Monday, September 22, 2008

Interview with The Exalted Piledriver

Piledriver (now the Exalted Piledriver) have an interesting and somewhat unusual background story. They released two albums back in the mid-1980's and then Piledriver moved on to other things. However a few years ago he got a band together again and now they set to release another album this fall.

MM-I am sure that many of have heard the story, but can you please briefly tell us a little about how this band and “Metal Inquisition” and “Stay Ugly” came to be.
PD-In the early summer of 1984 I was asked by a former band mate, Leslie Howe, if I would like to do some metal vocals for a recording project called Piledriver that he was producing. I was told that Metal Inquisition was going to be an album that would be released worldwide, but that there would be no band... it was just a recording project designed to capitalize on the burgeoning thrash-metal movement. While I wondered a little bit about the ethics, the simple fact that my voice would be heard on an actual album that would be available in actual stores worldwide won out quite easily. I was 23 years old and anxious to get my career going full guns. Unfortunately for Leslie and me, the Record Weasel who put it together decided that he didn't want to put any money into it, keeping us under the impression that sales were not good due to piracy, etc., and keeping all the money for himself. He was even ripping the fans off by taking their t-shirt money and not sending any t-shirts, a problem that still pokes its head up to me to this day. Thank the record Weasel, folks! I had nothing to do with it!!! He then expertly sweet-talked me into doing it two more times, for the Convict- Go Ahead Make My Day and Piledriver- Stay Ugly albums. I thought he was telling me the truth when he told me he would make me a star. Yeah. I became famous for being a fake-band singer and famous for being ripped off by a Record Weasel more than any other artist since the 50's!!! It's been a long hard battle beating down these labels.

MM-I think I first heard the song “Metal Inquisition” on the radio in 1985. When were you told that the first album was getting some notice?
PD-I knew it was getting noticed that very year because of all the interviews I was doing for it, all the magazines with full articles and even cover shots and center spreads. And all the stores stocking it. And all the metal radio shows playing it. The only negative reports were from our lying Record Weasel whose expertly golden tongue kept us from knowing the truth.

MM-How shocked were you?
PD-Um... not shocked at all! I knew it was a benchmark album, and tried my damnedest on my own to put a band together to legitimize it.

MM-Did the band ever do live shows back then or not?
PD-No. I never did get a band together at the time. I would have the bass player and the drummer while we searched for a guitarist. We would find one, work a few months, then lose the drummer to a paying job. Find a drummer, lose a bassist. Find a bassist, lose a guitarist. It was a looooong period of ebbing, flowing, changing, arranging, that sadly, never panned out. At the time, people were quite wary of the over the top bdsm imagery, and the (offensive for that time) lyrics. Back then it was next to impossible finding musicians that could get down with it all... egos prevented them from even thinking of performing in masks and stage-names. Nowadays, musicians seem to get it, that the music and the image are more important than 'look-at-me' self-promotion from within a band.

MM-Who designed that crazy helmet? How many of those things do you own?
PD-During the dinner meeting at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa where I signed my first bullshit contract, the Record Weasel, Leslie Howe and I were discussing what Pile should look like, and I drew him up on a napkin as we chatted. The Record Weasel then went to George at LeatherCraft (now Northbound Leather) in Toronto to make it real. There is only ONE Piledriver outfit, and it's getting trashed. It was never really designed for actual touring use... it was just for photos. It really should be retired, but, it wasn't cheap to create, and I can't afford to make another, yet. Hopefully it will last the cycle of this album and touring, because I really think the fans want to see it, the original outfit. For the next album and tour, we are planning an update of Pile's outfit, to bring him into the current century.

MM-What were some of your favorite tracks off of those two albums and why?
PD-Ok... this is easy! Alien Rape is my favorite off of Metal Inquisition, because I've always been a fan of big, bloated, long-ass power metal songs. I love the sci-fi lyrics, and the variety of riffs n' grooves. The sound effects. The vibe. To me, it's a perfect song. Close second there would be The Piledriver if only for my hilarious accidental burp at the end. On Stay Ugly, I would have to say The Executioner. It's a really fun song to sing, to get all growly n' sickly, then get all aggressive and beastly... really fun to sing! The Fire God is a close second there.

