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Jeff Waters – Guitars, Song writer for Annihilator

Date: 11/10/05
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Why have you never really toured the States before?

JEFF: Really it's because I have been raising my son by myself since he was about two when mom left. If you want to make a go at touring in the States you have to spend a lot of time on the road, in a bus slaving away like 4 months out of the year. I even have a busy schedule over seas, but it wasn't a snuff to the fans or nothing but it so happens that was where the popularity continued for this kind of music through the 90's so that's where I have always done most of my business and touring for Annihilator. I had to make a choice, whether I spend a lot of time on the road or I spend most of my time raising my son. Now I am with a great girl who can look out for my son and be a mother and I can go off and take a shot at doing some more touring. We did do some touring for the first record “ Alice in Hell” on the west coast and then hooked up with Testament which was great, and I think also with a band called Wrathchild America . Then for the 1990 album called “Never Never Land” we did a headline tour which was pretty much our biggest album, and then some shows for “Set the World on Fire”. After that things changed in the music business and I lost my record deal with Roadrunner Records in 93, also at that point the internet was not a big thing and people lost touch with the band. Everyone thought the band was done, as far as the American and Canadian fans were concerned. Strangely after that is really when I had some success over in Europe and Japan where I also became the singer for three records, “King of the Kill”, Refresh the Demon”, and “Remains”. At that time was when if you were playing traditional Heavy Metal as opposed to the more I guess they call it Hardcore metal style that was being marketed like a Biohazard, Sepultura, or Pantera, then you were screwed. Luckily I stuck to my guns and didn't change and went over seas. Now that the internet has been out for many years you start finding out that people in the States didn't realize that the band has been going for some many years and didn't realize that “ Alice in hell” was not our only record. Its kinda neat for me, you get a lot of negative comments and people really want to take a piece out of ya sometimes because people don't know what their talking about. But at the end of the day you have to sit back and say; “well just because they didn't know I had eleven records out and continued success over seas doesn't mean I don't like the internet in the States, I live here Hahaha. It just means I had a kid to take care and I did this as a part time job. You might not like all my songs, or my lineups or singer changes, your not supposed to. Even I don't like every single song from my favorite bands. But now you can get the information on the net and the Annihilator cd's are gonna be more available, plus I am gonna try and set up some touring with my friends in the States.

2. Any idea of who will be in the touring band?

JEFF: Not yet, I just got done doing some press in Europe and just starting to do some in the States and Canada . My deal is done with my current label after this record so I'm also talking to new labels and really going start to do some touring here, and dodge the tomatoes, Hahaha.

3. Your former label Roadrunner came out with remasters for “ Alice in Hell”, “Never Never Land”, and “Set the World on Fire”. Did you have any involvement in those and were you happy with how they turned out?

JEFF: I contributed some pictures and information to them but they had the rights to do it all. They have obviously become a successful label so they don't even have to ask permission for stuff they already have rights to. But they still give me a call, send emails saying hi, we a re doing this with your music, what do you think of it which is really cool. I hear d them when they first came out but havn't in a while. When you do something like that you move on, ya know? I occasionally go back and listen t hose records but even stuff up to “Carnival” I don't even go back to too much. You mostly think ahead.

4. Tell us the difference between the songs on “All for You” and “Schizo Deluxe”.

JEFF: The recent singer, Dave Padden, that was his first record with me in 2004, and he was like many of my singers in the past. My first singer Randy Rampage was a bass player in a punk band, the second guy Coburn Pharr was not really a singer he played in a band called Omen for one record but he was not really good, I don't mean that in a bad way, he didn't sound like he did on the “Never Never Land” record. Joe Cameau sang on a couple records in early 200 years, who also was guitar player in Overkill. So Dave Padden, who is also a guitar wasn't a singer. So I guess I have a knack finding these guys who are not the rock star singer guy and someone who has an ear for the music part, the timing and the drums and the beat. Just to keep the time well as a singer. Musicians and guitar players are perfect for that, they know when I note is sharp or flat and can pick that out. Dave has a good ear for that. It works out good. Having different members, well it's not really members, its really been a solo project ever since I started it almost twenty years ago. The way my albums have worked, which it's great to do interviews over here because now people can hear another side of it then the rumors side. When you have a name of a band people expect its a band, and you have lineup changes, you assume one main guy is still there, he does all the writing and its his band, and he keeps firing guys cause he cant work with them because he's an ass hole. It's a normal assumption, Hahaha, he's a dictator, a bad boss, a goof, HahHah. But in my case, I guess in my early years when I was getting completely drunk all the time, I was a bit difficult to work with as anybody would have been. But really it's a solo project, I go in and write a record, hire a drummer, play all the guitars, bass, solos, engineer and produce, and then I bring a singer in for at least a few records. After the hired drummer comes in, its only Waters and the singer. So that has confused the hell out of the Americans for a while when they actually did hear about the band. They gave me a ridiculous reputation over here but then you go to Europe and everybody just asks me who is in the band at that time. Its not a joke, I just hire guys to go on tour. It's a real wacky way of running something. If you told me, or anybody else in the business, that some band was going to put a record out in 1989 and it was gonna be called a band name and this guy was gonna have five singers in the band in fifteen years and still keep going, sell a million and a half records and do two tours with Judas Priest, that this could be done they'd be laughing. You just don't keep a band and sell records this way, so I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

