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My recent reveiw for Toxik - World Circus has really generated quite an assemblage of positive feedback; especially from the band themselves. With exuberance and zeal, I have begun to develop an awesome friendship with guitarist Josh Christian. I have again become enthralled in the intoxicadence and melody of his music and shocking logic. This all reached its pinnacle of poignancy when the other night we had an excellent phone conversation of engaging social overload. Josh even invited vocalist - Mike Sanders and bassist - Brian Bonini along for the spontaneous spectacle. To hear all their voices for the first time, after timely enjoying their music for two decades, was a true honour; melding my metal heart, attacking my greed. Indeed, this band of mettle brothers signify technical eloquence, and thus encourage you to count your blessings! So, we welcome you to the word circus of "exploratory oratory", and we hope you enjoy the interview and all the promising prospects which it entails.

MettleAngel: Hello Josh, this is Michael Francisco.

  • Josh: Hey Michael, wow it is exactly 8:00! Our watches are synchronized. Hey, let me put Brian on the phone as well.

MettleAngel: Did you want to proceed with a song by song commentary for World Circus?

  • Josh: That is something I do want to do, in time. I just need to go back and really listen to that album, and take some time to comment on each track.

MettleAngel: No problem Man, take your time. We can do that later on.

  • Josh: You have the reissue for World Circus, how does it sound, is it more crisp and clear? Can you notice a difference in the sound quality?

MettleAngel: Well given, the 24 digital gold disc remastering, I definitely notice a better sound performance, overall; definitely more crisp. Also, it is the first time that the Toxik - World Circus CD comes with lyrics. I had to use my cassette prior to this, you know the version with the lyrics printed inverted? Although, I listened to Think This on tape today and it sounded fine. I don't know why people don't like cassettes.

  • Josh: Yeah tapes are great, I've been playing my vinyl too. Vinyl also sounds good.

MettleAngel: So the reissue I have is on Metal Minded Records, a reissue for Roadrunner. Tell me about the Displeased (Holland) reissuses coming out February 28 in Europe. World Circus is going to have an abundance of killer bonus tracks!

  • Brian: Those will feature some unreleased bonus material which we selected.

MettleAngel: So Europeans will get the better deal. The Metal Minded are only limited to 2000 and have average bonus tracks. How many is Displeased offering?

  • Brian: I think there will be 5000.

MettleAngel: I think that it is so sweet that you got to choose the bonus material, that's awesome. Now, I know where to get my remaster copy for Think This. I remember seeing the commercial on You Tube. I probably should have waited on World Circus; but then if I had, this interview would not be taking place: My question is why did Roadrunner not pick Wasteland from Metal Massacre 8 as a bonus track for the US version?

  • Josh: Oh, you like the song Wasteland?

MettleAngel: Hell yeah, that song rules! This would be a better choice then a radio interview discussing the new release of Think This, which is the bonus cut put on World Circus.

  • Brian: I am not too familiar with those Metal Massacre titles.

Yeah, Wasteland was on Metal Massacre 8. Those Metal Massacre albums were always instrumental to my buying and discovering new bands in the '80s. I especially dug 5 through 8. I learned about Nasty Savage, Flotsam, Sacred Reich, Sentinel Beast, Detente, Krank, you name it! Along with 'zines like Metal Forces, Metal Mania, Ardschock, and Kerrang, this is how I learned about so many excellent bands back in the glory days. Although, when it came to purchasing the first Toxik title, I just took a chance, because I really loved the artwork, and found it to be so appealing. Actually, I did not hear Wasteland until several years after I already had World Circus and Think This on tape. This is when I found the Best Of Metal Massacre on tape for only $1.00.

  • Brian: Man, it's a shame Tad is not here, he totally knows about all that. He is still into metal. He has a new band called Lucertola - which is lizard in Italian. Me, I'm very eclectic. In my truck right now, I have Slayer, Paliament, and Vivaldi.

MettleAngel: That's all good stuff, nonetheless. No wonder you are such a great bass player.

  • Brian: Yeah, we all have kept playing, and been involved in several projects after Toxik, even if they were not all metal oriented. (Josh:) Yeah, I'm still into the guitar playing thing: some metal - some rock oriented.

MettleAngel: I'm glad you brought this up, because I've heard you trained with Joe Satriani.

  • Josh: Yeah, I don't know how this rumour got started. My guitar instructor was a local unsung hero named Lou Ubriocco. He is a local legend who trained like 100 students a week. He was like a guitar factory; but he was a fairly introverted. I learned a lot from him. So did our other guitarist John Donnelly.

MettleAngel: Yeah, I see you thanked him on Think This. He is credited under the "Unlimited Knowledge" category. You must have learned a great deal from him, and then created your own technique.

