There are a lot of bands that, when you think about them, one person comes to mind. When I say Deicide, you probably think of Glen Benton. With Behemoth, it’s Nergal. For Death, Chuck Schuldiner should pop in your head. With death metal legends Monstrosity, Lee Harrison is the man in the eye of the hurricane.
Formed in 1990 after Harrison left Malevolent Creation, Monstrosity has been a mainstay in the world of death metal for decades and yet another stellar product of the Florida death metal boom. Through six LPs and counting, Harrison has been the only member along for the full-ride and remains the primary creative force steering the band forward. Regardless of who surrounds the drummer, Harrison’s outfit has put out quality album after quality album and never compromised or lightened up.
More than 30 years after forming the band, Harrison remains committed to his mission of putting out top-notch death metal records that you have to resist the urge to snap your neck head-banging to. Although the band has accomplished a ton in its career already, the future still looks bright for Monstrosity. With a return to touring, the band has already crossed off the Mass Destruction Fest in Atlanta in late 2021 and has its sights firmly set on the upcoming Maryland Deathfest at the end of May. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a new album on the horizon and a new lineup to reveal. Suffice it to say, Harrison is a busy man. Luckily for me, Harrison is also a pretty gracious dude with his time and stopped to chat with me over Zoom recently about the band’s storied history and exciting future.
What got you into heavier music and death metal in specific?
Lee: When I was a kid, pretty much Kiss. Seven years old, Kiss was pretty much one of the biggest bands going. My neighbor buddy played me, I don’t remember exactly which album it was, he played me some Kiss and we were talking about Kiss, and I talked my mom into going out and buying a Kiss album the next day.
I started (playing drums) with spoons on a magazine, talked my dad into getting an acoustic guitar. I’m left handed so I was trying to play the guitar left-handed and my dad wouldn’t let me do that. He forced me to play right-handed, which I’m glad he did now because I play right-handed. It discouraged me on guitar for a little bit and then he had a buddy that owned some apartments and one of the guys in the apartments was a drum teacher at the University of Miami. He did all this kind of stuff with the University of Miami like the jazz band. I would go there on Wednesdays and he would give me a half-hour lesson. It would be pretty much 15 minutes on the hands, 15 minutes on the drum set and just started with that. Maybe the next Christmas or the year after that, I don’t remember the exact timeline, the first one I got was a snare drum. For a minute I had a snare drum and a wood pad and eventually I would have boxes all around me. I’d put a basketball in a garbage can and that would be my ride cymbal. Slowly but surely I got a five-piece drum set, I’ve still got it in the other room.
From there it was Kiss, Van Halen, Sammy Hagar, Ted Nugent, stuff like that. Then it graduated to Black Sabbath, obviously, then it pretty much graduated into the Ozzy (Osbourne), (Ronnie James) Dio thing. Then Iron Maiden and Judas Priest as I was getting a little older. Then it just, progressively from there, got heavier and heavier and heavier as the kind of thrash scene evolved. I got into all that stuff and underground metal. That’s pretty much how it started and went.
Do you have a preference between guitar and drums?
Lee: Drums are a lot more work, I guess, physically, but I am better at drums just cause that was my first real thing but I enjoy playing guitar too. I was always more of a riff writer than trying to learn scales and trying to be a lead player. I wish I would have done that but my whole thing was just being able to write songs, that’s what I wanted to be able to do so that’s what I focused on.
How did you get into making music then?
Lee: I was 13 and we had moved. I grew up in Miami and then my parents moved to a town called Englewood, Florida, which is an hour-and-a-half south of Tampa. It’s just a bunch of old people and nobody there was into (metal), there were a couple guys but nobody was serious as far as putting bands together and really wanting to do it as a full-time thing. I was full-time from day one, like seven years old, this is what I’m doing. At that point I was trying to make demo tapes on my own, just cause I had given up on finding anybody, and I think when I was 13 I went out and bought a Kramer Striker and a little practice amp and just started playing guitar more then. I would have a tape cassette recorder and then I would record either the drums or the guitar, actually it would have been the drums because they would have been louder. Then I would take that tape and play it through my stereo and take that recorder and record me playing along with the drums coming out of the stereo. They were real primitive and they weren’t that good but it completed the job, got the idea across where I would have my songs.
From there, it made sense to keep doing that until I was probably 17. A buddy of mine in Miami, Robby, he had turned me on to a bunch of underground stuff, Mercyful Fate and that stuff. He would always get stuff before things would trickle down to where I was at. Where I was at, there was nobody there. So I would go down there from time to time and we’d go to concerts together and stuff. He told me about Cynic. They were like a thrash band that was pretty much brand new at the time. They had just gotten together and were starting to play shows. He knew a singer that was friends with all these guys and he wanted to put something together. Basically, the idea was that I would come down to Miami, got to meet the Cynic guys, and met this singer guy. A month or two later I ended up pretty much packing my van up, my drums, and moved to Miami again and stayed with that singer for a month. Really, even he wasn’t that serious about it. We had a guitar guy from Homestead, Florida but he would never come up and it was just always a story.
How’d you end up in Malevolent Creation from there?
Lee: Pretty much I just started helping Cynic out because they were going and they were doing stuff. They had Sean Reinert, who’s a phenomenal drummer, so they don’t need a drummer. I would cruise them around in my van to pass out flyers. We would go out on the weekends to South Beach to promote shows and we’d go to shows, D.R.I. and Kreator, I remember going to that one in particular. Through them I got to meet (different) guys.
At one point they were trying to bring Death down to Miami to play so they could open for Death, that was one of their goals. Then Malevolent Creation moved from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale and we met the Malevolent guys. Phil (Fasciana) told me they weren’t happy with their (drummer). They had a guy from Fort Lauderdale playing drums, but Phil wasn’t happy with him because he couldn’t do double bass and so they wanted a new drummer. At shows, I’d be up there with Cynic, we’d be at whatever watching Slayer and Phil would be like, “Dude, you gotta come up!” I ended up taking my drums up to Fort Lauderdale and joining Malevolent Creation. I was in that band for, like, nine months and we did what ended up being their second demo and ended up writing a lot of songs on what would be The Ten Commandments with them.
What led to you jumping from Malevolent Creation to starting Monstrosity?
Lee: About February 1989 I joined Malevolent and maybe May we brought in Jon Rubin from another band that was in the same warehouses that we were practicing in. So, I brought him into Malevolent, me and Phil were like, “Yeah, we gotta get this guy, he’s killer.” So Jon was in Malevolent, I was in Malevolent. It would have been October of 1989, me and Phil had an argument about money or whatever so I ended up leaving and they ended up getting this guy, Mark Simpson, to join the band. I ended up going back to my mom’s on the west coast to figure out what I was going to do next because I needed to regroup.