5. Has it been your decision to intentionally change players in Annihilator?

JEFF: Well if you look at it from the perspective that its Waters and the singer hiring a drummer as far as recording the album then yeah because its only really me recording everything to begin with. As far as the touring lineup that's going to always change because who has a family to go home to, or who gets a better gig in a bigger band, or who cant leave their day job. In that case then those people will always rotate then. The singers do change and I try to keep them as long as I can, they have all been good in their own way and brought something good to the records ya know. I have had a lot of great players always, you really cant get bad musicians to play this kind of music, it just wont come off right live.

6. What is your favorite Annihilator lineup?

JEFF: The one for “Never Never Land”, that was awesome, a fantastic one. 1994-95 for “King of the Kill” was great also, selling out Japan .

7. What was the most successful period of the band as far as a particular album?

JEFF: I'd say around “Never Never Land” and a bit of “ Alice in Hell” especially in North America , plus our label was really behind us at that time. “ Alice ” was a big one but “Never Never” did even more, we got tour with Priest and Pantera in Europe . “King of the King” I think was probably the most successful over seas.

8. Have you been approached to play Gigantour?

JEFF: Well I have spoke to Dave Mustane about that idea and I would love to do it and its a great way to get back in the States. Gigantour was a great fest because it was a chance to get some other bands around that normally wouldn't get to play to those kind of crowds. A festival that allows all kinds of metal to play, something like how they organize Wacken, God s of Metal, Sweden Rock, Bang Your Head. Its all very cool. You get to play one festival with someone like Iron Maiden, then you go to another and you see something like that band HIM, all the different syles, its all very wild. You can have a blast as a metal fan. I noticed that over seas the kids either like the music or they don't, they are not force fed it as much as they are here in the States and in Canada . People are told what to like here by the big record companies, they run everything in the mags and on television. Young kids are told who is popular and who's not. The kids over seas don't care what the media feeds them. I have been able to go to Europe with long hair, a short lawyer cut, and a goofy Mohawk, I have been able to be myself. Everyone just wants to know if Waters wrote some good songs this time for his new record, ya know. Sometimes I come out with a good, sometimes I don't, it's hit or miss. Everyone over their realizes that you can't always put out a “Back in Black”, or a “Screaming for Vengence”, or a “Number of the Beast”. Longevity is for the bands that never really went away and are not the flavor of the week, like Overkill for instance. Maybe not on the big sales level like a Metallica or Slayer, but they havn't stopped since the 80's Just because they were not big to the masses eyes for a period of time doesn't mean they still weren't putting out good music. I dig bands like that. Even Annihilator has been around since the late 80's making music and survived.

9. Any plans for a concert DVD?

JEFF: Yeah for a Jan/Feb release called “Ten Years in Hell”, double disc. It will have some promo videos, live footage, dealing with all the old stuff up to 1999. We are planning to record a live show over at one of the big festivals in Europe this coming summer. I am really hoping right now to get on a bill with some friends from the U.S. and do some touring here.

10. What are your thoughts on how reviewers give their opinions of your music?

JEFF: Well, I like a writer who can write a review and be able to describe why or why not they liked or disliked the music. If all you can write is “O this sucks, it's a pile of crap, the worst thing Waters ever did” and are not able to back it up with some compare and contrasting views then why are you reviewing my music. You don't know what your talking about, its so obvious. But I like reviews that can make both good and bad points, its educated criticism. When you get older you start to realize that's why your still around because one guy can do a review of one of your albums and ask where you went wrong, and then the following year do another review of your latest cd and say “Now this is what so and so should be writing like”. Even some people write reviews and say “O this sounds like their last record, Waters is stealing his own riffs”, well…. If you listen to AC/DC or Slayer don't their records sound the same, I mean they have their sound and style of writing, so do I. I used to get angry when I read bad reviews but not anymore because I can see some of the points made by the reviews that make sense. Even when it comes to my own records I don t think I have ever made one that was a 10/10, like a “Back in Black”, or “Master of Puppets”.

Official website: www.annihilatormetal.com

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