By David E. Gehlke
Party crossover thrashers MUNICIPAL WASTE were conspicuously absent during the thick of the pandemic. In what has become an almost unavoidable and recurring refrain, the band had to halt all touring activities and delay work on new material as lockdowns and social distancing took precedence. It was a legitimate excuse for a band who has thrived off touring ever since their breakout 2007 "The Art Of Partying", but it also begged the question: Would an album about partying, cutting loose and horror movie references have been right for the times? Or would it have been a welcome distraction from all the gloom and doom? Nevertheless, with tours back on and album releases moving forward as planned, now, it seems, is the appropriate time for the band's latest, "Electrified Brain".
Energetic frontman Tony Foresta connected with BLABBERMOUTH.NET from his new Florida locale to dish on the new album and everything that happened in between — including sharing a practice pad with a legendary Florida death metal band, knee surgery and a gig chopping carrots for WWE. He also touched upon when MUNICIPAL WASTE courted controversy by releasing a shirt in 2016 depicting then-presidential candidate Donald Trump blowing his brains out. Foresta acknowledges it was slightly out of character for the band. So now they're back to raging and moshing — and hoping everyone joins in.
Blabbermouth: You've prided yourself on touring for so long. How did the lockdowns affect the band?
Tony: "It sucked for a few reasons. For obvious reasons, it was weird for us because we took a little time off, which we never do. We took six months off to write the record. [: Laughs:] We thought we could write a record in that amount of time, which is not how we've ever operated. That was also when I moved to Florida. We took a hiatus — not even a hiatus — for us, that's a hiatus, that much time. We decided to write and I got my life in order and moved all my shit down and relocated. Right when we were about to get back on the road and motivated, that's when we had to cancel the TESTAMENT tour. Then, that was it. The dominos fell. We had a tour with CONVERGE booked, and then we moved that back a month. It's like, 'We're going to go out in September. We're going to go out in October.' Then, everybody was like, 'We ain't doing shit.' [Laughs] It set in, like, 'This shit is real.' It was scary, but it wasn't that bad compared to everyone else's problems."
Blabbermouth: Was that the longest the band has been apart?
Tony: "Oh yeah. Big-time. I'm not sure the first time I saw those guys, but it was about a year and a half. I was writing with them, but I couldn't get up to Richmond to practice. It actually worked out really cool. Now, my practice situation is a hundred times better than in Richmond. If you care, I'll tell you."
Blabbermouth: Please do!
Tony: "I practice where MORBID ANGEL practices. It's a little studio room. I go in there by myself. My bandmates take their phones, record themselves playing the songs and send them to me and I'll sing and practice to shitty iPhone recordings. But I play it through a PA and it sounds like a live show. It's not great, but my practice space in Richmond was horrible because we were in a small room at the GWAR spot and I couldn't fit in the room. There were five dudes and all our gear. I'd usually be in the hallway listening to them and singing along. It was horrible. Now, I have a full room to move around. It's great. Once we started playing again, you could really tell. I've never sounded this good live. Doing that, working into that, that's also how we wrote the record. They would write songs in the rehearsal space and send them to me. I could write lyrics to that. I re-arranged songs. My buddy that I recorded vocals with, there were a few songs that weren't working out. I would go in and re-organize the song structures and be like, 'Do this one. Play this four times.' It ended up working out. We've never written like that. There was one song that we threw away and I re-organized it and it's one of the best songs. Also, with the pandemic, instead of having six months, we had two years to work on the record. It fucking came out great sound-wise and songwriting-wise."
Blabbermouth: Have you ever bumped into the MORBID ANGEL guys?
Tony: "I'm not going to lie: If I ran into them, I probably wouldn't even recognize them. The last few times I've seen them live, I've been blacked-out drunk. [Laughs] I live less than a mile from [CANNIBAL CORPSE / HATE ETERNAL guitarist] Erik Rutan's studio [Mana Recording]. I live in Seminole, so right by his spot [in Saint Petersburg]. I've yet to run into him. We have the same grocery store, which is weird. But when I'm in Richmond, I'll see the LAMB OF GOD or GWAR dudes if I walk on my front porch. [Laughs] But Florida is different. Everything is so spread out. It's like California, where everything is far away from each other."
Blabbermouth: Not to get too philosophical, but considering the state of the world and everything that has happened in the last two years, have your lyrics and party themes taken on more value?
Tony: "Yeah, I hope so. Now, more than ever, people want to start cutting loose again. I feel like there's a sigh of relief lately. I feel like almost a switch went off after the OBITUARY tour. It was like, 'Alright, I think things might be getting a little better.' [Laughs] I know it's still there and people need to be safe and careful, but I feel there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I think it's time we start fucking cutting loose again."
Blabbermouth: You are no longer the young guy who sang on "The Art Of Partying". Do those themes still apply even as you get older?