At the time, I was talking with Atheist because their drummer was going to go to college and they hadn’t practiced in awhile but they had the album recorded but hadn’t done anything since. Basically, they were looking for a drummer so I was talking to Roger Patterson, who unfortunately passed away. He was a killer bass player, a super cool dude, and just a great guy. That was kinda my plan, to join with Atheist but in the meantime I did this solo project called Submission. It was a one-man band kind of thing while I was back in Inglewood. By now I had a four-track recorder, actually a friend of mine let me use it, this guy Ray, and did nine songs of my own. I was working on others too, I had other songs going too, but basically the nine songs were done.
I ended up coming up to Tampa for shows or going to Morrisound. I was there when the Amon demo was being recorded. I’d hang out with Steve (Asheim), I’d met Steve at some show here in St. Pete(ersburg). I’d drop in to Morrisound while various albums were being recorded. I remember Obituary were doing a pre-production for Cause of Death and I remember hanging out with Trevor (Peres) while they were doing that. So I would go to Morrisound, and hang out and hang with different bands and talk with Scott Burns. I was kind of getting my foot in the door with that too.
Basically, when I left Malevolent, Mark van Erp, who I knew from Cynic, he was the original bass player for Cynic, when I was in Malevolent he ended up leaving Cynic and going to New York for awhile. Then, when I left Malevolent, he ended up coming back to Fort Lauderdale and joining Malevolent at the same time so he was in Malevolent when I left Malevolent. I went home, did that Submission demo, was talking to Atheist, and I would say it was August of 1990 by then, Malevolent had gone on and done a third demo. I was supposed to be on the demo but I had hurt my hand stage diving at a show and so we had to cancel the recording session. When Mark van Erp came into Malevolent, he ended up doing that demo with Mark Simpson, it was basically the Roadrunner demo that got them the record. Him and Phil ended up getting into an argument, basically in July of ’90, and he was out of the band.
In the meantime, after the Atheist thing (when) they decided their drummer wasn’t going to go to college and it wasn’t gonna work out with Atheist, I was still kind of hanging around. I was driving up to Tampa for shows and I went to a Morbid Angel show and met this guy, Ted Hartz who was in this band Exmortis. They were doing an underground tape trading band from the Maryland-Washington area saying, “Oh we need a drummer, can you do it?” I said yeah and flew up in July of 1990. Ted picked me up at the airport and we went to George (Corpsegrinder Fisher)’s house and picked him up and the three of us drove to Philadelphia and we watched Malevolent with Mark and hung out with them. It was Malevolent, Ripping Corpse, and some other bands I can’t remember, maybe Hellwitch? We all hung out, that’s where I met George.
So I was gonna join Exmortis. I flew back home that weekend and, like a week later, Ted called and told me he wasn’t in Exmortis anymore, and he wants to put something together new and we’re gonna use that George guy, he’s going to be the singer. I was like, cool. In the meantime, Mark and Phil had the argument and I was like, that will be great. We got Ted, George, Mark will be the bass player, and we’ll find a second guitar player. In the meantime, I packed my drums up again, went back to Fort Lauderdale, which is where Malevolent was based out of and where Mark was, he had a house at the time with his girlfriend. He was all set up to jam in there, they had soundproofed a room. So I just moved my drums right in and we started writing Monstrosity songs. We took one of the songs off my Submission demo, took the best riffs out of the song, and we took some of Mark’s riffs and my riffs and wrote our first two songs. At the time, we weren’t for sure. It was a loose plan to use Ted and George.
How did playing your first shows as a band come about?
Lee: At the time, a friend of mine, Ross, he had a club called 21 North and he was doing shows. He had Massacre coming to town and he wanted to know if we wanted to open for Massacre. I said “Well, let me see.” So I called George up and I called Ted up and I said this guy’s got a show in November for us, it’s September now. I said that I’ve got two songs, working on a third song, and we can come up with two more songs by then, even if we have to do a cover or two. If we can put together a five-song set, we can open up for this Massacre show and give us a head start on getting this thing together. Ted wanted to run the show and he wanted to write all the material and all this stuff. In the meantime, Jon Rubin, him and Phil didn’t work out either, and he ended up leaving Malevolent so that’s how we got the guitar player. It was basically three ex-Malevolent members with George. We ended up doing that show in November opening for Massacre and, for whatever reason, the set we had we always played it in one specific order. At that show, for whatever reason, we decided to play it backwards. It was a total mistake because we weren’t warmed up for it and it set the wrong tone. So the first show was a travesty but at the show, (Ross) said “Hey, we’ve got this show coming up with Deicide and Malevolent, you want to open for that?”
Did that one go better?
Lee: That was kind of our redemption show. That show we really played good. We brought in Rob Barrett, who everybody knows from Cannibal Corpse, he was in a band Solstice at the time. Him and big Alex (Marquez) were working on the Solstice stuff. At the same time, I was like, “Can you play second guitar for us?” So we brought in Rob Barrett and he did that show. At that show, we knocked it out of the park. We really practiced hard and felt almost ashamed from that first show, it was a total redemption thing where we were determined to play good.
At the Deicide show, that same guy Ross asked us, “Hey, Pantera’s doing a show tomorrow. Do you want to go up and open up for that show?” We were like, “Hell yeah, we do!” At the time, Pantera wasn’t Pantera like everybody knows them today. It was a good show, we knew it would be a big show and worth doing, but it wasn’t like “Pantera, woo” you know what I mean? I remember being at the show, going who are all these people, why are they here for Pantera, what’s going on (laughs)? We ended up playing that show and had a really good show with that too.
By that point we had already recorded the four-song demo and that turned out really good. We were sending it everywhere. We had a two-cassette deck little boombox thing and we were dubbing tapes on the way to the Orlando show in the car using the batteries, just making tapes that we could sell at the show. So that was pretty much the third show at that point.
How did you guys end up on Nuclear Blast then?
Lee: We had the demo done and we had a couple big shows by then and things were starting to take off, as far as the underground. We were talking to the Roadrunner guys, Borivoj (Krgin) who runs Blabbermouth and Monte (Conner), who were basically the kingmakers at the time. Basically if you get them to like your band, you could get a record deal. We were constantly talking to those guys and they were like “Yeah, we got Suffocation coming in, we’re signing them.” We said we want a deal and they said to send them our next demo or whatever. So when we did the demo, we sent it to them and they were interested.
Then the James Murphy thing happened. He was in Death originally and then he ended up getting kicked out or quit, whatever happened with Death. Then he joined Obituary and played on their album, did one or two tours, and then that fell apart for him. They kicked him out, or fired him, or he quit, or whatever happened there, so he was looking for a new band. Roadrunner thought, “Ok, we’ll put James Murphy with Monstrosity and that’ll kinda kill two birds with one stone because we wanna support James.” So he came down and he played with us for a weekend but he had commitments with this band Cancer, and so he really couldn’t commit to working with us and it just didn’t work out.
