» Julz - Hatchet
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Interview conducted May 29 2008
Interview published June 23 2008

Thrash is back and with a vengeance rising under darkening skies. Unfortunately, the market is beginning to get over-saturated by too many lame bands who think Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, & Pantera are the ultimate influences. There's nothing wrong with that type of thinking, it just leaves too many acts all sounding the same, sealing their fate. This frailty of fresh ideas, makes me jaded and less enthusiastic to embrace the latest trend. Enter Hatchet from California, who storm the gates with original material, and evil riffing. I had a chance to speak with guitarist Julz about his band Hatchet and their imminent success.

MettleAngel: Hello, is this Julian?

  • Julz: Yeah, you can call me Julz, everyone does. How is it going?

MettleAngel: Oh fine, I guess, I've bitten off more than I can chew, as usual, but I did want to interview you, when the opportunity arose. I really like the new CD: Awaiting Evil. Let's talk about your band Hatchet, recently signed to Metal Blade.

  • Julz: That sounds good, fire away.

MettleAngel: Have you been swamped with interviews all day, I'll try to not ask the same repetitive questions.

  • Julz: No, actually, you are my first one today, in fact.

MettleAngel: Oh cool then, I'm honored to be the one to break the ice. Let me start by mentioning how much I really like the new CD. I first heard a track being played on Bill Peters' "Metal On Metal" show a few weeks ago. Are you familiar with his show on http://www.wjcu.org ?

  • Julz: No, not really...

MettleAngel: I was not really tuned in, until I heard some killer 80's thrash riffs, and then he announced the band. I had recalled receiving a digital promo from Metal Blade, so I listened to it, and was floored.

  • Julz: That's cool, who is Bill Peters?

MettleAngel: I'm surprised you have never heard of the "Godfather Of Cleveland". He owns Auburn Records, the label that gave us Destructor, Breaker, Shok Paris, Purgatory, Black Death, and recently Wretch & Eternal Legacy. He has a radio show which plays metal every Friday from 6:45 - 9:45. People from all over the world tune in to hear him.

  • Julz: I'll have to look into that. So do you like the CD?

MettleAngel: Definitely, I hear so many old school acts, and real thrash elements. Are you familiar with Wrathchild America? The title track, and a few other songs remind me of this Detroit band.

  • Julz: No, I've never heard them, but I should look them up.

MettleAngel: That's kind of what I assumed. They had two awesome releases: Climbing The Walls and 3-D. They were way ahead of their time. They began as Wrathchild, but had to change their name, because the NWOBHM had the copyright. They later devolved into Souls At Zero, but when they were Wratchild America, they were killer. Hell, I remember when Pantera opened for them! You'd be amazed how similar some of your riffs are. That's just the universal spell of mettle in the air. The parallels are uncanny. Even though, they are not a direct influence upon you, I'm sure you have heard Devastation from Texas, as Hatchet also has similarities with them.

  • Julz: Yes, I love Devastation. That's amazing you can detect the influence. You really know your shit! Signs Of Life & Idolatry are classics. I love Sacrifice too.

MettleAngel: I can see that, so who else inspired you to play this classic thrash style, which is now becoming so popular? I know you are from the Bay Area, so those bands are a given.

  • Julz: Actually, we are 40 miles north of San Francisco. I really had no idea about the thrash resurgence going on in L.A. when I started Hatchet. To be honest, just hearing the first four Testament albums, is what got me to play this type of metal. On these albums, they just capture the melody. I saw them recently at the "Thrash Against Cancer" show, and I got to meet Alex, and he signed some strings for me, which he had tossed out during the show. I was blown away!

That sounds awesome! What made you want to play the real thrash, and not this 'new thrash' shit? You know the style bands like Lethal & Oppression from Sweden play vs. the crap that so many American acts are pandering to the blind masses.

  • Julz: I wanted to play a sincere form of metal, that real fist pumping mania style, which I personally enjoy. We got in touch with Dekapitator through their My Space page, and also played some shows with Fueled By Fire. It is then that I began to realize just how popular thrash had now become, again.

MettleAngel: How long have you been playing guitar?

  • Julz: Well, I'm 22, so I've been playing for about six - seven years, now.

MettleAngel: You are quite proficient. I enjoy your authentic guitar style. You wear your influences on your sleeve. What type of shows, and/or festivals do you have planned for the future?

