September 2011 (live broadcast via phone, Roman Midnight Music Podcast Episode #31)
Formed in the early 1990's the Los Angeles based Militants are a thrash band fronted by charasmatic vocalist/songwriter Charlie Zeigler with numerous self-released albums in their catalog. In 2011 Nate Siegel took over guitar duties & Mike Gray on drums moving the band in a new direction with an unexpected second line-up.
Though I might be a metal fan on my podcast I'd always aimed for more middle ground or hard rock musicians when it came to guests. After a year on the air I decided to change that trend with a heavy metal band. I'd been communicating with Militants frontman Charlie for months over e-mail after he sent me their 2 albums. I always liked his enthusiasm & personability so I gave him the honor of my token heavy metal interview. I didn't know till days before that Charlie had invited the rest of the band, which had yet to perform live after a few month old line-up change. I didn't know much about the new members & was watching the clock to give everyone an equal chance to share. The struggle paid off with a delightful diversity of opinions & personalities ... along with my first & only poetry recitation by Charlie. Afterwards I learned more about who I was talking to & my only regret is not having the time to talk about their pre-Militants work leaving my listeners to trust their declaration that these are indeed seasoned pros.
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AJ: Finally, after talking to each other for a long time on e-mail we finally get to talk somewhat face-to-face.
CHARLIE (vocals): Aaron, it's fantastic to be a part of the Roman Midnight Music show, coming out of Manhattan, New York City, the Big Apple! We love it very much. We appreciate being here & it's really really super cool. & all the fans out there welcome in & enjoy the show tonight!
AJ: Hey, man, thanks. Before we go any farther, let me say a hello or let me get a hello from your bandmembers. Why don't you introduce them one at a time?
CHARLIE: Okay, real quick I want to pass it over. This is Nate Siegel, guitar player of the MILITANTS.
NATE (guitar): Aaron, hi, this is Nate Siegel.
AJ: Hey, Nate, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us tonight or joining me tonight. One of the new guys in the band here & I really appreciate having you with me.
NATE: Absolutely, absolutely. Great to be here, Aaron.
AJ: We're gonna make sure, I know you're sitting around there trading off, but we're gonna make sure to come back to you & Mike, you know through out the hour so you guys don't feel left out.
NATE: Okay, very good. Very good.
AJ: Alright. Also we have our drummer Mike Gray.
MIKE (drums): What's happening, Aaron!
AJ: Hey man! Mike, thanks for joining us.
MIKE: What's rockin' in Manhattan? Talk to me.
AJ: Actually it's raining tonight. The only thing rockin' tonight is the MILITANTS!
MIKE: Well, that's awesome, man. Thank you for having us. We're glad to be part of your show & any questions you have we'll be happy to give you the most honest answer we can give ya.
AJ: Well, I expect nothing less. I really appreciate all 3 of you joining me. So often I get to talk to just one person, but when I get the entire band that's like a special bond, that's a really special, you know, it's like an entity. I have the whole beast right here with me. So I'm really glad to have all 3 of you with me tonight.
MIKE: Well, we're glad to be part of it. So what do we got planned for tonight?
AJ: This is how we work on the Roman Midnight Music Podcast: this is your show. I'm the bridge to the audience. I'm here for you to share your music, your insights, your struggles ... I don't know. This is your opportunity to share, so it's what do you have on your mind tonight is really the question I like to throw out to my guests.
MIKE: I think the biggest question we have on our minds tonight is: how can we rock your fans tonight & rock the MILITANT fans?
AJ: Why don't you start out like this ... tell me about the MILITANTS, Mike.
MKE: Well, the MILITANTS is mainly Charlie Zeigler & Charlie's been doing this for some years. He's put out some great music. You know he's a great person, songwriter, producer, all the above. Charlie & I met a few years ago & he came to me this year & asked me if I'd be happy to join along with him & do some writing & recording, put some new music out for the MILITANTS. I definitely wanted to be part of that & he brought Nate on as the new guitar player. & we're looking forward to, you know, some good things happening this year with the MILITANTS. Some new music & gettin' out there & start rockin' some live shows.
AJ: Excellent. Are you guys, are you & Nate afraid any because Charlie's been doing the MILITANTS for so long? Here you are both basically new faces. It's kinda like a brand new band in a way. Is that scary or nerve-wracking to you two?
NATE: No, not at all. We're all seasoned musicians who've been doing this for years. We've all played in pro bands, recording & touring-wise & this is just a new opportunity to express what we love to do.
AJ: Alright, works for me. Listen, why don't I get Charlie to bring us back in time a little bit more talk about how this thing started.
NATE: You got it. Here we go.
AJ: Thanks, man. We'll talk more later. Charlie.
