» Tommy Niemeyer - The Accüsed
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Interview conducted August 20 2009
Interview published August 26 2009

The Accüsed are a crossover act from Seattle, who have been playing their metallic punk inspired "splatterock", since 1980. They have inspired many bands over the last two decades, including Lamb Of God, and Cannibal Corpse. Unfortunately, a few years ago, the septi-childish, yowling vocalist: Blaine Cook, and the core members of The Accüsed split and formed - Toe Tag. This left founding member - Tommy Niemeyer - down & out, alone, and frustrated; eagerly ready to revamp and reanimate his mascot: Martha Splatterhead, and her disciples; for yet another attempt at penning those hymns for the deranged.

I spoke with Tommy Niemeyer all about the new album - 'The Curse Of Martha Splatterhead' - his new line-up, his straight razor sharp riffs, and the pending future of The Accüsed. After our conversation, which was more fun than any maddest story ever told, Tommy felt ever so motivated, and fulfilled, grinning like an undertaker.

MettleAngel: Hey there Man, Wow, I must say, that it is really cool to get to chat with you. I have been a loyal fan of The Accüsed, ever since I first heard about your band, when I saw Kreator with Voi Vod in 1987. The following year, I saw The Accüsed live with G.B.H., what a show that was! Both acts were then signed to Combat Records.

  • Tommy: Cool, what part of Ohio did you say you were from?

MettleAngel: I live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Tommy: Ahh, yes, then you are referring to that show at Bogarts?

Indeed, I am! That is so cool you remember those days.

  • Tommy: Hell yes, we were on tour for two straight years during the 'Maddest Stories Ever Told' era. It has been so long since we played the Mid-west, or East Coast.

MettleAngel: I know you are from Seattle, In the early '90s, I lived there for a short time up in Sequim, Washington. My brother went to school in Port Angeles.

  • Tommy: No kidding! The Niemeyer family has its origins in Port Angeles. I believe they had a jewelry store, at the time.

MettleAngel: I lived in the Pacific Northwest, right around the time Grunge was dominant, and Seattle was the scene.

  • Tommy: I remember those days all too well. We all felt that this was a pox on the city. There was so much hype, all for nothing.

MettleAngel: I agree! I am originally from California, where I really became ensconced in Metal, after having attended Military School in Texas, in the early '80s. When I thought of the music scene in Seattle, I would think of Metal Church, Forced Entry, Sanctuary, Queensrÿche, Heart, Jimi Hendrix, and, of course, The Accüsed!

  • Tommy: Exactly Man! Most of those so-called Grunge bands began as being Metal or Punk, with the same influences as us.

MettleAngel: Since you recall the Bogarts show with G.B.H., I'm sure you remember how those hardcore punks were not ready to accept metalheads into their scene. They were not ready to do as Suicidal Tendencies preached, and "Join The Army". That show was so violent, and bloody. Thankfully, I was used to it having seen Slayer with Overkill in '86. The Motörhead and Cro-Mags show, that same year, was also a notable experience.

  • Tommy: Yeah, I recall the early days of crossover. It worked well on the East and West Coast, but took longer in the Mid-west to become accepted.

MettleAngel: What is ironic, is that the album for which Charged G.B.H. were touring at that time, while signed to Combat - 'No Need to Panic' - was more metal than punk!

  • Tommy: Yeah, that is a funny thing, and we were beginning to sound more metal, as well.

MettleAngel: Yeah, it is an interesting trivia fact, but your debut release - 'The Return Of... Martha Splatterhead' was the very first full length ever released on Earache Records (Mosh 1). It was a second pressing, as it originally came out on Subcore Records with different artwork. I have also read that 'More Fun Than An Open Casket Funeral', which is my favourite release, was the first ever vinyl pressing for Combat Records.

  • Tommy: What can I say, those are such honours, a real feather in our cap!

MettleAngel: I have also learned recently that you played for the Seattle act - Gruntruck. Like the East Coast act: Mindfunk (originally Mindfuck), who had members from M.O.D., Ministry, Celtic Frost, and Uniform Choice; Gruntruck was quite unique.

  • Tommy: Yeah, that all began with the guys from Skin Yard wanting to do a side project. I was renting a room in Seattle, and drummer: Scott McCullum, asked me to join this new band. I liked the demo material, because the style was really left of center, with a cool energy emanating.

MettleAngel: Gruntruck signed to Roadrunner, and had some success, touring with the likes of Alice In Chains, Pantera, and later Circus Of Power. I only have the cassette, but at that time there were many weird acts like Mind Bomb, Strip Mind, Greta, Paw, etc. all taking the Metal style into a new direction, and receiving a great deal of MTV exposure. So did you record on both Gruntruck albums?

