So Tony, how did FATAL get together back in 1985? Did the line consist of you (guitars), Mark Nowakowski (vocals/bass) and Al Czarnecki (drums) or did you perhaps go thru some line up changes before this line up was settled?
Yes, that was our lineup until 1989. I knew Mark from grade school and Al was his next door neighbor.
Was it the first band experience for all of you? What about your musical background as a whole?
No, Mark and I played together for a while before putting together Fatal, without a drummer. Al was in cover bands, he was a bit older than Mark and I. I had been playing guitar for about 3 or 4 years at that point.
What band did heavily influence you? What kind of bands, stuffs were you into at this point?
At that tiime we were into basic heavy metal; Ozzy, Priest, Maiden, WASP, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Metallica, etc..
Could you tell detailed about the Detroit scene? Were you familiar with acts, such as HALLOWEEN, SEDUCE, SYRANT etc.? Were you deeply involved in the underground scene?
Yes, we were familiar with those bands, but were more interested in the heavier bands from Europe.
As for the moniker of the band, were you aware of the existence of another band called FATAL, that was forming in Florida at this time?
We were not aware of that other band.
Did you start writing originals right from the start or were you jamming on covers?
We played covers and originals. By the time we played our first show in 1986, we were doing all originals.
How did your own songs write? I mean, who was responsible for music and lyrics? What about your early rehearsals as a whole?
Mark and I both wrote the music and lyrics at first, after a while Mark took over most of the lyrical duties.
If I’m correct, in 1986 you recorded „Demo 1”, but it wasn’t officially released, does it mean, that you were dissatisfied with the material and didn’t present the goal, that you wanted to achieve with the band?
The first demo we did in ’86 was not officially released because we changed our sound and direction soon after recording. That first demo was more like ’power-metal”. We just looked at it as a learning experience for the future.
In January 1988 you released the „Guts for dinner” demo and in June the „Molested slaughter” demo, how were these stuffs recorded? Did you record them in a studio or at your rehearsal place?
We recorded all of our material in a proper recording studio. GFD was recorded live in the studio directly to 2 track. Tape. MS was recorded on 16 track analog tape.
How do you view, that both demos introduced kind of an primitive and raw sounding American trio to the public, putting however FATAL somewhat firmly on the map of a harsh sounding underground Death/Thrash Metal?
At the time, we were just trying to have fun and improve on our sound. After Guts for Dinner, we started to notice people were paying attention.
Were the demos shopped around? Did it succeed in drawing the fans attention to the band? Did it satisfy the demand of the death/thrash metal fans?
We never shopped our demos to labels...but we did do a shit load of tape trading back then.
At which point and why did Al leave the band? Or was he perhaps fired because of some several issues or…?
He was let go in late 1988 for failure to live up to his duties as a musican. Mark and I knew we’d find a better drummer at some point, so it realy was no bog deal and a long time in the making.
He was replaced by Bill King, how did he get in the picture exactly? Was he the first choice or were there other drummers auditioned as well?
Bill and I had a mutual friend who introduced us. He was the only person we auditioned.
In 1989 you released your third demo titled „Soul burns”, that was recorded and mixed June 17 - 18, 1989 at the Tempermill, how did the recording sessions go with this demo?
This was a hard demo to make because the music was getting more technical and we had limited funds to get it done.
Do you agree with, that on „Soul burns” the band hits high gear as you welcome new drummer Bill King who pushes you to a new technical level of musicianship?
Yes, for sure.
Would you say, that yo had taken a tad more technical and brutal approach in the three new songs you had penned down for this demo? Was „Soul burns” a better representation of the band?
SB was certainly more technical and yes, we were able to do more of the style we wanted with Bill.
Leaving behind the more primitive and thrashing style of the early 1988 demo’s „Molested Slaughter” and „Guts For Dinner” the band forges ahead into pretty creative and uncharted territory, does it mean, that your musical horizont and taste was widening out? What were some newer outfits, that you discovered at this point?
Yes, after the MS demo, were started getting into more technical music and incorporated this into our sound. Bands like Coroner, Fates Warning, Dream Theatre, etc.. while still incorporating death thrash into our sound.
The guitar playing is elevated, the compositions more thought out and unique, do you agree with it?
Yes, i do.
Do you think, that the philosophy of the band seems to become darker and more concerned with esoteric ritual and existential pain than with general horror and gore?
Yes, thanks for picking up on this!
