Posted by: Necci – Jul 30, 2012
They’re back! Municipal Waste, the raging kings of RVA party thrash for over a decade now, have returned this year with a new album, a new label, and a new lease on life. The Fatal Feast, their first album for Nuclear Blast Records and fifth overall, sees the group taking the party outside of our planet’s atmosphere for a concept known as “Waste In Space.” From the space-gore festivities of the title track’s excellent video to the spooky synth interludes contributed to the album by Zombi’s Steve Moore (the album also features guest appearances by Nuclear Assault’s John Connelly and RVA’s own Tim Barry--more on that below), the concept adds a new layer of atmosphere to the traditional Waste sound. And with a new label whose excitement to be working with the Waste shows in their support for the new album, singer Tony Foresta and the rest of the band (Ryan Waste on guitar, Phil “Landphil” Hall on bass, and Dave Witte on drums) couldn’t be more stoked. I caught up with Tony just before the band left for a national tour with 3 Inches Of Blood, on the day that they played a quasi-surprise hometown show at the small Shockoe Bottom bar Wonderland. He gave me the lowdown on going to space, making records with car companies, and scouting out billboards by the side of I-95.
I see you guys are on Nuclear Blast now. I was wondering what led to the change in labels.
We were on Earache for almost seven years. It’s crazy how time flies. We had a three-record deal with them, and we were done with that after our last record. I wouldn’t say it was getting stale, but we wanted to do something different, and it felt like there wasn’t much more room to grow on that label. There’s no bad blood or anything. A lot of bands leave labels because they’re pissed, but we just finished our record deal and we wanted to branch out. The main thing was to work with a label that has more roots in the US. Nuclear Blast is a German record label, but they have a huge office in the States, and we’ve been friends with a few people that work there for almost the entire history of the band. So it was a good choice for us to move.
I’ve noticed that you guys have done a lot of elaborate promotional stuff with the new record--the promo videos, the crazy hamburger-eating contest, and all that stuff.
And see, that was one of the good things with moving to Nuclear Blast. They let us do shit like that. I wouldn't say Earache were tight with money, but whenever we threw them a stupid idea, they were like, “Ehhh... We don't really want to do that.” We were gonna get a billboard for this record on 95. Nuclear Blast was into it. [laughs]
So that didn’t end up happening?
No, it didn’t. We found this really awesome one, but it was super-expensive, and then we had to leave for the GWAR tour. It just didn’t work out for us time-wise. It’s not like the label’s gonna send someone to find a billboard for us, so we were scrambling. I was driving down 95 marking locations for billboards [laughs]. I was like, “This is stupid, I’m going home.”
It is interesting that the change in labels is what led to the extra promo material for the new record. I noticed that you were doing more than you had in the past. Have you seen any tangible results from that? Does it seem like this record is blowing up bigger than the last couple?
It’s the first record that we've ever done that's been on the Billboard charts, which is pretty cool. With Earache being based out of the UK, they focus most of their promotion in the UK. It trickles down to Europe, and then eventually to the US. The stuff they really care about pushing is mostly in the UK. We do really good over there, but we wanted the [new] record to do good in the States. With Nuclear Blast, it's almost the opposite, which works for us. The new record did just as well there as it did over here, so all of that work we’ve done in Europe over the past ten years still paid off. We didn’t have to push this record that hard over there. The result, especially in the States, has been that it’s done the best of anything we’ve ever done.
It seems like you guys have a lot of really cool, elaborate merchandise, and I was wondering how you get the ideas to do the limited edition pop-up cover for Fatal Feast, and the glow-in-the-dark vinyl for the Toxic Waste split with Toxic Holocaust, and all that.
