Razor is one of the best and most respected thrash bands from the 1980s. As time went on, they were speeding up while others were slowing down. In more recent times, the band has been playing a lot of great shows, and given the excitement around the new reissues of "Violent Restitution", "Shotgun Justice", and "Open Hostility", I had to take the opportunity reach out to these guys for an interview! Enjoy!
Skull Fracturing Metal (SFM): Hi guys! Thanks for agreeing to an interview! Let’s start with some very current Razor news: Relapse Records just announced reissues of “Violent Restitution”, “Shotgun Justice”, and “Open Hostility” on CD that will be released in May. What can you tell us about how this partnership between Relapse and Razor came about, and why they decided to reissue these records?
Razor: Well Scott that’s an interesting story. We get asked by a lot of indie record labels from time to time to Re-release material and these releases were put out on Vinyl by a European Distributor a couple of years ago . The artwork was redone and there were some extra liner notes and stuff and we really liked the outcome and buzz they created. Unbeknownst to us there was a huge Razor fan/vinyl collector working at Relapse by the name of Greg Alexander who helped connect us with Relapse and discuss the possibility of CD re-masters of those 3 albums.
We drove to Philly and met with the guys at Relapse and got the ball rolling. They’re a great bunch of people at Relapse and very easy to work with and thought the label would be a good fit for our band.
We had also seen the work they did on the Death Re-issues and were impressed with the quality they represented and the rest is history. We hope the fans really enjoy them!
SFM: In my experience talking with other thrash fans, “Evil Invaders” and “Violent Restitution” are usually considered the most classic Razor records. Would you agree with this assessment? Do you think that the “Shotgun Justice” and “Open Hostility” reissues will change this opinion now that these records will be easily available again?
Razor: I think it will be great to hear them re-mastered and the fact that they’re reaching a wider audience as far as availability I wouldn’t be surprised if they change some opinions.
When Bob Reid joined Razor he brought to the band a new aggression that can be heard in the Shotgun Justice release. That album to me is Killer from beginning to end; it maintains all the elements of the Razor sound but with a meaner edge to it!
Evil Invaders was pinnacle at the time of its release because I think fans of Metal music were looking for heavier and faster sound and we hit at the right time. And also the title track video helped give the album some notoriety as well because there weren’t many Thrash videos out at the time.
Violent Restitution lives up to its name in the fact that it came out after the Custom Killing album, which was the subject of much criticism after its release, and many people thought Razor was waning and had lost its edge. V.R. was a great record and really surprised a lot of people and I think it became a “classic” in that way.
After Stace left the band a lot of people may not have given the Shotgun and Open Hostility albums as much credit as they deserve and hopefully people will form a new opinion on the Re-releases!
SFM: With these new reissues, this leaves “Custom Killing” as the one Razor record that is particularly difficult to find. Are there any plans to reissue this album on CD?
Razor: It is being released on Vinyl through HR Records I believe, but we’re often asked that same question.
I think a lot of “die-hard” and collectors of Razor material would like a CD copy of this release but I’m not sure if there would be a huge demand for it on a global scale.
There are a lot of good songs on that album and I know of a few people who tell me that really like it but I don’t know how much attention we would want to give it as a re-release. It will probably happen someday soon but I think focusing on a new release would be our main objective right now. (SFM Note: I'd be first in line to buy a copy!)
SFM: Razor has quite a few shows lined up for 2015, but with such a large and consistently great discography, it must be difficult to pick out a setlist. Aside from the obvious songs (“Evil Invaders”, “Violent Restitution”, etc.), how do you go about picking a setlist? Do you change things up between shows?
Razor: We sort of like to do a good mix between the old and the newer material; we try to plan it so that it builds as the set goes on into a sort of climax at the end and usually for the encore. We added a few that haven’t been played in a while or never at all. Songs like Goof Soup from Decibels, Sucker for Punishment and we are doing a brand new song called "All Fists Fighting" from our future release.
We have a few new tunes ready and will probably start to incorporate them into the set as the shows progress and see how the reaction is to them. Either way the set is pretty blistering from beginning to end!
SFM: One Razor record I never really felt got its due is “Malicious Intent”. Looking back, what do you think of this record? Do you think it deserves a bit more praise for having classic songs like “High Speed Metal” and “Tear Me To Pieces”? Why, if at all, do you think this record isn’t talked about as much as other Razor albums?
Razor: After the success of Evil Invaders, Attic was eager to get us back in the studio to do a follow up.
Dave was a song writing machine back then and Stace and myself were both writing lyrics and we were always working on new ideas. There are a lot of great songs on that album and I think at that point in the music industry that the musicianship and technicality amongst the rush of bands coming out was pretty intense.
We stuck with the formula that we knew and tried to almost rush into the Malicious Intent album eager to get product out for Attic. I really wish we would have taken a bit more time especially in the areas of production, sound quality, arrangement’s and drum sound/style.
Attic was looking for the “big hit” so to speak and we were just doing what we knew or felt we needed to do.