  • Julz: Well, we are going to do some West coast shows with Witchaven, and some East coast gigs with Cross Examination; although, they are more hardcore oriented.

MettleAngel: I ask because Merciless Death is doing the US tour with Fueled By Fire, Bonded By Blood, and hopefully Evile.

  • Julz: Those shows are very much a D.I.Y. sort of thing, but we are very excited about going to Europe this winter. We are going to play with Flotsam & Jetsam, Heathen, Onslaught, and some other bands.

MettleAngel: I see in the CD booklet you have played shows with Dekapitator, and obviously you are friends with Katon of Hirax. How did this killer Euro package deal come about; especially, for such a young band?

  • Julz: Well, our tour manager is also Heathen's, so we have that connection.

What is the name of the tour, and where will you perform?

  • Julz: There's no name yet. It's something like "Merry X-mas" or whatever. It will be during December. We plan to play in Paris, Eindhoven, Berlin, etc. Our tour manager is working hard to organize this, so the details are sketchy. We just did a show with Heathen, they sounded so great, and she is really pulling hard for us.

MettleAngel: I'd love to see Heathen. Everytime I see Exodus, I always speak with Lee Altus about the next Heathen album. Does David (White) Godfrey still hit the highs, when he sings? Tell your tour manager to call the gig the "Merry Thashmix" tour.

  • Julz: Heathen sound tight, we just played the "Thrash De Mayo" with them.

MettleAngel: Who knows, the success of this tour could be a springboard, and make you a candidate for a future Keep It True festival.

  • Julz: Yeah, that would rule, Flotsam are doing that.

MettleAngel: I sure hope they sound better live now than they did ten years ago. This tour will be the catalyst for Hatchet's success.

  • Julz: Definitely! So let me ask you, what do you think of the production our album?

MettleAngel: I really dig it. It has a real 80's sound, which is so cool. It sounds like it was made to be pressed on vinyl. It is not too modern, or over produced, like so many bands these days. Many bands just don't mimic live, what the CD predicts.

  • Julz: Exactly, I like that it has that polished feel, a natural sound. This was not our initial intent. Marc did his vocals later on. The thing is, we really sound exactly the same live, as we do on the CD. We are not one of those over produced bands, who's live sound is not that spectacular.

MettleAngel: I know what you mean there. I respect the simplified approach. This stripped down, back to basics is more authentic, and fits Hatchet's sound.

  • Julz: You could say we are tone freaks. We want to deliver that live sound our fans expect from us.

MettleAngel: With that winter festival coming up, you will do just that. I have already told a great number of my contacts to check Hatchet out, and I know a few have purchased the CD. When I truly believe in something, I will stand behind it. Thank you brother for taking the time out to hang.

  • Julz: Thank you Man! It is so cool to speak with someone who has really lived the metal life all these years, and who shares the experience. Just hearing you describe our album means a great deal to me. I'm so pleased that among so many bands out there, which you hear, you think we stand out. You definitely know your history, so you see where we are coming from, and who we really are. You understand that we are not just another thrash clone.

MettleAngel: Yes, this is true. I've listened to the new Bonded By Blood, and it's cool, but it's not too original, same with Gama Bomb, and a few other new thrash acts. New Merciless Death is too much like Possessed, and way too short; but, when I hear Hatchet, I'm reminded of such forgotten legends as Revenant, Morbid Saint, Blind Illusion, & Numbskull. Of course, I hear Slayer, and the Bay Area influence, but the riffs and vocals have something more to offer, and the production, just makes the listener feel that this is vintage Metal Blade, when Savage Grace, Hallow's Eve, Nasty Savage, & Pandemonium once reigned supreme. This is why I'm more excited about the Black Tide CD, than the new Iced Earth. These kids just get it, and play true metal with a mix of 80's commercialism. This is why new Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, & Journey have me more excited than so many hyped acts. I lived in the 80's, and I still love the 80's! When Metal Blade has the balls to sign a band like Cellador, Fueled by Fire, or Hatchet, I take notice. I really hope to see you live soon, so we can meet in person. I have also enjoyed this conversation.

  • Julz: Me too, Man it was great to meet you and talk real thrash, I've been writng these names down as you mentioned them. Thanks for the heads up, and for supporting us.

MettleAngel: You bet! I can honestly say that after having been a thrash fan addict for over two decades, I can tell the poseurs from the ragers, Hatchet is the real deal, keep the faith!

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