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Interview conducted November 11 2009
Interview published November 14 2009

New Jersey's Whiplash are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year. They have just released their thrashback attack in the form of - 'Unborn Again' - an all out insult to injury, rife with powerful melodies and painful shredding. They stick it to mayhem based thrash reunions with more well-penned messages in blood...."Even in your sleep you would never dream it!"

If my memory serves, they had a killer comeback release with the '98 album 'Thrashback' on Massacre Records, a far cry from the experimental 'Sit Stand Kneel Prey', or ultra-modern 'Cult Of One'. With 'Unborn Again', battle scarred Tony Portaro and Joe Cangelosi take another stab at the perpetual warfare and spiral of violence which they have created, showcasing an essence of evolution, maturity, and honesty. Prepare to thrash 'til death!

MettleAngel: Hello there Tony, I am so pleased to make your acquaintance.

  • Tony: Hey there Michael, hang on a minute, because I also have Joe Cangelosi, who wants to get on the line and speak with you.

MettleAngel: Get out! The two masters from 'Ticket To Mayhem' and 'Insult To Injury' - my absolutely favourite Whiplash album!

  • Joe: Yeah, how is it going? Man, 'Insult', really, that seems to be most fans' least favourite.

What, no way! That album rules. I love Glenn Hansen's vocals, and the songs are so melodic. Sure it may not be classic thrash, but it is a solid album; especially, compared to the Massacre Records years, with the exception of the remarkable 'Thrashback'.

  • Joe: I did not play on that one.

MettleAngel: I know that was the return of the "Three Tony's" with Tony Scaglione on drums. I guess he is with Deathrash currently.

  • Joe: I think he just left them.

MettleAngel: I would also add that I am sure that the late Tony Bono is with us tonight in spirit.

  • Joe: Always, Man!

MettleAngel: I find it hard to believe that he died in 2002, over seven years ago. Man, that was before the birth of my son. I saw that Whiplash recently played a show with Deathrash, and At War. It was a free show, and you were joined by Enforcer from Sweden and Cauldron from Canada. I reviewed both of their CDs.

  • Tony: Yeah, that was a great show. We love playing with At War. They are great friends of ours.

MettleAngel: Their new album - 'Infidel' - is another killer thrash comeback. Wow! I am stoked to be speaking to both of you, because I am a big fan. I have all your CDs, originals, and the Displeased Records re-issues. I even have a cool bootleg 'Power And Pain' T-shirt, that I bought at a US festival.

  • Joe: Is it yellow? I recall seeing Katon DePena of Hirax wearing one of those.

MettleAngel: No, it is just like the album cover, and really well done.

  • Tony: Cool!

MettleAngel: So congratulations on celebrating 25 years. I know you have a new album out, and this is why you are here, so let us discuss this.

  • Tony: Go for it! We are very proud of this one.

MettleAngel: As well you should be. I really dig it. It took a few listens, but it really grew on me. There is something different about it. I mean it is thrashing like 'Ticket To Mayhem', it has melodic elements like 'Insult To Injury', and even 'Sit Stand Kneel Prey'. There is just something different, and more mature about it. The Harris Johns production values truly shine.

  • Tony: So you like it then?

MettleAngel: I really do, and I would almost suggest that you are incorporating your '70s influences.

  • Tony: Really, how so?

MettleAngel: Take for example a song like "Hook In Mouth". I clearly detect a similarity with "Hiroshima", but I also hear a Sabbathy "Sweat Leaf" vibe present.

  • Joe: You have a good ear.

MettleAngel: Then you chose to do the first Whiplash cover ever in the form of "I've Got The Fire". Are you both big fans of Montrose?

  • Joe: Actually the first time I heard this song was when Iron Maiden covered it, I did not even know who Montrose were.

MettleAngel: Nor did I, and Maiden was my first experience, as well. I did not even know that Sammy Hagar had sung with them. I really like the mean version the proto-metal '80s act Axe from Florida did of that song too. I have been playing my Axe albums all week. I just found a used copy of 'Offering' on vinyl for a buck! "Rock 'N' Roll Part In The Streets" is a classic! I have also been jamming on Sweet's anthology! Both were bands waaay ahead of their time!

  • Tony: I agree! Actually, the Montrose cut was not our first choice for a cover. We had about three from which to choose. We seriously considered doing Cheap Trick's - "Auf Wiedersehen".

MettleAngel: I remember hearing Anthrax do that. Did you know they just released a killer double disc remaster for Among The Living. It now includes the bonus live DVD - 'OIDIVNIKUFESIN (N.F.V.)', and six unreleased bonus tracks.

