When you heard the sentence "the heavy metal horror show", you immediatly
recognize HALLOWEEN. This band is responsible of masterpieces known as "Don't
Metal With Evil", "No One Gets Out !" and "Victims Of The Night", but continues
to record excellent material with "Horror Fire" and I guess the coming "Terrortory".
The following interview was done with vocalist Brian Thomas...
Hello Brian. Tell us which records made you choose to play heavy metal…
Wow, Led Zeppelin III, Black Sabbath Volume 4
and Master of Reality,Scorpions Taken By Force, and UFO Strangers in the
Did you play in other bands before forming BITCH in ’82 ?
In New Jersey I was in a band called Monarch and
then in Michigan several bands including Mezmerized, Magician, Screamer,
Witness and Alcatraz. And during the Halloween era George Neal and myself
were also in Abandon.
Guitarist Rick Graig and you are former members. Who were the bassist
and the drummer at this time ?
Bitch was formed by Rick Craig and myself along
with Mark Scott (Guitar and then switched to Drums), Ed Peyton on Bass and
Chuck Burns(Seduce) on drums. George Neal eventually replaced Ed on Bass
and Mark ended up on drums after numerous drummer changes including Ronnie
Vanderlip (Heaven's Wish), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Micky St.
Clair (Seduce), and Randy Gakke (Planet of Fun). There were several others
The legend says that in 1983, October the 31th, BITCH played its last
concert and HALLOWEEN played its first one. How did it happen ? And did
you change the name also because of BITCH from L.A. ?
When we originally picked the name for the band
in '82, it was going to be Halloween (Rick Craig picked the name). However,after
picking the name Halloween, (because of the fact that it was Halloween time,(late
October), and our basement/rehearsal place was decked out with Halloween
decorations), Drummer Chuck Burns, (who was best friends with,then Seduce
drummer Mickey St Clair) informed us that Seduce had just started writing
a song called Halloween, (which, ironically we covered on No One Gets Out)
and he would not agree to the name for fear of a conflict of interest. So,
being the agreeable suckers that we are we said ok and went with the 2nd
choice of Bitch. The name Bitch was suggested by Mark Scott because we dressed
the part all day every day, make up, ratted hair, stage clothes etc. and
we were always getting mistaken for girls. So he figured we might as well
go with it. We thought ok we might look like girls, but at least we look
like girls that would kick someones ass... (Bitch). We also started using
the moniker The Heavy Metal Horror Show at that time because people who came
to our rehearsals loved the decor in the basement. So when we started playing
shows we took it with us. After a year and the whole Seduce incident was
no longer an issue we decided to change the name back to our original choice.
Bitch from LA was just coming out at that time it really wasn't a big factor
but it did help to finalize our decision. We promoted the show as the final
appearance of Bitch. We were pretty popular and a lot of people were bummed
out that we were breaking up. But all we did was shock them all by dropping
the Bitch backdrop to reveal the new Halloween backdrop behind it and became
Halloween right there on stage in front of all of them at the start of the
show it was awesome...How many bands can say they did that? Halloween was
actually born on stage October 31, 1983. At that time the line up was Mark
Scott (Drums), George Neal (Bass), Rick Craig (Guitar), Brian Thomas (Vocals).
How did you find bassist George Neal and drummer Bill Whyte ?
George Neal was a friend of Rick's and was playing
in a band called Roxx. We called him when we parted with Ed. Bill Whyte
was in a band called Nightmare who were doing a kind of copycat version
of us, stageshow etc. When Mark Scott wanted to go back to playing guitar
we started looking for a drummer. I had seen Bill play and suggested that
Mark come and see him. He did, and wasn't impressed, Bill had a real bad
night that night with the sound quality at the club. We kept looking, but
then, Mark had to leave the band for personal family related reasons. I knew
that Bill was better than the performance that Mark had seen and I approached
him. At first he was reluctant to join but I kept pestering him and telling
him that he should be with us and not a band that was copying us. Eventually
he agreed and became our new drummer in Dec. '83.
