2009. február 20., péntek

Carl Canedy speaks about two metal classics: Feel the fire (Over Kill) and Beyond the gates (Possessed)

Over Kill's "Feel the Fire" and Possessed's "Beyond the Gates" are definitely classic metal masterpieces. The producer of both records was The Rods drummer Mr. Carl Canedy. He speaks about his experiences and the recording sessions considering these albums.


So Carl, do you still remember how did you end up becoming the producer of the „Feel the fire” album? I mean, did the guys ask you to work them or did the label suggest them your services?
Jonny Z had asked me if I’d work the guys. I’m not sure if they were even into my doing the album.
You previously worked with Anthrax on their „Fistful of metal” album, does it mean that it was your second work?
No, I had been co-producing the Rods albums and some other demos etc. for several groups.
So, thrash metal wasn’t an unknown surface for you, was it?
I certainly learned quickly from the Anthrax exposure. What I loved about that band was that Charlie Benante and Scott Ian were so open to new music. I think they and Billy Hilfiger (a great guitarist and guy) exposed me to my first rap music. The hardcore shit, not the fluffy crap.
Were you familiar with Over Kill’s previous materials by the way?
Only briefly so the new material was my main exposure to the band.
How did the recording sessions go with the album?
They were quite interesting. They were into partying a bit and so we had a little rub about taking it more seriously. I really thought they were a great band. I’m not sure they broke as big as they should have.
Did the band have a decent budget to record the album?
Then I didn’t think so but now I would say yes. I believe it was only $10,000.00 but the studio was $60 an hour so it went fast.
How long did the recording sessions take?
If I remember correctly about two weeks or so.
Did the band work alone or did you give them some advices considering the recording sessions? I mean did they trust you right from the start?
I certainly gave some advice, whether it was taken in the way it was intended I’m not sure. I know there was some infighting between the members at the time. Unfortunately, sometimes, and certainly these days I would say it isn’t or shouldn’t be, it is an on the job learning experience. The recording shows you your strengths but also shows your weaknesses. I used to try to quietly bring people musicians along. Hoping they’d learn from their first experience and be stronger for the next. Some musicians resented that approach and would blame me for things that I wasn’t responsible for nor had control over. I know that one night the guys got drunk with the engineer and he brought them back to the studio to do vocals without my knowledge. Of course I did find out was quite unhappy with the band and the engineer for a day. The vocals weren’t even close to usable but I’m sure they had fun at the time.
Were they prepared to record the album?
They had some killer songs and were really pretty kick ass musicians from the moment they stepped through the door. I was always blown away by how they were as a band.
Did they have a factual idea, how the record should to sound? I mean, were they fully aware of what kind of sound they wanted to have?
Yes, as I recall they knew what they wanted things to sound like.They worked hard as we did we to get a great sound. I think they all had an idea of how they wanted their album to sound.
Do you agree with, that from start to finish, this album is a relentless assault of memorable thrash riffs, crazy pentatonic shredding, double bass drum beats, and a rather impressive set of rough yells and banshee screeches?
I’d say that’s a totally accurate description.
Both the band and the record shows such an aggressive and raw sence of hunger that this band instantly devolopped a cult like following right from the get-go, correct?
I agree! The one thing that , despite budget restraints, that I worked hard for was to get the bands energy captured. I tried hard to make sure that the band was tight and had all the energy and power of a live show.
Is the songwriting very solid, and all the songs are quite memorable and varied?
I think answered this already but yes, they were really strong and pretty much ready to go. I have cassettes of pre-production. I should transfer them to CD and send them to the band.
Do you think, that „Rotten to the Core” is a true thrash anthem and a crowd-favourite to this day?
The title alone says it all. How could it not be.
Which songs did you like by the way?
I don’t think there was one I didn’t like.
Did the guys put all of their songs they had written ont he record?
Yes, but I’d have to check my pre-production tapes to be sure, but I believe all the tracks recorded were on the album.
In your opinion, is this an important album in thrash history? Is it an influential record for bands that started later on?
As I’d stated earlier in this interview. I think Overkill didn’t get the recognition they deserved, or should I say, at the level they I feel they deserved. Rat Skates brought them to the Thrash scene early on and they were true pioneers. They also seemed to have no clue about this but were just doing the music they felt and loved.
1985 was a great year for thrash metal with records, such as „Feel the fire”, „Hell awaits”, „The return”, „Bonded by blood”, „Seven churches” or „Infernal overkill” to name a few, would you say, that it was the birth of the extreme underground scene?
Honestly, I’m not the to comment on this. I can say that when I was producing these bands people would say that music is horrible. I’d this music is going to be huge. They’d laugh at me. My one friend laughed out loud when I told him that Anthrax would one day have gold albums. He actually laughed in my face and said, ”you’re out of your fucking mind”.
Did you always keep an eye on what’s going on in the underground?
I’m into music so whatever comes across my plate I listen to. If I hear of something interesting I’ll seek it out. I just produced Dealer In Wares. You can check it out on my Myspace page or theirs. The singer is an 18 year old who is so steeped in music that I had to record her. Check out her voice. I also produced a very young death metal band, Plague Of Ruin. They’re 15 and 16. Really good band.
Did you get on well with the Over Kill guys? Did the behave friendly?
I liked the guys. As I’d said they had some internal issues. I’m not sure they totally trusted me and perhaps that’s because the engineer may have been trying to undermine me but overall I got along with them. Personally I really liked all of them. I still speak to Rat pretty regularly. Great guy! We’ve stayed friends. Talk about someone who didn’t get their just recognition.
Was this the record that put Over Kill on the map of the thrash scene and made a name for them?
Again, not for me to say but I would say it was a great launch for them.


