KURT COLFELT

INTERVIEW

A CURA DI R&MIMB

28/03/2018

"Rock & Metal in my Blood" today is proud to present an exclusive interview with Kurt Colfelt (Holy Terror, Agent Steel, Zeke, The Load Levelers), a very informative talk with a legend of underground Metal, one of the protagonists of the 80s Thrash scene. Between past and present, Kurt spoke to us about his former band (Holy Terror) and his other musical experiences, revealing lots of details and entertaining anecdotes about the story of Holy Terror, how it feels to be a bassist and other curiosities. From the 80s to Zeke and The Load Levelers (his current bands), "Rock & Metal in my Blood" proudly retraces the history of this musician, reviving a glorious Metal era. Read on metallers!!!!

R&MIMB: Hi Kurt! It's a pleasure for us to have you on Rock & Metal in my Blood! We really love your music, and we and our readers would like to know more about your history.
Kurt Colfelt: Hey!! How's it going? Thanks for having me!

R&MIMB: How would you describe the mid 80s California metal scene? How much of the flourishing era of Holy Terror is still alive today?
Kurt Colfelt: Well, I was from Washington State one thousand miles north of LA and I had been trying for a number of years to get something going up there around the Seattle area but wasn't having much luck! At the time it was mostly cover bands and I played the bar circuit for quite a while with a number of different bands. But when we were on break from playing "8675 309" (a 1981 song performed by Tommy Tutone, Ed.) and "Carry on my Wayward Son", "Born to Be Wild", shit like that, I would go out and sit in my car and listen to the first two Iron Maiden records, Sabbath with Dio, and dream of a day that I could do something along those lines. In 1983 I had enough, I had some songs and a shitty little truck and I drove to Los Angeles and camped in my car, hoping to get a break in the Music business. When I got there I was amazed to find bands like Steeler and W.A.S.P. , stuff like that. I was in Hollywood because it was the only place I had ever heard of hahahaha!! I tried out for bands and soon realized that there were two kinds of metal ,"Up Hair" and "Down Hair" at that same time I heard Accept , Fast as a Shark, the first Slayer record and Metallica, and I realized that I was a 'Down Hair Metal' guy! I kept jamming with different people and wasn't having much luck finding anything good, but I had a few songs that I had brought with me like "Distant Calling" , "Evils Rising", "Debt of Pain", which was called "Assault and Battery" at the time, I really sort of fell into the Speed Metal scene, and it happened to be exactly what I wanted to do!!

R&MIMB: We can say that 1988 was at the same time a fundamental and difficult year for Holy Terror. Can you tell us something about that period?
Kurt Colfelt: Well, let me give you a little more background. At the beginning of the band while looking for a singer a guy came by with extremely high singing , it was really good like Priest or Merciful Fate , but not really what I was looking for. That guy turned out to be John Cyriis (historic and current vocalist of Agent Steel, ed.) To make a long story short my old pal Floyd Flanary (former bassist of Agent Steel, ed.) from Seattle who had relocated to play bass, wrecked his van and ended up in the hospital. Right about that time on Halloween I went to see Merciful Fate play two shows in one night at The Country Club in the San Fernando Valley. I was approached by John and introduced to Juan Garcia. John had heard my demos and seen me play in my living room and said they had a record deal and the band was called Agent Steel?I never really auditioned, they just wanted me to join and I did. Within a few months we were recording Skeptics Apocalypse and one of my early songs was redone as "Back to Reign". That was a great band but also very turbulent, and after a while it was apparent that I needed to do my own band. I gave Floyd a call, he was playing in Thrust at the time, and I told him my plan. I also called Jack Schwartz who had recently been kicked out of Dark Angel. He had a friend, Mike Alvord, so finally we had a band but no singer. We tried out a few guys, but there was one guy in particular that stood out, although he was in straightforward rock and roll bands and had never heard to speed metal. I convinced him to try it and we went and made a demo that had "Black Plague", "Distant Calling" and "Guardians of the Netherworld" on it. In those days you mailed stuff out and after a bit magazines started putting our picture in the Up and Coming bands section and we were offered a deal by an English Label, Music for Nations, this was 1986 and Agent Steel was doing well, and we had some but not enough money to make a full length record. I sold my motorcycle, my car, and damn near everything I owned, replaced the drummer with Joe Mitchell and we went in to record Terror and Submission. This was the very end of '86 if I remember correctly and the record would come out in Europe only in '87. Unfortunately the engineer had no idea what metal was, and the production and final mixes were not very good. Luckily the songs and the band were! Are we to 1988 yet? Hahaha Ok we then got signed to Roadracer in America and they also wanted Europe as well, we never told MFN (Music For Nations, ed.) that we signed and got advances to make a new record, that I knew was going to be a stronger, faster, heavier record. We also remixed Terror and Submission and that helped a lot! We had tours with DRI and Kreator that followed, we had also already been to Europe by then. When we made Mind Wars, the only way to afford the studio was to work past 10 hours and get a cheaper discount. Both myself and Casey McMacken would do speed to keep going. This was an incredibly fatiguing and difficult record to make! Back then it was all on tape and it was expensive and the mix downs were difficult to say the least. When the record was finally done I was exhausted, but it was time to hit the road, so I took a nod from my hero Lemmy and did speed on a daily basis to keep going. Then things started fucking up?Our van broke down we were making very little money and having a hard time keeping afloat. We had a massive breakdown on the road and ended up with the other guys riding in the equipment truck while I tried to repair the van and catch up. It was a disaster and we were broke! After that we got offered another tour in Europe with Exodus and Nuclear Assault in January of '89. Thinking, well fuck, at least we have transportation!, off we went. Things were going pretty good and someone Interviewed Keith and he said we signed to Road Racer Records. When MFN heard about this, they kicked us off the tour and took us to the nearest airport in Switzerland and dumped us off with no way to get home! I said to the guys, Fuck this! Let's rent a van and get back on the tour! We have contracts, fuck 'em!! So a couple of days later we caught up with the tour and, man, were they surprised to see us!! There was no way they were letting us back on and the Tour manager made that very clear. He threatened me and we had a little scuffle. I ended up breaking his nose and kind of beating his ass! Needless to say that was that, and we ended up hightailing it out of town. That was the night that Mike Alvord had enough and quit and went home. We camped in that God forsaken van for eleven days trying to get home!

