Interview with Paineater 2014
By Bradley Smith
Hells to one of the most cult bands from the Florida death metal underground. I have known you guys to a degree for quite some time and even to me the history of Paineater's formation is still somewhat of a mystery. Can you give me some details regarding how you guys came together and what were some of the goals you had with, and influences on Paineater?
Mark: I had been friends with Bob since the very early 80’s and we were in a hardcore band together named Man In The Boat that started around 1987 and it had a sexploitation/gore theme to the lyrics. We had fun with the band but wanted to take it in a more metal/grindcore/industrial direction and that was not what Man In The Boat were all about so we transitioned into a new band called Paineater which started out as a four piece band. We started out faster with more of a grindcore influence, but the members of the band would not tune down enough to get the sound we were looking for. We changed the lineup a bit and temporarily changed the name of the band to Torso. Dig from Earache Records stopped by the radiator shop that we practiced at to hear the band back then. Bob and another friend of ours Ray won a Halloween costume contest together and Bob took his $500 cash prize and bought a drum machine. We stripped the band down to a two piece and crafted our sound and renamed the new lineup Paineater again. My goal with Paineater was to turn hatred into sound. Our influences for Paineater was the violence that we were always involved in throughout the streets of Tampa and Ybor City, the disturbing exploitation and gore films that we were always watching, and the extreme metal and hardcore shows that we were always attending.
Bob: Me and Mark were in Man in the Boat together and we wanted to move in a metal direction. We formed Paineater as a full band, but we couldn't find dedicated members. I won a costume contest and bought a drum machine with the money. We both really liked Big Black and decided to go at it as a two piece.
Paineater was quite different than pretty much any band back in the late 80s/early 90s in that you consisted of a Drum machine and a bass guitar as your only instrumentation. Why did you choose to only use a bass and drum machine? It was a big risk don't you think? I always found that the underground was really narrow minded back in that period. So how was Paineater viewed by your peers?
Mark: After stripping that band down to a two piece it made things easier for creating music so we just figured we would take it as far as we could but always had a vision to add more depth to our style when needed such as some female vocals, violins, more electronics and experimentation in general as long as we kept the core of the sound intact without morphing into a completely different band. We never saw it as a risk because we never thought we were going to turn out to be famous rock stars. Many of the early zines were confused by the sound but felt strangely attracted to it and we got some great reviews but there were some that were not ready for what we were doing. We just never gave a shit about what anybody thought about us.
Bob: Many people hated us, especially the traditional heavy metal types. We were really into creating havoc so we could gain fans or get into fights. We were fine with it going either way at the time.
One thing that always impressed me was Paineater's stage show. Mark's animated movements and guttural vocals were so maniacal and fit perfectly within the context of the music. Plus Bob was such a ghoul on bass. Tell me about how it felt up on that stage. Also tell me about the steady stream of underground horror violence that played during that show at the Star Club in Ybor.
Mark: The violence of the music would feed the crowd and the tension would build up, sometimes erupting into fights. Whether we were playing in front of 25 people or 250 I would put on the same show with the same intensity because I was driven by the music. I never understood how bands could be up on stage playing this intense music and standing there like statues. I think too many of these types of people are worried that the audience might notice a mistake they would make while playing, which is so lame because they are missing the whole point of a live show.
Bob: It was intended to be chaos and it usually felt that way. If it wasn't chaotic then the show would really suck. Matt (Mark’s Brother) was into video trading so we would splice together clips to play during the shows.
And while we are on the topic of horror movies, what do you think were some of the most important horror movies from the Paineater era? I figure Nekromantik was probably one of them. And what do you look for in a horror movie that makes it "good?"
Mark: Yes, Nekromantik, Cannibal Holocaust, Man Behind The Sun, Salo 120 Days Of Sodom, In A Glass Cage, and many of the Herschell Gordon Lewis films like 2000 Maniacs to name a few. To be a great film it really has to draw you in and leave you feeling disturbed and unsettled. There should always be a feeling of darkness and danger and you should never feel safe or hopeful.
Bob: I figure Nekromantik was probably one of them. And what do you look for in a horror movie that makes it “good?” (This would be Mark’s domain)
You just released a pretty substantial career retrospective for Paineater which includes a book and an LP, called Abomination Trials. Can you tell me what all is involved in this release and how did it come about? What material is featured on the LP? Why did you choose now to release it? Wasn't this release originally supposed to come out on Necroharmonic Records?
Mark: Necroharmonic has most of our recordings and had the Paineater CD discography listed as coming soon on the website but Roy has just not been as active with the label recently. We had been getting asked by some underground fans if we were ever going to release the early material on vinyl. Since we had never put out a full length recording with our earlier material on it we figured that after getting these requests from the underground that we would have to put it out ourselves. It was a fan funded project where we had to reach $2,500 in 40 days to get the album funded. We were impressed with the diehard fans from around the world that made their donations toward the project and made us hit the goal and got the project funded. The Paineater -Abomination Trials colored vinyl album and book was a true underground project and we thank everyone involved, including our friend James Murphy who did a great job mastering the album considering the low fidelity recordings that he had to work with.
