Mark Taylor of Metal Talk recently conducted an interview with ANNIHILATOR leader Jeff Waters. You can now watch the chat below.
Speaking about the departure of Dave Padden, ANNIHILATOR's vocalist from 2003 to 2014, and Waters' return to lead-vocal duties on the band's forthcoming album, "Suicide Society", Jeff said: "When Dave left… He was my partner with ANNIHILATOR, and he was the guitar player live, singing live… A partner in ANNHILATOR, meaning the singer, originally. And, basically, it was a shock when he left. Looking back now, he had said he… In December of 2014, he said he was just getting tired of the whole process. And I was kind of in shock, 'cause this is my life, my career, and I never saw it coming. And he's been my guy; we never got in arguments. I said, 'Is it money? Do you want some more money? Do you want some guitars? I've got a few hundred? Do you want some? What is it that you need, and I can try to do it? Is it me? Or is it the music? What's going on?' And he said it had nothing to do with any of that; it wasn't money, it wasn't me. It was simply he was getting sick of the traveling."
He continued: "ANNIHILATOR's last three records have been going up slowly. We hit a real low point from '96 to 2007, where it was enough to sell records, enough to tour, but not in the U.K. and not in Scandinavia, and just survive — barely survive at it. I had to do other jobs to keep everything going; my studio stuff. So the last three ANNIHILATOR records have been going up and up in sales, so I was just blown away. Why would you leave now when it's doing the opposite of what most bands are doing with declining CD sales? This is a great time. We're having fun, [and playing] more festivals. And that was the thing: we were doing more festivals, more touring, more appearances, more endorsement stuff, longer recording on the record. You get lots of [so-called] one-offs: 'Let's go to Mexico and do a festival. Let's go here and there.' So, even though ANNIHILATOR would officially only have maybe two tours and two summer festival runs, two different summers, you throw in all the South American dates and all the one-offs, and you're busy all year round — recording, writing, blah blah blah. So he just got sick of it. [It was] just too much. Some people can't do two weeks of that kind lifestyle. In hindsight, I was lucky to have him for eleven years, because he helped save my butt for quite a few years when, without a singer, I would have tanked. But also, he helped advise me; he was a sounding board. I could ask him questions. But, in hindsight, the last couple of ANNIHILATOR CDs, I didn't wanna see it, but I saw it: he was not into it. And if you're not it as a singer, and you're not writing the lyrics, which he had the opportunity to do, it's very hard… You have to have that. If you don't have that, at least that drive, there's no way you're gonna be able to pull it off, when you didn't even write the lyrics. So I saw that, but I didn't even, for once, think about talking to him about it, 'cause I didn't wanna lose the guy."
Waters added: "Now, after the initial panic for a few weeks and looking for another singer and [thinking], 'Oh my God! My career is gone. What am I gonna do?' After I got over that shock of Dave leaving and 'what the hell do I do?', I knew right away: I had to start looking for singers right away. It was either old-school guys [in the vein of] Halford, Dio [and] Dickinson, which is perfect — those are my favorite singers — but that's not what I'm looking for. Or it was the younger crowd… It was either the KORN, MARILYN MANSON graduates, or it was MACHINE HEAD, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, where you've got the screaming going on in the verses and then chorus, or pre-chorus, is two beautiful, clean, harmony-sung things, and then back to the heavy screaming on the verses. So it became, 'Why can't I have all that?' 'Cause I like all that stuff. So I couldn't find it; the standards were way too high… Which is ironic, 'cause I ended up singing. But that's what happened. I said, 'I sang on three records before. I can do this.' But the record was all recorded and finished — lyrics done, melody lines. I sang on a CD for Dave to [hear] the singing; I usually do that on all our albums. And I could have made the most incredible mistake of my life and walked right into the studio and attempted to do the record, as a singer, and it would have killed me. It would have killed the whole deal, and it would have been a disgrace. I stopped and I shut down the whole project. I took vocal lessons for six weeks — intense, for six weeks — and then I said, 'That's the first step.' The second step is, 'Sure, you sang on records before…' I had one record called 'King Of The Kill' that was popular, but if you listen to the record, it's popular because, I think, of the music and the songs, not 'cause of the amazing vocals. So there was things in my voice I didn't like. After the lessons, I would sit here and say, 'This is what I don't like, and this is the couple of things I like.' Therefore, the last step was, you've gotta have a certain guide here, 'cause you're not 20, and you haven't had 30 years of singing under your belt and knowing your style. I thought, 'What do I sing in the shower, or when I'm cooking dinner, or sitting in the laundry room, walking around the house?' I don't sing Halford, Dickinson [or] Dio, 'cause I can't, and they're the kings and one in a million. But what I can do, almost — almost — is sing ALICE IN CHAINS, OZZY [OSBOURNE], MEGADETH and METALLICA. So those are the four bands that I wrote down that I sing all the time. And I basically had it on paper, I'm not gonna clone these guys, because I can't, and it would be too obvious. But that is exactly what I do — these two things that Waters likes about his voice and these guys. And that's what I do. I did the record like that, with no stress. I wouldn't refer back to these singers; I just knew that's where it was gonna go. And I just literally… and I know it sounds dumb… but I pretended I was singing in the bloody shower, and it worked. I think the actual album… If you listen to what I did on 'King Of The Kill', which was a big record for us, if you listened to it now, you wouldn't think it was the same dude [doing the singing]."
"Suicide Society" will be released on September 18 via UDR Music. As he has in the past, Waters handled all songwriting duties, played all guitar and bass, engineered, produced, mixed and mastered "Suicide Society".
The official video for the "Suicide Society" title track can be seen below. Waters states about the clip, which was shot in East Germany: "Lyrically, the opening line says it all: 'Welcome to the dark side of the human race.' Originally, the song was just another subject to write about ... but when I sat down and really got into it, I actually be me pretty disgusted with what we, as the human race, have done/are doing to each other, the planet and all life on it. Musically, there is a groove and riff style that I haven't heard before in my writing; I guess that's why this one stands out to me! We hope you like it, fellow metal fans."
"Suicide Society" track listing:
01. Suicide Society
02. My Revenge
04. Creepin' Again
05. Narcotic Avenue
06. The One You Serve
07. Break, Enter
08. Death Scent
09. Every Minute
Check out audio samples in the YouTube clip below.
ANNIHILATOR's touring lineup will include drum monster Mike Harshaw, who continues on for his fourth year with the band; and new guitarist Aaron Homma.