MM-What were you doing after “Stay Ugly”?
PD-I had finally gotten a working version of a band lineup by '87, and I was working on what was supposed to be the third Piledriver album, Shock. During the mixing sessions, the Record Weasel dropped by to see how it was coming along. When I was told that there would be no cash advance (I demanded one, since I hadn't received shit for the first two albums) I told him to leave the studio, that I wasn't going to be ripped off again, that this was no longer a Piledriver album, that the band was now called Dogs With Jobs (a band name I had in my back pocket for years), and that he had "no business being in our session, GET OUT"!. That was it. I had shut down the Piledriver bullshit machine. I then re-wrote and re-recorded 80% of the lyrics to de-Piledriverize it, make it more normal, and shopped it as Dogs With Jobs - Shock. (One of those songs, Road Pigs, has been returned to it's sickly Pileriffic glory, and is on the Manifesto album!) Canadian independent label Fringe Product picked it up, and also released Dogs With Jobs second album Payday. I hear you may still find copies of DWJ albums on e-bay. Not the greatest productions, but, I really love the material. Real from-the-heart-metal.

MM-At what point do you decide to resurrect this band? During the 1990’s were you getting fan mail or anything like that? Did people still know who you were?
PD-These questions actually all tie together. In 1995 I finally got a computer and internet access. I figured out what a search engine was, and for the hell of it typed Piledriver into the search bar... I was shocked!!! Not only were the fans out there, but they were still rabid! Site after site, I was amazed.Once I put up my own website (sofa-q. com) the message came in loud and clear -"Come back Pile, we NEED you!" After a few years of being prodded by the loyalest of the loyal, and at the behest of my dear, departed friend and manager Ray Wallace, I began the process of writing new Piledriver material, resurrecting 2 old unused Pile songs, and assembling a band. Again, it's been a loooong slog of auditions and short tenures, but, Piledriver has finally coalesced into a solid, tight, unbreakable unit. Together now for almost two years, a new record in my band!! And truly, if this lineup doesn't work out, NONE will. There is a trust, love, respect, and bond between the four of us that none of us have ever experienced in a band before. No question, the chemistry is there, and it shows in the music.


MM-Your new album “The Metal Manifesto” is due out soon. Please tell us a little about it and when’s the due date?
PD-The Metal Manifesto is hitting you smack in the face this coming Halloween!!! I think this album fits right in between Inquisition and Ugly, and while mostly old-school and Pile-icious, it's definitely a step forward. Since I only try to please myself when writing, I'm sure that the fans will enjoy it, as it's not extremely different from anything I've ever done, just recorded on more modern gear. I tried this time to get it in-yer-face and tight... Ugly was really loose and noisy, and I wanted to get back to the precision of Metal Inquisition... but with some Ugly dirt tastefully smeared on top. Some fans may be disappointed by the lack of Satanic imagery, oh, well. Unfortunately, in order for me to believe in a Satan, I would have to believe in a God. I believe in neither, so I can't justify singing about them. In fact, there's a song called God You're Stupid II that says everything I need to say on that subject. There's a juggernaut of a fighting song called Battle Axe that I'm dedicating to all the men and women fighting for what's right in the world. There's sex, gore, anger, violence, and my twisted humour that I can't seem to hide no matter how I try to be serious and dark. It's like a 'silliness curse' has been put on me. I blame my exposure to Monty Python at an early age. And, of course, there's a metal-anthem in the title song. We recorded the tracks ourselves to make sure no-one watered us down in the studio, and we strong-armed none other than Neil Kernon to mix it. We're really happy with it, and are sure the fans will be too!


MM-Who else is currently in your band and where did you find them?
PD-In 2005 I headed out to legitimize Piledriver with a band of alcoholics, and that didn't work out too well. In fact, the stresses of trying to be a 'world-class' band with such non-functional people drove me to a nervous breakdown, hospitalization, and me completely quitting the business after a show that April 29th here in Toronto, when the alco-bastards ruined my music worse than they ever had in previous shows. I couldn't go on, I needed the fans to hear Piledriver, not drunken, sloppy, out of tune, barely recognizeable imitations. I felt that I had done everything I could, and that perhaps it just wasn't meant to be. It just wasn't supposed to be that damned hard to pull off. I then poured myself into my day job, determined to put the bullshit of the heartless music business behind me. 2 months later, I got a phone call. It was a guitarist who was answering an old ad I had placed looking for a guitarist half a year earlier. I began to explain all the above, how I was done with it all... by the end of a 4 hour phone call, Kinky Pork Cream had completely turned me around, re-ignited the fire in me, and with his drummer Glace Frothfritter and my bass player Lobo Elf Snort, we set out to be the band that Piledriver was always destined to be! Here we are, two years later, having brought Pile across eastern Canada, the northern States, and into Germany, Italy, and Greece, about to release what I think is our crowning glory! I've never been more happy in a band situation, and I truly cherish the great relationships we all have. I'm sure we'll last for a good, long time. Professionals all, and funny as hell, no addictions either, so it's ALL good!