Bob: I started an Indiegogo campaign last year and we really pushed to get it funded, that took tons of work. We found the artist (Brandon Geurts) to do the cover and he agreed. I did all the layout. We initially tried to get the music pressed without mastering but, it sent the cutting machine into a frenzy. We got James Murphy to do the mastering and it came out really well but it delayed the release about a month. It was a ton of work making those old cassettes work for vinyl. The record contains both of the demos and 4 rehearsal songs with Joe Kiser on guitar. We wanted to feature one of each song we had finished at the time. Yes, we talked to Roy from Necroharmonik off and on for about twenty years with a bunch of different ideas but it never came to fruition.
Paineater released another album in the not too distant past called Creator Preserver Destroyer. Can you expound upon it a bit? How did it relate to Paineater's early material and how did it show growth and expansion?
Mark: Bob was living in Colorado at the time and sent me all of the new recordings that he had completed just two weeks before I was going to take a vacation with the family to Colorado to stay with him. I had been working on new lyrics and just talked them out over the new recordings just to get the timing down. Every evening after we returned from adventuring Colorado we would go down into the basement and record my vocals. All of the recordings were done without ever practicing together which made it fun doing the recordings in an improvisational style. It gave the recordings a raw and loose sound. If anyone wants to release a vinyl version of Creator Preserver Destroyer we would just need to get it mastered. I would want to use James Murphy again. The cover and layout is already complete.
Bob: Yes we recorded it in 2009. It had four old songs reworked and 5 new songs. I played all the music on this release. I’m not sure if it did show growth or expansion, you would have to be the judge of that. It is available on a CD with all the tracks from the LP. http://Kunaki.com/Sales.asp?PID=PX00ZF7FOA
What was it like growing up in Tampa during the heyday of death metal? How did it shape your views on it extreme music? What bands do you feel were the most special and represented the scene the best?
Mark: I feel very fortunate having grown up in the Brandon/Tampa area and got to see such a great music scene evolve. I got to see Mantas at their first show in Tampa opening for Nasty Savage while they were in the process of changing their name to Death. Their music crushed me!!! Most people were not ready for their version of metal at that time but I met them after their show and became friends talking about all of the metal bands that we were into. I knew the guys from Obituary and saw them play their first show in a parking lot of a music store in Brandon when they were called Executioner. I met Morbid Angel outside of a show of the Canadian hardcore band D.O.A. They had just recorded their first demo and played it for me and I could not believe how amazing it was. Massacre were originally a thrash metal band and I saw Kam working at a convenience store in Brandon not knowing that he had just moved there from Orlando. I told my friend Bill Andrews that they should get Kam in the band. Kam joined Massacre and got Rick to move to Brandon with him and join the band as well. I got to see one of the greatest metal singers, Jon Oliva, back in the days when they were still called Avatar. I had seen Atheist when they were called R.A.V.A.G.E., and saw Amon before they were called Deicide. Those were just a few great moments of the metal scene, but Tampa also had a great hardcore scene in the early days as well. As to how it shaped my views on extreme music is that it showed me how much originality that spewed forth from the music of Tampa/Brandon bands. After the first wave of bands that influenced Death Metal and Black Metal, bands like Motorhead, Venom, Slayer, Hellhammer, Sodom, Destruction, Kreator, Bathory, Celtic Frost you got the second wave of bands. This is when Death Metal and Grindcore were born. Some of the most influential bands, excluding Repulsion, came from Tampa and Brandon (the other half of the death metal birthplace) Florida. Bands like Morbid Angel, Death, Obituary, Massacre, who all came from the same area but each band having their own unique sound and style and influenced metal bands around the world. It is almost impossible to name any early Death Metal bands (other than Paineater-haha) that do not have obvious influences from these four bands. Back then these people were not musicians or considered as such. They were fans of extreme metal and they got together and created their noise. They were not composing musical compositions by writing sheet music. They were not trying to write avant –garde jazz fusion by noodling around on their instruments and writing songs with the most time changes they could fit into every song. They were fans of metal filled with teen angst and aggression who were passionately playing their noisy version of metal for anyone who would listen and did not give a goddamn what people thought about them.
Bob: It all happened at the same time as us starting Paineater. It was really cool, we got recognition mostly because we were from Tampa and we did things completely different from the other bands. Had the trend held on longer, we probably would've had a record out at the time that Obituary, Morbid Angel, Massacre, Death, Nocturnus, and all the most well known bands at the time did.
I know every scene probably has their own important landmarks within their locality. What were the important ones in your opinion for Tampa? I know several of them for me were The Ritz Theater and Cuban Club in Ybor, Jannus Landings in St. Pete and Ace's Records and Alternative Records. What made them so special to you?
