Metal Wani’s Laura Vezer got to catch up with Annihilator’s Jeff Waters about the bands upcoming cross-Canada tour, their first coast to coast tour since 1993. He talks about the challenges with booking such a massive tour, selecting support bands, completion of Annihilator’s 16th studio album, and an exciting upcoming European announcement! Below are the excerpts:
I remember seeing you used Facebook earlier this year to recruit your support bands for this tour, and Canada’s Mutank, and Australia’s Mason will be joining you on the road. I’m guessing you may have received a few submissions! How did you choose your supports for this tour?
Well first off, we thought we were going to bring some big-name bands that we didn’t get. When I talked to them I realized the reality of the finances. To get big names on tour you have to pay. They have to get paid. I thought about putting that together and talked to a few bands that I thought were good, and realized that the projected loss on the tour could be hugely greater by bringing a couple of well known acts with us. Then I changed and said, “wait a minute I don’t want to go too much out on the money here, but I gotta have some good bands.” The first band that popped to mind was Mason from Australia. They did our second headline tour that we did for our last album in Europe. Their music is fantastic and they’re really cool guys. You gotta have both to bring a band along. We asked them and thought there was no way they’d come as this would be a really expensive one, anyone who knows that crossing the country thing will know. They said they were going to pull their finances together, saved up some money, and are now flying into Victoria because they wanted a little vacation in Canada. We have amazing band, Mason coming, they are old school thrash, and they are really, really good. I saw this band Mutank at Wacken Battle of the Bands from 2014, and some other club here in Canada. They were just…good. So, I asked them if they could come with us. So, it was based on what bands could afford to come with us, but they also had to be good bands, and good people. We have a great team with us on this tour.”
6 months in, how have fans been enjoying the Triple Threat package? How are they enjoying acoustic Annihilator?
I think for the Annihilator fans that followed us over the years, whether they’re faithful, love everything we do, or they only like certain albums or styles that we’re doing, we knew the acoustic thing would be an interesting bonus. “That’s different, I’ve never seen Annihilator do that, I’ve never seen a heavy metal or thrash band do that kind of stuff” so we knew that was going to be an interesting part of it. The concert DVD was on there too, from Bang Your Head!!!, that was cool for newer fans to get a best of or live set vibe, and to see the band that’s been touring for a while now, and will be touring for the future at least. It helps out for the Canadian fans who want to come and check us out. The mini documentary was a surprise for the Europeans, they loved that. They really love Canada in general. Europeans who have never been to Canada before see it as a cool, awesome, huge place where the people are nice, some of those things are true! Europeans really love to see simple things, like us in the living room at my house, or at the beach, or at the studio at my place. Those are the kind of things that are different to your concert DVDs. I think when you put it all together, I knew it would be something that our fans would like, which translated well in the sales. We knew it was going to go well. It gives an opportunity for future fans in North America to see something more recent of the band and the line ups that you’d see. We’re starting to talk about some shows in the U.S. It was like Borat said, great success!
You’ve wrapped up the new record as of Sunday night, does that include mixing/recording/producing?
Mastering, everything’s done! We’re waiting for the CD artwork which should be done by next week and then we’re finished! It looks like if everything rolls right it will come out at the end of October. Every artist of course says their new album is…and you understand it, when you’re a painter or a poet or a musician, and you create stuff… you always usually like and love what you do, and it’s very common for us to say, “this is one of the best things we’ve done,” and that’s normal because it’s your baby. Hopefully the ego goes away and the reality check comes in six months later where you say “damn, I should have written four better songs” or done something better with production. In this case I think I’ve always known this so I don’t usually go out and say, “this album’s amazing” or blah blah blah… this time I’m actually going to go online and say it. Screw it all because I think this is one of the best ones we’ve done.
Last time we spoke we talked about the new album that you were going to be working on this year. Word is it’ll be out towards the end of the year. You talked about the challenge of “keeping everyone happy” when putting out new albums, and I’m just wondering if there was a particular style you adopted for the upcoming one?
The only thing I pre-wrote down and pinned to my studio console was a couple of points:
- I don’t want to let the majority of my influences as a metal fan get the best of me on this record. I did realize later that when I was singing on the record, I was singing with a Hetfield wannabe vibe on certain words, and Megadeth/Mustaine-ish thing, or maybe even a Layne Stayley or Ozzie thing. I was more of a fan on the last record musically and vocally on the last record, and that really came through, you could hear where I got everything from. This one I wanted to go back to the King of the Kill record, or back to the Alice in Hell record, because that was more of a heavy and original vocal style. That was key on the new record. I wanted to stay away from being influenced by other singers and do my own thing.
- If you write a riff and it sounds very Slayer-ish, and you LOVE it, you’re going to throw it in the garbage, and you’re going to write something that’s more Waters-ish.
- I broke the rule on this one – don’t rely on catch commercial choruses. In a songwriter’s sense that becomes a very tempting thing. The catchier your choruses are the more memorable they are therefore you can call that the more commercial that is. Throw that out the window and go back to the early days where I didn’t give a damn about the choruses. It was about the whole song, and not just building around the chorus. I got too easily sucked in to that one for quite a few years. This time I said to myself just start with the intro, go to the verse, go to the pre-chorus, then go to the chorus, and make them as good as I can. And inch by inch my way through it, rather than base everything around a catchy chorus.
So, half of that worked, the other half I just came back to what I usually do. The other half was just some bizarre stuff that I did back in the early days. This is our 16th studio record and I don’t think I’ve talked about a record like this in half a dozen records.