Interview with Anthony Romero & Jonah Haze of Crucifire by EC

So you guys are undertaking the huge job of starting up a metal band from scratch. Lets just start with first things first, the new band forming is going to be called Crucifire. Who came up with the band name?

Anthony - We both did. A collaboration from both of us. It took three weeks or so. We were called Stark Raven at one time.

Jonah - We both believed that the material and our presentation alone was strong, we just needed something strong like Black Sabbath. That is the ultimate heavy metal band name.

What is the proposed line-up for the group?

Anthony - Jonah Haze on vocals, myself on guitar, we will only have the one guitar, Joe Maldonado on drums, since the beginning. We've been through three bass players already.

Jonah - We have it taken care of as far as the studio, just looking for a permanent piece of the puzzle for Crucifire. We attack everything in our lives with integrity, so you know, if it means we have to hold out for the right person, then that's what it means.

Anthony - The band is fair, no arguments or anything.

Jonah - We are all accomplished players, but honestly we deliver without ego. Anthony, I've never met a guitar player that plays with one-hundred percent all the time. His heart is just in the right place.

In your own words, what type of sound will Crucifire have? Can we expect European power metal, a thrash sound, or something in between?

Anthony - Well a song called "Angel Dust", it used to be called "Evil, Wicked, Mean, and Nasty". We used to have it with Bloodlust.

Jonah - I took a lot of riffs that Anthony gave me, some were old and some were new, and I just completely fucked them all up (laughing). I re-arranged everything, I confused the hell out of Anthony...

Anthony - ...For me it was like starting from scratch, but it was good.

Jonah - It was a bit thrashy at times, right Anthony?

Anthony - Yeah, not really speed metal...

Jonah - ...In our own words, Crucifire would be US power metal. European influenced, not really thrashy, but very melodic madness with melody, so hence people will draw comparisons from bands such as Maiden and Dio....

Anthony - ...Sammy Hagar with metal mixed in for me...

Jonah - To me it sounds like Saxon, its classicly influenced, traditional, its in your face and up your ass, you know, fucking power metal! There's only...well..when people try to describe US power metal they're like Iced Earth and Steel Prophet. It really belongs in Europe, from Germany to England to Austria to Switzerland and everywhere. We really have a sound that is powerful. I guess we can call it that because it draws comparison to that. There hasn't been a really big American power metal band that has broken through here yet.

Anthony - The songs like "Legion", the first single, to me it will be like old Iron Maiden. Another song "To The Devil A Daughter" reminds me of Ozzy.

Jonah - That's funy because in the verse of that song, I sing death metal, the cookie monster growls. It sounds really chunky and verse rhythm. The chorus is really beautiful and catchy. Bands can concentrate and they can just say in the press we did it naturally. Anthony and I have a pop sensibility. We are unapologetic, unashamed, and uncompromsing. We are heavy fucking metal. We have that pop sensibility that will catch the audience. All killer, no filler.

Anthony Romero, after a fifteen year absence from making heavy metal records, why choose 2004 to start up this new project? Why the long wait?

Anthony -Well its been years in the making, trying to put an original band together. I've played with a lot of bands, cover bands, writing my own music, all this time going through different music. Good heavy metal musicians have already been taken, so it was really fortunate to run into Jonah.

In the past we have talked about a 7" vinyl release for Maximum Metal Records, featuring two songs from the forthcoming Crucifire record. Side A will feature a song called "Legion". Tell us a little bit about that track.

Jonah - Like Anthony said earlier, it reminds me of Iron Maiden. The music spoke to me in a very Maiden fashion. How do I put this? We do have our influences and we will never deny that because everybody does, however we are original. We have our own unique presentation, but I have a gripe about bands that say they have no influences and are completely original, or they site the wrong ones as references. Anyone who sits down with that instrument or tries to write lyrics do that because they are influenced by music. Anyone who tries to claim differently can just fuck off. Let me tell you about the song "Legion". When I try to write lyrics, I try to write specific meaning. I try to generate it to where anybody from the audience can take something from the song and have it mean something to them. So if someone gets something different from this song than what I get or what Anthony gets, then that's okay because they are getting something from it. I specifically wrote "Legion" about the followers of darkness, followers of the Devil, and the trappings of the Devil and how easy it is and how weak we are as humans to fall into those traps. There are more of them out there than what we think.

The B-side will be "Roll Away The Stone". Tell us how that one will sound.

Jonah - That's just straight ahead, up-tempo, kick ass rocker.

Anthony - Hard rock sound, mixed with heavy metal.

