Accomplices: Rainie, Ben, Erin, Dani, Heather, Clint and Poppa Chris
Allow me to introduce you to my latest meal. I have killed and devoured Boston Massachusetts's Bury Your Dead. The five members that made up this popular Hardcore Metal band were an intriguing, if not admirable lot. Their only real mistake was touring through Denver, Colorado in the face of the certain doom I bring. The sledgehammer aggression of their music and the manner in which their live shows adrenalized their young, mortal audiences proved to be their undoing. Their popularity was the crime that ultimately ended their lives and provided me with yet another sumptuous meal of brains and wee wee. It's a shame it it had to end in such a bloody and sudden manner. The band had led a charmed existence and seemed destined for success from its unostentatious beginning.
Formed in 2001, the first incarnation of the group was assembled by drummer Mark Castillo and guitarist Slim B., who left their band Harmartia with the sole intent of beginning a project that was focussed more on the fun of playing uncompromisingly brutal music. Quickly fleshing out this new project with current bassist Rich Casey ( and a number of members that changed over time, but are ultimately irrelevant to My Greatness), the band made an immediate impact - playing shows in the Massachusetts and Connecticut areas. News of their kinetic performances spread throughout the East Coast hardcore scenes and a deal with Alveran/Eulogy Records soon followed, as did extensive road work.. Bury Your Dead not only rose to the ocassion, but demonstrated the ability to survive in the face of adversity as well. When internal problems saw the group part ways with their original vocalist and disband in late 2002, Slim, Mark and Rich regrouped and resurfaced months later with an even more brutal lineup. Adding big, beefy Eric Ellis on second guitar and possibly their most ferocious vocalist to date with one Mat Bruso, saw Bury Your Dead return to the road an indomitable, fuckin' steamroller; intent on flattening everything in it's path. Such aggressive propensities were enough to attract the attention of Victory Records, who signed the band and released the deliciously brutal Cover Your Tracks in October of 2004. Praise from countless publications, as well as tours with doomed groups like Walls of Jericho and The Red Chord followed in short order - as did video play on MTV2's Headbanger's Ball with " The Color of Money." Summer, 2005 has seen the inclusion of Magnolia on the soundtrack to the feature film The Cave as well as the ultimate barometer of success: an invitation to join the Ozzfest touring lineup. For a a project that had started out as nothing more than a joke, Bury Your Dead has not only become an unforgettable, rising force in Metal and Hardcore, but a testament to brutality that cannot be ignored, but only succumbed to.
But then, unfortunately, they crossed paths with me.
While it is true Bury Your Dead were a truly magnificent, mortal band, whose achievements were as notable as their music is mortiferous, they had never went up against the undead, much less...the gay undead. It was during one of their recent visits to Denver, that I chose to end their lives, ultimately stealing their spotlight, if not brutal tunes, for my superior band Maris The Great and The Faggots of Death! I killed them, dined upon their flesh and now count them as drones in my vast army. I shall tour Ozzfest with them (see dates at end of this interview) and together, we shall kill all of the other bands playing this venerable Heavy Metal event!
The following interview is the last one Bury Your Dead ever gave. The accompanying death photos are from my own private collection, taken by me and intended only for my graveyard scrapbook. They are also included in the artwork of the band's new live CD/DVD Alive now available in a record store near you ( look for the snazzy, coffin-shaped packaging.) This new release was the topic I chose to begin with in the following discussion...
L- R: Eric, Rich, Mat, Mark, Slim
Click on pictures to enlarge
It is I, Maris The Great! I shall commence with the questioning. First off, Tell me about the new DVD Alive. What can your mortal fans expect from this brand new release?
Mark: Fans can expect to see an amazing show at one of our favorite places to play. We played at The Chain Reaction. It was sold out and hot as hell. We played awesome and there's lots of energy throughout the entire set. It was probably one of the best sets we have ever played.
Mat: The whole thing was incredible. The filming itself went great. The sound was amazing and the excitement was up.The kids went stupid and it was as violent as I would have ever hoped for. I think the kids that were there will be excited about the content and anyone who wasn't there, has to see this show..But the best part of the whole thing is the CD itself. It has music on a CD, on one side, and a DVD on the other - so the same disk goes in your car and DVD player. It's fuckin' awesome! I didn't even know they could do that. But it's out now, in stores everywhere... yadda yadda yadda... it's just SO brutal.. I want to thank all the kids that came and gave the show all the energy they had, 'cause I know we did and they deserve nothing less.
Speaking of brutality, didn't you split your head open during the performance? Isn't that on the DVD as well?
