» John Kevill - Warbringer
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Interview conducted May 16 2009
Interview published May 20 2009

California's thrash revivalists - Warbringer - are gearing up for the release of their sophomore campaign - Waking Into Nightmares. They are currently playing the - Hordes Of Chaos Tour - with their crimson idols: Kreator & Exodus, as well as Belphegor & Epicurean.

I spoke with vocalist - John Kevill - about the new album, new video, and the joy of touring with such thrash icons. If you are not familiar with their youthful, warcursed, combat shock tactics, do read on....

MettleAngel: Hey Brother, it was so cool to finally see you and the band on Thursday night. I've been meaning to witness you live, for quite some time now. I would assert that along with Goatwhore, Toxic Holocaust, and Skeletonwitch, you are the real road mutants.

  • John: Yeah, we are always out touring, it seems.

MettleAngel: Honestly, I don't see how you maintain your stamina and health being such road dogs.

  • John: It is not easy, we have only had a few days off, and that was back in February.

MettleAngel: Man, that must be so stressful and taxing? Don't you get sick, or burned out?

  • John: Being on the road for so long will definiteley take its toll on you. We have all had our share of illnesses and bronchitus.

MettleAngel: I would think so! I know that your new drummer: Nic Ritter from Prototype, has been off this tour due to an injury. You have the drummer from Epicurean: John Gensmer now filling in, for the band. How is this working out for you, and the gang?

  • John: Nic has been out of commission for a about month, now. Honestly, the audience does not even notice that it is John pounding the skins, and not Nic playing; that is until I inform them as such.

MettleAngel: Yeah, I was unaware until you brought it to our attention.

  • John: The band definitely can tell the difference, but we just go with the flow. In a live setting, he plays three old tracks, and two new cuts from our forthcoming album.

MettleAngel: I assume those new songs are - Living In A Whilwind & Severed Reality?

  • John: Yep! The thing is that John only had a day to rehearse. He has filled in for a few shows thus far, and is doing an outstanding job.

MettleAngel: That is good to hear! I imagine it must be crazy having three Johns in the band. There is your guitarist: John Laux, yourself, and John from Epicurean. I did not get to see Epicurean, as they broke down and did not perform at the Louisville - Headliner's Club. I was surprised that you hit the stage just a few minutes after the door opened.

  • John: We always seem to come on first. We tell our fans to show up early, so that they don't miss us.

MettleAngel: I was interviewing Tom Hunting from Exodus, so I missed the first few songs. When I finally approached the stage I was mesmerized by your youthful stature. You reminded me of a young Jason Newstead, as he appeared on the back cover of - No Place For Disgrace. You have the same dark coiled tufts, and those white high tops. All you were missing was the shoelaces, each a different color. I remember when I would mix match my shoelaces to look cool.

  • John: Many people wonder where I even found the white '80s high tops.

MettleAngel: No doubt, I'm sure the internet was your source. I also loved your Sacrifice - Forward To Termination shirt. I have the same one in longsleeve. I'm glad I wore my Assassin - Upcomng Terror, so as to not draw attention from you.

  • John: Yeah, you had a killer shirt on, where did you get that?

MettleAngel: From Marquee Records in Brazil. Their shirts are awesome, and official, not bootlegs. I did receive a number of complements for wearing that. Although, I was envious of Kreator's bassist: Christian "Speesy" Giesler's awesome Voi Vod - Killing Technology shirt.

  • John: Well what can you expect from Kreator?

MettleAngel: I know, when I interviewed Mille, I told him about my first Kreator show. I had not seen them since they were on - The Flag Of Hate / Tournado leg with Voi Vod and The Accüsed.

  • John: Wow! You had not seen Kreator since I was born!

MettleAngel: Yes, it has been over two decades since I last saw them, which is why I was so excited about this tour! I have heard the new Warbringer album - Waking Into Nightmares - which comes out Tuesday May 19th through Century Media. I was planning to review it, but I've been so swamped. I opted to conduct this interview instead. I have put my trust in my colleague to write an honest review for the CD, once I get him the music.

  • John: That is cool! I was hoping you would review it, because you are so old school.