CHARLIE (vocals): Right on, Aaron, it's good to be back on, dude! Yeah, how the MILITANTS started ... very good question. I actually started the band in 1994. I came out to California in 1988 & went through a windmill of trying to join bands & stuff & then it really wasn't working out. Then I decided to put something together & that's pretty much what I have done. I really haven't had that many players with the MILITANTS. Everyone has been pretty much dedicated to it, but life & things change. I'm real proud to have Nathan Siegel & Mike Gray coming up on with the MILITANTS. It's just real exciting. & As Mike said, these guys are seasoned class major league players. They've done a lot around the world & it's just very very exciting.
AJ: I asked this to Mike just now, but let me ask you the same question. I know we were talking on e-mail & you just separated from a very long term member. You've basically shook up the entire band or you've changed just about everyone in it. Are you afraid? Does this make you nervous? It's almost, on some level, you're starting fresh.
CHARLIE: Yeah, well, you know, I'm not nervous about it. Actually it's a very powerful & beautiful movement of people & music that understand & yes, I did have some changes that were going on & it's a-okay. You know [guitarist] Horace Miller played with me for a very long time, who did One Nation Under Death & Fuel The Aggression albums & stuff. But, you know the economy out here is very tough & him & his wife had to move to Phoenix to find an occupation of work & I have to support his cause. He's a great man. & the same with [bassist] Jay Bacher. You know times are very tough. He's in Hollywood. We're out here in the valley. It is quite a distance, especially with traffic. You know you gotta have a job. You gotta have income coming in & be able to be on time & all that stuff. & at this stage, you know ... I guess I told you on the e-mail ... I guess last week I think it was?
AJ: Yeah, something like that. We touched base.
CHARLIE: Yeah, I had to let him go because of the fact that he just cannot commit accordingly. & you know we're all pro artists & there's a lot of people out here in the business that are looking at us & it's a decision that had to be made & its only business. Its not personal. We're all still very close friends & stuff. But, hey, you know, we got all this reality & it is what it is.
AJ: That's one of the worst things, doing whatever you're doing whether it's me or you, is that we've all got to pay the rent & this doesn't always bring in enough income. & I talk to big musicians. I've talked to Sophie B. Hawkins, you know, Graham Bonnet of Rainbow & they're saying the exact same thing.
CHARLIE: Yeah, I heard that podcast. Dude, that was killer!
AJ: Yeah, thanks, man. But, they're saying the same things, you know. & here they are, they're incredibly seasoned & incredibly well known & it's just that's the struggle. That's a tough one. & it means sometimes you've got to make those personal decisions which are really tough.
CHARLIE: They're very tough because they're all good people, but, you know, reality is reality. You have to look at what's going down in Chinatown. It's just the magic of what it is.
AJ: Did you ever for a minute consider ending the name of the MILITANTS & doing something different? Because I know Jay & Horace had been with you just about 2 recordings & they're really crucial to what many people know as the sound of the MILITANTS, you know? Did you want to do something new or is the name so beyond you now that it doesn't matter whose behind it?
CHARLIE: Well, as far as the name the MILITANTS goes & all that I did a trademark backing it & I own the name & have a business license for it. & I've done so much with it so it's very much important to stick to what I'm doing. I mean all the time & the effort that I put into it to make the fans & selling CD's & playing cool shows it would be a waste of my time to sit there & start from the beginning again. That's just ridiculous.
AJ: Well, people do. You know people do all the time, because they feel that 'I've lost someone & I can't replace him & we'll just move on.' But, you're doing the David Coverdale-WHITESNAKE thing. You're bringing in new people.
AJ: Now you've also performed with, I know you've had someone else in the ranks whose been with you on a couple albums. A young lady, matter of fact. [Bassist] Amanda Mullins. What about her role?
CHARLIE: Yes, I talked to Amanda two days ago & told her about the show & she's doing actually quite well. Her & her sister have a band. & I adore Amanda very very much. She's, how would you say, like LED ZEPPELIN would say, plays guitar & sings. She's a very very good artist & I support her cause. She actually wants me to record some singles for her. So we're talking about it 2 days ago. So, I'm actually gonna really help her out. You know she needs a break. She's just an all-around very very good artist & I respect her very very much. Amanda Mullins is a wonderful wonderful great musician. & she can sing her ass off, dude, & she's a good guitar player. She's more into the K-Rock station, punky type of aspect, you know, but she's a really really great human being & I adore her very much & I'll always do what I can to take care of her.
AJ: I want to make sure I talk a little bit with your guitar player for a bit here, Charlie. You've been telling me about the ... how the band was created & Mike gave me how he came into the story. Why don't we just finish the picture up & have Nate fill me in from the guitar player's perspective?
CHARLIE: Okay, sounds great. People out there & all around the world & Manhattan, New York City, coming out you've got Nate Siegel of the MILITANTS.