  • Tommy: Yes, that is me on both. Alex Sibbald our bassist from The Accüsed, also was in the band for a few years. Vocalist and guitarist: Ben McMillan has passed on.

MettleAngel: Well, the band will always be eternal, even if it is difficult to get their music on CD. Then again, Metal Mind may be planning to properly remaster them, as they have with so many classic Roadrunner titles. Let us discuss your mascot - Martha Splatterhead. She has a strong tendency to dominate many of your covers, and album titles, including your brand new album.

  • Tommy: Martha is an active member of the band. We are all fans of Iron Maiden, so she is like our very own Eddie. The cool thing about Martha, and even the character: Scotty, is that they are zombies. This gives us a reason for continually bringing her back, as she is the undead.

MettleAngel: Yeah, I get it like Eddie, or even Vic Rattlehead with Megadeth. I am so excited about their forthcoming album - Endgame - due in about a month.

  • Tommy: We love the idea of having Martha Splatterhead, who is a wild bitch, who goes on a rampage, totally fucking up rapists, and other idiots. We have always been in to the horror comic vibe. We are all impressed by the cutting edge, brutal graphic arts. I admire the anit-social aspect, which repulses some, and inspires others.

MettleAngel: This reminds me of bands like Impaler. You also coined the term for "splatterock", correct?

  • Tommy: Well, yes, and no! The thing is there was this book called Splatter Movies by John McCarty, that came out in the early '80s. This book dealt with the whole genre from Hammer Horror, up to and including the Evil Dead movies. The images, and gore really spoke to us, so we borrowed the concept, and I created my own variation, in order to create what we would later dub as being "splatterock". This was the best way to describe the music of The Accüsed, in the midst of such genre classifications.

MettleAngel: It is still the best way to describe the music, and message to this day! I have always admired the gore and horror elements of the band, commonly examined with a real tongue-in-cheek mentality. I could tell by the song titles and lyrical content, that you were inspired by classic horror themes, and artists, actors, and originators ranging from Vincent Price to Herschell Gordon-Lewis.

  • Tommy: Definitely, and we would create our own tales and stories, and characters.

MettleAngel: I also agree with the term: "splatterrock", as The Accüsed clearly has some serious Classic Rock elements, permeating all throughout their discography. You have always surprised me with your choice of songs to cover, as well. You have attempted to cover Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Sugarloaf, Heart, Ten Years After, The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, but you have also honoured G.B.H., The Germs, and even Tank (UK).

  • Tommy: So you like the covers, eh?

MettleAngel: One of my absolute favourite covers is "Devil Woman" by Cliff Richards. I can recite the opening to that verbatim, "...Well Satan, it's time for another cheerful bedtime story...tell everyone to dowse the lights..". Where did this haunting intro originate?

  • Tommy: That was taken from an old radio show from the '40s called: "Lights Out". It was public domain, so we just appropriated it as the intro for the Cliff Richard cover.

MettleAngel: Hah, of course, "Lights Out", which in turn was another cover you did of the band: Angry Samoans. I have also noticed that on several songs, "Down & Out", for instance, that you sample and play riffs from other Classic Rock acts.

  • Tommy: Man, you don't miss a beat, or anything, do you? I must admit, I am very impressed with your knowledge of the band, and music in general. Most people seldom even recognize those more obscure covers.

MettleAngel: Well it is kind of like what the band Ludichrist were doing during the crossover scene with their song: "Down With The Ship". They went on to become Scatterbrain..."Don't Call Me dude, Dude!"

  • Tommy: My attitude for performing covers, is that they should either be viewed with precision, and played exactly as the original, with only slight vocal variance; otherwise, the band really should just fuck it up completely, and just have fun doing it, which is what we did, obviously.

MettleAngel: Yeah, kind of like what Corrosion Of Conformity did on their debut album, when they attempted: "Green Manalishi". Honestly, some of your covers are killer! "Boris The Spider", The Who cover is great, as is Skynyrd's: "Saturday Night Special". The Sugarloaf rendition of "Green Eyed Lady" is pretty cool too.

  • Tommy: Well Thanks Man! I am glad someone can appreciate what we were striving for at the time. It all comes from our influences like Black Flag, G.B.H., Circle Jerks, Discharge, etc.

MettleAngel: Those are all great Punk acts. If you really think about it, some bands relied upon covers even to break into the scene, like Zeppelin, Metallica, Quiet Riot, but I digress. When The Accüsed chose to contribute a cover to an album, it sounds to me like you were having a laugh.

  • Tommy: Of course we were, that was our attitude, overall, and really still is.

MettleAngel: I have a question now, which I ask to satisfy my own curiosity.

  • Tommy: Go for it Man!