A few weeks went by and Roadrunner had signed Gorguts, Roadrunner had signed Immolation, and they pretty much signed all these bands and were kind of at the point where they were like “We’re not gonna sign you but we know this label we can hook you up with, Nuclear Blast.” At the time, they were nobody. They had Dismember but they hadn’t really broken anything. We were just, if they could print CDs, we were happy. We knew they were an up-and-coming label and we just wanted to do the record so bad, we kinda almost didn’t care. That’s kinda how we ended up on Nuclear Blast. It was almost a case of a bigger fish in a smaller pond. We could make bigger demands because they weren’t a bigger label. With Roadrunner we would have been at their mercy a little more. With Nuclear Blast, we were able to command a little more money and things like that.
Getting signed and playing around in that Tampa scene at the time had to be an incredibly exciting period.
Lee: It wasn’t until we recorded the first album that we moved to Tampa. Back when I was in Malevolent, the Sepultura and Obituary albums came out on the same day and Phil came to the warehouse with both of them. The Tampa scene had Morbid Angel, Obituary, Death, even though they were out of Orlando, a couple of the guys were from the Tampa area, Terry (Butler) and Bill (Andrews), so they were Tampa. Atheist, even though they were from Sarasota, they were lumped into the Tampa scene, that west coast Tampa scene. Nocturnus was another one. The bands from Tampa were getting record deals, plus they had Morrisound here. That’s really what it was. We didn’t realize at the time but that’s kind of what made Tampa hot, a little more than other places, the fact that they had a really killer major studio that was able to step up the drum productions and take it one step further. That’s where you could start to hear the double bass and it kind of defined the Tampa scene because of that.
We were down in Fort Lauderdale and it was pretty much Cynic and Malevolent and there were a couple other bands but nobody really doing (much). We didn’t have record deals yet so we would drive up to Tampa for shows and give out our demo tapes. I met Scott Burns there at this big show that happened in Tampa . . . with Morbid Angel, Obituary, Nocturnus, and Amon was there as the opener. It was at this warehouse over by the Air Force base in this airport hangar. I remember going there with our demos and met Scott Burns, went and grabbed the Cynic guys and Phil, and told them you gotta meet Scott Burns. That’s kind of how we met Scott and all that. More and more we were just getting into the Tampa scene.
How did the band end up in Tampa then?
Lee: When we did our first album, we decided that we were going to move the band to Tampa just because there was more going on and more of a scene, and we wanted to be kind of where everything was happening. It was kind of a struggle because Jon didn’t want to move, ultimately. He was kind of like “Yeah, yeah, yeah” but when it came down to it, he didn’t move and that kind of left us where we had to find a new guitar player. For the European tour for the first album, we used a guy called Mark English. We brought in Jason Gobel for the first album. Paul (Masvidal) and Sean (Reinert) did the Human album with Death and so there (were) two guys in Cynic doing Death. Tony Choy, who had replaced Mark Van Erp in Cynic, he ended up going off and doing Pestilence, so the other guy in Cynic was Jason Gobel and he didn’t have anything to do. He wasn’t really doing anything so we invited him to become the second guitar player for Monstrosity on the first album. The plan was always that those guys were gonna do those albums, Paul and Sean would do Human, they would do Pestilence, and then get back together as Cynic and record their album. The plan was always for them to springboard Cynic off those other albums, so we knew that Jason wasn’t going to be in the band full-time because we knew he was gonna go back to Cynic but he was a brother of ours. He’s a killer player so we brought him in to do that. We ended up playing one show with him in Milwaukee and after that we had a European tour and we brought in Mark English to be the second guitar player for the tour, which we ended up using Jon Rubin still so it was him and Mark. It wasn’t long after that that Jon wouldn’t move to Tampa, so we were pretty much with Mark and then some personal things happened with Mark and he didn’t end up sticking it out either. So after the first album and first European tour, we did a couple more shows but struggled to find a new guitar player for a year-and-a-half, working through different guys. We had this one guy, Chuck, a local guy and he was actually a good player but he was an alcoholic. We worked around it at first but we could kind of see the writing on the wall, it wasn’t gonna be a long-term thing because he was just unreliable when it came down to it.
Then we found Jason Morgan from Tennessee. I don’t know how he found us exactly, but he had gotten word that we were looking for a guitar player and he sent a demo tape of him playing several of the songs on the first album. It was pretty much known that most of the time I’d have to sit in the warehouse and show the guy. I remember spending one month with this guy Dave just to get the first song down. I was showing him the riffs and it was just tedious but that’s how it was back then. Guys weren’t players like they are now. This guy (Jason) sent a demo tape of him playing five songs, pretty much note for note without me having to show him anything. You can’t really hear the guitars on the first album so for him to be able to make that out, he obviously was talented. He came down from Tennessee and he was a really phenomenal player.
Pretty much anything I could throw at him, he could play. That’s why the Millennium album, the second album, is a lot more technical. I would pretty much throw him anything I could think of, plus he was a killer player and had his own riffs that were next-level. That’s why the second album is more technical and stepped up. We had learned from watching Cynic that the technical thing didn’t translate to the live crowd. It would often go over people’s heads. The brutal thing was cool but we wanted to combine the brutality and the technicality and kind of have a little bit of both, so it was always finding the balance. Millennium went a little too far to the technical and we learned our lesson on that one whereas the third album we kind of streamlined it and made it more in the middle. We didn’t make things quite so crazy on the odd time signatures. It’s a little more in the middle, I would say, between the first album and the second album.
What was the recording process like for that first one? Were there a lot of growing pains to being in the studio for a full album?
Lee: Without question. We had done the demo in Miami and that was our first time in the studio. I had been in the same studio with Malevolent so that was kind of my idea to go there. I had heard this band, Raped Ape, (who) did a demo there and it sounded really good and it was, like, 35 bucks an hour and we booked two or three days. The idea was we were gonna bash out four songs, drum-wise and guitar-wise, whatever we could, and then the next day we would go back and finish the guitars and then the third day we would mix. We didn’t have money back then, we were just struggling but we were able to scrape up enough to do those demos. When we did the final mix, it didn’t have the punch…when we came home with the rough mix it sounded brutal but then when we went back to mix it, it just didn’t have the same punch. I don’t remember why but we just said “Screw it, let’s go with the rough mix.”
Everybody seemed to love the demo. We got a lot of mail and all the Roadrunner/Nuclear Blast business happened because of that demo and we were selling demos through the mail. When it came time to go to Morrisound, originally we were talking about going to Germany and using Harris Johns. He was a known producer over in Europe, but then it made more sense to go to Morrisound once we really discovered Morrisound and, like I said, I was going there hanging out with Scott and sitting in on sessions. Scott was booked or whatever it was and we ended up working with Jim Morris and we didn’t know because we didn’t know Jim, I might have met him but I can’t remember exactly. I figured, “Screw it, it’s his studio. If anything, it’ll be even better.”