While the producer of Possessed’s debut „Seven churches” was Randy Burns and it was done at the Praire Sun Studios on „Beyond the gates” the band worked with you, how did you get in the picture exactly being the producer of the record?
Steve Sinclair was looking for a new producer.
They worked at the Paire Sun again, correct?
Yes, a really nice studio. Very cool people. I also got to hang out with Dickie Peterson from Blue Cheer, a personal hero of mine. My friend Andrew „Duck” MacDonald has been their guitarist for years now. They’re all such great guys. It was fun to hang out on breaks with Dickie and Paul. Talk about living legends.
Were you aware of that Possessed recorded „Seven churches” during the Easter holiday, because all of them still went to school?
We did the same thing with „Beyond the Gates”. Recorded on Easter break.
Do you consider „Seven churches” as the milestone of death and black metal? Is it the essential death/black record?
I’m not trying to cope out here but I’m not the guy to ask but I would have to say that it seems that „Seven Churches” is the bible to some people.
Were you a fan of the band? Did you know their demos, rehearsals or „Seven churches”?
I knew the album.
What about the recording sessions? Did they have more time to record the material than „Seven churches”?
No, I don’t believe we had any more time.
Was the material written and complete when they entered the studio or did they still write some tunes for the record in the studio? Were they prepared to cut the material?
We had about a week of pre-production where we fine tuned the songs. Debbie Abono was their manager at the time. They rehearsed at her house. Debbie was the glue for that band. She was the nicest person and the best manager a young band could have. Very cool lady.
As for the pre-production they were an amazing band. I’ve never worked with a band that would float the way they did. The tempos would breathe but they would be tight the entire time. I didn’t recognize how cool and amazing that was at the time.
In your opinion, did Debbie Abono help a lot Possessed developing their career or could they have been more „popular” and successful?
Debbie was just entering the business as a manager but I believe she did very well for them. She wasn’t ripping them off and took care of them as people. I know the deals she seemed to get for them were quite good for the time.
Did she also agree working the band with you?
I’m not sure she requested me but once I was there we got along very well and remained friends long after the albums completion.
„Seven Churches” kicked so much ass that Possessed would have trouble topping it, what do you think about it?
I have taken some hits regarding this album. Let me first say that Randy Burns is a great producer and without doubt he should have produced all of their albums. He GOT them! I didn’t record them all at once the way I feel they should have been recorded. I spent extra time on a drum sound that was marginally better if that. I tried really hard and loved the guys and the music but the guitars could have been heavier sounding.
Was „Seven churches” an evil, dark, furious sounding record with hellish, dark atmosphere?
Of course, it was truly frighteningly heavy.
Would you say, that the band didn’t want to repeat the first record?
I never once heard a word about the first album from them.
Did they seem to be under pressure during the recording sessions? Was their goal to satisfy the fan’s needs or did they want to go on their own?
I never once heard anything about fans or doing anything other than what they believed in as a band. They seemed to have a ball recording and I saw little or no stress.
By the way, did the label ask to hear new material? Did the guys record some preproduction tapes or demos?
I don’t recall the label requesting early mixes. The whole thing happened so fast that by the time we would do rough mixes the final mixes were done. I remember Steve Sinclair liking the album. He seemed positively comment on the vocals being more up front and was happy with his choice of me as producer. Unfortunately not everyone felt the same way.
Did all of their new songs make up on the record?
Yes, I believe every song made the album.
Is the sound clearer than in the past with less hellish atmospheres that branded their debut or the record has a poor production, that robbed the songs of some of their energy?
I’ve taken and have to take the hit. I didn’t capture the band as well as I should have. I was trying to get the vocals more out front as well which I think lost some of the mystery in the band’s music.
Was the musical genius of Mike Torrao’s and Jeff Becerra’s songwriting shown throughout the album, especially on cuts like „The Heretic”, „Beyond the Gates”, and „No Will To Live”?
I believe it was. They were crazy songwriters. The band was like nothing else I’d worked with.
Did these tracks become the highlights of the album along with „March to die” and „Tribulation”?
I thought their riffs were amazing and all the songs were killer.
Did the album take a different direction from their debut, „Seven Churches” or would you say, that unlike „Seven Churches”, „Beyond The Gates” took a step down and had a more technical feeling?
Again, I’m taking the hit and saying that I took things in a different direction and missed it. I’m not sure if it’s more technical in feel but I think some of that dark, mystery was gone. I think Randy was the guy who got the band that sound. He understood their music in a way that I didn’t get. Not that I didn’t love the music but he went for the dark, mysterious and yet really fucking heavy sound. „Seven Churches” is a classic „Beyond the Gates” is a great album which suffered from a slightly lackluster production.
