1. You are an original member of Cirith Ungol from the ‘’Frost and Fire‘’ album era. I think that, members of the Cirith Ungol had a band called Traffic and an album under that name. Did you participate in this band and what was its musical stigma (hard rock etc)?
GREG: Actually, the name was Titanic (not the 70s Scandinavian band) and we never put out any albums (we were only 12 years old). Rob and Jerry and Pat Galligan (who later joined punk band The Angry Samoans) had decided to start a band to play Beatles songs, and I think the only reason they got me was that I had an amp. Three guitars plugged into one 15 watt amp and Rob with just a snare drum and hi-hat trying to play Beatles songs…I wish I had a tape! Anyway, Rob and Jerry and I wanted to play heavier stuff like Cream and Mountain, so we left Titanic to sink, and the three of us formed Cirith Ungol in 1972.
2. How come you chose Tim for a singer? His voice is extreme peculiar and characteristic, but your first album was a slightly progressive hard rock album (due to my opinion) and to use the rough high frequent voice of Tim wasn’t it a little bit risky for the acceptance of the album?
GREG: If you listen to early Rush (Fly By Night, Caress Of Steel), Geddy Lee’s voice is pretty high up there, also. Truthfully, I did feel that Tim’s voice would hurt us commercially, but his voice has turned out to be the trademark of CU.
3. Which member of the band was so big fun of Moorcocks writing that you had Elrics Saga to define your albums image?
GREG: I believe I was the first to read the series, but Rob is also a big fan. If you search used bookstores, you might be able to find the original DAW Books paperbacks with Michael Whelan’s paintings on the covers.
4. I had read thirteen years ago that a journalist gave a grade of zero to your album ‘’One foot in Hell ‘’ by telling that it was the worst album in the heavy metal history. What do you think about that album , and the possibility of ripping the guts out of this ignorant bastard?( sorry for the anger but I love the album and I m a little prejudice).
GREG: I appreciate your prejudice! Actually, the review was in Kerrang!, and it was referring to F & F. But it’s much better for our music to arouse such strong feelings, either for or against, rather than to be bland or middle of the road.
5. Do you know that your vinyl albums are on the hunt as collector’s items and they are sold in highly prices? I have seen a picture LP copy of ‘’Frost and Fire ‘’ at a price of 50 dollars.
GREG: I’ve seen Paradise Lost CDs and F & F LPs selling on ebay for $40-50. I have 5 or 6 sealed original Liquid Flames pressings of F & F saved for my retirement!
6. Cirith Ungol was always considered as one of the cult metal bands, highly respected in the Greek metal audience. Though ‘’ Paradise lost ‘’ appeared at the Greek stores three or four years after its original release. Who was responsible for this awful distribution?
ROB: We were dumped by the record label Restless 3 weeks after the CD came out even though it took them 3 years to release it. They did no promotion for the band and expected us to have it licensed in Europe. I approached Roadrunner Records hoping that since they had licensed our previous album that they would be interested. They were not and said that the music was dated! After that the label dropped us so I imagine that any that even made it out alive were rare. The Cd is impossible to get today with Restless Records refusing to negotiate with several companies that are sincerely interested in re-releasing it!!!
7. After all these years of Cirith Ungols disappearance we all suspected the end of the band but never knew for sure. You see hope dies last. Though at your page I read the thing I didn’t want to read… the braking up. When and why it occurred?
ROB: The final line-up of the band broke up in 1992 after the very sad debacle of “Paradise Lost”. After 22 years of being screwed and never making a cent it was more of a mater of survival. Would you work night and day for 22 years at a job and never receive a paycheck? I personally figured that I did not want to waste my entire life playing music that was not appreciated, and at the time I was working two jobs to support the band. There was a giant recession in 1991 and I thought I was going to lose my jobs so really the only thing to do was survive without the band.
8. A lot of the American epic bands of the past seem to try to reunite and reclaim the throne from the Europeans. JAG PANZER came back slashing throats LEATHERWOLF ,CRIMSON GLORY ,CHASTAINS CJSS and many more known or less known bands. Is there a possibility of reanimating Cirith Ungol ?
GREG: If we could get Tim to lay off the cigarettes and Rob could wrangle a drum kit out of Pearl or Ludwig! We have at least 20 songs that have never been properly recorded. We could definitely come up with 8 or 10 strong songs for an album. “Brutish Manchild and “Shelob’s Lair” come to mind….
9. Have you formed any other band beside Cirith Ungol in the past or now?
GREG: I’ve never seriously played with any other band since Cirith Ungol. Playing with Rob spoiled me forever!