MM-What should someone who comes to see you live expect?
PD-Well... first off... we're all faaaat bastards!!! That's usually a bit shocking for them... hey, I ain't 23yrs old no mo! I'm a fat, OLD bastard! As such, you won't see us flinging and running ourselves around the stage like we did when we were kids! But... you can expect a tight, dynamic, powerful band! You can expect tons of great old Piledriver favorites! You can expect lots of slammin' new tunes too! Every once in a blue moon, you might get lucky and catch us destroying some crappy cover song fer laffs.

MM-What are some of your favorite shows that you have played in recent years?
PD-One that definitely stands out was our appearance at Keep It True Festival in Lauda-Koenigshofen, Germany. I was EXTREMELY hung over (not used to drinking like Eurofreeks), my voice was shot ragged, but... that crowd sang every word to every song, even the new ones, headbanged like maniacs for our entire set, and truly made us feel accepted. Sheer magic for me. I croaked like a frog, and they didn't pelt me with rocks!!! They actually enjoyed it!!! Another was at Up The Hammers fest in Athens. Definitely the most rabid crowd we've played to outside of Quebec City. Maniacs!!!! It was definitely the hottest damn stage I've ever been on, but, the breeze from the headbangin' freeks in front kept us quite cool and comfy! Manolis has a great lil' fest going there, and we can only dream of being invited back again.Besides the costumes do you have any props or sets that you use on stage?No... no budget yet. I do have lofty dreams, though! If we could tap even a small percentage of them for stage, we'd really have something. For now, I rely on my innate ugliness and disgusting fatness to get me by, ha ha!


MM-Are you hoping to tour much for the new album? If so do you when and where you will be playing?
PD-Indeed! We want to paint the entire planet Piledriver Black!!!! We are starting to get a Summer2009 tour of Europe together, that will hopefully be 10 times as large as our Auf Grosser Fahrt '07 tour, and hopefully take us up into Scandinavia as well. We've not had much luck with American promoters yet, only a few gigs have happened. Hopefully the release of the album will open more doors for us there. Also, we are reaching out to promoters in Japan and Australia.

MM-What do you hope to achieve with your new album?
PD-I hope to please my loyal fans by not straying too far from what I've always done, while sneaking in a bit of modern production and sensibility. And I hope to gain new fans, of course! Numetal kids and wiggers need to hear old-school metal, even if only to educate them, if not influence them.

MM-What kind of music are you currently listening to?
PD-Like I always have, I listen to as much variety as I possibly can. I'm not just a metalhead. I love ALL music if it's done well. It's a shame that many people paint themselves into such stylistically confined corners, like "I only listen to SymphonicDeathThrashTrashMetal, everything else sucks". So sad. I couldn't live on just one style of music. I mean, do you live your life experiencing only one emotion? Music is such an amazingly diversified language, why limit yourself to hearing only 5 words? Sure, I looove hamburgers, but I also often eat club-sandwiches, shish-kebabs, and wonton soup!!! Same with music. So, what's currently in my cd player? My Metal Manifesto, ha ha ha!!! But the disc that was in before it was Spewgore. Before that, Joe Jackson's Symphony #1. Before that, Fight-War Of Words remix/remastered. Before that, Jason Becker. Before that, the Mentors. Before that Delirium Tremens. Before that, Iron Maiden. And no single day could go by without me listening to AT LEAST ONE Frank Zappa piece. I could go on, but... you get the picture... mostly metal, but not all.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
PD-Naah. I would hope that the album and live shows will tell you what I've not said here. I hope that people will see the honesty in my efforts to bring the Piledriver properly to life for them. It's too funny to me when people say I'm 'cashing in' or 'selling out'... wouldn't one need to be making lotsa money for that to happen... ha! I'm still playing for peanuts and working a day job. I'm still 3,000 dollars in debt from bills from our April'07 tour! If that's selling out, what the fuck??? Also, I think many people are wondering about the name change to The 'Exalted' Piledriver, and why it's changed. Well, in my absence, no less than 4 different bands have usurped my great name, and instead of wasting money fighting them all in courts, I simply plucked Exalted from the lyrics to help delineate me from such lesser bands. What else? Most of all, I need to thank all my loyal fans who have not forsaken me over the decades, and trust that I will give it my all to bring them the Pile-beast they always dreamed he could be, until I die onstage from my various fat-old-bastard health problems. It should be a fun ride for all of us!!! Will you be there the night Pile croaks??? Hope so!!! Ya wouldn't want to miss THAT!!!

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Blogger dschalek said...

These guys cracked me up then, they crack me up now.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous BillyGoatfeet said...

Piledriver smell of tainted ham, but they rock the shows nonetheless, check'em out.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This fat loaf Is so full of shit.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

1:58 PM  

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