Thursday, April 15, 2010
Well kiddies its “Ali the great Metallian” (and altar boy) back with yet another interview with underground legend Jeff Becerra from “POSSESSED”. If you haven’t heard of them, then you have been living under a rock for the past 25 years! Possessed hail from California , and are the death metal masters of their time… Napalm Death coined the phrase “grind Core” AxCx coined the phrase “noise core”, Possessed coined the phrase "Death metal", and their still going strong today, 25 years later!!!!
Greetings Jeff – How are things in sunny California?
Things are truly fantastic. I have lived in California my entire life and it is just a fantastic place to be. Tons of clubs and metal bands and the scene (while not as big as it used to be) is really good. It seems like the California fans really know their metal and aren't afraid to show it.
How are things holding up with the new line up of Possessed?
Terrific! We all get along very well and are truly like an extended family. These guys have all been big Possessed fans since the 7 Churches album and were so heavily influenced by Possessed for so long that it feels just like it did back in the day. And the fact that we actually like each other and get along so well makes it just that much better. Before it felt like I was married to three ugly women...now it feels like a real family. I have a ton of respect for Rick, Bay, Ernesto and Emilio and that is a major plus when you have to spend so much time around each other. You can really get to know your band when touring and honestly, they just are all great guys and it is an honor and a pleasure working with them. They are professional and really into what I/we are doing and trying to achieve with this new project. We have some really cool new songs that we are writing and I am very pleased with the new direction that we are embarking on.
How did you coin the term “death metal”. It seems like an obvious term to use, but yet you defined the term for many, many bands to come.
To be honest, Black Metal, Speed Metal and Thrash Metal were already terms being used. With Possessed we intentionally started out wanting to be different than all of those genres. We wanted to be faster, heavier and darker than any of the bands that were out there back in the Early 80s. Death Metal just seemed like it described what we were doing and since we were really trying to be an original band, It just came natural for me to write the song Death Metal. I had no idea when I wrote it that it would actually become a genre. But I did know that it was a cool and heavy song. I guess I just got super lucky that the fans/supporters dug it so much that it grew into what it did.
Any plans of new material from the new line up besides the contribution you did on the tribute CD? Which I have to say, it was a really good CD.
First let me say, "Thank You" for the compliment. I was really happy with how The Exorcist turned out on that tribute as well. I thought it sounded deeper and heavier than the old Possessed and fit well into the more contemporary style of Death Metal that is out there today. We are currently writing some new material and it is definitely in the works. We are not in a huge hurry but just really taking our time to get it right. It is extremely important to me that the new material is well received by Possessed fans/supporters both new and old so I want to put all I have into it. I have one song called "The God That Never Was" and another entitled "Ritual Belief". That is all the information that I want to give up at this time about the new material as I really want it to be a surprise. I think with the new Possessed material it will put us back on the map and people will see that we are the real deal and actually a much better band than the old Possessed.
You influenced many bands, even to this day your music still inspires many to pick up a pen and write or join a band. How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel terrific! I mean that is really what it is all about. In the music world everybody is influenced by another. And whenever I hear people say that they are/were influenced by my music it really feels good. It makes me feel like I have contributed something positive to this world and really inspires me to keep on playing. As long as there are people out there that still want to come to my shows and want to hear what I am doing I will be up there doing it. That's why whenever I see bands up there like Motorhead and Exodus it gives me a lot of inspiration. But when I see a lot of the younger and newer bands that cite Possessed as their influence it validates what I am doing and really just proves that Death Metal is here to stay.
I understand you are in a club of sorts called the NYDM? The NYDM is known to have a chapter in almost every state within the USA and has even reached over seas with chapters there as well. Care to elaborate on what the club is and what it does?
Yes. The NYDM is an underground music club that is dedicated to promoting the players and the underground music scene in general. We are a very exclusive club and completely down for our cause, the scene our brothers and sisters and music in general. The NYDM is like a family to me and I am extremely honored to be a part of it. Recently I have been promoted to NYDM National West Coast Regional President and I also am the California President as well. It is a huge part of my life and I will always think of myself as NYDM until the day I die. This club was started by Will Rahmer (Mortician) and Randell Salmon back in the day and now it has grown to be an International World-Wide Metal Club. NYDM is the largest metal club in the world and the real deal. There are many who try to copy what we do but none of them compare to the NYDM. I am very proud and honored to be a part of the NYDM.
What happened to Possessed after “Beyond the Gates”? It was almost the height of the band, you guys were exploding on the scene, and then you were gone. What happened?
