Shaq of Metal-Rules.com recently conducted an interview with ANNIHILATOR mainman Jeff Waters. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Metal-Rules.com: What are your thoughts on the metal in North America now. Do you feel that things are starting to improve enough to allow the band to have some success at home?
Jeff: As a metal fan, which essentially is what I am, who happens to play guitar and have a band, since about 2002 or 2003 has been on the upswing and now it's kicking in. There's a lot of great bands out there and they're not the same as the bands that I listened to. Usually when I want to listen to some metal I listen to some older stuff the earlier SLAYER, AC/DC, [JUDAS] PRIEST, EXODUS. The stuff I grew up on is still the stuff I like to listen to when I have the time. The new sort of generation like [CHILDREN OF] BODOM and LAMB OF GOD, all the the different forms of metal that is coming out now is certainly different than in the year 2000 and in the '90s when that kind of '80s-inspired metal was pretty much gone. I like the scene now, it's fantastic. I can go to the record store and actually find a bunch of bands that I like and find more than one good song on every CD now. There is a choice, and with the Internet you have even more choice. If you want to just check the songs out to make sure you can find them on the net instead of wasting your hard earned money on a band that writes one good song every album and does a good video for it and then you buy the CD and the rest of it is crap. This way it's great, it weeds out the bad stuff from the good stuff.
Metal-Rules.com: Touching on that, do you feel that Internet downloading has hurt ANNIHILATOR at all?
Jeff: It's hurt everyone. It's got two sides to it and you've just got to deal with it. I could say something negative but I'm guilty too. When I check out bands and go on the Internet, it's perfect for me because I can decide what I want to pay for. I won't download stuff and not pay for it; I want to go out to the store and have the CD and the booklet and all that but I also don't want to get burned like I did in the '90s. I'd see something in a video on one of those rare metal shows and see a cool video from a band, buy the CD and the rest of it is horrible. I'd feel ripped off and not want to play it again. Obviously it's hurt people but it's also an amazing promotion tool. It's done nothing but help me immensely and it's kept my name in there even if I haven't been there to play. It's great promotion for young bands and I wish I had that opportunity when we were starting out. You can just put a song up on a website and if ten million people want to hear it they can. On the more serious end of that, financially it can be devastating because a lot of bands or labels don't have the finances to do the right job. Labels did not take the internet seriously in the '90s and they're paying for it now. Unfortunately a lot of metal bands pay for it too. It's life, you just gotta deal with it and roll with the punches and keep doing what you love doing no matter what the cost.
Metal-Rules.com: You opened for TRIVIUM earlier this year in Europe which was a billing that left a lot of people at a loss for words. I know you're on good terms with them and I'm sure that tour helped introduce a lot of unknowing fans to your music.
Jeff: Bingo! There was a lot of flack actually against TRIVIUM, and people wondering what I was doing supporting these guys. It's silly because Matt and Corey called me up and said they'd really love to have me come on tour with them. I know where my place is at with sales and popularity. For example, VAN HALEN, they don't even have an album out, right? Somebody like SLAYER is probably, before that VAN HALEN tour, selling more records than VAN HALEN do in any given week before that reunion but you know SLAYER's not gonna headline over VAN HALEN. At the same time, with TRIVIUM we sell more than them in certain areas but in the UK they are massive. They play to 5,000 people a night, and part of this tour was a three-and-a-half-week run through the UK. From a business perspective, for me I got to play in front of all these people who were looking at us wondering who we were or thought we were a new band. "Is this your first album?" And I'm sitting here going, "Look at me, look at my eyes! I am over...well, I am late late 30s...possibly 41! [laughs] I am NOT putting out my first record!" It was great because our sales jumped throughout the UK so you can imagine how good it was for us there. We would go as ANNIHILATOR and play England to maybe 250 or 300 of our faithful fans at each show so for us to go over there and play for 5000 a night and to kick the sales up, now we can go back and go play for more than those 250 or 300. In mainland Europe it's a little different because in most of the countries there we headline and can go to certain places and play from 500 to 5000 people on our own but that was okay, that was part of the deal. It was a good deal for everyone involved because TRIVIUM got a lot more people at their shows for the rest of Europe.
Metal-Rules.com: So it didn't bother you at all for a veteran band like ANNIHILATOR to be opening for a bunch of kids, basically?
Jeff: If you look at the magazines, and I get a lot of these magazines from Germany and the UK and the U.S. and Canada. I'm on the mailing list for these things and the editors send me this stuff free of charge - that's one of the perks of being in this thing, right? I get free magazines every month! But you don't see Waters on the cover of all the magazines, you see TRIVIUM on the cover. They're the ones that are getting the big push, and they sell ridiculous amounts of albums compared to my band now so of course I don't mind supporting them. If I had some massive ego I would have said no, but it's metal and it's a good tour and gets my band out and exposed to a lot of new fans which can only help me. What it really does is helps the fans that are already ANNIHILATOR fans because it means we can come back and play better shows, longer shows and afford to come back to do more touring.
Read the entire interview at Metal-Rules.com.