LAZARUS A.D.’S JEFF PAULICK: THE METALSUCKS INTERVIEW… #2!
Lazarus A.D. bassist/vocalist Jeff Paulick is the latest to join the ranks of musicians we’ve interviewed more than once (see Axl’s March 2009 interview with him here). Perhaps it’s because he agrees with our assessment that his band has been unfairly lumped in with the re-thrash movement; “I never wore a jean jacket in my life and I’ve never bought a patch in my life. Last time I wore hightops, I was in kindergarten or I was playing basketball. We’re not part of that crew and a lot of bands are from California and whatnot. We’re from Wisconsin. It just doesn’t exist here.” He also has nothing but great things to say about Revocation and Sylosis, a good barometer for how he approaches his own thrash-influenced — but not thrash rip-off — music. More than anything else during the course of my interview with Jeff a couple of weeks back, he stressed how he feels it’s important for bands to grow musically from release to release rather than simply writing the same record over and over.
Lazarus A.D.’s new album Black Rivers Flow is certainly a change for the band, which you can find out for yourself before its February 1st release by streaming the entire thing on Metal Underground this week. During my interview with Jeff we spoke at length about the new record, the reality of dudes in metal bands having day jobs when they’re not on tour,
What’s going on? What are you up to?
Right now I am on break on my job. Just chilling. I work at a Mexican restaurant in my hometown [Kenosha, Wisconsin]. It’s a really chill job. I just sling tacos and relax all day.
They give you the flexibility to go on tour when you need to?
Yeah, yeah. My manager is really cool. He lets me come and go as I please. It’s awesome.
That’s awesome. Is he a metalhead?
No, not really. This city isn’t really huge and to be in any type of band that’s even signed is a bigger deal than most. He thinks it’s cool, and he knows that I work really hard at it and to be able to have a job while I’m home definitely helps out big time. I’m not making bank here, but it’s still a job.
Definitely. The day job thing is always a sticky issue. Some guys in bands are like “yeah, I work day jobs. I’ve got to support my love and bands don’t make enough money most of the time.” Some guys get really taboo about it — it’s like they can’t talk about it.
I think with the economy the way that it is, I’m not afraid to go out and say I work a minimum wage job. There are some people without jobs. It’s like what’s the difference? Yeah, I get up on stage. I’m a down to earth dude. I’m not going to sit here and lie about what I really do when I’m home.
Yeah, totally. That’s kind of the way more and more it’s going. Especially with the younger generation of bands. That’s the reality of it. No one is really making bank anymore.
Yeah, exactly. When your pool of money is completely depleted with the digital downloading, in five years all music is going to be free. You’ve got to find sources of income elsewhere. If that means that I’ve got to have a day job while I’m home to do what I love for 3/4 of a year I’m cool with that.
You guys have a new album coming out. It comes out in just about a month here, I think [February 1st]. What can you say about that album? What it means for the band and how it compares to the last one?
Well, it’s obviously different. Most people right off the bat are going to notice that there’s a lot of changes that we’ve gone through as a band. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the first record that we put out [through Metal Blade] was a re-release. It was already two years old before we even put it out worldwide. Some of those songs were written in 2005 when I was still a junior in high school. Things were a lot different back then for us as a band and as individuals. I’m 23 years old now, and I’ve been to Japan and toured America a bunch of times. I dropped out of college to do this, and a lot of things have happened since then. Obviously as you get older, you mature. Certain things in your life are always going to impact your musical direction. That’s where you get all your inspiration from.
This record is a lot more mature, it’s a lot more sound, it’s a lot more diverse. We definitely tried to step up the vocals in a lot of departments and diversified them on the screaming level and on the singing level. We got Dan [Gapen] more involved with the vocals. Just everything all around was a big step up as far as we are concerned. We didn’t change anything about the songwriting process. People are going to sit here and knock on it and say that it’s a much slower record than the first one, but it wasn’t really an intent to be slower. It was just that this is how the songs came out. This was the vibe we were feeling at the time. That’s what it was. When you play songs every night songs it does get a little old. To have some diversity in the set is going to be a breath of fresh air for us.
Yeah. It’s interesting that you chose the word “slower” to describe it. It sounds like actually other people have said that to you. Regardless, I didn’t really necessarily think it was slower, but I did sort of get the vibe that it was more of a rock influence as opposed to just playing fast metal all the time.