R&MIMB: After 1989 you guys relocated to Seattle. How was that?
Kurt Colfelt: When we got back, shortly thereafter in spring of '90 my girlfriend told me she was pregnant. I had a giant drug habit by then and was in no shape to be a father. We continued to play shows with just one guitar and in retrospect we should have replaced Mike because it was definitely a 2 guitar band, but we didn't. By the fall of '90 my son was born and we had no family or anything in LA so I had to take time off of the band and while I stopped doing drugs for a minute I was so frustrated and angry by then I was doing incredible amounts of Speed and Heroin. But I was a good father although his Mom had about had it with me and in '91 she went to stay with my mother outside of Seattle, which was a good thing as I was also going to jail here and there for petty bullshit. Then came the idea to move the band to Seattle .The music scene was finally good up there and I had some family to help out with the kid. I talked to Floyd, Joe and Keith and they even helped me move my shit up there. But Keith went back to LA and maybe had second thoughts. By then Floyd, Joe and myself had been up there for going on a year and had written an entire new record, but there was no sign of Keith. By then it was a simple decision of whether to continue without him. We tried out a few singers, but He was pretty much irreplaceable and the Metal scene in Seattle was pretty shitty to be honest with you!

R&MIMB: We know that you also love punk music. Do you see any punk influences in Holy Terror?
Kurt Colfelt: Well I was in the thick of the crossover era, when the punks and metal guys found common ground and stopped fighting each other. The 80's in LA were like no other place, incredibly large, violent shows, tons of bands , lots of hard aggro music ("Aggro" is a slang term meaning aggravation or aggression) and dangerous as fuck, perfect for a guy like me! I attended everything from GBH, Agnostic Front, a lot of the early days of Slayer, I loaned my amp to Megadeth when they were making their first record and sat in the control room drinking and doing drugs. It was really just perfect timing, and it was the right type of Hard as Fuck music that fit my personality! We were able to play shows with Motorhead, Celtic Frost, Venom?the list goes on and on. I do love punk music, but it was really my personality that made me a punk! I liked to be an asshole and fight, drink and do drugs. It's really kind of a miracle that I ever made it through to be honest with you! I really think it was because I never shot up drugs. But I got arrested for carrying loaded guns and assault, I sold drugs and beat people up?When I look back it seems like a different person but there was more to come.

R&MIMB: Holy Terror lyrics are usually about religion, and anti-Christianity is one of your main lyrical themes. Are you truly "anti-Christian"?
Kurt Colfelt: I was raised with religion and have no problem with it. Whatever people want to do is up to them. It was really more of a thing like Black Sabbath really, where you looked around and questioned what you were seeing, be it war, religious nutjobs killing in the name of God, the Futility of a mechanized , industrialized society, it all makes for great metal, especially when you play that shit fast! I am anti- authority and oppression, a kind of an Anarchist I suppose, or maybe I just don't like people telling me what to do!!

R&MIMB: The artwork of Terror and Submission, your first record, is very particular and impactful. Whose idea was it to realize that cover art? You even tattooed it on your right arm!!
Kurt Colfelt: The cover was my idea! It represents the turmoil of living in the world we inhabit , the war between good and evil the dualism of our earthly existence. I was living in a shitty apartment building and one day my landlord told me, Hey you want to see something cool? and pulled back a curtain and behind it was the most incredible six foot tall painting I had ever seen! It ended up being the back of T&S and I was so blown away I got a hold of him and commissioned the front cover art. His name is Rick Araluce and we're good friends to this day. He's one of the most exceptional artists I've ever seen and I'm a huge fan. Yeah, I have his art on both my forearms and both my upper arms, an idea I stole from Steve Harris of Iron Maiden!

