Thursday, February 26, 2009

Interview with Screamer

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Wisconsin's Screamer released their debut "Target Earth' back in 1988. The band is back again with a new album. I recently had the chance to talk to vocalist Bill Carter and find out more.

MM-You have a new album out called “What excites you”. Tell us a little about it.

Carter: What Excites You was released by the band in October of 2008, and is a blend of modern and classic melodic metal. We recorded at Belle City Sound in Racine Wisconsin USA with Chris Wisco engineering and mastering and he produced with the band. Guitars are by Mike DeRose, Ron Valeo, Bass by Paul Bigalke, and I handle the vocals. What Excites You contains tasteful dual guitar melodies, heavy drums and driving punchy bass parts, and melodic vocals. The first pressing of the CD is available in a cardboard sleeve, subsequent pressings may be in a different format and or contain bonus materials. That's in the works.

MM-What has been the response to is so far?

Carter: CD sales have been steady, and we are about 250 disks short of selling out our first pressing. We have distribution set up in Japan, Greece, Germany and the US. The record seems to have the most appeal to die hard melodic metal fans from the 80's who still love this style. The response to our live shows have been strong, and I think the fans can tell we are having a lot of fun playing the music.

MM-How does it compare with “Target Earth”? Did you approach writing and recording any differently than on the previous album?


Carter: Our sound has definitely matured, but you can still tell it is Screamer. The trademark guitar harmonies are ever present, the drums and bass are heavier and punchier than Target Earth. I backed off a bit from the nasal high pitched tones in my vocals and opted for an approach I feel delivers my message more clearly. I would say that the songs on What Excites You are a bit more straight forward than Target Earth.
In regards to writing, we wrote both albums the same way. The band comes up with the music, I fabricate a vocal melody, then I find a topic and write the lyrics.
Recording was totally different. Back in the 80's we were recording on 2" analog tape, and today we record digitally. There are some appealing aspects of both mediums, but in the end I believe that the in your face sound of What Excites You wins from a sonic perspective. Target Earth, if mastered differently could have really kicked some ass.

MM-Are all of the songs brand new or were any of them written even in part back during the band’s first run?

Carter: There are several guitar parts that were left over from 20 years ago that we reworked with modern riffs. It's a blend of yesterday and today. 2021 and Special Corsetry are 100% new Riffs. All the other songs are a blend of new and old.

MM-The new album is with 3/5 of the line-up that played on the previous album. Who are the other two players and when and where did you bring them into the fold?


Carter: It's a bit of a misnomer that Pat Hainault is a new member of Screamer. Pat didn't play on the Target Earth record, but he joined the band shortly after it was released and played many live shows. Mike DeRose is the new guy. Mike came on board at the tail end of recording What Excites You. We rushed him into the studio and had him add his parts.
Prior to recording What Excites You, we looked long and hard for a great player that could fit into the group. We finally gave up and went into the studio with just Ron on guitars. Then, of course, when you stop looking you find what you want and Mike fell into place. DeRose is a great guitar player and all around nice guy so we can't wait to hear his song writing on the next record.

MM-It has been over twenty years since the previous album. Did everyone remain involved with music project during that time? If so then what was everyone doing?

Carter: Paul and Pat played live and recorded in a band called Haphazard for years. Ron was a co founder of Electric Hellfire Club and Ron Valeo's New Mafia, and I played in several bands playing and recording through the years.


MM-When and why did the band break up in the first place?

Carter: We broke up a couple of years after Target Earth was released. We basically self managed ourselves into oblivion. We failed to put together a proper tour, we failed to drive forward and release a follow up record. We became frustrated with our lack of success and imploded. We failed to be patient. There was a lot of bad blood which is why I didn't speak to the band members for 20 years.

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MM-How did the band come to reform?

Carter: About two years ago, a friend of mine kept giving me a hard time about not playing with Screamer. Every week he would call me up and tell me how great new material would be if we wrote it, how he loved Target Earth, and how there were people out there that might want to hear something new from us. I finally woke up one day and asked myself if I had done something significant in the last few years musically? The answer was no. I had not spoken to any member of Screamer for almost 20 years, and didn't know how to get in touch with them.
I sent an e mail to New Ren, and they forwarded Paul's e mail address to me. Paul, Ron and Pat had already decided to re-form Screamer, and were looking for me but could not find me. They had no idea if I was alive or dead. I'm assuming they would have found someone to fill the slot eventually, but lucky for me the planets aligned and I reached out to them.

MM-How did you get signed by New Renaissance back in the 80’s? How was your relationship with them? Did they give you much support? Was there much of a tour to support “Target Earth”?


