After some difficulties I finally sat in the ANNIHILATOR Tourbus to talk to Mr. Annihilator Jeff Waters. |
First of all I’ve got to say: Greetings from Nat!
Jeff Waters: Nat?
I don’t know If you remember but you did the second Episode of “Bleeding 4 Metal TV” together.
Jeff Waters: Oh bleeding for metal. Now I know. It was in Berlin. Summer 2005.
So, I hope you’re doing a good tour so far. The other guys say you do…
Jeff Waters: Yeah, we’re doing really good. We’ve been three years in the UK, which is a big thing for us because TRIVIUM are very big and popular in the UK and we’re not. So the first two weeks were just an incredible opportunity to play for us for 10.000 of peoples and sold out shows every night. So, it was a great time.
And doesn’t matter for you to play before TRIVIUM, as a legendary band and I think ANNIHILATOR is legendary…
Jeff Waters: Oh no, that’s no problem. If you’re selling a million records and the other band is selling one-hundred-thousand records it’s obviously who the headliner is. That’s not a problem. It’s obvious why TRIVIUM will headline, especially in the UK. Now that we’re out of the UK there are a lot of ANNIHILATOR Fans, but in the UK it was an opportunity to play in front of so many new Fans.
Do you think you were successful and did find some new fans?
Jeff Waters: Definitely. Well, you can tell, because in the UK the crowds watched us for the first three songs an got into it and at the fourth song they were really into it, pretending to the song and singing along the words although they didn’t know the words. But another good sign is when you’re selling a lot of T-shirts. And it was shocking for us because they bought a lot of T-Shirts and when I go to a concert and I don’t like the band I don’t buy a T-Shirt. So, we obviously did well over there. And here are a lot of ANNIHILATOR-Fans. I wouldn’t say it’s a Co-Headliner Tour, because it’s definitely not. But it feels like it. Especially last night. That’s good because it makes a good package.
So, as we talked about the Headliner-thing and the selling-thing. ANNIHILATOR was never one of these mega selling bands. So, I’d like to know what ANNIHILATOR is for you?
Jeff Waters: Ähm, what is it?
Yes, the most important thing is that you’ve changed a lot of musicians. And on your new record there are eleven guest musicians. Do you see ANNIHILATOR as a band or as a project?
Jeff Waters: No, ANNIHILATOR definitely is not a band. It never was…right from the demos. It was more a solo project. In the studio it’s me playing the guitars and the bass and writing, producing and engineering. In the studio it’s mostly three people which are the main people. And when we tour I hire the musicians. Sometimes the guys in the Studio, like Mike Mangini, who’s a great drummer, that we had many times and he’s the drummer on the new “Metal” CD is a drum teacher at Berkely College in Boston and he doesn’t go on tour. But we finish a record and then we think: “Oh ok, now we need a bass player to go on tour.” On tour we’re a band, in the studio it’s more a solo project with me and the singer.
Would you say you chose musicians for the studio and Rock’n’Rollers for the tour?
Jeff Waters: No, it’s been Dave Padden and me for four years now, three albums.
As you said before this band is more a solo project. Did you ever think about calling it JEFF WATERS BAND or something like this? Why do you call it ANNHIHILATOR?
Jeff Waters:Because it have been twelve records since 1989, when almost all of the other bands failed and lost their deals, because Heavy Metal wasn’t cool in the nineties, ANNHIHILATOR kept going. Some would say that it didn’t have the success like MEGADETH or SLAYER, but it had a lot of success because it was one of those bands that stayed around and played Heavy Metal and wasn’t losing deals. That’s great success.
If you listen to a ANNIHILATOR Album there is not one like the other. What is the most important thing for you when you write a new record. Do you listen to the old ones…?
Jeff Waters: No! I guess I try to do something different. Different production, different musicians, different drummer on the record. I never want to do the same thing each times. It’s the same thing with musicians. It is pretty cool that I actually worked with a lot of different musicians. Some of the best drummers in metal, some of the best guitar players and some really cool singers, that had their very own style. First Randy Rampage and then Coburn Pharr. Every singer had his own style. That’s why it is pretty cool if you can work with a lot of different musicians and not the same three guys forever.
On your new album there are about eleven guest musicians. Did you think about those people when you started writing the album or how did it happen?
Jeff Waters: The record was almost completely recorded when Corey gave me a call from the Studio in Florida where they were recording “The Crusade”. I asked him how he was doing and he asked me how the ANNIHILATOR record was going. And I told him that it was almost done and then he asked me quite aggressively and forwardly if he could play a solo. Later the same day Michael Amott from ARCH ENEMY called me just to say hallo, he was on the road and coming to Ottawa to play. He had a day off in Ottawa and wanted to come to my place and hang around and I asked him if he wanted to play a solo on my record. And that’s how it started.
As you said before ANNIHLATOR was one of the few bands that survived the 90ties without losing deals and so on. Now the metal scene has changed and there are a lot of new bands. How do you think does the scene grow? Do you think there will be a new Metal invasion like in the early 80ies?
Jeff Waters: It’s only a tiny bit compared to what it was like in the 80ies, because there it was mainstream.
Maybe it will grow again. It’s a kind of music that will always be there, but it’s also a kind of music that is underground music.
I’m not sure that it will come back as then, but I hope it does. I think like 2003 it’s coming back strong. Remember the 90ies when lead-guitar playing was not on the records. Also METALLICA stopped playing Solos on their records. That’s why a lot of young people, coming out of the high school, were not hearing great guitar-playing, they were just hearing simple chords. So you had a lot of young kids who didn’t know how to play guitar. What is happening now, after the year 2000, is that young kids going back to discover IRON MAIDEN, SLAYER, EXODUS, PRIEST, ANTHRAX. In the last five years the kids are fingering out Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Glenn Tippton, Mathias Jabs from SCORPIONS, Michael Schenker and are learning to play guitar. The lead guitar is coming back and that makes the music better.
Famous last words?
Jeff Waters: Buy the new album, it’s metal, fuck it (laughter)