Brian, do you still remember, how and when did you discover hard rock/heavy metal?
For me it was collage radio there were tons of local record stores but the best way to find out what was good was to learn the college radio roster and learn for yourself what was good and what wasn’t/ and eventually it led to finding people who were involved in tape trading and sharing music, I was lucky enough to make friends with a few of the college dj’s so when I could I would bring blank cassettes with me to the radio show and use one of the studios to dub recordings and eventually my collection grew fast . And of course I would buy the physical version of the must haves, it was definitely a different time before the internet, people these days really have no idea how easy it is to discover new music with sites like Bandcamp and YouTube, I’m not big on sites like Spotify …
What were your impressions? What did you find so exciting in this music?
My first impression of metal was a instant love for something completely different than commercial radio classics for me it was exciting to listen to at the time a revolution of music, many bands were just breaking through the scenes and the big bands like Metallica, Slayer and Saxon and Venom were the gateway bands to the ones to follow I leaned more to the extreme bands right away so hearing bands like Nasty Savage, Death, and the German bands like Sodom and Kreator were my go to bands at the time this was before Death Metal even existed as a matter of fact I remember hearing the Morbid Angel demo on college radio and having to get a copy from them at the time bands advertising in the back of magazines were common and usually a great way to meet people in the underground. Many times it led to trading tape lists and even demos, trading with other bands back in the day was a good way to trade shows and have the opportunity to play in other cities…
At which point did you start turning into the underground?
Turning to the underground that’s a interesting question because back in the early 80/90s it wasn’t really considered the underground at that time it was groundbreaking new bands were coming out all the time and some were remaining in the vein of what they always did and others were getting heavier and heavier the vocals we’re changing to more depth growling and others in more the power metal styles I always liked the heavier vocals but still being able to hear the lyrics, slayer did a good job with it as well as Celtic Frost.
How did you end up becoming musician? Did your choice fall right away on the guitar?
Actually no I started on the bass because my brother was a guitar player and I figured since we were in a band together it would be good to play bass besides finding a singer was difficult we released a rehearsal in 1985 with a singer and he was good but it didn’t work out so I decided to take over on vocals it also helped playing bass moving over to double duty, it came pretty naturally. Most musicians struggled with doing both but for me it was easier to express the lyrics through the music I was writing. Then I moved over to guitar, most of the songs needed 2 guitars and I found it easier to write with a guitar than bass. But still to this day I play most instruments on all the recordings besides drums, that I find the need to connect with a drummer to discover new music.
-What were your influences as a whole?
Most of the early influences were classic players like Geddy Lee from rush and others but as far as guiding my own music I leaned towards the bands I listened to in the early days I’ve for years credited-Slayer-Nasty Savage- Venom- Celtic Frost- and even some of the early punk rock bands I was a fan of DRI and Cryptic Slaughter- the Accused, we we’re lucky enough to play shows with a few of them back in the early days in Cleveland we were Fortunate to have most of the support slots to the major touring acts was good for exposure and experience.
Did you take any lessons or were you self-taught? Do you play other instruments by the way?
I did take lessons I was taught by a guy named Keith Parker he was a great guitar player and a working musician he was friends with Neil Geraldo From the Pat Bennatar Band and was even considered to be a touring back up player for them, so he was a solid player but he didn’t understand the students need to create your own music he was firm on sticking to the curriculum and learn from the Mel Bay books , I just wanted to transition into reading tablature and wanted him to show me the songs I wanted to learn so both me nod my brother quit. Besides the money we saved my father on lessons went to upgrading our gear once he saw we were sticking with it. As far as other instruments I haven’t really had the urge to play anything besides strings (guitar/bass) I never was good at drums or had a need to learn piano for thrash/ Death Metal
Being based in Cleveland, what are the roots of the metal/rock scene of the city?
Cleveland had a great scene back in the day bands like Destructor-Purgatory-Shock Paris-Breaker we’re already established and making waves in the Cleveland scene and with help of Bill Peters from WUJC/Alburn Records most we’re getting major label deals. Destructor and Purgatory were my favorites they both put out strong debut albums and Destructor were getting ready to follow in the path of Shock Paris before the death of their bass player, but they are still around playing and writing new material and helping spread the word of Cleveland Metal!
What do you recall of the early/mid 80’s Cleveland scene?
Yes I lived it I was lucky to have trusting parents I was able to go to whatever show I wanted it was harder getting into shows back in the day being a minor the all ages shows were mainly for the larger bands but most of the bands I wanted to see were touring the club circuit and we’re not all ages so it helped either being in a band or friends with the bands that were opening to get in. Plus as long as you kept a low profile and paid to get in most promoter’s just let you in to cover the overhead of the show
How about the club scene?
Where do I start. I guess the Old Brooklyn Tavern was doing most of the early shows, other venues were the Variety Theater, the Old Cleveland Agora , Peabodys Down Under , Shadows, Diversions,Flashes I also did live sound for bands so I eventually started booking shows and running sound at most of the venues
In your opinion, did Bill Peters (Auburn Records) play an important role in developing of the Cleveland scene? Did he help a lot for the Cleveland bands getting bigger and more known?
No doubt Bill will always have my respect he truly is a music lover and knows the industry well from working at the record companies to his 30+ year running radio show if you received the stamp of approval from bill you had his support
Were all of the bands different from each other and just sounded completely different from each other? Did everybody just have their own unique sound?
