The mighty Nuclear Assault have been the soundtrack to most of this writers life and upon hearing the news that I get to see them this coming Summer for their “Final Assault on Europe” both here in Dublin and on the main stage that this years Bloodstock Festival, is a joyous feeling, that is hard to put into words.
Drumming legend and all round nice guy, Glenn Evans took some time out to have a talk with me about all things “Nuke” and what lies ahead in the future for one of the most awesome Thrash bands of all time.
OD – What inspired getting back together and writing for the new album?
Glenn -The inspiration started out as an idea – I had been working in San Francisco as a video director for the past 7 years and in that time Nuke did several shows around the globe when our schedules permitted. It wasn’t like we broke up, on the contrary –
Danny was busy with Brutal Truth, John had been raising a family and working as a history teacher, and I was making weekly cross country flights is the USA from the east coast to San Francisco. I enjoyed my work, until a certain point when I realized that I needed to get back to music full time – so – I retired from my job in San Francisco and the first thing I did was fly to El Paso, Texas December 26th 2014 and recorded an EP called “Overload” in 4 days which was basically a cover song EP (I didn’t have any material written) and also a test of the drum room and recording facilities.
I had no idea that it would lead to a full-scale 30 year anniversary “Final Assault” world tour, it just came as a vision in my head while tracking the EP. I thought to myself “Nuke needs to do a new record.” So, I decided to make a go of it – Now it was just a matter of logistics. The band’s business affairs were in shambles and unorganized, so the first thing to do was get reorganized and come up with a good plan… Get all our ducks in a row – so to speak.
I sent copies of the Overload EP on picture disc to Danny & John and suggested that we record a new record and hit the road for what I dubbed ‘The Final Assault.”
After several communications between band members, what was once a vision was slowly becoming a reality. As it turns out Danny was just finishing up his final tour with BT, and John was ready to hit the road once again after school let out in 2015.
On August 20th 2014 (my 56th birthday) I flew out to Des Moines, Iowa and had a front row seat for a Kiss concert. My vision was to be bigger & better than Kiss, and that’s where I began piecing the puzzle together – I came up with a new logo, signed new merchandise deals, licensed our products out and released some vintage stuff including the “Live at CBGB’s” release. Miles Hacket of Dry Heave Records contacted me about releasing it on picture disc and I was all for it.
He arranged a phone interview for me with “Iron Fist” magazine. It was at that point that I knew I had better start thinking and planning bigger. I was determined and on a roll… Now for the next step, getting together with the band members for rehearsals in New York to see if the spark was still there. Indeed it was.
After several conversations with Danny, we decided that we would get back to basics writing new Nuke material. I always respected the “Lilker / Connelly” writing team and always referred to them as the “Lennon / McCartney” of thrash. Although I wrote material for Nuke in the past, it was Dan & John who came up with the best songs in my opinion. This time around I just want to focus on playing drums.
Danny began writing immediately and the material really impressed me, so now it was full steam ahead. After a few rehearsals, the group was ready to conquer once again. It was like we never split up – just a brief break to recharge our Nuclear Batteries.
OD – Seeing as this will be the last time we can see Nuclear Assault over in Europe there has been a hell of a lot of talk on line about what will be in the set list, how do you even approach creating a set list on a farewell tour like that, it must be so difficult?
Glenn – We gave the set list a lot of thought – In fact, we posted a photo on facebook of Danny holding the set list at rehearsal basically saying “It’s now or never people, what songs do you want to hear “live” for the very last time. Most of them are the usual songs we normally perform, but this final tour has some very cool surprises.
OD – The new album has been recorded now, can you give a little insight into when we can see its release date and will it be exclusively in a digital format or are there plans to press some vinyl copies also?
Glenn -We decided as a group that releasing complete studio albums now are a big mistake – so we came up with another plan…
The first release out of a series of new releases will be a 4 song EP. It’ll be available on LP, Picture Disc, CD, and eventually downloads on iTunes, Amazon, and so on. The reason for this is that there is so much downloading and file sharing that the bands don’t stand a chance of selling their music. We figure it takes a lot more effort to convert and upload an album to YouTube or wherever and to have people download it for free… It’s really gotten out of control and the artist’s are suffering – The most bands can sell anymore is roughly 10 – 20,000 units the first month of it’s release. That’s awful. Doesn’t even pay for the recording! We have a loyal fan base & following and I really doubt that those same people will want to rip off the band and will buy the genuine article. If they want more records, then they’ll buy it. If they don’t, they’ll steal it. Either way, it’s immoral to steal and we’re counting on our fans to have morals – That’s what we’ve been preaching for 30 years.
OD – It was announced a short while ago that you will be appearing at next years Bloodstock, had you been asked before to take part in the festival and if not was there a great deal of consideration into planning select dates around this particular time?
Glenn – I believe this is the first time we’ve been invited to perform at Bloodstock. Everything just fell into place. We have a great booking agent that knows his shit, and he was able to book shows around the major festivals to make it work.
OD – Looking back over the Nuclear Assault back catalogue, what album / tour brings up the fondest of memories?
Glenn – That would have to be the “Survive” recordings – Up until then it was hand to mouth living with no money and pure survival mode. Survive changed all of that – We were now on a major label and managed by Miles Copeland (The Police, The Bangles, R.E.M., etc.) so it was definitely a game changer… especially since I no longer had to drive a school bus around the USA because we now had tour support and real tour buses – driver included.