Our problem was, like you were saying, there were growing pains or whatever. We got in there and, basically, it was so different from being in the band room. Everything is under the microscope, you can hear every little ding and pin drop. That was kind of a new experience of “Wow, maybe I don’t know these songs as good as I thought I did.” We ended up getting through the rough tracks. The drums and bass were done in June of ’91 and then July ’91 we came back and spent a week on guitars, solos, and vocals. Then, maybe even at the end of that, we started mixing. We spent like three days mixing.
Me and George had moved to Tampa and Mark and Jon were gonna move up later, and so Mark ended up driving back to Fort Lauderdale because he went back to work or whatever, so it was me and George and Jim Morris pretty much mixing the record. I think Jason even hung around for the mix. We got the mix home and Mark wasn’t happy with it, he thought the bass was too low and, at the time, the drums that I used were the same drums…Part of the story from before, when I was a kid, I got this job in a movie theater making $3.35 an hour and I ended up saving up for my drum set, this Tama. It wasn’t even real wood, it was this particle board crap and I just didn’t know any better. So we ended up recording the first album with that drum set. The toms sounded like poo poo, it was horrible. At the same time, I couldn’t understand. Like, “I see you got more room on the fader, can’t you just turn it up?” I didn’t understand that yeah, you can do that but now you’ve got the cymbals bleeding in through the tom mics and it’s an annoying overriding to the production. If you listen to Imperial Doom, you can hear it. You can hear this annoying certain overtone that pretty much I can’t stand. So we came back when we finished the first mix and we weren’t happy. At the time, I could have lived with it but it didn’t have the brutal punch that we wanted. It was a little clean and it just, I don’t know, wasn’t as brutal as we hoped for, and then Mark was unhappy with his bass, couldn’t hear his bass loud enough so we talked Nuclear Blast into going back in September and doing a remix.
Did that time go any better?
Lee: The problem was that we were trying to do a three-day mix in one day and that was back before automation. Now you can just recall a mix like that, open the session and there it is. Back then it was a little more using the outboard gear. There were mix notes, obviously, settings were written down and whatnot, but it wasn’t an exact science back then like it is now.
In the meantime, I was sitting at home in August making (notes) like, “Alright, at 3:32, turn up this. Here the vocals aren’t loud enough at this point.” So, I came in in September with my mix notes. Jim Morris just wasn’t ready for that. He thought he was coming to turn the snare up a little bit, that was the message he got. He didn’t even know we were coming into the studio. He wasn’t really happy about that, let’s put it that way. I don’t want to say that he totally took the attitude of “If you guys wanna mix it, fine, you do it the way you wanna do it” but that’s kind of what happened. Like, “Turn the drums up!” At the time we were really blast beat crazy, we wanna hear that blast, turn that up, so the drums are way too dominant on the album, and it’s a case of “You guys want it one way, you’re the client. I’m warning you now but…” In the room, in Morrisound, it sounded phenomenal, man. It sounded amazing but it was a case of he’s got the big speakers (and) you can hear every little frequency and everything. So we got to a friend’s house 15 minutes after leaving the studio, plug in the tape, and within 20 seconds I just realized we’d made a huge mistake but at that point it’s too late because it’s done. We’d spent our money and there was no going back for a third time, that’s not gonna happen. We pretty much had to live with that as our album.
So then what were your thoughts on the album?
Lee: We’ve never really been happy with the album ever. The songs are great, we stand by the songs. Although the performances aren’t perfect, we can live with the performances. There’s tiny issues on the drums, there’s double bass and stuff here and there. The rhythm tracks were really, compared to the way that we did Spiritual Apocalypse for example, it’s night and day as far as the way we recorded the guitars. But it is what it is. Of course, all the fans love it. They think that’s the best album even though pretty much any album since then has been better, in my opinion. I like to think we get better with age. We’re always learning and always trying to make it better, better, better. To me, the last album sounds phenomenal. The production is really killer but of course the fans love the first album for whatever reason.
Were you guys more comfortable then going in to record Millennium?
Lee: Basically with Imperial Doom, if you watch the Morbid Angel DVD, Tales of the Sick, Tom Morris explains how they triggered the drums back then. They would run it off the tape machine into a unit of some sort and a sampler and the signal would fire, they would program a sound into the sampler, and that would fire the sampler and they would send the signal back to a different track on the tape machine. He explains it all in there but that’s how it was back then. He would have to go through, for example, the kick drum. They would have to go through the left kick drum first and then they would go back through the second kick drum. Basically you would spend a day just doing the triggering of the drums and it was all one-dimension, it was all one sound, very even. Now the way you can do it is, if you hit light, it triggers light. If you hit hard, it triggers hard. There’s dynamics within the triggering. Well (on) Imperial Doom, there was no dynamics. It was all one level. Snare, on or off. We didn’t even really trigger Millennium because, again, the drums were so loud on Imperial (that) we wanted to make sure the guitars were gonna be heard. It was more of a natural sound. The problem is, with the natural production of Millennium, it just wasn’t as powerful. The drums, they sound good and those are real performances and all that but they just didn’t have the punch. So with In Dark Purity, the third album, that was the first time we could trigger with dynamics so if you hit the snare light, it triggers light. Now it’s obvious that those issues are all gone.
With Millennium, we were pretty much happy with the performances for the most part. We made sure to get everything the way we wanted to do it. The final mix we weren’t that happy with because we ended up going down to Criteria Studios to mix it. It’s the other major studio in Florida. They did Bee Gees, they did Fleetwood Mac Rumors, they did Black Sabbath Heaven and Hell, Weekend Warriors for Ted Nugent, Retribution from Malevolent was done there, which was a heavier album that they had done. Basically they didn’t understand doing death metal the way that Morrisound did, as far as the drums and triggering and all that. We (said) we’ll keep the drums more natural with a more natural drum sound on Milleninum. We just weren’t happy with the snare sound on Millennium but overall it’s solid and, like I said, it was a more technical album. With that tour, we learned the lesson that we went over everybody’s head. You could just see it with certain songs, people would just stare at you, they didn’t get what the hell was happening. It was with the third album where we balanced more, kind of with everything, the production and the songwriting. That was the first album where I was 100% happy and proud.
So then after Millennium, George leaves and you bring in Jason Avery. What was making that switch like for the band?
Lee: At the time, it was all happening at the time of recording Millennium and we knew Jason, and were actually rehearsing with Jason at the time, but we felt that George had been there for the writing of the songs and he had already known the songs. The idea, more or less, my thinking at the time (was) we’ll finish this album with George. That’ll give Jason time to kind of grow with the band. At the time, he didn’t do high screams, he only did lows and it was something that he was gonna have to work on. It would give us time to know for sure before we brought in another guy, introduced another face to this thing, that he was actually going to work out with the band. I didn’t want to just get some new guy on the album and it didn’t work out and now we’re going to bring in a third guy. It did end up happening like that but it was more of a smoother transition than just throwing anybody in there.
