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Singer Scott Waters and guitarist Robert Gutierrez were our guests on the Art For The Ears Interview Message-Board! Below you can find the results of this online interview. It serves as an excellent introduction to this US thrash metal band that is about to release their next effort throught Gutter Records.


Discography: Symphonic Extremities ( ), Puppet Of Destruction ( ), The Mechanics Of Perilous Times (2000/2001). Available through: Ultimatum.   Official website: Ultimatum. Interview by: mpomusic, Lord_Rogoth, daPHE_K, WOLF, Jannuz, Ijsridder, ToddPope, Luke, Ed. Article work-out: mpo. Date: March 17th-23rd 2001.


mpomusic: Can you give some historical background of the band as a sort of introduction?

Scott: Ultimatum has been around since 1992. The band was started by ex-Angelic Force guitarists Robert Gutierrez and Steve Trujillo, both of whom are still with the band. I joined in early 1993 and we played our first show together the summer of 1993 opening for Extraction and Transcendence (who later became known as Godfear). Our drummer Sean Griego has been with us for nearly five years now. On bass, we have Tom Michaels who has also been with us off and on since our first album Symphonic Extremities. We have three CD's out: Symphonic Extremities, Puppet of Destruction and recently we released The Mechanics Of Perilous Times. This album will be released shortly in Germany through Gutter Records/Massacre. We expect an early April release. There is a limited edition release in America, limited to only 1000 copies.

Lord_Rogoth: I was wondering, as the CD is out in a limited quantity but will be released massively later on, what are your expectations of it? I'm sure you got some feedback already on the US limited edition?

Scott: Well the response has been outstanding. You can read a bunch of reviews on our website in the discography section under The Mechanics Of Perilous Times. We have had a few reviews in German magazines that seem positive but since I do not speak German, I can't totally understand them. There should be a review in Rock Hard. I'm sure that it will have a big impact on how the album sells. Metal Merchant gave it a stellar review.

mpomusic: The second album was released by Rowe Productions. The new one was supposed to come out through Rowe but didn't officially. What is the background of this development?

Scott: Well, despite rumors the parting between Rowe and Ultimatum was a good thing. Steve Rowe and I are still good friends. We have talked on the phone several times since we split with them. Anyhow, the reason we parted with Rowe was because we were offered a contract with Gutter/Massacre in Germany and Steve felt they would do a great job with it. Also, Diamante, Rowe's Christian distributor decided not to carry the new Ultimatum because they felt they had "too much hard music." So, with those two things in the works, Steve put the music and the ministry before the money. Despite the fact that he had already financed a large part of the project, he let us go to Gutter without even asking for the money back. I have nothing but respect for Rowe and there is always the possibility we will work with them again in the future.

mpomusic: How did that deal with Gutter come about? And: I checked the release schedule for Massacre Records but didn't see Ultimatum, if I remember well. So, what sort of deal is it?

Scott: It is only a one album deal with the possibility of more in the future depending on how it works out. We are not signed directly to Massacre, we are signed to Gutter, a division of Massacre, which is why you did not see our release on Massacre's page. Gutter has their own page. You can check it out and hear clips of our music there too.We will be distributed through the same network as Massacre. The biggest push will come from Metal Merchant in Germany. We'll see how it does.

Lord_Rogoth: Hey, I noticed that you guys covered a Vengeance Rising song on the new album. The song Burn was covered by you. Why that song and why a song written by someone who has now a complete opposite attitude towards the things he once cherished?

Scott: Why Vengeance? Because they played a HUGE part in the Ultimatum sound. All of us, and especially Robert, Steve and myself were big Vengeance fans. I have seen Vengeance Rising several times. I had met Roger several times when he was still confessing Jesus and he inspired me. The man was a walking Bible. The man could quote the Bible like no other. Also, their music was excellent. It is fast, heavy, and furious, but does not neglect the musical and lyrical hooks (This is my problem with some death bands but that is a different question.). Vengeance Rising were an all around great metal band. God used them in a big way in the early 90's. It is sad that Roger has given up his faith, but the fact is, that does not diminish the work they did back then. You also need to remember there were four other guys in the band who still work to build God's Kingdom. To throw away those excellent albums because of Roger's current struggle is sort of ludicrous. The main reason we recorded Burn, however, is that it is just a KILLER song. It is one of my all time favorites and one that we had been playing live for years. When we began rehearsing for the new album, people started emailing us and asking us to record it, so we did. I personally love the song. It's funny, but a lot of people assume the song is ours. Apparently they do not read the liner notes.

daPHNe_K: Scott, you made me curious, you said in your reply above you have problems with death bands. Is that only with secular bands or also Christian bands? And what problem(s) do you have with it?

Scott: Sorry, let me clarify. I like some death metal. My problem with death metal is that many of the bands tend to only worry about being as heavy as possible and neglect having any hooks in their songs. In my opinion, this is why many of these bands sound so much like each other. Hope that clarifies. I did not mean I have a problem with the style of music. I love the old Mortification discs as well as Extol, Metanoia, Crimson Thorn, to name just a few.

WOLF: You mentioned Vengeance Rising being a major influence for you; what other bands influence the sound of Ultimatum?