For sure. That’s something that came out almost naturally because when you think of rock, you think of how the height of rock and roll was definitely the ’70s and some of the ’80s. I guess it came out naturally because that is some of our favorite music. When you break it down, pretty much all of our favorite bands: Metallica, Pantera (obviously… that’s everybody’s favorite band), AC/DC and Led Zeppelin and just a lot of classic rock in general like Creedence Clearwater and stuff like that — just that whole ’70s vibe of groove and writing good songs and having a good time and getting into the groove of a good jam. A lot of those songs are very catchy and they’re easy to sing along to. They’ve just got everything. I guess that came out kind of naturally in the songwriting process. We definitely wanted to have the modern sound. It’s still heavy. It’ll contend with the rest of the metal bands out there. I guess some of that rock feel definitely did come out on this record. That’s because that’s what we like and especially at the time what we were listening to. We even did a cover on this CD — it’ll be on the Japanese release — of the Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove.” We didn’t try to make it metal or anything. We just kind of updated it with a modern sound with some heavy guitars and drums and vocals and whatnot.
That’s awesome. I haven’t heard that one, but I look forward to it. Do you feel that now that you’re not a brand new band anymore, you kind of proved your stripes with the heavy album right off the bat and now you have a little bit more freedom to experiment?
Absolutely. I think ultimately that’s what the great bands do. You can’t write the same record over and over. The only band to me, and I praise them for it, that can write the same record over and over is Slayer. They’ve done it time and time again. For some reason it’s still sticking for them, and that’s great. It works for them. Every other band it just doesn’t. I think you have to experiment. You have to try different things and push forward — especially us. If you’re not writing music that you’re completely and utterly passionate about, people are going to see that especially when you play the songs live. When we play the songs on The Onslaught live, people could see every night we got up on stage that we just absolutely loved to play these songs and play them for this crowd. They could see how hard we tried every night.
If we were going to go in for the second record and pretty much write the exact same record again, it probably would just be a little less good. The intensity wouldn’t be there. It would almost sound like we’re trying too hard to make it sound like The Onslaught but better. That’s not what we wanted to do. We wanted to just let things kind of flow naturally because ultimately . . . Dan is the main songwriter. He writes a lot of the riffs and whatever he’s feeling at that moment that’s typically what we’re going to use because he has something special when it comes to writing riffs. These are the riffs that came out. I work a lot with Dan. We write the majority of the music together, and when we’re in the groove of what we’re doing, it’s just how it ends up.
Experimentation was obviously on our minds because we are getting older and we don’t want to write the same record again. We wanted to see what we could do and what we could achieve and how people are going to react to it. That’s one thing. If you gain confidence in what you do, it becomes exponential from there. It just becomes better and better as you progress as a band. That’s ultimately what a band who has had a career for 20 + years is able to do, and that’s what we’re looking to do. This is just that next step.
Do you guys feel any pressure to distance yourself from some of the bands that you guys have been lumped in with? In other words, a lot of the thrash revivalist bands?
Well, you know, it was kind of odd for us in the first place because a lot of these songs were written in ’05. Evile, as far as we were concerned, nobody knew who they were. I don’t know when they were formed. Bands like Bonded by Blood, Warbringer and all those other bands, their first records weren’t out when we were writing [our first record]. We were kind of doing it at the same time, and then all those bands got signed and put out records. We didn’t get signed. We put it out in ’07 but we didn’t get signed. We finally got signed. We finally put out the record in ’09 and here we are two years later and this thrash revival thing is kind of on the ups at that point when we released it. They were like “alright, here’s another thrash revival band” but if you look at a lot of the reviews and a lot of the fan feedback and stuff like that, especially you guys. You guys said that we were kind of like Thresher but something different, kind of like Revocation or Sylosis or something like that. I love both those bands, and I just heard the new Sylosis track and it’s great. They picked up right where they left off, moving forward is exactly what I wanted to hear from guys like that.
I want to see band progress like that. In an interview that I did on that record cycle, they always said “do you like Evile and all these bands that are coming out?” and I said “yeah, I think it’s great, but I’d really like to see what they do on their next record. I want to see how they progress and what direction they take or if they’re just going to write the same record over and over.” That’s something that we focused on. We definitely didn’t want to write the same record again. We wanted to be more mature and write different songs and kind of vary it up and try to find our own sound rather than trying to be a part of this thrash revival. I never wore a jean jacket in my life and I’ve never bought a patch in my life.
Last time I wore hightops, I was in kindergarten or I was playing basketball. We’re not part of that crew and a lot of bands are from California and whatnot. We’re from Wisconsin. It just doesn’t exist here.
Definitely, as a band collectively, we obviously like Lamb of God. We think they’re one of the great ones. Slipknot definitely has carried the torch into the modern mainstream metal and still kept it really heavy. DevilDriver; I think Dez (Fafara) has done a great job of putting a solid band around him. I just heard the new DevilDriver track “Beast” today and I thought it was great. It’s right along with their other stuff. Some of the newer bands . . . my influences are a little bit different than some of the other guys in the band. I really love Periphery — it was my #1 album of 2010. I just think out of that whole Sumeriancore or whatever you want to call that whole genre, those guys have something so much different. The singing is really top notch and the guitar playing is totally great. It’s more than just brutal 8 string chug riffs. They’ve got something special there. Like I said, Revocation is really good. I love Sylosis’ last one. Their new one, I’m hoping, is going to be just as good. I assume it will be. It just sucks for them because I wish they’d get even more attention because they’re such a good band.