We had to give Jason time to get his high screams together, which he certainly did. He kicked it up a notch and brought it to another (level). “Embraced by Apathy” is one of the best screams in death metal, as far as I’m concerned. He really did master (it). By the time he left the band he could sit there and do those screams, you could set your watch by it. It was killer. He actually did backup vocals on the album, to throw him a bone. He did “Fragments of Resolution” and maybe one or two other songs, he did backing vocals as a way to bring him in. At the time, the writing was on the wall with George, he was going to Cannibal, he was actually doing both albums at the same time. It would be a Friday and he’d go record with Cannibal in the morning and then he’d come in with us later in the day.
What was it like to record that first one with Jason, In Dark Purity?
Lee: With that one, we were back to Jim. I don’t remember exactly why. I don’t know if Scott was busy again or he might have already given up by that time. It was ’96, ’97 that Scott Burns retired. He just had burned himself out. He had done so many albums and I think he was just sick of it. We used Jim and, by that time, I learned (to) trust Jim. Don’t try to make suggestions. Whatever Jim wants, just let him do his thing because he knows the studio better than anybody, it’s his studio. He takes more of a scientific approach to it where he understands the frequencies and what’s going on. I learned to trust him with that third album. I had this boombox where we kind of ended up mixing it on the boombox, like, “If it sounds good on here…” By the time we did the mixes and stuff, we would compare with the boombox. Definitely, I was a lot happier with the mix on that album and everything. The guitars were really thick, the drums were at a good level and weren’t overly triggered even though they were triggered, it had a more natural acoustic sound to the trigger because it had the dynamics and all that. So it had power and it had the more natural sound, we were trying to find that balance. That was kind of the goal with everything. We wanted everything to be heard but, at the same time, with nothing too loud, nothing overlooked.
What’s the writing process like for the music? How much has that changed over the years?
Lee: The first album, like I said, some of the songs would be taken from my Submission demo. We would start with a couple riffs from that and turn them into new songs. Then, pretty much in the band room, jamming it out old fashioned style. Me and Jon Rubin came up with a few that way. Me and Mark van Erp, just writing in the jam room and just jamming it out and going through it all.
For Imperial Doom, we had a four-track cassette recorder, very primitive but at the time we were happy to have them. So we had the drums on one track, guitars would be on two tracks. Once you started balancing tracks things got really muddy so we tried to make them as good as we could. At the same time, we knew the production would come out in the album. We weren’t so worried about it. In the end, we would do stereo mixes where we tried to record everything at once, you know, like the bass and the guitar, drums. We tried to get that done in one and then try to have a couple tracks for vocals and anything else, solos and stuff like that.
With Millennium, we graduated to an eight-track cassette recorder. Actually, Rob Barrett was living here at the time, cause I still live in the same house where we wrote all that stuff, I’m still there now, and I rented a room to Rob Barrett when he moved to Tampa and he was with Cannibal by that time. He had come home from tour and had a little extra money. We were up all night fooling around with this four-track, or I don’t even know what it was, but he ended up going, the first thing in the morning, and buying an eight-track. We ended up using that to record a lot of the Millennium stuff. With Millennium, for example, with “Mirrors of Reason,” the drums were written first and then the guitars were written to the drums, whereas a song like “Slaves and Masters,” the guitars were written first and the drums just fit to the guitars. (The writing process) would vary. “Fatal Millennium,” Jason Morgan had some riffs and then I used some riffs that I had and would match him with riffs. He’d come up with a few, I’d come up with a few, we’d go back and forth and pretty soon we’d have a song. It just depends. “Manic,” that was written on the bass.
There was no real set way of doing it but ultimately it would all get recorded on that eight-track cassette recorder. We had done Slaves and Masters, a three-song demo, in Orlando and that was using ADAT, they were like these VCR-looking devices, like VCR tape almost. You’d chain three of them together to give you 24 tracks and that’s how we did that demo, at a recording school over in Orlando. That guy Chuck, the alcoholic, that was kind of his last stand. We had brought in Jason Morgan and it was the two guitarists, but Chuck played on the Slaves and Masters demo, he did the rough tracks and then we ended up replacing him with Jason Morgan. We just decided, with Millennium, we did it as a four-piece. Jason Morgan could do all the guitars, there was no need to bring anybody else in. We wanted somebody, but we didn’t have anybody at that level who was capable until the touring for Millennium.
What happened then?
Lee: This chick I had met, she actually sent me the Opeth demo and she would send me these bands she was into and we would talk about metal or whatever. She would write us letters and she was like “I got this guitar player. He would be perfect for you!” She knew we were looking for somebody. “I can’t tell you who he is. I can’t tell you his name yet but he’s in a bigger band. Send him a CD!” So, I sent him Millennium, and I sent him tablature from Millennium, and it turned out it was Pat O’Brien and so he had just left Nevermore so he came out from Seattle. And we had a tour we had with Vader so he did that tour with us, and it was him and Jason Morgan and they were a pretty good team. Pat could play but he struggled with the material a little bit. He could definitely play the material (but) he would bow out from time to time on certain songs and things like that. At the end of the tour, Rob Barrett quit Cannibal Corpse and I ran into Rob and asked, “Who’re they gonna get?” (He said) “Oh, Pat O’Brien” and I was like “Oh God, that figures. Stealing another member from me.” Me and Alex Webster had a little summit at The Brass Mug and he was like, “Sorry dude!” but whatever. He wasn’t in the band that long anyway and I still had Jason Morgan. It wasn’t that big of a crisis as it could have been and good for him. He had a good career with Cannibal and I wish him the best of luck. Those things happen. It was just funny to me that three-fifths of Cannibal was in Monstrosity because Rob Barrett was with us at one point, George “Corpsegrinder” obviously, and then now Pat O’Brien. It was just funny.
Pretty much we did that touring and then we had met this kid, Jamie, he was a young guy, he was like 19, and he came in playing the riffs. By that point, Jason Morgan made tablature for all the songs, and we could just hand a guitar player the tablature and you’d either learn it on your own or we’re not going to bother with you. That was pretty much the mentality at that point. The Jamie kid came in and he wasn’t the greatest lead player, but he was very meticulous on the riffs. That was all we really needed at that point. Jason Morgan, he just never liked Tampa. He lived in Tennessee and he just didn’t really fit into the metal scene exactly. He wasn’t into what was going on. I don’t want to get too deep into it but basically he went back home and, as part of the deal, he ended up recording the rhythm tracks for In Dark Purity and that was kind of his farewell to the band. Even though Tony Norman was pictured on the album, Tony played leads, but we were moving forward with Tony (so) we didn’t include Jason in the picture or promote him as being a member of the band anymore. We did thank him for his services, basically, but by that time we knew that Tony Norman was going to be in the band. It was kind of the same thing with George and Millennium. We wanted to make sure that Tony was going to work out before(hand). I didn’t want to get into Morrisound and have a problem where he wasn’t cutting it or something like that. So I asked Jason Morgan, “Hey man, can you record these songs for us and finish your time out with us?” So he did that and by that time I had the Jamie kid and we were bringing in Tony Norman. Tony was recommended by Derek Roddy, you know who he is, he’s a killer drummer. Pretty much (Tony) just showed up on my doorstep playing killer.
