The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Take 5 With Dan Lorenzo of Hades

Photo Credit: Frank White, Photo copy courtesy of Dave Brenner

I'd have to say in my six years in this biz I've made a lot of cool friends on the front lines and especially behind-the-scenes. While you won't hear me say "Ray Van Horn, Jr., close and personal friend of (fill in your favorite band name here)" I will say there's been members of bands past and present I communicate with on a regular basis and these are people I regard fondly. The way they treat me is the way they would anyone else, press perks or not.

Dan Lorenzo is one of these people. It's enough the man has kept me well-stocked with merch of projects he's related to, but talking with the guy is always for me like talking to a slightly older brother who's had a bigger taste of the pie, so to speak. Forever known in this metal scene as "Dan From Hades," by way of his customary introduction since beginning the cult thrash legend back in 1978, Dan has seen the quick ascension and the immediate plunge thereafter with Hades.

Some might say Hades (also consisting of Alan Tecchio, Jimmy Schulman, Tom Coombes, Scott LePage--and Ed Fuhrman as eventual replacement for LePage) broke up too quickly the first time around after two albums which are held to a standard by the group's fans, Resisting Success and If at First You Don't Succeed. Many missed the boat entirely when Hades returned in the nineties to release three albums for Metal Blade, SaviorSelf, The Downside and Damnation.

The fact of the matter is that Hades never reached the pinnacle of the success they proverbially resisted as their more-recognized thrash brethren such as Exodus, Overkill, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth, even though Hades shared the stage with each of them and many others during the rise of speed metal in the mid-eighties. A fateful European tour inadvertently split Hades apart and nobody ever really got to see what Hades at the height of their capacity could've conjured up thereafter. Lorenzo soon started his next band Non-Fiction, again enjoying a cult celebrity status in the New York and New Jersey region before retiring to his private studio for a series of homegrown solo records with a small ensemble of friends known as Cassius King.

Lorenzo later hooked up with his buddy Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth from Overkill to spawn the one-timer offshoot The Cursed, a sludge rock experiment that yielded a single "Evil, in the Bag" as prelude to their only album Room Full of Sinners and a lone show to promote it at BB King's in Manhattan, now a quiet, updated anecdote in the metal archives.

This is where I picked up my association with Dan Lorenzo in a dual interview with him and Blitz, certainly one of the coolest tag-team chats I've been offered. From The Cursed has come a regular way cool time (to coin the Ramones' tune) in continued back-and-forth exchange with Lorenzo. You might remember Dan wrote a guest piece here at The Metal Minute back in 2007, and if you're in the Jersey region, you probably know him as not only "Dan From Hades" but also "Dan From Steppin' Out Magazine" as one of their ad reps.

Dan and I had a recent conversation for Metal Maniacs magazine to discuss the new Hades' DVD, Bootlegged in Boston 1988 where fans have access to raw live footage as eighties' metalheads living in a low-def world can well appreciate. The DVD also features vintage interviews and more recent testimony as well as promotional videos for Hades, Non-Fiction and Lorenzo's solo tune "Frozen Planet."

Here at The Metal Minute is bonus footage of this interview with Dan Lorenzo for your edification:

The Metal Minute: Hades sort of got the jump on many of the elite thrash bands of the eighties, though it took a lot of hard work, starvation and pushing your group's original "Deliver Us From Evil" 7-inch to magazines such as Kerrang! in order to get noticed. All of that effort and sacrifice, and what I wonder is how did you view the thrash bands cropping up in your territory as well as the west coast, which widely gets credited as the birthplace of thrash?

Dan Lorenzo: We ended up being on Torrid Records whose first release was Exodus’ first album and then Hades was their third-ever release. I remember when Metallica first came here, we thought the band name was pronounced "metal-licka" and they played a show in front of 50 people. Hades' guitar player Scott LePage was one of those 50 people, so we knew about these bands because we were a part of the Old Bridge Militia; we were honored to play Metal Joe’s Basement. So we were in the scene early on and hearing rumblings of these other bands on the west coast and I remember Scott Ian would come to Hades shows and sing the chorus of "Denim and Leather." I didn’t know who these people were back then! I’d heard more about the bands that weren’t in Kerrang! yet. It wasn’t like I felt they were competition. Nuclear Assault called me up one time when Hades had broken up and I think I had an ad in The Aquarian saying "Guitar player available and looking for musicians." Somebody from Nuclear Assault--I think it was a temporary drummer--tried to get me in the band. I’ll never forget him calling me and asking "What do you think of ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ the new Metallica song?" I said "I Love It!" and he was like, "No, no, it’s too slow; we’re going to have all of our songs faster." I was like, "Well, I don’t want to be involved in it if all you’re going for is speed!" I was more into the songs; I don’t care about the bpm’s; I care about the songs!

MM: Let's go over Hades' return in the nineties when Metal Blade signed you guys to a four-record deal and only held you to three. Did you ever think at the time the prospect of a new Hades album would've been thinkable, much less three?