I think from a fans perspective eagerly awaiting the follow up to Evil Invaders it probably fell a little flat in some of the areas I mentioned, it could have been a more solid album in retrospect but we didn’t take as much time as we should have to thicken up the sound and arrange the tunes but there’s a lot of kick ass material there if you read between the lines.
SFM: The song “Stabbed In The Back” from “Shotgun Justice” has some pretty strong words about the thrash scene. As someone who wasn’t around back then, what I found surprising was that this song was released in 1990, while it seems like thrash didn’t really slow down until a year or two later. Was this song inspired by the many thrash bands that were moving into progressive territory instead of focusing on thrash? Or even bands that were doing ballads?
Razor: Stabbed in the Back was definitely written with a lot of anger and frustration directed at some of what was going on in the music scene and record business at the time.
The Thrash/Metal scene was progressing out of its infancy and gaining popularity with fans and making record companies a lot of money. They seemed to sign a lot of acts not necessarily because they were good bands; because many were (and it’s not directed at anyone in particular) but to bands like Razor and many others that paved the way in the Thrash genre we felt mildly betrayed; if you will, by the rush of new bands who were just trying to get a hit and into Rolling Stone Magazine and now scoffed and turned their backs on the very bands they used to look up too. The here today/gone tomorrow attitude was moving into the scene, spearheaded by the industry who only looked at the dollar signs.
It’s a sort of pissed off reflection of that!
Some of the real bands survived this by adaptation or even staying true to what they believed and are enjoying the resurgence of the metal scene today, but at the time it was a bitter pill to swallow after working so hard for little recognition.
SFM: Razor is one of the thrash bands that was always pushing to be faster, louder, and heavier than everyone else. With this in mind, what are your thoughts on death metal and black metal developing in the early 1990s? Did this seem like an appropriate direction for metal to go? Do you guys like any death metal or black metal?
Razor: There are a lot of great bands out there today (just listen to Sirius Satellite Radio) but I sometimes honestly find myself having a hard time deciphering one band from the next. Not to take anything away from any hardworking band but it’s just that it seems a lot of people are mirror imaging a lot of the Black and Death metal bands who pioneered a sound. I guess it’s like that in any musical genre but I like to listen to bands that stand out with a bit of originality to set themselves apart from everyone else.
When the Death Metal and Black Metal came out it was such an exciting time bands like Venom, Bathory, Kreator, Celtic Frost I still listen to today. Sodom, Destruction, Mercyful Fate, Death the list is endless and they really paved the way for a lot of great bands today.
I look for a bit of originality when listening for newer bands ,but that’s just me.
Razor respected and listened too many of these bands but tended to steer away; from a writing perspective, the whole Satan scene. We didn’t hold back on the violence or revenge aspects of the music though, especially in the later albums.
SFM: In recent years, thrash has had a resurgence in popularity, though it seems like the metal community is relatively divided over new thrash bands. Do you think these new bands (such as Warbringer or Evile, to name a couple) capture the spirit of thrash from the 1980s?
Razor: Yeah definitely those are 2 great bands, I also like Violator and Fueled by Fire and they definitely keep the spirit of that Thrash sound alive. I think newer bands tend to turn on younger fans that really start getting into this vein of music and start to realize where it has its roots. They get turned on to older bands and a sort of resurgence thing happens where they say “hey is Razor still playing live” and come out to the show. It’s a real mix in the audience of old school fans and younger kids who may not even be there to see you but still get blown away and go back and check you out. It’s a win/win situation!
The metal festival scene is a great opportunity to see this, where you have a blend of different styles of metal and almost different generations checking out a show.
SFM: Alongside all of these new thrash bands, many older thrash bands are reuniting and doing new albums. Razor hasn’t put out an album since 1997’s “Decibels” despite being quite prolific in the band’s heyday. Why have you guys chosen not to record a new record so far? Is there a new album on the horizon?
Razor: Most definitely; this is the plan. Dave has a lot of tunes written already but some need to be revamped or just don’t fit into what we want to put out in a new record. It has to be Killer!!!!
We’ve had a few ups and downs over the last few years and it just never felt like the right time to release an album. You want to be able to get out there and support it and we’ve been working hard towards getting the live band ready for that and doing a ton more shows than usual.
We have 2 more shows MDF in May and London, Ontario, Canada with Bolt Thrower in June then were gonna take the summer to finish the album to hopefully record in late fall.
In the fall were back doing shows in Paris, Montreal, Italy, New York, Athens, Madrid to name a few, so were really busy and trying to get out to play for fans in some markets we’ve never played before and having a blast!
SFM: Any last words for the fans out there?
Razor: Just a big Thanks to all the fans, old and new, out there for keeping the Thrash spirit alive and giving us the awesome privilege and opportunity to get out there and play some music for you.
We had a chance to play with our friends Sacrifice and it was truly amazing for all of us!
Were having a great time and if we play somewhere near you be sure to come out and get pummeled at the show, you won’t be disappointed!!!!
Also, were kind of lazy sometimes with the website but you can check out shows and updates at razorband.com for the latest news and be sure to drop us an email or tweet.
See you soon…