A talk with
PAUL RAY (Guitars)
(Questionnaire by Stefan)
Thrash Metal has arisen in the mid 80s, a legion of thrashers came towards us headed by the grandmasters, actually leaders in command like Dark Angel, Exodus, Forbidden, Slayer, Death Angel, Anthrax, Vio-lence among others. Besides countless outstanding US bands, also other parts of the world came to show up with their own troops of thrash. This wild and free type of Metal became a real craze, a hype that gave me unforgettable moments/countless hangovers each and every week-end. We were young and lived for Metal without worrying about everyday life, you know the story, right!?
Decades later on now and Thrash Metal still lives on and on, big appreciation to all those labels able to re-release hidden gems from the past. At the end of 2013, American based Heaven and Hell Records unleashed “Second Death”, actually a complete anthology of a real awesome Underground Thrash Metal act from the past, False Prophet ! The pleasure and honour is all mine having this following conversation so let’s start talking about their early days of existence, present and future plans…
Q: Some research on False Prophet’s history told me that False Prophet arose from another band called Abattoir. A name I’m very familiar with due to both, legendary albums “Vicious Attack” (’85) and “The Only Save Place” (’86), released by a Californian Thrash Metal band carried the same moniker. Can we speak of a mutual involvement or not? Feel free to give up some more detailed information regarding the actual appearance of the band.
A: The only thing we had in common was the same name. With no Internet we had no idea there was a band with the same name. Once we got word of the band with the same name we were prepared to change our name. We started off as a three piece. It was Chris Lyndon (bass), Tim Haisman (drums) and myself on guitars and vocals. We didn't play a lot of shows under the name Abattoir. We already knew that we wanted to add a second guitar player. Mike was introduced to us by Steve Harris of Messiah. After Mike joined we changed the name to False Prophet and that was the beginning.
Q: Why did you choose a band name like False Prophet, any special reason?
A: We just wanted a name that was more death metal sounding. And being from North Carolina, the southern bible belt, we were writing anti-religious lyrics. So staying in that theme False Prophet seemed like the right name. It was a very powerful name and really brought us a lot of attention.
Q: What was the first set of plans once the line-up was complete? By the way, how the first band occupation looked like?
A: We really didn't have any plans we just played every show we could play. We would play anywhere. We were just a bunch of dumb ass kids wanting to play metal music. As far as jobs, we all worked at jobs that would allow us to continue to push and promote the False Prophet name. At that time Tim was still in school.
Q: There's a big gap between you’re the early days of FP’s existence and now, still I’d like to ask for the story based on your first rehearsal. Everything went good oiled or not?
A: I think everything went well for the first practice. But one thing you need to know is there was a lot of talking before we ever got in the same room to rehearse. Mike Morrison (guitar), Raymond Martin (drums) and myself had talked about getting together and decided to give it a try. Personally I think there was some tension between us at first, but it has been over twenty years since we had played these songs together. We are also a lot older with things going on in our personal lives outside the band. We rehearsed as a three piece for a while to relearn the songs and get them some what tight before bringing in a bass player. Once we practiced for a while we all decided we are ready to move forward and complete the band. In 2013 we auditioned bass players, at the first of the year 2014 we added Mike Foster on as our bass player. At this time I think we all feel a lot more comfortable in the band. Everything is going well.
Q: In which ways, new compositions were created? What about the lyrical content of the songs, on which topics those were based on.
A: We write the lyrics first, then bring those to rehearsal and we write the music together as a band. I know a lot of bands where one or two people write all or most of the lyrics and music for the band. We have always done it this way and it seems to work for us. Mike and I have different playing styles and it seems to keep the music from getting boring. And it lets everyone in the band be part of the creation process. As far as lyrics we will stay in the same content as the older songs. Anti-religion and the darker and evil subjects in life.
Q: I also like to know if the texts were truly credible or not.
A: I'm not sure what you mean. But if you are talking about the lyrics of the songs being true, some of them are. Some of the lyrics we have written were based on true stories and others were just our own ideas. It never ceases to amaze me the songs you can write from all the evil shit you hear and see in the news.
Q: False Prophet’s first cut appeared as a 4 track demo called “Sign Of The Cross” back in 1989. Released as a demo cassette I suppose, to those not familiar with the band, pen down a little briefing history of this recording please.
A: “Sign Of The Cross” was our very first demo. If I remember correctly it was recorded on a 12 track reel-to-reel at Acoustic Creations in Greensboro. We didn't have a lot of money at the time so this demo was very much done on a budget. This included not only recording but the duplication also. As far as the music we were already starting to change our direction a little. “Red Dawn”, “Sign Of The Cross” and “Devils Meat” were older songs we had written. False Prophecy was a new song we had written and was the direction we wanted to go. We recorded everything live went back with vocals and leads and all this was done in one weekend to save money. As far as demos, it didn't sound too bad, but it didn't really show where we were heading.
