Latest release: The Fatal Feast (Nuclear Blast)Website: www.facethewaste.com
Richmond, Virginia’s Municipal Waste do not leave a lot to the imagination. Be it their artwork, song titles or just general demeanour, it is pretty obvious they live and breathe metal and horror. Primarily thrash metal inspired, their sound is a mixture of similar influences and their hard touring has paid off with their fifth album The Fatal Feast seeing them headlining bigger venues and touring Australia for the second time. Loud got a hold of guitarist Ryan Waste to find out what has been stewing in the depot and to be wary of any hazardous spills.
How many guitars are you bringing down?
I’m bringing down two, man. I’ve got two new MW guitars. We just bring guitars. We travel a lot and we’re pretty versatile at playing with a lot of different gear. I’m left handed so I’ve got to bring my guitars. Besides that, we’re just going to see what they give us each night. I just use a tuner and a distortion pedal. A pedal board is just going to get in the way when people are jumping on the stage.
Your live performances are pretty intense. What are you expecting this time as you’re playing bigger venues?
Cool, yeah we’ll take what we can get. We try to make the show the same and we just like to incorporate the crowd into the show. If is it closed then that means people are going to be going crazy. We prefer that sometimes so we’ll see.
What is touring the clubs in the States like?
Touring is hard work and is not for everyone. I see casualties of musicians all the time. We’ve toured right out of the gate from the get-go. We’re seasoned in doing it and I travel pretty well. The drinking is what gets to you. If you drink every night, you start to wear down but everywhere you go you have to be in full party mode. You see all these people you don’t see for a long time and they want to hang out but we have to do that every night. So, it is kind of hard to say no to some of the vices of touring. But we love the travel and we are privileged to be able to cover as much ground as we do.
Has moving from Earache to Nuclear Blast made a difference to tour support?
It feels more like a family now. I wouldn’t say it is a financial thing or anything because we have been very self sufficient. We kind of run our band like a DIY band, as that is where our roots are. The label understands us a lot better creatively as they let us spread our wings and do what we want. All we look for in a label is someone that will take our ideas but not try to change them or force ideas on us. We’re a very pro-active band and have our hands in everything that we do from artwork to merchandise. They are someone with the distribution that lets us breathe.
I guess that is the industry now, those who are self sufficient will be the ones to survive.
Yeah, it’s funny, but it is like how anything works. You need to do things yourself to get them right. If you put your time in, you get a higher spot on a festival bill. We’ve been doing this steadily for thirteen years and we keep moving up.
You’ve toured with bands as varied as At the Gates, Suicidal Tendencies and Lamb of God. What life lessons have they been able to impart?
Really, having a positive attitude is what gets you anywhere. Suicidals are a great band to tour with and Mike Muir is almost like a motivational speaker. Preaching positivity goes a long way even between your band mates. If some person is being negative on tour, it is going to bring everybody down. This is your family on the road so if you are nice to the next person it’ll come back. I caught that advice from the older bands. Some don’t get along but learn how to get by. Don’t attack your brother or it’ll affect you up on stage.
How has production changed from using Zeus for The Art of Partying to say a band input on The Fatal Feast?
It was very different. We worked with Eric Rachel out at Tracks East studios in New Jersey. He had done some drum sounds with our drummer [Dave Witte] in the past and he said it was a natural drum sound. So we took his word for that and went there to record all the drums with live guitars, which is how we rehearse. We came back down to Richmond where we were comfortable and did all the guitars and vocals. We decided to send everything back up to Eric in New Jersey to mix them all. He understood the songs since he had been there for the drum tracking. He mixed the record and we’re super satisfied with it. We took a lot more time with this record in the writing process. We didn’t tour, we just sat at home and wrote songs. Phil [‘Landphil’ Hall], our bass player did the engineering and we’d gathered all the song with him before we went into the studio. We were the most prepared that we’ve ever been for a record with this new one.
