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from 29 August 2007
NOKTURNEL - I am ready for blood

Frontman, Tom Stevens, of the underground legend NOKTURNEL has been around the metal scene since it's early beginnings. Forming his first band Savage Death in 1985 and NOKTURNEL in 1989, Tom is a seasoned veteran in the underground. In 1999, Tom resurrected NOKTURNEL and produced the band's sophomore release entitled "Fury Unleashed". NOKTURNEL has just released a new song "Ancestral Calling" and will be appearing at the 2011 Maryland Deathfest.

Greetings Tom, thank you for taking the time to interview. How are you doing these days?

Busy as the Devil morning, noon and night but lately everything has been awesome.

You've been around the metal scene for a long time. Your beginnings rooted during the peak of metal in 1985 with your band Savage Death. How did you get your start in metal, that is what made you decide you wanted to start a band? Was there a defining moment for you?

When I was a kid I listened to ONE band and one band only. KISS. When I finally got out of that phaze I discovered Rainbow, Triumph and Rush and I had always wanted to play guitar. It began as a child and I began playing in grammar school. I became good at playing extremely fast and soon after the short lived Rock phaze I went through i discovered Saxon, Maiden, Priest, Motorhead, Accept, Dio, Ozzy and other early 80s bands and I knew that was what I wanted to do, only heavier....and faster. I did not start Savage Death, They had literally done nothing as far as recording until I joined and I did write for the first demo and most of the second demo. They were like minded guys in my town and let me take control of things as I was older and a better musician,,, but that was an AWESOME way to start my "career", playing what at the time was innovative [no I am not joking] Black Metal. Anyone who wants to argue that with me is wasting their breath...Savage Death was Satanic as Fuck...at least
my songs were and that's that.

It is interesting to find out that many talented people in the industry were self taught. Is that the case for you? Have you ever had any formal musical training?

It depends on how you look at it. I was able to play complicated pieces on the Piano when I was 6 years old. I read music...I hated Piano eternally, I was forced to do it but the original guys in Nokturnel discovered I have perfect pitch. I can tune my guitar without a tuner...spot on to my record just by listening to the strings as I check them. I can pretty much instantly locate any note and mimic any riff in a second. I began guitar lessons around 1982? My teacher first said "why do you hit the strings so hard?", and to this day I am known be a basher...and he began attempting to teach me songs by bands I mentioned and he showed me all these chords and one scale. I told him the chords were not at all matching what I was hearing and I began to show him how I thought they were played... and he told me I was right and to never come back... I never did and I continued to teach myself and think I benefited from getting away from "being taught". I can tell instantly when I hear another guy shred if he is self taught or not...I see guys doing the same shit...it's boring and lame. Runs and licks they learned off videos....i hate it...

The 80's were a great era for metal. Besides your own bands, you were recruited for bands such as Ripping Corpse and Incantation, among others. You must have had some great times. What are some of your most memorable moments?

You know I was good friends with the 4 guys in Ripping Copse and even with the guy I replaced. It was not a surprise to anyone that when they needed someone for some shows I was summoned. Since I am a huge fan I think I learned like 18 songs in 2 weeks? It was easy for me [probably not for you or anyone else...at the time] and it was just a big party. I did contribute on all the backing vocals on their record too and was there for the duration of the recording, they stayed with me during that time. You know I talk way too much when it comes too stories...your readers will fall asleep...I suggest they check out the Book, Glorious Times which has a good story or 2 from me and MANY others... Incantation was way more drama, and a bit sad...

You were with Incantation for approximately two years. Can you talk about what led to you leaving the band and are you still in contact with any of the classic line-up today?

I never left, I was fired, and looking at where they are now I will stand by my statement I could have made them...taken them to the next level WITHOUT changing them but things soured. The only ex members out of god knows how many I ever speak too are Craig Pillard whose current band Disma really impresses me.., Daniel Corchado and I write once in a while and I talk to Duane Morriss a bit too. I have said many bad things about Mr Macentee but I do not anymore... we cannot change the past but I have better shit to do than to care about things like that. I belong in MY band, and I am happy to see more and more people agreeing Nokturnel is a band that should be recognized on it's own, regardless of other bands I played for...I rarely mention them unlike whores who want a fucking sticker on the cd babbling about EX MEMBERS!!! I enjoy hearing people say they really liked the other shit I have done, and when they do contact me I tell them to write Incantation and tell John...not me.... but, that band was doomed from the beginning...it is a brand name, people recognize it...and that seems to be about it

When Nokturnel initially began in 1989, grunge was beginning to rear its ugly head thus marking the end of the great metal era. How did you feel about that and what effect did that have on Nokturnel in its early beginnings?

I think it was a few years later... but anyway, I hated it. I still do. I always will. Fuck Wah pedals, vintage stupid guitars with switches and buttons on them and all that hippie shit. Between that trend and Metallica's Black Album metal took a serious nose dive. I cannot tell you how many people I have known over the years that seem to have retired from metal to follow some stupid trend... some of them magically reappear in the scene and think people like myself didnt notice they were gone? I have worshiped metal and nothing else since it's birth. Grunge did nothing but fuel my hatred for trends. All those hairy armpit bitches and granola eating vegans can eat shit and die. Kurt Cobain was a fucking moron junkie and when he killed himself I laughed....