Mark: The Star Club, The Rainbow Club, Sunset Club, Volley Club, Lonesome Coyote, Masquerade, and Children’s Haven are also a few of the memorable clubs in the area. These clubs are special to me because I have seen so many great concerts at these venues and played at most all of them. Hanging out backstage and raising hell with so many bands. So many great times with friends filled with laughter as well as many memorable fights. Sneaking into the bigger shows was a fun challenge in those days. I remember going to the top floor of the Cuban Club with a few friends and running through a business meeting full of men in suits and climbing out the window in front of them and then quickly descending down the fire escape ladder into the courtyard below where the show was about to take place and then fading into the crowd.
Bob: Those were the places that the death metal scene was happening. Ybor City was great because that scene ruled the area and nothing else was really going on down there.
Why did Paineater disband and why did you move away from Tampa? Do you still look back on those days with a sense of nostalgia? What are a couple of your most treasured memories from that period in relation to Paineater and the Tampa scene?
Mark: With Paineater we reached our limit with the electronic equipment that we had at the time. We had gotten sounds out of the equipment that should not have even been possible so we decided that before we program any new music that we need to hold off and buy the new equipment that we would need to further expand our sound. We put Paineater on a temporary hiatus back in 1992 but the band dissolved before we got what we needed to start the next chapter of our band. It was not until 2009 that we got back together to record again. My wife and I had visited Colorado for our Honeymoon back in 1999 in Breckenridge and thought it was such a beautiful state. We thought it would be a great place to move one day. After having two kids while I was still living in Florida there was some Latin gang tag graffiti that got painted on the fence entranceway of our neighborhood and I knew at that moment that it was time to move out. In Brandon that was never an issue in the 1980’s until you went out to the city of Tampa or Ybor City where we beat the shit out of many gangbangers keeping the brick-covered streets red with their blood from street fights.
Bob: The scene stated to die down and we were getting bored with it. I moved away because I grew tired of Florida and wanted to change my environment. That time was fun but everything changed at that time and I wanted to move on.
What do you have going on these days? Where do you live now and are you still in touch with the extreme music scene? Any other plans regarding Paineater that we can expect?
Mark: I still have the same hobbies that I have had in the past such as going to concerts, playing pinball and video games, hiking, camping, target shooting, swimming, bike riding, and watching movies. I have just added a few new ones to the list after living in Colorado such as snowshoeing, skiing, and white water rafting but I just share these things with my kids now. I live in a small town about 30 minutes south of Denver called Castle Rock. We have played 2 Paineater shows after living here over 3 and a half years. I am always searching for new extreme bands that interest me as well as always searching out early heavy bands from the 60’s and 70’s that I missed the first time around. Bands in the vein of Dust, Bang, Sir Lord Baltimore, Gun, and Coven. I also listen to 70’s glam, outlaw country and country and western, psych, NWOBHM, and many styles in between. I do not like to be limited to music by labels or genres that are put upon them. Nothing is in the works right now with Paineater but I would like to do some more recordings in the future.
Bob: We both live in the South Denver metro area. We both have families. I still keep up with current music. Some recent faves are Pallbearer, Wounded Kings, VHOL, Pinkish Black... No plans at the moment for Paineater or other projects.
Being as you guys were into a lot of the old Japanese heroes like Godzilla and Shogun Warriors and so forth, what are your thoughts on the upcoming Godzilla movie? Do you still follow any of the more recent Japanese Godzilla movies? What about a movie like Pacific Rim that draws upon all those old giant monster movies and updates the concept? What are some underrated movies/characters that we should really acquaint ourselves with? Destroy All Monsters!
Mark: The new Godzilla directed by Gareth Edwards turned out fantastic and went beyond my expectations for an American Godzilla after seeing the 1998 disgrace that featured Matthew Broderick. The 2014 Godzilla is a must see in IMAX 3D. I have seen every Godzilla movie. I thought they did a great job with Pacific Rim. As far as early giant monster (daikaiju) movies go, one of my all time favorites is War Of The Gargantuas. Some other great daikaiju characters are Gamera, Mechanikong, Gappa, Varan, Gorgo, Dogora, Daimaijin, Yongary, and all of the TOHO monsters such as Mantango. One of the first Paineater songs was entitled When I Die Bury Me On Monster Island.
Bob: Mark saw the new movie and liked it, I rarely go to movies.
Thanks again, to the cult and mighty Paineater for the interview! I'll leave any final words to you, especially those about becoming a human TAXIDERMIST!
Mark: Thanks Brad for your massive support and getting behind the band during the album campaign and doing this interview with Paineater!!! You are a true fan of extreme music that has stood the test of time.
Bob: Buy at least five copies of the record. Me and Bradley have many copies to get rid of!
If you are interested in purchasing the Paineater demos LP, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org They are currently priced at $15 postage paid in the USA. Worldwide customers contact me and I will obtain the postal rates for a package to your country.