  • Tony: Oh yeah....

MettleAngel: I wonder who they will get for a vocalist? John Bush is only doing live shows.

  • Tony: I guess they will have to decide soon.

MettleAngel: I was not a big fan of the recent Cheap Trick effort - 'The Latest'. It was not as classic as their '70s albums. I could tell that they are way too much into the Beatles; especially after doing that whole - "Sgt. Pepper Live: A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration Tribute To The Beatles". They should jam on some Beatallica.

  • Joe: Yeah, I agree. We also thought about doing The Who song "Love Reign O'er Me". (Tony:) Yeah, but we were going to call it "Blood Reign Over Me"!

MettleAngel: Was that to promote your new Whiplash Hot Sauce set? I am sure both Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey would have had issues with that! I recently saw some live footage of Whiplash playing a show with Deceased.

  • Joe: That was just last week. Where did you see that?

MettleAngel: I saw a YouTube clip on Bravewords website. You were performing "I've Got The Fire", but who was the fourth member?

  • Tony: That is Paul Bento from Carnivore. He is an awesome dude, and good friend of ours. We are thinking about bringing him on tour with us, as an extra member singing and playing guitar.

MettleAngel: I love Carnivore, another awesome '80s era Roadrunner act. I prefer Pete Steele's work in Carnivore to Type O Negative, anyday!

  • Joe: I will have to check out that footage. I have my own You Tube site with various live concerts of Whiplash internationally. Just type in keywords: Animalosi and Whiplash. (Tony:) There is some good coverage of the South America and European festival shows.

MettleAngel: Awesome, I will definitely look into checking that out. Do you have any current plans for touring the US; especially, the Midwest?

  • Tony: Man, we sure would love to do that! It would be cool if Jack Koshick, who did the New Jersey and Milwaukee Metalfests could put something together, like he did a decade ago.

MettleAngel: Exactly, or even what Brad Youngblood attempted with Classic Metalfest 2001.

  • Tony: With the exception of the East and West coast, there does not seem to be too much of a demand for us to play; whereas, in Europe we are always welcome. Playing Wacken was such an incredible experience for us, and gained us such awesome exposure! We actually met Artillery for the first time.

MettleAngel: Ah yes another incredible Danish band once on Roadrunner Records, like yourselves. They too have an excellent comeback release called 'When Death Comes'.

  • Joe: I really dig their new vocalist Søren Nico Adamsen. He does a great job on the older cuts, and the new ones! (Tony:) Getting to know those dudes was a real treat. We became acquainted through some E-mails, then once we met, we hit it off drinking and talking about the glory days. They were one of the first bands to share the comp. we were on in '85.

MettleAngel: I assume you are referring to the first 'Speed Metal Hell' compilation on New Renaissance Records? You had the song "Thrash 'Til Death" on there. 'Speed Metal Hell II' later featured Deathrash doing "Buried Alive". I love those first three Speed Metal Hell comps. I discovered so many thrash acts from playing those.

  • Tony: Wow! Not too many people know about those!

MettleAngel: I found it difficult to get the first one on vinyl, but I got the other two on cassette. I still have them to this day. Hell, the third one had Prong, Bloodfeast, Wehrmacht, Dream Death, Necrophagia, Papsmear, and some other rare acts like The Kill and Metal Onslaught.

  • Tony: You are old school!

MettleAngel: I told you, I was a fan of that era. I am staring at my Whiplash tapes right now! So get this, I just saw and interviewed Alestorm on Saturday in Cleveland. I am sure you are well aware of the "Pirate Metal" scene now dominating. As for me, the first metal song about piracy that I heard came from your "Walk The Plank".

  • Joe: Hell Yeah!

MettleAngel: I mean other than Stormwitch and Running Wild in Germany, there was only Num Skull and Whiplash even addressing the topic in the US. When I informed my friend - who was given "Ticket To Mayhem" as a Christmas gift from his buddy in college - that I had just booked an interview with Tony, he actually qouted lyrics from this song in an E-mail.

  • Tony: Man, that is awesome!

MettleAngel: I am trying to convince him how good the new album is, once you let it really sink in, after a couple of listens.

  • Tony: I assume you know the song "Float Face Down" is the sequel to this?

MettleAngel: I kind of figured that was the case.

  • Tony: After all, once you walk the plank, and the sharks attack, you float face down.

