Taken from: Metal Rules!!
Interview by: David Lee and Jinny Jerome
Interview with Billy Milano
In most quarters it is definitely not to your advantage to act like a moron unless, of course, that is what you do best. No collection of individuals has ever surpassed the heights (depths?) of moronic behavior as the collective known as the STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH or SOD if you also suffer from attention deficit disorder as well as retardation. SOD, fearing that the current crop of retarded rap-rockers may take on the mantel created and reserved for SOD have revived the old act and issued a new manual, if you will, for retardation and have called it "BIGGER THAN THE DEVIL."
"BIGGER THAN THE DEVIL" boasts such thought candy as "The Crackhead Song," "The Song That Don't Go Fast," "King At The King / Evil Is In" and "Frankenstein and His Horse." Please, don't think that this bunch doesn't know the line between stupid and clever because they can obviously package it all up and get scads of like minded idiots to sing along to every track on this as well as their first "masterpiece" of fifteen years ago, "SPEAK ENGLISH OR DIE." The most intriguing aspect of SOD is that despite every contrivance their cross of heavy metal and hardcore punk is by far the best attempt at the meld. A listener could easily be forgiven if he began to take the whole thing seriously, that is, until the group announces the next number and the joke is revived to its full gut busting splendor. With years of experience handling the controversy over lyrics and public statements on various issues the group's only real enemy would seem to be indifference. In the ongoing battle to fight this indifference frontman Billy Milano phoned us up and relayed his thoughts on why SOD is still both relevant and irreverent. By the end of our conversation it was obvious the joke was on me for Milano is no dummy at all, far from it. Still, you and I should do all we can to forget that the man is actually a well spoken and accomplished businessman so as to let the music have its full effect. In-excelsior-retardo!
Metal Rules!! - I've had the record for about an hour, which is just long enough to have listened to it about twice.
Metal Rules!! - It picks up pretty much where you left off 14 years ago, to my ears.
Without a doubt, it is certainly a continuation.
Metal Rules!! - Right, obviously the intention?
We have no desire to be anything but SOD.
Metal Rules!! - Did anybody ever talk about that, did anyone outside of the band say "Well here's your chance to cash in on the...."
Well, you know, the funny thing is, we had been, once we had initially started talking about doing this we actually got together and jammed and there were a few people who knew what was best for us and it had nothing to do with what we wanted to do. They knew what was best for us, and you know, we quickly shot it down and did our own thing. You know, I think that we basically had the intention of doing what we wanted to do from the beginning. We're very purist in nature, and I think that works best for us.
Metal Rules!! - I know that every time I talk to somebody about the band SOD, everybody gives the same response, "Oh it's a novelty act" Do you see it as a novelty act?
I'm indifferent to it, I'm in it. The fact of the matter is this is the only novelty act I know that could blow 99% of the bands that take themselves so seriously away, you know, and that's the fact. We're not GWAR, we're like the most anti-novelty band going. We certainly have an air of lightheartedness to it and we definitely come across as entertainers and not as politicians like most bands do. The fact of the matter is we don't sell ourselves short, we're still musicians and we're still professional performers and we're not going to take a back seat to anybody. To me GWAR is a novelty, GENITORTURERS, they're a novelty, bands that go up there and sell image, like these black metal bands and death metal bands who go up there and sell swords and painted faces, that's a novelty. You know, SOD, I don't see as a novelty if there is a novelty it's just SOD to me. I mean if we were a novelty why wouldn't we cash in on it? Whatever. Fourteen years later, I think the whole argument is kinda moot.
Metal Rules!! - Well, now that you're back doing the SOD thing it seems to me that you'd be having more fun than you've had in a while.
Well I work for a living, how's working fun? Even though I'm in the music industry, I'd jump at the opportunity to be the class clown.
Metal Rules!! - Well how do you find time to do this actually, you're doing management, right? So how do you find time to do SOD, or has that become under your influence of management, as well?
