The Primitive are the best one-man death metal band I have ever heard and band member Jim Roe had this chat about the band:
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born on Keesler Air Force base in Biloxi Mississippi; I grew up in North Plainfield New Jersey.
Same state as me. What sort of kid and teenager were you growing up?
I thought I was pretty normal at the time, but looking back, I did lots of bad and dumb shit. I was young and dumb, but the times where very different too, growing up in the 70s and 80s kinda encouraged us to do dumb stuff, at least I felt that way. I didn’t really care about much, I figured I would be dead before 35.
How did you end up discovering metal music and also the underground metal scene?
Alice Cooper and Kiss at a very young age started it, then I heard other bands, Sabbath, Priest, AC/DC. Then newer bands started pushing further like Maiden then later Metallica and Slayer came out and that really changed things. Then Celtic Frost, Exodus Bonded By Blood was a really big one for me, Kreator, Destruction, then Death, Autopsy, Necrophagia. Then I was playing with other guys and going to see underground shows, and local bands Ripping Corpse was a great local band. From there I ended up playing with Incantation.
How did you end up joining them and you played drums for them for 4 years correct? What lead to you leaving them back then because you joined them again from 2007 till 2009?
I joined in 1990, I was at the 7-11 store looking through the Aquarian Paper and read an ad that said "Looking for Double Bass Drummer for Brutal Death Metal Band", so I answered it. I tried to meet with John we talked and planned on meeting up at Rondo Music, in Union NJ. I went there and waited but he never showed, at least I thought he never showed, we talked after that I think the next day or maybe that night and he did show he was just an hour late hahaha. After that like the next day, I was going away on a trip with some friends we were driving out to California and stopping in visiting and staying with different people friends and family in different states, so I knew I would be gone for a while, as it turns out I was gone for 3 weeks, I told John that I would be gone and I am interested but if another drummer came along I understand, he told me yea because we didn't meet I can't really say your in the band. So we left it as that, and when I returned they still needed a drummer I learned some of the songs and we got together for an audition and that was it. I was the 3rd drummer and the band had only been around for less than a year, I think more like 6 months. As far as me leaving the band I think I left in 93, maybe 94. Things were bad between us, it was no longer an inspiring situation for me, I really felt like a break was needed, we had done a lot and been pushing hard, but that wasn't an option so, I felt like us working together had run its course. It seems to me that you need to let things replenish, if you keep drawing from the same well it will just go dry, and the well was dry, but push on, go go go, was all that I was hearing, and times were hard none of us had any money Craig was living in our van, it was hard to keep jobs because as soon as we went out to tour you would lose the job. I was kinda lucky to have a job I could return to working as an auto mechanic in a gas station but the trade off was the place paid me very little because I would up and leave all the time to go out and play or do something with the band. Yeah I did do some live shows and touring in 2007/08. It seemed good to bury the hatchet with John, we didn't talk for a long time, then around 2004 we talked and it seemed like we could at least keep things cool between us, all the bad business from the 90s to me was water under the bridge, and whatever, we were all young back then lots of life has happened in the meantime, and to me it was just not that big of a deal. So around 2007 one night John called me at about 12am, he seems nervous and rattled and asks if I can do an upcoming 28 day European tour, he gave me a bunch of garbage about how he has changed and things will be different, and that he has so much more appreciation for other people’s time and there work bla bla bla, then John starts telling me he can't deal with Kyle Severn anymore, because he is this raging alcoholic that gets real nasty when he is drunk and can't function or deal with other people on tours. Now in 2019 I truly don't believe this was ever the case, at the time I didn't really know Kyle and I was not around these drunken rage situations that John was telling me about, so I had no idea what to think. Since then I have gotten to know Kyle a little bit. I’ve talked to Kyle and hung with Kyle in person at shows, and recently Kyle has really helped to smooth out some very unnecessary bad business between John and me, I would say Kyle is always in control of himself, I don't see how he could be this raging alcoholic. To me this is John just trying to manipulate and control the situation like usual. So I did the tour and a couple other shows and tours, it wasn't long before John proved to me that he hasn't changed, and it was time to move on.