MettleAngel: No worries, my fellow Metal Covenant protege' will do an awesome job. He is an amazing writer. His name is Nate, but you may know him as: Loreweaver from the Power/Folk Metal band - Lunarium.

  • John: That name does sound familiar...

MettleAngel: I'd advise you to check out their My Space page, they are awesome. They won't be able to tour for awhile, but the music stands on its own. As I listened to the new Warbringer songs, I noticed a strong penchant for the early '90s Roadrunner Deathrash acts like: Malevolent Creation, Suffocation, or Deicide. There are also some similarities to those first signed Century Media bands like: Demolition Hammer or Morgoth, as well as the obvious Bay Area meets East Coast vibe.

  • John: This so-called "Thrash Revival", has many people only thinking of the top thrash acts. They have not even begun to scratch the surface of what lies out there, from the past. We definitely appreciate the early deathrash acts. Our goal is to present a sound which is a little more original than those bands, who now have decided to play thrash. We have decided that we don't want to be linked with other thrash contenders. Rather, we want to stand out as our own entity.

MettleAngel: Well Warbringer were there early on, when the California thrash resurgence just got under way.

  • John: Yes, and we have always been a thrash band. We did not start out playing one style, then shift to keep up with changing trends. I'm very selective about the music I listen to, overall. I just prefer the '80s thrash, and death metal which had more character and meaning than the newer bands out today.

MettleAngel: I agree, which is why several of the "New Thrash" bands are unappealing to me. I don't mean to sound condescending, but the boys in Warbringer are quite young for playing such a classic thrash style.

  • John: This is true! I'm only 22, and some members are even younger. Nic is 28, but he has been into metal for a long time. His band Prototype are a technical thrash outfit.

MettleAngel: I'm well aware of the music of Prototype.

  • John: Sure we are young, but we are hungry, too. When I first listened to metal it was Sabbath, and Maiden. Then it logically progressed into the classic thrash, and speed. It is a given that there were the main acts from the Bay Area, Jersey, New York, Boston, as well as all over Europe and Canada. I just began a quest to learn about as many underground bands, as I could. The internet makes this so much easier.

MettleAngel: I'm sure! In my day we relied on underground 'zines and tape trading.

  • John: I love Exodus, Vio-lence, but I also love Kreator, which is why this current tour is a dream come true.

MettleAngel: This fall you'll be playing with Obituary, too. I think it is awesome how you will be opening for Sacred Reich in Europe, as well. What do you think of Raven, Anvil , and Exciter?

  • John: Those bands all rule! I'm glad Anvil are finally receiving some level of recognition.

MettleAngel: I agree! I watched Lips and Robb on Jimmy Kimmel recently. Actually, they were on the night when we met at the Louisiville show, Thursday. I noticed that Lips and Robb were quite nervous. I'm sure I would be too, in that setting. It is so surreal to me that they were on the ABC Network. I mean I had just interviewed them less than a week prior, in person.

  • John: You interviewed Anvil?

MettleAngel: Yes, I did and you can read it at Metal Covenant, where this interview will also be posted. It is such a shame that Anvil were fucked over by Attic Records. They ripped off Razor, too. I just heard about the Razor re-issues, finally!

  • John: Razor, Raven, Exciter, Anvil, these bands all deserve to be seen as gods.

MettleAngel: I strongly agree! It is a shame that John Ricci has the Exciter name, and Dan Beehler is solo, playing Exciter songs. It is also tragic about Raven, and how Mark Gallagher was confined to a wheelchair all those years, after a traumatic auto accident. Raven are still shopping for a label! What B$ is that! They have had their new album written and ready for years now. Someone should opt to make a documentary on them, so they receive the recognition, they most rightfully deserve.

  • John: Rob "Wacko" Hunter and Robb Reiner are amazing drummers.

MettleAngel: I know, they influenced Dave Lombardo, Gene Hoglan, and Lars Ulrich. So let us discuss your new video for - Severed Reality.

  • John: That was fun making! It should be on Headbanger's Ball soon.

MettleAngel: I look forward to watching it on You Tube. I don't waste my time with Headgiver's Ball. In the '80s I sat through three hours of B$, just hoping to catch a Kreator, Exodus, or Powermad video. Now, I've heard it is just the same, but the glam hair bands are replaced by hardcore and metalcore poseurs!

