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Impetigo – “We practiced for the first time in 13 years this weekend and decided to do it, for better or worse”

impetigo – “we practiced for the first time in 13 years this weekend and decided to do it, for better or worse”

Info

All good things to those who wait. Indeed, this is true, I waited for a couple of years to get the answers of Stevo back in my mailbox. But fuck, it was worth the wait, great answers! This band will always be remembered by me and my fellow Impetigo-adepts. For those of you who don’t know this band (??), read this interview as it’s your final chance to get acquainted with one of the best extreme metal bands ever. The lesions of Impetigo are still festering…

First of all, please tell us whether the rumors that you have reformed are true or not?
No, they are not!! Without going into too much detail, at one point in time it could have happened – but it didn’t, and it most definitely will never happen; Mark and I are adamant about that.

Whose idea was it to re-release your stuff, was it Morbid Records who contacted you or did you came up with the idea?
It was Morbid who initiated the project at first. It really began several years ago, when they contacted me about releasing “Giallo” on a 10″ picture disc…I did a lot of work towards getting it together, but had some problems with it, and ultimately the project stalled through my own fault. Some years later, Mark picked it up again, and when this happened, one thing led to another and the decision was made by all of us to allow them to re-issue the entire back catalogue.

Which releases will be re-released, if not all of them?
All the Wild Rags material will be re-issued, along with the “Giallo” demo tracks.

Does the re-releasing of your old stuff give you an itch to reform Impetigo?
When this all started happening with Morbid, there was some intense discussion about the remote possibility of getting together again for something, but as I mentioned earlier, we strongly believe that no matter how cool it may seem to us or to anybody else, it’s just a bad idea to do it, period. IMPETIGO has quite a legacy behind it, and it would be unthinkable to even consider doing anything that may alter the reputation we have earned over the years, whether in a negative or positive manner. IMPETIGO has a finite existence; it began here and ended there, and that’s it. Some bands reunite and fuck yeah, it’s cool…but many, many times it’s just a bad idea!

Which year was it that you disbanded Impetigo? What were the reasons, were you dissatisfied with the achieved ‘success’, with Wild Rags or did you think you reached your ‘peek’?
The decision to end the terrible tenure of IMPETIGO was a very difficult one, and had a lot to do with our philosophy and beliefs about ourselves and our relationship with the true underground…’success’ was never a goal or a priority with us. It’s difficult to lay out the circumstances of our demise the way they looked to us in 1993, but in short, it seemed then and seems even now that for us to have continued beyond the stage of our existence as a band at that point in time, many things would have to change and we were very happy with the things we had done up until that moment. Without expounding in any greater detail than I have already, let’s just put it in a general light…how many bands out there should have broken up a long time ago, seriously? How many times must this band or that band put out record after record when their greatest moments have long since passed them by and they are too proud to admit it? Is it worse for an artist to refuse to create before his craft has stagnated, or after it has become far too late for him to save his face and do anything else about it?!?

As a lot of negative things about Wild Rags have been going around, how were your experiences with them??
I come to bury Ceasar, not to praise him. He had a lot of good times and great laughs with Richard C., and I personally wish things could have gone better for him…there are some hard feelings between us, but they are only minor and relatively unimportant. In his defense, I want to say that I still believe that a great deal of the things said about him are either untrue or have been blown out of proportion and that I also believe that in his heart, he really wanted to be remembered as a fellow who was a working part of the true underground, and in effect he was…whether anybody likes it or not. Maybe the world has all but forgotten about BLOODCUM, but I sure haven’t. And let’s be honest about it…if it wasn’t for Richard C., we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all! He gave us a shot when nobody else would, and that’s the bottom line.