Q: False Prophet belonged to the category of outstanding Underground US Thrash Metal bands and if you allow me to speak from personal experience, it was a scene I’ll never forget. During the 80s era, while collecting cassette tapes from worldwide Metal bands, I came in touch with really great bands those who never got a fair opportunity to break through. By me, there will never be a Metal scene as it was back then. Please reply by speaking for yourself.
A: Yeah, I completely agree. I don't think there will ever be a scene like that again. The thing that stood out to me in those days was that there were not a lot of copy cat bands. Everyone had their on styles and it kept everything fresh. Just in our local area we had Confessor (the doom band), Aftermath (the hardcore punk band), Messiah (the metal band), False Prophet (the death metal band), and so many other great bands in our area it would take a while to name them all. There were so many good bands around it was easy to fall through the cracks and not get the recognition you deserved.
Q: Knowing that False Prophet shared the stage with Thrash Metal pioneers like Dark Angel, Forbidden, Demolition Hammer,… my admiration is for real guys! Which gigs can be considered as most remarkable?
A: Dark Fucking Angel by far. Those guys were awesome. I will never forget that show. Not having the internet you didn't get to see these bands in action ‘til you saw them live. At that time, we were gaining a good following as a local band. We were young and cocky getting to open for Dark Angel. They fucking crushed that night and kicked us in the ass. But later on, after seeing Dark Angel live many times, they always crushed. Opening for them really showed us what the national bands were doing. The energy, aggression and just how awesome these guys played amazed me.
But the best part of playing with Dark Angel was the really liked what we were doing. They were the reason we recorded our first demo. Gene told us we needed to record a demo to get our music out. Out of all the national bands we played with, Dark Angel helped us out more than any other band out there. In my eyes they are the coolest fuckers ever. I love those guys. We stayed in touch with them for a while I went to every show I could when they came to North Carolina. Nothing would be cooler than to do a show with them again. Especially since they are getting back together.
Q: With your experience from times long ago, what do you think of the today’s Metal movement? Do you prefer (like I do) the good old 80s era above the rest or not?
A: Of course I do prefer the older metal. To me nothing beats old Morbid Angel. But I like listening to newer metal to hear what's going on. Even if it’s not my favorite music I can always learn something from listening to these bands. I also seem to like the black metal bands more than I did when I was younger. I really like hearing the bands I grew up listening to continuing to write awesome albums. I got the chance to see Exodus live not long ago, and Gary Holt is still a bad ass.
Q: In 1991, False Prophet’s first full-length album “The Second Death” saw daylight and got worldwide attention of many press/media sources. Did this record strengthened the band’s fame?
A: Yeah it did. We had more money to spend on the recording of this album. But mainly the new songs were going to show how we had progressed. Everyone responded well to the new release, reviews were good and we were still bringing in good crowds in the local scene and when we played out of state. It really showed what False Prophet could be capable of in the future.
Q: Ever approached by a label interested in collaborating?
A: Yes. After we recorded “The Second Death”, later on came the name change to Infernal Hierarchy. At that time Rage Records wanted to do a release on vinyl so we recorded “First Born” and redid “False Prophecy”. This release got us some interest from Mausoleum Records.
Q: One day, False Prophet changed name into Infernal Hierarchy, why?
A: We had legal issues with the band The False Prophets. They thought our names were too similar. So after talking to lawyers we decided at that time just to change the name.
Q: Under this moniker, you released a 7” and a two track demo… am I right?
A: Yeah, we released it with Rage Records. It was two songs, “First Born” and “False Prophecy”. “First Born” was our newest song at the time and the direction we were going in.
Q: Later on, you called it quits and I’d like to know more about the reason why… what happened really?
A: Well, at that time we were in the process of signing with Mausoleum Records. There was talk of us touring Europe, and then our drummer decided to leave the band. They didn't want to wait for us to find a drummer so the deal fell through. It was very hard to find a drummer in this area to play our stuff. But we kept looking for a replacement with no luck. It was a little discouraging to get to this point then everything fall apart. At that time I think we were just all burned out. We had been in this band since high school and everything we did from that time was about the band. I don't remember there being any hard feelings about the band breaking up. I think we were all at the same place and ready to call it quits with Infernal. It was just time to move on.
Q: False Prophet/Infernal Hierarchy left us for a long time but as True Metal soldiers always do, returned to the scene in 2013. How did this decision come about?