Carter: I think we slipped the road manager for King Diamond a demo tape, and it ended up in New Ren's hands somehow from there. Our relationship started out well enough with New Ren, but it didn't stay that way. As I mentioned before, we pretty much self managed and did a horrible job at it. I heard later that there had been some very unprofessional communication from us to New Ren, and I suspect their support decreased a bit shortly after. New Ren is a small company of course so money is not endless, and I think they gave us the support they could at the time, and the support they thought we warranted.
We supported Target Earth for about two years, playing in the Midwest Region of the US. I believe that had we gotten our act together and toured overseas it could have changed the history of Screamer. We will never know.

MM-New Renaissance re-released Target Earth on CD in 2006. Wasn’t there some problem with bootlegs of it being out in Europe before that?


Carter: There are still bootlegs being produced today as far as I know, but I hear the sound quality is not very great. There are still Target Earth CD's out there from the 2006 re-release so people should be able to source that disk on the Internet without having to go the bootleg route.

MM-Did you much receive much Screamer fan mail during the time when the band didn’t exist?


Carter: I didn't know the answer to this question so I called Ron who was in charge of the fan mail back then. For two years after we disbanded, Ron says we received a huge amount of fan mail from around the globe, and even received phone calls looking for us. Ron had moved on to other projects and my impression from him is that he did not give the mail the attention it deserved at the time. That's a shame.

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MM-I know that you have a few dates coming up soon in Wisconsin . Any chance that you will play outside your home state or you would you be interested in any festival appearances if they came up for summer of 2009?

Carter: We are very interested in playing festivals in the summer. We have had some offers, but so far no promoters have stepped up with the minimum of travel expenses to make it happen. With air travel dropping in price from the US to Europe, I'm hoping the festival promoters will step up. We're ready.

MM-How do you the music scene has changed over the last twenty years? What’s better about it now? What’s worse about it now?


Carter: We have gone from an age where the Artist delivers a self contained vision to their fans, to an age where each song can be bought separately and must stand on it's own. It's like cutting up a piece of framed art and selling it like smaller framed puzzle pieces. I can't tell you how many times I fell in love with a "B" side song that I thought sucked the first (10) times I heard it. If I bought (1) song at a time, I would never have the pleasure of warming up to a song. I refuse to purchase anything but the entire record personally. Aren't we telling Artists to not take a chance by buying (1) song at a time?
All the technology is also the greatest thing that could have happened to music. I would have never known we had so many great fans without the Internet. We would have never been able to distribute our own CD without technology, and since we are underground I doubt a label would have picked us up for What Excites You. However, with the power of the net perhaps a label in Europe will be interested since about 75% of our fans are there it seems.
The one thing that I miss from the old days is mystery. Seeing the way a band looks for the first time at a live concert rather than on an internet site like you tube or their myspace site. There is almost too much transparency; It kills the mystery to me. When I saw Iron Maiden live they were like Gods walking out on the stage and hitting the first few notes. First metal show I saw was Priest Screaming for Vengeance. Halford ruled the planet for two hours. If I was growing up today, I would probably know what kind of breakfast Steve Harris prefers.
It's just different today, not better not worse.

MM-Since it’s early into the New Year, what would you like to accomplish in 2009?


Carter: I want to play shows in Europe and continue to write music in 2009. I hope with enough fan support we will convince the show promoters to give us that chance. We are already in the process of writing more material which I am excited about as well.

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MM-Looking back is there anything that you wish you had done differently with this band?

Carter: I don't live in the past and tend to move forward at all times. However, I think you can see in some of my answers where mistakes were made that if I owned a time machine perhaps they could have been avoided.

MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked them.

Iron Maiden or Judas Priest
Carter: That's almost an impossible choice for me. Maiden has to win because I used to live and breath Maiden growing up because of Bruce's voice and Steve's bass playing. Also, the time changes and complexity of the music always drew me in. I love Priest as well for the rawness of it.

Scorpions or UFO
Carter: Scorpions for me all the way. Vocal melodies that you can't get out of your head. They just have this sound I love.

Fates Warning or Queensryche

Carter: Queensryche hands down for me. Rage for Order is an incredible record. Mindcrime is great....

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?


Carter:I would like to thank all the people who have shown us support through the years, and continue to supported us by purchasing What Excites You. If you would like to e mail me I can be contacted at screamerband@yahoo.com. Check out our myspace page http://www.myspace.com/screamertargetearth and you can purchase the new CD from there. If you want us to play live near you, then push the issue with your local concert and festival promoters and we will be there for you. Thanks again for being interested in Screamer.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

screamer what a shit band ozzy much better

3:36 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Anonymous-Thanks for stopping by. However it would have been better if you knew what you were talking about and could write in complete sentences. Screamer are a good band and the new album is solid.

3:48 AM  

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