To back it up a little bit, we had actually written the album with Jay Fernandez from Brutality. In Dark Purity was mainly written by Jason Avery, Jay Fernandez, and me just going in the band room and using the eight-track and recording ideas and making little demo tapes. Unfortunately Jay Fernandez stopped showing up for rehearsals right at the same time Tony Norman was knocking at my door, ready to go, so I kind of had to make a decision and that’s when I brought in Jason Morgan just to finish this album and then I (could) worry about Tony Norman, and Jay Fernandez, and who’s gonna be in the band in the future.
With the touring, at that point, we had Tony Norman and that Jamie kid. It didn’t work out with Jamie, it’s a long story, but he ended up quitting the band or whatever. From there we just used Tony and did a four-piece thing for a minute. We ended up bringing in this other guy, Pat Hall. He’s on the live album for Enslaving the Masses and he did a bunch of touring with us and stuff. He ended up joining the service and getting into the military and stuff, which was kind of out of nowhere when he did that but whatever, good for him, (I’m) proud of him. Then it was pretty much Tony Norman, he was on Rise to Power. Me and Tony wrote that album. We brought in Sam Molina. Jason Avery, he got into tattooing and kind of his mind got off the music thing and got more into tattooing. He was making good money doing tattooing so he just kind of lost interest with the music at the time.
Tony Norman had a friend of his, this guy named Bobby, who did a really good George, I won’t call it impression but he basically sounded like George. He could do the high screams and whatever and he did a tour around 2000, 2001, somewhere in there. He did one tour with us and then we kind of didn’t hear from him again. We had this show with Morbid Angel in Fort Lauderdale and it was like, “Are you gonna come down for this show? What’s going on?” He never contacted us so, basically three days before the show, I contacted George and said, “Hey man, can you fill in for this one show, dude? We’ve got this show with Morbid.” He was totally cool to do it so I was calling the show in advance and they were like “Oh, well, you guys don’t even need to bother coming” and I was like “Well, we got George ‘Corpsegrinder'” and all of a sudden their tune kind of changed and they were even promoting it on the radio. It was a totally…you motherfuckers (laughs)! But anyway, that show was phenomenal. We had a really good show that night but then I had two weeks to basically find a new singer before the next tour started, we had another tour booked.
How tough was it to find someone to fill in with such short notice?
Lee: This guy that I had met, Chase, the tour that we did with Bobby, his band opened in Fort Myers the first day of that tour. We started in Fort Myers and finished in Fort Myers and his band opened both times. So I got to meet this singer guy and he seemed like the next obvious…he was the only singer that I pretty much thought of as an option. So I called him and he came up and jammed with me a couple times and he seemed like he might work out. The third day, or the third practice or whatever, he called me like, “Dude, my wife’s in the hospital. She’s gonna have this surgery and I’m not gonna be able to do it but my guitar player, Sam (Molina), does backing vocals and he wants to try out.” I was like, “Alright.” I didn’t have any other options at that point so I said sure.
Sam came in and he could growl and do the thing, had long hair, could spin it around so it was like, alright, cool. He basically had a little over a week to learn the songs. The first show was in San Francisco and we had to drive out there three days and he spent the whole time like, “I will not chew gum in class, I will not chew gum in class” writing the lyrics, writing them out almost as a punishment (laughs), just trying to learn the things. Sam became the vocalist originally as a replacement, ultimately, for Jason Avery. By that time we were getting all these killer gigs. We had this tour of Mexico, we did some U.S. tours (and) a bunch of stuff Sam ended up doing as vocalist. We were going all over the place touring. We did a European tour, a long tour of Europe. With that situation, (Sam) didn’t enjoy being the frontman, ultimately, is the best way to say it. He wanted to play guitar.
(Then) Jason Avery came back to me, (saying) “Dude, I wanna jam again. I wanna be back in the band.” Things were going pretty good so he probably felt he was missing out on stuff. I was like, “Look Sam, I’m not firing you here but you seem like you’re not happy as the frontman. What do you think about playing second guitar and we’ll bring back Avery?” He was actually happy with that arrangement. That was around 2003 and we ended up having some of the biggest shows of our career around that period. We ended up going to Puerto Rico and having a killer show there. Bogotá, Colombia we ended up playing for 80,000 people at this Rock al Parque festival, pretty much our biggest show ever. Tony Norman screwed us on that one with Morbid Angel but that’s a story for another time. Sam ended up being the only guitar player for that show. We had kind of turned into a little bit of a machine because Tony was a killer lead player, and with Sam and Tony it was a good little thing. It was disappointing that on the biggest show of our career and you’re not gonna make it, man? Just so you can play in a warehouse with Trey? You know, rehearsing some songs that you’ve got plenty of time to rehearse but whatever, that’s what happened and that’s how it went. We did the Rise to Power album with Tony, we had already recorded that when that happened.
For the touring for Rise to Power we were going to go to Europe and we brought Mark English back into the band. He had kind of gotten out of music altogether. He had cut his hair, got a job, and was kind of living a normal guy life, not a metal guy anymore like he was in ’92. When he came back it took a little bit of time to get back into the swing of things being (in) a metal band, being a metal guy. We did a tour of Europe in 2004 and we made the mistake of using this new booking guy, and we ended up spending like four grand in plane tickets and coming home after four shows and it pretty much killed the fire of the band. Jason Avery went back to tattooing, he kind of quit the band again. I was just kind of like, screw it. It broke up the band for a year.
Why did you decide to keep going and how did you end up with Mike Hrubovcak as vocalist?
Lee: I didn’t think we were going to be coming back. I didn’t know. It just didn’t make sense at that time and then, I would say about 2006, I was jamming with Mark English on this side project, doing this rock thing, but we were also jamming the Monstrosity songs just for fun. Brian Werner, he ended up being in Vital Remains, he was this kid I had met in Wisconsin at one of the shows a couple years before. He had come down to Florida and said “Hey man, I wanna jam ‘(The) Angels Venom’ with you guys.” He came in and sounded pretty good and I was like, “Alright.” Later that afternoon or early the next morning I got this offer from our European booking agent, a different guy that we trusted actually, who said they wanted to bring us over and we ended up doing 33 shows in 33 days in Europe. We used Brian for that and it kind of gave us a reason to do the band again. Brian didn’t work out as a singer. The band that was opening for us on that tour was Vile and they had Mike Hrubovcak, who was the guy who ended up singing on Spiritual Apocalypse and the last album (The Passage of Existence). That’s kind of how that happened. Met Mike on that tour and he was killer, young, and looked fit so it just sort of made sense. That’s how we ended up with that lineup.
