Zine True Metal • Issue #2 • Language Greece • Published Jul 2002

True Metal magazine issue #2, 2002. Has Tim Baker + Cirith Ungol logo on frontpage and an interview with Cirith Ungol. Written in Greek.

CIRITH UNGOL Interview / True Metal magazine / Greece 07/02


01. C.U. is hailed as one of the most cult bands in the metal history. What is the key point of making your music so strange? What is your inspirations, music influences and how do you compose your music?

ROB: I think the main reason that we sound strange to the average listener is that although we had many influences over the years we never tried to copy or sound like any other band. Having been together for ten years before our first album we had a sound that was very unique and different. Most of the songs were written as a group effort but Greg also composed many songs and brought them to the band room where each one of us added our special magic.

GREG: I still listen to a lot of new music, and buy a couple of CDs every week. Of the new stuff I’ve heard, I really like the Hellacopters, The Quill, and also a lot of 70’s influenced bands like Sea of Green, Firebird, Spirit Caravan, Mammoth Volume, etc. And some of the bands that were big influences on us: Captain Beyond, Stray Dog, Bang, Dust, Sir Lord Baltimore, Highway Robbery, Hard Stuff, Trapeze, Night Sun, Granicus…I could go on, but they’ve all been reissued on CD so go search them out and get blown away.

02. You started the band back in the late 70ies, so you followed the evolution of heavy metal up till today. How do you feel about the old times? Do you think that the spirit of the early 80ies will rise again?

ROB: I think it has never died, it just sometimes lurks beneath the surface. Although I am disgusted by much of what is called metal now days, I still hear music which I can relate to. Some of the music I have enjoyed recently is the new “Riot” material and a band called Mrs. Hippie. These albums are very heavy and I see no difference in the music or intentions that we had. It is great that in Europe the music fans have begun to listen to some of the foundations of heavy metal, for you know that true metal will never die!

03. Your album “One foot in hell” was criticized as one of the worst ever recorded! What has been the reaction of press towards C.U. Do you think that this negative attitude finally helped the band to build a “cult” name in the underground?

ROB: Actually our first album “Frost & Fire” was the album called the worst heavy metal album of all time by one music critic. This is very funny as we took allot of pride in not only our music, but also our song writing skills. Actually many critics liked us here and in Europe, but unfortunately the good press we got was not followed up by tour support from our record companies so we never got the full attention of the masses.

04. Can you please tell us all the story of your album Paradise Lost? Have you raised any legal action against Restless records?

ROB: You asked for it, so here is the whole story! After OFIH was released we kind of knew that M.B. either didn’t have the money or interest in the band to follow through with what we needed, so the waiting game started again. We had written the most unbelievable set of new songs and we were ready to release them in 1987 when the band broke up, but the demo versions (Some which are on “Servants of Chaos”) of what was later to be Tim’s trilogy “Paradise Lost” were 10 times better than the album you know of by that name. I was personally so disappointed in the album that when I came home and listened to it the night it was completed, I actually cried, think all these wasted f**king years trying to get this whole f**king thing off the ground, all the REAL blood, sweat and tears and here we are f**ked again. It was almost more than I could take as an artist. What happened next is the downfall of the band as I envisioned it. Jerry impatient with his 15 years in the band and my relentless pushing of all involved getting every one to keep up the grueling work even though there was never any pay back, left the band. Flint, Tim and I tried to talk him out of it to no avail. We had found a really good guitarist named Jimmy Baraza who we wanted to bring on board so that Jerry could concentrate on his leads and we could play all the double leads we were writing in all the new (and old) songs. Somehow Jerry must have felt that we were trying to replace him although nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Next we signed with Restless which actually were the shattered remains of our original label Enigma who had been bought by Capitol because they were impressed by all their poser type bands. After Capitol bought them and the men dressing like women thing started to die out (who would have guessed:) Enigma filed for bankruptcy. I don’t know or care about all the sordid details but they ended up in abbreviated company called Restless. We were so desperate at this time and really had no where else to go so I talked this creep Ron Goudie into signing the band. It took at least 3 years for all the shit to settle at the record company after their break-up with Capitol so this whole time we waited. I showed up at the band room one night and Flints stuff was missing, he had decided to join a garage band thinking that our career was as doomed as the planet we live on. After six months he returned only to leave again right as soon as the album was to start to be recorded. I can’t fault their decision but if Jerry and Flint would have stuck it out #4 would have been allot better CD and we may have finally got the recognition that we deserved.