The infamous bio-question: when did you actually form Impetigo? Were the band members in other bands before Impetigo, am I right that you started as a trio?
IMPETIGO was formed in the summer of 1987, out of the ashes of an S.O.D. rip-off band I was in called SGT. ROCK…in fact, the bulk of our earlier material was SGT. ROCK songs with different lyrics and in many cases, different arrangements. We did start as a trio (SGT. ROCK was also a trio); IMPETIGO was Mark’s first band (unless you count his solo project P.G.L.S., which only 5 or 6 people have ever heard or heard of), and at the time Dan was the full-time drummer for NAKED HIPPY and only played for us on a temporary/part-time basis. I was in several bands prior to IMPETIGO, but none of them are important…the only reason SGT. ROCK is even mentioned is simply because of the unique connection to the early IMPETIGO material.

If I’m right there were never any line-up changes (except adding Scott), how did you manage to keep the band intact as nowadays many bands have many line-up changes?
There were never line-up changes…I can’t cite a direct reason why. I suppose that we worked hard and worked well together. I had a definite direction for the band in mind (not at first, but we had to evolve to that point, just like anyone else!!) and we all worked together and had instrumental value individually and as a whole in achieving our goals and sticking with “the plan.”

Was the “All we need is cheez”-official live demo (1987) your first release? Where was it recorded? How many copies did you sell, what are your thoughts about it nowadays?
It was our first release, a soundboard tape of our second live performance…hasty? Yes. Economical? Indeed! Many band release a studio-recorded promo or demo tape very soon after they have formed, and it’s a sincere mistake to do this. IMPETIGO is not as much proof of this fact as they are an example; it would have been a complete waste of cash to complete a studio recording after having been together only 3 or 4 months and when we heard the quality of the live tape, we realized that we had paid no money for a decent recording of our current body of material at that point in time. We were yearning for exposure, and we basically distributed our live tape with a cover on it for demonstration purposes…hence, a live demo tape! As for my thoughts on it nowadays…I listen to it once every 2 or 3 years, and I just laugh and laugh and laugh…and remember how cold it was outside that day!! My mom was there, and she still talks about it sometimes.

It includes many songs which didn’t turn up on other releases, why not, will they appear as bonus tracks on the re-releases?
No, studio recordings of those songs (and others from later days…has anyone ever heard “Block-Mania” before?!?) do not exist…howwever, Bizarre Leprous Productions in the Czech Republic have released the demo on CD in a limited edition.

In 1989 you released your first studio-demo called “Giallo” which has recently been re- released on vinyl by Morbid Records. Where did you record it, how come that there are more songs on the re-release than on the original demo, are these bonus tracks of the same recording session?
“Giallo” was recorded at a relatively new studio in our area called KJ Productions (they later became Soundlink and then went out of business…) what happened was that we recorded a group of songs intended for release on the demo, and then we recorded a couple extra intended for compilations and promo use only that didn’t belong on the demo. “Giallo” was remixed on two different occasions following the initial release of the demo for promotional use only, and re-eq’d for the pic disc release so for hardcore IMPETIGO fans there are four (4) different versions of “Giallo” (not counting the four tracks remixed and remastered for the “Buio Omega” 7″!!) and if it ever turns up as a Trivial Pursuit question I’ll shit my pants.

In 1990, the time was right to release your debut album called “Ultimo mondo cannibale”. How was it received back then? How many copies did you sell?
The LP had really mixed reactions at first…a lot of people unfamiliar with us or with the kind of music and events that influenced our work were unnerved by our existence, and were not ashamed to admit it. In retrospect, the album had poor production and was not as cohesive (in terms of the material) as I would have liked, but still not a bad first effort. I’m not sure how many copies were actually sold, you’d have to ask Richard C. and he’s not talking.

Where was it recorded, why are there different bonus tracks on LP/CD and tape?
It was recorded at a place called Creative Space that also isn’t there any more by a person whose problem wasn’t that he misunderstood our kind of music, but felt that he understood his technique better than us. The original final mix of “UMC” was far better than the version you’ve heard; we brought it back to the studio to tweak a few things and after this guy was done with it, it was far worse than it was to start with. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are different tracks due to a bizarre idea of Richard C.’s to make the LP and the Cassette different from each other, and therefore unique in relation to each other…a “selling point” if you will. It’s one of the many curses that have surrounded “UMC” since we signed the paper to record it in 1989. Did you know that many song titles on the Wild Rags cassette release were misspelled and that several songs are out of order? The curse!