MettleAngel: Ha, great reference to yourselves and Wehrmacht! Speaking of the "Ticket" album. I really like how you began to diversify your thrash sound, something that would pay off on "Insult". I really dug the song "Spiral Of Violence".

  • Tony: That had kind of a personal message for me.

MettleAngel: Given than Vietnam reference, I kind of assumed that. It was the late '80s, and our fathers were reflecting on their youth when they were once the age of soldiers who fought early on in the war. I assume you were born during that war. One thing I did not like about "Ticket" though, and it really irked me to no end....

  • Tony: Oh, what was that?

MettleAngel: It was not the music at all, it was the damn "Perpetual Warfare" at the beginning and end of the tape. You see I had just purchased an auto-reverse tape deck for my car. Back then, it was all the fashion to have one of those.

  • Joe: Yeah, I remember those!

MettleAngel: It is just that as soon as the album ended, and "Perpetual Warfare" began, then the tape would switch over, and the damn bellicose ruckus would start over. I was not rich enough at the time to have the auto-fast-forward feature, which would skip to the next track. I had to wait another year before I could get that.

  • Tony: Tell me about it! When 'Insult' came out on CD, I could not even afford a CD player! The reason we did "Perpetual" that way was for the sake of the vinyl. It was designed to reach a groove at the end, then go into a constant repeat function; hence "Perpetual Warfare".

MettleAngel: Really, I do not, and have never played his on vinyl, so I was not aware of this!

  • Tony: The early Whiplash albums were all written to be experienced on vinyl.

MettleAngel: When I was in college, tapes were so much more convenient; especially, for the car. One thing I did notice about the new album, is that you did not seem to rework any of your classic demos. I am still waiting to hear an updated arrangement for "Chained Up, Strapped Down".

  • Tony: Yeah, all the material is fresh, and we worked from week to week to really create some new style riffs.

MettleAngel: It pays off, and this may be the edge that makes the album so fresh. When I first purchased 'Thrashback', I loved songs like "King With The Axe", and "Murder On Monroe Street". It was not until I got 'Messages In Blood' that I realized that those were older demos.

  • Tony: Yeah, we really wanted to strip down to our early roots with that one.

MettleAngel: When I purchased the Displeased re-issue for "Insult To Injury", I was super psyched about those live tracks from the CBGB's show in '86. I especially wanted to hear "Cyanide Grenade". You know the song about extra, extra, extra strength tylenol? You mention on the live recording that it was on "Ticket", sadly this was never the case!

  • Tony: Yeah, we chose to leave it off, mostly to do the "Perpetual Warfare" thing.

MettleAngel: When I bought 'Sit Stand Kneel Prey', I saw you had that song on there, but it was so different.

  • Tony: The only thing that version has in common is the song title; otherwise it is a whole other song, entirely.

MettleAngel: Well that makes sense. Joe, I know you had the opportunity to play and record with Kreator on the 'Cause For Conflict' album, how was that experience?

  • Joe: Awesome Man!

MettleAngel: Tony, you say most hardcore old schoolers are not too inclined towards "Insult", but what about the modern guitar tone of 'Cult Of One'? I paid a lot for this import, and it was a real disappointment. It reminded me of Omen's big mistake with 'Reopening The Gates'.

  • Tony: Actually, I am quite proud of that record.

MettleAngel: It just seemed that by this time too many acts were trying to imitate Pantera. Omen and Whiplash are way better than Pantera ever were!

  • Tony: That is a bold, brazen statement! Thanks! The fact is that I was trying new things on the mix for that. I would tweak my guitar sound using Marshall and Mesa-Boogie power amps in order to get a more distorted down-tuned low reverb, which fit the song structures.

MettleAngel: Back to "Unborn Again" I see you enlisted the artwork of Ed Repka. He is all the rage again. How did you get him?

  • Joe: He wanted to do it. He always liked our classic album cover designs, and he wanted to pay homage to those. (Tony:) It looks like he is adapting some modern graphic techniques, but the artwork does incorporate our other albums. The 'Ticket' skeleton is in the front car of the coaster, the 'Power And Pain' dude is selling tickets, and the 'Insult' dude is hobbling around.

MettleAngel: I like the intro before "Swallow The Slaughter". What is with "Three Dollars"..."Free Refill"? Is that interchange taken from an actual carnival experience?

  • Tony: Yeah it is, but it was never intended for the album. I recently completed some courses at NYU, under the tutelage of Rick Van Benschoten for Audio Production and Susan Nuziata for Music Marketing. There I learned to work with audio samples. I used pro-tools to mix this, and later decided to use it as the intro for the CD.