Well, without a doubt it's under my guise, and it's controlled completely by the band, and I'm not going to let the issues conflict with each other. I am managing, however, and it's a big job, and I'm part of a studio owner, and that's another big job. We find the time because I'm the boss and it's good to be the boss. I make the time. Certainly I'm not going to take the whole day off to do interviews, and I'm not going to put my whole year aside to tour, that's not what it's about for me. I don't think that's what it's about for SOD at this point. I think we're really just, the time is allowed because we have the ability to make the time.
Metal Rules!! - Most of the material for this record came together from this incarnation of the band?
With the exception of two songs, right.
Metal Rules!! - Then how did that material come together; you guys got together the four of you and just jammed it out? Or was it ideas you had from other places.
The fact is they never really physically got together and jammed as a group. When they wrote the original record they wrote it through the mail because ANTHRAX was upstate for six or eight months and they wrote it with Danny Lilker through the mail. And then we had one day jamming, we did "Bigger Than the Devil" the next day. Interestingly enough on this album ANTHRAX was touring, BRUTAL TRUTH was touring and, I think, when they got home two or three days in a row they got together and jammed just to see if they could write the music. They had never really got together and tried to write the music. In the last fourteen years they have never got together and jammed on new material for no reason. Once they did it they felt more than confident that they were able to take it to another level, and I think that is where it all initiated, that's where it all come about. Within six weeks we had the whole record written, and we recorded it in three.
Metal Rules!! - Did you feel there was maybe too much time and too much thought put into it, whereas the first was just snap, snap, done?
Well no, because actually the first one took longer to write. The only reason we recorded it faster was that we had a budget of three days, that's all we had. That's all it was. That was then and this is now. Look at it this way, three days versus three weeks, we figure fourteen years we give or take a day there's seven in a week now for inflation! But without a doubt, the record was still very spontaneous, you can hear that it's not contrived.
Metal Rules!! - The thing that I like about it, like the first one and like all the MOD records is that they're just fun and they're not preachy.
Without a doubt, there's definitely morals to the story, but I'm not there to be your conscience, I'm there to spill my guts and people who use their music as a platform to preach a ridiculous ideal and continually bombard you with it, that certainly is something that I don't want to have anything to do with.
Metal Rules!! - It's interesting that you mentioned all the death metal bands and stuff.
By the way, Lars from Rancid just joined me. He's producing the new AGNOSTIC FRONT.
Metal Rules!! - Is AGNOSTIC all the original guys?
The original line-up, they're in the studio right now
Metal Rules!! - I saw you the last time you were in Detroit with SOD, and you didn't have a full set, you had to stretch out some songs and add some covers, obviously now you have more than twenty-two minutes of material you can do a full SOD set. Is that the plan?
Certainly, we're going to be doing things that are just spontaneous and fun. SOD has always been a band that's like more of a spoken presentation than a musical presentation. I think the music just exemplifies our presentation of our moronic episodes!
We've signed to the biggest death metal label in the whole world and we make fun of death metal. The best part was we don't have to look beyond their own (Nuclear Blast) catalogue to make fun of people, we can just do it within our own company, and that's a beautiful thing! Saves a trip to the store. (laughs)
Metal Rules!! - So you could take the baby bands out on tour and have somebody to abuse...
Well I don't know about tour wise, but this two week tour that I'm doing in Europe, we're taking two of their bands. One is a band called MESHUGGAH which is an insane progressive metal band and they're definitely not death metal and the other band is STAHLHAMMER which is like JUDAS PRIEST and it's the craziest shit you ever heard.
Metal Rules!! - MESHUGGAH I know, STAHLHAMMER I don't.
STAHLHAMMER is a big German band; we're doing it for political reasons, honestly. I don't' consider myself to be a big STAHLHAMMER fan, I'm sorry. You know we took a week to figure out how to spell STAHLHAMMER.
