Jason Brown Ask's Mark Briody, who will cast the first stone?
When you think of Power Metal, you automatically think of the likes of Pantera, Nevermore, Vicious Rumors, but not let us forget about Jag Panzer. After all, they have been around since the dawn of Power Metal, back to the early 80's, roughly 83. The band have had plenty of success throughout the years with the bands debut release which was released in 83 titled 'The Tyrant', which seemed to be bootlegged on the 'Reborn Classic' series. The band went on to record such albums as 'Ample Destruction', 'Dissident Alliance', right through to the bands later material such as 'The Fourth Judgement', 'The Age Of Mastery', & 'Mechanized Warfare', all of which have placed this band in the Heavy Metal hall of fame. As the band have recently released their new album 'Casting The Stone', which is probably the bands best work to date for technicality and heaviness, I speak to Mark to find out what the band have been doing since the last interview we did, and to also find out more about the new album. Here is what Mark had to say.
Ok Mark, nice speaking to you once again, I'd like to start by asking you how well the 'Mechanized Warfare' album sold for the band? Also what songs from that album are your favourites and least favourite & why?
"Well I don't know the actual amount that it sold, but it was our biggest selling album to date!! It was kind of hard to top that album with the new album, but I think we did a great job. Not sure if we can top the new album through!! I like the song 'Take To The Sky', because it had a lot of energy and a great chorus. I also like 'Unworthy', because of the chant feel in the choruses and I also like the last song 'All Things Are Renewed', because I like the long epic style songs. I don't like songs like 'Hidden In My Eyes', because it is a love song type of song and I don't like love songs. I guess it breaks the album up when there is a ballad on the album. So I guess the rest of the band wanted to record a ballad, it would be unfair if everything was my own way, we're a band and we have a equal say."
Did you tour much for that album? Was it also a success for the band? I know you played Wacken, that was the last time we met. So why have you not played in the UK, there is a fan base, but I'm not sure how big it is!!
"Well we didn't tour Europe for that album only played some festival's and we did tour the U.S. for that album. Actually we did play 4 shows for that tour, which were:- Italy, Germany, Greece, and we always wanted to play in Greece. Every time we wanted to play in Greece for our previous album's Greece was not on the list, until we did the last tour. It was a opportunity for us to take it so we did! The guys in Greece are great at promoting shows. As for not playing the UK, well I thought we were playing 'Bloodstock' in 2004, but they cancelled us for some reason? I had a agent asking us if we wanted to play and of course we jumped at the chance. but we had a call from the guys at the festival asking to hear our stuff, so our UK office sent them some CDs and after a week our agent called us and said they didn't want us."
After that album you went on to record the 'Decade Of A Nail-Spiked Bat', tell me a little about that?
"Well we had a lot of people asking us to re-record some of our early material likes demos, Tyrant, etc.. and Joey Tuffolla did not want them released, so he did not want any paper work signed. And so we could not come out with them so that's when bootlegs like 'Reborn Classic's' came out which sounded terrible and they really sucked!! So I called Century Media and told them that we must release some of the early material to the fans, so we just re-recorded it all and we also tried to recorded it that way it was done in the 80's. The cover, photo of the band etc.. was all done in the way we would of done it back in the 80's. We just wanted that 80's vibe!! We used old Marshall amps to try to capture the whole 80's vibe and I think we did a pretty good job."
Do you think that album was a good idea at the time and did it get good reviews?
"Yeah I think it was a good idea at that time, saying that we had some journalist who said it was not the 80's so why are we still playing in the past!! (ED: Fuck them dude, what do they know about music? The 80's ruled and always will do!!). I agree with you Jason, the 80's still rocks today!!
Who did the artwork for that album?
"Well it was done by the same guy who did the 'Ample Destruction', his name is Keith Austin, and that was actually the cover to be followed up after that album, so we saved it for the 'Decade Of The...' album. (ED: I notice that the 'Ample Destruction', cover has had so many different covers, why is that?). Well it had another cover and the original cover is the only one that we approved of and after that it was up to the record companies to decide after that cover. The Metal Blade album that you have with the brown cover is great in sound as they wanted me to re-mix it and it turned out killer!!
Looking back at your previous album, which is you're least favourite if you have one?
"I would have to say it would be 'Dissident Alliance', as it had the lowest budget we have ever had. It sounds awful!"
Do you feel that those 'Reborn Classics' have done you some justice even though they were copies and sounded shit?
"Well it certainly kept the bands name up there, so that was a good thing, but I just wish they looked and sounded better."
After you recorded the A 'Decade Of..' you went on to record the 'Chain Of Command' album, isn't that another old release?
"Yeah it is, we wanted that album to come out for years and when we signed to Century Media we asked them to release it, and they said we had to wait for the time to be right to release it. I kept asking them every year to release it and finally it was released this year 2004. That album features a singer called Bob Parduba, who had more of a Geoff Tate vocal arrangement. Its a great album that is becoming very limited right now. It is limited to 5000 copies and it's almost sold out, so if anybody wants a copy you better get now before it's gone!! We limited it because it has been bootlegged that many times we decided to make 5000 copies to our fans alone. I didn't want a Nu-Metal fan going into a record store and asking for that album think it was our new album, when it is not. It's for our die hard fans, so thanx to them for their support!"
So in between the 'A Decade..' & 'Chain Of..' album did you tour for those albums?
"Yes we did, we played the U.S. with 'Helloween', and that tour went great for us, and that tour was last October and we got a long well with those guys."
Ok Mark, so let's talk about the new stunning album, so why the title 'Casting The Stone'? Did you have any other titles for that album? Also let's talk about the cover, who came up with the concept for that album?