NATE (guitar): Hey, Aaron. Nate here.
AJ: Hey, man, listen, you've heard what we've been talking about. You know we're just hitting the foundation of the band before we go the next step. I wanted to make sure I got the guitar player's perspective in, you know? You're joining the band new. How'd you hook up with the MILITANTS, man?
NATE: I met Charlie on Craig's List. I responded to an ad for a metal guitar player for a pro metal band & met Charlie. & I came over & we listened to some music & we talked & we've been working on a couple singles & it's going great.
AJ: Now you & Mike have really only been with the band ... hasn't even been a year yet. It's only been a few months, right?
NATE: Yeah, something like that, yeah.
AJ: Yeah & I know you're rehearsing & stuff. Have you guys ... it was said earlier that you're also writing stuff or working on new material?
AJ: Are you performing live any?
NATE: Yeah, there will be gigs down the road, absolutely. Right now we're working on singles. We've got 2 that we've already done pre-production for that we're going into the studio actually this weekend & then starting. & then, many more on the way.
AJ: Excellent, excellent. I've already asked this question to your bandmates, but it's only fair to ask you. Charlie has basically shaken up the MILITANTS. He's brought in a whole new line-up with you guys having your own ideas & your own playing styles. Are you nervous any about the response or just ... you know you coming into this band that's been around since '94? How do you feel about that?
NATE: You know I got some big shoes to fill, that's for sure. There's some great guitar playing on the earlier records but I'm up for the challenge. I think the new singles sound great & we're gonna have a big year, for sure.
AJ: How do you guys sound compared to the CD's that have already been put out? What's the difference? & we're gonna play a song in a second.
NATE: Okay. It's along the same lines but what we're doing now is real heavy. It's good metal & ... I can't really compare the two, but ... the old records are great & the new records are going to be very great, too.
AJ: Are you guys ... I know Charlie is the big songwriter here ... are you guys contributing lyrically or just musically or ...?
NATE: You know, so far I've been getting drum & vocal, you know pre-production drum & vocal tracks. I've been writing guitar riffs & then we're going to go into the studio & have Mike play the drums on. You know Mike play the actual parts. We've been kinda taking it like that.
AJ: Alright. Piece by piece, seeing how it goes, organically, right?
NATE: Exactly, exactly.
AJ: Excellent, excellent. Alright, man, I appreciate that insight. We're at a point now I'm gonna turn to a song.
NATE: Awesome, man.
AJ: & sadly it's by your predecessors, it's not by you, but that's ... at least it lays the foundation for the audience of what the band sounds like.
AJ: So, maybe Charlie will fill me in. If you want to pass the mic to him? & I appreciate you talking with me, Nate. I'll get back to you before the hour's over, again.
NATE: Okay, very good, Aaron, here's Charlie.
AJ: Rock on, man.
CHARLIE (vocals): Right on, brother Joy! Right on, brother Joy!
AJ: I'm not in the south. This is the north. I want to go to a song now. We've hit the foundation of the MILITANTS, we've seen what you're working on. You know Nate just gave me an idea of, you know, what you're doing now. Can you add anything to what he said about the new music, the new sound?
CHARLIE: Oh, yeah, man. It's like it's very exciting. I guess to enhance Nate Siegel's words & stuff ... we met on Craig's List & we came down & we discussed influences that we liked & bands & the direction we're going. Just like Mike Gray, you know, & it's real neat-o. We've already got ... as we said, we're basically starting tomorrow working on 2 new singles. One is called "Beyond These Walls" & the other one is called "Omens Of Doomsday". You know it's just a very exciting sound. I mean it's really neat-o, cause you know I told you ... you've seen my pictures on Facebook ... I have a studio in my apartment.
AJ: Oh, yeah.
CHARLIE: & we're getting great sounds to get it going & all those cool things. But, Nate is just doing a fantastic job. I mean the guy writes everything out. He's a composer. You know that's what true professional artists really do.
AJ: Excellent, excellent, man. One Nation Under Death is an incredibly hardcore CD by you guys from a couple years ago & there's a song on it that I really like. I have a feeling it's probably one of the more popular songs from the album & that's "D'Spirited."
CHARLIE: Nice! "D'Spirited" ... "I shed my skin/as the serpent that I am".
AJ: Charlie, what inspires Charlie Zeigler the writer?
CHARLIE: Well, what really inspired me & stuff ... I've always had the gift since I was, well, I guess born to do it. I love live entertainment. I love to sing. I love to write poems. I love to write literature. & I like to read. It's just an overall thing, you know. I am a professional true artist from the soul & the heart.
AJ: Why heavy metal?