Robertmax: Other Bands that influenced us are bands that we like still today, Tourniquet, Testament, Overkill, Deliverance, Exodus, Maiden, just to name a few.

Scott: I am a HUGE music fan and have several thousand CD's but I will tell you a few. Roger and Vengeance were a big lyrical influence on me. I really liked the way Roger's lyrics made you think and were not the typical "Rock for the Rock" that was common in the late 80's. Another big influence on my lyric writing and on how we conduct ourselves as a ministry is Tom Denlinger and Sardonyx. To this day I am still in contact with Tom. They were a great band as well as a great example of Christ's love. Steve Rowe and Mortification is another influence on my writing. I have been friends with Steve since we opened for Mortification on their Blood World tour. To this day Steve and I are friends and we still talk occasionally. I am also a big fan of Keith Green's music. He had a special anointing that few have touched since. As far as a performer and singer, I have to say that Steven Tyler is one of my biggest inspirations. Aerosmith have been around for decades yet they still know how to put on a great show. My biggest lyrical influence is whatever I am reading at the time. I think I may have even listed what books I was reading in the descriptions under the lyrics in the CD booklet. Conform To Reality was written while I was reading Right From Wrong by Josh McDowell. On the new album, Perilous Times was written while I was reading the Left Behind books. As for a list of Christian bands I like, well that would be a mile long list, but I am more into the the old school stuff: Sacrament, Believer, Deliverance, Barren Cross, Stryper, the Moshketeers, Detritus etc. Like I said, this list could go on forever. Newer band I like are Oil, Narnia, Extol, and New Eden to name a few.

WOLF: I'd just like to say that I love the linear notes you have under the songs...not many bands do that. Speaking of songs, who does most of the writing on the albums?

Scott: I have done most of the lyric writing for Ultimatum. Robert wrote the lyrics to Puppet Of Destruction and I just modified them by adding another verse and coming up with the name of the song. He also wrote the lyrics to two of the songs on our first tape Fatal Delay. Robert writes a majority of the riffs for our songs, although on every album, Steve has come up with at least one song himself. We all put our two cents into the music.

Jannuz: Would you like to tell us what guitar/bass/drum gear you use? I'm just curious being a musician myself.

Scott: I'll let Robert answer this one since he is the guitarist, but I always use a Samson wireless on stage with an Sure SM58 mic.

Robertmax: The Gear that I use is a Peavy ultra120 all tube 3 ch head with a 4x12 cabinet. For effects I run a Digitech RP1 floor pedal with a Boss Noise Gate stomp box along with a Crybaby wah pedal. I play a 1989 Charvel Soloist guitar with EMG pickups and a custom (I'm building it up slowly) Ibanez 550 model guitar which I purchased for only $100.00 from a friend. It was sitting in his garage for about a year or two rotting. He sold it to me for $100.00 and I started fixing it up and I put new EMG pickups in it and cleaned it up real nice. I bought a new Case for it and now I'm working on possibly buying a new neck for it. I know I could have just bought a new guitar with the amount I'm going to end up spending on rebuilding this one but I feel that it's something that I could say that I'm proud of doing. Creating an original. Steve used an older Peavy 120 all tube 3 ch. head that cranks! And a 4x12 cabinet like mine, a Digitech RP12 effects board, a morley Wah Pedal and plays a 1988 Charvel (with EMG Pickups) and a New Ibanez RG570 model guitar. I'm not sure what kind of bass Tom uses I think it's a G&L, his amp is a SWR 300 watt head with a 6x8 speaker cabinet. I hope that's right. Sean uses a Peavy drum set.  I'm not sure of the model but it is the Top of the line that Peavy Makes. It is a 6 piece set a natural wood color with a Gibraltar double bass pedal. And two chinas, two crashes and about 4 other cymbals.

WOLF: Are you going to make any tab for your songs?

Robertmax: As far as tab we don't have any right now but you can download some at Dead Ezine. There they have transposed the song Never from our Puppet CD.

Ijsridder: There is a prevalent attitude that Religion (more specifically Christianity) is for mindless sheep who can't think or decide for themselves. Also there is the attitude that it is just for people who are incapable of coping in the "real world", and are merely using a crutch just to get by. What would your reply be to this?