Jonah - Good point. Lyrically I took it to a place where I thought I could take it. I just try to say it through Jonah, like I'm supposed to say it. I just took it to a place that would be different, but it doesn't distract.

What type of time table are you guys looking at for the Crucifire debut to hit the shelves?

Jonah - Hopefully it will be out for Christmas. A nice little treat for the metal kiddies.

Jonah, from what you have told me, you have a voice that can do many different things, from the occasional growls all the way to Halford. On this new record, what type of voice will we hear?

Jonah - Mainly you will hear the traditional power vocals. Nice, clean, high bravado. Nice, rich songs and textures with all of that, but there will be diversity when certain songs call for it, the death metal vocals, the smooth clean vocals, or high screams. Whatever it asks for I give it. That will be the added bonus to this, what will you expect from a power metal vocalist. I do have really, what would you say Anthony...

Anthony - ...I would say a good mixture of European and American.

Jonah - Enough to satisfy both audiences.

How many songs are planned for the release, and are any song titles available at this point?

Jonah - Anthony, you want to give the song titles?

Anthony - Let's see, "Angel Dust", "Legion", "To The Devil A Daughter", "I Came Here To Die", "Wish Upon A Scar", "Rock Is Dead", "Roll Away The Stone", "No Hero", "Time Killing Time", and "Crucifire".

Jonah - Anthony we were talking about that other one, the bluesy track. Sixty plus minutes of music. We don't believe in short albums or two minute fucking songs. It will be difficult to get on American radio with a single, but we will try and throw in a bonus song called "Sign From Heaven". Maybe exclusively for Europe. There's more too, but this is what we have scaled it down to. The best representation of Crucifire. They all stand alone perfectly and work together as an album. Strongest heavy metal album that anyone has heard in a long time. People need this and want it, and its our privilage and duty to provide for them.

Okay, lets go away from Crucifire for the moment and take a step back in time. Anthony, lets start with you. You were originally in a band called Bloodlust in the early 80s, and released one masterful US power-thrash album called "Guilty As Sin". What are your thoughts on that album now, 20 years later?

Anthony - I think it was a great album and great band. I would love to see it released on CD. Yeah, its a good album, I thought it could have been recorded better. It could have been mixed better. Limited at the time, some of the guys were partying a little too much. They didn't let us play out of our amps, so we couldn't get that heavy sound we wanted. Mostly all you had then was an overdrive box and we couldn't get a real good sound.

Why did you leave Bloodlust after only one record?

Anthony - Well, let's see, we lost...well we went and played with Flotsam & Jetsam. Myself and (vocalist) Guy Lord got into a fight sharing the same room. What had happened, we had two girls brought into the room and we both had girlfriends back home. I ended up marrying mine and had a kid. He...well he wanted both women and wanted me out of the room...

Jonah - ...I love Rock 'N Roll!!

Anthony - After that is when he pulled chuckle sticks on me...

EC - ...What is that?

Jonah - Like Bruce Lee, nunchucks.

Anthony - I pulled out an 8" blade, a buck-knife, the women were tripping out waiting for us to kill each other. Then I got upset, threw down the knife, grabbed him by the neck and said I don't need this bullshit. He backed down...a guy next door was yelling and our drummer was saying kill him...

Jonah - You should have killed the bitches, knocked him out, called the police, and blamed it on him...

Anthony - ...The next day no one wanted to take him home. Our bass player decided to take him back. After he got back in L.A. he quit the band.

Jonah - Then you guys rekindled with Lord?

Anthony - Yeah, with Bloodlust we found a dwarf singer, that I didn't like, small little guy, all looks but no voice. We played the Country Club with Abattoir and then that was it. I was bummed out and felt good going to the show, and I plugged into the amp and couldn't get it going. The roadies were trying to figure out why I wasn't getting any sound. But the show went on and after that it was a mutual thing, "you're out, I quit anyway".

I heard you mention once that you were offered a gig in the band Savage Grace, another notable US thrash act that still have a huge following. What happened with that, and do you have any regrets for not joining with them?

Anthony - Yeah, they offered me the gig, wanted me in the band when I was in Bloodlust. I wasn't familiar with Savage Grace's music. So in a nice way I said "thanks but no thanks".

For you, what was the highlight of being in that band?

Anthony - We did the Country Club with Megadeth. We opened for them the day they got signed by Capital. We had a fog machine, our manager had us use the fog machine and we couldn't get ours to work so we wanted to use their's. We kinda like had an argument with Megadeth over the fog machine. We couldn't get our way, they said "we got you here and you ain't using it and the show goes on". We ended up playing and giving it our all. Probably our best show.