CHARLIE: Well, I just always liked the power, the aggression of heavy metal. It gets me going. It gets me jumping around the room. It's just a fantastic thing, you know. Heavy metal has come a very very long long way, you know, & it's just a fascinating style of art. You've got radical guitars, you've got great drums & stuff. & it's just a very very good genre & a lot of people worldwide enjoy heavy metal, like yourself, Aaron.
AJ: That's true, that's true. It is, I believe, it is one of the few musical forms that really unites people.
CHARLIE: That's true & plus with metal, you know, the boundaries are just endless.
AJ: Absolutely, you can do anything with it.
CHARLIE: Agreed. You can do anything with heavy metal, it's like ... it's just a form of music that's just raw ... you know like the track "D'Spirited" that you just heard, that's just real live time. That's just a real live recording that I did here in my recording studio & it's a lot of fun. There's no cut & paste. I don't believe in cut & pasting. I want to keep everything old school. You know I believe in that stuff very much.
AJ: I think the other thing with heavy metal is probably, in my mind & in my perspective, one of the few communities based on music, you know? I see you walking down the street, you see me, I'm wearing a MEGADETH shirt, there's like a little moment, you go "oh, yeah, you know we're both metalheads." I can't think of anything else that has that. 'Oh, by the way, you're a Britney Spears fan, so am I.' It's not the same thing. Or, 'You like opera, so do I.'
CHARLIE: Well, I'd definitely sleep with her, you know what I mean? Bend her over, kinda like a screen door in a hurricane.
AJ: Well, you know, that's different. ... But, it's like, you know, you see a metalhead on down the street & you go "yeah, you know, I may not know you or maybe we don't even get along, but we're like united because of this music. I know some things about you. I know that you probably like Slash. You probably like BLACK SABBATH. You may like MOTORHEAD. What other group can you say that about, that's based on music? Can't think of any other musical genre.
CHARLIE: Yeah, totally, dude. Well, there's a lot of cool bands that I actually listen to. If you want to step back in time. You know I'm a big URIAH HEEP fan. You know my favorite guitar player is Mick Box.
AJ: I know you are.
CHARLIE: You know even though it's late 60's & 70's metal, but it's an incredible band that produced & wrote beautiful beautiful music.
AJ: & it's not always heavy. It's not heavy metal. It's a different world. That's the thing though. I think you're bringing up a point, unintentionally maybe ... people who love metal, you & I we do, we're stereotyped as only listening to metal. 'You must not know who Duane Eddy is. I guess you don't know who Elvis is.' Like no, metal people listen to everything.
CHARLIE: Very well said, Aaron.
AJ: I ask my metalhead friends who they like & they give me someone like, well, like who I interviewed - Sophie B. Hawkins. How far away from metal can you get? But, I think that's the way it is & people forget that. & you just said URIAH HEEP. I mean, that's going way back, too, & a great old classic prog band.
CHARLIE: Yeah, big time, dude. & here's another great artist. Who doesn't love Johnny Cash, man? Come on, you know? & the thing is I always try to tell people cause, just like Nate & Mike, you know these guys get hit on all the time, you know 'produce me or engineer me' & stuff like that. The bottom line is it doesn't matter what genre that you play it's the song-writing. It's the way the music is composed. You know anyone can get on stage & say 'hey, I'm in a band, turn up to 11', you know what I mean? But, it's not what it's about. You know it's about song-writing. Like for an example a lot of people trip ... Aaron, I'm a big Motown fan. Motown!
AJ: I love Motown. I can recognize a FUNK BROTHERS song within two bars.
CHARLIE: I mean, you know the FUNK BROTHERS. You know an incredible band. They were the musicians who wrote all those songs but they had singers come in & sing those songs. You know I love the history of music & I'll never change my mind on that stuff.
CHARLIE: But the bottom line is ...
CHARLIE: You know it's about the song-writing & catchy simple riffs where people can get into. & like for sure, our genre is heavy metal & yes, heavy metal fans are very loyal & they really stick by the artist side & that's very important & I will always always be a public person to everyone in the world wide community of heavy metal. Always.
AJ: What's the hardest thing though about writing heavy metal?
CHARLIE: Actually, it's not that difficult. It's just the point of view with a poem & stuff that I do ... come up with a really cool idea, I mean, we live in a crazy world, a new world. You know we're adults now, we're not kids.. But you just have to stay up with today's technology & what people are thinking & how they feel, you know? & it's just those particular point of views where you can capture people in the moment & it's just one of those things. Like people who buy my records ... you know they'll come up to me & tell like 'oh my God, this song saved my life.' & I'm like 'whoa, too cool, man, stick with the guns, know what I mean? If it helps you then keep cranking it, you know? Be positive, be powerful. Look for the bright side, you know what I mean?'