MettleAngel: For two decades, I have been wondering about the female vocals on my favourite song by The Accüsed: "Scared Of The Dark". I know you were able to get quite a lot of guests into the studio with the recording of - 'Maddest Stories'.

  • Tommy: Yeah, once we had Terry Date, things really fell into place.

MettleAngel: Terry Date was quite the assistant, as he helped you secure Kurt Vanderhoof from Metal Church. Kurt played the lead on the Ten Years After Cover, right?

  • Tommy: Yes, and we had only just discovered Metal Church, and briefly heard their debut. We were so stoked about this!

MettleAngel: I can imagine! You even had Sir Mix-A-Lot on the album. He did the backing vocals on the song: "The Maddest Story Ever Told", which was the theme song for the movie: Spider Baby.

  • Tommy: Man, how do you know all this?

MettleAngel: I have Blaine to thank for this. I contacted him through My Space, to make sure I have all my facts right. So, I have to ask you, is the uncredited female part on "Scared Of The Dark, none other than: Lynda "Tam" Simpson from Sacrilege (UK)?

  • Tommy: God, I wish! Wow! You are right they do have a similar singing style. I fukin' love Sacrilege! Blaine's ex-girlfriend Molly, who sounded like a six year old girl on the song: "Molly Xmas '72", singing the Jesus loves the little children part, right before the Ten Years After cover of: "I'd Love to Change the World", for which Kurt did the solo; also sang the lead female part on: "Scared Of The Dark". As Blaine, and I were playing both those albums by Sacrilege over, and over, I imagine, that subconsciously, Molly, picked up on her style, and sort of began to emulate it, thus singing in that fashion.

Well now I know! I had "Maddest Stories", and "Within The Prophecy" by Sacrilege (UK) on cassette, at the same time, so that is also most likely what made me make the comparison. Back then, I only had a handful of cassettes which I played over and over. It is not like today where music is so easily available through the internet.

  • Tommy: Man, I can relate. The music we celebrated then was so sacred to us. It surely was not as accessible as it is today. To me those bands, and albums, and the experience of playing them became imprinted like a brain tattoo in my memory. I suppose to a certain extent, there is an entire generation who will never truly understand this.

MettleAngel: I assume thanks to Randy of Lamb Of God, and Alex of Cannibal, The Accüsed have garnered a new line of loyal followers? Have you had a chance to hear any of the bands who have now covered The Accüsed?

  • Tommy: Certainly, that Transparent Records Tribute blew my mind. Those kids doing our songs are so killer, and such an honour. I don't have any children, but it would be as if I did, and someone came up to me and complemented me, by telling me how beautiful my son is.

MettleAngel: Well I do have a small boy, in fact his birthday is Sunday August 23rd. He will be six, six...SIX! Let me tell you, he is a septi-child!

  • Tommy: (Laughing), Really, c'mon?

MettleAngel: No, I am just fond of teasing him; which is a way of expressing my love. My nickname for him is "Speed Monster", as he is ever so active. I can relate to your analogy though. Have you hear the cover of - "Wrong Side Of The Grave" by the brutal British band - Benediction?

  • Tommy: Yes, I just heard that about two years ago. That one really blew me away.

MettleAngel: Yeah, because when they did it in the early '90's, most people did not even know it was a cover. Like Bolt Thrower, they were Death metal, with discernible vocals. When I first heard the album - 'Transcend The Rubicon', I recognized it right away, and told all my friends. Benediction strove to keep it heavy, and dark.

  • Tommy: It is just killer to hear that one.

MettleAngel: Speaking of Death Metal, I heard that Blaine is working with Denial Fiend, who had Kam Lee on their debut album, but he has now defected to Bone Gnawer. I guess now would be a good time to talk about the new album which came out this Tuesday.

  • Tommy: Cool, most people jump into that right away, but I like your style. We are so stoked to be active after such a long hiatus. I finally feel like a true member of The Accüsed, again. It is such a relief to not be this guy with some semblance of a band, barely hanging on by a thread.

MettleAngel: I'll spare all the drama about the split of the band, with most members forming Toe Tag.

  • Tommy: Thank You, I really appreciate that.

MettleAngel: I'm sure that has been drilled into your skull, ad nauseum. I am curious about the new members. I have played my digital promo of 'Curse...', and I must admit that your replacement vocalist: Brad Mowen sure does sound like Blaine, at times.

  • Tommy: Yeah, we wanted to get a guy who could pull off the Blaine growls, but still add his own character to the band.

MettleAngel: How did you get Brad into the band?

  • Tommy: Brad was in the band Sweaty Nipples, and also 90 Proof. I have always dug his vocal howls, and growls. He is a very busy dude, kind of like the Mike Patton of Portland. He always has his head into something, which I admire. He was very excited when I asked him to join us, wondering what happened with Blaine.