"Well the cover was done by Mattias Noren, who has worked with Evergrey from Sweden. He has his own company called 'Progart'. I came up with the concept for that album and I wanted something that was in the future were the natural resources had ran out with food and water. Everybody is freed and they kill all the criminals because they don't have enough water & food for everybody. So that works for a while and then they start to get rid of more people, anybody who does any kind of crime and pretty much soon it becomes a really bad place to live!! So I took at story with the saying 'He without sin shall cast the first stone'. So that is how he came up with the art work for that album. I'm happy with the art work, I think it looks good. The title was the first name I came up with and I asked the band what they thought of the title and they agreed it was a good name for the album."
Would you work with Mattias and Travis Smith for the next album as seen as you could not get Travis for this album?
"Mmm, I'm not sure, it would be a interesting idea to see how the two would work together!
This album was recorded in recorded partly at 'Morrisound Studio's' once again and also in Colorado. Why did you decide to record it in 2 studios?
"Well we recorded the drums and mixing at 'Morrisound' and we did guitars and vocals at 'Big Wilmas' and some guitars at 'One Track' in Denver. (ED: So why all these studio's and not just the 1 studio?) Well we actually use what can save us money and we found out the most expensive part of recording is actually hotels, food and travel. So that is why we recorded most of it near where we live to eliminate that problem. We ask us why we record in so many studios, they think we are some kind of rock stars, which we are not!!(Laughing). Jim Morris actually flew out to where we live to Colorado."
Does the band all live in Colorado? If not how do you rehearse?
"No we don't Chris is moving to LA soon, Richard lives in Arizona, John lives in Denver and Harry lives in the east of Colorado Springs. We have not rehearsed in something like 7 years (Laughing). We sent MP3 to each other with our idea's."
What was the recording period for this album?
"It took us 6 weeks to record the album with no days off. Some days we would work for 16 hours a day and I'm really happy with the way it turned out."
So what songs from the new album stand out for you and why? Also are there any that you don't like that you think could of been better? Also are the songs wrote as a team effort or is it just one individual member?
"Well I like the song 'Achilles', because I always wanted to write a epic song that is really short. To record a song under 3 minutes like that was really hard because I had so much stuff to cram into the song. I also like 'Precipice', because it reminds me of Black Sabbath with Dio. I also like 'The Hearkening', because it has a lot of energy and its fast. I like pretty much all of them, but saying that I'm not too struck on the song 'Cold', I like it don't get me wrong, but I feel it is more liked by Harry than myself. Well Chris and myself write the songs separately and then we turn them over to Harry to write the lyrics, and then John and Rikard put their ideas into the songs."
How do you see this album differ from the bands previous albums?
"Well I would say it is a little more intense, more aggressive and heavier. I also think that the melodic parts on this album have become more melodic than they did with previous albums, and more double bass drumming."
For you to go in a more heavier direction, what bands have inspired you to head for that heavier sound?
"Well I have been listening too a lot of Bay Area Thrash, such as 'Testament', 'Exodus', 'Metallica' (early years), and I also listen too a lot of 'Skyclad', even though they don't have a big influence on our sound I still like them."
Did you approach anybody to play on this album as a special guest? Or is there anybody you would of liked to have had on the album?
"Well we did actually have Bob Parduba do backing vocals on this record. He did a great job too!!"
The sound that you now have, is this more than likely going to be the direction that you are heading towards Mark?
"Well I really don't know Jason, we like to get a different sound on each album we do. So I'm not sure yet, only time will tell!!"
Do you think you will record a promo video for this album? If so for which song?
"Well that is up to the label to decide if they want us to record a video or not."
So Mark do you get a lot of sales and promotion in Japan and does the new album contain any bonus trax for the Japanese market?
"To be honest, we don't do bonus trax, we think it is unfair for people outside of the U.S. and Europe. Everybody should get the same trax no matter where they live. I have also never done a single interview with any Japanese magazine etc... since we formed. Our label tells us that we have only sold about 50 copies over there. (ED: Why is that & also is it the labels fault for not promoting you enough over there?) Yes it is the labels fault, they should really push the band to sell albums in Japan, that way we could get interviews with magazines and also play over there. I know the kids love the sort of music we are creating so why can't they hear it??? The distributor in Japan does not take all the Century Media bands, so that is another reason why nobody hears half the bands on the label over there."
So Mark when do you expect to tour Europe and maybe the UK?
"Well we are trying to sort out a tour right now. I would love to play the UK, I think if we opened up for a band over there then it would be a great chance for us to play there. We have to get to these new places, and not play the same old places we have in the past."
Ok Mark, moving on before we finish the interview, have you been approached to record any more tribute albums since the 'Dio' album?
"Yes we have, we were asked to play on a 'Angel Witch' album and a few others, but I turned them all down except for the 'Angel Witch' tribute, as we will record the song 'Atlantis'. We were approached to also record a song for a 'Iron Maiden' album, but the label told us not to record it as they want to put out a tribute to them. We were also asked to record a song for a 'Savatage' tribute album as well, but we said no because they have been around as long as we have. I love their music but why would I want to do a tribute song to a band that has been around as long as we have? Another band we were asked to record a song for was, 'Queensryche'. but we said no to that!!"
OK Mark, well thanx for taking your time out and doing the interview once again. Do you have anything to ad before we finish? best of luck with the album and I hope we meet again in the future!
"Yes, thanx to our fans for their support and to our English fans we hope to make over there real soon! Everbody who goes to or website, please leave a message at our forum. Thanx for the interview once again Jason, it must be our 4th interview now!! Good luck with the Website!
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