AJ: Now, you have in the recent past, the MILITANTS have put out 2 albums - Fuel The Aggression & before that One Nation Under Death. I'm just ... I'm looking at the song titles & having heard the album ... "Rise Against The Oppression" ...
CHARLIE: Yeah, baby, great song!
AJ: Or "Ethnic Cleansing" or, let's see, "Crack In The Earth."
CHARLIE: Yup, that songs about, that song "Crack In The Earth," is about hatred, because the bottom line is hatred will get you nowhere.
AJ: Yup, that's well ... I was noticing as I'm looking at these there seems to be a little bit of a thread of a social issue here. You're just not singing about some buxom babe or 'hey, we're gonna rock'n'roll all night'. You're inspired by social problems, aren't you? Or, people how they relate together ... or one nation under death, I mean in this day & age of terrorism or whatever. Am I right? Is this something that really gets in your writing? The current world stage?
CHARLIE: Yes, you're 100 percent correct, Aaron. Yeah, you're right, dude. I mean, like on "Crack In The Earth", my opening statement ... I'll recite my line, real quick:
I was willing to sacrifice to end this great divide
To trust the oval lords & the outcome I'll decide
But so many are infected like I am
I've seen the skies from blue to black
Its so contagious & so outrageous
It just rubs the cycle of karma's path
Now I am born of this human race
Now look upon the people & their face
But the real pollution s the circle of hate
Those are good words, bro!
AJ: Rock on, man, rock on! Charlie, is this, has this always been something that's driven your writing?
CHARLIE: Only way! I look at society. I pray for people, you know. If I see somebody that's in like the United Way or something like that I'll always pray that in the next life, if there is a next life, they'll be an Olympathon runner or something like that nature, you know. If I see someone trying to get across the street ... an example, I know Mike remembers this story, an old lady was walking across the street & she lost her bags & the city, the city of Los Angeles, it's a beautiful city but it can be very mean & people are honkin' their horns, 'get the fuck la la', screaming at her. I just basically stopped my car & picked up that stuff & helped that old woman to the bus stop. You know that's what it's all about. I sit back & think "why do you have to honk at a woman that's 89 years old trying to get across the street?" & she's got a cane & pulling a little cart behind her. & she told me she was trying to get on the bus to get to her grandkids. You know you've got these people people trippin' on her, you know? It's like, let the old lady go across the street. I know it's a weird relation we're talking about but it's a true story.
AJ: I know, I know. In New York we don't honk at you we just look at you like you're a museum exhibit.
CHARLIE: There you go!
AJ: I helped a blind person. I was walking out of my work one day & there's a blind person trying to cross the road, going, you know, "Can someone help me? Can someone help me?" I swear there was 8 people staring at this person as though they were like a zoo animal! I just walked up. I said "Here's my arm." The guy pushed me to the other side. We went across the street. It was like "Can you take me one more block?" I was like of course I could, you know? & I was thinking to myself you're just gonna help someone cross the road, you're not getting married. So, what's the big deal?
CHARLIE: See Aaron, you are a gift for doing that, a gift.
AJ: It wasn't a big deal. I was actually going ... no, I was going in the opposite direction, actually. But it was like why is everyone staring at this person? Or why are they honking their horn in their head here? But, that's the way I guess things ... I guess that's what fuels the aggression!
CHARLIE: Yeah! Yeah, that was a very good record!
AJ: Can you tell me about your most recent, your last 2 releases, which I know are the ones you plug a lot, One Nation Under Death & Fuel The Aggression.
CHARLIE: Well, if you want to go to Fuel The Aggression ... I'm really really proud of those songs.
AJ: We're gonna hit a song in a second, but why don't you give us a little idea of the albums themselves?
CHARLIE: Okay, sure. The MILITANTS second release Fuel The Aggression ... which basically is a fantastic title. The MILITANTS Fuel The Aggression is about taking charge & not letting society get you down. You know like a very good single, like you said, "Rise Against Oppression" ... you know how much shit do you have to take before, how you say, you can only push someone so far, you know, before they strike back & attack & stuff. & that's what it's about. It's about self-protection ... & "Fuel The Aggression" that's what it's about, you know. You've got to fuel your aggression! You know let it rise. Rise against oppression. Do something! Stand up! Stand up for your rights is what it is, you know!
AJ: What about One Nation Under Death, the release before that?
CHARLIE: One Nation Under Death is exactly what the title is about, one nation under death. We all know the way this economy is going. You look around the world & the unfortunate factors. We read the press. We read the newspapers & all that stuff. But, dang, dude man, it just nothing, but it is! You know all they're trying to do? We go over there, you know, we're trying to get oil, we do this, people get bombed, innocent people get bombed. & all of a sudden, you know, it's just like we peg somebody or somebody else or some other country pegs somebody & you want that country dead. It's a nation or a country. One nation under death. I decided to put a twist on it because everyone goes "one nation under God." But if you look at today's society all there is is just basically killings, killings & killings. A bomb here, a bomb there, terrorists plots. & this stuff ... I wish ... I should run for President! You know? That was a very bad joke.