A: Us getting back together had been brought up many times in the past. It just never seemed to be the right time. After Jeremy from Heaven And Hell Records approached us about releasing the old False Prophet material and we agreed to do it, he asked if there was a possibility of us getting together just to do a reunion show. Mike, Raymond and myself were hanging out at a club checking out some bands and we started talking about getting back together. So that night we decided to go for it. With Jeremy pushing the False Prophet release now it seemed like the right time.
Q: Last year, Heaven and Hell Records gave some kind of a rebirth to all of your songs along with the CD release entitled “Second Death”. Once again, CEO Jeremy Golden proves his total appreciation to Underground Metal, a thankful gesture that brings me in a very good mood. How did you come into contact with Jeremy, what was the deal?
A: Jeremy got in touch with Mike and in turn he got in touch with me. He was very interested in releasing the False Prophet material. Mike and I discussed it and we both felt real comfortable with Jeremy doing this. We have had other people in the past wanting to release it also, but I just never felt right about letting them do it. I just felt like they were doing it for the wrong reasons. After a long talk with Jeremy I just felt he was wanting to do it for the right reasons. He was truly a fan not only of False Prophet but all good music. So we gave him our blessings.
Q: May I ask for a first impression on the CD’s end result ?
A: Man, I was blown away. Everything was so professional. The artwork, remastering, and just the total packaging. Since the first time Jeremy and I had talked I just had a good feeling about what he was gonna do. And I was not disappointed. But the biggest thing is how the fans have responded to it. Everyone seems to love the new release. A big thanks to Jeremy and Heaven And Hell Records.
Q: Would you give an introduction on producer Jamie King who just delivered one hell of a great job?
A: I'm not as familiar with Jamie as Mike and Raymond. What I do know is he has a studio in Winston Salem, has produced bands such as Between The Buried And Me, and is a very talented person in the recording and production process.He did an excellent job on remastering the False Prophet songs.
Q: In my review I described the style as Underground Death/Thrash Metal in the vein of Morbid Angel, Mefisto, Infernal Majesty, Slaughterlord, Morbid Saint and stuff. Give a noncommittal response to this declaration.
A: The Morbid Angel I agree with 100%. They were one of my biggest influences. They were the first of bands other than Possessed I had heard that made me want to play death metal. When I heard “Altars Of Madness” I was blown away. I loved everything about them the lyrics, vocals and music. The raw aggression they displayed with their music was incredible. That was the direction I wanted to go.
Q: ‘In Satan’s Name’ and ‘Bring Back A Memory’ are true killers and absolutely no fillers ! Great compositions I’d like to bow for, to me, both tracks representing False Prophet at its best… again I’d like to ask if you’re agree with me or not.
A: Yeah I do agree, but I love all the songs on “The Second Death”. They were the best of the best we had written at the time. “Bring Back A Memory” would surely be one of my favorites. It has some of the best riffs in it and it is so much fun to play live.
Q: Besides the songs of False Prophet I was also impressed by the compositions under the moniker Infernal Hierarchy. Musically speaking, the mutual difference is rather tiny. Still I prefer False Prophet’s tracks above the rest… what about your preference guys?
A: I like all the songs written under both names. We are playing them all live again. Like you said there is not a lot of difference in the songs other than the newer stuff being a little shorter. But “First Born” is one of my favorite songs that we have written.
Q: There is a vinyl edition available as well, right?
A: Yes, the vinyl is available from Blood Harvest Records and Heaven And Hell Records. It’s a double album and the package is awesome. It includes all of our studio recordings and a few live bonus tracks.
Q: Better give up all the addresses where to order all False Prophet stuff.
A: Right now all we have available is the CD and album. Anyone can get those from Heaven And Hell Records and Blood Harvest Records. We are still working on getting shirts and other merchandise ready. As soon as it is ready we will get that info to you. Also people can hit us up on Facebook and Reverbnation.
Q: Is it true you guys are back in training? I truly hope False Prophet will be back with a neweffort soon – what are the plans actually?
A: Yes, it's true. We have the band together and practicing for some local live shows now. We will be doing a show here in Greensboro with Confessor, and we are trying to work on writing some new songs also. Hopefully we can get back into the studio and record some new stuff. I'm really interested to see what we can come up with after all these years.
Q: I hope all my expectations be approved - meanwhile all the very best and until we meet again, the quicker the better. Is there something you want to say before interrupting the connection? I raise my bucket of beer on the rebirth of False Prophet, cheers !
A: I want to thank you for taking the time to send us the interview. I really enjoyed the questions. They were not the normal questions we are asked. You seemed very knowledgeable about the band and I really appreciate the interview and your interest in False Prophet.
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