Heretic was a band from the golden era of the Metal Blade years, their albums
"Torture Knows No Boundary" and "Breaking Point" were, and still are, hailed as two of the finest from the late 80's. But, sadly, the band dissolved not long after the release of their debut LP.
Recently, I received word that Brian Korban had gotten back together with Julian Mendez (the band's original singer on the classic "Torture Knows No Boundary" EP from 1986) and I was suddenly finding myself frothing at the mouth to get my hands on a copy of their latest album "A Time Of Crisis." and I was f'ing impressed! I was even more so when I realized they held onto the DIY ethos of the oldschool, agreeing to add a track to our latest compilation! To say we were honored is an understatement.
I delved deeper into what really happened to the band as well as the story behind the new members, and one name which jumped out at me was Heretic's new axeman Glenn Rogers, who many of you will remember from his Hirax years...but, Hirax was just one of many of the outfits which this man has jammed with.
Talk about an unsung hero of metal...he has led his life by his beliefs, dedicated himself to the gifts he was given and made many a woofer blow and headbanger happy while doing so!
Here's my interview with Glenn Rogers of Heretic...
ThrashHead: You were born in L.A. in that pocket between Long Beach, Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach and Compton known as Carson; did you spend most of your time growing up there? and if so, what was it like to be in the midst of that scene, to the North you had some heavy shit going down, south you had the hardcore scene and Huntington Beach strut, West you had palatial mansions...you were really at a cross roads of L.A. lifestyle.
GLENN: We call it the South Bay. That's where I grew up. It was a melting pot of culture. I grew up in a mostly Latino neighborhood. Angelo my bassist lived a few blocks away from me. Carson High is where we went to school. It was a rough school. We had gangs, shootings , and a small group of Metalers.
ThrashHead: Looking back, was there ever a definitive moment that you can remember when you said to yourself, this is it, this is what I want to do, I want to play rock n roll?
GLENN: In 1976 I was in fourth grade and a friend gave me my first guitar. He was older and turned me onto The Beatles. I wanted to be John Lennon. By the time I was in 7th grade I was in a band learning how to play cover songs. We learned mostly Beatles, Stones, Zep, and Jethro Tull.
We had a music teacher named Gene Owens who lived next door to the guys in Black Flag in Redondo Beach. That's where my first band practiced. We were called The Electric Rainbow.
ThrashHead: Who were you're early influences at the time and what was it about their playing that drew you to the guitar? Or was it just another case of bright lights and hot chicks?
GLENN: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and UFO are the bands that made me want to rock. The guy who really helped me get better on guitar was guitarist Vic Johnson. He played in a band called the Bus Boys. He now plays with Sammy Hagar's Wabos; my sister and his wife were friends...that's how I met him. He would invite me over to jam and checkout bands. He took me around to many shows when I was young.
ThrashHead: Deliverance (listen below), your first major outfit had two releases, Greeting of Death which was your guys' demo and 89's S/T album. It was very thrash orientated. How did that band come to be and tell me about your time in it.
GLENN: The story starts with Vengeance Rising. Before Deliverance I started a band with some friends I met at church. I didn't like the Christian bands that were out at the time they were too soft. I had gotten into Thrash Metal because of a friend named Brett "Erikson." We played together before I became a Christian in 1986. The band was called Blind Decree who changed its name to Dissenter. They had a song on the Metal Massacre 9 record; that's the band where I started playing Thrash Metal. It was at that time when I wrote the music that would end up on the Vengeance Rising album Human Sacrifice.
I left the VR before it was named VR because we could not find a singer and the drummer was having problems. I then joined a band called H.E.R.O. with ex Holy Soldier singer Robbie Brauns "Wolfe" That band was not really my cup of tea but Rob was a friend. We did two songs that went on the famous comp record called California Metal. Deliverance was also on that comp.
So Rob was working with a painting contractor, and got me a job with them. Also working was Deliverance drummer Chris Hyde. Over the months of working with Chris he would always ask me to come and jam with Big D. They were always going through guitar players. So one day they needed a guitar player to play a show and chris asked me if I could fill in. I had one rehearsal and did my first gig with Deliverance at the Waters Club in San Pedro California. The gig went so well I left H.E.R.O. and within two weeks we we're recording the demo Greeting Of Death.
My time in Deliverance was a lot of fun and craziness. We never really rehearsed that much. We more of less goofed off. I thought the band could have been a big as Stryper , but it was not meant to be.
ThrashHead: In this world you run across a lot of hypocrites, people who will latch onto any faith mechanism they can find, Paganism, Buddhism, what have you, other than Christianity; I've run into people who profess to believe in the teachings of Buddha, yet in the next breath show no patience, ego, intolerance, greed; but these same people will completely disregard Christianity, let's talk about that, you said you were a Christian since '86...?
GLENN: I grew up in a Catholic family, so I always have been. But, I didn't really join a Christian band until Vengeance Rising.
ThrashHead: Do you find it difficult to deal with people who can't quite comprehend that you can both play heavy metal and still follow in Jesus' teachings? Even fellow Christians, who think Metal is strictly Satan's music, how do you explain that you can be a person of faith and still rock just as hard as anyone else out there?
GLENN: To me it's personal, a personal road to travel, it's something I hold personal. Of course you're going to have people who will say it's the devil's music...(laughs)..you know it's all god's music, it just all depends on how you play it and what your meaning behind it is.
The thing is people twist that all around and they lose the message anyways, they make it their message, what they are trying to preach...that's the thing. I really don't pay attention to it, when I was in the middle of that during the 80's with Deliverance and Vengeance and all that stuff...that's why I quit the Christian metal scene, it was, I felt, hypocritical, missing the point, to me what I wanted to do, was to be an alternative you know, we could rock as hard as any other thrash band, if you look at the lyrics of a Slayer record and a Deliverance record, there's not much difference, other than at the end, you know what I mean?
It's one of those things which I felt people missed the point on that, I'm not there to preach, I'm there to make metal, I enjoy making music...whatever you do with it is up to you.
ThrashHead: I've tried to explain to many folks who will disregard Christians in general, people who say they fight against lumping people into stereotypes, but do exactly what they say they're against by simply thinking all Christians are the same, I've said "Obviously there are Christians out there who are extremely intolerant, bigoted, full of hatred, but you also have people out there who adhered to the teachings of Jesus', especially those in the book of Mathew, who are very humble and are out there trying to help everybody in any way they can.
Metal is too hostile some might say, but I could easily imagine, if it were a movie showing the cleansing of the temple, Jesus walking in to caste out the money changers with metal music playing in the background; he was obviously not pleased, so I don't see how it's not possible to play aggressive music and still be Christian in that sense.
And of course Mustaine's views on his faith get a lot of press, but his opinions are all over the place, it's hard to understand what message, if any he has...it seems he detracts more than helps people understand.
GLENN: I view Mustaine and a lot of those guys, glad they found faith, but you know what? He was never in the trenches, when you're in the clubs like we were getting spit on, we played with Omen one time and man, that was a tough night you know.
It's easy if you're already on the pedestal, successful, and have nothing to sweat, like a lot of these new celebrity Christians who have found it and have had a positive change in their lives, that's all well and good for them you know, guys like me and Vengeance and all the bands, what we were trying to do was way different, it was in the trenches, in your face, and crazy...just as any other thrash show, even sometimes more so because we had to fight. To get on stage with those bands, they never accepted us, that's why you never found any Deliverance or Vengeance records in any of the record stores or even talked about.
Even on these metal shows, the evolution of heavy metal, they never even talk about these Christian bands that were out there, really good bands, so we got swept aside, but you know, that was what I DID NOT want to happen, I couldn't stand bands like Stryper, cool guys, but I hated that music, it wasn't were I was coming from.
I always wanted to be thrash and heavy and I guess we were the first to do it, 'cause there wasn't anyone else doing it.
ThrashHead: So, what happened to Deliverance, the 90's? Or was there a move? because your next project, Steel Vengeance was out of Michigan? Steel Vengeance also has a slightly more power metal feel, almost, dare I say a touch of Sunset Blvd thrown in there? Why the slight change in musical direction? why the departure there? From what I hear the band is more or less still together with different members?
GLENN: Deliverance was a great band with good guys, but we were young, and not smart when it came to the business side of things. I did not want to be on a Christian label. When we signed with Intense Records we going to be distributed through Restless/ Enigma. Then the guy sold the label to Frontline Records. We got stuck in Christian book stores not record stores. I did not want that so it was time for me to move on.
When I joined up with Steel Vengeance Mike Wickstrom just moved to LA to restart the band. He fired all of the guys in Mich. And moved west. The switch from Deliverance to SV was right away. I put together the New SV lineup with some good friends. Drummer John Draper and bass player Cesar 'Killer" Ceregatti, and singer Scott Nocon were guys I was planning on putting a band together with any way, so Mike just fit right in.
The sound of SV first records is different more Power Metal. I wanted to move in the Thrash direction ,but the other guy's wanted to stay with the Power Metal sound. I just went with it. I stayed with SV for two years ,but grew tired of the music business. So I went back to school for a while, and just played in local bands.
ThrashHead: Alright, how did you run across Katon and get involved in Hirax, you were on six albums weren't you? And you did a good part of the work load as well. What was your time in Hirax like.
GLENN: I knew of Hirax back in the 80's. I would catch them at Fenders Ballroom opening up for Exciter and Megadeth. So now fast forward to 2000 I was living in Long Beach a few blocks away from him. A neighbor in my apartment is friends with him, and that's how I met him. He gave me the Barrage Of Noise cd , and that was it until 2003 when he placed an ad looking for a guitarist. I decided to call him and we met and I auditioned. I got the gig.
I first have to give Katon a big thanks for letting me apart of it all. Our relationship is fire and ice; we both have a big passion for what we do, and I wish them all the luck.
That being said, my time was some of the best experiences I ever had, and the worst. Walking on eggshells was the best way to describe it. That's why he went through a lot of band members. I don't fault him, but it is how it is. We had a lot of good times, but after the Japan tour of 2010 it was time for me to call it a day.
ThrashHead: Now there are a couple huge things, what few people may realize is that not only have you jumped aboard with metal legends Heretic, metal blade alumni from back in the day, but Viking as well! Viking...how did they become part of your life? Is Christianity still playing a role in the music due to Ron's faith?
GLENN: I was there in the beginning with Viking. I was one of the road crew for them until Brett left the band to join Dark Angel.
I'm not doing the Viking thing because of the time between family, work, and Heretic. I was asked to do it because Ron has been a friend for so many years, and I also worked for the band back in the 80's. I would have loved to be on that record, but it just was not to be. They are a great band and I fully support them. We will play together in Brooklyn NY in March.
I would not put them into the Christian band category. Ron is, but I don't think that is what he is doing it for. I think, like a lot of us older musicians, he missed playing Metal.
I wish them luck and I wish I had the time to be a part of it.
ThrashHead: How did you get involved with Heretic, were you buds with some of the guys since back in the 80's L.A. metal scene?
GLENN: I grew up with Heretic founder Brian Korban. We were in Jr High together when we started jamming at his house. I was there back in the day though all the Heretic years. I just was not in the band. I played in a different band when we were young. We have been friends for a long time.
Angelo was also in the neighborhood, Julian as well. We would always run into each other at shows and parties.
ThrashHead: The latest album from Heretic "A Time Of Crisis" is pretty insane, it's a solid production, how did you like the creation process, did everybody work seamlessly together?
GLENN: It was a little rushed because we were trying to meet a release deadline for Metal On Metal Records. We recorded it in three weekends over a 2 month period. We would write 3 songs and then go in and record them. Then we would do it again until we had enough material for the CD.
I think it shows what a good band we are because we had very little rehearsal time between recordings. John Haddad our producer gets the credit on this CD. Julian as well for working up the vocals on such a short amount of time. He would have about 6 hours recording time for each time we recorded. That's about 2 hours a song. All of us worked under pressure to get it done. Most tracks were one or two takes.
ThrashHead: What are your favorite tracks off of the album and why?
GLENN: I can't really say. I like them all for different reasons. Remains is a cool track I like it because it's an epic song that builds to a big ending. Child Of War for it's energy. Police State for it's statement about things in the world; all killer no filler in my opinion.
ThrashHead: Heretic is organizing some shows as well to support the album? Any latest news on that front?
GLENN: We will be playing at The Childhood Hero's fest in Brooklyn NY on March 9th with Helstar and Viking. We are also going to Germany in July to play the HOA fest with Metal Church and Overkill.
More dates will be coming so keep checking our website for updates.
ThrashHead: Are you really excited about the enthusiasm from metalheads about the return of the oldschool, no bullshit, metal which can be heard loud and clear on this album?
GLENN: I think it's great that fans are discovering bands like us. It gives us a second chance to show what we can do. There's a lot of good Metal out there to be discovered, so I'm happy about that.
ThrashHead: How is it that you're such a hardcore music mercenary, the west coast Danny Lilker if you will, how do you do it? is it just an all consuming passion you have?
GLENN: ( Laughs) Yeah, I've met Danny, we played together in Rochester New York where he lived when I was on tour with Hirax.
I never planned to be a music mercenary it just happened I guess. Right place and right time kinda thing. Most of the bands I joined we're because of friends in those groups. I did not go out on many auditions I was usually asked to join. Most auditions I didn't get. Like the time I tried out for the band Angel. I learned most of their first album, but when I tried out for them they played a song over the pa that they we're working on and I had to learn it on the spot. Well I had no chance, but I can say I tried out for Angel.
ThrashHead: Your career has spanned some 25+ years, you musta seen some serious situations, can you throw down with some crazy war stories you've picked up over the years, just a few to give our readers a chance to experience those things for themselves, I'm sure any statute of limitations are already in effect!
GLENN: I have always found myself in interesting positions. A fly on the wall kind of thing. One time I was at a Candlemass show here in LA. I was in Steel Vengeance at the time. So we went to this after party that an opening band had. At the party was guitarist Pete Black from King Diamond. We got to drinking and he was going on and on about how he is a gypsy and it was in his blood... He wanted to cut himself open and show me. We drank and partied all night. He was a lot of fun to hang around with. Later that night we ended up at Candelmass' hotel and the party continued with one of the guitarist from the band Trouble. I don't remember his name we we're wasted and I had to be dragged home by my friends...
Another interesting part of my life was when I became friends with Blues legend John Lee Hooker. I actually lived in one of his homes for about a year. A girl I was living with was the care taker of his house in Long Beach Cal. The people who would call or drop by were unbelievable. Pick up the phone and on the other line is Pete from The Who, Bonnie Raitte , Van Morrison, Carlos Santana... My life was interesting for that year. John was very nice to me gave me great advice about life. He ended up selling that house so we move to Haverill Mass. He would call us all the time and even flew us out to see him play the Long Beach Blues fest in 1997. To this day I still have the recordings of the phone messages he would leave. I miss that man...
ThrashHead: What are you looking forward to the most in 2013?
GLENN: I hope to bring Heretic music to anyone who will listen. We would like to play more festivals, and do some short tours. We will start working on a new CD, and re-issue the old CD's from Metal Blade this year.
ThrashHead: Anything you'd like to say to those who have followed your career since the beginning and those who have just become acquainted with your ripping?
GLENN: HELP!!! Thanks for all the support and stay tuned for what's next.