Chris Forbes from MetalCore Fanzine (est. 1986) stepped up as a contributor and suggested to (re-)publish his interviews. And here you go….(Ricardo)
Cazz Grant is someone I have known for almost as long as I started doing my print zine Metal Core back in the late 80’s and I recently reconnected with him for this great interview and here it is for everyone to enjoy. (Chris Forbes)
Cazz where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born Jan 11th 1970 in a Delaware County Pennsylvania town called Chester (pretty slummy haha)…and most of my growing up was done in a town a few miles from Chester called Boothwyn, a big step up from the projects and filth of Chester!
What sort of kid were you growing up and into your early teenage years?
I think I was more of a play in the street kind of kid. And I was raised Catholic most of my early days, and I behaved mostly for that reason, and maybe because my old man was a no nonsense father. But over time and when I learned to think on my own, I shed that Christian mentality and ventured into the “more evil” side of things. My teens were mostly about drums and metal….and it hasn’t stopped since.
Now how did you come to discover metal and then the underground scene?
Metal I somehow discovered on my own in 1982, I was 12. I recall when we moved to Boothwyn I was probably 10 or 11 and my parents had only a small clock radio that I discovered and found music. It started with only radio songs, doo wop that my father played and sang from time to time, and Van Morrison and The Doobie Brothers from my mom. But I started to hear all the popular songs and found a fascination with music. I really didn’t have anything else that I recall being something that I enjoyed. I remember spending lots of time with my Aunt Sue, and she was into stuff like Sinatra and the like. But she used to buy me the stuff that I could never get on my own or from my parents. I think it started with J. Geils and Pat Benetar, then blossomed into AC/DC and finally Ozzy’s Blizzard of Ozz, which was my very first metal album. Immediately after that every single day I played that album, and was so enamored with the metal sound, that I became addicted to it! So, from then on, any way I could I tried to find change and money from anywhere to buy more and more cassettes and vinyl to satisfy my new love of metal. The rest is history!
Now what were some early bands really took a liking to?
If you go way back, it was Maiden, Sabbath, Zep, Rainbow, Scorpions, etc etc….but if you are talking speed, etc, Slayer, Agent Steel, Autopsy, Infernal Majesty, Hobbs, Blessed Death, Bathory, Venom, Sodom, Kreator etc.
So now you played drums and sang in Crucifier. What led to you playing drums and not guitar or bass?
Before I even thought of actually playing music as opposed to just being a fan, I was talking with a guy in my 8th grade class who was a bass player. Now he started discussing how he was thinking about starting a band but only had him and this dude who just started playing guitar, but they were going to try and do some writing. I kind of volunteered myself to “try and play drums” for him if he’d like. And I told him I wasn’t a drummer, and didn’t have drums, but sure as hell was very interested in trying to help him out with his music. I knew he was into rock and metal just like I was, and I knew he was schooled in playing bass too. He was/is a great bassist. So I actually stuck with him and kind of rode his coattails with regard to music and metal in general. We were in Catholic school at the time, and ironically a priest there, was giving a demo on drums at around the same time as we were venturing into this endeavor. And we kinda just approached him about “borrowing” his kit for trying to get the band started. He offered this tiny sparkling Gretsch kit and I really got the hang of it….and ultimately kept the drums! haha of course over time he asked if he was going to get his drums back….of course I don’t think he ever took it back. haha. The rest is history.
Now at what point did you think you became a decent/good drummer and when the band actually started was is it you who decided to sing?
I wasn’t always a big fan of my playing but from the start I was always reassured by many folks that I had some chops. I used that adrenaline and motivation to drive myself to keep getting tighter and faster. I think by 87 I was at my best. We had a band called Satanic Slaughter and we were doing Sodom and Slayer covers and I couldn’t be happier. I didn’t start singing seriously until about 88 or 89. At this time I was doing a couple different bands and I was growing in drums and vocals. I always said with regard to singing and playing drums: “hell, I’m breathing out anyway, let’s try and scream instead!” And it worked out very well!
I know you went through lots of early line-up changes. When do you think you came to your first serious line-up that you were happy with?