  • Josh: There are so many guitar styles and guitarist I like who began by playing one way and then went another, for example Tony MacAlpine, what he does now is more like fusion.

MettleAngel: I can only handle so much of those guitar gods. There is way too much fretboard gymnastics going on. I prefer Tipton/Downing, Dave Murray, Dave Mustaine, Michael Schenker, etc. You Josh, really play well, too. The Toxik melodies are timeless!

  • Brian: John Donelly had tremedous potential too. He was a young kid, only 18 years old when he joined Toxik. He played his parts well. He just needed more space to be creative. Who knows what he could have done on future Toxik releases, if there ever were.

MettleAngel: That's the difference between the two CDs. Josh you play all the guitars on World Circus, while you share duties with John on Think This. This is why the former is amazing speed metal, while Think This is true technical elegance. You had some groundbreaking potential progressive parts on the Think This album.

  • Josh: It's always hard to choose, as they are both my babies. World Circus is very spatial; Think This is deeply woven, and the second guitar parts are at times muddled. (Brian:) The difference is also noticed live. I had to share stage space with John, so four is better than five when on stage..he,he. (Josh:) The sound and musicianship of World Circus is wicked tight.

MettleAngel: What about the ballad There Stood The Fence off Think This? This is not your ordinary cock-rock fodder. This song still moves me to this day, with its emotional bent.

  • Josh: There was debate about using Fence - we were not sure if it fit our sound then. (Brian:) We did what we did - it was what it was.

MettleAngel: What about Charlie's vocal performance on Think This. He was quite different than Mike Sanders.

  • Josh: Charlie Sabin did a great job, honestly. He was more of a comercial success driven singer. He did a great version of Judas Priest's Victim Of Changes when we played live in Belgium in 1988.

MettleAngel: Let's discuss the Ed Repka artwork for both albums. Josh, I know you had the concept for World Circus and Think This, and worked very closely with Ed on both covers. I love the television theme on Think This, and the Circus theme on the debut.

  • Josh: The artwork still has relevance, 20 years removed. The themes are still there all over the screens: Bush Sr., the Star of David, MTV, hamburger commercial, etc.

MettleAngel: Yeah, and now instead of being hypnotized and spellbound by television, peple today have allowed themselves to become slaves to the internet.

  • Josh: When television watching, there is no inclination to be active. This lethargy got us used to the computer. Now the internet is an overwhelming amount of information feeding us daily.

MettleAngel: I'm just amazed how timeless the Toxik Lyrics are - all the issues are really appropriate today!

  • Brian: The internet is still a tremendous resource... (Josh:) We are blatantly shrouded in a form of choice to use our free mind. It's about essentially knowing and accepting yourself in the world. The key is in finding that balance and recognizing the world around you for what it really is! It's all about what titilates us, spirituality versus religion, dogma versus free spirit? We are the true moral majority. This is the gift, namely that we can attain our unique level of happines on our own. Basically people want the same thing. The World Circus is cyclical. Religion involves a caste system and military mindset, going all the way back to Roman imperialism.

MettleAngel: Rome is still rome, and religion is herarchial indeed. You can tell that musically you guys were all friends sharing the same interests when you wrote World Circus.

  • Brian: I went to high school with Tad. There was definitely something about playing music with your friends, and whoever had the best available basement for practice. You just would gel with certain people. It's like a marriage, I guess. (Josh:) Yeah, we were metal kids going to a "cub scout" meeting. Tad had the best basement for Toxik to practice. It was fun... "Cakes and Cups"! Then our first time in Europe was so cool. There's nothing like going to exotic places because of your music.

MettleAngel: I do have another question which has spawned serious controversy. I've read that Exodus covered my favourite song - Count Your Blessings, and adopted it for their Force Of Habit CD.

  • Brian: I've listened to this and I don't really hear it. It is not a cover, that's for sure.

MettleAngel: I mean I can notice certain similarities, myself, I just don't know why people call it a cover, when it is cleary not.

  • Josh: Do they really call it a cover? We toured with Exodus and were good friends with them. Back then times were wild and crazy. Gary dug the World Circus album and perhaps, the music just sunk in.

MettleAngel: That definitely happens, but Exodus did not cover Toxik, no matter what certain publications say when they indicate this. Next time I see Gary Holt, I'll ask him about this; but let us welcome Mike Sanders to the conversation...welcome Mike!

  • Mike: Thanks man.

MettleAngel: You are such an amazing vocalist, I understand you have not done an interview for 15 years?

  • Mike: I did one six years ago...this is my first since then. That was such a great article on the band, thank you for the compliment.

MettleAngel: You mean my recent review, thank you! So are you still singing? Can you still hit the World Circus high notes?