In ’84, you recorded a self-financed vinyl single, titled “Trick Or
Treat”. I guess it was pressed at a small number of copies. Did it help
the band in promotion ?
We just did the 45 because that was all we could
afford at the time. We were hoping it would lead to an album release. We
had recorded the Don't Metal With Evil stuff twice. First time didn't come
out very good and didn't include Scared to Death (that was written in the
studio 2nd time around). I think we only made a couple hundred of the singles
(Trick or Treat / She's a Teazer). I'm not sure on the amount, it wasn't
much. It did help a little bit, but we still had to borrow the money to make
the album. We didn't get a deal or any real money from it.
There was also a self-financed cassette of your debut album. Why did
you go that way some months before the lp version ?
Again it was a financial situation, we didn't
have all the money we needed for the manufacturing of the actual lp so we
made a cassette version that was printed by a friend of the band and personally
hand stuffed by my girlfriend at the time and myself. The other guys and
crew and manager and his girlfriend helped a little too but we did the bulk
of it. We also didn't want to make the fans wait, we didn't know how long
everything would take (artwork,pressing,getting the money worked out etc).
Eventually we got the rest of the money together and released the official
The “Don’t Metal With Evil” lp was released in 1985 on MCM Records.
I don’t know other bands on this label. So is MCM a label you created for
the band ?
Motor City Metal Records was created by us to
release other Detroit area Metal bands as well as ourselves. We never really
got the funds together to make that happen so it became our personal label
(it's always that damned money thing... ya know?) .
How was the response for your first album ? Had you a distribution in
Europe ? Because back in the days, I never saw an HALLOWEEN album in a french
Here in our area it was really good. We weren't
signed to a major label so we didn't really expect much but the record sold
really well for us 13,000 -15,000 copies worldwide back then that was pretty
good. We had a distibutor here in Michigan that dealt with a lot of indepent
distributors. But as our luck would have it that company ripped us off and
went out of business. We were there best selling act. They didn't like Metal
music so they treated us like shit from the start, but they sure liked the
money they were making off of us. It was a company called Metro-America
and they sold our stuff to IMPORTant Record Distributors, Dutch East India,
and several others we were sold in Europe, Japan, Indonesia,South America,
Canada, and around the USA. I'm sure it wasn't promoted very much and that
is probably why you never saw it. (We haven't had the best of luck).
Did you tour in the USA for the album ? Were you headliner or did you
open for some big bands ?
We played a lot back then but it was mostly in
the Midwest USA. We headlined big shows here in Detroit and neighboring cities
like Cincinatti, Chicago, Cleveland, and even in New York City. We have
also opened for a lot of big name acts... Megadeth, Queensryche, Savatage,
Pantera, Trouble, King Diamond, Armored Saint, Nuclear Assault, Crimson
Glory, Skid Row, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Metal Church, Testament,
Seven Witches, Zoetrope, Uli Roth, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, Doro,
Lita Ford, Wendy O Williams, Sanctuary, and many others...
In ’86, you recorded your second album “Victims Of The Night”, but it
wasn’t released at the time. Was it mainly because of financial reasons
We had a deal with the studio for a set price.
Due to several factors on both sides we ran into lengthy delays and the process
was never completed, the tracks were recorded (some not even finished) but
the record was never mixed. It sat in the studio basement, unfinished and
with a discrepency over the money owed, until 1996...Molten Metal records
contacted us and asked about the unreleased material and we started working
on getting it and getting it finished. we did the best we could with it
considering the situation. I love the songs but it is not my favorite in
regards to the production and the way they were recorded and mixed. I would
like to go back and have a do over with that one...
I have the ’87 “L’Amour Rocks” compilation lp, featuring your song “Come
And Get It”. How did you end up being on this compilation ? Wasn’t Mercenary
Records interested to offer you a records deal ?