This one has also been re-released by Morbid Records but on my version the bonus tracks aren’t mentioned.
Your version is the first pressing of “UMC” which was not submitted to us for approval prior to its release. It was supposed to have different artwork too! The curse strikes again! The current pressing of “UMC” is correct, and if you have the first version of the MORBID CD it will be worth lots of money.

Also the outro after Mortado (the prank phone call) has disappeared, why??
The curse! You should know by now!! We put that in there because we were great friends with SPLATTERREAH (the prank callers) and think their phone calls are hilarious. About 3 months after “UMC” was released, it soon became obvious (and it sure wasn’t originally!) that one of the callers is yelling “die, nigger” in the background. Thankfully, nobody really noticed it or became upset about it (Travis of SKELETAL EARTH; fantastic ears, heard it right away) and we’ve kind of been sitting on it for so long…when the re-issue opportunity came up, the first thing we did was cut that damn thing out!! (Ron: too bad, it was a great prank call…)

The following year you released 3 EP’s: “Faceless”, “Buio omega” and “Antefatto”. Where were they recorded, how many copies did you sell? Will they also be re-released?
“Buio Omega” is 4 tracks from “Giallo” remixed and remastered. “Antefatto” was also recorded at KJ Studio (the session was sadly cut short by a broken drum head!!). “Faceless” was a ‘test run’ at Pogo Studio, a place we were hoping to record our second LP at. I have no clue as to how many copies were sold!

On “Antefatto” is written “Dedicated to Macabre for divine inspiration”, do you see them as an influence or do you see them as a band that is somewhat similar to you: no line-up changes, started around the same time, having a unique style?
Maybe a “yes” to all the above; we met them very early in both our careers, and became great friends immediately. They are an immense influence on the band, perhaps one of the only bands that all four of us appreciate on the same level, and so fucking intense live! MACABRE RULES!! (Ron: Amen…)

Being full of inspiration, your second album “Horror of the zombies” was unleashed upon mankind. Where was it recorded, how were the reactions and how many copies did you sell?
It was recorded at Pogo Studio a few months after the “Faceless” EP was finished. Pogo was a much larger, more professional place than KJ studio or Creative Space was and it was a blast working there!!! The reaction to “HOTZ” was much more favorable it seems than with “UMC”, but lately I am surprised by how many people love and worship “UMC”! To me, the vocals and production and material are far inferior to the work expressed on “HOTZ”.

After the “Horror…” album it became very quiet, and not until 1999 Impetigo came back into the picture because of the re-releases. And also because of the split EP with Transgressor. Who came up with the idea of this EP, how were the contacts made with Transgressor and the labels? Why did you choose 3 live tracks for that one?
This was all arranged by Mark. The concept was to use live tracks from both bands, and IMPETIGO quality soundboards through 1989 are in abundance, so some material from one of those was selected. It’s unfortunate that only one soundboard from the 90’s exists, and its quality is very questionable.

It seems that all your releases are being released on CD too. Morbid Records did the re-releases of “Faceless”, “Ultimo mondo cannibale” and “Horror of the zombies”. Bizarre Leprous Production re-released “All we need is cheez”, Obscene Productions re-released “Buio omega” with a lot of bonus stuff and Half Life Records is gonna re-release “Giallo” and “Antefatto”. How were all the contacts established?
Again, most contacts were arranged by Mark, although the initial contact with MORBID RECORDS back in the early 90’s (as far as re-issuing back catalog items) was with me…I was part of an honest effort to release “Giallo” on a picture disc 10″ in 1994 or so, but it didn’t work out, mostly through the fault of mine. Many years later, Mark was approached by MORBID RECORDS to re-visit the “Giallo” idea, and the rest of the catalog came soon after that, with Wild Rags’ permission. Truthfully, the Wild Rags material rights returned to us completely as of 1997, but we wanted to be sure Richard C. was okay with the re-issuing, as he was still selling our records at the time.