10. What is your occupation in life? Do you make a living from music?
GREG: I’m an engineer at the Boeing Co. in Los Angeles, working on the USAF C-17 transport. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to put our praying skeleton logo on the side of the aircraft yet.
11. Do you have contact with the other members of the band? Have got any idea of what they are doing in music and in life?
GREG: Rob and I are still great friends. We go to auto races and Ferrari events all the time, and I keep him up to date on new music.
12. What is your most intense memory of your life with the band? What was the most peculiar and extraordinary thing that happened to the band?
GREG: The best things were coming up with a new song and playing it together for the first time, playing on stage for an appreciative crowd, and meeting our fans. The worst things were dealing with greedy promoters, club owners, and some of our rival bands.
13. Are there any unreleased songs of the band? If there are would somebody (please) release it?
GREG: Your wish is granted! We just released “Servants Of Chaos” on Metal Blade, 2 CDs with 31 tracks spanning 1978 to 1991, almost all of them never previously released.
14. Though I love all of your albums I believe that “Paradise lost” is really astonishing. Please give a grade and a memory sweet or bitter for each one of your albums.
GREG: Looking at the album as an outsider, I think PL has got some of the best stuff CU has ever done (The Chaos trilogy) and the worst (The Troll and the truly vile Go It Alone). Even though Jimmy Barraza is a fantastic guitar player, I feel that he lacks a certain spark of uniqueness that made Jerry so great. And I really prefer Tim’s higher pitched vocals on the earlier albums. King Of The Dead is CU’s classic. I thought One Foot In Hell was not quite as good. Of course, I’m partial to F & F, I just wish we could have gotten a heavier sound on the album, but we were all learning.
15. Are you married? Do you have kids? If you do what do they think for your music (wife and kids)?
GREG: My wife likes bands like the Goo Goo Dolls and the Jayhawks. The fact that I was in a semi legendary heavy metal band does not impress her at all!
16. “In metal we trust” you declare. I really admire your strength in your belief for our beloved (and not departed) music. What are your main influences as a musician, bands or other musicians?
GREG: I think we are influenced by everything we hear, whether we like it or not! My main bass influences are Felix Pappalardi from Mountain and Kenny Aaronson from Dust and Derringer. There are dozens of guitar players that have influenced me-Tony Iommi, Ulrich Roth, John Cann, Gary Moore, to name just a few. My lifetime achievement award has to go to Iggy Pop. To me, he’s the King, still kickin’ ass in his mid-fifties’.
17. What bands do you hear nowadays? What are your ten favorite metal albums in the almost thirty years old metal music?
GREG: It’s hard to pick just ten: CAPTAIN BEYOND’s first, ANGEL’s first, BLACK SABBATH-Heaven And Hell, SCORPIONS-In Trance, HARD STUFF-Bullet Proof, MONTROSE’s first, Y & T-Earthshaker, MASTERS OF THE AIRWAVES’ first (and only), BE BOP DELUXE-Futurama, STRAY DOG’s first, BLUE OYSTER CULT-Tyranny And Mutation. Sorry, I went to eleven.
18. Are there any new American metal bands that you have distinguished?
GREG: Two of my favorite new American bands are instrumental: The Mystic Krewe of Clearlight and Karma To Burn. I also like Billionaire, who have kind of a Zep / Black Crowes sound. Outside the US, I love the Wildhearts and the Hellacopters, neither of whom are strictly metal.
19. What do you think about the so-called “modernization” of the metal music? Do you believe that bands like KORN, LIMP BIZKIT, PANTERA, KID ROCK are metal bands?
GREG: Progressing with the times is fine, but just because it’s got loud guitars doesn’t mean it’s metal! I’d rather listen to real rap or hip-hop than some white suburban kid whining that his parents never loved him. In other words, “Nu-metal is NOT metal!”
I think that I will ask you and the color of the socks you wear, so I ll stop here . I hope that I ll see again the skeletons praying for the Tower in the kingdom of the dead, we all have missed you a lot . Thanks again for your response. The resolution of the photo you sent was OK please sent us anything you got. Again thank you for the honor.
ROB: I know we have many friends out there and only wish that we could have come and played for all of you! Hopefully a new generation of metalheads can be exposed to our music and maybe get some inspiration or at least some enjoyment out of it, as we really enjoyed making it!!!!!!
The being called Ungol is dead, its 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, may 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!!!
Visit our web site: Cirithungol.org All photos by Greg Hazard ©
Sincerely yours firstname.lastname@example.org