SCREAM MAGAZINE / GERMANY 11/99
1. C.U. was a unique sounding heavy-band. The records have an atmosphere that only CU-records have. Do you think that these positive aspects were a problem on the other hand to sell a lot of records back in the 80es?
I think our unique sound came from the fact that we were heavily influenced by European bands such as Thin Lizzy, early Scorpions, Lucifer’s Friend, Mournin-Night Sun etc. Unfortunately for us (although I’m sure we wanted to be successful) our only real thought was to create good metal. Actually we sold quite a few albums but we were always on independent labels that had little or no money for tour support, advertising, airplay, etc. I am sure with this missing link we would have been more well know to the mainstream metal audience. Our big mistake was not hooking up with a major label, if this had happened we would still be together today with 10 albums out.
2. All your records sound very “live in the studio” and not that overproduced as other metal-releases. There are not many effects on the drums, which also sounds unique and great! You did this because you wanted the people know how CIRITH UNGOL sounds like if they would play in your living room?
We really wanted a clean but heavy sound, we were traditionally a live band, remember we had been playing together for 8 or 9 years before we put out or first album. We wanted to reflect our live sound, as much as possible plus at the time, allot of the equipment was pretty antiquated.
3. FROST AND FIRE sounds very relaxed and 70es-styled. Would you call it already Heavy Metal?
Definitely! We were all straight-ahead metal fans. The story of F&F is that we were trying to get recognized/record deal/air play so we rolled back on the album and put our more commercial (we thought) songs on it. All the radio stations said it was WAY to heavy to play so we said basically felt like why are we holding back, so that is what KOTD was all about. Plus remember the album was released in 1981 but all the songs were written in the 70’s hence that sound. I have to say though F&F is a killer album I think “I’m Alive” is one of our best songs (We would open with it allot), the LA Times said when Pearl Jam’s first album was released that their song “Alive” was a blatant rip off of “I’m Alive”. I’m not sure if I agree but I think they must have at least heard it. I really like Tim’s voice on it. Oh, there was a movie called “Better Off Dead” which also came out after the album.
4. KING OF THE DEAD is THE C.U.-album! Would you agree?
Yes, for me KOTD is the high point in our career. We had COMPLETE control over this album but we were also responsible to pay for all the cost associated with the entire project. I feel that this work was the closest to our original vision of what our music should have been like. Sadly with no backing or support from our record companies all of the albums could have been heavier. I think Jerry’s double lead guitar solo on “Cirith Ungol” was the best thing we ever did. It still brings tears to my eyes every time I play it! There is some real emotion there that frankly I don’t hear in some of the metal bands that are big today. This was the time when our line-up and our sense of purpose were very strong. We would get about 300 fan letters a week and we would try to answer them all. I use to bleed on my drums every time we played, it was all very heroic!!!
5. Is there really an album called “Paradise Lost” (or “Lost Paradise”)? If yes, please tell us about and its chances to be re-released also.
I am suprised that you have not heard of this album. Check out our web site for the picture of the cover. This would have been the best thing we ever did but between the time the songs were written and its completion we lost Jerry and Flint (Would you work at a job for 15 years and never get paid) signed a record deal with Restless (have you ever been shot in the back), went through several good and bad members (woke up next to any ugly girl) and were basically fucked over the control of the album (had your parents take away your bong:( (Our studio tapes with Jimmy and Flint were 10 times better that the finished product. There were some good points about it, Tim’s trilogy “Chaos Rising”, “Fallen Idols”, “Paradise Lost” and “Join the Legion” and “Before the Lash”. I am trying to get Metal Blade to re-release it, and we also have some more live unreleased stuff around. I am hoping any fans we have will contact them to show their support for these projects.
6. Congratulations for your re-releases! They sound much better than the European) vinyl versions. What exactly have you done for these re-releases?
There are 2 live tracks added (one to each CD) and we really tweaked the bass up, one thing that was always missing from the albums. I would like to THANK our old friend Brian Slagel for re-releasing them because the tapes are so old now the are almost dust! If they had not been re-released they may have been lost forever!
7. Is the band still existing? If yes, what did all members in between and if not, what do they today?
We broke up in 1992, not because we wanted to but because after so many heartaches and disappointments over the band Tim and I could not continue to support the band mentally or monetarily, I was working 2 jobs just to pay for the band room. We had just been totally screwed by Restless and there was this big recession here in California, which was affecting us very much. Jerry died last year (they said from alcohol) but he really died of a broken heart. All we ever wanted to do was play and in the end even that was taken away from us…I still keep in contact with the rest of the guys but we are shells of what we once were. The Greatest Metal Act That Never Was!
8. Your records sound like a band playing their music. Today bands produce, edit, trigger drums, use tons of effects etc. Would you agree that young metal-kids don’t know anymore what a band really sounds like when they play in the rehearsal-room or in clubs? Would you agree that perfection kills the feeling of rough metal music?
I agree but I also know that the soul of metal still exist! Every time I hear Black Sabbath etc. on the radio or blasting from some long hairs boom box I feel that there is still hope. Since I have started our web site I have received thousands of e-mail from fans from 14-40 years of age who still feel the power and intensity of the CHURNING MAELSTROM OF METAL CHAOS DESCENDING which is really all we wanted- to share our vision of what Metal should be to the world!!!
9. Do you have any internet-activities or an email address where fans can get in contact with the band?
Yes our web site is at CirithUngol.org, you can e-mail the band from there.
10. Your 5 current favorites CD’s and 5 all-time faves CD’s
Black Sabbath, “Master of Reality”. Montrose, “Montrose”. Scorpions, “In Trance”. Yesterday & Today (Y&T), “Earthshaker”. Lucifer’s Friend, “Lucifer’s Friend”. Thin Lizzy, “China Town”. Queensryche, “Operation Mindcrime”. Rush, “Rush”. ZZ Tops, “Tres Hombres” Deep Purple, “In Rock”. Mountain, “Nantucket Sleighride”. Dust, “Hard Attack”. Mournin, “Night Sun”. Sir Lord Baltimore. Captain Beyond. Budgie, “Squawk”. Moxy. Blue Oyster Cult, “Tryanny and Mutation”. Hard Stuff, “Bulletproof” Kansas, “Masque”. Trapeze, “Medusa”. Judas Priest, “Sad Wings of
Destiny”. Etc, etc, etc,
Thanks for the interview with you and with one of the most unique (metal) bands!
Thank you! Please tell all you readers to get our re-releases and give them listen!
Robert Garven, drummer, Cirith Ungol