Did you still have all the master tapes of all the recordings which the labels could use??
Yes, and no. The “Giallo” master tapes do still exist, but a DAT was made from the very last remix. The “UMC” tapes we returned to us from Wild Rags, as well as “Faceless,” but the “HOTZ” tapes seems to be lost, along with all the cover artwork, photos, slicks, negs, etc. This wasn’t a problems, as “HOTZ” was released on compact disc, a DAT was made an re-eq’d using the digital material.

Will these labels have better distribution as I can’t seem to find all the re-releases except those on Morbid Records??
Well, don’t count on the Czech label releases to be found at your local HMV, because it ain’t gonna happen!

After searching for a while, I found a great tribute website for Impetigo which is also the official one. What I really appreciate is the listing of the intro’s you used on your releases, it’s really hard to find them out if you have no clue whatsoever!
Yes, Mark got in touch with this fellow (from France!) and his “GoreGrind” website is great, his exhaustive work at providing the sick universe with more of an IMPETIGO website than the universe probably needs is applauded throughout the four corners of the earth! Remember its address, http://members.xoom.com/impetigo/.

What’s your opinion about the Internet, do you see it as a great expansion of the underground or isn’t underground anymore? There are still many people who fear this kind of development.
I think in a general sense, it provides a more economical way for people around the world to get together. I mean, I have no time in my life right now to glue stamps!! It’s a big step for the underground, but a very valid point exists…you’ve gotta have a computer (or access to one) to enjoy its benefits! A few years ago, this was a point of contention; however, recently I get lots of e-mails from Bulgaria and Indonesia, and places like that…rock and roll! I would like to ask everyone though, PLEASE don’t ask for free stuff!! I am raising a family on a single income, and every buck counts; I could never and now cannot afford to send free stuff in the mail to ANYBODY!! It’s hilarious to think of how much money I chucked down the drain “back in the day” when even a response to a fan from an Eastern Bloc country would cost me more than a dollar; simply to thank him for writing and tell him that I can NOT send him any free records!! And now, I get e-mails requesting free stuff! It’s cheaper for me to say NO on the internet, and that’s great!! But, much better than that are all the great e-mails I get from fans and friends who DON’T want free stuff and just wanna say hey! Y’all RULE!!

Are you still active in the underground, if so how do you see it nowadays, is it overpopulated with too many copying bands?
I am in no way active in the underground…Mark, on occasion, will send me magazines like “Metal Maniacs” and “Terrorizer” and I look through them and go “who the fuck is this?” over and over and over…

Are you still in contact with many people/bands?
Thanks to the internet, I am in contact with many old and new friends, and it’s a wonderful thing!! They may get annoyed by my “internet silence” from time to time (ahem…sorry pal!) (Ron: it’s okay, at least it was worth the wait!), but my life is really involved at work and with my family…I don’t do a whole lot of surfing!!

What music do the band members listen to, is it extreme metal only or do you also listen to other kinds of music?
I can only speak for myself (and Mark as well) when I say that I still listen to heavy metal/HC/punk and mostly old-school death and grind, and some great new bands too. Mark and I are big fans of Japanese music, all kinds…pop/rock/punk/metal/HC/etc.

What bands did influence Impetigo during the years?
Way too many to mention, but off the top of my head, I can give you: MASTER, CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH, CASBAH, KREATOR, CELTIC FROST, AUTOPSY, MASSACRE, DEATH, SODOM, MORTICIAN, REPULSION, HELLHAMMER, BLACK SABBATH, ACCUSED, SEPTIC DEATH, FRATRICIDE, JIM JONES & THE KOOL-AIDE KIDS, SOOTHSAYER, MACABRE, DECEASED, VERBAL ABUSE, and so many more…

Could you please give me a top 5 of your all-time favorite albums and a top 5 of your current albums?
Ah! You’re killing me with this question!!! My all-time favorites in 5 places is almost as difficult as asking me to perform sex-change surgery on MYSELF!! But, for this week, let’s say that I will list the following as my “all-time favorites” (and, be advised, it will change next week, I think!!)

