Article Cirith Ungol Interview, That’s Metal 1/99, German Heavy Metal Magazine with Thomas • Published Jan 1999
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Hi Robert! This is Thomas of the German Heavy Metal Magazine “That’s Metal” with a few questions about Cirith Ungol. Please make your answers not too short, the more information the better! And please excuse any mistakes I made with the English language! So here we go!

Metal Greetings Oh Disciple of Chaos Thomas!
You have gratified us doing this interview with your magazine. We are very happy that after all these years metal fans still remember Cirith Ungol. With your help maybe we can spread the word to a whole new generation of metal heads!

A Churning Maelstrom of Metal Chaos Descending!

1. First of all, I’d like to know something about a very sad thing that happened: The death of Jerry Fogle. Here in Germany, there was very little information about it. So please tell me what happened.

Jerry quit the band after the release of OFIH (One Foot In Hell) because he was depressed at the fact we had been together for about 15 years and although we had sold quite a few albums and had lots of fans worldwide we could never seem to get or the support we feel we deserved. Our goal was to get signed to a major record label, so we could go tour Europe, where we had always dreamed of going to play. We would work at the band room 4 or 5 nights a week answering fan mail, writing new songs and playing for our local fans. We kept waiting for a big break that never came. After Jerry left the band he stopped playing and his life seem to spiral downhill. He was drinking pretty heavy, and he finally drank himself to death. I talked to him recently and he finally admitted that his leaving the band was a huge mistake, which he had regretted all along. The sad thing about his death is the loss and squandering of so much talent. Listening to Jerry’s solo’s sometimes bring tears to my eyes, he played with so much feeling and emotion. One solo that comes to mind is the double lead in “Cirith Ungol”, the intertwining guitars weave a tale of sadness and hopelessness, which I feel, is the high point in our long and sad tale.

2. Now for something less sad. Are you happy about the re-release of your great albums by Metal Blade? What do you think about the packaging?

I have not seen the German versions of “Frost & Fire” (F&F) or “King of the Dead” (KOTD) but I was very impressed at the German re-release of OFIH. Metal Blade in Germany has really gone out of their way to make the European versions very special! I thought the liner notes on the 3 re-releases were great, and we were really all very excited that they were coming out in Europe where most of our original and future (hopefully) fans still are!

3. Metal Blade even re-released the first two albums, which were already release on a single CD a few years ago. Any comments on this?

I had the first two albums re-released on One Way Records several years ago to try to keep the dream alive, but nice as they were to do this, they were not really a metal label, so when our old friend Brian offered to re-release them we were really happy that they were back on Metal Blade where they always belonged.

4. “King of the Dead” and “One Foot in Hell” does even feature live-recordings as a bonus. Have you been informed about it? What can you tell me about the song “Last Laugh”, why wasn’t it released on any studio album?

First of all let me say how happy I am with the re-mastering of all 3 albums Brad Vance at DNA did an amazing job at getting the bass to the right level that was always seemed to be missing on the LP’s. I feel that the new CD’s sound better than the original LP is something that I never would have thought possible. Next is we wrote at least 30 songs that were never released and I also have several live tapes, some songs, which you heard on the CD’s. I am hoping that with our fan support, that Metal Blade will release another final C.U. CD with all this unreleased material on it. None of it is what I think of as “studio quality” but some are the best songs we ever wrote and Tim’s singing and some of the double lead guitar solos are far more radical than anything our fans have ever heard! “Last Laugh” being just one. Others are “Half Past Human – A Quarter to Ape”, “High Speed Love”, “Show You All”, “Hype Performance”, “Brutish Manchild”, “Shelob’s Lair”, “The Twitch” etc. Etc. etc.

5. I’ve heard that there was a Cirith Ungol Double-CD planned on Old Metal Records as a tribute to Jerry, with unreleased songs? Can you tell us, why it wasn’t released? I heard the layout was already done and also King Fowley from Old Metal wrote the liner notes to the Metal Blade re-releases.

I haven’t heard of this project, but King has always been a good friend of the band and whatever Metal Blade eventually decides not release I will let who ever is interested in it put it out.

6. How are the chances of a “new” album with (moreolder (and so far unreleased) recordings ever being released?

I am hoping that all our fans will contact Metal Blade if they are interested in such a project and that it will go forward soon, before the audiotapes disintegrate (which is a real possibility)!

7. There were rumors about a re-release of the “Paradise Lost” album on CD and even on Vinyl. Can you tell me something about it?

