Interview: Tony from Municipal Waste
Interviewer: Neil Brannagan-Fuller
Municipal Waste should need no introduction. The thrash/crossover act make waves wherever they go, from record breaking numbers of crowd surfers at Bloodstock Festival to raucous gigs around the world. As the Municipal Waste tour rolled into Birmingham Neil sat down with Tony to talk all things Municipal Waste.
The Razor's Edge: Hey Tony, so 5 nights in, how are you Enjoying the tour so far?
Tony: No, thank you for having me, yeah four or five nights, it’s blending into one already. So far it’s great, better than I thought, I was a little nervous going into it! We haven’t been to England for a long fucking time, so we will find out tonight!
This was supposed to be a UK only tour, we haven’t done it right for so long, and we want to do it right, with decent metal bands in support doing their thing, us doing our thing, but I’ve been insisting on this for a couple of years now and we’ve finally made it happen!
But the booking agent was all about adding a few mainland shows, which I’m really glad we did as they’ve been fucking banging too! But the U.K. has remained a strong and true metal crowd which is really cool!
The Razor's Edge: Do you like playing the UK? Do you see a difference between the UK crowd and the US crowd or even mainland Europe?
Tony: Oh definitely, not just metal but rock in general, I know theirs hip hop and all the stuff over here as well, but in the US it’s forced metal and punk really underground, especially for new bands, it’s cool, it’s still alive, it’s just not as mainstream, whereas here there’s huge fucking festivals and rock clubs and shit like that, which has kind off gone to the dinosaurs in the states.
The UK’s been great to us, being on earache originally, so since we’ve been started we’ve had a really strong following, but it had been neglected a bit so really glad it all worked out and we could get back across.
The Razor's Edge: You've played Bloodstock Festival a few times now, and each time you try to break the crowd surfing record at the festival. Do you think you can go better the next time you play?
Tony: If we get invited back to do Bloodstock again, we will definitely have a go, make it even better. It’s one of my favourite festivals, they’ve always been so good to us, even when we were smaller, they were one of the first bigger festivals to take us on, so it’s been really fun, we’d love to do it more often!
The Razor's Edge: Yeah everyone is pretty excited to see Vio-Lence in 2020, playing their first ever UK show
Tony: It’s just amazing to see their playing again, it’s pretty cool. It’s funny as Vio-Lence kind of came at the end of that wave of thrash, at least that’s how it seems to the people around them, and then reunited a lot later than a lot of other bands, but I love that band, I still haven’t seen them myself yet, but they’re playing some crazy Dive Bar in North Carolina a few weeks after I finish on tour, so me and my girlfriend will haul ass down there to check them out, finally. Excited to see them, as they’re a big influence on Waste.
The Razor's Edge: You have a reputation for raucous shows and fan interaction. Is that by design or did it just happen naturally?
Tony: I guess it all kind off escalated, from when we started, coming from the punk and hardcore scene, we were used to playing hardcore shows, so we got used to people getting in our face, stage diving, chaos on stage... but it’s not like we planned it like that, it just escalated into the insanity with the excitement of what’s going on in general, and we kind of exploded in a two year timeframe, so our fans were kinda rabid and it grew into this, which is what people expect now!
The Razor's Edge: Does that cause you difficulty at some venues? With security acting like dicks, or do venues know what’s coming and staff up accordingly?
Tony: Well you know it sometimes happens, with every band, in whatever genre of music, that some venues just don’t get you, and it just doesn’t work for some reason, maybe sound wise or security, but to be honest, even with all the touring we’ve done in the last few years we’ve never had any big issues with security. Knock on wood it won’t start tonight! But I’ve definitely been close to fist fights with security over the years, but these days we’ve reached a mutual level of understanding, we let them know what to expect, like life in general it’s just good to communicate and let mofos know what to expect!
The Razor's Edge: A lot of you have numerous side projects. What do you do to keep focus on Municipal Waste and ensure no one gets side tracked?
Tony: It’s kinda where everyone is at with their headspace, for us, we just know when we gotta do shit. So we may of not done some Waste shit for a while, which is good. It also gives the fans a bit of a breather, as well as us, a break from the insanity, but it also helps us be creative, working with other people, just getting the juices flowing. But know we’re all on the same page, we’re going to focus a bit more on Municipal Waste, and get some shit going, really hardcore for the next year or so, and hopefully get some new stuff out - because the 5 years it took us to get Slime (and Punishment) out was just too long, so we’re going to reign it in a bit.
The Razor's Edge: The Last Rager and Slime and Punishment was engineered by Phil (with Josh Hall), While mastering for Last Rager was handled by Joel of Toxic Holocaust, is the do it yourself ethic out of necessity, or do you like the creative control it gives you?
Tony: We’ve never really had problems with creative control, me and Ryan are pretty vocal, we know what it needs to sound like and nobody’s going to tell us different. Phil just knows what the fuck he’s doing, Joel’s great too, he’s been doing records for forever. But all that aside, it’s really more about comfort, it’s just easier to record this shit on your own, when we did the Art of Partying, we had to fly out of town for three weeks on end, booking studio time, renting a house and all that stuff!
