Jimmy Cabbs conducted an interview with guitarist Nige Rockett of British thrashers ONSLAUGHT on November 26 at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California at the final show of the band's North American "Thrash Invasion Tour 2014" with ARTILLERY. You can now listen to the chat using the PodOmatic widget below. A few excerpts from the chat follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On why ONSLAUGHT didn't cancel the North American tour once it became clear that singer Sy Keeler wasn't going to be able to make the trek due to health issues with Keeler's son:
Nige: "We've got bills to pay, families to feed. And it's not only us; it's the other bands involved on the tour… [Denmark's] ARTILLERY. If we would have canceled this, this would have been their second U.S. tour cancelation, which would really have done them serious damage, I think — to cancel two tours in two years. So we had an obligation to those guys as well, and also our booking agent, who worked solidly for two or three months booking this tour and put so much time and effort in. And we can't just shit on these guys, you know!? They worked hard and we've gotta look after their careers as well as our own. As I said, we've got bills to pay, families to feed.
"If you look at the music industry, a lot of bands have to do it [go ahead and tour using fill-in musicians]. You look at ANTHRAX, SLAYER… They all go out with stand-in musicians. It's all across the board. It just doesn't work sometimes for bands these days. The money's not there, so people have other commitments outside of bands and stuff, and that's the way it's gotta be in 2014."
On why ONSLAUGHT chose to work with former ANTHRAX singer Neil Turbin as the stand-in vocalist for the North American tour:
Nige: "We spoke to five or six really top vocalists that I feel are particularly good guys, great guys, we're friends with and we have been friends with for many years. I won't mention their names or bands, but unfortunately, due to commitments that they already had, they couldn't make it. They were, like, 'Wow! You want us to sing for ONSLAUGHT.' But sadly it didn't work. We were working with this young German guy, and the energy and attitude he had was fantastic. He was not quite there with the vocals — he was very dramatic in his delivery, which was maybe not quite right for us — but he had everything else. But then we met with management and agents, blah blah blah, and they kind of figured it wasn't good to go out with a unknown [singer]. Because of the story, they needed a name [vocalist] to stand in. And that was it. That was, basically, what swung us to Neil Turbin."
"I love that first ANTHRAX album ['Fistful Of Metal']; I think he did a great job vocally on it. And I think a lot of people feel that way about that album. And you think, 'Okay, he's not doing [anything] of any note [since then].' So [we thought], why not? It did initially generate a lot of interest, and people were [saying], 'Wow! This is kind of interesting.' At least they were talking about the tour, so that was, I guess, the objective in the first place. Obviously with the logistics of it, we never had a chance to rehearse with him. It was just a case of 'send the lyrics [and] the MP3s over.' [He had that stuff] for a long time before the tour [started]. I mean, any professional musician will learn the songs in no time. We replaced the drummer twelve days before a tour, and the guy nailed it perfectly. Same with the guitarist. He came in ten days before a tour — solos, the lot — and nailed it. This guy [Neil] had fifteen weeks and he still couldn't nail it. It's kind of incredible, really, for a professional guy."
On Neil's claim that he had only four weeks to prepare for the tour:
Nige: "I've got e-mail evidence of all this. I can back everything up. Maybe he said we signed contracts on this date, but he was working on the material way, way before that. We were negotiating contracts for, like, six weeks. But in the meantime, he was working on all the material [during] that time. He's just using it as an excuse, saying, 'Oh, I signed the contracts four weeks before the tour, and that's the only time I had to learn the material,' which is total bullshit."
On whether ONSLAUGHT knew Turbin was going to be relying on telepromoters to deliver his vocals during the tour:
Nige: "No. Not at all. He'd come up first night on stage, and it was, like, 'What the fuck?' We had no idea. He'd come up [with teleprompters] on stage and we were, like, 'Really? We're a thrash metal band. Is this for real?'"
On when he knew it wasn't working with Turbin:
Nige: "[Laughs] I think probably, like, 30 seconds into the first song in New York. And we all looked at each other and it was, like, 'For fuck's sake, man!' And it was just a disaster, the whole show. It was being filmed. And it was sold out. We could have sold the show out twice last time, and it was just, like, 'Wow! You killed it, man, for New York for us.'"
