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Mark Edwards (Overlorde)

Interview with Mark Edwards from Overlorde
by Grigoris Chronis at 07 January 2005, 10:24 PM

Sometimes you just wanna cry out loud 'bout the injustice goin' on with legendary, superb, classic Metal bands that due to the famous reasons never had the chance to be placed higher in the Metal Hall-Of-Fame! U.S. cult Metal act Overlorde (for anyone who owns or has ever heard their monumental 1987 EP) have left their specific mark in the 80s U.S. Metal era and are now back & more furious to unleash their first ever full-length attack! The Snow Giant has returned, and co-founder 6-string axeman Mark Flying V Edwards salutes from the band's supreme command headquarters!

Hello Mark, greetings from Greece and Metal-Temple.com magazine!

Hail Greg and all the readers of Metal Temple! Thank you for the chance to do this interview!

Well, since many Metal fans may not be aware of Overlorde’s history, a brief bio of this US Metal legend would be suitable for a start!

OK! Overlorde formed in 1985 originally as a three-piece. Our bassist, John Bunucci (later nicknamed Kong) was singing. I played guitar and Dave Wrenn played drums. Pat O’Donnell joined on vocals in 1986. Aside from playing shows in the NJ and NY area, we recorded and self-released a 5-song vinyl EP in 1987 on our own Strike Zone Records label. It was a very local release, just our area basically. We hoped it would lead to our being signed to a proper label. But Pat and the band parted ways shortly after the EP was released and we got another singer, Rod Tyler Loiza. Unfortunately the band began to disintegrate in late 1988 and by late 1988 or early 1989 it was basically done. Until 2000, that is, when we were very surprised to find that the 1987 EP had developed us worldwide a following. So we decided to reunite.

Good decision! So, the year’s 2004 and your latest release, Return Of The Snow Giant, will hit the stores soon. Let’s start with your record label first. Greece’s Sonic Age Records has inked a deal with a band and I must ask you about the facts that resulted to this cooperation.

Manos Koufakis founded the label. He used to run a magazine called Steel Conjuring. It was he who did the first interview with us in 2000, and really was the one person most responsible for prompting our reunion. While we were searching without success for a record label in 2001 and 2002, he created Cult Metal Classics records which was issuing re-releases. When he decided to begin offering new releases, he contacted us in the summer of 2003. Everything came together by April 2004 for a deal, and Sonic Age Records was created shortly thereafter  to reflect the emphasis on new releases . Though we would have loved to have released this CD sooner than 2004, it really worked out for the best. It just seems proper that we are signed with the person who is most responsible for our reunion.

Tell us some details about the rehearsing and recording period for Return Of The Snow Giant. Which lineup is featured in this album? Also, where was the album written and by whom was it produced? Did you have enough time to input all your wants into this CD? You know, pressure many times prevents the band/artist from giving 100% of his potential!

The lineup features John Kong Bunucci on bass, Dave Wrenn on drums, and meon guitar, or as I like to say Flying V. We are the original Overlorde members. For the reunion, we decided to invite a totally new singer. Not one of the original singers. We met Bobby Leather Lungs Lucas, who many will recognize from the bands Seven Witches and Exhibition. He really is the perfect vocal fit to our music. He has the talent and approach to match ours.

All the songs with the exception of And the Battle Begins… (short intro) were written back in the 80’s. Bobby contributed some new lyrics and some little changes were made, but basically the music is all how we wrote it in the 80’s. We rehearsed the songs with Bobby, playing a few select shows along the way, over the time since our reunion. The recording was done in the summer of 2004.

Overlorde produced the CD along with co-production by Eric Kvortek of Trax East. Did everything work out as we had hoped on the CD? We definitely gave it our 100%. We definitely had very good input of our wants. Are there things I wish we could have done a bit differently? Of course. I think more often than not this is usually the case with any recording session. But in the end I think everyone is very happy with the result and the CD totally represents what Overlorde is all about.

Not all of the album’s tracks are brand new cuts, I think. Can you give us some details on the origin of the songs featured in Return Of The Snow Giant? Were they your own compositions or was it a matter of team work?

Some of the songs are written by me, some also by me, Dave and Kong and some by all four of us. Two of the songs, including Snow Giant, were on the 1987 EP. Four of the songs were written in the 80’s and were included on our Overlorde 2000 demo. And The Battle Begins… was written during the recording session, and the remaining six songs were written in the 80’s but never released at any time.

