Interview conducted May 21 2009
Interview published May 27 2009
I have been a loyal fan of San Francisco's
Slough Feg for many years. It was an honor and a pleasure that my inaugural
Metal Covenant interview be with - Mike Scalzi
- the master of metal myth. My fingers flew and laughter ensued, as we
discussed the new album - Ape Uprising. Then we waxed on about the trials
of touring, the trouble with technology, and the virtues of vinyl, all
from the insightful mind of a true Atavist.
Nate: It's great to get to talk to you;
I've been a fan for a number of years now.
Nate: Before we begin, I just want to warn
I've never interviewed another living soul before!
Nate: Well, that's good. I heard you liked
my review? Mine was the one with the "feces-flinging" pun in
Mike: Oh yeah, I remember that! You know, an
ape actually did throw shit at me once at the San Francisco Zoo! Thankfully,
nobody got hit.
Nate: You don't suppose therein came any
inspiration for the album, do you?
Nate: Oh, definitely, me too. So, are there
any tour plans to support the album?
Mike: There aren't any major plans right now,
I mean, we'll play somewhere once a month, then do a small tour in
June in the Bay Area. Then in August we'll go to the Midwest. What
is it, the Alehorn of Power Festival in Chicago?
Nate: Yeah! I always wanted to go to that.
Mike: It should be pretty good this year. It's
probably going to be at a smaller venue, and there are only going
to be maybe five bands. So yeah, in August we'll tour with Bible Of
The Devil, then in October we'll hit the West Coast with Bible of
the Devil, we'll probably play in Texas, then head east. Well, the
entire South, really! We usually hit two to three really good places,
the rest are, well, pretty bad. We usually do great in Texas, but
in Dallas no one really seems to give a shit. We like to hit Austin
once a year-we'll get a good show, the rest is pretty speckled, really...
Nate: That seems to be the nature of the
metal scene in the US, in my assumption.
Nate: Of course, what with grunge, and rap,
and all that shit.
Nate: How do you guys go over in the UK?
Mike: It's usually pretty spotty. We played
one show in '99 with Solstice - it was a pretty good show! But in
2000 we played one or two shows there that were not very well attended.
In 2005 we played one show in the UK on Halloween. We haven't been
there in four years, so we might do a Saturday night in Leeds or London.
We also did some shows in the UK, and Germany, Ireland, and different
parts of the continent. This time, there are only two shows in Europe.
So really we'll be just touring US like mad, we want to emphasize
quality over quantity this year.
Nate: Cool. Give me a second to let my fingers catch up, I'm typing
like mad right now! I think this is going pretty well, so far! I didn't
want to ask you a bunch of canned questions that you've been asked a billion
Nate: Well, the readers want to hear your
answers, not my questions!
Mike: I get so many boring interviews, with
stupid questions like: "Tell us about your lyrics." What
do you mean, "tell us about your lyrics?" I mean, there's
a little anger about Apes, but mostly we're just, well, singing about
apes! It's like with Atavism, human beings have only been "civilized",
whatever that means, for a few thousand years, and before that, there
were a lot of years spent relying upon instinct. And I don't want
barbarism, or anything like that...
Nate: I see your point...
Mike: And Heavy Metal's not terribly artistic
or specific. Its tone is usually pretty vague, so we try to do something
that entertains us, we wanted to do something that has a sense of
humor, and not be serious all the time!
Nate: It is important to not be afraid to
show humor in your music. At the same time, most - If not all - comedy
is based upon pain, so it's a balancing act, and I think you guys have
struck upon a winning combination with Ape Uprising!
Nate: Well, I did have a few canned questions,
but I won't bore you with those. There was one thing, I was curious about.
I understand that there will be vinyl through Iron Kodek?
Nate: That is a perfectly acceptable answer!
Seriously, I'm glad to see that, that particular medium hasn't died out.
Mike: I'm a Luddite, I guess. I'm not against
technology, I mean, I have an old shitty computer that's about to
break. The whole TV conversion thing, I still haven't done anything
about that! I don't have Cable, I don't have a CD player, I like to
listen to records.
At least you're not exposed to the cable news bias.
Nate: It's all political, really...
Nate: Oh, it is...
Mike: If I want a CD, I'll buy it. I have it
set up to where I can listen to CDs on my TV, Yeah, I'd rather spend
my time doing something creative. Besides, vinyl is how I like to
listen to music.
Nate: Definitely. Any plans to return to
Nate: That confirms my suspicions about
where a lot of the lyrics come from!
Mike: Well, not really. I mean, we have a forum
full of ridiculous interpretations of our songs, but the songs are
not as philosophical as those people think they are!
Nate: Interesting. I'm going to "switch
hats" here for a second and say: from a fan's perspective, thanks
for the music! I don't think that my band, Lunarium, would exist had I
not listened to Down Among The Deadmen so much!
Mike: Cool. See, from a fan's perspective,
listening to the music that I did growing up, I can't imagine listening
to our music and thinking that that would be what someone else would
want to sound like. Of course, I grew up listening to Black Sabbath,
and Iron Maiden, and thinking that was what we wanted to sound like...
I can relate...
Mike: It seems like people who really appreciate
Slough Feg are well-educated, or they come from somewhat of a background,
growing up in artistic families. In ways that I don't even realize,
the music comes from a cultured, more educated source, It's hard to
see this as the one who makes the music, you know? Even in black metal,
or death metal, there are some pretty educated people, in most metal
Nate: Not so much in Metalcore, but that's
not even metal, I don't think.
Mike: No, I don't consider that to be metal,
either. Even in power metal, but I don't know a lot about it.
Nate: There seem to be lots of Tolkien fans!
Mike: Yeah, and really, I'm not among those.
I'm more into religious history, science fiction, and Mythology. I
mean, we don't sing about dragons, or castles, like Dio, or others
like that! People associate us with Fantasy, but there's no Slough
Feg song with fantasy elements. Have you ever heard one of our songs
have a dragon, or a spell in it - well, there are a few with spells...We're
more into mythology, history and science fiction.
Nate: Now, Traveler is a relic from my past!
Nate: Yeah, I'm the guy who'd rather read
the Tain Bo Cuailgne and Tacitus than watch American Idol, and let others
scratch their heads in befuddlement!
Nate: Well, I think this went well!
- Mike: Definitely. Maybe I'll see you at Alehorn.
Bible Of The Devil has a Nate as well, so let me know that "The
Other Nate" is there!
Nate: Great. I'll be sure to do that! Take
also: review of
the album Ape Uprising