There’s always been a joke around the band about wanting to do a pop-up. Even back in the day, we were talking about how the first Waste CD was gonna be a Choose Your Own Adventure album [laughs]. You went through and chose which path you would take, and the Waste would tell you the story. And no matter what way you did it, you died, but the [only difference] was how long you [survived]. [laughs] We’re a little bit more fun about shit, so we’re able to get away with more creative, funnier things that most bands that take themselves super-seriously can’t do. Earache was cool, but they just didn’t ever want to let us get weird like that. By the third album, we were over it. We were just like, “Here are your 14 Waste songs for the album, and we’re out of here.” They didn’t get any extra songs. They didn’t get shit. Nuclear Blast gave out Municipal Waste frisbees with a certain amount of LPs. Who the fuck does that? [laughs]
That's really great! I saw where there was a beer koozie with the Toxic Holocaust split.
That was Scotty [Heath]. Scotty's one of our best friends. He's in Voetsek and Deadfall, and he does Tankcrimes [label that released Toxic Waste]. He started that label when he was in Voetsek with Athena, who did Six Weeks Records. They did the first Waste LP and the Crucial Unit split. We’ve always been trying to get Scotty to put out a Waste record. Part of the deal once we moved to Nuclear Blast was that we’ve gotta be able to do shit on other labels. And Scotty was the first one.
You rerecorded a couple of really early songs for that limited 7 inch that came out through Scion.
We rerecorded “Garbage Stomp” and “Poser Disposer” off the Crucial Unit split. What happened was that when it came out it sounded so awful, we told Six Weeks, “We don’t want it to get repressed.” So there were only 1000 of that split, and we’ve always wanted to rerecord it. Over the years we rerecord a song from it every once in a while. One song went on Hazardous Mutation, and then we did two for the Scion split, and another one that hasn’t been put out yet.
So you guys seem to have an ongoing relationship with Scion. What's it like working with a car company to make metal records?
We don’t really work with a car company--it’s basically a promotion company that works for Scion to push whatever the fuck agenda they have. It’s cool with us. A lot of people are against it, but I like the fact that there’s anyone out there supporting music. They paid for two of our videos, when Earache wouldn’t. I don’t think we’re trying to shove cars down anybody’s throats, but... I’m into it. [laughs]
Tell me about the theme of the new album, the whole “Waste In Space” thing.
That was a thing that me and Ryan have been joking about since really early Waste. I think [former Waste drummer] Brandon Ferrell came up with “Waste In Space” a really long time ago. And I would joke about it, like, “Yeah, I can’t wait. We’re taking this shit to space!” Finally we were like, “Fuck it, we’ll do a space record.” All those old thrash bands like Tankard and Assassin, by their third or fourth record, they do a space record. GWAR just did a space record a few years ago too. There are tons of bands that have done it.
So it’s like a rite of passage.
Yeah. Your band’s just gotta write a space record, if you do it for a while. You can’t just put your first record out as a space record. It’s way cooler if you wait a little while, if you eventually go to space. [laughs]
How’d you get Steve Moore from Zombi to do the synth stuff?
Him and Witte were friends. We’d always listen to Zombi on long-ass car rides, especially overnight ones. They’re into all of those old Italian movie soundtracks. I love the way that band sounds, and the way they do their stuff. For this album, we wanted to come up with an intro, and have a part in the middle that sounds like an old Italian horror movie. Dave was like, “Yeah, I’ll just call up Steve.” [laughs] So it was super-easy to do. Same with the Nuclear Assault thing. We tour so much that we just meet all these people from playing festivals or touring with them. So I called up John from Nuclear Assault and was like, “Hey, you wanna sing on our record?” [laughs] I was nervous calling him, but it ended up working out great.
And you got Tim Barry to sing on a song, too. Was it hard to get him to do something metal instead of the country stuff he’s been doing?
It was kind of hard for him. He kept joking, “Man, I haven’t screamed like this in a really long time.” [laughs] It wasn’t alien to him at all. He used to listen to metal. He likes all that shit. I was stoked. I’ve been wanting to do something with him forever. I grew up going to Avail shows. One of the first hardcore shows I went to was Avail at the Flood Zone.
