RSS Feed

ZNÖWHITE – Hallowed Be Thy Name
Dave Reynolds
Metal Forces, Issue 5 (1984)

Znöwhite (l-r): Nickie Tafoya, Sparks Tafoya, Nicole Lee and Ian Tafoya

I’ve always considered myself more of an American metal fan than one who’s into the British or European stuff. Now there’s an awful lot of hands from Britain and the Continent who are just as good as any of their American counterparts (Tokyo Blade, H-Bomb etc), but America is really where it’s all at for me.

Chicago’s Znöwhite are one of the few talented bands to emerge from the stinking corpses that are known as Metal Massacre compilations (how many bands can you count that have made any impact since appearing on one of those albums? Answers on a postcard…..). One earful of their shit-hot debut album All Hail To Thee should confirm this; a record that should be up there in my Top Ten come the end of the year.

So, how’s it been going for the band? “Really really well,” says vocalist Nicole Lee. “The first pressing sold out in just three weeks from its release and we’re now well into our second pressing. We’ve had excellent reaction from Europe as well as the States. We’ve just secured a deal with a German label, but at present I can’t tell you exactly who. But soon as I can, I’ll let you know.”

How long were you in the studio for? Because the quality of the production is superb, unlike a lot of other death metal products (Slayer’s Show No Mercy for example) which sound very inferior. “I agree with you on that point although I haven’t yet heard Slayer’s album. We don’t class ourselves as being a ‘death metal’ band, we’re fast but we also have melody. We recorded the album in just four days in July last year. It was just after Metallica had recorded Kill ’Em All and we moved into the house they vacated in Rochester, New York.”

Have you recorded any new material since then? “We’ve just finished a maxi-single, which is due to be released in the fall, it’s called Kick ’Em When They’re Down and the tracks featured will be ‘All Night Long’, ‘Edge Of The Razor’, ‘Cheater Mistreater’, ‘Run Like The Wind’ and ‘Turn Up The Pain’. We recorded it in May and it took the same length of time as the album. We recorded it in a 24-track studio and our guitarist Ian Tafoya produced it.”

Obviously you’ll be touring in support of this release? “Yes, once the single is out we’ll be doing selective US dates, but because of the expense it’s unlikely we’ll get to Europe until the second album comes out next year.”

Still, that isn’t too long to wait seeing as 1984 is almost over, so we’ll just have to content ourselves with a Znöwhite vinyl blitzkrieg. “We have a list of 50 songs to choose from for our set; the length of which is determined by the type of shows we’re able to play.”

So you tend to rotate the songs you play in each show? “Exactly!”

Do you play any covers; any Motörhead songs because they are a big influence on Znöwhite aren’t they? “We don’t play any covers at all. Ian is very influenced by Motörhead but he is also a very big Y&T fan. We all like Motörhead, but we also like bands such as Saxon and Trust. We play melodic songs as well as the fast stuff, so we’re not exactly stereotyped.”

So how were you persuaded to become the band’s vocalist? I understand you were going to manage them at first? “Yeah, that’s true. When I first met them they had another singer who left, so Ian asked me if I was interested. So I came to a few rehearsals and things seemed to work really well.”

I know you probably get asked these sort of questions all the time, but what does the coloured community in the US think of the guys, because they don’t play what’s regarded as ‘traditional’ black music (soul / disco etc.)? “It hasn’t been much of a problem. Obviously they were shocked at first because it’s just not something that they’re used to, but they’d better get used to it because we’re not gonna go away. I think the thing that mostly shocked people over here was the combination of black and white.”

I find it a pity that no matter how talented you are, it’s the colour of your skin that can make or break you in certain markets. But I know Znöwhite will overcome this in metal circles. Let’s not forget that well lauded rock superstars Jimi Hendrix and ex-Thin Lizzy leader Phil Lynott (were and) are black. “With Jimi it may have been easier because he was on his own. Here we’ve got three guys, but as I said we’ve had no problems.”

You must have some incredible backing to come so far in such a short space of time? “Not really, we’re pretty much self-sufficient. We handle all our own business and do our own backing. The free flex-disc campaign was Ian’s idea and it really paid off because we had tons of mail asking about it. We got a lot of interest from record labels such as Megaforce, Roadrunner and Liquid Flame.12 labels in all called us and that included people like Atlantic and Jet who had been alerted by Rod McSween over there in England, who’s with ITB and is really into our stuff. Mike Varney of Shrapnel has been a very big help to us, particularly to Ian.”

So when will you have the second album out? Do you have a title yet or is that too far ahead? “It’s too far ahead! We may call the album Take No Prisoners, Take No Lives. The album will be out early next year.”

How about merchandise? “We won’t have anything until the maxi-single is out. Soon as we do we’ll let everybody know!”

Znöwhite are indeed a name to keep a very close eye on. If you haven’t got All Hail To Thee yet, then go down to your local metal store to grab. it. I promise, you won’t regret it. It won’t sting your pocket but it’ll certainly singe your brain.

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 5 (1984)

<< Back to Features

Related Posts via Categories