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Tourniquet

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"This must be over-dubs, no doubt". This comment was my first acquaintance with Tourniquet in the early nineties when three kids at my church were talking about this band's drummer who were supposed to be the fastest drummer in the world. Some just couldn't believe what he was doing and thought it would be overdubs. Funny is, however, that I misunderstood the band's name. I thought they were talking about "Two 'n' a Cat". Wow, cool bandname, I thought. Well, now I know better and if you don't know the band, here's a chance to get to know them! First I talked with Aaron while we heard Ted's soundcheck somewhere else in the building. Later on Ted joined and took over the interview.

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Interview with: Aaron Guerra (guitarist) and Ted Kirkpatrick (drummer)

Date: April 23rd 1999

Where: In a backstage-room at the Luxor Theatre in Arnhem, The Netherlands

Other bandmembers: Luke Easter (vocalist)

Band's Hometown: L.A. Area, US

Discography: Stop The Bleeding (1990), Psycho Surgery (1991), Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance (1992), Recorded Live (1993), Vanishing Lessons (1994), Carry The Wounded (1996), The Collected Works (1997), Crawl To China (1998), Acoustic Archives (1999).

Interview by MPO

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I've read many interviews with the band but I still don't know how it all began. It seems like in 1990 it all started out of nothing. What is the history of the band before that?

Aaron: Basically the history is Ted and Guy Ritter got together, and I believe it was early 1990, and shortly after Gary Lenaire joined because Gary's Guy Ritters friend. The three of them started it and got signed to Frontline in 1990 and put out Stop The Bleeding, the first album. And in Los Angeles is where it all came about and the rest is history.

Since Stop The Bleeding, the debut-album, you released a CD every year so that makes up to nine CD's right now. Looking back, what are your best memories. You've not always been with the band, but what are your best memories?

Yeah, I've been in the band five years this year, I think. It's hard to choose just one thing. When I first joined I was still getting used to the guys and learning what they're all about and obviously they got to learn what I was all about. But I think it gets better every year and especially with Ted and Luke, we're such great friends and I can't really think of any time that we've ever argued or whatsoever. We might disagree on some things but it's never gotten to the point where we were buttonheads or we were yelling at each other. So, it's really easy to work with them. And I think that with each year and each new thing that comes around it just gets more and more exciting. So, we look ahead to what we do next.

And how does the new bass-player fit in the group?

Uhm, Steve Andino is filling in for just a few shows now. So, we're still looking for a permanent player.

I thought you had a guy named Vince Dennis?

Yeah. Vince played with us for about a year. Almost a year and a half. I think of some other commitments that he had and some personal things with his wife, family things he had to deal with on his own and we thought he wasn't one hundred percent into it. We wish him just all the best with his other bands. He's just a busy guy and he gots a lot of personal things going on. So, it didn't quite work out.

Most of the albums were produced by Bill Metoyer except one which was produced by Jim Faraci....

Two.

Two?

Vanishing Lessons and Carry The Wounded.

Oh, yeah, the EP. But why only two because I read in an interview that you had very good experiences with working with Jim. So, why only two?

Uh, yeah. I joined right after Vanishing Lessons so I wasn't part of that. I was part of Carry The Wounded. I think with Luke being the new singer the band thought they could do some other things that they couldn't do in the past. Not that Guy Ritter is a bad singer but Luke is....You know, his range. They thought, let's experiment with some more rock-type stuff and the next thought was, what about trying a new producer to get some different sounds. I think it was just to experiment and Carry The Wounded was after the success of (the song) Twilight. The label wanted us to do like an EP with, I don't wanna say mellower, but more mainstream rock oriented. So, working with Jim was really great but Bill is such a cool guy and we get along with him so well and he lives in LA and it's really easy to work with him. So, when we did Crawl To China we thought, let's go back to Bill. But Jim was really good and he did offer some things.....Anybody you'll work with is gonna be different.

Is Bill such a nice guy....

Yeah! He knows how to translate.....Like when Ted says "I want this certain guitar-sound so and so" or we ask Bill "how can you help us get this sound". I mean, a big part of it is: What do the drums sound like, just by them without miking them. And what is the amp-sound? What is coming out of the cabinet? And Bill knows what mics to use, how to set it up. What part of the room. Is it in the corner or are you using a room that's carpeted or is there wood? He just knows a lot about sound. And he's really easy to work with. Some producers might have a lot of opinions and Bill offers his suggestions but he's not trying to take over the project. So, he's really easy to work with and we know what to expect when we go into the studio.

Last year you played the Milwaukee Metalfest with lots of famous bands like Meshuggah and more. How was that?