AJ: That's alright.
CHARLIE: Bet you're life I'd be in big trouble, pretty much! I'd probably legalize Britney Spears to be a prostitute you know!
AJ: Hit me baby one more time, yeah?
CHARLIE: There you go!
AJ: What ... you kinda, actually, speaking about this world & its death ... will you tell me then where does the name the MILITANTS come from?
AJ: Yeah, I actually came up with that just kinda sitting around one night just chillin' having a couple of Budweisers & stuff back in the day. I wanted to find a name that would be a household name & the MILITANTS are, have been around ... it's in the Bible, since the Revolutionary War ... on down the line. It's just a household name & I feel very fortunate at the time that I was able to copyright it, get a business license on it. & people have asked me or tried to buy me out or some bands overseas that 'oh, I wanna take the name anyways' & then they always get shut down. You know you just can't do it. You know I've got professional credits. But, the MILITANTS is a household name & its been on this planet with literature, books & everything else from day one.
CHARLIE: Hell, yeah, man! The MILITANTS are great to be on the Roman Midnight Music show tonight coming out of Manhattan, live in New York City, hooking up with California, Los Angeles.
AJ: Well, listen, I gotta say something, Charlie. You're hypin' the big apple, but I can't tell you how many musicians I know here in town that have moved to where you are, cause they say you can make a better living there than you can here.
CHARLIE: Well ... everyone is looking at me like 'what do you think about that?'
AJ: Alright, then you're not the guy to go to then!
CHARLIE: Well, I will, if you would ask some questions & stuff about the Los Angeles scene I think all 3 of us got a lot to say, baby.
AJ: Well, we'll see. Charlie, doesn't your throat ever hurt after a gig singing like that [in a throat growl approach]?
CHARLIE: Nope, never at all, brother. The reason why is ... that's a very good question because I get that question asked quite frequently.
AJ: I'm sure you do.
CHARLIE: I'm a professional singer. & the only way is that as I'm writing the song & I already know how I'm going to pull the move off the vocal approach & it's actually very very simple to do. You know I'm a real singer.
AJ: But, let me ask though, when you're singing like that many of the lyrics become a little bit clouded. Are you ever worried that people can't understand everything you're saying?
CHARLIE: No, not at all, because that's heavy metal. You put in other bands that you can think of, like SEPULTURA, KREATOR, MOTORHEAD ... you it's heavy metal. Yes, I am doing a growl & scream, but it's a-okay with me & I'm really cool with that. & you know that's just the way it is & what it is.
AJ: Well, I will say this for you, Charlie, I know a lot of people who aren't necessarily metalheads or whatever & they hear this growling & they just go 'Well, that's not singing & it's horrible.' But, what they don't understand & what I sometimes will tell the person is that there is horrible growling, or throat singing or whatever you want to call it, & there is actually really good singing. It's not, you're not just growling. There's good & bad & people don't hear the range. It's just like normal singing.
CHARLIE: Aaron, you're correct. I mean, you're correct if you really listen closely I actually really do have melody in my growl. I actually really am singing the song.
AJ: Yeah, yeah. People just don't always hear that though. They just hear this arg, this roughness & that's it. They go 'Oh, it's rough', but it's not true. There's some great ... like ARCH ENEMY, there's an excellent growl singer, you know?
CHARLIE: Oh, yeah, she's a great singer, dude.
AJ: Or even someone like Dani Filth [of CRADLE OF FILTH] whose going from that growl to a falsetto.
CHARLIE: Yeah & like another cool singer, Phil Anselmo from PANTERA. Nothing like that guy. He screams all the time but look how much melody he has in his screams.
AJ: But, people don't know that. People don't hear that.
CHARLIE: Well, they're just not listening close enough.
AJ: Well, that's their loss, eh? Speaking of other bands, I'm gonna ask you something, Charlie, & you can answer the question then you can pass the mic to the boys & they can fill in the gaps. We'll do it this way. & that is ... you already opened the door to this question ... You guys are in California, you're in the L.A. area or whatever, you're circulating with that scene, can you give me some MILITANT insight on the L.A. metal scene or the L.A. music scene?