I've read that you went on to join a band called Lord, with ex-Bloodlust vocalist Guy Lord. What type of music was Lord?

Anthony - Lord was more of a rock band. A lot of ballads, hard rock ballads, we did a cover of the Doors' "The End". Sounded like Jim Morris.

Jonah - What happened when Guy approached you about Lord?

"its classicly influenced, traditional, its in your face and up your ass, you know, fucking power metal! "
Anthony - Well he found out I got out of Bloodlust. He wanted me to see him with a new guitar player. He called me the next day and the guitar player was doing amazing things on the guitar but he didn't sound like me.

Jonah - Were you friends before Bloodlust?

Anthony - Yeah we were in a band called Warlock.

Jonah - So it was all good, but you guys just didn't stay in touch after Bloodlust?

Anthony - Yeah he called me when Lord started. He had his band and everything. He was looking for another guitar player and asked me to be part of it. I said sure. I had an original on the record. We were out of money, had the same manager. We ended up recording the original song called "Back To The Asylum", about a guy out killing and terrorizing people.

What were your activities after Lord?

Anthony - After Lord in '87, I was playing in a band originally called Warlock, then it became Voodoo Child. Doing covers like Hendrix and some originals.

How did you meet Jonah?

Anthony - He called me from an ad.

Okay, that brings me to Mr. Jonah Haze. Jonah, when did you first start singing, and have you had any vocal training?

Jonah - Well I have been singing all my life, as a kid and church and choir and all that. I started singing in bands in 1989, 1990 at 16 or 17 and have not turned back since. Vocal training, yeah I've had training. A bit of classical training and some voice training in general. I believe you can never quite learn enough. You should always try to keep learing and strengthening. I've had training but not like Geoff Tate, who can't even sing anymore.

EC - Yeah, I'm not sure what happened there...

Jonah - I think he's a fag, gay or not he's just a pussy. He forgot his roots or denied them and just chooses not to sing with balls anymore. Tate still thinks he is the world's greatest. I just read an article where he said three singers can still sing like him...plenty of singers are good...the entire band is one giant pussy. They know better, just like Metallica, to deny their roots. They insult their core audience to forget where they came from. It's not about cutting your hair, its about violating the original integrity of their songwriting. These bands...America beware...these bands haven't reinvented themselves. Ozzy, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, they reinvent themselves succesfully. They all respect where they came from. They respect the original integrity of their songwriting. But you listen to Metallica and Queensryche and you can't even tell it's them. They are like all the other pieces of shit out there. They were leaders and now followers.

What have been your activities prior to Crucifire?

Jonah - Okay, moved down to southern California in L.A. in 1994 at the worst possible time for heavy metal, but quickly formed the band Seventh Fury, which was extremely more European, more so than Crucifire, which has a more US sensibility. This was straight up ten minute epics. It was more art than commerce, but it was still great. I met a really good friend and a great guitar player. His name was Ralph D'Ignazio, who was just great, we had that band for four or five years. We opened for Dio, Blue Oyster Cult, King Diamond, Dokken, etc. I did Seventh Fury, from that I got into management and promoting bands, from there I joined the Mike Guerro Project. Did a recording with Carmine Appice, the legendary Carmine Appice, and toured Asia...bringing metal upon thousands of people crying for metal. From there I worked in some solo stuff on a side project and read through the ads and saw an ad that said something like accomplished guitar player seeks singer for Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath metal band. It turned out it was Anthony Romero. It took a long time to find the right people...a band is a relationship.

Anthony - Found a great drummer too.

Jonah - Joe is a great drummer. He was in a band called Albatross, which was powerfully progressive. They were regulars on the Sunset Strip in the 80s and 90s. Joe has a real natural power metal feel to him, reminds me of Cozy Powell. He knows what he is doing.

Anthony - I think I only played with two good drummers, Mark West and Joe. I play drums myself so I know about those.

What was it like working with the legendary Carmine Appice?

Jonah - What can I say? I was a fan and fellow musician at the same time. He truly was very natural in everything he did. Gentle, kind, and spoke up and put in his two cents helping us out with the album. We learned from him you can be a legend and still be a real person and have a head on your shoulders. Unlike some of the other people we won't mention who abuse their legendary status. I brought a Mother's Army CD and a Blue Murder CD and had him sign it. I was a real geek. I asked him what it was like working with Joe Lynn Turner and like everyone else he said Joe had the pipes. I love Joe Lynn, he is definitely one of my influences, you have to throw him in there.

Everyone always mentions that the Asian metal fans are like no other music fans in the world. What did you think of the fans there, and how different is the metal scene there as opposed to North America?