Did this demo open for you more doors and helped getting more fans, increasing a newer fanbase?
Yes, certainly. We statrted getting more mail orders after SB was released. We also promoted it much more than previous works.
Your last effort was „A somber evocation of nihilism” 7”, were you continously writing on newer material after the third demo?
Not really. It seemed like we’d write a few new songs a year and then go and record them. We were more intrerested in partying, performing live, and having fun!
It was recorded and mixed in June 5 - 18th again at Tempermill, Ferndale, were you prepared to record the material?
Yes and no. Bill and I had the song structures down, but the vocals needed to be worked out more in the studio because the songs were so new.
Did the 7” basically introduce an even more technical yet progressive FATAL, kind of the Swiss progressive metal masters CORONER, only keeping a bit more distance to some of those overly progressive elements that CORONER had in their sound?
Yes, we kept getting more and more intricate. Coroner was one of our favorite bands at the time and we took a lot from them.
How did Thrash Records get in touch with, that released the 7”? Did they offer you some contract?
Honestly, I dont remember how that came about. Im guessing that they heard SB, wrote us a letter, and wanted to release our next effort.
Were you familiar with the releases of this French label?
I dont recall.
How much did the label support and promote you? Weren’t bigger labels interests in the band?
No bigger label ever contacted us. We were disbanded about a year after the 7” came out.
Do you have any information about, how many copies were sold from the 7”? Was it a limited release? Which was the best sold FATAL material by the way?
It was a very limited release, under 1000. I still have copies for sale on eBay!
How often did you give shows? Did you have the chance being a headliner act or were you opener one for bigger names?
We played about 2-3 times a month, opening for national acts as well as headlining local shows.
The band split up in early 1991, but you had added a fourth member shortly before, who was he? How long was he in the band? What about his musical background?
Yeah, his name was Mike. It was a very short-lived situation. We wrote about 2-3 songs with him but only recorded the music at rehearsals on a jam box. I didnt really know much about him.
What kind of reasons did lead to the demise of the group?
We were all moving on to differnt points in our lives, we had been a group for about 5 years and when you’re that young, its a long time! I wanted to explore different styles of music that wasnt Metal – like gothic, industrial, darkwave, etc..
Do you agree with, that FATAL had a huge amount of potential and as time (quickly) went on, you got better at playing your instruments and you got much stronger in the structuring of songs?
Oh for sure! The stuff we were writing at the end was totally insane from a technical perspective. I dont even know if we could have pulled it off live.
It’s a real shame that FATAL’s name has never caught on in the same way as PESTILENCE or CORONER, what do you think about it and what were the reasons of it?
Thats the million dollar question. Just wasn’t in the cards fo us.
In your opinion, was FATAL one of those relatively underrated bands in the late ’80s death metal scene that never got a chance to make themselves more widely known in the worldwide underground metal scene?
Well, It’s not my opinion, it’s a historical fact. I’m surprised people still remember the tiny amount of work that we did manage to do!
On the 1st of March 2005 Necroharmonic Records released the „Retrospective from hell” compilation, how did that happen? Whose idea was the releasing of the cd?
Necroharmonic got ahold of me and asked if they could release our whole back catalogue. So i went and remastered all of our demos and complied them for this release.
This is a 17 song CD of the entire FATAL catalogue, remastered from the original tapes by you and I find it a great album, because I got familiar with the band with the help of this stuff, but what I would mention as fault, it’s the structure of the record, I mean, it must have been chronologically released.
Thank you. I’m fine with the way it was released.
Did you have some songs written back in the day, that never got up on any FATAL release? I mean, do you have some unreleased or live stuffs?
No, not really. There are only a few songs we wrote that never got recorded.
Are you still in touch these days with the other guys, I mean with Al, Bill and Mark? What are they doing nowadays?
Yes, I’ve been in contact with all my old band mates. They are all moved away and doing varous things, working raising a family etc. Im the only one still involed in making music.
Do you still keep an eye on what’s going on in the metal scene? Are there any bands these days, that you enjoy(ed) a lot or do you prefer rather the old classics?
Not really, here and there. I still enjoy all the old classics! My favorite new metal band is Bloodbath...and many of the early ’90’s Black Metal bands.
Tony, thanks a lot for your answers, anything to add that I forgot to mention or to cover?
No, but thank you very much for keeping Fatal and our music alive!!
Interview by Leslie David