Tony: "Yeah, but I feel like other people should do it and not myself as much. I want to influence and push positive energy and debauchery out there into the world. I don't want to completely submerse myself in it to where it gets to be an unhealthy situation, especially with the pandemic, I slammed on the brakes. I feel like a lot of people went either one way or the other. Not everyone, but there are a lot of friends that either dug into their addictions or their bad habits. Then, some people did the opposite and used that time to try to better themselves and fix their problems. I feel like I did a lot of that. I curbed a lot of bad party habits. It was a good time for me to sit back, assess the situation, especially my personal life. It really helped me a lot. I re-evaluated what was going on. I know a lot of other people were about to do that as well."
Blabbermouth: It's nice that you want to push positive energy. Not a lot of people are doing that now.
Tony: "It's pretty fucking grim, though. There's so much bullshit going on. I feel like our band is one thing that people can relate to as far as unwinding and having a good time. I don't want to get into politics or any bullshit like that and it's one thing I regret. Nah, I have little regret over making that [Donald] Trump shirt. I don't want to push political agendas into shit, but also, fuck that guy. I don't regret it. I don't want to be a preachy band. I never wanted to be, but at the time, it felt right. [Laughs]"
Blabbermouth: Was that your top-selling shirt?
Tony: "It was for a while, but not anymore. I'm cool with that. That means the world is healing. [Laughs]"
Blabbermouth: Onto more positive subjects: "Electrified Brain" has to be the heaviest-sounding MUNICIPAL WASTE. Was that the direction you gave to (producer) Arthur Rizk?
Tony: "We explained to Arthur that we wanted to sound heavier. I feel like the drum sound is crazy. I think he knew exactly what we were getting at. It's a weird way to explain it, but I explained to him that every time I'm in a bar and I hear a MUNICIPAL WASTE song come on, it doesn't sound as heavy as I wanted it to sound. That's also a weird thing in how you hear your own music. You are listening to something so many times, but I feel like Arthur got it. Sonically, it seems so much heavier to me. Working with him was easy; he was easy to talk to. He got what I was saying. Not like other producers didn't, but he comes from a weird hardcore background and metal as well, so we could talk about weird shit. He also likes weird noise bands. I found talking to him about music was really fun because he knew a lot more shit than even I knew and I thought I was a nerd. [Laughs] He makes it look so easy, too. That's what's crazy. I've never seen someone do what he does with such ease."
Blabbermouth: Who does guest vocals on "The Bite"?
Tony: "It was Blaine [Cook] from THE ACCÜSED. It was cool. The song is about that scene in 'Dead Alive', the lawnmower scene. We wrote a whole song just about one scene in a movie. [Laughs] Dave Witte [drums] wrote most of the lyrics on that song, too, which is kind of funny. With all the splatter and gore in that scene, we figured it would be a perfect song for Blaine. That's his thing. I love his vocals. He sounds like a creepy old lady or something." [Laughs]
Blabbermouth: You did the Decibel tour with OBITUARY earlier this year and you have more dates ahead. Do you feel like you have your touring legs back underneath you?
Tony: "Oh, for sure. It usually takes a gig for me, about one or two, then we're back. With the pandemic and everything, it took us a minute. I'll tell you: That first show we played in Vegas was one of my all-time favorite shows we ever played. It was emotional. We were tearing up; we hadn't seen each other in a while. We saw each other in the studio, then I went home. Fuck, that was October, then that show was in September of the following year. That was the next time I saw everyone. It was great. I had surgery. I had crazy knee surgery. There was a chance I wasn't going to be able to play. It was real crazy, like getting there and getting onstage together, but three songs in, it was a feeling of, I don't know, it was one of the best feelings of my life. Like, 'Finally. We overcame something.' Not just the band, but the people there who made it. It's been hard on a lot of people."
Blabbermouth: What did you do to your knee? Collateral damage?
Tony: "Yeah, jumping off of shit, jumping into the crowd. It's funny: It's like pro wrestling, but even crazier, during the pandemic, I got a job with WWE. I was working in the 'ThunderDome' or whatever it was called. I was in 'Smackdown' and 'RAW'. I was in the bubble with the wrestlers."
Blabbermouth: What was your job?
Tony: "At first, I was helping in the kitchen, cutting carrots, doing all that stuff. But when WrestleMania came around, I got a gig as a runner. I had my own WWE van. I took laundry to the laundromat and got shit for the dressing room and food for everybody. It was fucking awesome. That's when I fucked my knee up for real. The two weeks before WrestleMania, you're just running, running, running and you're building this huge stage and all this stuff. I was running all over the place. The week after WrestleMania, we're breaking everything down and I had a week off, then we were going to get back to it. I got my second Covid shot and then I don't know what happened; some inflammation or crazy shit was happening, but it was a combination and my knee exploded. I couldn't walk for four or five months. Then I finally got the surgery, then that was a whole other timeframe of getting that back. The first couple of tours we did, we were doing short runs. We did some shows with VOLBEAT and I was planted onstage. I couldn't move. It helped me project and sing the songs better instead of flapping around. [Laughs] But it was brutal. It sucked. I've slowly gotten better and now I feel like I'm at a point health-wise with not partying as hard and moving around as much. I'm more focused on performing. It feels great. Playing shows now feels great."