MettleAngel: Your new album is the first release by The Accüsed to not feature Blaine, right?

  • Tommy: Yeah, this is why it is such a new beginning, and birth for us. Brad is really in his element. He even helped us to get our drummer: Mike Peterson. We all feel rejuvenated, ready to play our hearts out. We will be embarking on a brief tour on the West Coast, and Texas.

MettleAngel: It sounds like the band is back, after having myself played the new album a few times.

  • Tommy: We have a whole new level of kids who are ready to experience us for the first time. You old skull fans will also appreciate what we have to offer, and really how we have put aside all the bullshit, and matured over these many years.

MettleAngel: I am glad to hear that you have reconciled with past wrongs. Actually, the new album is the only one I don't have on CD, cassette, or vinyl. Since it is so short, I am going to burn it with some older material and make a cool mix.

  • Tommy: That is awesome.

MettleAngel: I was actually able to secure a copy of 'O Martha' with the 'Martha Spatterhead' demos re-recorded in 2005, from non other than Katon Of Hirax. I've always wondered why you keep changing the titular wording for "Fukin' 4 Bux".

  • Tommy: Katon, you don't say? How did that happen?

MettleAngel: Well, Hirax was playing a festival we were covering in Minneapolis with Tankard headlining...

  • Tommy: Tankard in the US! When was this? I love Tankard! They are one of my Top Five bands!

MettleAngel: I'm close to Gerre, and their manager Buffo, so I'll tell them this...

  • Tommy: Dude, that would make my day! So Katon hooked you up with the CD?

MettleAngel: You should see all the shit Tankard gave me, as I wrote the press release for their only US appearance, ever, so far. Anyway, how has the press viewed the new album?

  • Tommy: Everything I have read so far is favorable. There has been some killer response, and buzz being generated.

MettleAngel: That is what I would have assumed. Your label Sothern Lord, receives some excellent promotion from Dave and Liz of Earsplit, which is how I scheduled this interview, which we are now conducting.

  • Tommy: Yeah, we really appreciate Earsplit's effort. Southern Lord also really get us, and what we want to do with the band. They take away the burden of me having to do everything myself.

MettleAngel: This allows you more time to concentrate on the band, and the music.

  • Tommy: Definitely. We are really happy to be signed with Southern Lord.

MettleAngel: So what is your favourite album, or recording by The Accüsed?

  • Tommy: That is a tough one, but I would have to go with 'Maddest Stories'. The whole experience was so surreal. We really had a blast recording that one.

MettleAngel: When I introduced my wife to the band, I played her -"The Hearse" (Traditional Nursery Rhyme). She just laughed, but understood the sense of humour of the band, and their intent. Now she has heard many songs from the band, and your covers.

  • Tommy: Dude, that is so cool!

MettleAngel: Well, what about the variations on "Fucking For Buck$"?

  • Tommy: Who Knows?

MettleAngel: Well, I see our time is up, so I just want to thank you again for a great and enlivening conversation.

  • Tommy: Man, it is you I should thank! I mean, I have spoken with fans who know a lot about the band, but this is seldom the case with journalists. I just spoke with a guy from Philly, like you who has been a long time fan, but damn, you don't miss anything, which is awesome!

MettleAngel: What can I say, I love the band, always have, always will. I am just rediscoverering albums like: 'Splatter Rock', 'Grinning Like An Undertaker', the 'Straight Razor' (EP), and even recently some of the older more punk inspired songs, like the split you did with The Rejectors, or 'The Archive Tapes'. I noticed that songs like "War = Death", and "Father's Betrayal" were later reworked on 'Maddest Stories'. "Father's Betrayal" became "Smothered Her Trust", right?

  • Tommy: Damn, nothing gets by you! Do you think those albums hold up?

MettleAngel: Absolutely. I was very fortunate to find those Nastymix Records versions on CD dirt cheap at a Camelot Records close-out sale. I have always been partial to the Combat era albums, but those Nastymix albums are strong, too. The Archive material is still pretty cool too.

  • Tommy: That is good to hear. I'll have to hook you up with some rare demos. I recently discovered this rare eight track recording that was done in Dana's Mom's living room. I am going to convert it to digital format, and make it available to fans like yourself.

MettleAngel: I look forward to hearing those rare cuts. Tommy, thank you so much for everthing. All the best with the new band, and new album, and like the song on 'The Curse Of Martha Splatterhead' . and your free downloadable 'Why Even Try?' (EP) from 2007, say, "Fuck Sorry!". I'll continue to spread the good new about The Accüsed.

  • Tommy: Thank You! It is people like yourself, that give us the strength to carry on! I'll let you know when we plan to tour the Mid-west. It will be cool to hang out!

MettleAngel: That sounds awesome! Now, I better let you move on to your next interview.

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