Come and Get It was a track from the Victims sessions,
we had just played shows at L'Amour in Brooklyn and the club asked us to
be on the record (we were one of only 2 bands not from the New York area
to appear on that compilation, the other was Wrathchild America, from Baltimore).
We were in the middle of recording the album and decided to mix that song
and put it on the record. At that time that was the only one that got mixed.
Wes Beech from The Plasmatics plays the solo on that version of the song.
When we released the full album on CD in '97, Rick didn't want to include
that song, so it didn't get on the CD. Mercenary was slightly interested
but we weren't thrashy enough for them and we wouldn't change for them or
anybody so we didn't get a deal.
Why did Rick Craig and Bill Whyte leave the band ? Was it easy to recruit
Donny Allen and Billy Adams ?
Rick and Bill both left for family related reasons
in '89. They wanted to disband but George and myself wanted to keep it going
so we recruited Guitarist Billy Gray, (who is currently back in the band
with Donny) and Drummer Tommy (Scott) Stewart (Godsmack, Lilian Axe, LoPro,
Fuel). That lineup was together for only about a year and a half. We toured
with Crimson Glory and released a cassette EP called Vicious Demonstration
aka...Vicious Demo. In 1991 we were back to the drawing board once again,
we brought in Donny Allen (Trama, David Neil Cline, Wizard, Black Onyx) and
Tim Wright (Erebus) both on guitar. Tim for his heavy Slayer like riffs (Crawl
to the Altar) and Donny for his writing and playing ability and a similarity
to Rick Craig in some of his playing. We also discovered Billy Adams (BA)
(Sponge,Damage inc.Free Spirit Band) on Drums, ironically as we were trying
to re-enlist Mickey St Clair. BA was his room mate and said hey give me a
shot. We did and it worked out pretty well. Together we toured and wrote
and recorded No One Gets Out (which was recorded twice, once with Jon Oliva
at the controls).Tim left the band before the CD was released, and we carried
on as a 4 piece. In 1993 several problems forced us to part ways with BA
and Donny and we regrouped with Rick Craig and Bill Whyte for about a 6 month
run. We played some shows and wrote a handful of really great songs which
were never recorded and then officially took an extended hiatus on Devils
Night October 30th, 1993.
In ’90, you recorded the five tracks demo tape “Vicious Demos”. Were
you happy with the result ? Was it difficult to catch labels interest ?
We were pretty happy with the Vicious Demo recordings
we only released it on cassette and it was just to introduce our fans to
our new players at the time, to let them know that we still were around and
the new guys were pretty damned good, so don't write us off yet. We didn't
even think about taking that material to a label, we didn't think it was
good enough quality for that, we just wanted to give the fans something new...
Finally you released the “No One Gets Out !” ’91 album on MCM. What
kind of response did you get for the cd ?
The response to NOGO was not very good at first,
we had been through several changes and in fact the metal scene was changing.
Grunge was starting to kill the metal scene here in th USA. So sales and
reaction to that CD were not great here. However in Europe somebody played
the disc at a festival and that is how John at Molten Metal found out about
us, years later. That Cd is one our best as far as the material (one of my
favorites). And over the years the response has gotten much better.
Why did you decide to break up the band in 1993 ?
It was more of a leave of absence than breaking
up. We told everyone we were done because we didn't know if we would get
back together or not. We had been through a lot and never got signed and
it took a toll on all of us. We needed a break, but almost simultaneously
as we were ending the Halloween thing I joined Crucified Nation which became
Abandon. George joined us shortly after and we did that for a few years.
We wrote a lot of great songs in that band too. Most were never recorded.
In 1997 we got back with Halloween for a reunion show...
Which were your activities between 1993 and 1997 ? Did you play in other
We just played in Abandon and both George and
Myself went through horrible divorces. Which had a lot to do with why the
Abandon stuff probably didn't go farther...
In ’97, HALLOWEEN was back with the line-up which recorded “Don’t Metal
With Evil” and “Victims Of The Night” and you played live. How was the reaction
of the audience ? Was there a mix of old fans and new fans ?
