Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Defiance interview


Defiance formed in the mid 1980's and were very much a part of the Bay Area thrash scene. They have reformed and I recently spoke with bass player Mike Kaufmann to find out more.

You have a few demo tunes posted on your Myspace. Are you shopping those around? Any label interest so far?

Yes, we had interest from a few different labels and we ended up signing with Candlelight Records in August.

Metal Mind released your box set last year. Now Product of society has come as a single release and I know that Void Terra Firma is set to come out in the Fall. Have you had much say in the re-issues as far as bonus tracks? Have you gotten much response to these re-issues?

We've had an excellent response to the re-issues. In fact, Metal Mind is one of the labels that offered us a contract to do a new album. We also provided them with all the bonus tracks and I personally came up with the concept for the cover of the Insomnia box set.

In the late 1990’s the band name was changed to “Under”. Why the name change and how different was the music at that time compared to the albums you did as Defiance?

Doug Harrington (RIP) and I decided to change the name to Under because the new material sounded nothing like Defiance. It was more of a heavy groove oriented type of band. Our tuning was also very different from Defiance.


You did some demos as “Under”. Did you get any label interest at that time?

Yes, we were ready to sign with Metal Blade Records when the band broke up because of personal and musical differences. I was the main song writer in that band and a couple of the guys wanted to change our style to a "Foo Fighters" alternative rock style of music (Doug Harrington had already left the band to focus on his family and career). This was absolutely not what I wanted to do and I felt it was best to just dissolve the band rather then compromise the kind of music I wanted to play.

How and why did the band come to reform in 2005?

The resurgence of thrash metal along with so many of our fans, old and new, writing to us about doing another album. This caused us to have a meeting in 2005 where we all decided that we wanted to re-group and do another album.

If someone had never heard your music before could only afford to buy one then which one would you recommend?

I would have to recommend Beyond Recognition because it had the best production and the songs were more diverse than any of the other albums. That said, Void Terra Firma was my favorite album that we did.


What were some of the first albums that you really got into?

All of the Black Sabbath albums; Iron Maiden (1st two albums); Merciful Fate - Nuns Have No Fun EP and Don't Break the Oath; Accept - Restless and Wild, Scorpions - Virgin Killer and In Trance...to name a few.

How competitive was the Bay Area thrash scene in the late 1980’s?

It was rough sometimes. We really had to make sure we went to all the local shows to get our name out there. It was easier after we signed with Roadrunner and released our first album.

Was it difficult to get signed in a crowded scene like that?

We were very lucky that our demo fell in to the hands of Monte Conner at Roadrunner Records. We had interest from another label but Roadrunner was pretty much the only one we considered signing with. Monte flew out to meet us and we knew that he really loved our music. I think we just kind of had to wait our turn to get signed. When I think of the Bay Area thrash scene back then I think there was kind of an order in which all the bands got signed:

Death Angel

I know I'm leaving some out but, to me, there were 7 or 8 thrash bands that made an impact and we're very proud to be one of them.


What are some of your more memorable shows?

The Blood Bath was one of our first shows and it was probably a big reason we got signed. We were pretty much unknown so I decided to promote my own show with Legacy (now Testament) headlining and us taking the support slot. I rented out a hall in Oakland and it was crowded way beyond capacity. Some guy cut him self up and there was blood all over the floor and the stage. To this day, people still ask me about that show.

We also played the very last show at The Stone in San Francisco. It was the only time I know of that all the Bay Area thrash bands played together for one gig.

Another one of my favorites was a show we played with King Diamond at The Omni. We didn't know how the crowd would react since most were there to see The King but we had a great crowd response. It's always great to play with a band that you grew up listening to.

There's so many other memorable shows it's impossible to name them all.

Do you have any regrets in your musical career?

I have no regrets at all when it comes to Defiance. We were and still are like a family. I regret how some of the things worked out in my other band "Under" but you learn from your mistakes. I allowed one member to ruin the band and I should have replaced him when I had the chance.

What kind of music are you listening to these days?

I listen to all kinds of music. I still love old Metallica and Slayer as well as Machine Head. I guess when it come to thrash metal I like most of the Bay Area bands. I also listen to classic rock as well as some of the newer metal.


Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer
Anthrax or Megadeth


Dark Angel or Death Angel

Death Angel Forbidden or Vio-lence

Both of these bands are good friends of ours and I think they're both great. We toured with Vio-lence and got to know them very well. We also played many shows with Forbidden and they're friends of ours too. I think I'll have to say I like them both equally.

Iron Maiden or Judas Priest

Iron Maiden Is there anything else that you like to say about your band of your music?

Yes, our new album will be our best yet and will be dedicated entirely to our late guitar player and best friend Doug Harrington.


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Blogger Sean said...

Nice interview.

I love Defiance's first 3 but what I am hearing off of the new one leaves me a bit flat. It's not bad by any means but just doesn't do it for me.

5:02 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Sean-I like these guys too. A number of thrash bands I liked from back then just have not aged too well. Yet these guys actually sound slightly better to me now than they did back in the late
80's-early 90's.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Interview! I think the new album is excellent and I'm looking forward to seeing these guys live. Some of the best musicians that thrash has to offer. Jim Adams solos are killer and Mike Kaufman is one of the better thrash bassists I've heard.

4:37 PM  

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