Mat: Two songs into the most high-energy thing I have ever been a part of, I took a guitar to the head. Eric does this BIG crescent kick followed by a guitar throw. It's BIG. It takes him from one side of the stage to the other - you'll see it - anyway, we were all "turning it on" for the DVD. Like, I mean, I was so out of breath by the second song. It was awesome, but I didn't see it coming. His guitar comes around and I catch it.
Eric: I do this same spin kick at every show. It's really big and I take up the whole stage. That's a lot of mass to be moving across the stage. The kids were really pushing up against the stage and Mat was in the wrong spot. The hit broke off several of my tuning pegs. There was hair and some of his flesh stuck in them.
Mark: The guitar spin was fuckin rad, but the connection with Mat's head made Eric go completely out of tune. There was so much blood...and I'm sure so much pain..
How did the audience react?
Mat: Everyone got worried and the place got quiet and all the good stuff, but we kept playing. Nine songs later, we finish and take off to the hospital and definitely took the camera guy. I had three cuts and got 12 staples put in.
Mark: Yeah, Maris The Great style!
Mat: All I can say is I was in the hospital for five hours. They were nice but I was so out of it. I think everything I say is funny. Wait 'till you see it.
Where do you get the power to belt out songs the way you do?
Mat: I don't like to talk myself up, but I'm very proud of the way my voice sounds. I get a lot of compliments. It means a lot because I kill myself to sound the way I do. (Mat emphasises how raspy his voice sounds while he answers this question.) I went to my first show when I was 12 years old. I was singing in my first band, that I thought would be real, when I was 13. I've always wanted to sound as brutal as I could. Obviously, there are certain people I've practiced to sound like. When I was little, I wanted to be like Jamie Jasta, I wanted to be all these people. Now that I sound the way I do, I'm very happy. I think it's very important that I do sound this way. As far as where it comes from...when you see us live...there's so much energy and so much content in what I'm trying to say, that I really couldn't say it in any other way.
My Greatness finds it fascinating that you come across with such a brutal voice and have a love for violent pits. When you simply sit and speak, you come across completely different. You come across much more gentle, much more like...um... a gay, man.
Slim: He used to be a male cheerleader, Maris (laughs)
Mark: He also takes more pride in his sideburns than anyone I've ever known (More laughter)
Mat: Yeah, I'm reasonably flamboyant. I think that sums up the entire, Bury Your Dead thing. We are in the heaviest band any of us could imagine, but it doesn't mean we have to act like we're the toughest dudes on the planet. I mean, I know who I can beat up and I know who can beat the shit out of me. I don't have to prove it everyday.
How do you mortals feel about all the violence in your scene?
Eric: Holy shit, I think it's ridiculous. Every town we go to, there's like, 16 year old kids that think they have to be in a crew, a gang, or a squad. Having a group of friends that hangs out is fine, you don't need to justify the fact by dressing the same or wearing the same colors.
Some crews have been around forever
Eric: I understand and totally respect that. But that doesn't mean you have to be in one. You don't have to be in a gang to be tough. It's just sad that everywhere we go, there's some crew.
Rich: I' m glad we are drawing different types of crowds now, because the kids we draw now are more appreciative of the music and are less likely to start violence with the kids. They are there to have fun more than anything. I dislike the violence in our scene and it's all over petty bullshit...and sucks.
Mat: I think everyone can agree that violence is single-handedly ruining Hardcore. With all the infux of Nu Metal kids and all the mosh Metal kids, all the camo-wearing kids, all these crews that don't make any sense and crews that make perfect sense - there is a lot of unnecessary shit. But as far as violence on the floor goes, that's the point of Bury Your Dead. We all would be lying to ourselves if we said that's not the point of writing our music. We're all anti-"big groups of people fighting," but I'm very much pro "kids smashing the shit out of each other" on the floor.
You are just one, tough, little, nibbley cookie, aren't you? So...let's talk about the Cover Your Tracks. How do you judge it, now that you've had time to live with it for awhile?
Slim: I think the CD is awesome. I think this lineup is the most solid one we've ever had. There isn't one person in this band that can't pull their weight. Everybody knows what they have to do. Writing this record was a lot easier because we had people that were capable of playing. We didn't have to hold back on wriitng certain things. It was written in a way so that we could have the best live show and have the most fun playing it live.
Mat: I think It was written way too fast. I mean, it was written perfectly in two weeks, but I was writing lyrics while they were recording in the studio. I had a tape of them playing live in Slim's house and that's what I had to work with. I had less than two weeks to write all the lyrics. Most of the lyrics are Changed By Force (Mat's former band) lyrics that my sister, Melissa and I wrote. We just recycled and reused them. We also wrote new ones in the studio.
Who came up with the idea of using Tom Cruise movie titles for the song titles?
Mark: That would be Mat.
You named the songs after Tom Cruise movies?
Why?...and why Tom Cruise?