“Standards And Practices,” the song he’s on, has more of a political thing going on in the lyrics than your usual Waste lyrical content. Did that come about because you were working with Tim and he’s a more political guy, or was it just a coincidence?
It was kind of a coincidence. When the lyrics were written, it was before the 99%/Occupy movement was even [in the news]. But when we were gonna get Tim [involved], there were two songs that we had ideas for him to sing on, and that song just fit. Obviously with the lyrics, but also vocal-wise, performance-wise. So it was kind of a no-brainer to put him on that song.
I also wanted to ask you about “12 Step Program,” because you guys are notorious partiers, and you wrote a song named after getting sober. What is that song about?
It’s a weird point of view of rehab. I’ve seen a lot of my friends get forced into rehab, and I’ve seen other friends of mine kick drugs and alcohol on their own terms. I think it’s weird to force people into certain programs, but sometimes it helps. The song’s just one person’s take on it. I’ve seen a lot of people that it actually fucks them up even more when they’re forced to do something. I have problems like that too. If anyone pushes me into doing something, it’s gonna make me do the exact opposite. And that song’s about figuring out your own way to kick your vices. But it isn’t a dig on people who get forced into rehab. It’s basically just about one person dealing with it. It’s kind of a funny take on it, too.
I would expect no less from you guys. I know you've been touring regularly for over a decade now--do you still party hard on tour, or is that something you’re starting to slow down on?
Our joke now is that we party harder when we’re home. [laughs] We still drink every night, and get crazy, but it seems like when we come home, we’re so excited to see our friends and stuff, it’s like, “AAAAAHHHH!!!” When you’re on the road, you’ve at least got a van call or a bus call. It’s more work than when you’re at home hanging around. When you’re home, you’re just running around going to your friends’ houses and doing stupid shit all the time. So yeah, we party harder when we’re at home. We still rage, so I’m not trying to say we don’t. It happens. [laughs]
Well, it seems like you guys have gotten to the point now where playing music really is your job, so you have to keep it more together on tour.
Yeah, there’s more pressure now. You can’t really fuck up, get super-trashed, and expect to wake up drunk and play a show the next day. If you fuck up, it’s on you. There’s also three people in your band that are counting on you, and there’s all these people there to see your band, so you don’t want to let them down either. All of us have had shitty nights onstage, and it sucks. [laughs] We play way longer now, too, so the sets are way more brutal. We’ll probably play for an hour tonight at Wonderland, and that’s crazy, especially when you’re playing super-aggressive fast songs. That shit wears you out. So you’ve gotta keep it together on the road, or you’re gonna crash and burn, you know? Or worse, fuck over your bandmates and audience and people that like your band.
You guys are doing that Wonderland show tonight. What led you to do it in such a small club, rather than going to a bigger place in town?
Last week, the power was out in our practice space, so we were sitting around talking. When we’re back in town it’s kind of hard to get us all in the same room when we’re not practicing, just because everybody’s got their own lives going on, and we spend so much time together anyways. But we’re all just shooting the shit, and we were like, “Man, you know what sucks? Besides the GWAR show, we haven’t done a Richmond show in a while.” So we’re all like, “Why don't we try and get a surprise gig next week, the day before we leave? Let’s just do a real quick last-minute show, somewhere really small where we don't have to make flyers. We’ll invite our buddies and just have a ridiculous show.” We thought of Wonderland because Chad has always been super supportive and cool about our band, and we’ve never been able to play there because it’d be too crazy. We figured it’d be all right because it was super-short notice. Then we put it on the internet and a million people said they were going, so it was probably a bad idea to do that. [laughs]
Yeah, I imagine it's gonna be crazy as hell.
I hope so. I hope it’s fun. We know what we’re in for, so we’re just gonna tone it down a bit and blast through all our songs. Nothing too crazy. We’ll see how it goes.
Words by Andrew Necci
Images by Ryan Hackett, Luna Duran, and Rebecca Joelson