Anyway 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 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.

I showed up at the band room one night and Ron Goudie brought in a little box which was to be my little friend for the next f**king six months! It was a f**king electric metronome. I was to play along with it every day until I could learn to keep a “beat”, this way the album was to be professional (in his opinion). Every time I complained about this kind of bullshit he would kindly remind us that we could stop the whole thing at any time if we couldn’t follow his orders, it was just as well with him. Anyway here is the true disgusting story how we were forced to record our fourth album.

I was to go in with only the little f**king click machine to record the drum tracks, no bass… no guitar.. no nothing to play with but this little piece of shit!! Next the other members followed suit except Ron did not want the other members of the band in the studio. (I guess he didn’t want us to contaminate his vision of what we thought was our album!!!!) So each band member went in did his part alone. I was really upset about the vocals cause I had coached and cheered Tim through the last 3 albums, Guess what I wasn’t allowed in while the vocals were done. I hope you can get the picture of how warped and terrible this whole album was done. Not only this but the best 20 seconds of the album Ron cut out because while he was producing the album he fucked up and the part which I thought was the most killer part of “Paradise Lost” was spooled out on the studio room floor. I was very pissed about this!!! And still am!!

To make a long story short Bob got some kind of religion, and Joe left to do something or another. Both left before the album was even released, which made us look bad in Restless’ eyes. Tim, Jimmy and I were so pissed at what we thought was a betrayal so we pulled their pictures from the album.

Anyway I put another ad the local music stores and got a call from a guy called Vern Green who also unfortunately had some religious beliefs, so right after we got cut from Restless he quit the band, then Jimmy quit. The sad thing about Jimmy, he was one hell of a guitarist but once again he didn’t have what it takes to have followed it through. It is really a shame but Tim and I were looking at each other one night at our band room and we just decided after 22 years of being f**ked over we had had about enough. I sold all our equipment and my drums paid off or bills and Cirith Ungol was officially deceased.

Even though we paid a lawyer to look at the contracts for “Paradise Lost”, there was some legal wording in the contract that signed the CD and all the rights to the music over to Restless Records forever!! I tried to get them to talk to several people including Metal Blade and Underground Symphony, who were interested in re-releasing the CD, but Restless would not return any of the e-mails are calls, they are just a bunch of scumbags!

05. I saw a photo of yours and you look quite strange person! I feel that a special spirit is hidden in the band, can you talk about this?

ROB: Well, I can assure you that I am quite strange! Yes Cirith Ungol did have a special something that many other bands lack. I think that because of our years of hard work that we had a good grasp about what real metal was and should be. Unfortunately for all of us we were ahead of our time as we are more popular now, and it is easier to get our music (at least in Europe) than it was when we still together producing albums.

06. Can you please give us some information about the great covers of your albums?

ROB: At the time of our first album “Frost & Fire” we wanted a “Sword and Sorcery” (S&S) theme cover called “Berserker” by Frank Frazetta a famous S&S artist but it was taken by the country rock band Molly Hatchet! I was reading “Stormbringer” by Michael Moorcock at the time and was thinking man this is the ultimate cover art! I never thought we could use it but I contacted the publisher who got me in touch with Michael Whelan, who is one of the few people in our entire music career who was honest, friendly and kind, and we got to use it. I think we were the first album covers he had done at the time and we really wanted to use all his “Elric” series on our covers which we did! I told him that I always wanted to buy the painting for the cover of #1 (Stormbringer) from him if we made it big but we never did. He was quite successful them but now he is probably the world foremost fantasy artist/painter/illustrator and his paintings cost $$$. It is funny, Deep Purple had an album named after the book and we got the cover. Blue Oyster Cult also had a song “Bane of the Black Sword” which was based on Michael Moorcock’s writing.

