Hey/G’day Death TR Folks!
Perry Grayson here! Welcome to my first entry as “guest editor” while our good friend Mara Vanessa is away on vacation. I'll be editing this entry and adding photos over the next week, so please check back for updates!
|Chuck and his B.C. Rich Ignitor during the Symbolic era (1995)|
|Naphobia's Of Hell CD cover (Late 1995)|
Nik Chevalier and I first got acquainted through the metal newsgroups in the early days of the internet in 1995. Though graphic-based web browsers (mostly Netscape) were starting to becoming popular, I still only had access to text-based service at home. Occasionally I used a friend’s computer to view early graphic website’s like the Naphobia “Webcage.” Nik posted on a few heavy rock and metal newsgroups that Naphobia’s debut CD, Of Hell, was going to feature a track ("As Ancients Evolve") engineered by Chuck Schuldiner (who also contributed a guest guitar solo) and with guest drum programming courtesy of Gene Hoglan. That’s initially why I made contact with Nik.
|Me, the Mockingbird and Cynic shirt, Autum 1995|
A bit of personal history about what was happening in my personal life in 1995-96… I’d just seen Death for the second time on the Symbolic tour in Hollywood on July 13, 1995. At the Death gig I reconnected fellow El Camino Real High School headbasher and bassist Mike Bear. By Autumn 1995 I was playing guitar in a technical thrash band called Stormhaven with Mike Bear. By Spring 1996 Stormhaven had broken up. Though I continued to pursue a new band with Mike Bear, a great opportunity presented itself to Mike, and I gave him the green light to audition for and join veteran L.A. progressive thrashers Prototype. Since Mike and I weren’t playing in a band together anymore, we resolved to do something else equally metal together. In this case it was to publish a metal zine, which we dubbed Subterranean Legacy. The first two projects I worked on for the debut issue of Subterranean Legacy were interviews with Naphobia’s Nik Chevalier and our fave 4-string Hippie of Doom, Steve DiGiorgio (then of Sadus, Autopsy, Death and Dark Hall fame). Between 1994 and 1998 I was also publishing and editing a horror/fantasy themed zine called Yawning Vortex, so I had the experience necessary in the publishing realm. Mike Bear, however, was new to the game. At any rate, things got extremely busy for Mike in Prototype. My job was sapping the life out of me, and I was concentrating whatever spare time and energy I had on my small press publishing operation, Tsathoggua Press. Subterranean Legacy was aborted before a single issue could see the light of day. Mike and I printed up flyers to announce the zine. I solicited for promos and wrote a heap of reviews. Even got Mike to contribute a couple of reviews and secured other material from another friend. But the zine died before it could ever see the light of day. A few of my reviews for Subterranean Legacy eventually saw the light of day in Netherwords, the metal newsletter I co-edited for one issue in 1997 with my Destiny’s End dual axe team partner in crime, Dan DeLucie. My interviews with Chevalier and DiGiorgio were never published, however.
By early 1997 I was struck up an email correspondence with a guy named Jeff Brubaker, who was friends with Shannon Hamm. Jeff had a Death and Control Denied fan site called A Land Forlorn. I contributed some items to A Land Forlorn, but for whatever reason never gave Jeff my inties with Steve DiGiorgio or Nik Chevalier.
|No, I'm not really two-faced. That's a malfunctioning shutter.|
Jamming and demoing at Mike Bear's pad, 1995
|Stormhaven circa Jan. 1996, L-R: Ed Laing (guitar), Jason Rarick (drums)|
Perry Grayson (that's me, on guitar), Mike Bear (bass)
|Prototype in 1997, L-R: Mike Bear (bass), Pat Magrath (drums)|
Vince Levalois (guitar/vocals), Kragen Lum (guitar)
While I tend to be a pretty fastidious (you might even say anal-retentive) guy about saving my work–I’m one of the those nutty creative artist types, both a writer and a musician–sometimes items slip through the cracks due to unforeseen circumstances like hard disk failures or human error. Moving too often in L.A., then across the globe to Australia can be catastrophic for a pack-rat like me. In the case of the Naphobia intie I conducted via email with Nik Chevalier, it appears that the file containing the email was never backed up on CD-R. There’s no doubt in my mind that it existed on an old mini-floppy disc and the hard drive of one of my previous desktop computers. But it never made its way onto the 1998 CD-R archive I burned on my work Mac in 1998. I went mental searching through my backup disc binder and my snail mail files last week. I dragged the murky depths of mail dating back to the early 1990s and was successful in finding three envelopes from Steve DiGiorgio, one of which included the snail mail intie I did with him in early 1996. While I did locate an envelope from Nik Chevalier, all it contained were a couple of Naphobia fan club newsletters. I managed to find several emails I exchanged with Nik, including an intie question I asked after the fact RE: the producer and engineer credits on Of Hell.