Aband that I always felt that was the best band of my time of the 2000 decade was God Forbid. I just thought that they were putting out absolutely top-notch, grade A music and just nobody was caring. Constitution or Earthsblood, I just thought that those records were the top 3 of the year each year.
You know we have your back on that. [Laughs]
For sure. They’re just amazing records and just nobody cared. I was like “how could you not? This is what metal should be.” Instead we’re seeing the bands that are rising to the top, at least for this moment, whatever trend is popular this week. We’re not going to worry too much about that. We want to focus our own sound and on us as individuals. Ultimately if we make it to a stage of success, great. That’s how we have to focus. We have to focus on ourselves and not what everybody else is doing.
What are your goals for this album? Whether that be commercially, or where you want to go on tour, or bands that you want to tour with, or who you want to reach? Really, anything at all. What are your goals?
The goals for this cycle are definitely going to be more on the business end of it. With The Onslaught, we did get a big break right off the bat being able to tour with Amon Amarth and then right after that being able to tour with Testament. Immediately after Testament, we secured the Loud Park gig for later in that year. It was just like boom, boom, boom. It was like a 1-2-3 punch for us. It was like “if this is how things are going to go, then fucking hey, this is going to be amazing.”
Definitely after that we started to not get… we were up for every tour and we were always competing with some other bands and we would always lose out on every tour that we were ever up for. Basically we really need to focus on the business end to really push this record as far as it can go and really tour with some bands. Every tour we have gone on, we always get in good with the headliner and we don’t piss anybody off and we don’t do any of those things. Hopefully they’ll reciprocate later down the line, but we really need to get on tour and get on some major market tours with some major bands, even if it’s opening.
We’re a baby band, or whatever they call it. When the record first came out and we went out with Testament nobody knew who we were. Every night people would say “damn, you guys held your own with Unearth and Testament – touring machines.” One has been doing it for 20 + years and Unearth has just made a career on touring and their live shows are absolutely amazing. People were saying that we held our own with these guys. That was a very big compliment and we pride ourselves in our live show, especially with the digital age with music not selling, your live show is your bread and butter. You have to be good live. If you’re not, you’re not going to be successful. I don’t care how good ProTools makes you sound on a record.
We really want to get on some big tours. Maybe we can get over to Europe and do Wacken and all those [festivals]. Get exposed, more bang for your buck (if you will) and get our foot in the door. That’s the biggest thing. Bands I’d like to tour with? I’d love to tour with As I Lay Dying because we missed out on that one last year that they went out with Unearth. That was one of them that we were up for. It came down to us and another band, and we didn’t get it. Obviously I’d love to tour with Slayer or Lamb of God and be on some packaged tour that they do down the line. Love to tour with Sylosis if we did a European run or something like that. Ultimately, whatever we can get as long as we can be on the road and make enough money to feed the gas tank and our stomachs. That’s what matters.
Are there any tours that you know about that you’re able to talk about that are on the horizon for you guys?
Obviously we have the Death Angel tour — that’s in a couple of weeks here. We’re going out for a month with Death Angel and Bonded by Blood. Right after that, we’re going to Europe. It’s supposed to be announced next week. I don’t want to say anything because we’ve been kind of having some problems with it. I don’t want to say it’s official and then it comes back to bite me in the ass when it doesn’t go through. [Looks like Jeff was wise to hold his tongue… tour still hasn’t been announced. -Ed.] We’re supposed to go to Europe for a month and kind of do a co-headlining run and grind-it-out tour just to get our foot in the door over in Europe. Obviously everyone wants to get on Mayhem, but from my understanding they’re all booked up. I hear Thrash and Burn isn’t going to happen this year. Summer Slaughter I doubt we’ll even be in contention for. As far as summer tours go, we’re kind of running out of ideas there. There are some bands we’re looking at to tour with, but nothing is set in stone right now. We’re just wading in the water. I think a lot of promoters and a lot of agents are really going to see what this record is going to do. If it shows that it’s a good record and people like it, then maybe all of a sudden all the offers will come pouring in. As of right now, it’s the same tune that we’re always used to “yeah we love you, but you know . . . ” [Laughs]
Well, it’s tough. And people definitely have the awareness, at least from my perspective as an internet guy. I definitely see the awareness in the sites that are posting about the new songs that are coming out and the people that are talking about it.
No, no definitely. So hopefully it’s an overall good thing and we can keep moving forward. I would like nothing more than to keep playing live and only have to work at the Taco Hut three months out of the year rather than nine.
Definitely. Well, good luck, man. Thanks a lot for taking the time.
For sure, man. I appreciate it.