On whether he thinks ONSLAUGHT's legacy and reputation has been tarnished by the band's decision to tour with Neil Turbin:
Nige: "Honestly? Yes, I do. I do. Seriously. In the U.S., particularly, I do think it's kind of hit us a bit hard. As much as the reviews have been saying, 'Yeah, the band are amazing, the band have done a brilliant job. But this guy's not. He's got this on stage.' It still doesn't detract from the fact of what we should be doing on this tour with Sy. If Sy was out [with us], we would be fucking laying these places to waste."
On the mudslinging on the Internet between Turbin and Rockett that followed Nige's November 25 interview with Heavy Metal Television in Tempe, Arizona during which the guitarist revealed that the singer had been fired from the tour:
Nige: "I could have done without it, to be honest. I'm not into all that nonsense, really. I was just gonna let it go, [let] bygones be bygones. And if we get these two shows out of the way successfully, have a lot of fun and let it slide under the carpet. But, no… I did say something in [the Heavy Metal Television] interview — I was pushed to say something... If somebody asks, 'Where's Neil Turbin?', what are you gonna say? I'm not gonna lie. And it's caused a lot of problems. I mean, nobody, really, within the whole touring party had seen eye to eye with Neil on a personal level. He's kind of alienated [himself] from everybody else, which didn't really help."
On Turbin's allegation that Rockett hasn't been honest in his business dealings:
Nige: "The thing is, I don't deal with the money on this tour — our tour manager does — so that kind of shoots him down straight away. I have no financial dealings on the tour, so he's been paid by our tour manager every week. So for him to say that is a complete fabrication. And, obviously, there's thirteen other guys who are willing to stand behind me and say exactly what's going on."
Turbin posted a statement on his Facebook page on November 26 claiming that the contract for him to do the ONSLAUGHT North American tour "was signed a month before the tour and that's the amount of time I had to learn an entire set of complex lyrics and vocals. There was no time on the road, except for poor situp sleeping in the van and numerous nights without hotel rooms, driving straight from gig to gig. That being said, upfront it was shared with Nige that the only way I could sing the proper lyrics would be with some help, since we never rehearsed once and four weeks was not enough time to learn the amount of lyrics."
He continued: "On Monday before showtime in Anaheim, I had a meeting with Nige and let him know I needed to be paid each of the last three shows the money that was owed to me which was a few hundred dollars, so he did not confirm or assure me that I would be paid and it was suspect the fact that he collected all the money from the Brazilian tour dates, even thought the tour cancelled.
"In Montreal before we played there were major arguments by some of the other members, with Nige expressing concern that they weren't being paid. With this concern heavily in mind, I asked Nige Rockett, who told me he needs to get paid $2000 by [tour manager] Nate. I then spoke with Nate Klug, tour manager, who said that all the money is going to the van and said Nige was supposed to pay me. When Nige didn't on Monday night after the Anaheim show, I then told Nige and the band C-ya. No Pay No Way No Show! Therefore his interview providing false information about what happened is just damage control.
"I left the tour on Monday by my own accord of not being paid for the final week of the tour. Nige Rockett stating that I was fired because of a teleprompter is total rubbish. I would like to add that whatever they pay Sy Keeler should be increased to double the amount to tolerate the verbal abusiveness and passive aggressive behavior of Mr. Rockett.
"I quit the ONSLAUGHT tour due to non-payment. Nige had no intention of good faith and no intention of paying me. That is the only reason I am not playing the last shows. The rest is Nige Rockett damage control and anger venting. His threat to me was, 'See you on Blabbermouth.' It is a shame that he has resorted to lying to the media. I could say a lot more if necessary but I'll stop here now."
Fan-filmed video footage of ONSLAUGHT's final performance with Turbin on November 24 in Anaheim, California can be seen below.
ONSLAUGHT's sixth album, "VI", was released on September 20, 2013 via AFM Records. The follow-up to 2011's "Sounds Of Violence" was mixed by Thomas "Plec" Johansson (TIAMAT, SCAR SYMMETRY) at Panic Room studios in Skara, Sweden.
Performance footage (November 24 in Anaheim, California):