On the lyrics part, it would be of great interest to mention a few things. I must confess the first time I saw the cover artwork, the possibility of a concept album crossed my mind.

Well, it is not really a concept album. The songs do not relate to each other in any way. Lyrically, our songs mainly are fantasy influenced with some horror and a little real-life in there.

The album’s cover artwork is – in my poor opinion – amazing, standing between the classic 80s Metal technique and today’s requirements for a more professional work. Really who’s behind this great piece of work? How much is it linked with the lyrical inner?

The artist is famous fantasy and comic artist from Greece named Giza Di. He took the concept and did a great job bringing it to life.

This is how we tied the artwork in with the lyrics. Since the song Snow Giant had opened the 1987 EP, and we intended to include it on this new CD, Dave came up with the idea to call the CD Return Of The Snow Giant.  It was obvious that a Snow Giant should be on the cover. As we began thinking about artwork concepts, we decided to try and incorporate as many characters from the songs as possible.  So the Snow Giant is battling the Cyclops with a woman warrior watching (she represents the woman in Hell Hath No Fury, even though the song is not specifically about a woman warrior). Then within the CD booklet are some other characters.

Let’s talk a little bit about the addition of Bobby Lucas to the band. Bobby, previously known for his deeds in US Metal acts like Seven Witches, really delivers his best. Did you know Bobby from long ago or did the band approach him due to his previous experience? Are we talking about a full-time cooperation?

Yes, Bobby is a full time member. We did not know him long ago, though he does remember seeing us in the 80’s and wishing he was our singer! We met him at Powermad IV festival in Baltimore, Maryland in August of 2000, where he was performing with his band Exhibition. We had no idea about his work in Seven Witches when we first met him.

Overlorde are already known to the vast majority of old Metal fans since their legendary same titled mini-LP, released back in 1987 through Strike Zone Records. A demo CD also came out in 2000, that really changed hands among few people. So, not much has been heard about the band’s status for so many years, so much that fairly someone should wonder whether the band split up or not. So, is Return Of The Snow Giant the reunited Overlorde’s comeback album?

Yes. We not only consider it our reunion comeback but it is also our first full length release.

Apart from the time distance factors, how do you relate in your mind your new release in regards with the 1987 mini-LP? What kind of similarities and differences should a loyal Overlorde fan expect?

The similarities are the music style, the power, the overall approach. The differences are the better production and more dynamic vocals that Bobby provides.

On to the tour section, Mark! How much will Overlorde support their newest release by touring? Are there any fixed plans yet (Greece maybe)? We read that the band will perform live in the upcoming Keep It True Festival in Germany next April. I think it’s the band’s first ever European performance. How do you feel about this show?

Right now the only show planned is Keep It True. Yes, it will be our first European show. We feel great about this opportunity and very much look forward to it. If additional shows or touring can be worked out, that would be great.

How would you contradict European fans to U.S. metalheads, even if you will now be able to witness this in real? You know, their faith in Metal music as the years pass by, their devotion to their favorite bands etc.

Hmmm. It’s obvious something has been different in Europe. I know many U.S. metalheads that are still very passionate. But there is something different. A willingness to put the music foremost in their lives. Attend festivals, etc. That isn’t as apparent here in the states. Plus it seems the UK is also a big change, don’t you think? I mean, the USA and UK were such hot beds of true metal in the 80’s. But in both places it has changed dramatically.

Even if the band had emerged from the mid-80s era, into the US Power/Epic tornado, still I always believe that Overlorde’s music represents a band paying homage a little bit more to the British Metal scene. Really, which bands would you mention as Overlorde’s influences?

As a band I’d say Sabbath, Rush, Maiden and Priest are at the forefront for sure. Then other bands have influenced each of us individually.

Could you give us your personal Top-5 albums list from both European and American bands that you think were made to define the term Classic?

If I define classic as the metal albums I was exposed to up until 1984 or so, I’d have to say the following (not in any particular order)…

European

Rainbow - Long Live Rock & RollIron Maiden - Piece Of MindJudas Priest - Unleashed In The EastAccept - Restless And WildTorch - S/T

American

Riot - Fire Down UnderSavatage - Hall Of The Mountain KingDio - Holy DiverAnvil - Metal On MetalArmored Saint - March Of The Saint

Mark, you belong in the Flying V axe men category. What’s the magic with this guitar? Which guitarists would you consider as pioneers for your career as a guitarist? I can see some Michael Schenker and Wolf Hoffman out there! Or the legendary Randy Rhoads?