CHARLIE: I sure can. The L.A. music scene is trying to flourish. What you see on TV & stuff is really not really real. It's more the hype & everything. People who've never seen Hollywood, California ... it's very very tiny. It's very tiny. Like the Whiskey, the Key Club, the Roxy, the Viper Room, it's right there. It's only one little tiny block within 2 streets. & it's just very very much of a meat market. The promoters are very very difficult to work with. They will book you with bands or try to book you with bands that have no relation to heavy metal. You'll see a heavy metal band play & all of a sudden they'll get up & then you'll have like a hip-hop band play. You're like "what the fuck is this", you know? It's always, it's very expensive to play here. The MILITANTS have never paid to play. We've always been paid money to play. I never ever will pay to play. But, you look at some of these bands. We go to the Rainbow & hang out, we get some pizza, grab a few beers & stuff & you get these baby bands, you know, coming up, you know, "Gimme 20 dollars for a ticket." We say, "Where you playin'?" "The Roxy." It's like within 10 feet of walking distance from the Rainbow & I'm not gonna give this guy 20 bucks for a ticket. When you're paying a 1000 dollars on a Tuesday night to play the Whiskey or the Roxy. It's just a real scenario out here & it's very difficult & I feel bad for these people. I tell 'em "You should go out instead of paying your hard earned dollars to think you should get some type of big record deal. It ain't gonna happen. Go out & buy yourself a recorder, a nice recorder & write records, write songs. The only way you're gonna make it is writing songs & good quality songs, not paying to play & being involved with broken promises on the Los Angeles scene that rapes everybody." & I'm man enough to say it & I'll say it again. You know I love Los Angeles. Love this city very much but the scene in Hollywood is just, it's a rape scene ... Then you go across the street & you've got 12 dollar parking. Then if you want to get a beer that'll be 10.50. 'Sorry,' I said, 'I just wanted a beer!' You know? 'Can I have a glass of water?' 'That'll be 5 dollars.' What the hell is up with that, you know?
AJ: Yeah, I understand. I understand. Well, a beer is only 7 in New York.
CHARLIE: It's very expensive to do these things & you have to understand there's other avenues that you can take. But, the pay to play scene out here is absolutely ridiculous.
AJ: I think that's something a little bit special to L.A.. I don't hear that talked about here. I don't know any band whose done that out here in New York. I'm sure it's happening, but I think you guys have really ... that seems to be dominating the market where you are.
CHARLIE: The only way! I see it every single day. Every day, you know? & I feel bad for 'em & I'm man enough to admit, you know I always tell the truth. I said "Look, you know, costs you a lot of money, you know. The average person, the average band they have to give their tickets away because no one can afford it in a bankrupt state of California. You pay for parking 12 dollars. Then you pay 20 dollars to pay for a ticket to get in the door. Then you want to get a beer. It's expensive. Then you're almost already up to 50 bucks." Whose got that kind of money to be walking around, you know, going out every night. You know it's just like can't do it, bro. You know?
AJ: Yeah, I know. I don't go to shows like that every night because I can't afford it. & I want to pay. I know friends of mine who they get in free. They won't go to a show if they don't get in free.
CHARLIE: Only way.
AJ: My friends say to me "We'll put you on the guest list." I'm like, "Don't worry about it. I'll give you the 10 bucks, I'm happy to give you the money for your music." I want to support you, so I know ... but it means I can't go out as much as I want or support as many bands ... Listen, Charlie, why don't you put on one of the boys & have them fill me in on their thoughts of the L.A. music scene?
CHARLIE: Okay. Here's Mike Gray, drummer of the MILITANTS.
MIKE (drums): Hi Aaron, let's do this.
AJ: Mike, help us out.
MIKE: Yes, sir.
AJ: Add more to what Charlie's been saying. Give me your thoughts, as a musician of some years in California in L.A., give me your experience.
MIKE: Well, you know what, Aaron, I was born & raised here in L.A. & I grew up through the whole 80's metal scene. I grew up with the boys from ARMOURED SAINT. You know the scene has changed really so much you know in the last few years & it's kinda making a bit of a comeback but you know things are different these days. When you're in a band & you're trying to get out there & play some live shows & get some success out of it, or whatever you're trying to do at it, you have to have a strategy to it, you know? If you get in, got an original band & you're out there & you're playing the Whiskey, the Roxy, the Troubadour, the Key Club or any of those things, you really got to have a strategy, you've got to have material to back it up. You gotta have product, you know? You gotta pick & choose where you play, what promoter you play for. & basically what a lot of guys don't get these days is it's a sales job. It's a sales job. To be in a band you have to be a sales person. You know you've got to market, you gotta promote, you got to sell tickets, you got to give away tickets. You gotta do whatever you can do to make a profit, have fun, entertain the crowd & walk away feeling good about yourself. I'll tell you this right now, if you're getting out there & you're playing some shows & you're walking out of there just spending 200 bucks & you're not feeling so good about yourself ... that's the way the music scene is now, you know? There's a lot of promoters out there that are just raping these bands because they want to play the Key Club or the Troubadour or the Whiskey & they don't know any better. When you've been doing this for awhile & you've been around for awhile you kinda know what to do & what not to do. But you know we do it because we love it, man, & that's the bottom line. You know we love to express our art. We love to play music. & you just gotta pick & choose how you do it.
