mean anything. Mike and Brett came up with SORROW. I didn’t like it at first, but then it finally grew on me. It definitely gives you an idea of what to expect when you listen to our music. We were just trying to show the darker, gloomier sides of life but in a positive way. Like saying here is whats wrong and here is what you can do to fix it.”
Did you play shows, were you on tours after the releasing of the album? Where and with which bands did you play together?
“We played some shows. We brought SEPULTURA to their first taste of white castle burgers. LOL!!!! I remember those guys hanging out with us in Bretts living room. And driving with Igor in my Trans Am to white castle in Huntington, NY on rte. 110. It was great. We played with DEATH, INC, DECEASED, GORGUTS, SUFFOCATION, DEVASTATION, IMMOLATION, too many to list…..”
How would you characterize the music of SORROW? Were you a doom metal band or rather a doom/death one? It is worth to categorize music?
“It is difficult to categorize. I’d say we were a death/doom metal band. Both styles always slipped in there no matter what.”
At that early ’90-s was doom metal popular and some death metal band have started mixing their music with doom parts. Such bands have appeared or have released albums, like CONFESSOR, WINTER, REVELATION, COUNT RAVEN, SOLITUDE AETURNUS, INTERNAL VOID etc. How do you remember about that period? Why did doom metal come into fashion?
“Actually, I think grind was huge at the time when SORROW was coming along. I remember we purposely chose to go in the opposite direction of speed. We wanted to be just as heavy, but at a slower pace. We prided ourselves in that. I think a lot of bands were trying to be clones of MORBID ANGEL. I liked that style of music to, but never really put that pace into any of our songs. I think that doom came to be because the market became flooded with too much grind. But grind never died and doom was never as popular as grind. It’s funny when I hear bands nowadays, all the doom and grind parts mixed into one song. It’s amazing what the new guys are doing.”
Most of the doom bands have released one or two albums (for example SORROW, CONFESSOR or WINTER) and only few bands could release more (3-4) ones. What do you think about it?
“LOL, what do I think about that? I think it sucks, but what can I do. It happened for various reasons. But like I said, doom never became quite as popular as grind for some reason. I guess people couldn’t handle all the sludge……”
In your opinion was SORROW popular or were you an underground act? Did many fans know you?
“We definitely had more of a cult following so I would consider us more of an underground act. We were more popular overseas than in the USA. It was a great feeling getting fanmail from people in places like Malaysia and Turkey. It was weird. It was like, wow, we sold cd’s where? Then I’d go to a map and look up where it was in the world.”
What does it mean for you to be underground?
“I think at the time I really wanted SORROW to get huge, like METALLICA. But obviously, it didn’t happen. For us to remain underground? I don’t know. Some people used to feel that depending on what label you got signed to, you were either still underground or you sold out. As I said before, I liked “poser” bands so I would have loved to have been signed to Sony or a huge label like that. Actually, because of the fact that I was into “poser” style music, I didn’t really understand the whole underground theory. I always wanted SORROW to be as big as possible. Why would anyone want anything other than that? I think remaining underground was more of a hardcore “pride” thing.”
Why and when did you split up?
“SORROW spilt up in like May of 1993. In a DVD I made of various VHS videotape footage I recorded of the band over the years, I have the last SORROW jam ever. Songs that we planned on playing on the 3rd album. We split up mostly because Roadrunner dropped us. We quickly lost faith and some of the guys were playing in side projects. I remember back then, to me, it was like they were cheating on SORROW. Side projects werent as popular then as they are today. I remember Mike was jamming with other guys and decided to quit and play full time with them after we were dropped. For some reason, I think I was the one that didn’t want to look for another drummer. I don’t know why. It’s not like there werent other drummers around. I must have been so disgusted with the way we were dropped by Roadrunner that I just did not want to continue. It was very easy to be depressed after that. I don’t know if I’ve fully recovered actually. But life goes on…”
What do the other guys nowadays do?
“Everybodys got there day jobs and our lives have changed a lot. I don’t think anyone is doing anything muscially anymore. We all had different temporary bands. I was engineering/producing music for a while. I still do actually. I just joined my brothers band called “ZERO BY NONE” playing guitar. Some music of ours can be found at www.zerobynone.com. Because I have been recording music digitally, I have been able to create my own music with “SPACEDIVE”. http://spacedive.panicnow.net/ is where that can be found. I haven’t worked on that in a long while since I’ve been in ZERO BY NONE.”
Are you still in connection with each other?
“Every once in a while I speak with the guys. We are just a phone call away. So we still consider each other friends. I play Ice hockey with Bill sometimes.”
Didn’t you think about to reform SORROW?