Very good! Yes, Schenker and Rhoads for sure. Wolf to some extent, as I often use an octaver effect that both he and Blackmore have used.  But I would list Ritchie Blackmore and Gary Moore as bigger influences for me as well as Alex Lifeson. For me the magic of the V is the functionality. I like to play solos way up the neck in the highest register. But I have big hands, and I find with many normal guitars the cutaway doesn’t allow my big hand to fully access that area of the guitar neck. With a Flying V, this is not an issue since there is no cutaway! I can play anywhere on the neck I want too. And of course, the guitar looks cool too.

You ‘ve been knowing Overlorde co-founder John Kong Bunucci for over 20 years now. How would you describe him as a bass player but mainly as a long time friend?

Thank you for asking! That is very kind of you. I consider Kong to be the best bassist in the underground metal scene if not the entire true/classic metal scene. He really is a wonder to behold. He has a great sound and technique. He was influenced by such greats. Geezer Butler, Geddy Lee and Steve Harris.

As a friend it has been great. Our wives were good friends also before we married them, so we’ve had that as a special bond. Kong has introduced me to camping and the PC game Total Annihilation which, on those rare occasions we get to play, we’ll go for hours battling each other. He’s a 100% Italian-American and one of the nicest, friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Just like Dimebag was, he looks mean but he’ll great you with What’s happening, brother! And he’s a GREAT cook also!

Mark, before Overlorde you were in a band called Parthenon (out of  the ancient Greek monument – isn’t it a small world)? Are there any recordings from that period? Is any Overlorde tune originally coming from the Parthenon era?

None of them were performed in the band Parthenon. But Starcastle, which actually mentions the word Parthenon, was written about that time if I recall. It was one of the very first songs we ever did in Overlorde. The only recording is a live show, but we only ever learned three or four originals and at that show only performed one. The rest were covers. I do hope someday to record those tunes somehow, though probably not in Overlorde.

You and the band have seen things and things happen and change in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music in general all these years. How do you see all this Nu-Metal movement (mainly in the U.S.) and the whole Death/Black Metal genre that are in first priority for today’s Metal youth?

Nu-metal is just a media-driven thing. It will die, is dying, as easily as it came.  Though who knows? Maybe 20 years from now nu-metallers will look upon nu-metal as their classic metal. That will be the test of its worth.  Death and Black metal is an honest evolution at least. I just never could take to it because I really don’t like that vocal style.

Do you think that Overlorde can cheer up the interest of a teenage Metal fan nowadays? I mean, how much space is there for classic Metal bands in today’s marketing requirements?

Well, I won’t say that we alone will suddenly make the nu and death metal kids change their taste. However, we will make people take notice. Especially teenagers who play instruments, as they will hear some of the elements that have been lost to metal in recent years.  But I think with the popularity of the Lord Of The Rings film trilogy, the continued reunion of Iron Maiden and now the new Judas Priest CD with Halford, there is a good chance to reclaim some lost ground in the metal fanbase by making teenagers aware of a style that maybe they did not know existed.

It was of sorrow to hear yesterday that Damageplan/ex-Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darell was shot on stage during Damageplan’s performance in Columbus, Ohio. How do you feel as an artist and guitarist yourself? We know that Darell had a great reputation in America.

It was a great loss. My initial reaction was not as bad as when Randy died. I was a big fan of Randy’s.  I just never owned any Pantera recordings, even though I liked what I had heard of the band. But as I saw people talk about him on the news, and read posts and tributes to him online, my professional appreciation grew as well as my personal sense of loss. Let’s just hope something good comes of this tragic loss.

After thanking you for your spare time to do this interview, a message for Metal-Temple.com readers and Heavy Metal fans in general would be gladly welcomed!

On behalf of Overlorde I’d like to say HAIL to all your readers, and invite them to visit www.overlorde.com to read and hear more about us. Maybe also join FORCE RECON, our fan club/cyber street team/community that has been so vital in making this CD a reality, if they would like to help promote the CD. Thank you again, Greg, for the opportunity to do this interview. Across the sea amidst the horizon, Overlorde forever binds us!



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