DL: Those were great years with Metal Blade and we appreciate it more than ever! Tim Gillis, the producer who’s interviewed on the DVD, told me before we did SaviorSelf, "I want you to put a new Hades CD out." He’d been telling me this for months and I was like, "I haven’t even played guitar in two years, dude, it’s not going to happen!" He kind of insisted and my guitar tech Dan Garber threw me a guitar. I was like, "Shit, once he throws me his guitar I’m going to start writing riffs and fucking record them!" I showed the song “SaviorSelf” to Alan (Tecchio) and he started moving with recording a record but there was no money for it and nobody was going to put out. The next thing you know, I hear Brian Slagel’s looking for some old school metal bands with a little bit of a name, I call him on the phone and he asks what I want financially. I’m thinking there’s no way he’ll give that to us, but he gives it to us, then we end up having three records with Metal Blade and I have to say every second of every day I appreciated Metal Blade so much because I thought at that point--I was 38 years old then--I’m thinking, "Man, I can’t believe somebody’s paying to release my little musical hobby!" It’s the most beautiful thing in the world and they’re flying me and Alan out to Germany to do some interviews and I appreciated every second of the three CDs we did with them. The European office was especially great to us.

MM: Bootlegged in Boston 1988 is the first proper DVD documentation of Hades and a lot of thoughts come to my mind as a viewer, such as who I was in the year I graduated high school and the area I lived which was hardly considered a metalhead's den. Being in your part of the country where a lot of music--especially metal--was being generated, I would imagine your life was far more memorable, especially having a band like Hades and putting your entire energy into it before breaking up the first time. Looking at Bootlegged in Boston 1988 from your eyes, what are you thinking about?

DL: Watching Hades I think we had a little something that was special and I think if we had proper management and a booking agent sooner, I think we could’ve made a far-larger dent. If we could’ve gotten over some personal issues... We went to Europe and stayed together through 1989 and 1990 and did the album that would’ve been Exist to Resist, the third Hades CD. I think we could’ve really made some noise because Torrid was doing a deal with Epic at that point and we would’ve had a video for MTV. It just kind of makes me sad, but I also think you ultimately end up where you should be. I think every band is as popular as they should be, even when people say "Oh, you guys were underrated" or "You should’ve sold more." I don’t know if that’s really true. I think you kind of get what you deserve in life a lot of times and as long as you have your health, you really end up where you should be. But it does make me a little sad and a little curious, like maybe when we die we’ll get to see a vision of what it would look like if we had done a couple of things differently. Sometimes watching the DVD makes me ultimately sad and when I speak with the other guys in the band like Jimmy Schulman, Ed Fuhrman and Scott LePage. I think they all think the same thing, that we were kind of a cool band, and that we could’ve and should’ve done a lot more than we did.

MM: I'd say the bootleg quality of this DVD is an acquired taste in the eyes the youth making up Generation Tech, but for us old farts, there's a huge endearment to bootleg video, wouldn't you agree?

DL: In this world you have newscasters who are 75 years old who look younger than I do because they’ve had $50,000 worth of plastic surgery! This DVD is just something that’s really raw and I didn’t want to trick anybody into thinking it was high production. That’s why I kind of insisted to Cruz Del Sur that I wanted to call it Bootlegged in Boston 1988 because it’s not high tech-quality footage, but there’s a certain charm to it. It’s very fucking eighties and I love it. I think this DVD is everything you’d want as a Hades fan, though in name it might be a little confusing since you think it’s just a Boston show, but there’s much more than that. You have all of these old interviews and old t.v. footage and for a Hades fan I think this DVD is an awesome buy. It’s pretty much everything you could want from almost every point of our career. Jay Bones, who did the “Frozen Planet” video from my first solo CD, put this thing together. I think people will dig it.

MM: That being said, the inevitable question in looking at this video and Hades' two separate runs together, do you wish the chemical makeup of the old days had more stablility?

DL: Absolutely, and it’s funny because now Jimmy Schulman and I are best friends. Back then we used to butt heads so hard because Jimmy’s the kind of guy who shows up late for everything and I’m the kind of guy who shows up early for everything. That’s what I do. He’s still the same; people don’t change! I’m right on the nose for an interview and Jimmy still shows up late for everything. At some point you end up saying you can’t fight this anymore; that’s who this person is and you love him anyway! He makes me fucking crazy, he’s always the least prepared guy, I know he’s always going to show up late, which is really terrible showing up late when you’re paying for rehearsal and recording time. Still, he’s my fucking brother! When we split up there was definitely a period of time when I thought I’d never, ever talk to Alan, Jimmy and Tom again. Then time passes and you realize you probably had more things in common than you would disagree with and probably looking back you should’ve put some of the petty stuff aside and done what was good for the common goal of the band, which would’ve been to stay together.

Copyright 2009 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

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