The Accused – Interview

int_accused_headI fondly recall hearing “Martha Splatterheads Maddest Stories ever told”, my first ever exposure to The Accused, shortly after the albums release, in the passengers seat of a rusting, blue, Mazda wagon. We should have been in school, but instead we were spending money meant to go for food, on music. The thundering bass and vicious/viscous tearing of vocal membranes that start the album off will always remain as one of the most eye opening and chill inducing moments in my early extreme music exploration. The catchiness and utterly savage strike of The Accused is a timeless gift from the crossover scene. At the crossroads where thrash and hardcore paused to mutilate each other, The Accused triumphed over all the rest of the bands in this genre with their gift for writing memorable and technically tricky riffs with almost effortless structures to give the allure of zombified and horror soaked punk, while the crippling double bass work and messy throat action of Blaine Fart dipped manically into the metal realm. The union was amazing and so was my backward discovery of this bands catalog on my journey to consume every song ever unearthed by Seattle’s savage sons of “Splatterock”.

Hearing that the band was poised to reform, filled me with intense doubt. Let’s face it… Reunions hardly ever work. For The Accused to reform and release an album worth of half assed, thrash by numbers music for the sake of nostalgia stood to taint a nearly flawless legacy in my eyes. Enter, “Oh Martha!” …14 tracks from an old band, sounding just as fresh, intense and vital as they did all those years ago in the front seat of that Mazda. Empowered by the recording and mixing talents of Seattle legend Jack Endino, “Oh Martha!” is a full-throttled strike of old thrashing hardcore… the kind that the fans who were there to witness its explosion, wish it never went away. The album is stripped down, honest and full of all the splatterock hooks and precision palm muted tremolo riffs that we’ve come to expect from The Accused. Repeated listens breeds an even closer connection to the music, past and present, of The Accused. Even though it sounds like this return to the firing line may be the bands epitaph, I for one am thankful for their efforts, for they came back just long enough to show the “scene” that music can still be fun, punishing and most importantly, that thrashing hardcore can still be a viable/ individualistic medium of expression in the 21st century. The following interview is a result of an email conversation that happened some time ago with lead screamer, Blaine Cook. Enjoy. -Marty

Welcome Blaine. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that The Accused were reforming. What’s the feeling in the band? Would you agree the hunger to create this style of music is still a vibrant part of your life?

It’s in my blood to shriek and scream and growl with loud guitars and pounding drums. I still crave hardcore music. More so making it than listening to it. At this point The Accused as most people knew the band has ended. We got back together played a string of really great shows had the opportunity to connect with some old friends and make some new ones along the way. The best thing that came out of the deal is that we were able to record a record/CD. And true to our original hardcore roots we put the thing out ourselves. Unlike the original Martha Splatterhead EP that had a pressing of 500 this new CD has a pressing of 5,000. Just like the EP, once these 5,000 are gone, that might be it.

How difficult is it to balance your responsibilities between band and family? Especially handling all the management and CD promotion on your own…

int_accused_blaineWith the internet and the limited scope of what we can or could actually do, the responsibilities aren’t that great. This worldwide web shit is great. No more mailing letters or horrendous long distance phone bills. What we had this time around was almost like a turnkey operation. We’ve gotten a lot of support from long time fans. We’ve had stuff done for us that would’ve cost other bands thousands of dollars. I really respect and appreciate all that has been done for this band. Things would’ve been different if we were a touring band. But, with all the guys having regular jobs, homes, and families we were pretty limited as to how much time we were going to invest in the band.

I would say that the world is a better place with the Accused back together, for this style of music really was lost to the ages it seems before “Oh Martha!” came out. What are your thoughts regarding the popularity of death and black metal, not to mention the swelling crop of metal-core? Where does Splatterrock fit in the big picture? I for one really desire for the extreme music world to reset itself back to a more exciting era where bands possessed their own identity…

I agree with you that many of the newer bands lack their own identity. What’s really changed is the quiver of influences that bands have to draw from. Something that definitely didn’t exist in our heyday. These days the music seems to be so compartmentalized that every little variation warrants a new genre or sub-genre. That’s what most bands used to try to stay away from. That’s why we used the term Splatterock for our music. We never felt limited in what we could or couldn’t do with our sound. It’s very refreshing to see this resurgence of metal core or bandana core. Putting a little fun back into it. Not having to be so freaking serious all of the time.

Tell us what you were up to during the years post Accused.