1. CARCASS “Symphonies of Sickness”
2. X-Japan “Dahlia”
3. THE WHO “Live at Leeds”
4. CELTIC FROST “To Mega Therion”
5. CASBAH “Bold Statement”
6. JIM JONES & THE KOOL-AIDE KIDS “Trust Me”
7. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART “Strictly Personal”
8. FRANK ZAPPA “We’re Only in it For the Money”
(see, I can’t even fucking count to 5!!)

Okay, now you want my 5 current faves (you’re KILLING me!!):
1. GLAY “Drive”
2. ALICE IN CHAINS “Dirt”
3. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE “Battle of Los Angeles” and “Renegades” (tie!)
4. X-Japan “Dahlia”
5. NAMIE AMURO “Concentration 20”
6. SEIKIMA-II “Living Legend,” and “News” (tie!!)

Where did you get your lyrical inspiration from, was it mainly horror movies, stories about serial killers and books?
You hit all that right on the button…a tender combination of horror film prose and true stories about sick people.

If I’m correct, in “Dear uncle creepy” you address to the fact that most “current” movies bore you. Do you like older movies who have more dark and creepy atmosphere in them more than those in which gallons of blood is spilled?
Hm, not really. You have to understand, gallons of blood are wonderful! I think my biggest beef with “horror” films is when they have a large budget or some hot-shit dickhead directing it and it has zero percent soul. “Blood Feast” is a million times the horror film that “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3” will ever be, that’s a fact! You also have to consider that throughout the years, since the early 80’s “horror renaissance” (I really should write a book about it someday!!) there’s always been two very small corners of the “horror film” market; the corner where sick masterpieces like “Last House on Dead End Street” and “Nekromantik” are created, and the corner where crap like “Species” and “Tremors” are shit out like little dollar-puppies. In between lies the big-budget, big-name stuff, from which some serious gems emerge (like “Angel Heart” or “The Sixth Sense”, for instance…true classics!)

Have you seen the Blairwitch project, what’s your opinion about it, is it all just a big hype over nothing?
I watched “Cannibal Holocaust” for the first time in 1987. Someone told me a few years ago it was remade, but I didn’t bother to go see it. Is this the movie you’re speaking of? (Ron: it’s not really a re-make but it’s also in a documentary filmed-style) I still watch “Cannibal Holocaust” on a regular basis, and I can’t imagine a re-make of it could ever top the original!

What’s your opinion about Jane Fonda (hehe!)?
Well, honestly…good thing she’s not married to that piece of shit Ted Turner anymore!! He’s a COCKSUKCER in every sense of the word!

Could you please give me a top 5 of your all-time favorite horror movies and a top 5 of your current horror movies?
Fuck, you’re doing it again!! Okay, here’s my “all-time” this week:
1. ZOMBIE or any movie by Lucio Fulci!
2. Any H.G. Lewis flick, not to be topped by “Wizard of Gore”
3. I still think “Deep Red” is the shit!! And most of Argento’s horror films and giallo thrillers are great watching fun! Love that “Suspiria” too!
4. “Tombs of the Blind Dead” and “Night of the Seagulls”
5. uh…fuck…how about “Breakfast at the Manchester Morgue!”

Now, you want my current faves…
1. “Bio-Zombie” (great Hong Kong zombie film in the great early 80s style!!)
2. “Faith Fear Revenge 303” (awesome creepy Thai horror film!!)
3. “Soul Guardians” (I guess it’s a horror film…it kicked my ass!!)
4. “He Lives by Night” (great mid-80s HK horror/slasher flick, with extreme Argento influences!)
5. “Evil Dead Trap” (if you haven’t seen it, you’re FUCKED…I think it should be in my all-time favorite list, too, but I’m too lazy to go back and change it! Also heavily Argento-influenced!!