I talked to Brian about this, and once again if there is any kind of desire to re-release “Paradise Lost” (PL) on Metal Blade I am fully in favor of the project and would do everything in my power to see it completed. PL was a disaster of an album as we had zero, repeat zero control over the production or recording of that album, I cried when I first heard it. The band members were not allowed in the studio when the other members were doing their tracks and I was forced to play my drums to a click track without any other instruments. It was all very disgusting and sickening and is probably the #1 thing that led to the final destruction of the band. However Tim’s trilogy “Paradise Lost” I feel makes it worthwhile listening. The sad story here is that our pre-studio demo tapes of the album were ten times better than the final product.

8. Talking about “Paradise Lost”: In an older interview in That’s It #10, you said that you took some songs from the repertoire of your new guitar and bass players band. Listening to “Heaven Help Us”, I can’t imagine that it was an original Cirith Ungol-Song, even the vocals don’t sound like Tim Baker. So who sung that song? What was the previous band of these two called?

After Jerry and Flint left the band, (Flint left for much the same reason as Jerry, frustration at our lack of success) We were in a real mess. PL was already written so we had to find some replacements as fast as possible to help us record the new album which had already been held up for 2 years because of Enigma’s bankruptcy and resurrection as Restless Records. I put ads the local music stores and got a call from two guys who were in a local band (?) in Santa Barbara. They came down and we decided they would be better than nothing. The deal was, they would help us record our album and they would get to put some of their songs on it. The guitarist Joe Malatesta’s song was “The Troll” and the bass player Bob Warenburg’s song was “Heaven Help Us”. Although these songs really were not our style we really had no choice. “Go it alone”, “Heaven Help Us”, and the “The Troll” would never have made it on an album if we had our way! I must apologize to our fans and hope they will overlook these songs now that they know the true story.

9. When you released this album, did you know about the English Gothic/Death Metal-band Paradise Lost that had two albums out then?

We heard of them after the CD was released but we had never heard of them before. We actually wrote all “good” songs including the title song on PL in 1987. I think I need to explain the long delay between every album. We could have released 20 albums in the space of the four we released. The 3 to 4 year waits between each one were either me trying to raise the money (F&F and KOTD). Or waiting for the record company to get their act together (PL). The studio we recorded at (Goldmine) was also under construction before OFIH, which caused about a 1 year delay in the release of that album. We always had tons of material but not the backing or resources to release it!

10. Last year an Italian band called Doom Sword did a cover version of your classic song “Nadsokor”. Have you had the chance to listen to it yet? And what do you think about it? Do you know any other bands that covered your songs?

I just did an interview with a magazine in Greece and I was told that bands do covers of our songs in nightclubs, it is very gratifying and I would really like to hear these songs!

11. Do you know that there is a Live-7“ of Cirith Ungol available and even a Picture Disc of “Frost And Fire”? These are Bootleg releases, of course. What do you think about that?

I’ve seen both of these and I think the are very cool. Some one asks me if I was upset at these unauthorized releases and my answer was: why should we be upset? We never received any money from our legitimate record companies, so why should we be mad at fans that liked our band so much as to conceive of and execute these projects! At the time our music was not available and I feel that our fans were starved for the taste of Ungol and had to satisfy their desire any way they could!

12. All the interest in your old stuff is leading to the conclusion, that there is still a big interest in your music. For a lot of people here in Germany you are a cult band. What do you think about all this?

We are very gratified! We probably worked harder and longer than any band I ever knew of. I feel that we deserve some of the recognition that we should have had long ago. It is sad that we are not still together because we would still be pumping out the Metal Hurlant today!!!

13. Looking back at the days of Cirith Ungol, what is in your opinion the biggest mistake you made?

The biggest mistake we ever made was signing with an independent label. You have to remember what the independent companies were doing then. Instead of releasing one album and really promoting it like the big companies they were releasing 100 albums and hoping one or two would sell allot or even break even. It is really like gambling but with people careers. Bands like ours were the losers. No matter what anyone’s good intentions were at any of our record companies (and I’m not sure how many good intentions there eve were), no one ever spent the kind of $$ on the band for promotion or tour support that it would have needed to become successful. We should have somehow held out for a major label, but who knows, if we had not done our first LP we might have never have had ANY music recorded or released?!?!!?