Scott: I've dealt with this question before and it usually comes from those who are looking for an argument or just looking to make some Christian look like an idiot. The fact is, it takes a lot more guts to stand up for what you believe is right than it does to go with the crowd. Ultimatum has faced all kinds of opposition from the metal community because we are a Christian band. We are a heavy metal band and just like any other band we express ourselves through our music. The fact is, I am willing to die for what I believe in. How many of those who oppose Christianity would die for their beliefs?  Jesus was stripped off his cloths, beaten to an inch of his life with the skin and muscle torn from his body, and nailed to a piece of wood. That doesn't sound weak to me. It takes REAL strength to withstand that, and that is only the physical side of things. So, if Jesus was willing to do this for me, shouldn't I be willing to do the same for him if I had to? Where is the weakness in this? If I believe that Jesus was able to physically resurrect himself from the dead, which I do, then I also can trust in him to do the same for me, especially since he promised it to those who trust in him and accept him as Savior and Lord. Overcoming death! Where is the weakness in this? As for the resurrection, there were more witnesses to it than you could possibly want. Not even OJ Simpson's lawyers could have proved otherwise. The empty tomb forever stands as evidence to the truth of his resurrection. If you mean by weakness, that we use Christianity as some sort of crutch, then perhaps you are correct. Christians are weak because they realize that they are NOTHING compared to an infinite, omnipotent, Creator. I trust in Jesus to redeem me from my own pitiful sins. How weak is it of man that they cannot even overcome their own temptations? Thank you Jesus for picking me up and dusting off my feet. I couldn't do it without you. If this is what is meant by weakness, then so be it, I am weak! I find it amusing that the very ones who believe in the philosophy that we should always give into all our whims and desires feel that they are "strong." Whatever! True strength and courage lies in the one who can overcome these things. God gave us all a free will. I chose to serve the one who gave me that will. Others can chose as they like, however the consequences of our choices are eternal. How insignificant is our time on this earth when compared to an eternity? Call it what you will, but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah!

ToddPope: Why did a Christian band named Ultimatum cover a Testament tune which is clearly non Christian and spiritually unhealthy to be promoting or doing this? Yeah, I know you've probably heard that question a thousand times before....

Scott: You are correct, we do get asked that type of thing all the time. We also get questioned on playing in nightclubs, opening for secular bands and allowing secular bands to open for us. It's not the questions that I mind, it's the accusations that begin to grate on our nerves after a while. The Testament song was quite an opportunity for us. We sought council before doing it and talked with both our pastor and Steve Rowe (who held our record contract at the time.) Both thought it would be a great opportunity for Ultimatum. Steve himself said he would have jumped on the opportunity as well. We chose the song "Sins of Omission" because it had a positive anti-suicide message, besides the fact that it is a great song. Because of the song, we had a ton of people hear our sound and many wrote or emailed us about our CD's. I don't know what God has in store. One day I hope to find out that because of that song, someone got the Gospel message and will be in the Kingdom of God. It would also be an awesome testimony to hear that someone DID NOT commit suicide because the song put a tinge of doubt in their brain. Man, if God can use a donkey, surely he can use a Testament song re-recorded by Ultimatum. You see, you need to look at it from our perspective. How will this benefit the Kingdom? How will this benefit Ultimatum? The ultimate question is, "Is this a sin?" The answer is NO, it is not. Ultimatum are a Christian band. We have always been upfront about our beliefs, but the fact is we play heavy metal. As with any band, we sing about things that interest us and affect us. Since we are all Christians, our songs always point to Jesus Christ as our answer. There is no doubt that He is our Lord and Savior. However, you seem to be confusing Christianity and Christian music. Ultimatum is NOT out to promote Christian metal. I could care less what bands you like or don't like. The fact is, I am only concerned with getting our message out and playing good metal. Of course we want to see people become Christians, but becoming a Christian does not mean that you have to listen to only "Christian metal." This is something the modern church has invented. It is not a Biblical mandate. I do believe God has called some Christians to only listen to Christian music, others to listen to no music. The point is, what is your relationship with God like? The question should not be, do you listen to Testament or whoever.

Luke: Hey! Scott, I really thought your answer was on the ball man! I am coming from the exact opposite direction to many Christians. To me it's Christian music that I have to vet before I listen to it. I can dig that for you guys Jesus Christ is the ONLY answer but for me there's just TOO much out there in this world and in the inconceivably huge omniverse to make Jesus valid in my life.

Scott: Thanks Luke. Yea, It disturbs me that our discs get thrown into the "gospel section" with the Winans at CD stores. We're a metal band, we are not a Gospel group. I went into a store near my home town and pulled a copy of our CD from the "gospel section." I asked the attendant why it was in there. He said, "because it's Christian rock." Obviously he did not know I was in the band. I told him it was metal and needed to be in the rock section. He said he could not put it there because it was "gospel." So, I asked him where the "satanic section" was because I wanted to buy a King Diamond CD. "Christian" is not a music style! Metal is! I like Overkill and I like Mortification. Of course, I tend to agree more with Mortfication's lyrics, but if I go through life only listening to what I agree with, what a shallow life I would lead. Who the heck came up with this "us against them" mentality anyhow? It's certainly not Biblical nor is it in the tradition of metal.

Lord_Rogoth: I was wondering, as the CD will be out through a European company, are there plans to come to Europe?

Scott: If the album sells well, there is always the possibility we will get to Europe. Right now, however, there are no plans.

Ed: Do you plan on doing any touring in the near future. If so, Pennsylvania, PLEASE!!

Ijsridder: Yeah, I felt the same way. How about Virginia?!

Robertmax: We don't have any current plans to play there but if you know of any promoters let us know we'd love to play there. We will be playing at the 2nd annual Stryper Expo at Azusa California on Friday May 18th and 19th. Check out Stryper Expo . We also will be playing the Mission Metal Fest in Keokuk, Iowa, Saturday July 14th. We don't tour at the moment but we can only do weekend gigs right now.