With regard to Crucifier, I was happy with many of the lineups. Most didn’t last long, 1992-1993 lineup was solid, and we wrote some of the most viable songs. But I think later on the 2003 lineup was very tight. But today’s lineup is a great one also…I mean the personnel has to be dedicated to what Crucifier is for the band as a whole to work. I was happy with most of the different incarnations of lineups we’ve had.
Now how did you come up with the name and did any other of the 2 bands with the same name ever contact you or did you ever contact them?
I think we came up with three or four names for the band when we were getting serious….Hemorrhage was one, Crucifier was one, I forget the others. But I thought that Crucifier was more in the direction of blacker than death, so, I opted for that. I don’t think I’ve ever really chatted with the other “Crucifier” named bands before. Back in the day when we did our thing, there were limited ways of knowing what was out there in the world, so we ran with it, and didn’t really care about the other ones that were realized. I think one of them changed their name to The Crucifier, but not because I complained. But it’s all good.
So what were some great shows you have seen over the years? Were you at the Ultimate Revenge 2 show at the Troc?
I sadly missed the Ultimate Revenge show. I never had money or rides back in those days! haha I’ve seen many other great shows, early Slayer and Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Immortal, Hazarax, Death, Nuclear Death, Pungent Stench, and so many others….many of which Crucifier shared the stage with also!
What shows did you play stick out in your mind and include club names.
Played a great one at Studio One in NJ with Unleashed, Incantation, Deteriorot, Damonacy and others in 1994. Also played in Manhattan with Immolation in 94. Some great ones at G’Willikers in Pennsauken with many greats like Goreaphobia, Bolt Thrower, Profanatica, Mortician, Corpus Rottus, Aggravated Assault, Cemetery Earth, Lesch-Nyhan and a million others!
So now obviously you knew about tape trading and fanzines back then. At what point did you decide you wanted to go in studio to do a proper demo in 1991? Where did you record “Humans Are Such Easy Prey and how easy was it coming up with music and lyrics for this release?
I was doing recording with my other band in the mid to late 80s but we were just kids…not sure we knew what to do or how to be pro, but we did it. I think after seeing that trading cassettes was the way to go to get noticed or make friends, we decided to record Crucifier professionally. We did our first demo where Goreaphobia and a couple other locals did their demos, at Snug Fit Studios in the Philly area. Music was a joint effort so that was pretty easy…I was always pretty good with prose and writing, so I handled all the lyrics. It wasn’t too hard. I still do all the titles and lyrics to this day for Crucifier.
Did you send the demo out to many fanzines? If so what were the reviews and sales like?
I sent out the first demo more locally. But the second demo and everything after that went out worldwide. I’ve seen mostly all positive reviews over the years. Sales were always modest but I usually passed out demos to everyone I could, especially the first two, or any cdr demos we did. I was always just happy that we were in demand…I’ve given away most of my own personal copies over the years too!
Let’s talk about demo #2, “Crown of Thorns”. Do you feel it was a step up from demo one? Where did you record it at and how easy was it getting material gathered for this release?
I think each demo was good in their own respects. In fact, I thought each one had its own personality too, if that makes sense. But Crown really gave us a big influx of fans too. We recorded that one at Echo Studios in Tullytown PA. By the time 92 rolled around we were doing well with writing music. We had no issues gathering idea for songs. I think I wasn’t working at this time, and I was just finishing up some college so I had time to do my thing with helping out writing.
I know the band has had many member changes over the years. How did you personally deal with it and were any very nasty? Was it easy to find replacements?
I’ve been through over 20 changes over the years. Some have returned, and left again, etc…but in my area (Delaware County PA) metal musicians are abundant, and I usually wasn’t down too long. I think the one that hurt the most was in 92 I lost a guitarist to Incantation. At the time, we were on a roll and I thought it was a bit of a slight against me personally, so I took that one pretty hard. But in retrospect, I saw it as a learning experience and also quite good for all parties involved. And over time I saw it as a serious growth for me and the band. But after that, most were just dudes wanting to move on to other projects, etc. I think as I get older if it happens now, it becomes more of a strain, mainly because I’m sick of showing new members 30 some songs! haha
How would you describe the bands sound and around when do you think you found it?