|Symbolic touring lineup in Japan in 1995, L-R: Bobby Koelble (guitar)|
the one and only Chuck Schuldiner, Gene Hoglan (drums) and Brian Benson (bass)
While I won’t be able to share my entire Naphobia intie here, I can at least let you have a peek at the emails Nik and I fired back and forth in those bygone days. As another special treat, I’ll also share an intie Naphobia Nik did with a Spanish metal zine later in 1996. My memories of the Naphobia intie are somewhat swiss-cheesed. I recall Nik saying how cool it was hanging out with Chuck Schuldiner and Gene Hoglan, going out for hot chicken wings (Chuck's fave food), etc. Naphobia bassist Ryan Robinson was Chuck’s girlfriend’s brother. That explains the tangled web of how Nik became friendly with Chuck. Another recollection: Naphobia planned to have Chuck record some songs for a split EP with fellow Florida metallers Intoxicated. I’m not 100% sure if Naphobia ended up working again with Chuck at Black Diamond Studios, but it was something they intended to do. Nik was also helping Chuck out with a basic Control Denied website. I believe the Control Denied site was up very briefly in 1996.
|Chuck in his home studio circa 1997|
I'll share my 1996 intie with Steve DiGiorgio soon. In the meantime, enjoy this special look into Chuck's first efforts as a recording engineer for another band.
As always, Keep the Metal Flowin'!
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 21:21:37 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Nik Chevalier)
Subject: Naphobia rides again!!!
I've been Letting the Metal Flow for Chuck Schuldiner's new band Control Denied, and will soon have a Web Site up for them in The Electric Underground. Chuck is totally cool, and I am helping them hook up to the Net this week. Get that browser Man, you gotta see this!
Stop by every once in a while to see if there is anything new going on!
Well gotta go... See you in the Machine!!!
>Unfortunately I don't personally have access to a graphic-based
>web browser. But I just might be able to check out the the Web
>Cage through someone else's account sometime.
>Look forward to it, of course.
>Let the metal flow,
|The original Control Denied, L-R: Chris Williams (drums), Chuck Schuldiner (guitar),|
Shannon Hamm (guitar), Scott Clendenin (bass), Tim Aymar (vocals)
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 23:21:56 -0800
From: email@example.com (Perry Grayson)
Subject: Vile Denial!
I'm really glad to hear that Control Denied is going to have a site on the web! It was definitely good of you to help Chuck and the guys out with that. I've been a Death fan since the early days--Death is my favorite band, and Chuck's one of my all-time favorite guitarists (for his songwriting and his playing). Some rumors started to float around when Chuck sent out those cards to the Metal Crusade--people weren't getting the facts right, so I posted Chuck's message with the facts to alt.rock-n-roll.metal. But I don't think it worked, as my news server is extremely slow. Still, I do everything I can to support the bands and musicians who I admire. And this means supporting the music and dispelling rumors.