  • John: We are just grateful that we get played at all!

MettleAngel: No doubt! I really like the video for - "Combat Shock". At The Crack Of Doom is cool, with its "Doomsday News" imagery, but I like the eternal war themes presented in - Combat Shock.

  • John: We are just grateful that the label allows us to keep making videos.

MettleAngel: How is Century Media treating the band, overall?

  • John: We appreciate all they do for us. We know we are not their priority, like some female Gothic acts. We are really their only active thrash band currently touring.

MettleAngel: Yeah, may of the newer Century Media bands are not too impressive.

  • John: We are glad we chose to sign with them. Initially Metal Blade approached us about a deal.

MettleAngel: I did not know this. They did the same with Fueled By Fire, who were in negotiations with Earache. It is a shame they dropped them. Now, all they have is Hatchet, whom I interviewed last year.

  • John: We know the guys in both of those bands. The thing with Century Media is that we know our place. We accept the fact that we won't be a top selling band. We are just thankful for all the tours for which they book us.

MettleAngel: Yeah, they sure did an excellent job on promoting Shadows Fall a few years ago. Warbringer does get some killer touring bills.

  • John: This is the legitimate way to pay our dues, and earn respect. Touring is everything for us.This is how we serve. When we hit the stage we are 100% fuel charged to deliver a good set, every night, and we give it our all.

MettleAngel: That is so noble. This is what builds character. I know that you and John Laux are founding members, but I noticed that you have a new bass player - Ben Bennett. He replaced John's brother: Andy Laux. It was cool to see your other guitarist: Adam Carroll donning a non-metal - Siouxsie & The Banshees shirt on stage.

  • John: Once Andy departed, we toured with Ben non-stop for about six months, before deciding to make him a permanent member. He fit in so well with us, that we made it official. He earned the position, by showing us that he had what it takes to tour with Warbringer.

MettleAngel: So you tested his mettle, and his steel shined. I want to talk about your name now. You have such a metal namesake.

  • John: What do you mean?

MettleAngel: I mean you can really do a great deal with the name - Kevill. There are some serious metal anagrams present in your name.

  • John: Dude, you lost me...

MettleAngel: The words "evil' and "kill" are right there in your name, depending how you look at it.

  • John: Oh yeah, I've been called - "The Devil Kevill"

MettleAngel: That is just a rhyming scheme. I'm a wordsmith, and the associations are endless. even - "Evil Kevill", itself reminds me of Evil Knievel.

  • John: The stuntman?

MettleAngel: Yeah, but that is not really metal. Although, if you have ever watched the Canadian show - Bizarre - a Showtime Comedy from the early '80s; hosted by John Byner, there was a character called Super Dave Osbourne, on there.

  • John: I'm not familiar with it.

MettleAngel: Super Dave was an inept, greedy and self-absorbed stuntman who gets frequently injured when his stunts go wrong. Super Dave is often accompanied on his various exploits by his loyal friend, sidekick and assistant stunt coordinator Fuji Hakayito. The announcer Mike Walden was so daft, and oblivious to all the carnage. You can watch clips on You Tube. It is also airs quite frequently on TV Land. This character which Bob Einstein played was so amusing. Did you know that his brother is the actor - Albert Brooks?

  • John: No, I did not know that. In what manner were his stunts so silly?

MettleAngel: Well, he would do these wild and dangerous acrobatic stunts, just like Evil Knievel, then he would get violently injured when the stunt did not go as planned. Then it was comical, because he would spout out expletives in anger and frustration at the announcer and Fuji, while dealing with his injuries. He could be decapitated, severed in half, or have every bone in his body broken. It was so damn hilarious.

  • John: It sure sounds that way. I'll have to check it out. So you think I should extract the "kill" or "evil" part of my name, and imploy it as a stage persona?

MettleAngel: Definitely! This would have been perfect when Millie announced you coming on stage to sing with him on - "Pleasure To Kill". You indicated that you had a lot of fun doing that. Don't you do that every night?

  • John: No, that was the first time, and I had a blast. Ventor and I had been discussing it for a week, but we decided to just do it Thursday night in Louisville.