I usually describe us as Carnivore/Infernal Majesty/Sodom/Venom/Slayer/Autopsy mash up that is downtuned bit. I mean I think we have that standard northeast tri-state underground area sound….that early 90s Immolation/Mortician/Incantation sound. I think we found our real sound in 88 or 89, that was when we knew we were going in the right direction.
Now an EP came out in 1993 called “Unparalleled Majesty. Did that come out on a label and thoughts on it these days.
After Crown picked up speed and fans, I got in contact with Tomasz over at Holocaust Mag in Poland. He showed interest in us and was planning on starting up his new Pagan Records label, and wanted us to be his first release. I was excited that someone overseas wanted to spend time and money on us, and said yes! We did three cassette eps with him. And yes I loved every minute of those days! Fun time.
What was on the “By Disgrace of God” single. Was this a 7”? Was writing and recording tunes starting to get easier for you?
I think it was planned on being a 7 inch but he went with cassette only on it for some reason. Writing music was no problem for us. I took on a nice portion of writing too, so over time it only got easier.
Now who are your favorite drummers and singers any genre.
Drummers: Louis Beateux, early Sandoval, Reifert, Lombardo, Ward, Chuck Profus, Jim Roe, Witchhunter, etc. Singers: Reirfert, David Vincent (Alters era), Craig Pillard, Van Drunen, Angelripper, Ozzy, Cyriis, Midnight, Brad Delp, Gillan, Dio, etc etc.
Tell me something about yourself that might surprise people any besides metal do you like any others genres of music?
With the invention of FB and social media, I’m pretty much an open book, not sure people will be surprised about much. I have never drank alcohol or smoked or taken drugs. In an underground metal world that tends to amaze people. I am a single father. I find myself watching movies a lot in my down time. I really enjoy 90% of 80s music and even you’ll hear me listening to some EPMD or Kool Keith while after listening to some Mid Town Boot Boys and Sargeist….I’m a little diverse when it comes to musical taste. I listen to classical in the car sometimes and find myself singing along to 70’s rock and some 50s songs from time to time.
Ah very cool. I am the same way as far as music goes. Did you ever like or follow the crossover scene back in the day?
I listened to everything that came out over the course of my life after I found music. I was a big fan of the Crumbsuckers, Poison Idea, DRI, etc.
Awesome. Now back to the band. How did you come up with the name and the logo?
After I started to find my own identity after Catholic school and being raised to be religious, I wanted to express myself in anti-Christian ways. So even with whatever art I was involved in had to grow with that idea. And overall we were playing music that was more death metal, we certainly were Satanic or devilish in many respects. So while we batted around ideas of using a band name with a death idea, I think I leaned more towards the Satanic. And I know that Crucifier (one who crucifies) was in my top 3 for band names. And I think everyone I was starting out with was cool with me having the final say with a band name. So Crucifier it finally became. I can’t ever remember how I finally came across the logo idea. I’m sure I was doodling and just kind of fell into that odd shape with the C’s and the F in the logo…..and over time I sharpened it up and got to finally use my artistic talent there to refine the logo. I think the most recent addition and finale to the logo that I was happy with happened maybe in about 1999.
I love the logo myself. Now the compilation that came out in 1995 what is on that?
The comp cassette was really only just the first two eps on one cassette. I think it was put out to give the fans who didn’t get the sold out tapes a chance to have both on one cassette.
Tell me about this Powerless Against Ep. Who put that out, where was it recorded, etc.
Powerless Against was a cassette that I put out myself with a thing I had called The Crucifier Brotherhood, Intl. and later I got together with my friend in Sinistrari Records who wanted to help out with it. It was recorded locally at a place called PLH Studio. Three songs, and it was put together in 1994. We had a bassist from England come over for a 3 month visa to join the band. And while he was here we decided to put that ep together to show the fans what we were up to. It was very black metal sounding moreso than our usual stuff. And I even had a couple friends from Virginia and from GBK help with some added vocal tracks. It was a fun time. I really didn’t like the sound so much of the recording but we did kinda rush it.