Haven't ever met Chuck before (you can't call saying hi to him in 1992 at the Human tour gig 'meeting), but I can tell from his interviews in Guitar School and the ones he gave when Human was released in '91 in Thrash Metal and Metal Maniacs that he and I have a lot of the same views on metal and life. Saw him on the Human tour, and again for Symbolic (probably the show I enjoyed most of any I've ever been to). And I hope to be hearing Control Denied soon, followed by a killer live show!!! I'm also going to make sure that Chuck and his new band get some good exposure in my new metal 'zine! I recently wrote a five page essay on the history and legacy of DEATH for my other 'zine, Yawning Vortex (fantasy & horror fiction, film, and of course music) in appreciation to Chuck for nearly 12 years of music which has been very influential to me.
|Chuck Schuldiner live at the Whisky|
Hollywood, CA, Jan. 16, 1992
Just saw thundering Gene at the Testament show at the infamous Whisky in Hollywood last week, by the way. It's cool of him to come out and support the good bands when they come to town!
|The "Lean, Mean" Gene Hoglan in 1995, hangin' with Naphobia in FL|
Should be getting recordings of the demos _Reign of Terror_ and Back from the Dead through a chap in Ireland soon. Since I'm such a rabid Death collector, you can well imagine how anxious I am to get them. Any idea how I might come across an original copy (or bootleg?) of any of Death's demos? Thanks in advance! Now that I have all the rare stuff from official releases--like "Beyond the Unholy Grave" and "Land of No Return" from the CD version of Scream Bloody Gore, and "God of Thunder" from At Death's Door II (and the import of Human)--I'm dying to get my hands on any other Death stuff that's available. I also have the Ultimate Revenge 2 video and soundtrack.
Anyhow, sorry for the length here. Give my best to Chuck and the rest of Control Denied!
Yours for the Perennial Quest,
|My Metal Crusade membership card and signed photos of Chuck & Bobby Koelble (1995)|
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 13:30:45 -0500
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Perry Grayson)
From: email@example.com (Nik Chevalier)
Subject: Have No Fear Naphobia is here!
Cool I'll be sending out an E-mail to may whole list when the site is up and running. It might be a little while as, I am helping them get their system going. So that first, then I'll start HTML fot the site! I need more pictures and stuff. My buddy Mike Murphy, designed their logo, Control Denied should have shirts available soon. If you order anything from them, be sure to mention the Naphobia Web Cage, as we both keep track of how many responses come in from one another's mail. They dont have E-mail, as a bunch of retards sent death threats to the AOL address they had. So that's why they haven't posted anything! I tried talking Chuck into a Death site awhile ago, but they're not really computer jockeys like me, so it wasn't until I started looking into commercial access and said I would maintain the site, that they became more interested! We begin recording at Chuck's studio next month!
Stay Twisted <=======>~~~
Nik D'mon Chevalier
March 7, 1996
P.O. Box 677001
Orlando, FL 32867
Sorry for lagging so long before getting you a check for Of Hell on CD. Here it is, finally!
Thanks again for the e-interview. I’m enclosing a flyer for Subterranean Legacy. I expect that we’ll be probably be going to press in late April. Spread the word! Will send you a copy of the first issue as soon as it’s available.
Hope all is well with you and Naphobia. Keep the metal flowing!
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 23:00:48 -0800
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Perry Grayson)
To: email@example.com (Nik Chevalier)
Subject: Burning Hellishly
Of Hell arrived several days ago, and I've been listening to it more and more.
Say, perhaps we can add a bit to that interview I'm going to be printing--just one question, that is:
Was your producer/engineer on Of Hell, Keith Collins, the same Keith Collins who was the bassist on the Avatar 7" and first few Savatage albums? If so, what was it like to work with another seasoned metal vet like Collins?
Gar Samuelson, Chuck, and Keith Collins... I see a pattern here. Any comments, about the star-studded producer line-up?
Thanks for sending the CD so quick.
|Savatage circa 1983|
L-R: Jon Oliva (vocals), Steve "Dr. Killdrums" Wacholz,
Criss Oliva (guitar, RIP), Keith Collins (original bassist)
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 14:59:25 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Nik Chevalier)
Subject: Re: Burning Hellishly
Here is the answer to the Captain Krunch (Keith) saga!
And the producer pattern!!!
Nik: That's him, as far as working with Keith goes...I would say that he did a great job of recording, but I dont think he was very positive as far as our style went! And I doubt he thought that it would recieve all the great reviews that Of Hell has pulled in. But what do you expect from an old power metaller. He's an all right guy, sometimes a little difficult but all in all I would say it was an honor to work with him. Keith is also the head honcho of The Tampa Bay Metal Awards. Which is an annual event of epic proportion! When we played in 94, there was like 2000 in attendance! This year they moved in to St.Pete and it was slightly more lame, as they booked it on a Thursday. We played to about 500 this year!
|Naphobia - circa 1995|
Perry: Gar Samuelson, Chuck Schuldiner and Keith Collins. I see a pattern here, heh heh. Any comments, about the star studded producer line-up?