That show was very cool the reaction was awesome
and there definetly was a mix of old and new fans. It was fun and it felt
great to be back on stage with Halloween and the big stage production. Abandon
was very bare bones just about the music and not so much the stage show
so it was fun to actually have the big show again...When we played songs
from No One Gets Out it was obvious that Donny's presence was missing, so
sometime shortly after that show we re-enlisted Donny to join Rick on guitar...
Man that was awesome but hardly anyone got to see it, because we started
writing the next Cd and didn't play out very much, then in 2000 Rick left
the band and moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
The same year, International Metal Alliance (a co-operation between
Molten Metal and Hellion Records) released “Victims Of The Night” on cd.
At last, justice has been done for this excellent album ! Were the reviews
favourable in the press ? Did the cd sell well ?
The reviews were all pretty good...Some people
didn't like the electronic drum sounds that Bill was experimenting with at
that time (including us), but like I said earlier we did what we could with
what we had to work with. At least it got released, it is a descent CD...It
sold pretty good too...It helped that it was the "classic" lineup on that
In ’98, you re-released on cd “Don’t Metal With Evil” (again on MCM).
This time, the album got a good distribution. Looking in the past, are you
proud of your debut album ?
As I stated earlier, I love the songs from both
of those earlier records (in fact all of our songs have been pretty good),
we try not to write filler songs, so they all are good to me, but the production
on the first 2 records was limited by the budget we had to do them. I would
love to hear them done properly. Over all I am proud of them, though, yes...
“No One Gets Out !” was re-released on cd (with the Vicious Demos as
bonustracks) in 2001 by Molten Metal, which was great. Are you satisfied with
the work done by Molten ?
John Mestad was an enormous help to us, we probably
would not be together still if not for him. He bugged the shit out of me
to do the Victims CD and then the rest came together from there. He helped
us to get amazing artwork from Craig Simpson and was instrumental in getting
the CDs out to a large audience whom had been denied our releases before
then. We miss our involvement with Molten Metal not really sure what happened...
Unfortunately, I missed the “Tricks, Treats, And Other Tales From The
Crypt” ’03 cd. Can you speak of that album ?
In November 2002, various problems caused us to
disband. (This time we thought for good). I won't get into the details but
I wanted out of the business, I had had enough of all the BS and backstabbing
that goes on in this business and in particular the Detroit music business
people that we had been dealing with... In spring of 2003 our former merchandise
guy called me and asked if I wanted to start a new band. It would be Myself,
Donny, a drummer named Jason Rossvannes, (who had been a long time Halloween
fan) and himself, John Guarascio on Bass. I said no immediately, I did not
want to start over and I was working a good job and very busy. But over
the following weeks he and Donny were persistant and finally I agreed to
give it a listen. We got together and just naturally played through some
Halloween songs to get started and it actually felt good. We were going
to call the new band "Death Valley Driver" or "DVD", but as we started rehearsing
John put some feelers out on the internet for a reaction, and found that
a lot of people were still interested in Halloween, and in fact ended up
getting us invited to co headline the Keep It True II Festival in 2004.
So we decided to just go ahead and use the name Halloween. Bill didn't want
to be in Halloween anymore and George was swamped with work and couldn't
play so we thought well this won't be the first time that Halloween has had
new members so here we were the 4th major lineup change. (thus the 4.0 on
the CD). We decided to record a collection of Halloween songs. (all brand
new recordings of classic songs, in a tribute type setting) and release
it on the bands 20th anniversary. Halloween of 2003. We called it Tricks,
Treats and other Tales from The Crypt... and it was only a limited release.
It features Tommy Vendetta (guitar), Jason Rossvannes (drums), John Guarascio
(bass), Donny Allen (guitar), Brian Thomas (vocals).
Weren’t Rick Graig and Bill Whyte interested to stay in the band ?