In the early days all the bands had their own sound I know it’s a hard thing to say because these days most every band can resemble some one else, but in the 80s they were just creating music they loved and each band had their own thing. We started playing faster thrash metal because the bands were great doing what they did but we wanted to push the limits just a bit further, destructor we’re playing fast enough but we wanted to add some punk rock speed to metal and play to our limits
Was it a kind of camaraderie among the bands back then?
Everyone was pretty mellow back in the day I’m not sure I would call it camaraderie, their was friendships through the bands and there was also healthy competition, mostly shows and supporting the other bands in our city were a pretty good way of figuring out who were friends. I’ve played many shows to empty clubs and played to packed venues but along the way you begin to meet the people who to this day are close friends of mine and great musicians
What can you tell us about your early experiences as musician? Did you take part in any local outfits, before you formed Terror back in 1986?
I was in a few bands before forming Terror I played bass in another Cleveland band called Mystic that released a few albums on Massacre Records and some jam bands just friends at party’s but nothing serious..
How did you get together exactly and how about the musical past of the other guys?
Well after leaving Mystic I started searching for other musicians to form Terror my brother was in mystic with me and stayed in the band for a few more years afterwards, but eventually after going through different members and line up changes he left and joined me on the second guitar by that time we had a pretty good set list and had released a rehearsal and played a few shows so bringing him onboard was a good decision besides he was a skilled lead player and that was something we needed.
By the way, what was your goal, that you wanted to achieve the band with?
Like most other bands we were trying to find a record deal with hopefully some tour support. It hasn’t really changed much over the years in order to be successful you have to be willing to tour to support your releases, as most of the musicians will tell you there is no money in metal it’s for the love of the music. If at the end of the day you can break even and not loose money it’s a success. It’s even more difficult these days because record companies are becoming a thing of the past with online platforms it’s easier to get a deal off of how many likes and plays your YouTube video gets it’s a joke and a popularity game but back in our day it was just as difficult it all starts with the music if it’s good and people hear it that’s half the battle the other half is not going broke until you can support the band, we had support through tape trading and Serphic Decay Records , we had a friendship with Steve the owner of the label, Steve helped break many bands such as Incantation/Immolation/ Mortican and many others
Were you mostly jamming on covers or did you start writing originals right from the start?
We did originals write away we played covers just for fun at rehearsal but never live and never covered them on any recordings
During the early period of you released a lot of demos, can you give us any details regarding them? How were they recorded, how did the recording sessions go, what was the material like, how did they sound like? In the early days like most bands there weren’t a lot of recording studios that would take young bands playing metal most of the larger studios were big money and the smaller ones were not experienced in metal so we used a friend to record and never had the quality we were after, that’s why we never shopped our demos we continued to record new material but never had the money to get into the professional studios, the sessions were stressful because we mostly used the same guy and continued to get the same quality over time he did upgrade his gear but it was nothing like digital recording I don’t believe we ever had any of our recordings mastered or mixed properly so in a way they were glorified rehearsals,
Were they heavily spreaded in the tapetrading/fanzine network? Did you manage to make any name for the band?
Most of the distribution was handled through Seraphic Decay Records
Did you often give/do live gigs? Were you mostly headliner act or an opening one for bigger outfits?
We played many shows in the early days local shows were just that local bands playing trying to create a scene eventually we started getting the opening slots for the major touring acts playing with Kreator – Corner – Candlemass- DRI – Nasty Savage- Sacrifice-Death-And many others we were fortunate
You did several breaks during the band’s career, what were the reasons of them?
Just break ups typical shit but the band got back together after my brother passed in 2010 as a tribute to his memories his nephew my son quite a talented player took his uncle’s spot and did a great job I appreciated being able to keep it a family thing
Five years ago Stormspell Records released the Decades of Terror compilation material, did it the draw a lot of fan’s attention to the band?
The Stormspell anthology was just a way to give the fans of the band a complete anthology of all the worthy studio recordings I did the best I could to remaster all the old recordings but keep in mind most of the machines that were used to make them are long gone some of the original reels were burned up in a fire and their was no real budget to get the project done right we turned over the best quality recordings we could with what we had the label helped with the artwork and that was it I appreciate their interest but it would have never happened without them reaching out, like I mentioned I was never found of our recordings
Any plans considering the future?
At this point no I play in a current band now called VADIAT that has 100% of my focus I would appreciate any older fans of Terror to check out VADIAT it’s myself as well as a few other Cleveland veterans we have a free 4 song demo on redefining darkness records bandcamp site and a Facebook page that could use some support it’s more Death Metal than what we did with Terror but that was a long time ago and we certainly have cut our teeth along the way , it’s tasteful Death Metal so give it a listen and hopefully there’s more information about the band attached to this interview
Brian, thanks a lot for your answers, what are your closing words for our readers?
I appreciate the continued support from people over the years I always wanted to take Terror to the next level and have a incredible studio record but that unfortunately never happened but with VADIAT we just completed a 13 song album for release in 2022 so please show the band some support, and thanks for the interview sorry for the Felton the answers like mentioned with this pandemic I fell victim to COVID and had to take some time to get healthy again so I appreciate the support.
Check out VADIAT “Darkness Proceeds “ free 4 song demo on Redefining Darkness Records BandCamp page and look for future strikes from the abyss from myself and VADIAT…Cheers
Interview by Leslie David / Answers by Brian Sekula