OD – Regarding the current state of the music industry, how much have things changed with recording and releasing a new album for you personally?
Glenn – The industry is a mess… All the illegal downloading is killing the business and the money due the artist’s that worked so hard creating, writing, recording, and touring the world over and over is gone. Bands these days really don’t have a chance – At least not like it was up until the mid 90’s where groups were being signed and given money to record and tour.
That being said, I’ve done my own experimenting and have come to the conclusion that if you want to record, you have to pay for it yourself. If you want to release the recordings, you had better know someone that has a grip on the industry or else it’s not going to happen. There are ways to get your record released, one of which is signing with a record label. But then most labels will own you, your music, your dog, and everything else if they sign you. It’s all bullshit… After you’ve been down that road (as many musicians have including Nuke) then it’s obvious that the group needs to have their business end together and retain control of all rights and products including any recordings and merchandise.
I spend a lot of time and money out of my own pocket shutting down bootleggers of our albums & merchandise online and it’s really frustrating that people have no morals and are just out to profit off someone else’s hard work. They lack the talent to do their own writing, recording and touring, so they profit off other artist’s works. Copyright laws go way back to the early 1800’s and back then it was the writer’s that suffered the financial loses and usually died broke even though their work is just as popular today as it was a few hundred years ago. There were no international copyright laws in place back then, as it is with most third world countries bootlegging our material to profit their own pockets. It’s just down right stealing. Period.
OD – The lost CBGB’s recordings that were found and later released via Dry Heave Records has been a great success amongst the die hard fans, are there any other recordings from the past that might see the light of day in the future?
Glenn – The CBGB release was something I had put together for the fans – I had been listening to all of these unreleased Nuke recordings that I had stored away, and thought this would make an interesting release. Other than that, there is some unreleased material from the different recording sessions that will most likely stay unreleased. We may re-record it someday, time will tell.
OD – When you head over to Europe for the shows in August, can we expect to see a wide range of merchandise on sale at the show and if so can you give any insights into any special items in particular?
Glenn – Merchandise will be abundant. Of course we will mainly stick to t-shirts, stickers and patches. The rest is just a hassle and not worth it. I can honestly say that we currently have a nice variety of shirts with more designs coming out each month that passes. Our goal is to keep the costs down for the fans so they can afford to buy a shirt and not pay a ridiculous price. It’s a piece of cloth, not a precious jewel.
OD – After the European tour, will you be embarking on a North American tour?
Glenn – Before and after Europe there will be US dates. The European tour is practically the entire summer of 2015, but there are many shows before and we will continue afterwards into North America, South America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and every other market possible – The Final Assault is by no means limited to Europe and to 2015. It will continue on until we decide it’s enough.
OD – Regarding the Thrash genre, how do you consider its present state of health and do you have any particular bands that are catching your attention?
Glenn – I don’t really pay attention to what the thrash scene is doing… I see the same bands doing the same tours just as it was 20 – 30 years ago. The strongest and smartest survive in this business, and to me that would be our thrash peers who are about the same age and have the same experience as us. Some are a little bigger, and some a little smaller. To me it’s all the same. We all made music and went through hell trying to make a name for ourselves. This is the final payoff. It’s called respect.
I look at it as a final celebration but on a much larger scale.
OD – Had it ever crossed your mind to release your own book like Danny did ( Perpetual Conversation ) as I’m sure there are plenty of stories that would make an interesting read?
Glenn – Actually, I already have a book in the can ready for release. I wrote it over 10 years ago in Florida. I’m not going to tell you the title – It will be the first book release for me with many more to follow. I enjoy writing and it takes a while to get the hang of it – Just like making records. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Yes, I have many tales to tell as well as interesting stories from the road and revealing facts that many folks and fans are unaware of that are locked inside my head. Of course, I haven’t actually decided the release date(s) – I’m more interested in focusing on the Final Assault. You’ll know when it’s going to be released, that’s a fact.
OD – What is the most stand out memory from your time in Nuclear Assault be it good or bad?
Glenn – There are a lot of memories. The most stand-out memory for me is the day I crossed paths with Miles Copeland in an office in New York City. That brief 5-minute encounter changed my life, as well as Nuclear Assault’s career. Within days we were signed to a major record label. A major goal I always dreamed of and worked relentlessly towards. Next thing you know we’re all sitting in a hotel room after a gig somewhere in Texas and “Brainwashed” was aired for the very first time on MTV. It was a definitive turning point in the bands career. We have liftoff…
OD – Finally, if you have a message for the Irish / UK Bloodstock fans ahead of next years “Final Assault” tour?
Glenn -Two messages – Enjoy life no matter what your passion is because it’s way too short – and second – try to avoid drugs, tobacco & alcohol at all costs – they destroy in the end. I smoke a lot of weed every day, but to me and millions of other people it is not considered a drug – it’s herbal medicine which is being legalized across the USA and elsewhere at an alarming rate because people are finally willing to stand up for what they believe in.
I believe I’ll smoke another joint.
Nuclear Assault will be giving a master class in Thrash at Dublin’s Voodoo Lounge on Sunday July 19th as part of their “Final Assault on Europe” with support from Gamma Bomb, Psykosis and Animator. Tickets are now on sale and selling fast. Check DME Promotions for updates.
Words – Oran O’Beirne