R&MIMB: Tell us something about the magnificent art work of Mind Wars. From your first full- length to Mind Wars there is a greater care regarding the sound and the tracks. Can we consider Mind Wars your consecration?
Kurt Colfelt: Once again I told Rick I wanted a twin headed serpent breaking the cross in a violent fashion, He did the rest and the back cover was a painting of his again. Great Stuff! When we made Mind Wars I knew this was going to be as close to a masterpiece as I could probably get! We had more money, the band was better and even though the first record was a little more creepy metal, this new one was head and shoulders above it and hopefully would give the band the recognition it deserved and let us get ready to make a third record, but that sadly was never going to happen. I'm not sure if the "Thinking Man's" approach to the lyrics went over people's heads, or bad management, or too much drugs, or a record label that just didn't give a shit about the band were the reason, but Mind Wars sold ok but not great. Michael Alago ,who signed Metallica, would call me up pretty regularly, and he told me that it was the best record he had heard at the time. I asked him, Well why don't you sign us? and his answer was we weren't ready. Fair enough, but we were running out of time. It was good by then, I think, he thought that the record sold more than it did, and somehow I ran off with the money. But the truth of the matter is I never received a penny from either Skeptics, Terror and Submission or Mind Wars . We tried to reform the band in 2005 when El Revengo remixes and live shit came out, but he wouldn't answer his phone, so that was that. It was really too painful for years for me to even want to do it to be honest. When that band folded I disappeared for almost 10 years, I shaved my head and started playing bass for Zeke in '94 I believe. I hid in plain sight and those guys never knew anything about my past. They kicked me out of the band a couple of years later. Now I'm back and there's a new record coming out. Never say die?

R&MIMB: And now for a "naughty" question. We love both Terror and Submission and Mind Wars. Which is your favorite between the two?
Kurt Colfelt: Mind Wars!

R&MIMB: In your opinion who are the bands that influenced Holy Terror the most?
Kurt Colfelt: Let's see? Iron Maiden, Slayer, Merciful Fate, and since I'm a 70's guy of course Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.

R&MIMB: When you left Holy Terror and joined Zeke, you also changed your role in the band: from guitarist to bassist. How was it to change role?
Kurt Colfelt: Like Lemmy said, the bass is just rhythm guitar only better! I was and still am pretty protective of my speed metal legacy and if the opportunity came up to do something great I might consider it. I was talking to John Cyriis about maybe writing some stuff for a new Agent Steel record, but it looks like that isn't going to work out.

R&MIMB: How is the live metal scene in Seattle with your band Zeke?
Kurt Colfelt: It's ok up here, it's more slow stuff. My kid has a pretty cool band called The Kings of Cavalier . They've just finished their third record and it's pretty great! I'm out of the loop for the most part, being able to tour at this point is a real blessing and I have a great job for sure!

R&MIMB: You also have a glorious past with Agent Steel, you played guitar on Skeptics Apocalypse. Are you still in contact with the guys in the band?
Kurt Colfelt: I talk to Juan pretty regularly and have contact with John here and there. I'm not sure what the other guys are up to, I did see Chuck a few years back.

R&MIMB: Tell us about your current band, The Load Levelers. The band plays "barncore". Can you give us a definition of this particular genre?
Kurt Colfelt: Ahh? the Load Levelers. That band finally broke up a couple of years ago. It was speed metal mixed with punk rock and bluegrass/country music. It was a great way to play fast music and still be able to play the bar circuit on the weekends. Plus for some reason I can sing country music, maybe because I grew up in the woods of Washington State and I'm kind of a Hick!

R&MIMB: You also play in the heavy metal band Midnight Idols. How did this project come about?
Kurt Colfelt: I played with the Midnight Idols when I was working all the time. They're old friends of mine and a great NWOBHM band, it was a shitload of fun to play that old style metal, there's a couple of other side project band demos floating around on Youtube , El Revengo, Hell Camano, just a way to keep playing and making music. I have six kids you know!

R&MIMB: What is your touring schedule for 2018?
Kurt Colfelt: You can check Zeketheband on Facebook, we leave for 5 weeks in Europe next week to support the new record Hellbender that is coming out on Relapse Records March 30. It's fast as fuck and you might like it!

R&MIMB: How about a message to all the readers of Rock & Metal in my Blood?
Kurt Colfelt: Well, I'm very humbled that people still like those records and grateful that I can get out and make records and tour! If you keep trying , you just never know what might happen? Cheers!!



(An interview by Yader Lamberti, Lucia Rossi, Davide Cillo, Lorenzo Mortai & Marek Vladescu)