MettleAngel: Was that because this was the first time Kreator had ever played there?

  • John: I'm not sure, but the crowd fuckin' loved it!

MettleAngel: Yes we did! I could have joined you up there, as I was viciously singing along with every word. I would have moshed to the - Toxic Waltz - too, had I not incurred an injury in my hip, earlier this year.

  • John: I hold Kreator and Exodus in such high regard. Last time we toured with Exodus, they let me join them on stage to sing - Bonded By Blood.

MettleAngel: I'm sure that was fun, as well.

  • John: We all have become close friends with this tour. You know how sometimes when you idolize a certain musician, he turns out to be a dick, well this is not the case with the guys in Exodus or Kreator. When I first began to sing I would learn songs by these bands, for my own purposes. I had no idea that someday I'd share the stage with them.

MettleAngel: I must admit I'm a bit envious. I've been listening to both bands for so long, I would love to do that too. I'm glad you get along with everyone on this tour. What about Rob Dukes?

  • John: What about him, he is cool as fuck!

MettleAngel: He does not feel the same about those of us in the press, even if we are fans first. Everytime I speak with him, he talks down to me.

  • John: You just have to get to know him better.

MettleAngel: I get along great with the other guys in Exodus, especially Lee Altus And Jack Gibson. Are the dudes in Belphegor cool too?

  • John: Yeah, they are alright, but there is the language barrier issue with them. All the bands on this tour have established a great comraderie.

MettleAngel: I'm ever grateful that I have had the honour to witness Exodus with all three of their vocalist, at different stages in my life. Rob Dukes, often reminds me of Phil Anselmo with his base, and crass stage antics.

  • John: Of the three Exodus vocalists, whom do you most prefer?

MettleAngel: I would choose Steve "Zetro" Sousa by far! Paul Bailoff was a total maniac on stage. He acted like he had just escaped a lunatic asylum. My favourite Exodus albums are - Pleasures Of The Flesh and Fabulous Disaster. I just wish the band would play some older material, besides -Bonded By Blood (or now - Let There Be Blood!). The new songs are cool, but what about the - Impact Is Imminent album? Hell, I even like - Force Of Habit!

  • John: Really, the band hates that one!

MettleAngel: I know, and they are not to fond of - The Toxic Waltz - either. Gary and Tom want to play the new shit more. They tolerate the older material. Tom commented on this when I spoke with him.

  • John: I guess I like it all!

Would it not be awesome to hear - Chemi-kill, Brain Dead, Parasites, The Changing Of The Guard, Objection Overruled, The Lunatic Parade, or Last Act Of Defiance, at least once?

  • John: They play some of those when they headline, I know, but yeah, that would be cool, no doubt.

MettleAngel: I mean the set list was the exact same as two years ago, with the exception of two new songs - Iconoclasm and Children Of A Worthless God, and of course - The Toxic Waltz.

  • John: I never get tired of hearing those songs.

MettleAngel: Yeah, I'm too damn selective, I guess. Anyway, Thank You so much for taking the time to do this interview with me over the phone. With the new album due out soon, I at least wanted to speak with you about it.

  • John: We are pleased with it, and I'm glad you dig it too. It will be cool to see Nate's take on it. You have a killer site there.

MettleAngel: Thank You! We sure to try to keep everything fresh. I'm swamped with interview opportunities, but I do what I can to represent and serve the bands who truly deserve it.

  • John: We sure do appreciate it, Man!

MettleAngel: Where are you playing tonight? Saturday is a good day to dive, and thrash!

  • John: We are in Raleigh, North Carolina tonight. It is looking like there will be a decent turnout, based on pre-sales.

MettleAngel: I might know some friends who plan to attend this show. John, thanks for taking the time out to speak to me.

  • John: No problem, brother. Thank you for wanting to do this interview on your own accord.

MettleAngel: I chose the guerilla route, and did not go through the label, as there is so much red tape dealing with Century Media. I knew that going to the source was the best for both of us.

  • John: I'm glad we could do this on such short notice. I'll be hounded with interviews all next week. So thanks again, and tell everyone to buy the album!

MettleAngel: I will, you can count on it. Now, go and thrash 'til death!

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