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Tommy & Skully (Hallows Eve)

Interview with Tommy & Skully from Hallows Eve
by Grigoris Chronis at 18 November 2004, 9:59 PM

When I first listened to the Metal Merchants speed obliveon – a track featured in the Speed Kills Vol.I compilation – back in 1985/86, it was agreed that the spell of this band was in me now. What was that? Hallows Eve… Woah!!! Let's grab the debut!!!
 18 years later, after three tremendous albums, the honour of speaking with the reunited (or not?) band is simply great! Tommy and Skully have a lot to say and – I think – much more to prove!!! C'mon, plunge into megadeath…

Metal greetings from Greece and Metal Temple Magazine! It is a great pleasure to hear that this year is marked by the Hallows Eve long-waited reunion and return to the Heavy Metal scene.

Tommy: And greetings back to you!

Skully: We thank you very much and it is good to be a part of what I once was, and to be recording a new album.

So, the Evil Offerings CD single is out now. It’s the first official Hallows Eve release after 16 years. Can you share the band’s feeling and expectation for this release? Also, information on where it was recorded and who the producer was would be helpful!

Tommy: Evil Offerings samples can be heard at www.hallowseve.org. It was produced by Chris Gailfoil, who is also our manager. Skully and I put our opinion in, of course. You know, I’m going to put my opinion there because I refuse to be ignored and I never be quiet. I’m the guy, you know, who never shuts his mouth!

Skully: We are all very excited about the songs and what the band is evolving into. Everyone writes in the new Hallows Eve, so the single is a taste of what is to come. As far as the studio, it was recorded at Van Gogh Productions which is owned by Robby Heisner, and mixed and engineered by Chris Gailfoil. He has helped us a great deal as many others (have also) and for that we are very grateful.

What’s up with the upcoming CD? Is it titled yet? Is the band through with recording and mixing? What’s the current lineup of Hallows Eve? Will the two Cd single songs be included in the CD? Will the lead vocals be split-up between Tommy and Skully again, like in the Evil Offerings Cd single?

Tommy: The two songs on Evil Offerings will be remixed for the album, so this single is the only way you can get this mix. There is a limited amount available at www.hallowseve.org. We are still in the process of recording the entire album, which will be entitled Evil Never Dies! There will be a lot of vocals by me and a big helping of Skully also. The rest of the new lineup is Brandon Ottinger on guitars and I’m telling you he’s a young hot shot. Also, we have Dave Jensen on drums and I think you ‘ll find him impressive as well.

Regarding the Hallows Eve reunion, initially the lineup featured Steve Cannon on vocals. What happened and Steve left the band?

Tommy: No offense, but all I can offer is the legal answer. It didn’t work out. I’m militant about my work.

You have been knowing each other for nearly 25 years now. In contrast, Skullator offered services only in the band’s Tales Of Terror debut (1985). What happened then? Were there any hard feelings? How did things come for the two old friends and they‘re a team again?

Tommy: I will have to let Skully answer his reasons why, though I could talk about it for a long time. We are two old friends who have played together several times. I have the highest respect for him as a creative musician and we will always be friends.

Skully: I left the band after Tales Of Terror was recorded. It was not because I was pissed at my bandmates or anything like that. It was musical direction and I was young and stubborned. I always considered myself to not be a good guitarist, but a sadistic guitarist. That is how I play my instrument and write my songs. I wanted the music to become more evil and dark and extremely fast and aggressive. I am no means knocking on what Tommy, Stacy, David and Ron were doing, we just had different styles. My influences come from bands such as Celtic Frost, Mayhem, Venom and the mighty Bathory. I was very saddend by the passing of Thomas Forsberg (Quorthon). His music inspired me and a lot of musicians throughout the world. He and his music will be missed. Excuse me for getting off the questions asked, but that is something I felt needed saying.  Okay, as for me and Tommy working together again, that was Steve Cannon’s workings. He wanted to see a Hallows Eve reunion really bad and he was talking to Tommy about it, then Tommy and I discussed it. We have always gotten along great and never had any hard feelings. He worked with me on the Lestregus Nosferatus project, but finding a drummer was difficult. Anyways, Steve announced the reunion on Blabbermouth.com. Before it was set, we talked to David and Stacy about it, but they have successful careers and families, so they declined. I think both are extrodinary musicians and I have no hard feelings on either one and wish the best for both.

So, parallel to the band’s come back there was a side project launched under the name Lestregus Nosferatus. This project featured the Hallow’s Eve lineup? Are there any releases from the band? Are we talking about a musical style in the vein of  Hallows Eve?