In 1999, Nokturnel was resurrected with a new lineup and released it's second album on your own record label Nokturnel Eclipse. Can you tell us what led to that turn of events?

I was inspired after my tours with Incantation in the sense that many Nokturnel fans were extremely cool about putting me up on a metal pedestal and just gushing over how much they loved the music on Nothing But Hatred, and that meant a lot to me. We put a lot into that record and the followup had to be even better. People were releasing their own music everywhere in CD format and I just did the same. I thought of taking it even farther with more releases but at the time it didnt work out. I got 2 guys to help me record it and they were amazing. The drums came out very much the way I had hoped they would and matching my riffs on guitar, played on bass? No easy task, I watched a few guys fail before I got the guys I have now.

Nokturnel currently has a new song entitled "Ancestral Calling" and is currently available as a free download here: www.reverbnation.com/nokturnel The song is excellent and is getting great reviews. Who writes the material for Nokturnel and where does the inspiration come from?

I wrote every note of everything on Fury Unleashed, the single Demonic Supremacy and Ancestral Calling. I wrote the majority of Nothing But Hatred too including all lyrics... my inspiration comes from horror films and novels... also from my favorite records,,, BUT, I am not into ripping off others ideas...I hear the greatness and want to create greatness myself. I see some amazing bands wasting their efforts with ridiculous lyrics...I have made that mistake myself...I take metal so seriously... I see this happening, look at myself...and tell myself I will keep my thoughts to myself, I am a bit of an egomaniac at times... and feel the list of people beneath me is miles longer than those who are my equal...yeah,...I said it... and people who know me best who are reading this are cracking up right now because they really know me...

Is there an album in the works for Nokturnel?

Yes and No... I have more than enough material but the choices are not that easy. Sign with a label I want to sign with or Do It Yourself with downloads... I realize many people make quality cheap recordings these days. I have worked miracles with my engineer in the studio but I am a fucking veteran of the scene.... and I feel it is either going to have to be one song at a time online or a massive full length recording which I refuse to pay for. I can promise the world, if I get the budget I need on a label smart enough to see the potential I will turn the underground inside out. Bands will copy me... many have in the past and done better than I ever did with Nokturnel but this time....right now... I am ready for blood. With the shows we have lined up people will see just how different my music, playing, and stage presence is... I want to deliver a new record so bad it's killing me, but I will not just throw it together. It takes me years to write songs and I wont waste them on a shit recording.

Sunday, May 29th Nokturnel is playing at Maryland Deathfest IX. You must be excited to perform at what is known as "America's biggest metal party of the year".

Hell yes I am excited! I went last year and the year before and caught up with hundreds of people I had not seen in years. They all said the same thing to me....when is Nokturnel playing? Now in 2011, they will get what they want and it is the greatest honor of Nokturnel's long history to be part of this event. We have a great time slot form 5:00-5:40. Forty fucking minutes of Nokturnel? Oh people you have no idea! I am hoping to have the set list include songs from the newest to oldest.... no easy task but this is too important and we are going to work hard to make it as over the top as possible.

You've recently signed an endorsement deal with Halo guitars. Why are endorsement deals important to a band and was there a particular reason you chose to endorse Halo guitars?

The fast is I needed a guitar as my current one is falling apart in under a year. Like I said... I am very brutal on my guitar, Shaune Kelly of Ripping Corpse [now Dim Mak] used to call me the brutalizer haha! My manager told me to check out Halo and I thought they were worth a shot. Time will tell if it can handle me and my playing but I love the way it sounds and plays. It is always good to have things discounted or free and also association with any company cannot hurt.

I understand you have a family and run a personal business as well as the responsibilities for Nokturnel. How do you manage all of that?

It is not easy but I am home all the time. Sometimes we have it easy and other times we work long, long hours. Being a father is most important and my biggest job. I get up almost every day at 6:30 AM and work all the time. Nokturnel Eclipse has been kicking ass since 1999 and years of hard work have paid off for us.

Your wife and yourself run a leather works business. Can you talk about this a bit more and tell us what products you offer?

I breed snakes for the pet trade too. We make spiked leather armor for metal heads, my wife has been specializing in leather masks and we sell lots of t shirts [satanic, metal and horror], some sexy clothing and some adult stuff too. Of course all my Nokturnel and Savage Death merch too. We make all the leather items here, nothing is manufactured and we have designed our own pyrex glass sex toy in the shape of a cross. That is something we are very proud of sexy metal blasphemy is fucking cool.

Tom, it has been a pleasure chatting with you. I wish you much success in all of your endeavors and look forward to seeing Nokturnel at Maryland Deathfest.

Thanks for the interview, it is my privilege and lookout for me at the Fest, and I will babbling like a maniac all weekend! Cheers!

Tom Stevens guitars, vocals
Bill Reuter - bass
Duane Timlin drums

You Don't Have a Chance - demo 1990 [self-released]
Welcome to New Jersey - demo 1991 [self-released]
Nothing But Hatred - full-length 1993 [JL America]
Anti Grunge - EP 1994 [Rage]
Fury Unleashed - full-length 2001 [Nokturnel Eclipse]


This interview on exclusiveness of PSYCHO MAGAZINE wrote SweetSinz.
Photo by Eloisa

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