You have been in a bunch of bands, now rather than focus this interview on all them, just give me one comment on each band and we will start with:
It was cool I had a good time playing and doing shows for a while with those guys.
Disciples of Mockery:
Yes Disciples is a place I feel at home, playing and creating songs and sounds with Ronny and Craig is very natural for me, I wish we could have kept playing together, and made a lot more music, I love those guys always brothers to me
Yes Goreaphobia, I always liked this band; we also have been friends for a long time, going back to 1990. I was honored and really liked creating and recording music and playing live with Goreaphobia. This is another band that in my opinion should be still playing.
Next up is Morbid Sin, you played on 4 releases by Morbid.
Yea, it was fun to play with Morbid Sin, local guys very loose, get together and jam. We did a couple recordings.
How about Terror, what are your memories of that band?
Yeah Brian is another dear old friend, I’ve had a lot of great times with him, back in the early incantation days Brian would do live sound for Incantation, so he would travel with us in the van. He also booked Incantation for the first time in Cleveland, that’s when I first met Brian; we went back many times to play Cleveland, usually with Terror on the bill. So when Brian asked me to play drums for Terror in 2016, I was honored and it was great to do some recordings of Terror Classics and some live shows with Terror. I remember driving out to Cleveland for that first Incantation show, Craig and I were driving in my friend’s 66 Pontiac. Craig was so sick he had a stomach thing going on and he was throwing up out the window as we drove, we didn’t think anything of it just kept going and went and played the show, ah to be young, the good old days hahaha.
I know you played live with a few bands, but the biggest being Master. How did this come about and around how long was this for?
Alex Bouks was playing live with Master, and they needed a drummer for an upcoming tour, So Alex suggested me to do it. Also Goreaphobia did the tour so for Alex and me it was two sets per night, Goreaphobia then Master back to back, it was just for that tour, it was about 30 shows in the US back in 09.
Oh how cool. Being from NJ did you get to see bands at the various clubs back then like Lamours, Dingbats, The Dirt Club, City Gardens, Club Bene, etc?
Yes, Studio One, Lamours, CBGBs, I think it was The Trade Winds at the Jersey shore, I saw Slayer there. Club Bene, Limelight in the city, I saw a Carnivore reunion there. I saw a bunch of shows there. I remember going to see Dead Brain Cells I think that was Lamours in Brooklyn. There was other clubs back then; I can’t remember all the names now.
Did you visit the many record stores like Rock N Roll Heaven, Vintage Vinyl, Rock Dreams, or even Slipped Disc Records back in the day?
For me it started with Stereo City in North Plainfield, then Prazitelle,s in Bound Brook, then Vintage Vinyl.
Who are your favorite drummers?
Lots of Favorites, for metal I would say, Bill Ward, Dave Lombardo, early Lars, Reed St Mark, Louie Beateaux, Chris Reifert. In my opinion, Buddy Rich is the best drummer if I had to pick one, I don't think anyone will ever be better. Other drummers would be, John Bonham, Steve Gadd, Neil Peart, Steve Smith, Ian Pace, Tommy Lee, Ringo Starr, Peter Criss. The list goes on.
After going from band to band and even playing live in some bands, what led to you deciding to forming your own band?
I really like making music, I feel good when I have some music I am working on, bands come and go, people don’t always get along, other thing in life happen, other opportunities come up, and I like learning more about music, other instruments, recording and mixing, words/lyrics, it’s all really great. So if I do my own thing I can always do it, I can do it the way I want, when I want, I can still play in other bands and with other people, but this can always be there whenever I want to work on something.
When you decided to start up The Primitive, did you want to do it all by yourself or at the time were you looking for members?
In the beginning, I thought about getting someone for vocals, but as it started coming together I wanted to try vocals myself, and I liked it I thought it sounds different, I have never done vocals before this. Live I have had some help, Brian Sekula from the band Terror on guitar, and Gen Lambert on bass.