AJ: Excellent, man. Listen, I hate to cut you short. We're getting near the end of the hour though & I want to make sure your bandmate has a little bit of share in this too. So why don't ... your thoughts are really great, I really appreciate them, but why don't we move to the third guy here?
MIKE: Okay, Nate, go long I'm gonna pass you the phone!
NATE (guitar): Aaron, hey there.
AJ: Nate, listen, I wanted to make sure I included you in this as we near the end of this show. Any thoughts as a musician in the L.A. community? You know what's the MILITANTS perspective or what's Nate's perspective on playing in L.A.?
NATE: You know now is a great time for metal in L.A. There was a lull itself in the 90's for awhile when I moved here in '93. I've been here 17 almost 18 years. But, in the last bunch of years, last 10 years metal is just absolutely huge. It's a great time for metal. & like Mike said you gotta have a strategy & it's essential to come through Hollywood & do the shows there. But L.A. is a big city & there's a lot of places to play & a lot of fans to be gained & I still believe in the L.A. music scene. I like it a lot.
AJ: Do you think there's ever gonna be ... well, obviously we all think of L.A. & the 80's & the glam movement & Motley Crue & all those great bands ... do you think L.A. will ever come back? Is there gonna be another L.A. scene down the road?
NATE: I'm sure there will. Everyday everything comes around. I think it'll have a different twist on it, but I'm sure, I'm sure there will ... I'm sure there will.
AJ: Excellent, excellent, man. I appreciate the insight. Well, listen, what I want to do is we're actually nearing the end of this hour & if maybe all 3 of you could get in like listening distance to the mic, to the phone. If you could work something out so you can kinda all hear me or whatever.
MIKE (drums): We're all here, brother.
CHARLIE (vocals): We're all here!
AJ: Well, listen, we're nearing the end. We're down to our last few minutes, guys & I wanna thank you all for joining me tonight & sharing your music & your thoughts. & I wish you the best as you go into the studio & you all rediscover the name the MILITANTS & bring it in new directions. Is there any last thoughts you want to share, any of you?
CHARLIE: Yeah we do, because I'm gonna have Mike real quick talk about something. Mike also has a really cool band.
CHARLIE: I'm hoping to get involved with production & producing his band. & you know the name. The name of the band, Mike, is ...
MIKE (drums): The band SAME VEIN is in the middle of recording an album right now & its very heavy. Its in the vein of PANTERA, SLIPKNOT kind of & we're looking forward to do a great year with this new band.
CHARLIE (vocals): Fantastic because I think SAME VEIN is a very good band. Mike a couple weeks ago let me hear a couple of tracks & that was fantastic. & there's some other people that we all support that are a part of our scene & stuff. It's DC4, a great band. We have also the GREAT FACTION, which you might know, Aaron. ROCK'N'ROLL GANGSTAR with Darryl Boid & Morgan Van Harding. We like the FUCKING MANIACS. They're playing tonight. We're gonna jet out & see them here in a little while. We got LIT SOUL, we got STONE BREED. We got OCTANE MOB. We got WONG GARCIA, the EVIL DEAD, AGENT STEEL. We got MX MACHINE, who played Wednesday, opened up for SAXON & they were just fucking dynamite dude. We got MANDY LION. & plus a very good promoter that we all adore, whose the most honest promoter in town, is Rob Sherriff. We got a great photographer that follows us around - Kruzin Kenny. & STEEL PROPHET, Steve Kachinsky of STEEL PROPHET. These are all great bands. I think you should look them up, chat with them. They're all pro & heavy major league players like the MILITANTS & that's what it's all about & we really appreciate it what you've done tonight for the MILITANTS. Talking to Nate Siegel, Mike Gray & myself Charlie Z. of the MILITANTS on the Roman Midnight Music show out of Manhattan, New York City coming out from Los Angeles, California.
AJ: Well, it's just a little bit, man. It's only an hour, it's not much. & there's probably more we could do, but hey, you know what, a little bit can go a long way.
CHARLIE: Hey, I follow you on the logic on that. It's been a blast to be with you. & everyone around the world thank you very much for listening to Aaron Joy on the Roman Midnight Music show.
AJ: Thanks guys. Listen, Charlie, Nate, Mike, I thank all of you for joining me. I wish you all the best. I look forward to new tracks. If you put out a full length album or EP make sure you hit it to me & you can always come back & talk again.
CHARLIE: That would be fantastic & you can count us in. The MILITANTS will mosh.