You had a pretty long gap between Spiritual Apocalypse and The Passage of Existence, what happened there?
Lee: I don’t want to get too negative but basically, in 2010, I told our booking guy that I want to take the band off the road and just focus on the new album, writing that and getting that out. I would say, 2011, 2012, 2013, we wrote the songs that became Passage of Existence. In 2015, we recorded the drums and it just took, I don’t want to get into the reasons, it took a long time to get everything recorded and it wasn’t until 2018 that it finally came out. Had it been up to me, it would have come out a lot sooner but situations in life, artwork, this and that…it just took a long time.
How bad did the COVID pandemic hurt the band?
Lee: The original plan was that we were going to tour right when the album came out but that didn’t end up happening. The album came out in September 2018 and it wasn’t until May 2019 till we got to Europe and started touring for the album. We did that tour, and I think we did Brazil, and maybe something else, and then we did one show in 2020 in New York City and that was the last thing. That was when COVID hit. I just worked on the rest of this album that we’re working on now. Last month I finished the drum tracks for the new album, so those songs were written in that period. I had four songs done before Passage even came out and then the other six, seven, whatever, came out March 2020 through August 2020. The majority were written during that period. We just now recorded the drum tracks so now we’re figuring out the guitars and all that business.
It sounds like it’s coming along pretty well then.
Lee: Yeah, it’s pretty much me, my songs, and Matt Barnes kind of reshapes them. I’ll send it to him. I can send him a song at 10 o’clock at night and he wakes up early, so he’ll wake up at like four in the morning and by 9 o’clock in the morning, I’ll have something in my email. Basically he’ll take my songs and reshape them, make them better, riff it up a little more. He wrote a song on the new album, he’s got one song where he’s the dominant writer. Yeah man, it’s one of those things where I didn’t want to make it take 11 years so the drums are done and they’re killer. I’m happy with it. It’s gonna be a good one.
How much have you been able to play live since the pandemic?
Lee: We did Atlanta, we did the Mass Destruction Fest in November and we did a thing down in Mexico City in December and those were the first two shows back. We got Maryland (Deathfest) pretty much set up and that’s the next thing.
How nice was it to return to live shows?
Lee: It was cool, a little stressful just pulling it off. I like to do tours. I don’t like to do the one-off shows just because with our setup we do these in-ear things and equipment wise it’s always a gamble. Amazingly that New York show I was telling you about was a one-off thing and it went perfectly, but we had gone to Brazil and it was just a catastrophe. We were rushed but I can’t blame anybody necessarily. There’s bands before us and bands after us and there’s just no time to dial everything in, and we just didn’t have time to do the things we needed to do, so the Brazil (show) in particular was a catastrophe. We ended up cutting a bunch of songs. I gave up. So I get nervous with these one-off shows like Maryland. It’s like, flip a coin. I can’t tell you whereas with a tour it’s one of those things where we get into a rhythm by the second or third show. Things are starting to smooth out, we know the equipment, we’ve got a crew, everything is handled and we can put on a good show and not focus on the equipment as much.
When we go to Europe, the booking agent we use is 100% top-notch. Basically, the first day of the tour you tell them “Ok, this is what I’m using, this is the setup, this is the thing.” By the second or third day, they just hand you drumsticks (and say) “Here, don’t touch anything, just go” and everything is perfect so your focus is more on the show and not stressing about these equipment issues. It just makes the show better and you get into a rhythm of playing every night. You’re playing the same set so things are just a lot smoother as far as that goes. They’ve got it together equipment-wise where it’s not two drum sets being thrown together and a Peavey Bandit for an amp. They understand what we’re trying to do whereas in America, the nice thing is that it’s a little harder because we have to get ourselves from gig to gig to gig but, on a tour, we can play on my drums, bring our equipment that we’re used to playing, things like that. In America, it’s better in that respect but it’s a lot harder too because we have to do the driving and figure things out and whatnot. The one-off shows, like I said, are a little harder. The Atlanta show, surprisingly, went off good. It wasn’t perfect but it was decent. Mexico City show, same thing, it wasn’t perfect but it was decent. So hopefully Maryland is gonna be a big one for us so fingers crossed.
How consistent has the lineup stayed from the last album to now?
Lee: That’s the thing. With Mike Poggione, the bass player, he ended up moving to Ukraine. He’s back now, but he moved to Ukraine for a couple years and we’ve kind of, since maybe 2010, we’ve used van Erp. I brought him back for a show because Mike couldn’t make it for whatever reason and it kind of became whoever is available, I use for the show. If somebody’s not available, I can put somebody else in. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m not going to go too much farther. It’s pretty much me and whoever’s there in Monstrosity at this point. It used to be kind of a pain but now I enjoy mixing it up. This show is gonna be this lineup, that show is gonna be that lineup. It’s one of those things where I don’t look at it as a totally negative thing anymore. I’ve learned to deal with it and the guys I’m playing with are professional enough to walk in and play the songs.
Do you write all the lyrics for the band?
What’s your process like for that?
Lee: With Imperial Doom, I had a bunch of lyrics from that Submission demo and George wasn’t a lyric writer and he wrote one song on Millennium, “Slaves and Masters.” I offered him to write more lyrics. By the end of Millennium, I’d kind of burnt out a little bit and it just so happened that Jason Avery does write lyrics, so he wrote the In Dark Purity lyrics and so that gave me kind of a break. With Rise to Power, Sam actually wrote lyrics because he was gonna be the one singing on the album. It turned out that Jason Avery, at the last minute, ended up becoming the singer on it. So Rise to Power was kind of me and Sam and Avery wrote one or two songs, so that was kind of a collaboration. Spiritual Apocalypse, by that time I was rejuvenated on the lyrics and I wrote them all, and then Passage, Mike had a couple songs and I wrote the rest.
On the new album, I’m writing the lyrics. I’ve got, I would say two, two-and-a-half songs out of ten or eleven that we have and ideas for more. I haven’t totally finished. The process for doing that is, in my head, with the song, I have an idea of a verse, chorus, middle part, blah, blah, blah. I drive all over the place. I drive down to my parents, which is an hour-and-a-half. Pretty much anywhere I go, I’m driving. So I go to Clearwater Beach a lot, that’s 40 minutes each way. I’m going out there constantly so I’ll make a mix CD and I’ll put a few songs of bands I’m listening to and I’ll put three or four songs of the songs I’m working on on a CD and then just jam out on the way to wherever I’m going and more or less just freestyle scat the vocal pattern and kind of get it in my head. Then I’ll come in and do whisper versions because I can’t do the growling myself, because I’m not a growler, but I can whisper to do what I want with the vocal patterns. From there I’ll shape the words to fit those patterns and that’s kind of how I do it.