What is the quality control process for songs?
Well, if it doesn’t rock, somebody has to speak up. We’re pretty open with each other if we don’t like something. Everyone is pretty outspoken. No one gets their feelings hurt if someone’s idea doesn’t work. We just keep going at it until the song seems like it is right.
Thrash needs a gated, tight rhythm which has to be rehearsed a lot. How do you do it?
We play a lot of shows live. That is rehearsal for us. We play so much that the first three shows are usually rehearsal for us. We’ll then get tighter as the tour goes on. We do practice at home but the best training is to get out there, play and it all falls together. Hopefully we won’t be too drunk when we get to Sydney and we’ll play real tight.
Is it difficult in thrash to not sound too much like say Testament, Anthrax or Exodus?
Everything in music has been done unless it is some totally off the wall shit that I‘ve never heard of. With thrash, you kind of stay in a formula and that works for us. What is funny is that our band does not exclusively listen to thrash. I’m a heavy metal guy, Phil is a death metal guy, Tony [Foresta – vocals] is more into hard core punk and Dave is into progressive stuff. I was listening to thrash so much when I was growing up it is all in the back of my head. But when you put all the different influences together it molds into Municipal Waste. It is always going to sound thrashy with us and all of our different influences. I love Trouble and Candlemass. I’m a huge heavy metal fan.
You’ve got some side projects going.
I have an old school heavy metal band called Volture I’ve been doing since 2008. I play bass in that band so it is a good outlet for me to get my heavy metal out of me since I’m a huge heavy metal freak. I’ve got another band called Bat with Felix [Griffin] from D.R.I. playing drums and I’m playing bass and singing, doing a nasty Celtic Frost type of thing.
I recall reading a cover story in Decibel magazine about one of your side projects being an outlet for a depressing time of working in a strip club.
I used to work in strip club maybe twelve years ago. The band has become our job now so we don’t have to work at seedy strip joints. I quit the job because the music was so bad. I would be coming home and started playing all these shitty songs that I’d heard all day with my drummer, as a joke so we ended up not doing any real thrash. We were not doing any thrash metal practice but instead were doing nu-metal practice, laughing our asses off. Tony and I did that band called Jock Janz, dressing up all stupid like nu-metal and covering the songs. If people didn’t get that it was a joke then the joke was on them.
Speaking of humour, the artwork is very amusing. Who comes up with it?
I’m really anal about the artwork and make the artist do it ten times before I’m happy with it. I’ll give him a concept and am not afraid to give them criticism. The artwork on The Fatal Feast was an old concept we’ve have for at least five years. So we finally did our cannibalistic space voyage. Art is a big part of it for me and I’m a big record collector. When I go to a record shop to buy vinyl, it is the cover that grabs you so it is just as important as the music to have cool artwork. It grabs your attention.
It reminds me of the Death album covers from years ago.
Yeah, totally. Ed Repka [artist] did our cover for Hazardous Mutation. We put a lot of time into the artwork. I’m not a big video game guy and we had our music on that Splatterhouse game and on some Earache based game. I reckon it’d be cool to have our songs on a cool movie soundtrack. I would love for some original horror movies to come out in our age. It seems like everyone wants to remake them and do a really bad job.
In the 80’s you had films like Dario Argento’s Demons with a stack of metal on the soundtrack.
Yeah, I still have all those videos on VHS, man. I’m a huge horror freak, maybe we need to make our own Waste horror movie and just do the whole soundtrack. Our songs are short horror stories anyway. That’s the way we’ve always written the music so I kind of feel like, maybe we’ll put a movie with it.
Municipal Waste tour Australia this month:
15/6: HiFi Bar, Brisbane QLD
16/6: HiFi Bar, Sydney NSW
19/6: Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne VIC
20/6: Fowlers Live, Adelaide SA (A/A)
21/6: Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA
22/6: Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS
23/6: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC (U18 – arvo)
23/6: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC (Lic. show – night)