IMPALER – Blood Brothers
Metal Forces, Issue 17 (1986)
The State of Minnesota may not be renowned for its hard rock / heavy metal acts, even though some ignorant fuckers may try to convince us otherwise by proclaiming that Minneapolis’ Prince fits the bill. But now there’s a quartet from St. Paul who are aiming to change all that by putting Minnesota firmly on the metal map.
Impaler are not exactly a new band to the metal scene, having been formed around four years ago and with one EP, Rise Of The Mutants, already to their name, but it looks like 1986 could be the year to break the band into wider territory with the coming release of the superbly titled If We Had Brains… We’d Be Dangerous album on Combat Records.
I recently spoke to lead vocalist and band spokesman Bill Lindsey about those hopes for ’86 and their somewhat controversial image.
But first, let Bill tell us more about Impaler’s conception? “Well first of all there was a band called Fear No Evil that Meaty Bob, our drummer, and I were in, and we used to play old AC/DC, Plasmatics and Motörhead covers. Then I started writing a lot of lyrics and songs on the side and eventually Meaty and I decided we wanted to put a band together and play all originals. So we got together with Mike Torok (lead guitar) and Commander Court Hawley (bass) and formed Impaler.
“This was all around ’82 and originally we had another guitarist, but he decided to leave because he wanted to play Top 40 so we continued on as a four-piece.”
When did you get your deal with Combat for the Rise Of The Mutants EP? “Originally we had had interest from Mongol Horde who then decided we were too heavy, so we thought fuck we’ll do it ourselves. So we scraped what money we had together and recorded the EP, but then Combat got hold of the tape and wanted to sign us and so they released it in April of last year.”
When I reviewed your EP I described your music as glam rock meets thrash metal. How would you term it? “Well, I guess it’s power metal but it’s got some older punk influences in there too. You see, I’m into bands like Iggy And The Stooges, New York Dolls and a lot of bands that influenced the punks. I also like old Alice Cooper and Kiss, and stuff like that.”
Which I guess is where you get your somewhat glam image from? “Yeah, although The Stooges also had a strong image and were one of the first bands I saw that had this whitish make-up on their faces and wore eyeliner. The Misfits too. That’s the kinda bands that appeal to me, although I still love bands like Metallica and AC/DC who go out and do their thing in jeans and t-shirts. It’s this image that is just a natural part of what we’re into.
“We’re also into horror movies and comic books, so it’s pretty natural for us to dress up the way we do.”
You mentioned horror movies. Does that side of it come out in your live performance with the blood and gore stuff? “Yeah, we’re into Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead and any kind of horror or gore movies, even the really old classics, so this is what our stage show represents too.
“Some people compare us to W.A.S.P., but there’s not really any comparison at all. I mean, we were doing all this probably before W.A.S.P. were even formed and we’ve got nothing to do with them; that side of our image comes strictly from horror movies. Also, our music is completely different from W.A.S.P.”
How important then do you think it is for a metal band to have some sort of image? “I think it’s important if you do it honestly, but a lot of bands just jump on the bandwagon and start doing it because someone else has been successful with it. For instance, Mötley Crüe’s look; you now have hundreds of bands copying that. Our image is based on things that we’re really into so it’s honest for us to do that.”
Okay, but there again there’s a lot of people who haven’t heard of you and when they do they’re probably gonna say that it’s you that’s jumping on the bandwagon and looking like W.A.S.P. or whoever? “Yeah that’s true, but we did get a lot of attention in the States from the PMRC (Parents’ Music Resource Center). They held up our record sleeve on national TV alongside Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P. and all these major label bands saying that Impaler were an offensive band. So that was good exposure, because all these kids that were into bands like Crüe and Sister saw our album on TV then went out and picked it up.”
What about live gigs. Have you played outside the Minnesota area? “Yeah, we’ve done a few gigs outside of Minnesota. But when the new album comes out we’re gonna do a full US tour, because we have management now and everything is much more organised than in the old days.”
What is the metal scene like in Minnesota? “Well, when we started out we were the only metal band and then we got signed and now there’s quite a few bands popping up.”
Have you ever thought about relocating the band to LA or New York, because Impaler had been together for quite a while before you really started making a name for yourselves outside Minnesota? “Yeah, we thought about it, but now there’s a happening music scene here too. Of course, Prince is from Minneapolis, and Hüsker Dü and The Replacements have started breaking out big in the last couple of years. So now a lot of attention has been turned to Minnesota, although there isn’t really many venues for alternative bands to play right now, but it’s getting better.”
You mentioned Hüsker Dü and I understand the band’s mainman Bob Mould produced your new album. How did that come about? “Well the first show that we played, Hüsker Dü came down because I’d known the drummer Grant Hart for quite a while. Anyway, they really liked us and asked us to open up for them. Then when we came to record the album Bob was just a logical choice because I think Impaler have a lot in common with Hüsker Dü in terms of speed and intensity.”
So what sort of audience do you attract? Do you get many punks at your shows? “Yeah, we have a crossover audience that’s for sure. In Minneapolis we get the hardcore thrashers, the metal dogs and the punks; and we also get the bat cave type people come and see us because I think our image appeals to them what we do visually. Also, we have a lot of women come to our shows which is pretty unusual for most metal bands. I guess it’s because we’re sexy guys (laughs).”
Actually, I’m surprised you get a lot of hardcore fans, because no matter what your music’s like it seems to me that with a lot of these people as soon as there’s a sign of a bit of make-up then you’re labeled posers, and all this sort of crap comes into it. “True, but once they’ve seen us live then that side of it is erased, because we’re such an intense band live and the make-up and everything becomes secondary to the music once we’re up on stage. We’re not pretty and we’re not worried about our hair getting messed up, so we go out and thrash and give it 100%.
“You’re right though, a lot of people do have closed minds about things like that and I think it’s bullshit, because like I said before, The Stooges and The Misfits are two of the most intense bands there ever were, and if they were posers then that’s what I wanna be, because those guys kicked ass.
“I don’t really have time for people who are that close-minded anyway. The whole underground was formed with the intention that you can be different, and a lot of these people are really fuckin’ up the underground because they are so close-minded.”
Yeah, I totally agree with that. Okay, finally Bill, tell me some more about the new album? “Well, it’s called If We Had Brains… We’d Be Dangerous and as you know it’s produced by Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü, so it’s got a really good sound quality, which is head and shoulders above the EP.
“There’s ten songs on the album, including a remake of The Stooges’ ‘Search And Destroy’. Then there’s ‘Bloodbath’; which is a song about Ed Gein, who was a guy who lived in Wisconsin and was kind of a ghoul who used to rob graves, take peoples skin and upholster his furniture with it. He was really bizarre.
“Other tracks are ‘Puppet Master’, ‘Speed Thrills’, ‘Dancin’ On The Edge’, ‘City In Chains’, ‘Wasteland’, ‘Witch Queen’, ‘Metal Messiah’ and ‘Assassin’.”
Having spoken to Combat Records recently it seems a little unclear just exactly when the album will be released? But hopefully it should hit the streets in the States before the end of May, when Impaler should be setting off on a full scale US tour. However, a European release for the new album seems a bit up in the air at the moment.
Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 17 (1986)
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