You are easily one of the best one-man bands I have heard and that includes the vocals. How easy was it coming up with songs when you started the band out? How did you come up with the name?
Well, thank you very much Chris, I love doing it. The name was easy, I like things basic and I feel like a cave man most of the time, so The Primitive just fit and felt right. Coming up with the songs was fun and exciting, as some parts started coming together it made me more inspired, and then working in words and vocal patterns and having one song done then moving to another, it just really felt good. A lot of it came from the drums, the drum patterns I was playing, I have always come up with parts this way, for pretty much all the bands I have recorded with and created music with, and usually kinda sang these ideas to the guitar player or bass player in the band, and they would figure out how to play it. Playing the guitar myself and figuring out how to play what I would usually just sing/hum to the guitar player wasn’t easy, and until starting The Primitive I never came up with a complete song, usually two or three parts or a transition from one part to another. I started playing guitar pretty much when I started doing The Primitive, it’s getting easier and I am learning more, but in the beginning, I really wanted to put songs together as early as possible, with no music theory at all, not even knowing what notes I am playing.
In May of 2016 you released a 5 song CD on your own. Were these the first 5 songs you wrote? Where did you record it at and how much did you spend? How did you come up with the killer cover for it?
Yes, that was the first 5 songs I ever did all on my own, and that is the order I came up with them. I was thinking of it more as one long song with 5 different parts. I record in my home studio, so studio time is free, the gear I use isn’t free but time is hahaha. I only made 100 copies of that version I don’t remember the cost of pressing, but it wasn't that much. Mark Cooper did the art.
I assume the 100 copies are gone? If so, would you repress it if a label asked? Did you even send it to any labels? Looking back what are your thoughts on it?
The 100 are gone, I thought about repressing it and I kinda did, I will try to explain. It was so early at the time I recorded and pressed those up, and since then I have gotten better at playing and recording, so at the time I was thinking of repressing it, I had better recording of those first 5 songs and I had done some new songs, so I decided to press it all up as an 11 song full length CD, I do have copies of this. It starts with the first 5 songs and moves through the newer songs, I used the same title "Founded In Hell", but it’s an LP instead of an EP. I did two EPs early on, that 5 song EP and a second one with 3 songs, all these 8 songs are on the full length version of Founded In Hell, rerecorded and what I consider better versions both playing and sound, along with 3 new tunes that were never put out before. My thoughts on those early EPs. I feel they are like demos. I did get it to some labels; Jason from Afterworld Records did a 7" with 4 of the tracks
This 11 song CD when did it come out? Did you also release this on your own? What has been the response to it and around how many have you sold?
I did press this up myself 1000 copies. This one came out in December 2018. The response has been really good, it’s really just me pushing it and I am probably not doing enough, I sold about 200 copies.
Well hopefully this interview will help. Now have you or would you consider playing live?
Yes, I have played live, and I would like to play live more in the future.
What kind of scene is there in North Jersey these days? Back in the day, it was awesome with many clubs and bands, etc.
Some shows do well, but I think the scene that we once knew is pretty gone, at least around here.
That is a shame and as far as the US goes I am sure it’s everywhere with clubs and stuff. Now would you consider getting full time members or you like doing everything yourself?