Nik: Yeah, Anyone that will lend a helping hand to further our cause is a welcome advesary! I think we will record with Chuck again in the near future. He just opened a small studio here in O-town [Orlando]. Basically he moved his home studio into a more commercial location. Right now Chuck is concentrating on his new band Control Denied, which I am working on a web site for!
THE BALDRICK HELL'S KITCHEN ISSUE THREE - APRIL 1996
Editor: Jordi-Joan "Billu" Bellaubi
Naphobia - Cyberkill Metal
Interview by Billu
"Restless soul of minds gone mad
May we reap life wrought with indulgence
Still enter upon Death without Fear"
Billu: We started this chat with Nick Chevalier, vocalist for death metal band Naphobia, discussing about the topic "Is death metal dead?"
Nik: "I think metal in general is in one of those hibernation periods. I think it is lame that people say it is dead, maybe it is to them, but that just means they were never die-hards about their metal anyhow. Too many people are trend followers and were into metal when it made them look like they were radical. But have opted for the rave or rap thing. Probably because they have the “let's go where the chicks are” mentality. I believe that metal will thrive again in the next century. I will still be into metal forever. Upon my reincarnation, I will start a metal band in another life. Metal is Eternal!
Billu: All an exhibition of love towards metal, Nik, and obviously for you the most important thing when playing music is being honest to your roots...
Nik: Always, I have been a metalhead since middle school and will be forever. We try and mix up our influence, to add a little versatility. We do not desire to be just another death metal band. I would like to be re-classified into a yet undiscovered form of metal. Future Death or CyberKill, something like that. I want to achieve this title by our involvement in computers. Not with some Fear Factory or Ministry sound. I think it is our graphics and Web Site that will bring the birth of such a title. Check out our site for the “Living Album Cover Animation.” This is our first step in multimedia promotions. And we are currently working on a History of Naphobia CD-ROM!
Billu: Talking about Naphobia, a thing that grab my attention is that you have been produced by two guys from well-known bands: Gar Samuelson (ex Megadeth) and Gene Hoghan (Death). How was the experience with Gar?
Nik: Gar rules. A total burner! I met Gar sometime after his Megacheese [Megadeth] days. (They blow now. "Rust in Peace" was the end). Gar was auditioning vocalists for his new band, Fatal Opera. I went to check it out, but thought I was not what they were looking for. They have a Megadeth-meets Deep Purple sound. Gar and his brother Stu are very much into the old school hippie metal. I guess the Fatal Opera CD has been selling good in Germany on Massacre Records. It was great recording at Gar's and was probably the best recording experience to date. We were infinitely baked!!!
Billu: And after this [you worked with] Gene Hoglan?
Nik: We met Gene a while after Death’s Individual Thought Patterns came out. He was staying at Chuck's preparing the stuff for Symbolic. Our bass player [Ryan Robinson] is brother to Chuck's girlfriend, so that's how we met. While recording Of Hell, drummer Tony Laureno moved back to Tampa, and we asked Gene if he would write [program] a few drum tracks for us! He agreed, and thus wrote the drums for "The Ungodly", "Technical Fool" and "As Ancients Evolve."
Also drumming technique changes are obvious. We were already going for a heavier sound, but his style helped that along in those tunes. Plus those three were recorded as a four piece, without the lameness of guitarist Josh Hitcher! That's an epic saga within itself!" But not only Gene was involved with this recording, one of the tracks was recorded at Chuck Schuldiner’s home studio, and he even contributed with a solo on that track. We ran out of tape on our reels at Pig Studio (Tampa) but still had one more tune written. So, we recorded "As Ancients Evolve" in Chuck’s Studio [Black Diamond]. I asked him to do the lead over a part where I hated the vocal arrangement.
Billu: So let's [talk] some gossip... What about this arrogant or even dictator-like attitude that some [of the] press try to put on Chuck?