Actually "The Eyes Of Horror" was our last official project together. I guess what happened is that we were all very young back then and like you just said we "exploded" so fast that it was all really just overwhelming to us. For the longest time everything was going perfect. We all got along and life was great. But after a while it just seemed like nobody was into it anymore (except for me). I loved playing in Possessed and it was my life. But then Larry quit too go join up with another band and Mike and Mike said that it would just be too much work to train another guitarist. I begged them that we should stay together and that we had a good thing going. But they just didn't want to go on and I couldn't make them stay. So that was that. I personally think it was the biggest mistake that they ever made. But since they were no longer into it I would rather us to have broken up then to do it when all of us were not 100% into it. But on the bright side of it. After we disbanded I got a chance to go to College and have a family and make a good life for myself doing something else besides metal and I think that helped me to be a well rounded person in life. So now this time around I know what it is all about and know how to handle things a lot more.
I know Mike Torreo tried to carry on with different members and holding onto the Possessed name, and even recorded a couple demos, but nothing ever came out of it. Do you still talk with the other guys?
Actually no. I don't talk to the guys anymore.
I have read some interviews in the past few years with Larry LaLonde, and someone always tries to sneak in a Possessed question on him. He will never elaborate on his time with the band, as almost he doesn’t care to share his contributions he did with Possessed or even to the death metal underground.
I haven't actually got to see or read any of Larry's interviews yet. But I have heard that he doesn't like to relive his Possessed past at all. I guess now that he has been with Primus he just wants to be recognized for that. I don't think he is very proud of his being in Possessed. For what reason I don't know. I would think that he would be proud to have been a part of the creation of the DM scene. But who knows what makes him tick. I still love Larry as he is a great guy and he was a good friend and brother to me back in the day. Always happy with a positive outlook on things.
Does it feel different to not have Mike Sus, Mike Torres and Larry LaLonde in the band with you? Or do you feel you will still be able to create the feeling that Possessed has created even with new members?
To tell you the truth it feels much better now then back then. We had always thought about getting a new drummer even back in the day and almost did at one point whenever Sus didn't have double bass. But then he got double bass so he stayed in. And we had Brian Montana at first so we also made a guitar change. With changes in Possessed it always made the band better. So like-wise the new changes in Possessed were made to make the band better. And Possessed is a better band now. More professional an tight and the fact that we all get along so well is just a cherry on the top. I think that all bands throughout history have made changes to better themselves and Possessed is no different. Sometimes we just need to embrace change instead of trying to make something work that never will. Of course at first there were a few fans that weren't happy with me having the new band.. but after a while people got used to it more and more and to tell you the truth now, people are liking the new line-up much more than the old Possessed. Once they saw Possessed live they liked it even better. I think after the new material starts coming out people will really see that this is the real deal Possessed and that we are here to stay. We are playing to much bigger crowds and have a much better response then we did back in the 80s so I think that is proof positive that the fans are very happy with this Possessed and this will be the Possessed that stays together hopefully forever this time!!
During the time of Possessed being gone, you were paralyzed… and you were recently hospitalized in Finland. How are things holding up for you? Things getting better?
Yes, things are getting much much better. I have had an extremely rough past two years and came very close to dying. But now I am on the mend and ready to get back out there and do it again!! If it weren't for the band, the fans and of course the close support and help from my family I don't think I would have made it.
Do you plan on touring again with Possessed? I know a lot of places that would LOVE to see the reincarnation of Possessed visit their town.
Oh definitely. We have already toured around quite a bit with a great response. It is just amazing how much Possessed has grown since the 80s. We played the Wacken to like a hundred thousand people, and Brazil, Chile, Finland, Mexico, NYC, some US States just to name some of the places and it has been wild and fun as hell with some maniac crazy crowds..lol. Next month (May) we are playing the Maryland Death Festival which I am really looking forward to. In June we are doing a small South American tour playing Lima Peru, Venezuela and other South American Countries (still working out the specifics) then in October we are off to Germany again for the Way Of Darkness festival and also we are going to do a surprise small club show just for fun. There are just so many offers on the table now for Possessed and it really is like a dream come true to see everything that I have worked so hard for for so many years to finally come to fruition and for Possessed to finally get the world wide notoriety that we deserve. I am very happy with the way things are going and very appreciative to all of the fans and supporters both new and old.
Jeff, it was great talking with you, any last words to the readers?
Thank you. The pleasure was all mine brother. I guess I would just like to say, "Thank You" to all of my supporters and the supporters of Possessed both new and old. I have been very lucky for so many people to embrace what I am doing and to always have such positivity towards Possessed throughout the years. Not a day goes by that I don't feel lucky to have what I have and I owe it all to the fans. Hopefully Possessed will be coming soon to a town near you. I would also like to send out my love to my son Jeffrey Jr and my daughter Sonny.
Interview by Chris / ZHB