14. Now we have the usual game: I’ll give you some catchwords, and you tell me, what comes to your mind:

Ferrari/Eddie Irvine

As you might already know I am not only a huge Ferrari fan I follow F1 and am a loyal Tifosi!! One of the first times Greg Lindstrom and I got together we went to the LA auto show to see the new Ferrari’s. We were very young about 12 or 13. The fire of the red religion burns in me. I think there is a definite relationship between the screaming of the engine, the sucking of the carburetors and the throbbing and pulsing of True Metal!!!!! I was hoping that if the band was successful I could have a huge stable of them, however I had to quit the band and get a regular job to afford even one! I have a 1975 Dino 308 gt4. If you listen real close, you can hear me racing in the hills above Ventura, winding through the gears, blasting metal as I downshift into the next corner!!! I am very sorry Eddie lost, but I know Michael will carry the torch of the faithful next year…….. My life was full of two passions, now that my passion for music has been ripped from my breast… I have immersed myself in the red blood of Ferrari!!!!

The 1980s

This was the decade of Ungol the high point being KOTD, which I feel, is by far our best effort. We had complete control over the entire project and I feel that all of them could have been this good!

J.R.R. Tolkien

Greg and I met at an 7th grade English Literature class where the teacher was reading L.O.T.R. and Greg and I read it and it had an influence on our music and feelings. In retrospect I wish we had picked something easier to remember because allot of our trouble has been over our name. People couldn’t pronounce it or remember it but we figured once they did they wouldn’t forget it! We had been humorously been called “Sarah’s Uncle” and “Serious Uncool” etc. HA! 🙂

Enigma

Brian Slagel worked at a record store in 1980 (OZ Records) and he was a big fan of ours back then. He hooked us up to a new company “Greenworld” who distributed our album until they started the company “Enigma” which “signed” (what a joke) our band. We were the first band in the LA music scene at the time to try to release our own album. We were the first band signed to Enigma. The next was Motley Crue (YUK), they wanted us at the time to wear women’s clothes and make-up (like all the bands they liked over the years, Ratt, Stryper, Poison) and we refused which I think had allot to do with them doing very little for us. I have very little respect for these bands or their music, I think them dressing like women wearing lipstick and eyeliner etc. really set them apart from C.U. as real men!!!

I feel that if we could have gotten away from GREENWORLD, ENIGMA, and RESTLESS, which basically were all the same company with different names (probably to confuse all those they had ripped off) we would have had a chance. If we could have signed with a major label, with tour support etc. we would have made it big, but we kept thinking someone was looking out for us, which was a big pipe dream.

Brian Slagel

One of the people who have done tons of good for metal and us. He signed lots of bands that never would have had any exposure. We are very grateful to him and all the staff at Metal Blade in the US and Metal Blade (especially Michael and Andreas) in Europe who have helped to keep the dream of Ungol alive!

Ron Goudie/Robert Feist

Robert had little to do with this but Ron Goudie, single handedly probably did more to destroy Cirith Ungol by his heavy-handed production of PL than any one other event. I only hope that our fans can hear some of our demo’s for that album some day so they can hear the real vision that was “Paradise Lost”!!!

15. Is there still a chance to get some Cirith Ungol-merchandise these days, like T-shirts or posters with album-artworks? Where do we have to write to and what are the prices?

I wish there were? I was hoping that someone would produce them in Europe for us? I was thinking of selling them on our web site CirthUngol.org but I haven’t gotten around to it. The shirts were always very popular with everyone! (Metal Blade Europe is selling t-shirts now)

16. Is there any chance for a Cirith Ungol reunion and maybe a new album? In the last couple of years there were quite a few reunion shows at festival here in Germany, did you get any offers yet?

I wish it was so, all of us have created separate lives out of the ashes of our band. You have to remember we put so much into it and got so little out when it was over most of the members were not only drained, but shells of their former selves. I know Tim and I would be up to it and interested but I cannot speak for the others. Sometimes it is better to remember the past than try to dig up the graves of the dead.

17. Finally you have the chance to send a message from „the towers of Cirith Ungol“ to your fans out there, who will never forget you.

The being called Ungol is dead, it’s resurrection is doubtful. But heed it’s teachings oh faithful, for on these memoratic disks contain the wisdom of the ages, and by your iron fists the horror, of false metal be extinguished.

As you now join the swelling ranks of the Legions of Chaos, together we will drive before us, the cringing herd of False Metal, crush their spineless lackeys, and purge the world of their mutant plague!!!

That’s it, Robert. Thank you in advance for your efforts.

So let it be written…. So let it be done…

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