Is it or was it ever hard playing drums and singing at the same time? Ever have any thoughts of getting another singer or someone to play the drums?
It was always very easy for me to do both. Unless I’m covering some songs, then it becomes more of a focus on remembering lyrics so until I get the lyrics memorized it is a bit more difficult. But I never really gave a serious thought to ever stop doing either….right now, the whole persona of Crucifier is that dynamic!
Now in 1998 you did a split 7” with Nunslaughter. How did this come about and thoughts on this release these days and who put it out?
By this time Crucifier was just me. So with the help of one of my best buds and earliest crucifier members Jeff Anderson, we recorded one song for that split. The idea was most likely brought up by don of the dead and Sinistrari records put the original out. To this day that one song is my favorite Crucifier track. The split was titled Trafficking With the Devil. And released in 1999. Aside from Jeff helping with the ghost track and the engineering, all the instruments were done by me. Alex of GBK/Arghoslent did contribute a riff to that song. I think Hell’s Headbangers is doing a reissue of that very soon too!
Very cool. He Ninth Year Compilations, what was on this and who put this out?
The Ninth Year originally was a CDR that I put out on Crucifier’s ninth anniversary. It had most of the demo and ep stuff…really whatever I could fit on the damn thing! haha But later that year Elegy Records offered to put it out officially with a sleeve and jewel case, the whole nine, as it were!
Now it took 4 yrs later, 2003, before your first full length came out called “Stronger than Passing Time”. Who put this out? Why do long in between releases? Looking back what are your thoughts on this release these days? Where was it recorded at and how long were you in the studio?
I don’t think I’ve ever rushed anything in our camp. Being very critical of all that we wrote, I always wanted to make sure everything was proper and we were totally happy. Plus, it’s underground, it’s our art and love. We weren’t and aren’t doing this as a job, under major contracts. On the flip side I think if I hustled a little more as a manager we might have had a bit more spotlight, but overall, I’m happy with us keeping our underground throne. I think Stronger is our best release. I have the best memories of those times and the mix of new and old songs was perfect. We did this at Studio Crash in Philadelphia. I think Bon Jovi’s dad had something to do with the construction of the facility. Kinda neat tidbit of info. I got drums finished between 6 and 8 hours and everything else followed. I don’t think we were active in their more than a couple weekends. It was our first release under contract with Death To Mankind Records.
How were sales and the overall response to this release throughout the underground?
Not sure about total sales but I think the response was 100% positive.
Now for someone reading this how would you describe what the band sounds like.
From the onset, I thought we had an early Mortician/ Incantation vibe. Nowadays we’re tuned up a little bit since the original days and have an Autopsy/Sodom/Slayer sound. But I never could nail it down to any one likeness.
Now you have been in or played in 10 other bands that I know of. Do you have a particular favorite or 2 from the bunch?
Crucifier is my main love, and sort of my third child! But Grand Belial’s Key and Bludgeon and Hearse are my faves of mine. But I’ve been very fortunate to have been in many great bands and projects over the years. Whether my own, or pre-Crucifier stuff or other guy’s stuff where I”ve just helped out. I think one pre-Crucifier outfit I’ve played in that meant a lot to me and was a huge reason I play the way I do today is Satanic Slaughter (PA). I played with and was heavily inspired by Fran Redden, who was Crucifier’s first guitarist’s brother. He was a low key guy who ripped on drums and guitar and eventually played bass with Arizona/Philly band Altar in 88 or 89. He and I jammed with Howard Stern regular Kenneth Keith Kallenbach in SS. We rehearsed in Ken’s parent’s garage and actually did a demo in 88 or 89. Great times.
So now from 2003 till 2008 there was no release from the band. Any particular reason for that or did you just take a break to work on other things?
I was going thru many personal things at that time. My first child was born in 2004 and my second in 2006. Aside from the joy of my children, my other family issues were not at all joyous. So I was juggling that. But I was always writing and doing Crucifier and other musical projects during those years.
Got ya. So when did you get contacted about doing this split called “Deep Grace Dungeons”? How many songs do you have on it? Who put it out and thoughts on it these days?