  • Mike: Yes, on World Circus hitting the notes took great endurance. My singing today is nothing like that, it's more stronger mid-range. (Josh:) With a tremelo high... (Brian:) He has a whole new range which is more diverse. (Josh:) I want to go on record and say that World Circus, the song, has the sickest vocal ever. When Mikey says,"Woooorld Circusssss", he does this micro toned bend up that literally brings a tear to my eye; it's so beautiful and strange. The recording is so insane and it has this frentic absolute edge to it. It is one of my top five vocal recordings ever!

MettleAngel: So it seems like you are all great friends and still communicating after all these years.

  • Brian: We are all separated by space, geographically. We have been talking, getting reaquainted, and what not. We are just seeing how it goes, you know...

MettleAngel: So what's new in the Toxik camp?

  • Josh: There are plans for a documentory about Toxik being done by a legitimate filmaker. (Brian:) He is an emmy nominated artist. We are not sure of the film format, yet. He wants to get us all together and see what happens.

MettleAngel: Is he himself a Toxik fan, as well?

  • Josh: He is grounded, but not a fan per se'. He feels there is a tellable story there, and wants to pursue that angle.

MettleAngel: Well calling yourself Toxik with a K was sure clever - making google searches much easier. To this day, I don't know any metal albums called World Circus or Think This, other than yours.

  • Brian: Through MySpace e-mails, I've noticed our music is appealing to a younger audience; namely 18/19 year olds. It is as if a new thrash community is starting to build. (Mike:) Back then we worked very hard everyday; it was a lot of work. I'm glad there are still fans. I never understood why in the past we were called Death Metal, though.

Toxik - Death Metal? That's jounalistic ignorance! Although both albums were produced by Morrisound studios, so that may have something to do with it.

  • Mike: Yeah, I remember people thinking we were from Florida and sounded like Testament.

MettleAngel: Toxik does not sound like Testament at all - what inane fools! I don't understand how critics can make such naive comparisons.

  • Toxik: It's the human condition - people need to label and identify with things.

MettleAngel: Yeah, you are right. Hopefully, when new fans read my review, they will get a better understanding of your overall sound. Toxik, along with Realm, Atrophy, Wrath, and Hades were a significant part of the late '80s 'Thinking Man's Metal' movement.

  • Josh: That is what is cool about playing today and hanging out; back then it was a great deal of work to succeed. Now we are really having fun. Perhaps it is because we are older and wiser, and don't take it all too seriously.

MettleAngel: That is so cool! That really means a lot to me to hear that you are all together as friends and having fun, again. Joy is a vital ingredient to living life to the fullest. This is why I am wearing my Death - Leprosy T-shirt, while we speak; because something like this brings me such bliss.

  • Josh: Did you know that Chuck sang backing vocals on World Circus? (Brian:) We also had the guys from Nasty Savage contribute.

MettleAngel: I did not know that, it is probably because of the whole Morrisound thing.

  • Josh: I remember there were talks of using other producers as prospects, like the guy who did the first Crimson Glory, but that was a fluke. We also considered Marty Friedman who was recommended to us through my Shrapnel connections with the Varney brothers.

MettleAngel: Wow, imagine that! Did Jeff Waters offer, as he did the first Defiance - Product Of Society album for Roadrunner.

  • Josh: No, I don't recall Jeff being a choice...

MettleAngel: I think you made the right choice overall for producing. I so love both releases. I so would long to hear any new music which any of you create.

  • Josh: Well now, we all dabble in all kinds of music besides Toxik. Music is meant to be ecclectic, this is why it works. Music transcends classification.

MettleAngel: Oh, I totally agree. Listening to World Circus and Think This almost two decades later still moves me in many wayrs. I get so many promos daily, but I choose the music which shaped my mettle heart back then. I'm so excited about all these awesome '80s bands reuniting and recording new albums like Destructor, Vendetta, Mortal Sin, and Sacred Oath, just to name a few.

  • Josh: So there really is a resurgence of bands reuniting after all these years?

MettleAngel: Yes, and like you guys they do it because they want to have fun. So many once stellar acts like Omen, Helstar, Hirax, etc. have all been relegated to smaller, independent labels. They don't care about the money - it's about the music and the fans! This is why I do what I do . I am a fan, and I love music.

  • Josh: You got it! That is the "it" the energy, passion, this is what makes us who we are. This is why we are doing what we are doing!

MettleAngel: Mike, Brian, Josh, thank you so much, this has meant so much to me, and I know it will mean a great deal for the fans.

  • Josh: Thank you Michael, this was an interesting way to do an interview - more like a conversation - great fun - good times... (Mike:) Thank you Michael you are a cool guy... (Brian:) Yeah and great things are happening with www.toxik.com, so stay in touch for the downlow...

MettleAngel: I will, and I look forward to continuing our conversations in the future to come!

See also: review of the album World Circus

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