Yea I agree, and this whole thing with shows getting shut down because people don’t like what the bands are singing about is really crazy, I could understand if they were stabbing or killing people or they built a gas chamber that they wanted to try out at the show, but bands have been singing about offensive stuff for years even big main stream bands, they don’t seem to have much trouble with it either, but the underground does. It is metal isn’t it supposed to be offensive? I wonder if Angel of Death came out today, what would happen, would they give Slayer a hard time about it? Anyway, for The Primitive I like doing this myself, I wouldn’t rule anything out, but it’s what got me started making my own music, one of the main reasons for me starting this was because it’s really bad when a band breaks up, people have killed themselves over this turned into addicts/alcoholics over it, lived on the street over this, I am thankful for just picking up the guitar. There is a time everyone is working together really hard at putting music together, working together sharing ideas, arranging parts, playing, rehearsing, traveling, touring and usually for years, like I talked about earlier in this interview, maybe your not even working a better job so that you can be available to do this, so you are talking about some pretty big sacrifices, and dedication, then some usually very petty shit happens, people don’t get along anymore, sometimes people are doing this for different reasons, maybe people have different ideas about moving forward and the direction of the band, maybe someone messed around with someone’s girl, it could be anything, and then all of a sudden it all falls apart, and being just the drummer makes it even worse because the guitar player is usually the one saying I wrote it, I wrote it, me me me no one can do anything without me.
Have you or would you consider playing live?
Yes I have played live, and I would like to play live more in the future, and I hope this interview helps because I am starving over here and I need to get the electric turned back on before I can record my next record.
In say the last 3 years or so have you been asked to join or go on tour with any bands? Have you turned any down?
Are you pretty much constantly working on new material and if so what does it sound like?
Yes I am working on new stuff for The Primitive, I have two songs in the works right now, soon I will put them up on my bandcamp, and YouTube, sound is a hard thing to describe, but it’s not very different than Founded In Hell, I am also working with Chris Gamble on a new Bloodstorm LP, I am playing drums and recording and mixing it, no talk of live shows or touring, and I am not sure if I joined Bloodstorm, we never really talked about it, just making a record I guess
For someone who has never heard of the band, what would you say you sound like and is there a The Primitive sound?
Pounding Death Metal
Have you ever sent any of your material to a label or that is something your not interested in at the moment?
It would be cool to work with a label, I would be interested, I have sent it to some labels, some have been interested, Some say they would be interested for a new release and they would like to be involved from the beginning, others didn’t show much interest, or they did seem interested but then I never really heard anything more. I am thinking the way this release came about being an ep then another ep then a full length with the same title and cover art as the first ep, makes it kinda weird for anyone following it, or being interested in putting it out and promoting it, but it really is just the way it came about, and I wanted to start sharing stuff from the start, I didn’t want to wait till it’s perfect, because it’s never perfect and it will never be done and would never get heard, moving forward I can put something together and have it ready as the final release the first time, I do want to put songs out as I get them done, but maybe just a digital release of three or four songs at a time, then when I have a full length ready, then do an LP release on CD or vinyl with art and a title, and if a label would be interested and we can agree and work together that would be great. For me I really just want to make Metal and get it out there share it. I think the worst thing for a band or music is to let it stagnate and never let it be heard.
Do you feel as me that there is way too many below average bands playing the same generic crap that has been done to death and labels signing this crap?
It kinda seems that way; sometimes I feel like I just don’t get it, I listen to old stuff most of the time.
Going into 2020 where do you see the band headed?
Well I am working on new songs; I would like to get another full length done later in 2019 or early 2020. I would like to record a bunch of new music, then maybe see if I can get out and play it live.
Did you, when you first joined your first band way back when imagine you would still be doing this at 50 years old?
No, but I never really thought about it back then, and Boom. Just like that, I am 50, how the hell did that happen?
Same with me. It’s like I am still listening to this music at 54 and doing interviews for webzines and my website too. Now please plug any websites the band has and what stuff do you have for sale?
JS: Yea so, I have T Shirts, "Founded In Hell" 11 song CDs, 7" vinyl. Everything I have is up on my Bandcamp for sale, along with some free downloads, free streaming and a bunch of drum videos from the recording of "Founded In Hell", https://theprimitive.bandcamp.com/merch
For outside the USA this is a great way to order a CD: http://kunaki.com/Sales.asp?PID=PX00ZLNJSG
Horns up for the interview, any last words to wrap it up?
Hell Yea Horns Up Chris, Thank You for the interview, keep an ear out for new music from The Primitive, Cheers My Brother, Pounding Death Metal Forever.
Interview by Chris Forbes