I think that was released in 2008. We had 4 tracks on that release. Time Before Time Records hit me up back in those days looking for some songs for a split with some other cool bands like Throneum, Bestial Mockery and Sathanas. I thought it was a great release with some rarer rehearsal tracks. Good times!
Now the following year (2009) you did another Ep called “Trampled Under Cloven Hooves”. How did this release come about? How many songs are on it and how was the response to it at the time? Are you happy with it looking back?
I believe our bassist at the time was pals with the Paragon Records guys and they approached us with regard to putting out something new. Enough time had passed and new songs were written to warrant a solid release. The 10 inch had 6 tracks on it. Including a Viking cover of Berserker (which was well received by the more current Viking guys.) Which was a definite highlight. I think if we spent a little more time on production I’d be a bit happier with it. But overall it became a big hit.
Now we fast forward to 2013 and a compilation came out. Before I get to that, what were you doing with yourself from 2009 till 2013?
I was trying to organize a new lineup. And i was writing new songs. By 2011 I found a guitarist and bassist in some old heads from the local fan base from Crucifier’s past. It was refreshing to bump into his that were as excited to be a part of the band as I was in championing it! We then found another guitarist to fill up the sound until about 2013. We spent time rehearsing and writing.
So now in 2013 a compilation came out called: “Coffins Through Time,,,,a Mourning in Nazareth. What was on this and who put it out?
The label we were on for a majority of our releases put it out on disc, Deathrune Records (aka Death to Mankind). This release was a comp of most of the demo and ep stuff. Later Iron Bonehead Records put it out on vinyl.
So then we come to your latest release, which came out in 2018 called “Thy Sulfur Throne on High”. How did you come up with this title and the songs/lyrics for this release? How long were you in the studio for this and how has feedback been on it?
Feedback has been very good. Not too many bad reviews that I can think of. The title was just something that I was batting around in my head for a couple years. And thought now might be the time to use it. Lyrically I usually write about the same topics of devilry or satanic themes or just basic anti-christian stuff so that was basically easy. Drums were done in about 6 hours or so. Vocals were done in a night. And due to various other issues I think post-production took a bit longer than expected. But overall I’m happy with it. I always want to keep tweaking but I have to eventually sign off on it, so after I was satisfied we sent it to the label.
Now do you think the band’s sound has changed much over the years? At what point in the bands career do you think you came up with the Crucifier sound so to speak?
Crucifier’s sound changed slowly over time. I think our first demo was tuned low, but we went lower with the 92-94 years. But I thought to maybe tune up a tad going into the mid 90s. I settled on c-sharp tuning because it remained heavy but didn’t allow for that sloppy sound that some bands get. I think we sounded best in 2003 but I was happy with the sound of the first demo too. But Stronger Than Passing Time really nailed down that sound that I was happy with!
So out of all the years you have been around have you ever had a chance to play overseas?
No I haven’t, in any band. Not ruling it out for the future but so far farthest we’ve traveled was Houston.
So what are the future plans for the band the rest of the year of 2019 and into 2020? When do you see the band being laid to rest so to speak?
We have a couple shows coming up, Chicago and perhaps somewhere else. Then we are going to concentrate on doing two splits then another full length for most likely 2020. Although I often think that if I lose another member I might stop playing, I usually come to my senses and squash that thought. My goal is to lay the band to rest officially when I die. That’s the goal anyway Ha ha.
Sounds great to me. Now out of all your releases, are all available by chance? Is any that are sold out? Could you seeing them re-released? When is the box set of the band coming out ha ha? Have you seen any of your stuff go for ridiculous amounts of money?
I have the cd version of the first album. And cd versions of the comp demo cd. A couple cassette versions of the newest album. Check out the crucifier bandcamp page for current stuff I have. No boxsets, yikes…us? Never ha ha no one even likes us, so yeah, no box sets! I am trying to get our Pagan Records eps now, they are selling for about 25 dollars….that’s the highest I’ve seen.
Horns up for this great and interesting interview. Any last words to wrap it up?
Hails brother thank you for this and all your awesome work over the years! And to many more…. thank you to all the fans and longtime friends of Crucifier!