Mat: I'm all American. I'm into baseball, Coca Cola, apple pie, McDonald's. I just think Tom Cruise movies are a part of all of that. Plus he seems like a really great guy.
OK...so let me get this straight. Slim says you used to be a male cheerleader, you take more pride in your sideburns than any other male mortal that Mark has ever met, you come across as gentle, soft spoken and reasonably flamboyant AND you are so fond of Tom Cruise that you've named all Bury Your Dead songs after him. I am now reasonably sure who I am going to be having superior butt sex with while we are touring on Ozzfest...
Mat: (Laughs) No...I just named the songs after Tom Cruise songs so that people like you would ask me why I named them the way I did. I just thought it would be really funny and give people something to talk about.
Well you have succeeded mortal!...Bury Your Dead's music is very much part of a trend right now. Is the band consciously committing to this style in order to be a part of this trend?
Rich: I think we're doing what we want to do. Cover Your Tracks just came out like it did. Who knows what the next record will sound like. After this summer, I see the CD appealing to a wider variety of people, and the new record maturing further but still keeping the traditional Bury Your Dead sound.
Mat: We are not intentionally conforming to what is going on in music right now. We've added a little more structure to the songs - just in terms of how they're planned out, but not to fit any kind of trend. We feel that when you write music as high energy and as brutal as we do, the kids will listen whether they want to or not. We wrote the heaviest album we could write. We threw away parts that other bands would have died to write, because they weren't heavy enough. Just by doing that, the kids like us. We don't have to write parts that sound like any other band, just to be interesting. They all fall in love with our music because it's just what we do.
Yeah, but I've heard a few mortals refer to Bury Your Dead as a Hatebreed rip offs. What do you have to say 'bout that?
Mat: We actually get that a lot, but we don't really give a shit. Hatebreed have sold a lot of records. We all came from the same area, and I grew up listening to that stuff. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. All we want to do is write records that you can't deny the energy of. I'm sure Hatebreed don't think we sound like them.
Slim: We wrote the record the way we did because this is what we wanted to make something we would enjoy listening to. I'm not going to lie, we listen to our CD quite often. There are things we hear on it, that we say "Oh, that could have been different," but we are like, "fuck it, we'll do it on the next record."
Mark: I try to write drum parts that piss people off, because I try to write drum parts that other people can't play.
How much influence does Victory Records have on your creative process?
Rich: Victory has no input with our music. WE write and structure our music. I would hope they would never ask us to change the Bury Your Dead sound.
Mat: Victory doesn't have any influence on our sound. We actually know bands that are not on Victory, that actually do get influenced from their record label. Victory have been amazing for Bury Your Dead. Their goal is to have many different kinds of music. They want the best; the leader in each of those genres.
Eric: Victory wouldn't have signed Bury Your Dead if they didn't like the band just the way it is.
OK, let's get to a much more important question. Let's pretend you're all gay men. If you were in a gay porn movie, what kind of theme would the movie have?
Mark: Mat's really traditional. His would strictly be missionary type of sex (laughs).
Mat: Well, I'm far from traditional, but I'm very gentle...but that's with girls
Mark: So, you'd be the one that takes it up the ass (everybody laughs)
Mat: Ok...so in a gay porn, I suppose I'd blatantly be the "taker." However, my fiancé, Angie Butler, doesn't want to hear that.
Angie Butler is not here right now, nibbley mortal! So...which band would provide the soundtrack for your gay porn film?
Mat: Taking Back Sunday, but not because I think they sound gay. I chose them because they are the soundtrack to my life....even if I had a gay life.
Mark: Actually, I already made a gay porn film. This is a video of me jerking off to one of our roadie's butts. (Mark holds up his cell phone and shows me a hilarious, five second video clip of him jumping up and down naked on a bed, jerking off, while one of their roadies is laying naked on the bed with his legs in the air)
Whoa!...My Greatness is speechless!
Mark: No...if I were going to make a proper gay porn movie, it would be with a baseball player theme. I'd start the movie just by passing the ball around a bit. Then it would cut to shower time. (mimics conversation in the movie) "Hey it's shower time...hey, you got any soap" (laughter)..."Oh God, I dropped it...uh oh...(more laughter)...oooh....aaahhhh (groaning)...oh...what a big bat you have....(more laughter)....hey, it's a home run!"
Mat: You are ruining everything Bury Your Dead has come to achieve (laughter)
Mark: Everybody thinks I'm gay anyway. (laughs)
Slim: In my movie, I'd be stuck in a submarine. We'd be stuck under water and have no other choice than to have butt sex (laugh). I'd be a dainty sailor (more laughter)
Big, beefy Eric looks like he was born to be in porn.
Eric: Hey, I can fuck all day and all night.
How alluring. Let's talk about your body.