07. Why did you decide to re-issue ‘Servants of Chaos”? Does the cooperation of Greg Lindstrom have a special commercial interest?

GREG: There had been a lot of requests from our fans for some new CU material, so Rob and I spent a couple of months going through our old demo and practice tapes. Rob pitched the idea to Metal Blade, and the European side was very interested. Unfortunately, MB in the US did not release it, so the CD is rather hard to find over here in our own backyard! We would like to get a US label to release “Servants” over here.

ROB: Greg and I were actually the two original members so it was only natural that I turn to him to help work on the project. The other remaining members either did not want to participate or were totally against the project thinking that the music was inferior to our studio work. I was just interested in getting the music released before it was destroyed by time as so much of the other material was. Since our other albums had been released I thought that this was the best possible time and I knew that our good fans would enjoy hearing some of the early and live versions of some of the songs.

08. Do you feel as a part of the heavy metal elitism? If yes, how would you define “elitism” in the metal community?

ROB: Well it is funny that you ask that. I listen to so many bands, some very big like Mettalica, etc. and I wonder why they have had such huge success. The real truth is the music business is based on greed much like the stock markets and money is the only thing that matters. Many of the bands that made it big did so because of connections or money. I know that no one at any of our record companies ever liked the band or its music we were just so persistent that we actually had some albums released. The record companies not understanding what we were doing were releasing so many records hoping one out of a hundred would be a success. If not no money was lost as the entire up front expenses were paid by the band. Yes, I feel that Cirith Ungol was actually trying to create something significant that would stand the test of time. And yes, even though we were not a commercial success I feel that we were superior to many of the bands that have come before and since. Saying that I also feel humbled by the bands that were so much greater than us, many who had only one album out and were never heard from again.

09. How did C.U. get disbanded? Have you ever thought of getting back in the scene?

ROB: (see above #4)

GREG: We are downhearted and our ranks have been decimated but our spirits will not despair! With Jerry Fogle gone we have lost one of the greatest unheralded guitarists ever to walk the earth. But between Rob and Tim and I there is still enough chemistry to forge new metal. If “Servants” generates enough interest, you could hear from us again. We still have at least 20 songs that have never been released, like “Brutish Manchild” and “Route 666”. I would like to resurrect some more old tapes that have Jerry’s guitar magic.

ROB: I would really like to but like Greg says if the interest was there it would happen. Unfortunately with Metal Blade not even releasing our new CD in the US and deleting our re-releases there is little if no hope for a reunion.

10. Back in the 80ies, the US metal scene seemed to be a leading force in the international heavy metal market. However, apart of a few bands that made a strong commercial success, there were thousand of bands that disappeared. Why did this happen?

ROB: What happened is the music company insider’s wimped out! There were many great bands that could have carried the torch and banners high. The people with the money and power refused to promote them due to their lack of musical taste and foresight! This a very sad time not only in our history but the history of True Metal!

11. I read in a magazine that the true story of C.U. has all the ingredients of a Greek tragedy! What do you mean by this?

ROB: Well you see the whole affair was so very sad, every one of our lives has been severely affected by the break-up and eventual destruction of the band. Jerry is dead, many of our hopes and dreams have been destroyed. We have been betrayed by close friends, never received any money for our work. Yes, there is still much pain and suffering surrounding the rise and fall of the house of Ungol!

GREG: Yes, it really was a tragedy. Jerry was one of the greatest hard rock guitarists who ever lived. He should be mentioned in the same breath as Randy Rhoades and Tommy Bolin, but he never got the recognition he deserved. He could always amaze us with his solos.

ROB: In closing we would like thank all of our European fans for their continued support over the years. We are sorry that we never got to play for you, but feel a kinship with you that we have not felt for our American brethren! Please continue to spread the word about Cirith Ungol to your friends so that True Metal will never die!!!!!

The being called Ungol is dead, its resurrection is doubtful. But heed its teachings oh faithful, for 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!!!


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