It was really cool. Actually, Living Sacrifice played right after us. So, it was cool to see them there. We just had a good time and we were only there for a very small part of the day and it's like three of two days. And you know, you have some hacklers and some people yelling stuff while you're playing but the response was really good. Just the chance to be around people that maybe never have heard of Tourniquet. Or they sit for whatever band to play and they see you play and start getting into it. But we did have some fans there too so it was nice. Actually, one guy has a magazine that he's starting up and wanted to interview us. He has always known what Tourniquet is all about. And I think he's gone through some things in his life, even contemplating suicide and he said, recently he's really been feeling God is been tapping him on the shoulder. So, he was curious about talking to us. You know, it's really cool talking to someone like that and after the interview he turned his tape-recorder off and he was like "this might sound kind of strange but would you pray with me" and Ted was like "you know, I was just thinking the exact same thing: I really like to pray for this guy". So it was really cool to meet someone that was reaching out and possibly thinking about coming to the Lord. Especially, considering some to the things he said: Bad childhood and just being into the whole satanic scene. And seeing someone reaching out was worth the whole experience. And the show was good too!

But how was the feedback of the public?

It was good, I mean, 98% of these people are just lost. You know what I mean? They're not evil as far as what they do. They definitely haven't got a commitment to God. I think they're just into the music-scene and sure there are some of those bands that are really violent or anti-Christian. But we didn't run into any of them there.

But there are bands that have an image that is satanic and stuff like that. How do meet those guys?

We didn't really run into a lot. It's a quick thing when we play on a smaller stage. You know what time you've got to be there to set up and you know what time you have to stop playing. So, you go on and off. You might see guys that are in other bands but there's not a lot of "running into so-and-so". We didn't have time to hang out to watching other bands either. Got a little bit of Living Sacrifice and said hi to those guys. But then we had to run off for our next show.

You released the Collected Works featuring great songs from the past and two new songs which were really heavy. But then came Crawl To China. And it sounded much more mellow, much more rock oriented, to my opinion. There were some heavy songs but there were also some quite soft songs. How do you look back at that album?

Uhm, we're really happy because it's kinda like what Tourniquet is all about. The variety and I mean, I have always thought of Tourniquet as heavy but then there's always been something like Skeezix, which is a heavy song but it has a weird intro and an acoustic part at the end. So, we're such fans of music whether it's a heavy song or a mellow song. That's what we try to put out and I just think Crawl To China was a good album to put out at that time. It was a good experiment to experiment with different sounds and different guitar tones. Some people might have thought, "wow the new songs on Collected is what the next album is gonna be like" and then we go and do Crawl To China. So, I think we're really happy with it and we're looking forward to the next album.

Your latest album is Acoustic Archives. It's kind of like the idea the Resurrection Band did with Appendectomy. They did old songs acoustically too. How do you look at such an album, electric songs done acoustically?

Well, we've done quite a few shows acoustically and there may be some places, like a smaller church or a youth-group kind of setting, that it's kind of fun to play acoustic versions. And we just thought it would be really cool to do an album. The timing was right and it's really fun. It's like another side. Ted gets to play guitar and Luke sings along to these songs and very minimal percussions were added and it was really cool. Another twist to the Tourniquet line of albums. And then we put on a really heavy song at the end of it, so....(laughs)

Yeah, that's the weird thing! An acoustic album with a very heavy song in the end, I read in HM. What's the idea of that?

It was just so that people didn't think we're all gonna be acoustic now or something. And I think it's to let them know Tourniquet is still heavy and hopefully give them a sneak peak into the next album and....

Sooooo, the next album is gonna be really heavy....

I think so. But wait and see what happens. There definitely will be the variety that there always is on a Tourniquet album. But there also will be some really heavy songs. And stuff like that new song.

And are you already recording or writing songs, whatever?

Yeah, we're getting our ideas together and hopefully be in the studio in June or July this year. Couple of shows in Europe now and then we'll start getting all the songs together and finishing them up.

Okay. I read in HM that you've met Ronnie James Dio and he was, perhaps, going to do some guest vocals on an album. Uh.....

Ted, in response to a hint from Aaron, answers: Oh, you want me to answer? Oh, yeah, we met Dio at LA airport in Los Angeles last year, I guess, and he was coming back from South America and we were just going to Europe. Yeah, he was very friendly and he's agreed to do something for the next album and it's just about timing. I mean, he's in the Los Angeles area and we just have to get him to the studio when we're recording. I've certainly been a fan of his vocal abilities for years, you know. I told him as soon as we met him. I said "man, your abilities to sing in key live is just amazing". And the tone to his voice...He's one of those guys, you know right away, who's singing. And I know he's been around Christians before too. He sang on Kerry Livgren from Kansas on AD a couple of songs, years ago. But anyway, I thought he did such a great job on that. So we talked about that. He remembered doing that. And he knows we're a Christian band and he said "don't worry, I'm not evil" and I said "I know that!" (laughs).

And you're going to record a new album in June/July, around that time. Is he available for Tourniquet then?

We haven't really checked yet to see. But I know he's in and out the LA area all the time. It's one of those things you'll do everything you can and then like we do with everything, we'll look for God to bless us in those areas. To open doors or to close doors and that's the way it will be with him appearing on the album.

