DO U KNOW ABOUT CYCLONE TEMPLE?
I’m totally blown away by Cyclone Temple’s I Hate Therefore I Am, a sparkling thrash metal masterpiece from 1991. Powered by mega-riffist Greg Fulton (above, second from left) and two of his former Znöwhite bandmates, I Hate was ripped like a steroid-amped Anthrax and equally as impressive for its presciently personal lyrics. In fact, when we think of the acts that primed the pump for pity-partyers like Korn, we must place Cyclone Temple alongside Suicidal Tendencies and Nine Inch Nails. In a good way. I so love!
But I was one of few fans: Cyclone Temple, their bugfuck-awesome guitarist, and I Hate didn’t reach many ears. Worse, the band’s scant momentum was sapped by key line-up changes and the loss of their record company home. Their next releases were hardly available, then Cyclone Temple disappeared. Bummer.
Flash forward a million years: Last month Divebomb Records announced plans to remaster and rerelease I Hate‘s follow-up My Friend Lonely on a single disc with the Building Errors In The Machine EP, and that its liner notes were authored by awesome Carlos Ramirez, editor of AOL’s Noisecreep. Awesome! I contacted Ramirez to gab with a fellow fan about Cyclone Temple’s awesomeness, his involvement in the reissue, his thoughts on the band’s bad luck, the current status of Fulton and bassist Scott Schaefer, and the chances for an I Hate-era line-up reunion.
Carlos, how did you get involved with the project?
I’ve known Matt from Divebomb Records for a few years. We bonded on our mutual love for obscure AOR and metal. He always bounces ideas off me when he’s thinking about doing a specific reissue or not. When he brought up Cyclone Temple, I told him I had to be involved somehow.
How did you first discover Cyclone Temple? You’re not from their hometown Chicago, are you? Are you?
Nope, I grew up in Queens, New York. I was a fan of Znöwhite and when I read that their guitarist, Greg Fulton (aka Ian Tafoya), had started a new project, I was all over it. In a fun bit of nerd trivia, Relativity/Combat Records (Cyclone Temple’s old label) was based in Queens.
In 1991, were you (like me) shoving a copy of I Hate Therefore I Am in the faces of all your buds?
Yeah, definitely. I used to do that for a lot of the lesser-known groups I listened to. The results varied. As great as that first Cyclone Temple album is, the only other person I ever got into the band was my buddy Rob Savage. We actually caught the band live at L’Amours in Brooklyn when they were part of a package tour that came through town.
Do we have any reason to expect a return to activity by Cyclone Temple, as with other underloved acts whose renaissances were enabled by new technology (Coroner, Anacrusis)? If not new music, then maybe a special appearance at MDF or a similar fest?
Judging from what Greg and bassist Scott Schafer told me for the Divebomb reissue, I doubt it. The guys all have other stuff going on, musically and otherwise. Personally, I would love to see the Brian Troch-fronted version of the band play I Hate in its entirety one day. I was always a huge fan of Brian’s vocals. They had a certain soulful quality to them that set the band apart from a lot of their thrash peers.
Guitarist-songwriter Greg Fulton, to my knowledge, was the awesomest rhythm player on the planet in 1991. His style was marked by rapid-fire triplets alternated with yawning minor power chords; one could say that he shot steroids into the era’s standard style and expanded it with his own brooding expressions. Does your ear love his playing?
His rhythm stuff on the Cyclone Temple and Znöwhite albums is fantastic. I totally agree. It’s too bad a lot of other people didn’t discover his playing during the late ’80s/early ’90s. Is he as good a rhythm guitarist as someone like Scott Ian? Probably not. But he’s definitely an underrated player.
Building Errors In The Machine and My Friend Lonely each marked the debut of new singer. To you, did these moves help to sap their creative and commercial momentum?
Yeah, I think having a different singer for each of those recordings threw a wrench in their entire works. Here was a new band trying to secure an identity in the metal scene, and they just couldn’t keep their lineup together. It even turned off some of their pre-existing fans.
Do you find that first singer Brian Troch was more metal, while his successors Marco Salinas and Sonny DeLuca better fit the burgeoning alternative music revolution? Why the changes?
Actually I think Brian had a more traditional hard rock thing happening his voice, similar to Coburn Pharr from Annihilator and Omen, and John Bush of Armored Saint and Anthrax. Were Sonny and Marco doing an alt-rock sort of thing? Perhaps, but I don’t think what they did on those two releases sounded forced.
As a fan, how do you explain the disappearance of a killer act with such potential? Had you expected another label to reach out to them with a modest deal? Or maybe a helping hand from like-minded thrashers Anthrax or Suicidal Tendencies?
For whatever reason, Cyclone Temple never connected with a wide audience. They were never championed by the bigger metal journalists and magazines of that period. I don’t even remember seeing another band wearing one of their shirts, or even drop their name in an interview. Cyclone Temple was never considered cool.
I wasn’t surprised that another label didn’t snatch up the band once their deal with Combat fizzled. Remember that this was the period where a lot of the indie metal labels were either going heavier, like death metal, or, like you mentioned, for the “alt-metal” stuff. I think if Cyclone Temple’s first album had come out in 1987, it would have worked out much differently for them. In terms of songwriting chops, they were one of the better groups in the metal underground. It’s an example of one of those bands that comes along too late in a scene to really make some sort of long-lasting impact. But that doesn’t mean that I Hate Therefore I Am isn’t a killer record.
Cyclone Temple’s Building Errors In The Machine/My Friend Lonely remaster is out May 8. Pre-order here!