Nik: No way! I have met quite a few people at Chuck's level, and he is not arrogant at all. I hate arrogant pricks like that Carcass vocalist. As far as being a dictator, that is something to ask his band members. I personally have never had any conflict with Chuck at all. He is totally laid back, and does not let his fame affect his personality!
Billu: Back to music, you have a pretty technical approach to music.
Nik: Thank you!
Billu: Have you any problems to keep your songs catchy while being technical?
Nik: No, problem for us a far a technicality and catchiness. That's why we are mixing things up and put a little of our patented brutal groove in! Not in a Pantera-ish way, more like Slayer meets Morbid Angel! I can’t get into it if the technicality overcomes the overall sound!
Billu: Some other techno [Billu is not referring to electronica, but technical metal, which used to be called ‘techno-death’ or ‘techno-thrash’ by underground metallers across the world -PG] acts like Atheist and Cynic have been opening their music to more diversified influences, maybe you'll go the same way?
Nik: I like Atheist, but don't see us adding any jazzy stuff.
Maybe our drummer likes these kind of techniques. But musically we will remain insane, fast and powerful. If we get another guitarist, then we will have to see what kind of influence he brings in. We are always open to new ideas!
Billu: Maybe an evolution towards a more melodic sound?
Nik: We are always evolving and I think every release we have recorded has its own sound. I feel it is important to change the sound slightly from release to release. That way it doesn't get boring. I think the song Of Hell is the closest thing we have to melodic. Only the future can tell what's in store. I have always liked melodic stuff, like tunes on Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell, and more recently Brutality's Screams of Anguish. But I am just the vocalist. Kenny, our guitarist, writes most of the music. So, melody and harmony are his department!
Billu: Now a lot of bands playing melodic death metal are emerging from Sweden, some kind of second wave of Scandinavian death metal.
Nik: Their existence proves that death metal is not dead. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to play with some of these bands!
Billu: What about your lyrics?
Nik: Darkness, insanity… My warped vision as a catholic altar boy led astray down the path to demonic possession. For Of Hell that is. New stuff will have similar concepts, but might revolve around other forms of evil and reality!
Billu: You took the risk to self-financing your album...
Nik: I did it all myself, 'cause if you want something done right you need to do it yourself. Plus I am really into computer graphics, so designing the cover was a learning experience! Of course we seek sponsorship, but I'm not sitting around waiting for anything! I promote Naphobia everyday, either on the web, locally, or in the mail!
Billu: What about sales?
Nik: Things are rolling right along, we have unloaded about 500 copies of Of Hell so far.
Billu: In the States it seems to be pretty easy for relatively small bands to support big underground acts, but is this a problem for the supporting act? I mean the crowd shouting the headliners name and so on...
Nik: We always have a good time as openers and have never felt that everyone was just waiting for the label act. Shit, at the Morbid Angel gig, someone yelled out “Fuck Morbid Angel!” Now, if we can only get $4000 a night, they might be right. Trey has got an arrogant reputation, but Pete has always been cool!
Billu: And what about the bands you have opened for?
Nik: We are opening for Six feet Under and Internal Bleeding on March 21, 1996. Naphobia played the 4th & 6th Tampa Bay Metal Awards, and were awarded Best Central FL Metal Band. Other gigs have included shows with Morbid Angel, Grip Inc., Exodus, Biohazard, Malevolent Creation, Monstrosity, Suffocation, Acheron, PainGod, Gardy Loo, Bloody Mary, Pain Principle, Eulogy, Fatal Opera, Demonomacy, Degradation, F.O.S., Intoxicated, Vital Remains and Morgue,
Billu: Time to end this intie. Nick, some words for your future plans...
Nik: We are editing video and plan on doing a shoot very soon. We are writing new tunes, and are coming up with a concept for a graphic CD-ROM complete with music, video and even gaming segments!
Billu: Wow! Really Interesting! Closing words and some self-promotion?
Nik: Thanks, Billu, for the intie and coverage! Don't forget to visit the Naphobia Web Cage, and when you escape, stop by The Electric Underground for more mind bending websites. Stay Twisted!
Mortality Confines Demo (1991)
Cultivated Innards Demo (1993)
Of Hell CD (1995)