So technology has made things easier, especially like for me on vocals, if I’m not feeling it, if I feel like shit, I can take a day off, we can’t do that if we’re paying a producer, you then have to work to his time window!
Yes so getting that control of time is really important, and the ability to listen and fix stuff... so yeah I guess it is creative control, [Laughs] gives us more time to fuck with it!
The Razor's Edge: Is there a risk of over fucking with it though, could you keep screwing with it for ever?
Tony: Fuck yeah, yes, absolutely, and that’s a big problem sometimes, just stopping thinking about it too much and moving on.
The Razor's Edge: So who’s the one in the band that’s likely to want to track something again?
Tony: Oh definitely Ryan, he’s the more nitpicking one, he goes through every track with a fine tooth comb, but that usually works really well and improves the final product. But nobodies like insane about it, he just pays way more attention to detail, where as I’m just a bit “let’s just keep it punk”.
The Razor's Edge: Just hit record and play it through!
Tony: Exactly, that was our first album, there’s a couple of tracks on that record that were first takes, we were like yeah, that’s fine. But that was real to real tape, we didn’t really realise you could redo bits and fix stuff, we were like really? We can go and do that bit again? Oh cool [laughs]
The Razor's Edge: You guys seem to be heavily linked to the resurgence of thrash in the 2000’s, and especially reinvigorating crossover. Was it right sound, time and place or do you feel like you still had to (and still have to) fight to open doors?
Tony: It’s really funny, the term crossover, when we were coming up, it wasn’t really mentioned, we were just a thrash band, I knew we were crossover, but the term only kinda came back in the last ten years or so, rather than the first ten.
The Razor's Edge: Is that just more because we want to pigeon hole every band and split into sub genres? There used to be one genre in the eighties called heavy metal...
Tony: Exactly, it’s like when we came back, metal was in a weird place, with bands like Limp Bizkit and stuff, so we were like, we are a thrash band, we’re just punks playing thrash, which of course is exactly what crossover is. But we were never all “we’re a crossover band”, but then people are all they’re a part thrash band, or this and that. It’s a problem with metal, everyone’s gotta have a little sub genre, it’s got really annoying, people arguing on the internet over what sort of thrash a band is... at the end of the day, who gives a fuck, how about you just enjoy it!
The Razor's Edge: Do you feel it’s harder to get credit for being a proper thrash band if you didn’t form in 1986?
Tony: Yeah we sometimes get that thrown at us, but that’s kinda just how it is, but we kinda worked so hard and set our own path, I’m not one of these people who’s complaining about this band getting more attention than my band, that’s good for them, but for us it’s about getting out and doing our thing.
I guess what used to bother me is when some of the older bands never used to give us any credit, there’s a lot that did and really helped us, but there was also those bands that just pretended we didn’t exist. Because they didn’t want to have to deal with it, or didn’t like our music or whatever.
So yeah that used to bother me, but now after this long, it’s just do what you love, and put your head down and work your arse off, and people eventually appreciate what you do, or if not... fuck em!
The Razor's Edge: Of the new generation of thrashers, who are you listening to? What up and coming bands have caught your attention?
Tony: Yeah yeah, the new Red Death, they’re pretty awesome, they’re from DC. A band called Enforced, from Richmond.. they’re pretty heavy, tough as nails, thrash crossover, theres lots of good stuff happening, it’s still exciting!
The Razor's Edge: What about the UK thrash scene? Do you know any UK bands? Old school or newer bands?
Tony: Our first time out on tour in the UK we took a band from Birmingham called Mistress, we had the best time with those guys. I like a lot of hardcore bands like Game and Flex, this band Dungeon is pretty cool, doing something a bit different.
The Razor's Edge: You’ve got a strong support line up this tour, but who’s your favourite band to be on the road with?
Tony: Toxic Holocaust, this is like our fifth tour with Joel, they’re good friends, so easy to be around, but you’ll hopefully see tonight, the bands on the bill really mesh well together, there’s a certain energy, that’s our thing, that we did together. So when we started our bands, nobody gave a fuck about that sort of music, and we have made our own thing, that’s both empowering and fun.
We really like hanging out with other bands, like Sick of It All, Napalm Death, we just toured with those guys in the states, minus Shane who had visa issue which sucks, but he’s coming tonight, but yeah visa issues, Barney breaking his ankle, it was a brutal tour, good but brutal!
The Razor's Edge: So the world has lost its mind after the final Slayer show of the tour, are you all Slayer fans? What’s your favourite album? And who should replace them in the big 4?
Tony: Exodus, no hesitation. Nothing against those other guys but yeah Exodus, nobody else touches that band, they’re tough as nails. We love Slayer [Tony lifts his shirt and shows off his Slayer Minatour torso tattoo] Hell Awaits maybe, or Reign in Blood, I like Rick Rubin a lot too, so that’s why I like Reign In Blood so much!
The Razor's Edge: Thanks for taking time out for us, and enjoy the rest of the tour!
Tony: thanks, enjoy the show!