Jonah - We couldn't get through a set without them rushing on stage and getting our autographs. It seemed as if they had been locked up or repressed, depressed, repressed again from metal forever. It was such a great release for them. They react in a way that is physical, vocal, emotional, just a powerful audience. The energy feeds you and makes you want to give it your best. I've seen no other audiences like that but that was really eye-opening. We had played some towns there that had never had a heavy metal band, places that Ozzy or Metallica wouldn't visit. We were the closest thing they had. We played in big places too, and they were appreciative. Incredible. I learned the real valuable experience, the circular energy that goes from the audience to the musicians to the stage. Its a natural high that can never be replaced and for one night you are making a difference in your lifetime and someone else's.

Who was the first metal singer you ever remember hearing?

Jonah - It would probably be Ozzy, old Sabbath. I think you hear things as a kid and not know how to process it. The first thing that scared the shit out of me was Sabbath and I loved it and knew it was for me.

Jonah, what newer bands really catch your ear?

Jonah - Well a lot of newer bands catch my ear in Europe. The European power metal scene. Rhapsody, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Edguy, Freedom Call. New music...lets see, I have the Everlast CD in my player right now. I hate rap but I like this. It's a good record. Nothing in America...Buckcherry gave it a try, they are dead now. I still turn to the classics. I still buy new material from the 80s artists, I'm frequently disappointed in albums from RATT and Motley Crue but I still buy them and support them. I'm always impressed by Motorhead, Saxon, AC/DC, bands that didn't forget where they came from.

Okay, we are going to play the Maximum Metal Maximum Minute Game. This is pretty simple. I'm going to ask each of you a set of questions. Basically this is one short question like Dessert-Pie or Ice Cream and you only have 5 seconds to give us your favorite of the two. With having to answer the questions so fast, it sort of goes right off of what your brain immediately likes. Lets start with Jonah:

Judas Priest-Rob Halford or Tim Owens?
Jonah - Halford

Ozzy Osbourne-Zak Wylde, Jake E. Lee, or Randy Rhodes?
Jonah - Jake E. Lee

Mercyful Fate Or King Diamond?
Jonah - King Diamond

David Lee Roth's Van Halen or Sammy Hagar's Van Halen?
Jonah - Hagar

Best Cars-Dukes Of Hazzard or Knight Rider?
Jonah - Dukes Of Hazzard!

Today's Power Leaders-Iced Earth or Rhapsody?
Jonah - Rhapsody

SPAM-Fun Treat or Nasty Meat?
Jonah - Nasty Meat

Most Influential-Deep Purple or Rainbow?
Jonah - Rainbow

Kid Rock-Rock Star or Poser?
Jonah - Rock Star

Best Mouse-Mickey Mouse or Mighty Mouse?
Jonah - Mighty Mouse

Best Blues-Robert Plant or David Coverdale?
Jonah - Coverdale baby!

Most Chaotic-Motley Crue or Guns 'N Roses?
Jonah - Motley Crue

Okay, now we go to the 80s metal superstar, Anthony Romero.

Black Sabbath-Dio, Martin, or Ozzy?
Anthony - Ozzy

Iron Maiden-Di'Anno, Dickinson, or Blaze?
Anthony - Dickinson

German Metal Gods-Accept or Scorpions?
Anthony - Scorpions

Metallica-Jason Newsted or Cliff Burton?
Anthony - Burton

Tallest Hair-Cinderella or Poison?
Anthony - Poison

Hottest Comic Chick-Wonder Woman or Cat Woman?
Anthony - Cat Woman

Dryest Deodorant-Right Guard, Old Spice, or Sure
Anthony - Sure

Over The Top-European Metal or US Metal?
Anthony - European

Heaviest Sound-Vinyl, CD, or 8-Track?
Anthony - Vinyl

Best KISS-Paint or No Paint?
Anthony - With Makeup

Best Of The Bay-Megadeth, Slayer, or Metallica?
Anthony - Metallica

Metal Goddess-Pat Benatar or Lita Ford?
Anthony - Lita Ford

Well enough of the goofy stuff. When will you guys be hitting the studio for the 7" single?

Anthony - Hopefully by the end of July.

Last question of the evening, will Crucifire be a one-shot deal, or will we expect more albums from the band?

Jonah - Yeah more albums of course, we intend to be the next Sabbath.

Anthony - I have forty-three songs and keep writing.

Jonah - We won't stop. The music is just to good. Our responsibility is just too large for the mass audience. People just wanna fucking rock. We wanna rock, the audience will rock!

Anthony - Anyone who comes to our show will not be disappointed.


Anthony Romero, Jonah HazeEric Compton7/18/2004


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