After The Accused I got some of my buddies together and we had a band called The Black Nasty. We played around town for a few years. This was at the peak of the grunge thing so the interest in another hardcore band wasn’t that great. And no one really gave a shit that the band was fronted by me. Beyond that just living life to it’s fullest.

I’ve been following The Fartz… is that band now laid to rest due to The Accused being back together? There were definite similarities between the 2 bands, but The Fartz maintained more of a simplistic punk aesthetic.

The timing worked out in kind of a weird way that a few months after the bass player and original Fartz member Steve Fart bailed on us we pieced The Accused back together. The Fartz were a simpler band… nothing hugely dynamic about the songs. Just really straight forward in your face stuff. Right now the drummer for The Fartz, Karl, is playing in a band called Infect with former members of Portrait of Poverty… another northwest hardcore band. Alex Maggot Brain, The Accused bass player, The Fartz guitar player after we had to replace the original guitarist Paul Solger, is now playing with me and the drummer off of the Oh Martha disc, Steve O’ring Nelson in a new deal called Toe Tag.

It’s great to hear Tommy back in the fold and writing those memorable razor sharp riff lines. His playing style is a huge part of The Accused… could this reunion worked without everyone back in place?

The reunion wouldn’t have happened without Tom, Alex, and myself. We really lucked out when we hooked up with one of our old drummers. Everything we did is a combined effort and without that it would never work.

int_accused_drumsThe Accused survived through metal’s rise to popularity during an era where the musical climate was a lot different here in America sans Internet. How would you compare the days when you were on the road with GBH for example, to what’s going on today? Is there much difference between the clubs and the people that go to them (turnouts, etc)?

There are a lot more bands out there that tour their asses off to stay competitive. I see that things have become more solid and business like. Back in the days you’d never expect to get any bottles of water on stage and you’d experience many a hassle when it came time to getting paid. This time around things went so smooth it was beautiful. For the crowds that we’ve played for it’s mostly been old fans. We did some all ages shows where you’d think the kids might be interested in trying something old that’s new again. When we hit the stage the room was empty.

This could be a related question, but what made you choose to release this album on your own? Advantages? Disadvantages? There was early talk of you signing with Relapse Records… what factors swayed your decision?

That decision in the end was one that was based on the culture of the band. Our best move would’ve been to sign with Relapse. The guys at Relapse are a real dedicated bunch that is really into the music. While I’ve enjoyed promoting and selling this new project, we would’ve gotten a whole lot more out of it had we gone with Relapse. In the end our decision was still a good one as we probably wouldn’t have been able to support the release as much as they might have wanted us to.

Image is an important factor to a band and the Accused have always rallied around very talented artists when it comes to album art. Oh Martha! Is no exception… please discuss the logistics of getting so many artists involved in the design of this CD insert. Were you familiar with each persons work before approaching them to come up with something? What Martha portraits are your favorite in the insert?

int_accused_maggotThe CD insert is one of the best things about this disc. Many of the artists I was in contact with as we were planning on releasing a second issue of the Martha Splatterhead comic book. These guys and one gal worked so hard and quickly to get that booklet done. It was amazing. If you can believe that the whole thing came together in a matter of five weeks. I contacted everyone with a list of the songs and a brief synopsis of the lyrical content. I knew that some of the songs would be better suited for a particular artist. Once the songs were divided up I send everyone an advance copy of the new material. Before I knew it the art started coming in. We had the good fortune to have a buddy down in Texas who is a graphic artist put all of the stuff together. My favorite panels are the one for Hooker Fortified Pork Products, Slow Death, Life Kills On, Crappassreality. Damn I like every one of them. They each possess a sense of individuality that really goes well with the music.

I was wondering the reasons behind re-recording some classics from your debut EP. It was exciting to hear these songs again with a more powerful production behind them…

Why not? We were approaching the 20 year anniversary of the release of the Martha Splatterhead EP. Those tracks were recorded live in the studio with no overdubs or any other studio trickery.

To what extent is this reunion going to run? Will Martha have even more escapades after the dust settles on this album? There have been some loose rumors running about the net that The Accused has already broke up again… care to uphold, or dispel this?

At this point the accused as you know it is over. I won’t get into the interpersonal, social reasons that this happened. What I can say is that the past two years have really been great. We’ve been treated really well and it’s been a real pleasure for me to know that The Accused has achieved some cult status. We may never be regarded in the same light as a C.O.C. or DRI. I know now that we have made our mark and there’s no taking that away.

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~ by martyworm on January 3, 2009.

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