Skully: Lestregus formed in 1988. There were 4 different line-ups from 1988-1995. The music in the beginning was somewhat more like Slayer and Bathory. Then in 1991 it was more groove metal which I was not thrilled with. I wrote music more in the vein of black metal, but others in the band were writing. I met Ron Vinto (Auro Boriales) in 1994 and it was becoming more of the style that I sought. From the beginning, drummers were a curse. Finding a drummer who was aggressive was very difficult. 1995 was the last time we recorded and played live. Tommy was part of that line up and as a side project, will be a part of it once again. There are 5 different recordings of this project. Two songs were written when I was in Hallows Eve that you will be hearing. One of the songs on the new full length CD to be released and the other on future recordings. Hallows Eve is back, with new talented players and we are here to stay…

Tommy: There is an album – not available now – as Lestregus Nosferatus. Hallow’s Eve recorded and toured right up to 1994 and then I came to Skully’s Black Metal band for a couple of years. That album was called  O Come All Ye Faithfull, For Tonight We Feast . At this point I have to plague my other project which is Cranky Bent Bastards. It’s an old school style punk band I have with our producer Chris Gailfoil.

The band’s first reunion shown was given as the support band for the mighty Exodus, in Atlanta, GA. What is the basic feeling now for this gig? Did everything turn out as expected? What about the fans’ reactions? What do you see of Exodus in year 2004?

Skully: The band Exodus was great. Not only did they play a kick ass show, but they treated us like friends. The fans were fantastic and they enjoyed all 3 bands who played that night. Prime Mover were the opening act, we played the middle slot and then Exodus. The new CD,  Tempo Of The Damned , shows that the guys have not lost their touch and I would like to point out that they did not act like rock gods… They came out and hung out whe the fans, and checked out our set. I had my son there that night and my girlfriend was in the hospital due to complications of multiple sclerosis. She missed the show but all the bands made and signed a get well card out of one of the show posters. That was really cool and Rick said some really nice and inspiring things before they departed and I thank him for that.

Tommy: The show was excellent and there is a bootleg video of it out there, but that is the only show with Duane Monk (guitars) and Steve (vocals) before I took over as lead vocalist. I’m just sick of looking for vocalists and I know I’m in Hallow’s Eve forever! I don’t get to quit, the name goes with me. Skully swears he is in it for good and he’s doing a lot of vocals as well. You should hear him sing on  Lethal Tendencies !

I, myself, feel rather happy also for the headlining appearance of the band at the Keep It True festival in Germany, in November 6th. How did that happened and you will performing at this festival? I guess there’s much of an enthusiasm and high expectation for this upcoming performance of yours. It must be great to share the same stage with cult bands like Hellstar, Jaguar, Stormwitch or Witchfynde.

Tommy: We are very excited as this is an exclusive, one-time appearance in Europe for us! We hope to play more in Europe next year and we will work on that. For now, this show is it and it’s our first ever appearance in Europe.

Skully: I I feel very fortunate to be a part of this and gratitude goes out to Chris and Oliver and the fans who have made this possible. I look forward to checking out all of the bands and having a good time performing and talking with all the fans.

Focusing on the U.S. side, the band will perform live in Atlanta for Halloween, in October 30th. Is there still much enthusiasm left for U.S. fans? Would you compare the European Metal fans vs the U.S. fans?

Tommy: We are playing on Halloween and that makes me happy. I’m sort of Mr. Hallloween King around here or at least if you’re around us. Skully used to sleep in a coffin, stuff like that!

Skully: To me I think fans are fans. If you enjoy the music, then you are going to buy the records and go to shows no matter who you are. Yes, we will be playing on Hallow’s Eve. I would not have it any other way. We are looking forward to it and looking forward to crossing the big pond and hanging out with my European friends who after all, are my bloodline…

Atlanta, GA has deliver some great bands through the 80’s apart from Hallow’s Eve, from the Black Crows to David Chastain. What’s the status now, in year 2004? Would you like to mention some bands you think are worth checking?

Tommy: We are the odd band here, along with Mastadon. Most of the bands here have the Southern US feel, The Black Crowes are typical. Most bands here sound like The Black Crowes meets Motorhead or Iggy and the Stooges. I particularly like Rock City Dropouts, The Evils, Catfight, Lust, Nashville Pussy. I like local music and I collect it, plus most of us know each other and have played together in some way. For Metal, definitely check out Mastadon. They are on Relapse Records.

