So Mike, do you still recall how did you discover metal music? What were the records, that helped you discovering metal?
I was into punk before I got into metal. I first started listening to metal when the punk/metal crossover scene started. The first metal bands that I listened to were Slayer and Sacrifice, as well as some punk bands that had metal elements, like Direct Action, D.R.I., and Corrosion of Conformity.
When did you decide becoming a musician? Did you pick up the drums right from the start or…?
I started playing music when I was 12 years old. I played guitar first, but started playing drums early on. I joined my first band as a drummer when I was 13 years old (a Toronto punk band called Random Killing).
Which drummers had the biggest effect on you? Were you self-taught by the way?
Other than drummers in local punk bands, the first drummer that had a big effect on me was Stewart Copeland. I still love his playing to this day. I took a few lessons in the very beginning but then learned on my own and through playing in punk bands. I took some other drum lessons later on, but I'm mostly self-taught.
How do you view or what do you think about, that bands, such as RUSH, ANVIL, RAPID TEARS, KILLER DWARFS etc. were the earliest Canadian bands and the put the country on the map of metal?
I really wasn't into those bands. At that time, I wasn't into metal, so they didn't have an effect on me.
At which point and how did the Canadian metal scenes, such as Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa etc. come into being?
I was initially into the punk scene in Toronto which was amazing at that time, with bands like Direct Action, Sudden Impact and Chronic Submission. By the time I got into metal, the scene was already strong, so I don't know much about how it started.
Let we stay by Toronto because you are from the city of the Maple Leafs, what do you recall of the late ’70s/early ’80s Toronto scene? Did the aforementioned bands open the doors for younger outfits, such as SACRIFICE, INFERNAL MAJESTY, LETHAL PRESENCE, MASSACRE, DEATH MILITIA, BEYOND etc.?
I first started going to shows and playing in bands in the early-to-mid 80s. But yes, I would think that those other bands definitely had an influence on Sacrifice and the other bands that you mentioned.
To which extent were you familiar with these bands? How deeply were you involved in the underground scene?
I was very familiar with all of these bands and used to go see them a lot. I was very involved in the underground scene at that time and saw a lot of amazing shows at venues like Larry's Hideaway in Toronto.
How did the whole DARK LEGION story start exactly? How did you get together? Did you already know each other earlier or…?
Sean Tracy and I were in a punk band together called Lab Animals in the early-to-mid 80s. When that band broke up, we were both starting to get into metal and so we decided to start Dark Legion.
Did the band’s line up consist of Sean Tracey on vocals, Mark Watts on guitar, Mark Faria on bass and you on drums right from the start or did you go thru some line up changes?
Yes, that was the initial lineup of Dark Legion. We didn't go through any line up changes before that.
Mark Faria joined the band, after he left DEATH MILITIA, but he was also involved in MASSACRE, correct? How did come, that while in his previous acts he was playing on guitar in DARK LEGION he became the bassplayer?
Hmm, I can't remember if Mark Faria was in Massacre. Maybe he was. And maybe he was the guitar player. I'm really not sure. Sorry! But he was only the bass player in Dark Legion from the start (he never played guitar in that band).
Mark Watts is the brother of SACRIFICE’s bassist Scott Watts, isn’t he?
He sure is!
At which point did bassists Craig Young (ex-ASSOCIATION AREA), Colin Gerrad and guitarists Ken Wakefield (ex-OVERTHROW) and Kevin Smith (ex-HOLOCAUST) play in the ranks of the band?
At some point, Sean Tracy and Mark Faria left Dark Legion and we moved in a bit of a new direction. Colin Gerrard and Ken Wakefield were in the second incarnation of the band, and Kevin Smith and Craig Young were in the final line up.
Who did do/draw the cool logo?
I'm pretty sure that it was Harry Tong, who also did a lot of the early artwork for many bands in Toronto.
Did you start writing originals or were you jamming on covers? What bands would you mention as your most important influences?
We were always focused on originals only. Some of our influences were Discharge, Direct Action, Sacrifice, Slayer, Celtic Frost and Venom.
In March 1986 you recorded a demo titled „Psychosis” and it was engineered by Steve X, produced by also him and the band, was it studio or a home-made recording? I mean, did you record it in a studio or at your rehearsal place?
It's a long time ago so it's hard to remember all of the details! I'm pretty sure that the recording was done in our rehearsal space and not in a studio. Steve X had some recording equipment - I think it was done on a 4-track recorder.
Do you still remember how was the demo recorded and how long did the recording sessions take?
I can't remember! (see above)
How would you describe the demo and what do you think about it after 29 years of its releasing?
I would describe the demo as sounding just like we did at that time, which was very raw. We were just getting into metal and writing songs in that genre for the first time.
Do you agree with, that the music was raw, fast and aggressive and contained a lot of punk/hc elements?
It was definitely raw and aggressive, and had a lot of punk/hardcore elements for sure. Since me and Sean came from a punk background, that was a big part of what we were into and what we had already been playing.
How did the demo sound like?
It sounds like inexperienced raw extreme metal!
Was the demo shopped around back in the day? Was it distributed thru the fanzine / tapetrading network?
We never shopped the demo to labels, but it was definitely sent around the world a lot through tapetrading and fanzines. We used to get orders from all over the place.
Were you known locally or also in other parts of Canada or perhaps outside of Canada?
Dark Legion never played outside of Toronto, but we were known in a lot of places through tapetrading and fanzine articles.
I have a DARK LEGION foutracks rehearsal (but without any date), featuring „P. O. W.”, „Dark Legion”, „Scream” and „Impaler”, was „P. O. W.” a brandnew track? Did you have perhaps some songs written, that never saw the light?
There were tons of other songs that were never released. We used to record a lot of them on tape players to see how they sounded and just to have them recorded for ourselves.
Was there perhaps recording a second demo in mind?
With the second and third line-ups, we recorded quite a bit and there were definitely plans for other demo releases and maybe even record releases. It never made it to that point though.
Have you ever gigged with DARK LEGION? Did you have the opportunity becoming an opener acts before bigger bands, such as SACRIFICE, INFERNAL MAJESTY etc.?
Dark Legion played a lot of local shows with other local bands, and yes, we were lucky to get to open for some amazing bigger bands, like Sacrifice and Blind Illusion.
Did you consider yourselves talented, experienced musicians?
Not really! We were inexperienced and were just figuring it all out back then. We were proud of what we were doing for sure though.
In 2006 Evil Legend Records released „You can’t kill what’s already dead: Anthology 1985 – 1988” of DEATH MILITIA, did you never think about to re-release the „Psychosis” demo with live recordings and unreleased materials? Have you ever got an offer considering the re-releasing of your materials?
I've had people mention this idea to me over the years, but no, it's not something that I've ever considered doing. I moved on after that, and I've always been focused on the music that I'm involved with at the time as opposed to focusing on releasing things from the past.
At which point and why did the band’s story come to an end? Did you take part on a friendly term at the end?
Yes, it ended on good terms more-or-less. I don't remember exactly when or why we broke up, but I think we may have stopped the band when I joined Sacrifice.
Are you still in touch with each other? What about the former DARK LEGION members these days?
I'm really not in touch with any of them much these days, so I'm not sure what they're up to now. I'm sure you can find them though!
How would you sum up DARK LEGION’s career? Are you proud of being the member of the band?
I would say that we were playing exactly the kind of music that we wanted to play, and we were really fortunate to get quite a bit of attention for a new band. We were lucky to get to play a lot of really great shows and we learned a lot!
Thanks for the interview!
Interview with Michael Rosenthal (drums Dark Legion) by Leslie David