In 2000 Rick Craig moved to Atlanta and
recorded a southern rock album with Ean Evans (Lynyrd Skynyrd) in a band
called Noon and in 2002 Bill left the band to pursue his recording studio
endeavor and then joined Abandon for a short stint. We wish nothing but
the best for them and all of our extended Halloween family. We all made
some great music together, and we are still brothers even though we are
sometimes out of touch...
Donny Allen is back in the band. How did you find drummer Rob Brug ?
Did you know him because of the third DAMIEN album ? Why guitarist Billy Gray
didn’t last long in the band ?
Donny was in the band originally from 1991 to
1993 and then rejoined in 1998 and has been with me ever since. George Neal
came back to fill in when John couldn't make the trip to Germany and got
the bug to be back full time so he has been back pretty much since April
of 2004, Rob Brug was a long time fan of the band and a friend as well through
our friends in Toledo and in particular Damien. We recruited him partly
by accident I was checking him out for a side project and when I heard him
play I knew he needed to be in Halloween, Jason had injured his shoulder
and we talked it over with him and made the switch. Rob is awesome check
out Damien "Angel Juice". Rob also is great with recording he did our new
Cd Horror Fire and the E.vil P.ieces (EP). He is also doing an amazing job
on the new Cd "Terrortory" which were are doing right now. Billy Gray re
joined the band in the spring of 2006 after jamming with us on stage during
the 2005 Halloween season, he also appears on the new EP. The band sounds
great with 2 guitar players that has always been the goal but we always had
some kind of setback. Hopefully this will be a long term thing this time.
We also have a guy playing some keyboards with us on rare or special occasions
His name is Mike Rector he's not actually in the band just helping us out
as a kinda utility player. He may do some accoustic work with me on some
side project songs as well...
Do you think now you will have to release your stuff only by MCM ?
It would be nice if we got picked up by a label
but we always have MCM as an option that is the nice part of it we know
it is always there for us...We would love it if a label would pick up our
entire library and maybe re do some stuff...
You released the “E.vil P.ieces” mcd and “Horror Fire” cd in 2006. I’m
glad you are back with new recordings. Until now, have you got a good response
for both cd’s ?
We have had an awesome response to both new recordings
which feels great to still have fans and people who like what we have to
offer even after all the dissappointments and all the time that passes. We
still love to write and play and we are excited about the upcoming projects
You will play in a german festival in the summer of this year. Did you
play in Europe before ?
Only once Keep It True II in April of 2004...
We love it in Europe and we would love to play there a lot more...We are
looking forward to the show this July. It's Friday the 13th how cool is
For someone who never saw HALLOWEEN on stage, can you try to describe
an HALLOWEEN show ?
Always something different we get bored easily
so we are always changing things around which keeps it exciting and interesting
for the fans, you don't get the same thing every time...We are well known
for our cemetery setup. Lots of tombstones, crypts, trees, spiderwebs, smoke,
lights, skeletons, gates, stone pillars and stone walls...We always used
a lot of fire and pyro before the Great White accident now we can't do that
most places. We also have a haunted house setup, a torture chamber, a funeral
home, a castle, and of course the standard wall of amps for a generic ass
kicking show. (it's not always about scaring people)
Do you think to release a dvd with an HALLOWEEN show ? But also bonus
material, as for example the promo video you shot for “Trick Or Treat” ?
Did you made other promo videos ?
We have a lot of things in the works for DVD releases,
unfortunately they are taking longer than we had hoped but we are planning
on releasing severals projects...
Which are the future plans of the band ?
New CD "TERRORTORY" this year and a video or 2
and then TOUR, TOUR, TOUR!!!! Then repeat...
Thank you Brian for answering the questions. I hope they were interesting.
Feel free for the last words...
Thanks for your patience in receiving this info,
I know it has been a while now... Thanks for your interest in Halloween
and helping to spread the word. Your fans can find us at
. Thanks again and we hope to see and rock you soon... Brian Thomas "T"
HALLOWEEN The Heavy Metal Horror Show 2007
interview by Patrick Lefevre