ANNIHILATOR's JEFF WATERS Won't Worry About Writing 'Catchy, Commercial Choruses' On Next Album
December 27, 2016
Metal Wani's Laura Vezer recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Jeff Waters of Canadian metal veterans ANNIHILATOR. You can now listen to the chat in the YouTube clip below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On ANNIHILATOR's upcoming follow-up to 2015's "Suicide Society" album:
Jeff: "On the next one, the changes I'm gonna make… I only said two things. I've got all these people telling me, 'You've gotta go back to this album,' or that album, or that album, or that album. 'You've gotta do this,' 'You've gotta do that.' So what I do is I block it out. But I've decided that I'm going to not worry about catchy, commercial choruses — 'commercial,' as in you remember it, where you intentionally make that chorus the most important part of the song and you want people to remember that one every time. That kind of is the opposite of what I used to do in the earlier days. In the earlier days, I would go, 'I don't care about the chorus being the main part; I want the whole song to be cool.' So therefore the choruses were not as commercial or catchy. And they remained heavy back then; the choruses would end up being heavy. Whereas on my 'Suicide Society' record I just did, you could have a heavy song, but then you hit the chorus and you go, 'Woah, that's pretty mainstream stuff in the choruses.' And the other thing was, since I'm such a fan of so many bands, I let myself go a little bit on the last album with being too blatantly obvious with my influences and my musical loves as a fan. So you really heard a song that had a lot of the 'Master Of Puppets' era of music from METALLICA, and you really heard a MEGADETH-y song on there, and you really heard in my vocals some Hetfield and Mustaine-isms. And I think that was great, as a fan, to get it out, but I think I need to do more of my own thing on the next record."
On whether he plans to surprise fans with a "super-thrashy" record next time around:
Jeff: "Because we've kind of been out of the North American scene since 1993, basically… We've dropped into Canada and played some shows — Calgary Metalfest recently and Heavy MTL before that, and some locals shows — but, generally, we've been out of the North American scene since 1993. Now that's a long time. So, younger fans started discovering us in the late '90s and then realized, 'Wait a second. The word 'annihilator.' That must be a thrash band.' And they check it out, and if they catch the right album or song, they're, like, 'Oh, this is cool,' and then they listen to another one and go, 'What the hell is that?' They're, like, 'Is this a ballad about his kid? What's this all about?' And there's some goofy, funny, kind of immature songs, songs about Kraft dinner and chicken and corn, believe it or not. We have all these different styles, 'cause I was influenced by hard rock, heavy metal and thrash metal. And then people will always hit me with, 'You need to go and do 'King Of The Kill'  again. That was your best record.' And then you get Americans online, or even Canadians, saying, 'Oh, 'Alice In Hell' , that was the only album you guys ever did that was any good.' And then you've got many European countries saying 'Never, Neverland' … 'Cause that was the biggest album from us — most successful one, sales-wise, at least, and touring-wise, and I think, personally, the best album. Then people are always saying, 'You've gotta do that one [again].' And then you get people in Italy and different countries going, 'No, no, no. 'Set The World On Fire' you did in '93, that was your best album.' So, like I think I mentioned already, the first four albums were four different singers and four different styles of metal and hard rock music. So which one is the better one? If you ask somebody in one country, you're gonna get this album, and you go to the next country, overwhelmingly Germany would say something like 'Never, Neverland' and 'King Of The Kill', and you go to Italy, and it's 'Set The World On Fire'. You can't please everybody, and it can drive you nuts. And not only that. When you go back and revisit stuff, I don't even think the odds are 50-50 that you can go back twenty years, or twenty-five years, and recreate what you did then, because you're a totally different person, and the things going on around you were totally different. There's very few bands in history that can revisit stuff and do that. JUDAS PRIEST, actually, didn't revisit — they were groundbreaking in the sense that they had this career with 'British Steel' and 'Killing Machine', with 'Hell Bent For Leather' on it, and they had 'Screaming For Vengeance', 'Defenders Of The Faith', 'Point Of Entry'… They had all these classic records — some a little better than others, in different people's opinions — but then, all of a sudden, fourteen albums into their career — fourteen records into their career — they come up with an album called 'Painkiller' that just totally blew everybody's mind and completely just ripped up the whole metal community as in, like, 'Wow! There is hope that a band that's been around for so long can actually pop one of these things out occasionally that is classic.' For me, I just can't go back and revisit… I mean, that's kind of what METALLICA's been doing on 'Hardwired', and it's hit-and-miss. And 'Death Magnetic' too — they went back. There's traces of '…And Justice For All'. You could tell they were going back, and they were going back not to save their career, because they're so stinking rich, and anything they put out people will buy anyway. They went back, and I think they honestly went back on those last two albums they did and really did it for the fans, if you think about it. I mean, they're gonna make their money anyway; they're gonna have the sold-out stadium tours and arena tours. I think they went back musically on the last two records and said, 'You know, listen. This is why the fans loved us in the beginning.' And they're incorporating that into where they are right now. And that's gonna work for a band like METALLICA. For us, it could be a disaster, or it could be awesome. And I just don't really want to go back and pick an album and say, 'Let's do that.' Because then the fans of the other three albums, that keep hounding me, are gonna go, 'Oh, that's not what we like.' I just have to move on and do my own thing."
On January 27, 2017, ANNIHILATOR will release "Triple Threat", a three-disc collection of the band's music in a trio of very different scenarios. The main disc comprises a set of ANNIHILATOR's classics performed acoustically, with band leader, guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Jeff Waters bringing together band members Aaron Homma and Richard Hinks, Vancouver drummer and friend Marc LeFrance plus Ottawa session player Pat Robillard. Recorded and mixed by Waters (with Marty Sobb),this quintet laid everything down live, off the floor and in single takes at Watersound Studios in Dunrobin, Canada during late May and early June, 2016, giving Waters one of the most challenging, satisfying and perhaps "electric" creative moments in his career.
"Suicide Society" was released in September 2015 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", and he was also back commanding lead-vocal duties, as he did on the critically acclaimed "King Of The Kill", "Refresh The Demon" (1996),"Remains" (1997) and other ANNIHILATOR albums over the years.