Have you played live a lot, if so give us a couple of reports on the cool gigs you played.
Really, IMPETIGO only played a handful of gigs…our most active live period was our first few years, and there are some forgettable performances throughout that era. It was a good thing to play select shows as we matured, because the experience was better for us, and our audience as well. Our greatest live moments were the Rhode Island Death Fest and Puerto Rico, both in 1992, and of course, playing Milwaukee Metal Fest 6 and 7!! Someday, I’ll write a book with all the “road stories” in it. You will die laughing!!

Have you also played abroad, in Europe for instance?
Nope!

My ultimate gore night would be: Impetigo, Macabre, Pungent Stench and Mortician!
Sounds like a “killer” lineup to me!! (ha ha, great pun, eh, Stevo?!? Ron)

What are the band members doing nowadays, do you have normal jobs or are you still active in the music business (e.g. label)?
We are all working and enjoying our private lives, I guess. As far as being active in the music business, Scott and Dan are both in bands in Illinois, Mark and I are not in any bands and don’t plan to be, music is over for me as far as performing and recording is concerned!!

If you’re not going to reform, is there still contact between the band members or have you parted ways?
There is some contact, Mark is mostly the “hub”, but now that he lives in Singapore, it will be up to me to keep in touch with the others, but I live 300 miles away, so it’s a long-distance thing, if any.

How do they reflect on Impetigo, does it bother you that it seems (if this is the case) that you’re more appreciated nowadays then when Impetigo still existed?
We all had a great time, and are amazed at the attention we are getting nowadays, with the re-issues, tribute CD, etc. We are speechless! Doesn’t bother any of us at all, we are very happy with the work we did together in IMPETIGO, and it’s a wonderful memory for us!

An Impetigo tribute-album has recently been released on Razorback Records. How does this make you feel? Do you like some cover versions better than others, if so tell us which ones?
It’s a fantastic honor, that’s for sure! I’ve always felt that our “masterpiece” (the ‘act’ we’ll be remembered for throughout history) was “HOTZ,” but after listening to the tribute CD, I feel sincerely that rather than “HOTZ” being our legacy, the tribute CD is an example of our true legacy; the relationships and “cult following” we established by being ourselves, never fucking anyone over, and as Kurt Hubert called it, our “honest enthusiasm”…it was the driving force of IMPETIGO, and the tribute CD is a great way to cap our career and the body of our work!! All the cover versions are great, I’m not going to pick one over the other, except to say that they are all amazing!

Are there some memorable events (gigs, contact with people or whatever) in Impetigo’s history that you would like to share with us?
The most memorable events in our history are always when we met our friends here, there, and everywhere…I can’t tell you honestly if it was more intense to meet Scott Carlson of REPULSION, Paul Speckmann of MASTER, Will of MORTICIAN, King of DECEASED, or Josh Restivo, a 16-year old kid from Wisconsin or Michigan who walked up to us on the steps of the Mecca arena in milwaukee and showed me our logo tattooed on his leg, or Barry C. Dekyne from New Jersey, who wrote to me for years and finally met me in Rhode Island, he was like my fucking brother!! The people were most important, and the times we spent together will never leave my heart. Staying at Jim Fleet’s house in Rhode Island, the incredible people in Puerto Rico, my boss’ truck catching on fire in Indianapolis, playing pranks with Jeff of VITAL REMAINS in milwaukee, riding in Brett Fugate’s van, watching kids stage dive on my wife in milwaukee, hanging out with MACABRE in my apartment after a show…the memories flow like fucking excellent beer!! I love it all!!

Okay, that’s all I could think of right now, here’s some space to mention the things I forgot or to give your best Jerry Springer final thoughts, merchandise, promotion, contact address or whatever you wanna let us know! Cheerzz, may the corpse be with you!!
Thanks for putting up with my “tardiness,” may your corpse ever fester in the marshes!! Don’t forget my e-mail address: Yoshiki89@aol.com, I have a list of groovy merchandise, so everybody e-mail me now!! STAY SICK!!!