Metal Rules!! - So if it was RAMMSTEIN you guys would have took them on?
I actually toured with, we did a co headlining show with RAMMSTEIN in Europe. It was great.
Metal Rules!! - Did you get to come out and sodomize anybody?
We stayed back stage because those guys are fucked up, they're so fucking cheesy. I was in a hotel with them screaming in their face and I was yelling their name every five minutes drunk and they wouldn't say anything.
Metal Rules!! - Weird man, weird. The pyro aspect is cool, if you like shit burning.
I'm indifferent I know their whole gig and I know they're really popular and good for them.
Metal Rules!! - I hear you. Well I want to ask you about the STEP KINGS, I know you manage them.
Actually I'm not working with them any more, I had to get rid of some of the people I was working with because I'm just so busy now with what I do especially now I'm part owner of a studio and I'm running the studio with these people, and now I'm doing SOD, it's getting ridiculous.
Metal Rules!! - Have you got a staff of assistants?
I have one person working with me, and one's enough, you know?
Metal Rules!! - You only gotta sign one check, or do you pay them with cash?
Actually I pay them with tattoo work!
Metal Rules!! - So what else do people need to know about SOD, that's any different from the first time they came around? Being as its probably two generations later?
Well the whole thing is, you don't need to know nothing, just that life's tough and we're tougher. That's the way it is. Life's a joke and enjoy life, that's what SOD is about. SOD is about taking a piss on everything and people who don't get the joke and get offended by it deserve to be (pissed on).
Metal Rules!! - Speaking of offended, why did you put "Aren't You Hungry" on this record after having it on the first MOD record?
Actually no it wasn't, "Aren't You Hungry" on the first MOD record was a different version of the song. This is the original version. Half I used, half ANTHRAX used for "Imitation of Life" and what I personally chose to put it on a record was for one reason only. It was a link to the 80's and, number 2, it was the first song we wrote after "Speak English Or Die" and at that point we knew more about each other as people and it represented us as people, meaning our particular attributes when it comes to the composite of the band. I thought that if we put it on this record, if we recorded it first and put it up against the new material it would be a really good barometer to where we stand musically from the 80's to the 90's and to the year 2000 and it matches up pretty well. It's a good link to the past. It's going to end an era for us as far as the wishes of a younger band aspiring to do a second record which we never did and its a really good indicator of how our music fits into the 90's, as opposed to the music we were writing in the 80's. I think it, almost, fits into the record seamlessly.
Metal Rules!! - Actually a lot of bands will talk about how they've grown and shit like that, but it seems like you kinda had it right the first time so why fuck with it much?
Exactly, all we wanted to do was continue where we started so this record is a lot smarter mentally. I know Scott and I are both well read people, we're educated, we're intelligent we're not afraid of debate or conflict. We're fourteen years wiser, our experience in life reflects in what we do, though without a doubt it still has the same moron factor on the new record as it did on the first record. That's something we considered, should we, could we come out and be what everyone thinks we are, this huge heavy monster of a band, come out and play things like MACHINEHEAD or PANTERA and be totally abusive? Or should we just say fuck everybody and just do what we do? That is the conclusion we came to. We wanted to make a record for the four guys that are in the band, and anyone else we didn't care about, and that's the truth.
Metal Rules!! - So there's no one else left to impress?
I don't have to impress anybody, all I have to do is be happy and that's all I care about.
Metal Rules!! - Anything we missed?
You can put the address for my studio website. It's www.bigbluemeenie.com.
Metal Rules!! - One last question, with the advent of all this rap metal shit that's going around, to me, I just draw the line straight back to what Anthrax did....
Yeah, they are to blame!
Metal Rules!! - So they're to blame, do they take responsibility for that?
I don't know, didn't Aerosmith do it?
Metal Rules!! - Oh with Run DMC?
I think so
Metal Rules!! - Well there it is! Good luck with this record and we will see you when you roll through town with the rest of SOD.
1999, Metal Rules