You did one album through Metal Blade, Psycho Surgery. Why only one album?

Actually, we didn't officially do any album through Metal Blade. Two albums, Psycho Surgery and Pathogenic, were distributed through Metal Blade and that was all it was. We were still signed to Frontline Records. They worked out a deal with Metal Blade to distribute those two albums and getting them into the regular stores. But I'll think what you'll see with the next album it will far surpass the availability of Psycho Surgery and Pathogenic. Because now we're officially signed to Metal Blade. That's our label as opposed to just being distributed by them.

That sounds great! It's great to have you on Metal Blade. You did the Milwaukee Metalfest last year. Are there plans to do more that kind of festivals?

Definitely, yeah. I mean, everytime we can do a secular show or a place like that, where there's physically people there that absolutely have an intense hatred for anything that has to do with God, you know. You have the Norwegian deathmetal bands there. Bands that are serious about the dark side of life and the satanic side as we are as serious about the light and about the Lord.

But don't you think a lot of these that call themselves satanic....that it's just kind of a facade? To sell more albums or whatever? Or to look cool.

Yeah, from what I've seen in past years I'd say probable 95% of it is that. They see something on TV about a serial killer and they say, "oh, wow, let's do half of our album about a serial killer or about having sex with corpses" or something like that. It's just cool, something they saw on TV. But there are a few out there that are serious about what they do. But I'd say at least 90% is exactly as you said. It's to sound brutal, musically and lyrically.

In Europe the last few years we've had a revival of the black metal scene, especially in Norway and around Sweden. Does that kind of music appeal to you, does it influence you, or whatever?

Well, I think I'm influenced by sounds. So when I hear on those albums the sounds, they interest me. Obviously the lyrics don't have anything to do with something that would be appealing to us. But, I think anytime someone puts something to music intelligently and has interesting sounds on it, then sometimes the musicianship is great and sometimes it's not so good. But we listen for originality and things like that and I think all music has something to offer in those areas. But we're very clear about that we don't seek out that kind of music as a habit to listen to because there are a lot of Christians that have a hard time with that. And they find themselves going back to things that really don't help them in their Christian walk. So, once again, it's about music and it's about sounds and hearing things that you enjoy hearing.

In Europe metal's never been away. But in the States there are hardly any metalbands coming up. How do you look at that, as a metalband?

Uhm, well, I think one thing is great for Tourniquet. I've heard Aaron talking about we have such a wide variety of sounds. Not just now but from 1990 when we started out. I've said all along that we love really ugly, terrible sounds and we love beautiful sounds. And it's about the extremes and exploring everything that music has to offer. So, in that way, whether metal is in or not, hasn't affected Tourniquet very much, to be honest. We've always had, fortunately, a lot of fans that enjoy music and they don't care if metal's in or out. They care about what the songs sound like and if it's good and they like what they're hearing then they still like the band. So, and we were never about gimmicks or about whether we have long hair or short hair. People came because they want hearing the songs and that's what we'll do.

And in America you see a lot of alternative bands popping up out of nothing. Does that kind of music affect you somehow?

Well, there's always people and labels that jump on the bandwagon. They wanna sign and all of a sudden ska-music is cool or rockabilly is cool or industrial is cool and all of a sudden labels are scrambling to sign any demo that came in. "Oh, let's look through the pile and find a ska-band. Ah, here's one!" And it goes on for a while but the labels, at least in the States, actively seek out bands that sound.... Well, when Greenday was big, all of a sudden there were 5000 bands that were playing that kind of poppy punk stuff. So, I think the labels are just as much involved in that as the bands. But eventually, I think fads definitely will change. From Glam metal to dark metal to deathmetal. So, you know, you look at something like deathmetal. Years ago that was the big thing and there was a time that the labels were dropping bands like flies off of their labels. Because instead of 30000 units they were selling 3000, you know. I know from people from the labels that's actually happening. It's true. So, yeah, the trends come and go. I like classical music. There's nothing trendy about that. It's just incredible music, you know. And whether it's written 300 years ago and you would listen to it today and it's still amazing and it always will be.

As is known, at the moment the ska-scene is popular in America. I think there are more bands then I have hair on my head. What do you think of that kind of music?

Well, I know, in the last year that is running out of steam in the US. The ska-scene is definitely from talking to people and seeing the numbers at festivals that have dropped off severely. You still have bands like the Supertones and a few of the top ones that are doing well. But I think the days of labels just signing any ska-band are not here anymore. From what we've seen in the US.

But in a magazine like HM you see all those kind of samplers coming out with ten or more skabands.....

...And then they sell ten of them. When they put it out it doesn't mean it's popular. So, it's definitely on the down trend in the US. But I'm not criticizing it as a music-form because in the ska-scene there's really good musicians like there is in any other kind of music. Some of it is very well done.

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