Eric: Ok, let's talk about my body.
You're a body builder
Eric: I do a push up, here and there.
Are you proud of your body?
Eric: Sure. I'm 6"2, I'm in excellent shap. I'm proud of my body, I worked for it.
Have you ever jerked off while watching yourself in the mirror?
Eric: That's weird!...I mean...yes. (Laughter) Actually, I've jerked off while watching Mark's body (more laughter).
You're straight edge. The undead like straight edgers. You are a nice, organic treat for us.
Eric: Actually, three of us are straight edge. Rich, Mat and I are all straight edge. Mark and Slim are not, but that's perfectly fine. We all get along great. I think it's great when kids come up to me at shows and tell me they didn't know I was straight edge until they saw a t-shirt I was wearing. Where I come from, all the straight edge kids are all scrawny kids that come to shows wearing brass knuckles. There's more to being straight edge than being on the Internet talking about how straight edge you are. There's more to it than just being drug free. It's about taking care of yourself and taking pride in not only yourself, but everything that's around you. It's about respecting the people that are around you.
Ok...so on to your gay porn movie. Tell me about it.
Eric: Check it out. I'm a farmer, right? I got this farm...and there are all these animals running around....all furry and shit, making animal noises. (the rest of the band makes animal noises while he talks) I wake up. It's like the crack of dawn and shit. I'm like, what's up? I'm a farmer. I'm going to go farm some shit. And then this van of guys pulls up and breaks down, and all these guys are like, "Can we use your phone and your...(lowers voice to be sexy)....shower?" (everybody laughs) And then we cut to the shower scene....
What about you Rich?
Rich: Uh.....um....uh...I....hmmmm?.....I don't know...
Slim: Hi, my name is Rich and I suck dick (everybody roars with laughter)
Rich: Uh.....I can't come up with anything.
Mark: His movie would be just of him sitting there, with his clothes on, sucking dick. (Everybody laughs).
Tell me about your philosophy of being straight edge.
Rich: I am straight edge for a few reasons. One, because I almost lost my father at a young age to an alcohol related automobile accident. Having him confined to a hospital bed, at our house, for almost a year with a nurse on call...I vowed to never put my friends, family, or loved ones through that same thing. It was a decision I made by myself, for myself. As far as people not being "edge" around me, I have a lot of people that are close to me that are not. I may not agree with it, but it's their decision. I do not preach about me being "edge," but it is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Well spoken, mortal. Do all of you feel you are achieving your dream?
Mat: I think that people caring about what we have to say and what we have to write has been achieving a dream that every one of us has had since high school. We're getting to a point where we get to sit down and do an interview with a zombie. We're getting to a point where we are getting to do interviews because we know people actually care about our answers. So, in one way, we've already accomplished everything we hoped to accomplish.
Slim: And the fact that we have people that actually give a shit about what we are doing, is all we care about. We have people that come out to shows and sing along and shake our hands afterwards, saying that we are their favorite band. Or we'll get emails from people that will tell us how we helped them get through a break up or if it wasn't for us, they would have killed themselves.
Eric: I really appreciate all the kids that come to our show, that saved up all their money all week, had to sneak out their window or get grounded just to come see us play. It is just the best thing in the world. Thank you so much.
If the band were to achieve a level of success that brought about a lot of money, what would that mean for each of you personally?
Rich: I would give a lot back to my family. They have helped me a lot with staying on the road when I was younger. With what I do back home for work, I'm already able to stabilize myself. But I would like to help my parents pay off their mortgage and retire.
Slim: I too would take care of my family. Everything I've ever done, they've always supported. I'd be stoked on that. I'd help them pay off their house. I'd do whatever it would take for them to be happy. Then, I'd buy a house and stabilize myself.
Eric: I'm punk rock. I don't need no money.
Mat: I would love to have money. We have been going around the country for two years, not that that is a huge amount of time. A lot of bands go a lot longer than that without achieving anything. If and when Bury Your Dead starts making real money, I just want to buy a house. Angie Butler is at home, being my fiancé and paying my bills while I'm on tour. I want to be able to get a place for her to live, not worry about anything. and achieve the career goals she has. She'll be graduating college shortly. I don't want to be dragging her down the whole time. If I achieve any kind of success, it's just so that I can make my life with Angie Butler that much more comfortable.
Oh, brother. I think I'm going to be sick.
Mark: If I had a lot of money from doing this, I'd take care of my mother. I'd get her anything she's ever wanted and pay off every bill she's ever had in her life. I would make myself comfortable...and I would make love to Maris The Great.
Hey mortals! Bury Your Dead's fabulous, new CD/DVD "Alive" features all the ghoulish pictures from this feature right in the booklet! Come to any of the following Ozzfest dates and get your copy autographed by ALL OF US!