Was Possessed the most evil and brutal band that you worked with?
Most evil, for sure. Not the most brutal but one of the most brutal.
Is it true, that Jeff Becerra said back then, that „Beyond the Gates” was going to be more commercial record?
I’ve just recently spoken to Jeff and apologized for missing it on the record. He was extremely kind to me and said that he was happy with the record. Very nice of him to let me off the hook. I don’t recall him saying anything along those lines. The pre-production rehearsals were fucking amazing. They were the most interesting band I’ve ever worked with on a level of playing in such a tuned in way to each other. They played as a band not as individuals.
On their previous album, it had been banned from all major record stores because of the upside down cross., „Beyond the Gates” was more commercial in order for the band’s dream of becoming famous would come true, how do you explain this?
I don’t think nor do I know of any plan to become commercial. If they were they never told me about it. I know that Combat really made an effort on the cover. The album cover is really pretty cool.
Was it easy to get on well with the band?
Very easy, they were really nice people.
It was the most successful release of Combat, wasn’t it?
I’m not sure of that but I know it did quite well.
Was Combat's idea releasing „Beyond the gates” on Halloween day?
I believe it was their marketing idea to do that. Maybe that's what cursed the album or at least my name associated with it.
The year 1986 was an highlight in the history of the extreme metal (thrash/speed, black etc.) scene, since a lot of influential materials were released besides „Beyond the gates”, such as „Reign in blood”, „Darkness descends”, „Eternal devastation”, „Pleasure to kill”, „Master of puppets”, „Doomsday for the deceiver” and the list goes on, what do you recall of that period?
I recall that I loved much of it and hated some. I also recognized that it was a, „changing of the guard” in terms of Metal. That metal would never be the same. That Thrash was changing everything. It reminded me of what had happened to Jazz. How Mclaughlin and Tony Williams, Chick Corea etc. had amped up the speed and intensity to a point that couldn’t be denied. The same had happened to metal. The musicianship was getting better and better and the tempos were crazily fast and songs were getting more interesting with no limts in terms of structure and lyrical content. It was now fucking wide open territory for anyone with the balls to step up the plate.
How do you like or judge the works of known producers, such as Neil Kernon, Randy Burns, Harris Johns, Tomas Skogsberg, Colin Richardson or Scott Burns? Did all of them succees in making a name for themselves?
I only know Randy Burns through a telephone call. He was very nice and I respect his work tremedously. As for the other producers I’ve never met them but respect them all. I’m happy for anyone who is successful in the music business. It’s a business that eats its own, so if you can survive it’s quite an accomplishment.
Who are your favourite producers?
There are so many that I hate to mention names. I would hate to leave out someone important and offend anyone.
Are you in touch with the aforementioned persons? Do you consider them as your friends?
I’m really not in touch with them nor do I know them personally.
Were there bands that they wanted to work you with, but you didn’t accept the job?
I in a way wish I had worked with her. The Great Kat was someone I passed on. She wasn’t happy about it as I recall and told me I’d regret it. I’m not sure I regret it but I think we could have made a great album together. She was so over the top in our preliminary conversations that I just didn’t think it would work. Perhaps had we met in person things might have been different. Very talented musician.
How much did the circumstances and the technologies of the recording sessions change or develop compared to the ’80s?
Well, I can only say that for me as a drummer things changes dramatically. Thanks to my dear friend Shomouik Avigal for being the genius he is and having the belief in me I’ve set up my home studio and now record my drums at home. It’s the most incredible freedom I’ve experienced. Also, with the technology I plug my guitar into the computer with amp modeling and do demos I would have killed to have had as Masters. Even though I owned a full on commerical studio for many years there is nothing like this type of freedom. I’m really only limited by my talent or lackthereof and time. Otherwise I have the tools and freedom to record whatever and whenever.
Carl, thanks a lot for the interview, anything to add, that I forgot to mention?
I guess I would have to thank you and all the Rods fans who ’ve shown their support this past year or two. We’re all humbled by the number of fans who’ve reached out to us with kind words about the band. I’ve always loved meeting fans but now more than ever I’m in contact with them via email and it’s really cool to meet them in person after emailing and getting to know them a bit. So as far as I’m concerned if I’m at a show and anyone would like to say hi please don’t hesitate to do so. Just tell security to get the fuck out of the way because Carl said to make sure to say hi!

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