In 1998 the extreme music fraternity were in mourning at the loss of one of the greatest grindcore bands to ever walk the planet when Brutal Truth called it a day and split up. Fast forward 8 years to the wake of Hurricane Katrina when Brutal Truth were asked if there was any way they could appear on a tribute CD to Eyehategod, who suffered as a consequence to the New Orleans disaster, and luckily to all concerned they said YES! Before long, these stalwarts hit the road playing successful gigs in US, UK, Japan & Norway which included various festival appearances along the way, and with a new album being written as we speak, 2007 has certainly been a whirlwind year for these gods of grind so I caught up with their legendary bassist Danny Lilker to ask him a few questions.
Firstly, I have to say, its great to have Brutal Truth back and an honour that you agreed to do this interview, but I have to start off with the question you’ve probably been asked the most but why you decided to reform and is it good to be back?
We were contacted by a dude organizing a tribute album for Eyehategod, who were dealt quite a blow by Katrina. Apparently their rehearsal spot got swamped and a couple of the guys lost their homes. So, even though the dude knew damn well that we weren’t together and hadn’t done a show since ’98, we were asked if there was any way in hell we could come together and cover an E.H.G. tune for the album, and the proceeds from the album would go to the guys. Everyone was tracked down and agreed, so that’s pretty much what brought us together, and once we did meet up we realized it was fun to play our own shit again as well so there ya go. But Gurn couldn’t hang with doing it again, he was kind of settled in with his family and his job and it would’ve been really disruptive for him to jump back into it.
And what was your 1st rehearsal like? Did it fall into place like you’d never been away?
Well, we did have to brush off some cobwebs in regard to remembering the arrangements and all, but basically once we did that everything pretty much clicked. And since we’re playing with Erik on guitar now, I just showed him all the old B.T. stuff.
What about the response to your reformation from both the fans point of view & the media?
I’d say the fans were mostly totally chuffed that we were back, with the exception of a couple of sticklers on message boards who were of the opinion that if we didn’t have our original lineup it wasn’t valid. Regarding the media, so far it’s seemed fairly positive!
Brent McCarty has also been replaced on guitar by Jody Roberts, is his position in Brutal Truth a permanent fixture & how quickly did he settle into the band?
Actually Jody only played a couple of shows, he wasn’t able to keep doing it so we got Erik Burke , whom you saw back in January (yes, I peeked ahead to the next question!). And Erik is settling in nicely and contributing to the new material.
You toured the UK in early 2007 with Total Fucking Destruction & those crazy mother fuckers Narcosis, I was lucky enough to catch your blistering show in Manchester but can you tell us how this tour came about, how did it feel to be grinding out in the UK once again and what sort of response did you get from the crowd?
The tour came about ‘cos Rich had done a couple of tours with his band Total Fucking Destruction working with the same booking agent, so it was easy enough to set up a B.T. tour with these guys. It felt fucking great to play for the sick bastards in the UK, you guys have always treated B.T. extremely well and it was killer to see that after all this time there are still plenty of grinding freaks in your neck of the woods. It would be safe to say that the response from the crowd could be deemed maniacal.
And how the fuck are you able to consume pipe after pipe of the sacred herb on stage and still stand, never mind rip through the most intense grindcore!!!
As long as the quality of the object in question is high, it is no problem to get hella baked and play stunningly fast. Unlike alcohol, weed does not slow you down physically, and veterans like ourselves can control the high instead of being controlled by it. We can still set our phasers to ‘kill’, in Star Trek lingo.
Not long after the UK tour, you headed off to the land of the rising sun on yet another tour so can you tell us how this came about, how many dates you played and what the crowds reaction was like to the gods of grind once again playing in Japan?
We simply connected with the Smash West crew, who had brought us over in the past. We participated in the ‘Extreme The Dojo’ festival along with Vader and Cryptopsy in March 07, plus we did our own show in Tokyo the day after the 3 tour shows in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo. At the last show we played with 324, Melt Banana and From Hell, which features a couple of guys from Hellchild. Needless to say we had an amazing reaction from the crowd, in fact along with the UK, the Japanese grind freaks are up there as some of the most rabid B.T. supporters.
You’ve also been on the bill for quite a few festivals this year namely Los Angeles Murderfest, Maryland Deathfest, Hellfest in France, Graspop in Belgium, Trashfest in Holland and Obscene Extreme in the Czech Republic, so can you tells us how Brutal Truth got invited to play these shows and how you felt they went with both the turn out and response?
The US shows came together pretty easily what with Myspace and all, the relevant people got in touch and we just took it from there. For the Eurofests, we’ve been working with M.A.D. from Germany who were recommended by Shane Embury, and that’s been working out pretty well I think. Generally all these shows were pretty killer regarding turnout and response, I still get random comments on Myspace from people who were at some of these shows and fucking loved it.
You were also featured on the tribute to Eyehategod CD ‘For The Sick’ so can you give us an insight as to why you were part of this compilation?
Like a said earlier, we were asked and we said ‘Sure’.
Your last studio album ‘Sounds of the Animal Kingdom’ was re-issued by Relapse Records which also includes ‘Kill Trend Suicide’, but why was this recording re-mastered, were you, or your label not 100% happy with the original sound?
I confess that I’m not sure why it was re-mastered, it might have had something to do with the reissue having both releases combined.
Your also writing a new album, so can you tell us how this is currently going and how many tracks have you written so far?
So far there’s 6 but we will be working on more in the next few days. These days we’re more spread out geographically, which makes it harder to get together as frequently as we did back in the 90s.
I also read that your new material is drawing some of its inspiration from your ‘Extreme Conditions…’ days, so can you tell us who/how you come up with the initial ideas for your tracks, how it develops into a full song and what can we expect from the new album?
That comes down to some of the riffing I think. We’re taking some of the simplistic, direct riffing from our earlier stuff and marrying to the speed and more chaotic arrangements our our later stuff. Sound interesting?? Erik and I have been writing most of the new material (Rich comes up with rhythmic things for his songs and says ‘Write a riff with this pattern’). Erik and I get together, smoke weed and come up with crazy shit, then like once a month Rich comes up here and we mold these skeletons in to full songs. You can expect some ultra-radical weed soaked extreme grindcore, in other words business as usual.
And when are you likely to enter the studio, which label is it going to be on and lastly, when will it be released?
It’s way too early to speculate when we’d be going in to record a new album, that depends of course on when we complete the writing process among other things. I’m fairly certain Relapse will want to pick up where we left off in 98, and naturally the release date will depend on some of the factors I just mentioned.
2007 has been an extremely busy year for Brutal Truth, but how do you think it went from the bands point of view and what can we expect from you in 2008?
I’m totally satisfied with what we did this year, we hit a lot of places, played Norway for the first time ever, and we expect to do more next year, although priority one will be writing and recording new material.
Lastly, thanks again Danny for agreeing to do this interview and please use this space for any final words, thoughts, plugs…
Just wanna reiterate our appreciation for the grind freaks in the UK, you made our tour last Feb totally awesome and we really appreciate your enthusiasm and support. See ya soon!
Check out all the latest goings on with Brutal Truth at: www.brutaltruth.com
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards