Rustyn Rose of Metalholic recently conducted an interview with mainman Jeff Waters of Canadian thrash veterans ANNIHILATOR. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On getting back to ANNIHILATOR‘s “roots” with their new studio album, “For The Demented”:
Jeff: “Just doing this for quite some time, you see what happens with other bands over time in different styles of music and your own style or genre. You know that if you really try to go back and go to a certain album or certain thing, occasionally, it works out good. I mean, it’s worked out great for METALLICA. ‘Death Magnetic’ kinda went back. To me, that was a good record. Their new record [‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct’], of course, is great, but most bands it doesn’t work. So, I said, ‘Okay, I’m not going to be able to go back and recreate stuff that I was doing twenty-five, thirty years ago. However, what was it about the demo days we did for a few years before our first album up until the fourth album which were the ‘big ones’ for us overseas?’ You just figured out really quickly, is that as I get older and got writing more different styles and having fun artistically, you realize, especially on our last album we did in 2015 [‘Suicide Society’], I really didn’t put much of a filter on there to sort of filter out the clear influences and likes of the artists and guitar players that I love in this kind of music. I’m number one, a fan, number two, I’m a musician here. [Laughs] The last album, I would sit there by myself in the studio as always and write riffs and I wouldn’t criticize the heck out of it and go ‘Hey, that’s a cool riff, but that is clearly SLAYER or clearly that is Dave Mustaine [MEGADETH] vocal type of stuff or whatever.’ On this one, I said ‘I’m going to go back to trying to sound more like what fans of ours liked about the first eight years of our career.’ Even though the albums are all different and there was different singers on them and different heavy metal styles, just the idea of getting back to what other people would say ‘That sounds like Waters or ANNIHILATOR‘ rather than ‘Hey that sounds a little like MEGADETH-y or SLAYER-ish.’ ‘Who is that?’ ‘Oh, it’s ANNIHILATOR,’ if that makes any sense.”
On Waters‘s approach to singlehandedly running ANNIHILATOR and sharing some of the production and songwriting workload on “For The Demented”:
Jeff: “Essentially, ANNIHILATOR has been a solo project at the beginning and then we did our first album, ‘Alice In Hell’, our singer…the album exploded back then. Basically, our singer left for the last week of the tour we had planned, ironically with TESTAMENT, they were the ones who brought us to the U.S. first. He left without warning to any of us and said he was going back to his job. That was kind of the moment I realized as much as I want a band, this is going to be a solo project. I didn’t want the idea, even though I was a kid, I figured out I didn’t want one person to be able to, especially the singer, to stop the dream or the career, the little machine we had started up. That’s how I did it from then on. I’d hire a singer and a drummer in the studio, play most of the instruments and do most of the writing myself. I’d sing on the demo, give it to the singer and they’d go into the studio and sing it. Most of the time it’s been like that for decades. I have to be lying to myself or a little off if I didn’t acknowledge or be honest about, when you’re doing most of the stuff yourself for so long and you’re such a metal fan, there’s no way in heck you’re going to have great albums every time. Most bands don’t have great albums every time when they’re doing a couple of dozen records in their career or more. You can sometimes or different times, you will take from what you’ve done before without knowing it sometimes and realize, ‘Geez, that almost sounds like the same riff I did three albums ago.’ You don’t realize it at the time a lot, but later you look back and other times, you end up thinking you got this really cool riff and then a year later, you turn around and go ‘Oh-oh. That really sounded like this band or this riff I liked when I was eighteen.’ That’s why a lot of bands will bring in a producer. Part of the reason a producer can come in is to refresh things and see what they see in your music and where they think you should go with it. With ANNIHILATOR, we have so many different styles under the umbrella of the words ‘heavy metal.’ It could be thrash, speed metal, ballads, love songs, instrumentals, goofy songs, a bit of blues, whatever. Getting focused a bit can help a band sometimes, especially when you don’t have anything but yourself sitting in the studio. It’s all you. This time, I was sitting back going ‘I know I want to put the ‘Waters fan filter’ on heavy on this one.’ You’re always going to hear my influences in the music I’m doing, but I didn’t want them dominating the subject on each song, like, ‘It sounds like this and that.’ And also fresh ears is obviously this thing I need if I wanted to step it up, so to speak. I brought my bass player Rich [Hinks] in from the U.K., who’s been with us for a few years. At the beginning stages of the writing for this album, the idea was ‘Just say yes or no.’ Basically, ‘Is this something that sounds more Waters-ish or is this something that sounds a bit too much like something else that I like?’ It started out, ‘Yes or no.’ Then it became, he’d grab a guitar or grab a bass, then we ended up writing the entire album together. He became a producer of the writing sessions with me, co-producer with me, and he co-wrote the music. That stepped it up to another level, so to speak. You can’t help but get something better than you’ve been doing if you have fresh ears in there and if it’s the right person.”
ANNIHILATOR‘s sixteenth studio album, “For The Demented”, was released on November 3 via Neverland Music/Silver Lining Music. The effort is available in a limited-edition digipack with lenticular cover, a jewel-case CD, a twelve-inch 180-gram colored vinyl in gatefold and digital download.