Skully: Daath, Ground Xero, Demoncy, Domminion, Prime Mover, Mason Dixon Mafia are some of my favorites, but there are a lot of good bands here.

What’s the story behind Queen’s cover version of Sheer Hard Attack? It’s a great cover, though someone would expect something more straight-forward to be chosen! Whose idea was it, in the first place?

Tommy: I chose  Stone Cold Crazy  and lost the coin toss.  Sheer… was Stacy’s idea. Metallica won a Granmmy the following year with  Stone Cold Crazy ! We did not win a Grammy. Case and point. (e.n.: he’s a god…)

The song D.I.E. (Die In Effect) (from the Death And Insanity LP) was included in Metal Blade’s soundtrack for the Black Roses film, in 1988. Since we haven’t been able to see the movie, what’s the basic concept? Furthermore, which other bands participated in the track listing?

Tommy: I don’t know about the other bands, but the idea was: there is a band called Black Roses that travels from town to town and when they play all the kids in the audience turn into monsters and run into the streets killing their parents! That’s great! Do you think it’s true? Nah!

The band’s 3rd effort, Monument, came out in 1988. Since then, what happened in the Hallows Eve camp? The band split-up right afterwards? I remember reading somewhere that there was some kind of cooperation with famous guitarist James Murphy sometime.

Tommy: Here it goes: The band did not plit up. We toured for eight months after Monument came out, then we changed members a lot ‘till 1994. During that time we turned down bad deals, played 50 to 100 shows and recorded demos for a 4th album. James Murphy hung out for a half a year of that. After 1994, Lestregus went on for a while, all the time maybe doin’ Hallow’s Eve too. And it took ‘till now to find the right lineup. I’m not putting out garbage.

Tommy, along with Stacy Anderson you used to play in a band named Warrior, prior to the Hallows Eve birth. What was Warrior’s style? Are there any releases available from that era? Were there any song used in Hallow’s Eve recordings later?

Tommy: Yeah, Warrior! We were very young. There are recordings that suck. The Mansion track was played by Warrior.

Apart from the band’s undisputed quality, I consider Hallows Eve a lucky band, in terms of having the chance to be signed in Metal Blade Records & cooperate and be guided by US Metal guru Brian Slagel. In what level do you think Brian’s experience and spirit of work helped Hallow’s Eve in the 80’s? Is there any kind of cooperation in these days?

Tommy: Brian was great to us and I miss being a part of the old Metal Blade camp. As of now, we are free agents looking for a deal now that we have been recording on our dime and have a lineup that is willing to do the work.

Hallows Eve released three records in the 80’s, presenting a variety of changes in their music but always in the well-recognized Hallow’s Eve Speed/Thrash sound. Did you also grow up with your own music or it was a deliberate choice? Really, you are all self-taught musicians?

Tommy: I can play anything I want. I control my music and instrument. But also all musicians have a natural maturing of abilities with time. Some of us are self-taught. I grew up playing music and have played my whole life non-stop. The first time I was onstage I was Six years old and played  Monnlight Sonata on piano. Brandon is too humble to say so, but he was somewhat of a prodigy.

What’s your opinion on extreme Metal music? With Thrash Metal dominating the second part of the 80’s, we now see where Metallica have come up to, in my opinion Megadeth or Slayer do not produce that good music they used to etc etc. In contrast, Death/Black Metal seems to be more approved between Metal fans, with dozens of bands following this specific sound. Do you think there’s room left for tranditional Speed/Thrash acts?

Skully: Oh, Absolutly. There will always be a crowd for the old school as well as the new. After all, thats where the new get their inspiration from. I sat down and listened to Bathory, Celtic Frost and  such, then slide in music like Behemoth, Dark Funeral, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and more. I am a fan of the old as well as the new and I believe most metal fans are as well…

Tommy: People who only like one style to me are narrow minded. There is an audience for diversity.

Do you steel keep an update with what’s going on in Heavy metal music nowadays? Are there any new bands you think make the difference? There’s much of skepticism between old loyal Heavy metal fans about what the future beholds for our favorite music.

Tommy: I can’t wait to see what the future brings!

What’s the message Hallows Eve would like to send to Metal fans in Greece and everywhere?

Skully: To the fans in Greece and everywhere, I thank you for the support and love of our music, as well as all of your favorite Metal bands throughout the world. Hallows Eve looks forward to performing in your country and cities everywhere and meeting the people who have paved the way… I thank you Metal Temple!!!

Tommy: Thanks for your support, hope we can play in your area soon!



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