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Joe Sims (Axemaster)

Interview with Joe Sims from Axemaster
by Grigoris Chronis at 01 March 2007, 7:12 PM

The Blessing In The Skies reissue of the legendary US Metal act AXEMASTER nearly came outta nowhere! This gave me the proper chance to send a handful of questions to founding member Joe Sims in order to talk about a bunch of things regarding the past, present and future. A true believer of the glory days of the 80s, Jim was kind enough to share his thoughts with us. Thanks a lot, bro'!

Greetings from Metal-Temple.com mag!

Hey! I’m Joe Sims, I play lead guitar for the band.

Few metalheads know that AXEMASTER was formed in the mid-80s. Can you give us a brief bio of the band?

I started AXEMASTER officially in 1985. We’ve done 5 releases, some with a label and some independent, and have been on a bunch of compilations. Even was in a small comedy/horror movie. We’ve had a few different lineups, I’m the only one who’s been in it the whole time. The band originally ended in 1993, but got back together last year. It’s great to be back playing the music that I’m REALLY into.

I was always confused regarding the official and non-official AXEMASTER releases. So, Blessing In The Skies is not your only official release up-to-date?

No. Other than Blessing… we did releases called Slave To The Blade, The Vision, Death Before Dishonor (cassette version), and 5 Demons. The 2 CDs that came out in 1998 and 2002 were supposed to be just for promo for a magazine. Then the discs started being for sale everywhere without permission. We got no money for either of them, we got ripped off BIG TIME!!! I guess those are the kind of unofficial releases you’re talking about. But at least they really helped get our name around so it wasn’t a total loss.

Blessing In The Skies - a fine 80s US Metal gem - sees a re-release in 2006 by Greek label Burning Star Records. Really, how did you come in touch with them?

We were looking for a European company since our main fan base is there and we wanted to make sure that the disc had good European distribution. We contacted a bunch of labels and got interest from a few including Burning Star. They’re a professional up and coming company that was really into working with us so we decided to go with them. I think we made a good decision.

The Blessing In The Skies re-release features some bonus ’goodies’ for all your fans. Can you give us some more information (extras, packaging etc)?

Yeah, the fans should really dig all the extras.  It’s been re-mastered, the sound’s A LOT better than the original album. Probably the best sounding release we’ve ever done. It has 6 songs that have never been on CD, 3 are bonus tracks with 1 recorded live. It also has a video for PC of the tune Slave To The Blade that was originally on TV in 1987. The packaging kicks some major ass! It’s a digi-pack with new killer artwork and a 12-page booklet with lyrics, photos from back in the day, and liner notes. We went all out to give the fans the best of everything!

Listening to Blessing In The Skies again after all these years, I can recall the time when US Metal music was savage and straightforward. What were the AXEMASTER influences by that time?

At the time the album came out I was mainly into BLACK SABBATH, IRON MAIDEN, SAVATAGE, JUDAS PRIEST, DIO and some QUEENSRYCHE. The other guys listened to a lot of different bands like KING DIAMOND, KISS, SLAYER, MOTLEY CRUE and FATES WARNING. I could go on forever, but I’d say those are the main ones.

Joe, Do you have the same influences now, or you’ve developed yourselves as Metal fans? Really, what’s your relationship with post-80s Metal genres (Death/Black Metal, Progressive Metal, Gothic Metal, ’Nu’ Metal)?

Personally, I’ve gotten into some more heavier Thrash stuff than I was back then. I still dig the bands I liked in the 80’s, but now I also listen to stuff like old METALLICA and SLAYER. I’m not really into most of the newer Metal styles, but I give everything a fair listen and there are songs that I’m into. There’s a lot of stuff that I think the music’s cool but I can’t handle the vocals. Some of the Hardcore and Death Metal bands are like that, I can respect the music but I’m not into the singing. For the most part I don’t really like ’nu’ Metal, it’s usually too commercial for me. Progressive is okay, as long as it’s heavy! Gothic, well, I haven’t really heard a lot of it. I’d have to listen to more before I could really say much…

Is the re-release of Blessing In The Skies a new start for AXEMASTER? Are you concentrating on creating new songs for a brand new album?


DEFINITELY!!! We’ve written some new songs and are gonna do a couple old songs that never had studio recordings. A new release is A MUST for us, we need to let the fans know that we’re 100% back and as heavy as always! Actually our next CD will be heavier than Blessing…. Time hasn’t mellowed us at all, like I said, I listen to more heavy stuff than I did in the mid 80’s!

How seriously did/do you take lyrics when you wrote/write songs? Did/do you focus much enough on writing some good lyrics themes or it was/is all up to the music itself?

For sure, lyrics are VERY important. There are a couple songs on Blessing… where the words aren’t deadly serious, but through the years the band’s been known for lyrics that have meaning. For the most part there’s a lot of thought put into the songs all the way around, words included. It’s always cool to write about concepts!

It’s the Internet era, now. This status is surely helpful for new or reunited old bands, but how ’good’ do you think the whole mp3s, downloading etc thing is?

It’s great that you can now reach so many people so fast and cheap. Back in the day it took a lot more money and time. Even mp3s are cool because they make it easier to get the music around instead of having to send discs to everybody. But the downloading thing is a problem. I think major label bands have a little more problem than indies, but it’s bad for all of us. Burning CDs without buying them is a problem we all face in this business. It sucks but there’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to make more kick ass CDs, both the music and the packaging, to make people really want to buy the official release and not just download a few songs…

You think there’s much of a change a young metalhead - with completely different ’sounds’ experience - will find interest in AXEMASTER’s ’classic’ US Epic/Heavy Metal style?

There definitely are a lot more different styles of Metal than there used to be so the younger fans have a lot more stuff to choose from. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll respond to this style. Trends are a lot different so younger metalheads are different today for sure, Hardcore and Nu Metal are big here and it’s important to try and reach those fans. Hopefully they’ll give Blessing… a fair listen and not just judge because of current trends and when the album was originally made. It’s up to us to try and get them to seriously listen, I think if they do they’ll see that pure Heavy Metal is what started it all and will always kick some ass! There’s definitely not as much interest in traditional Metal as there used to be, but the interest is growing so it’s a pretty good time to come back.

As for AXEMASTER onstage: are there any gig plans? How difficult will it be, regarding your daily jobs and such shit?


Yeah, that makes things harder. Makes it to where you can’t do a lot of shows for free, gotta cover expenses and pay the bills. But it’s far from impossible and we definitely still want to tour, especially Europe. Our main focus right now though is to get out a new CD, unless of course we get offered something killer. After doing a new release touring will be the main thing we’ll want to do.

Thanks a lot for your spare time, Joe. I really hope Blessing In The Skies will reach a wider audience - even after nearly 20 years! - and I wish you all the best for the future!

Thanks a lot! I’d like to give a shout out all to the fans, both the new ones and the ones who’ve supported us through all these years, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for you. YOU KICK SOME MAJOR ASS!!! If anybody wants to check out more about us, they can go to www.myspace.com/thebandaxemaster, you can also hear stuff from Blessing… at www.myspace.com/jsguitar.  If you want to get in touch with me the address is AxemasterInfo@aol.com. Thanks for the interview and keep it Metal forever!!!



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