“LOL… actually, just recently I made that suggestion after I saw SUFFOCATION on MTV2, a music channel here in the states. SUFFOCATION were promoting their new cd. I was like WTF?!?!?! I gotta get back in there. These guys are the same age as me!!! But that suggestion didn’t fly very well with the 1st guy I mentioned it to and I guess that’s where it ended. Like I said, we have different responsibilities now.”
What do you say to it that CONFESSOR is active again? Did you/do you know them?
“I think it’s great that they are still doing what they love to do. I loved CONFESSOR. I did not know them personally, but I loved their music.”
Do you like the classic bands of doom metal like TROUBLE, CANDLEMASS, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE OBSESSED etc.?
“I did like some of those bands. Honestly, some of the ones you mentioned I have never heard. See? I told you I was a closet poser…. I really never got too into the scene for a few reasons. 1st was because I didn’t want to sound like other bands on the scene. The other reason was because I honestly did not like a lot of the stuff that was out there at the time. A lot of it sounded pretty much the same to me. Although I did appreciate the fact the the bands were trying.”
What did you do after the splitting up of SORROW? Would you tell us detailed about your career?
“I took some time off to get my head together and decide what I wanted to do. I eventually fell into a depression. It sucked. But I went in another direction musically. I joined/formed a band called RAIN. I sang and played guitar in that band. It was a STONE TEMPLE PILOTS/SOUNDGARDEN type thing. We went into the studio and started recording one song at a time and the band fell apart. We didn’t even complete one song. The only part we had left to do in one of the songs was the guitar solo. The band ended before I could do that. So it was like another deflating experience. So I finally had had enough and learned how to record things on my own. I started a little business and posted a website http://www.soundcontrol.us/ and ended up performing music on my own. I wanted to give bands a cheap and friendly way of recording their music. I still do it from time to time, depending on where the band is located.”
Nowadays you are doing a band SPACEDIVE. Why are you alone?
“I was influenced by Kevin Moore of CHROMA KEY. He is by himself in CHROMA KEY and I was like WOW! I want to do that. So that is how that started. I’m not alone because I want to be, it just worked out that way. It also gives me total control over how everything sounds. I write songs about depressing events. I wrote a song about the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Events that affect my life, I write about.”
What must we know about it?
“Visit http://spacedive.panicnow.net/ for more info. SPACEDIVE does not have any “official” releases, but I did make a cd with a few songs and a cover like the website and copies of it are available to anyone who emails me and is willing to pay the shipping charge.”
You mentioned in your e-mail, you want to release a SORROW DVD. What kind of stuff will be on it?
“I compiled all the APPARITION/SORROW VHS footage I had and created a DVD. It is a double DVD. Disk one has rehearsal footage in Mikes basement of songs from both albums, behind the scenes footage of us making asses out of ourselves, studio footage from the making of “Hatred & Disgust” and tracks from the H & D demo cassette that was supposed to be given to Roadrunner for “approval” that was never recorded because the engineer in the studio forgot to press record. I think the Super Bowl was on or something so he wasn’t paying attention. The 2nd DVD contains APPARITION- live in Boston on 3/15/89, and the very last SORROW rehearsal that contained songs from the album to be recorded after “H & D” that never happened. I think its something I would love to see and own if I was a fan.”
What do you think about the present scene?
“I don’t know much about it. I really havent been paying attention. Too much going on in my own little world that I kind of just shut it out and just purchased cd’s of bands I like and put my headphones on and just listen. That’s the best. Opening a brand new cd and popping it in your walkman and just listening. It’s like reading a new book. I hate reading, but I’d imagine it would be the same if I did ....LOL!!!”
What kind of bands, music do you listen to?
“Nowadays I’m a huge SEVENDUST fan. I love FATES WARNING, DREAM THEATRE, JOURNEY. My musical tastes change like I change my socks. I love all types of music. I’ve always been that way. From WHITE LION, EXTREME and POISON, to RUSH, ENRIQUE IGLESIAS, MICHAEL JACKSON and SLIPKNOT. I love it all. Good or bad, life would suck without music.”
Andy, thank you for your answers, I wish you all the best. Please tell us your closing words.
“I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions. I really appreciate it. It keeps me motivated to continue making music. I think you could do a google.com search on my name and most of the music I’ve worked on over the years should come up. If you’d like a copy of the SORROW DVD, email me at email@example.com. I should have a SORROW website up sometime in the future with pictures of SORROW I’ve taken over the years. The DVD is $10 US dollars and I think will only work in US DVD players. If you would like to contact me, use that same address. Last, please check out my new band and www.zerobynone.com. Thanks again and good luck to you.”
by David Laci