MettleAngel: It works quite well and effectively. I also like the instrumental "Parade Of Two Legs", which may allude to the sexy metal chick on the cover. This song kind of reminds me of the "Ticket To Mayhem" instrumental from "Insult To Injury".

  • Joe: You know since you are a big fan of "Insult", I have a story for you.

MettleAngel: Go for it!

  • Joe: Well in 2008, I discovered that I was adopted, so I have sought out my true brothers and sisters over the last year.

MettleAngel: Today's technology makes something like that so much easier.

  • Joe: Indeed, so once I discovered that I had a sister in Colorado, we became real close. When she found out I was an active member of Whiplash, she wanted to get all the CDs. The thing is those Roadrunner originals are quite pricey. Bless her heart, she went on E-bay and ended up dishing out about $100 for each one.

MettleAngel: You mean you did not have any original copies to give her?

  • Joe: I fuckin' wish!

MettleAngel: So some dude sold his CDs, made a killing, and exploited your own sister. You should have just made her burns.

  • Joe: She wanted the real deal! (Tony:) Yeah, our fans, and families are hardcore. This is why is it good to hear how you have held on to all your Whiplash over the years. It is also good to gain your perspective on our music. We have not played any 'Thrashback' cuts live for awhile, but now I think I might incorporate those into the set list again.

MettleAngel: Hell yeah! I would definitely recommend adding "Memory Serves" and Stab", as well as "King" & "Monroe Street". Tell me about the Indian chant before "Firewater".

  • Tony: Once again, same thing it just happened, and it fit so perfectly.

MettleAngel: Did you know Slayer were working on a new song called "Snuff"?

  • Joe: How could we?

MettleAngel: Yeah, I know...I figured perhaps you might still be in contact with them ever since Tony Scaglione filled in for them when Dave Lombardo left for the first time.

  • Tony: Nah, no chance! We may see them at festivals, but that is it. When we sat down to create "'Unborn', we just started out fresh. We wanted to write songs that our older fan base would appreciate, but we also wanted to write for newer fans, as well.

MettleAngel: I feel you have accomplished this quite well. 'Unborn' is a solid blend of the old and the new. Your vocals are less gruff, like the Jackhammer demo days, or early Whiplash style. They are more lucid and distinct.

  • Tony: You think?

MettleAngel: Definitely! Now, that I hear your voice, over the phone, for the first time, I understand why it appears to be more caustically pronounced on the album. You both have strong East Coast accents, and I have to listen real carefully to tell you two apart.

  • Tony: I can see that. Man it has been so cool to talk with you Michael. You really need to catch us live. Whiplash is essentially a live band.

MettleAngel: Believe me I sure would love to do that!

  • Joe: You live in Ohio, right?

MettleAngel: Cincinnati...

  • Joe: Well before we go, I have a great Midwest tale to pass on to you.

MettleAngel: Do tell!

  • Joe: Years ago when we were on tour, we played a club in Chicago, I think? (Tony:) You mean Divisions? (Joe:) Yeah, I think that was it, anyway, our buddy Ray Carpenter had rigged this killer contraption which allowed us to stow all our gear safely above the van. Well, right after the show, we pulled into a gas station.... (Tony:) It was a Citgo Station... (Joe:) That sounds right...so we were doing this U-Turn, and somehow, we ended up ripping the gas sign right out of the ground. Man we fucked that shit up, and pealed out. (Tony:) Then when we got to Pennsylvania, a fuckin' cop pulled us over...

MettleAngel: Let me guess, you were pistolwhipped for your infraction?

  • Tony: Actually no, it was totally surreal. The cop was not even aware of that. Once he found out we were in a band, he invited us into his patrol car to share a six pack.

MettleAngel: Say what! "Supertroopers" for real! I cannot wait until that sequel comes out!

  • Tony: Yeah no shit! When we asked where to discard the cans, he just chucked them out the window, thanked us and drove off! (Joe:) Man those were the days! Anyway brother, we got to run, but hey, thanks again for the great conversation! (Tony:) Yeah, definitely! You know we do have some saved up frequent flyer miles, so we may just plan to come to the Midwest and play a show just for you and your friends. You deserve it!

MettleAngel: That would rule.

  • Joe: I will give you my info so we can stay in touch. It has been a real honour!

MettleAngel: Absolutely! I was only planning to speak with Tony, so Joe thanks for joining in. Yes, let us stay in touch. Congratulations on another killer Whiplash album!

  • Joe: Thanks Man, all the best!

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