Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Seamus from "Excuse All the Blood": chatting with a metal music show host in the state of Washington

Seamus, your show Excuse All the Blood is on every Friday night at 11pm (Pacific Time; United States) at www.kaosradio.org. How long have you been doing the show? Is this the first show that you host? How did you get started?
My first week at The Evergreen State College in Olympia (where KAOS is) I turned into the station to hear some local voices and heard the Carcass atrocity Swansong. The host had a trivia question: "What Neil Young song did Type O Negative cover?" I called in with 'Cinnamon Girl' and won a Dying Breed CD. He told me to come up to the station to claim it. This was September of 1996. His name was Rick and his show was The Pit. I started going to the show every week and became cohost. He mainly played bands like Dismember and I remember bringing him 'Storm of the Lights Bane' and playing that on the air. I brought in that operatic Therion song 'To Mega Therion' the second week. I cohosted The Pit with a couple different lineups (a guy named Chris and another named Dave) until my junior year when I went solo and began 'Excuse All the Blood'.
Would you say that you have an obsession with metal? Are you able to get your work done? You are a teacher, correct? There is a lot of work that teachers do at home, planning classes and writing tests and grading all sorts of things? How do you find the time to listen to so much metal and do your work?
There are only 24 hours in a day and I don't have enough time to listen to everything I want! I make time, though, but it's often in the background as I clean or lesson plan. I walk every day-you may see me around Olympia in my Alice Cooper hoodie with my headphones in. That's where I can really focus on the music. I used to live and die metal-it consumed me! I'm now in my mid 30's with a career-priorities change but I still love it. It's the only music I listen to (outside of KISS and Alice). If I hear the riff to 'Desecration of Soul's, man...that's what life is about!
When we listen to the show, it sounds like a cool and fun show, with variety and new metal music, as well as old. Yet, there must be a whole lot of work that goes into it. Can you explain what type of work is involved in putting together a show? How do you keep track not to repeat too much, how do you pick the music, how do you balance with new music? Are you always very behind on new music to play?
Howard Stern often says that people want to hear songs they know on the radio. I'm not fully sure that I agree-I think people want to hear new releases and be exposed to new bands. I try to have both, though-hence the 'Heavy Metal History Lesson' at midnight-older bands. I have a rule that (with the staples of KISS, Marduk and Anvil) no band gets played for three straight weeks to ensure that I can mix in other material. When doing prep for a regular show (not a theme one) I look back at the playlist from the last two weeks and then go from there. It used to take four or five hours to do a show prep but now I can do it in about two to three. It's fun and it's an excuse to listen to good music.
What are your earliest memories of metal music? Do you remember when you became conscious of metal music as such? What are the first bands that you liked?
I was in 2nd grade and won a Twisted Sister-Come Out and Play mirror at a fair. I loved the mirror and then I saw the video for 'Be Chrool To Your Scuel' which was the greatest thing I had ever seen. Although Sister was a light band at that point, that was my intro to heavier music. I'm an only child so didn't have older siblings giving me records and I was raised in the mountains without electricity so MTV was certainly out. Music was kind of off my radar until junior high where I got into mainstream bands like Metallica and Megadeth-I moved to the city so had more exposure.
In 9th grade my metal-dom really was born. I got into KISS (not a metal band), Judas Priest (Rob just left), Mercyful Fate, Anthrax (Sound of White Noise had just come out) and Tesatment. Although KISS was my favorite band, Testament were my Beatles. I could not get enough of them and they were local. I went to high school in Berkeley, where they are from, so they ALWAYS played. I remember seeing them a ton of times at an old club called the Berkeley Square on University. I saw a ton of bands there-Testament, Type O, Sacred Reich, Napalm Death. I went to shows in San Francisco at The Stone and Ruthies and On Broadway. I went to shows in Palo Alto at a club called The Edge. The Trocadero in San Francisco and Maritime Hall also had lots of good shows.
The first death metal CD I got was Malevolent Creation's 'Retribution'. It blew my mind. My parents gave me two dollars a day for lunch money-I skipped lunch and went to the record stores Rasputins and Amoeba that sold vinyl for $1.99 a piece. I got the entire Priest collection that way, WASP, Armored Saint, the older Overkill albums. I remember getting the Shok Paris album 'Steel and Starlight' for a quarter.
Those were really exciting times for me since I was discovering this entire new world. There was metal beyond 'Ride the Lightning'! I bought Pit magazine (remember that?) and wrote every band that was interviewed or had an ad. I got turned on to Graveland and Acheron that way, through Pit. This was before the internet so it was word of mouth and/or through print. I LOVE talking about that time period. Musically mainstream music was lousy then (early to mid 90's) but I got into older thrash and then death metal that way. Black metal was mainly 12th grade for me.
You have done shows dedicated to bands from Greece, as well as other countries. Would you say that you are a metal music explorer? As you know, the metal press is very lame, covering the same bands, dwelling on bands that, in some cases, have not been active for decades and constantly talking about gossip-related issues with members of famous bands and ex-members. Often, these bands are not even metal, yet the metal press keeps covering these issues as if these were actually relevant. How did you become motivated to hear bands that are not famous?
When I was a senior in High School I went to Ireland (I'm Irish) and bought a tape of a local metal band called System. I loved it-the song 'I The Machine' was amazing. I started collecting Irish metal tapes-I'd write people there and they would tape them for me. Perhaps that was how the international thing got started for me. I got into Cruachan that way. Graveland and Vader (Sothis, De Profundis) got me into the Polish scene. I first read about Vader in the thank you list of Oppressor's 'Operation Live' record, bought the Sothis EP and then read about the bands they toured with. Sentenced got me interested in the Finnish scene. I was SO damn into Sentenced for years-their 'Crimson' album is a masterpiece.
I like doing the theme shows (Excuse All the Greece, Excuse All the Ukraine) because it gives me an excuse to play bands that I normally don't play.
What are some of your favorite top albums of 2014 so far?
I really like the Church of Disgust album 'Unworldly Summoning' and the new Van Canto is a lot of fun! A Cappella metal! The new Hooded Menace EP, the new Vuyvr. And, of course, I like the new Ace Frehley record as well.
(to be continued)

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