I’m also a big fan of Terrorizer. How did you end up in that band?
Lee: Being a fan of Pete (Sandoval) with Morbid Angel and Terrorizer, the dude from Hellwitch back in ’89, gave me the Terrorizer pre (release) that still had the four-counts or something. It was before the album was released. We just loved Pete’s drumming and I would say ’94 I was writing for Monstrosity so I was playing a lot of guitar. There were several albums that I learned that year and Terrorizer’s World Downfall was one of them. I learned the whole album and so when I did the Submission side project, Tony Laureano, who was the Nile drummer and was in Malevolent for a while, he would come over here and I would work him, basically. He wanted to practice and I wanted someone to jam with just for fun. We would do these Submission songs, he learned my set. We would come in there and jam and we’d do one of the Terrorizer songs as part of the set. We did “After World Obliteration” with him. Then, when I was in Europe, this band opening up called the Intervalle Bizarre was one of the guys that does the Brutal Assault Festival but it was before all that, he had this band and they would play “After World Obliteration” so I got up with them and played it one night. That was fun so I kind of still had the songs in my head.
Well, Pete had left Morbid Angel and he went to Spain for a couple years and when he came back he was sober, he was very clear headed and he wasn’t doing anything. I was like, “Dude, what are you doing? I wanna come over.” We were friends from before. I’d see him at the club or different shows or around Tampa all the time. I mentioned to him “Dude, I wanna jam World Downfall with you some time.” It just never happened but when Pete came back from Spain, he wasn’t doing anything so I called him up and said “Hey dude, what are you doing next Wednesday?” So I went over there and we jammed half of the album. I don’t remember if I didn’t remember the rest of them, I think that’s what it was. (It was) a I knew them but I didn’t know them, kind of thing so I said “Let’s jam the ones I know for sure and next week I’ll come back” so that’s pretty much what happened. By the second week we pretty much had World Downfall going again and that was in June, June 13 was the first day we jammed.
We just kept jamming. Every Wednesday we’d jam. He started out he wasn’t using the acoustic drums, he had a little electronic E-kit pad type thing and finally he pulled out the real drums and we were jamming them and then we got the idea of who could we get. Sam came to mind because he wasn’t doing anything. I had run into him at a concert and I told him I’m jamming with Pete. I just brought it up as an idea and sure enough, Sam learned the songs on bass. He came in and started singing and playing bass. We had a backyard party. We had this place, it was a friend of ours party house. It was out in the middle of nowhere and they could play at all hours of the night. He had a little backyard that he could set up as a stage. We said “Dude, we’ll throw a backyard party. We’ll get kegs and booze and just make it a free show. Everybody from Tampa will come out” and so that’s what we did. We had our first show. At that point it was just called Sandoval, Harris, and Molina, we didn’t even use the Terrorizer name cause he still had his lineup. He still had the girl (Katina Culture) and he had Anthony Rezhawk out in California, which he was planning on doing another album with them. He wasn’t really looking forward to it because he had to go out to L.A., he didn’t have transportation, he didn’t have a place to stay, he was gonna have to stay in a warehouse, and he wasn’t really looking forward to it.
How did the Terrorizer name come back then?
Lee: At that point, we were jamming every week in Tampa, he’s got a band right here. Gutter, this guy Gutter Christ Productions, Anthony Gutter, is from New Jersey, he does this thing called New Jersey Deathfest and he’s like, “Dude, I want to get Terrorizer to play. Come up!” So we worked it out and he was pushing the Terrorizer name. Finally, Pete just said ok, call it Terrorizer. At that point, I don’t know exactly how it happened, but his manager from Morbid Angel called him, Gunter, so we got Gunter managing the band and from there we ended up with a bunch of shows and he’s been managing us ever since. Since he and Gunter got along, he’s helping me with Monstrosity as far as the bookings go and things like that. It’s worked out.
We did the album. It took, probably the first year we didn’t write anything, but finally we started writing some songs. More and more Caustic Attack just came together. We used the same studio over in Sanford. My guy, Jason Suecof, who does Audio Hammer Studios. It’s more of a relaxed situation over there, super cool. I had done Monstrosity over there so I had known what to…I could guide Pete through the process of recording over there. We are pretty much still in the middle of writing for this record. As you’ve probably heard, Pete went over and did the David Vincent thing, I Am Morbid. To me, it’s good, it keeps Pete playing. It’s more endurance for him actually because with Terrorizer it’s one foot blasts but with Morbid Angel it’s double bass, which hopefully doesn’t hurt his back but that’s kind of why he had to quit Morbid Angel. The double bass was killing his back. He just got back yesterday or today so I’ll see how he does. We’ve got a show in Virginia in three weeks so we’re gonna be practicing pretty soon here and continuing the writing and, hopefully sometime this summer we can get this new album recorded and going.
How much of an adjustment was that for you, playing a different instrument in a different band
Lee: Well, here’s the thing. I did some side projects before that. Crimson Glory was more of a power metal band and Midnight was the singer and he was a Judas Priest, Queensrÿche, Geoff Tate kind of vocalist, real clean, killer, phenomenal singer, but Crimson Glory, as a band, kind of dissolved back in ’93 and he didn’t do anything for years and years and years and I ended up in a project with him kind of doing his solo songs. It’s more rock, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, that kind of thing and I was brought in on guitar to do that. It ended up with some songs I’m the whole band, and on other songs I didn’t do anything, I may play bass on one song or I may play guitar or I may play drums. There were like 60 songs that we recorded together and it just varies from song to song what I did and how much I had to do with it.
The Tardy brothers, the Obituary guys, I got brought in. It’s basically a side project. They did an album but they were looking to do some live shows and they were looking to do another album, so I was brought in on that as another guitar player. The idea was that Donald wanted to switch and he would play some guitar and he would play some drums. The thing is, I would learn all the songs and that way we could just switch off. If he wanted to play this song, he could play this song so that’s how we did that. That’s how I ended up doing a tour on guitar with Obituary. I did a South America run and I did a Mexico show with them. The thing about that is they needed a lead player and I’m not a lead player, I’m more of a rhythm guy. They ended up bringing me in anyway and letting me do those shows, which was super cool and super fun. So I was being taken more seriously as a guitar player by then and things worked out with Pete. He saw that I could play the Terrorizer songs. Terrorizer’s not super technical. The formula is these easy, catchy riffs. I’m able to play them and it’s fun and I get to work with Pete.